The First AI War Has Begun

Jonathan Salem Baskin
5 min readSep 22

The first war between AI and human beings is being waged in America. We should take note of its scope and portent.

It’s being waged on two fronts, on the West Coast and in the Midwest, where creatives and autoworkers are resisting encroachment on their pay and jobs. The fight against AI replacing artists is more overt, but the automakers’ plans to produce EVs has the same underlying logic:

The entertainment and auto industries, as proxies for AI, plan to use it to remake their assembly lines.

If the AI side wins, it will mean less jobs for human beings and more revenue and profits for companies that don’t have to pay for salaries or health care. Both creatives and auto workers will suffer so that others, including unwitting consumers, can benefit from AI’s promised efficiencies.

It’s not surprising that both battles are being fought by unions. Protecting the interests of their members is a foundational idea for them. They’re taking action against a threat to their well-being.

They’ll lose.

Even though they’re the most organized resistance to the AI transformation of our economy and lives, they’re not powerful enough to win. This is especially true since their only weapon, beyond marching with placards and giving media interviews, is to refuse to work…which is exactly what AI will do to them permanently.

Every day the passes gives automakers and entertainment studios more time to plan for that eventuality. You could imagine furtive attempts to shoot content written solely by AIs, or factories speeding up conversion of activities to robot control.

Creatives and auto workers will eventually have to take some diluted deals that are little better than a placeholder (a settlement on the Hollywood front is rumored to be forthcoming), as there’s no stopping AI’s march to remake both industries in its image. The writing is on the wall and it’s digital.

The second war will be over education.

Teachers unions are another bastion of organized people and the livelihood of their members is directly threatened by AI. It’s only a matter of time before some of their lesson plans are delivered autonomously, followed by AI-assisted student assessments and curriculum development. Combined with remote access, there’s no reason why a properly trained LLM couldn’t run a classroom right now.

Jonathan Salem Baskin

I write books about technology and brands, sci-fi stories, and rock musicals.