“How did you go bankrupt” Bill asked.

“Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually and then suddenly.”

The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway

The Hemingway Law of AI applies to many situations. It’s when the creaking of your back porch doesn’t matter much, until the day you put a foot through the floor. It’s when the cracks and rust on the stairs don’t seem to matter, until the stairs break. It’s the concern that you can see signs that the risk of a financial crisis or a stick market run, but little action is taken until the crisis is upon us. It’s the concern that the costs and risks of climate change may look quite reasonable, until something large and perhaps irreversible happens all at once.

AI has gradually nibbled away at human work and skills over the last few years:

  • Trade stocks, book flights, give directions and predict the weather
  • Play Go, Jeopard, Chess and Poker
  • Fly a plane, detect a fire, maintain the temperature of your house
  • Trade stocks, place online ads and recommend the next book to read

The AI Revolution is happening gradually, currently focused on things humans don’t like to do anyway. The jobs machines are replacing are often mind-numbing and repetitive. Not many people want to sort tomatoes all day long or press the same button for hours. Machines are better at these tasks, they don’t tire and improve over time. But many people will miss the community, the income and pride that comes along with going to work every day. The foundation of the Middle Class were repetitive jobs and AI nibbles constantly on that foundation.

For the majority of us, the AI revolution feels small now. Until it suddenly changes everything.