Humans Need Not Apply  

Posted by Big Gav in

The impact of massive automation of jobs seems to be one of the emerging concerns of the past few years - this video from CGP Grey is quite a good summary - Humans Need Not Apply.

1 comments

After viewing I thought quite a lot about this video. The key is one he briefly mentions at the end, about past predictions of the future. He feels this is different, but history is far too complex and nuanced to say.

His argument that robots will replace us is really a statement that the consumer economy will continue. Assuming his prediction is true--that things like Baxter will become orders of magnitude better than they are now--only works if there's a large number of people to take advantage of the free labor.

Robots do raise an interesting question as to how an economy would work when most things are provided by mechanical slaves. Thinking back on all the science fiction I read as a kid and young adult, writers saw limited possibilities: the machines always had vulnerability and stopped in the future, by which time people had become so soft and dependent on them they couldn't survive; the robots become tools of social oppression and control by elites; the robots become conscious and have better things to do than be our slaves.

That's what we can think of, and history is always more subtle and more weird. People are already very nervous about military robots.

Presumptive awe of our great technology is also a subtext. People are impressed with these things, but they are incredibly fragile. Little robots can scoot effectively all around a warehouse, but they would be inert outside on the parking lot. Remember virtual reality? Remember the Segway scooter that was all over cable news in the early 2000s?

What's really interesting is that robots could be a way to end the scarcity economy we've had for all of human existence. We could direct the human project in some interesting ways, because for the first time we would have the power to do so.

Somehow I don't think robots are the threat posed here, for the themes we all know: resource depletion, diminishing returns on complexity, and climate change.

Derek
dex3703.wordpress.com

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