Take this moment to watch the video below which presents an excellent breakdown on automation as humanity enters a new frontier with robotics and technology. This fascinating clip aims to highlight the inevitable reality that many jobs will be absorbed by the upcoming robot revolution substantially changing our world as we know it.
As we stare onto the horizon of a global society that will become increasingly dependent on technology and robotic services, we owe it to ourselves to discuss and adapt to the change as smoothly as our species can make possible. But what does it mean to discuss a future which is speculative at best? We’re not fortune tellers after-all!
While we can look towards the future with uncertainty, we have the capacity to understand and plan for the consequences when robotics become regular competitors for every-day work. Historically our species has shown a stubborn resistance to change when many find their livelihood on the firing line. Even today, we encounter substantial resistance to new concepts when it threatens the old guard. Violent riots rocked Paris last summer when taxi drivers voiced their displeasure at the rise of popularity from Uber. Their livelihood was threatened by a service that has seen an overwhelmingly positive response from the public since their creation. Uber taxis found their vehicles flipped and burned and France quickly put an end to the issue by declaring Uber’s operations within their country illegal. Sometimes it’s clear that social progress doesn’t always win over institutionalised services.
Even the Industrial Revolution encountered strong resistance from skilled labourers who found themselves losing their jobs when new, steam-powered machines were invented. But make no mistake, automation will change the workforce like we have never seen before and irrational resistance to such change is irresponsible and shortsighted. A research paper by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne, predicts that half of all jobs in the USA could be automated in “a decade or two,”
“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”
The benefits of a robotic workforce
Lets face it, there is an inherent disdain for all men of this planet against spending the majority of their working life in a crappy job. Many people on this earth rise out of their bed every Monday morning with a strong feeling of contempt as they drag themselves into a unfavourable role to put bread on the table. The robotic army that marches ever closer offers to be the answer to filling in the roles that we as humans simply do not want to do. Just like the horse that dragged the supplies up the hill and allowed humans to take a big step back—the robot will soon find himself doing all the tasks our species has decided it has little desire to fulfil.
Beyond our own personal gains from offloading undesirable work to our robotic pals, our society quickly picks up the benefits of a highly efficient, accurate, unemotional workforce that will revolutionise every service imaginably. Driverless cars will effortlessly take us from A to B without the fear of our artificial counterpart getting distracted by an incoming text message and hitting a tree. Local restaurants will benefit from highly specialised robots in the kitchen programmed to mimic world-class gourmet chefs. Finally I’ll no longer need to harass FedEx for failing to drop off my package when the autonomous drone replaces my elusive van driver—I’ll soon be just a few clicks away from a military-like supply drop in my own garden.
What about us precious humans?
As automation continues to evolve, the economic pressure will eventually be too great for businesses to keep expensive, sleepy, meaty organisms in the workforce. The unions will attempt to stop the pressure but will be unable to prevent the inevitable.
One potential solution to this dark transitional period is the universal basic income concept. Finland this week announced proposals to pay each of its citizens €800 per month which every citizen would receive regardless of circumstances from the state – The concept is certainly an interesting idea to combat “technological unemployment” and it theoretically deals with many other social issues at the same time.
A global society that is moving towards harnessing the unlimited energy from our sun, automating the workforce and theorising a universal basic wage to all those who walk the earth suddenly begins to draw a picture of a future utopia. Even when we look at the enormous struggles that must be overcome to make such a notion a reality. Taking just a moment to appreciate that these ideas are now being discussed, provides me with an overwhelming appreciation of the times we live in.
“In the twenty-first century, the robot will take the place which slave labor occupied in ancient civilization.”
— Nikola Tesla