From Gen Z to Gen A: How AI Could Impact a Generation

From Gen Z to Gen A: How AI Could Impact a Generation
Artificial intelligence applications are seen on display at the Artificial Intelligence Pavilion of Zhangjiang Future Park during a state-organized media tour in Shanghai on June 18, 2021. (Andrea Verdelli/Getty Images)
John Mac Ghlionn
Many of those born between 1997 and 2012 lack ambition. More worryingly, they actively rally against the idea of having ambition. A staggering 82 percent of Gen Zers find the idea of doing the bare minimum at work “pretty or extremely appealing.” Others simply don’t want to work at all.
These teenagers and 20-somethings aren’t just rejecting employment opportunities, they're also rejecting God. Recent polling suggests that 35 percent of American Gen Zers are atheist, agnostic, or nonreligious. To compound matters, this troubled generation is busy “redefining” monogamy and the institution of marriage. If there's one word that defines Generation Z, it's iconoclastic. They want to break stuff and replace this "stuff" with nothing in particular.

The next generation, Generation Alpha, or Generation AI, is likely to be much worse.

Americans, regardless of their age, love their phones—but Gen Zers really love their phones. More specifically, they really love their iPhones. According to a report from the Financial Times, 34 percent of American iPhone owners were born after 1996. In many ways, Gen Z is defined by its reliance on smartphones and other forms of technology.
According to a new Bank of America report, which was first reported by Fortune, the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) should be viewed as “an iPhone moment, on steroids.” As the authors of the report noted, although this epoch-making technology will have a profound impact on all generations, it'll have a particularly profound effect on Gen A.

Those born between 2012 and the mid-2020s will grow up in a world where AI assistants—think Alexa on steroids—will reign supreme.

Martyn Briggs, lead author of the report, warned that we, as a society, “are at the dawn of a demographic ‘Gen A’ revolution.” No longer will Gen Z be viewed as “the most disruptive generation,” he said, because the “kids of today will have AI models that grow with them.”

It's very likely that Gen Aers will turn to these AI models for advice on everything imaginable, from homework and dietary habits to career choices and potential life partners. In other words, these extremely advanced AI models could take the role of friends and family. They could become a sort of one-stop shop for advice, guidance, and reassurance.

The Fortune piece quoted Timothy Papandreou, an adviser to Alphabet’s research and development organization, X (formerly GoogleX), who recently outlined the many ways in which children will “have an AI avatar shadow assistant or agent from birth.”

“As they grow, AI will grow with them and know everything it needs to know, and always be there as a mentor,” Mr. Papandreou said, concluding that Gen Z will be the “last generation to not grow up with AI.”

This is concerning on many levels. AI may not destroy humanity, but it certainly won’t “save it,” contrary to Pollyanna-like reports. The smartphone stands accused of destroying human communication. The smartphone has also contributed to increased feelings of anxiety, depression, and profound loneliness. We are victims of the algorithm. This is especially true if you happen to be a member of Gen Z.
Teenagers and 20-somethings, many of whom are addicted to their phones, are plagued by feelings of anxiety and a lack of real meaning in their lives. Gen Z’s reliance on the internet and various social media platforms is a root cause of their loneliness, yet rather perversely, an increasing number of Gen Zers are turning to the internet—more specifically, dating sites—to make friends. Instead of stepping out of their virtual prisons and entering the real world, they're retreating further into these digital domains.

Will the average Gen Aer be more or less lonely than the average Gen Zer? One need not be Nostradamus to make a logical prediction. As the Fortune piece correctly noted, Gen A’s AI usage “will likely bring forward a whole new set of unforeseen mental health problems.” In other words, we haven’t seen anything yet.

As 'I've reported elsewhere, AI’s intelligence is evolving at breakneck speed. We simply can’t comprehend the changes that await us. Imagine an AI system being many thousands of times smarter than you. Imagine an AI system getting more done in one minute than 1,000 humans could get done in one year. Imagine an AI system becoming your life partner. This is where we might be headed—to a place largely devoid of meaning and purpose, to a place, quite literally, steeped in artificial intelligence, not human intelligence.

We may also be headed to a place where AI systems end up raising our children. Mommy and daddy will bring a child into the world, but AI could end up raising them. To some, this might sound preposterous. But this is only because we can’t even begin to imagine the imminent changes that could await every one of us.

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
John Mac Ghlionn is a researcher and essayist. He covers psychology and social relations, and has a keen interest in social dysfunction and media manipulation. His work has been published by the New York Post, The Sydney Morning Herald, Newsweek, National Review, and The Spectator US, among others.