In the era of ChatGPT, are we becoming obsolete?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about ChatGPT and other AI tools that are popping up regularly. These tools are doing incredible things to help us improve our lives. In fact, I used ChatGPT to help me edit this very column.
However, AI is becoming so advanced that many worry about losing their jobs. If you think I’m exaggerating, consider some fascinating (and some might say scary) news headlines from the past few months:
“ChatGPT Passes U.S. Medical Licensing Exam Without Clinician Input.”
“AI Used to Design Entirely New Cancer Drug Within Just 30 Days.”
“Latest Version of ChatGPT Aces Bar Exam With Score Nearing 90th Percentile.”
“Fully Autonomous Electric Car Uses Artificial Intelligence to Drive Itself on the Road.”
This list should be worrying enough for doctors, attorneys, scientists, and drivers, but it doesn’t end there. In the words of one cognitive scientist and AI researcher, “Future ChatGPT versions could replace a majority of work people do today!”
But before we enter into a state of collective panic, let’s pause and think about it, because there is some good news here.
Way too often, we associate ourselves with our occupations. Instead of saying what we do, we describe our occupation as our identity. We don’t say, “I practice law” or “I drive for Uber,” but “I am an attorney” and “I am an Uber driver.”
Our jobs became our identity.
There is so much more to us than what we do.
Our relationships with others, the wisdom accumulated over time, and our positive impact on the world are immeasurable. Whether on the clock or off, our contributions to the world around us are invaluable, and our worth as individuals goes far beyond our employment status.
Is ChatGPT signaling the arrival of an era where we shift our focus from identifying ourselves solely through our work to recognizing and valuing our true selves?
Jewish tradition envisions a future where our traditional occupations will become obsolete. One day, we will no longer be engaged in our current jobs.
This week marks a significant personal milestone for me, celebrated by tens of thousands worldwide. I will finish my study of “Mishne Torah,” the extensive work of Maimonides that provides a comprehensive review of Jewish law. I undertook this study as part of an annual learning program initiated by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory.
In the last paragraph, Maimonides discusses what life will look like in the messianic era:
“In that era, there will be neither famine nor war, envy nor competition, for good will flow in abundance, and all the delights will be freely available as dust. The occupation of the entire world will be solely to know God.”
That last verse is particularly striking. Maimonides describes a time when we will have no other job or occupation and will be free to devote our time to spiritual pursuits.
Does this sound familiar?
When the world is perfect, everyone will be jobless. Because we won’t need to toil anymore to provide for ourselves and our families; instead, we will finally be free to be who we truly are.
Now, ChatGPT is far from perfect, and AI will pose many serious challenges that must be addressed. Still, with the promise of a brighter, more spiritual future, perhaps the era of ChatGPT is a sign that the messianic age is closer than we think. May it happen very soon. Amen!
Mendy Kaminker is the rabbi of Chabad of Hackensack. He welcomes your thoughts and comments at rabbi@ChabadHackensack.com.