Or, perhaps not.
There seems to be this looming threat of robots and AI taking over the world one day, making humankind a slave to their former prided creations. Much has been covered about the functions of ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence that is able to answer questions, write essays and apparently pass both the Wharton MBA examinations and several law school tests. On first glance, it would seem as though humans have successfully created a potential overtaker, one that would replace us eventually.
In Better Than Us, the female lead Arisa (Paulina Andreeva) is an advanced robot that was designed to be the ideal wife. She can cook (and calculate calories on the spot if that’s your deal), kill baddies threatening the family, and bond well with children. Her physical traits are considered attractive by the majority, and she’s always dressed as impeccable as a fashion model.
You would think that anyone would love her, wouldn’t you?
Yet, her romantic advances are repeatedly rejected by the male lead, Safronov (Kiril Karo). In one scene, where the male lead is packing his items and leaving a family picnic site, Arisa offered to be his new wife. Safronov is clearly shocked by this admission, and promptly rejects her and chooses his human ex-wife instead, claiming that his ex-wife is human and Arisa is not. This state remains, even after Arisa has proven time and time again that the ex-wife does not care about Safronov at all, and has been lying to him constantly.
Towards the end of the short Netflix series, Safronov falls in love with another human love interest, and firmly tells Arisa, who has been protecting him and his family from dangerous threats, that she will never be a part of his family. This hints at a clear preference for humans over robots, even when the robots are clearly more effective than humans and look highly appealing.
Safronov’s sentiments are also shared by other characters. The fringe extremist group Liquidators actively destroy the memory chips of any robots they come across, claiming that all robots are bad and out to take the jobs of humans away.
And they aren’t wrong. In the world of Better Than Us, customer service and advisory roles have been completely taken over by artificial intelligence and robots. These are all traditionally client-facing roles that are supposedly non-replaceable, but it seems like the bots have scored yet again. I see a parallel between this and reality, where certain restaurants have started using robots to serve food instead of waiters.
In the highly digitalised world of today, many roles are at a threat of being taken over by The Bots. Some say it’s teachers, others say it’s accountants. But to what extent exactly are our fears justified?
Let’s take ChatGPT as an example. It might have aced the Wharton Business School examinations, but it suffered greatly when presented with Singapore’s Primary School Leaving Examination, scoring a mere 16 out of 100 for three Mathematics papers and only 21 points for the Science papers. If AI is as infallible as most think, wouldn’t it have done equally well at PSLE too? Form your own conclusions, but it seems to me that The Bots have not reached invincibility yet.
But even if they have, it does not mean armageddon for us lowly humans. Last I checked, companies are still hiring flesh-and-blood employees. And unlike AI, which relies on machine learning, and a computer, which requires code to function, humans have greater ability to amass varied skills over time. We do not operate based on pure repetition, and we have a greater ability to recognise visual shapes, which is the exact reason why reCAPTCHA for google pages exist.
That’s great, but what can I do to prevent my job from being stolen by these pesky machines? Something that I can think of right now is to learn to amass different skill sets that could come in handy down the road. That way, even if you ever get out of a job, you could easily find another.
Next, find yourself a job that requires human interaction or higher order thinking (read: not repetitive). Robots have not developed the empathy required to communicate well and efficiently connect with others, putting them at a disadvantage against someone like you, who is genetically conditioned to be able to relate or understand fellow humans better. Repetitive physical jobs have a higher chance of being replaced, so do be wary of them.
All in all, however, I am in the camp that believes that The Bots will never overtake their creators, so a Matrix scenario will probably never occur. If it does occur, well, I guess I will pray for my personal Arisa to save me. After all, who better to fight a robot than another robot, right?
Do you guys agree? Comment down below