In my conversations last evening, we bounced around our coming relationship to robots and artificial intelligence. Everyone was a bit concerned that the jobs of their loved ones might be affected and that their social security might not be sufficient. Most were of the opinion that major shifts would happen in newborns’ lifetimes but that they themselves wouldn’t have much trouble adapting to the modest changes they anticipated. The average age of this group was about sixty-five and thus they have a life expectancy of about twenty years. My opinion is that there will be great changes in that vast expanse of time.
I was the only one who said they were probably going to personally witness things that they would now judge to be incredible. Part of my reason for feeling that way was because my anxiety had just been stimulated by my two-mile drive from my home to our meeting place. That was during the late phases of the after-work rush hour. It was actually a bit scary for me because there were so many more cars than a couple of years ago and they were being driven much more aggressively in patchy icy conditions. I saw people a half a block ahead of me rolling through stop signs faster than I could go on a bicycle. One motorist was on a collision course with me to the point where both of us braked abruptly. Neither of us came to a full stop and we just navigated around one another. There was no real danger, but two years ago here in Bend, that behavior was absolutely rare and now it’s common.
That is a simple mechanical event in today’s world, but the electronic events are changing much more rapidly than driving events and the rate of change is accelerating. Perhaps the person to watch is Bezos because he seems to be anticipating what will happen and is getting ahead of the tidal wave of innovation. A couple of examples: he bought one of the key world-influencing newspapers, The Washington Post, and he is presently opening a chain of grocery stores that have no checkout counters. If you have a cellphone you simply put your items in your shopping bag, walk out the door and are charged to your credit card. Once that is functioning well it will put vast numbers of checkout clerks out of jobs, and the clerks doing the restocking of the shelves are being replaced by robots also. People will complain about the loss of jobs but the customers will shop at the Amazon grocery stores because the items will be cheaper.
Whoever owns this emerging technology will be the winners and that is people who presently have enough excess resources to invest in the delivery of the technology. The people who buy the products will live better because they can get what they need more cheaply, but those people who have lost their jobs will be forced to train for new ones. But what will be the sources of income that will survive the coming of the robots and their increasingly competent artificial intelligence? Humans require training individually, but you only need to train one robot to do a complex task and all of them of that type can become equally skilled instantly.
Are you worried yet? Is your life secure when you may not be able to earn enough money to pay your rent and buy your food? The government doles are funded by taxpayer money and that means working people, but the working people may not be willing or able to support vast numbers other people who can’t find jobs or won’t work at horrible jobs. And don’t expect the corporations who just got huge tax breaks to feed the poor people who they just fired because they didn’t need their labor anymore. Corporations think only of the bottom line and the bottom line doesn’t have a kind heart.
Get a future-proof job and stay out of debt to anyone.