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Jon Stewart Skewers AI Industry for Salivating Over Replacing Jobs

Comedian and late-night TV legend Jon Stewart has had enough of AI industry leaders making bombastic claims about how the tech will solve anything from climate change to genetic diseases — while celebrating the demise of the human job market.

In an excoriating Monday episode of "The Daily Show," Stewart took AI tech CEOs to task, accusing them of making "false promises" about AI by painting a picture of a "utopian life without drudgery."

"But the reality is, they come for our jobs," he said. "So I want your assurance that AI isn't removing the human from the loop."

His comments are a sobering reflection on an increasingly dire situation. While AI leaders, including the likes of OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, have repeatedly underplayed the possibility of having AI replace human workers en masse, we've already seen a troubling trend emerge, with companies opting to invest billions in the tech, while conducting mass layoffs.

 

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In his monologue, Stewart addressed the possible motives behind that trend.

"It's about productivity," Stewart said derisively. "And that's good for all of us, yes? Although they do let the real truth slip out every now and again," he added, referring to Nadella admitting that there'll be "labor displacement in the market."

"So AI can cure diseases and solve climate change," Stewart said. "But that's not exactly what companies are going to be using it for, are they?"

"So while we wait for this thing to cure diseases and solve climate change," he argued, "it’s replacing us in the workforce — not in the future, but now."

While Stewart's monologue may feature his characteristically embellished and tongue-in-cheek rhetoric, the comedian is highlighting a very real problem that analysts have warned us about for many years now.

Case in point, last week, a new report by the Institute for Public Policy Research found that up to 8 million jobs in the United Kingdom could be wiped out due to AI adoption in what they called a "jobs apocalypse."

A January survey of CEOs during this year's World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland also found that 25 percent of CEOs were looking to cut headcounts by at least five percent "due to generative AI."

Meanwhile, public trust in AI is rapidly eroding, with a recent poll of 32,000 global respondents showing that just 53 percent said they trust the tech.

To Stewart, AI is a "bait and switch," with companies hoovering up human-created content to synthesize and regurgitate it via generative AI models — all in the name of profit.

"Whether it's globalization or industrialization or now artificial intelligence," Stewart said, "the way of life that you are accustomed to is no match for the promise of more profits and new markets."

"But at least those other disruptions took place over a century or decades," he added. "AI's gonna be ready to take over by Thursday."

"And once that happens, what the fuck is there left for the rest of us to do?"

More on AI and jobs: Report Warns AI Could Cause "Jobs Apocalypse"