DO YOU THINK WE RUN THE RISK OF “TECHNOLOGICAL UNEMPLOYMENT” WHERE MACHINES TAKE ALL OF OUR JOBS?
HAWKING: The outcome will depend on how things are distributed. Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality.
I’m not a fan of Stephen Hawking, he just seems to be a guy who dreams up stuff that is impossible to verify. Just because you can’t be proven wrong doesn’t make what you say right. But his words above are insightful but not unique to Mr. Hawking. I recently read a book entitled Machines of Loving Grace – The Quest For Common Ground. It is about automation and the two completely different approaches to it. I will be getting into the book and quotes from it soon but wanted to mention it during this post.
There weren’t any blogs or 24/7 reporting during the first industrial revolution but if there were I’m sure many would be lamenting how all the farm jobs were disappearing and how fearful they were about the future. Change, especially sudden change is a very traumatic thing to many of us then and now.
Replacing humans with robots started more than fifty years ago and it now expanding at an exponential rate. It will soon be that any job that simply requires repetition will be done by robotic means. This phenomenon started out with physical activity and is now quickly moving into the intellectual area. From blue-collar to white-collar with no end in sight. Where there was once a good paying job in industries such as auto, and office work they are now replaced by robots and computers who work twenty-four hours a day with no breaks.
I personally think that eventually this will be a good thing. Humans will be rid of the mind numbing work of the past and can then move on to more creative and productive endeavors. This revolution could also cause the family unit to be stronger than it has been in a century. Recently we have farmed out the care giving and moral education of our children to others so that both parents could work at providing income for the family. Now with robotics doing much of the day-to-day work there will be no need for double income so a permanent care-giver can once again be the norm. Another possibility is for a 30 hour work week.
Of course this all hinges on how the gains due to robotics are distributed. Will it go to the stake holder or the remaining workers. Right now the top 1% are getting a very inordinate share but that doesn’t have to be the case. Unfettered capitalism naturally favors them but if proper regulations are put in place things could quickly change to even out the distribution of the gains.
I have high hopes that, even though I won’t be around, things will be much better in the future than they are now. We will be more educated, informed, and diligent citizens. We will reign it the capitalistic greed that is inherent to our current system. Yes, I am a dreamer…. and if you are going to dream why not dream big positive things… 🙂