AI and the Coming Productivity Paradox

Will AI replace, augment or fundamentally change us?

Steve Glaveski
6 min readApr 1


Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been a topic of debate among experts, policymakers, and the general public alike.

There are two schools of thought on the matter — one believes that AI will replace humans, leading to mass unemployment and social upheaval, while the other argues that AI will make us more productive, freeing us from tedious and repetitive tasks and enabling us to focus on higher-level work.

Let’s explore these two perspectives and analyze the potential impact of AI on the future of work.

Technology has historically made us more productive

Throughout human history, technology has been pivotal in making us more productive. Consider the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture, which allowed humans to settle in one place and produce surplus food. This surplus led to the development of trade and specialization of labor, resulting in innovation and new industries and the emergence of artisans, craftsmen, and other specialized workers.

Similarly, the industrial revolution led to the mechanization of production, enabling factory workers to produce goods at an unprecedented scale and speed. This led to the mass production of goods, increased efficiency, and reduced costs, benefiting both businesses and consumers like nothing before.

Moving into the digital age, technology has made white-collar knowledge workers out of most of us. This shift has allowed us to leverage our creativity and problem-solving skills, collaborate with people globally, and work remotely. And instead of merely replacing jobs, new jobs emerged due to recent technological shifts such as the internet and mobile that did not exist 25 years ago. Think social media managers, app developers, and data scientists.

The past isn’t always the best predictor of the future

Advocates of AI will use such facts to argue that we have nothing to worry about. They argue that technology has historically made us more productive. They will say, in a very libertarian tone, that it is up to us to adapt and upskill ourselves to take…



Steve Glaveski

CEO of Collective Campus. HBR writer. Author of Time Rich, and Employee to Entrepreneur. Host of Future Squared podcast. Occasional surfer.