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It’s common knowledge, at this point, that artificial intelligence will soon be capable of outworking humans — if not entirely outmoding them — in plenty of areas. How much we’ll be outworked and outmoded, and on what scale, is still up for debate. But a new interview published by The Guardian over the weekend, Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman had a fairly hot take on the matter: In the battle between AI and humans, he said, it’s going to be an absolute blowout — and humans are going to get creamed.

“Clearly AI is going to win [against human intelligence]. It’s not even close,” Kahneman told the paper. “How people are going to adjust to this is a fascinating problem.”

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Prospect Theory

Why listen to Daniel Kahneman? His 2011 book, “Thinking, Fast and Slow” — over two million copies sold — is one of the most influential tomes in the field of behavioral economics, exploring how and why humans think the way they think (the “fast” thinking of the title being intuitive; the “slow” thinking being rational), and what leaves us prepared (or unprepared) to make decisions about our future. But moreover, he won his 2002 Nobel Prize for pioneering “prospect theory,” which explains how people rationalize the difference between gains and losses, and how their thresholds for risk aversion and risk appetite work.

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And why, according to Kahneman, are we so unprepared for the forthcoming takeover of artificial intelligence? Speaking to the way the pandemic overtook an unprepared world, Kahneman cited the exponentials growth of the virus, and the way human minds are essentially unequipped to do the basic math behind the way something like that can spiral out of control.

“Exponential phenomena are almost impossible for us to grasp,” he told The Guardian. “We are very experienced in a more or less linear world. And if things are accelerating, they’re usually accelerating within reason. Exponential change [as with the spread of virus] is really something else. We’re not equipped for it. It takes a long time to educate intuition.”


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