“Humanity is going to require a substantially new way of thinking if it is to survive.” Albert Einstein
Whilst technology is gradually uniting us as a better informed species, it is also becoming the greatest threat to our future survival, as more and more jobs are being taken over by ‘Robots’.
As driverless cars make their entrance so professional drivers will be wiped out! Computerised artificial intelligence is not only threatening drivers and production line workers either.
It is now becoming so clever that professional jobs such as accountants, doctors and petrochemical engineers, to name but a few, are coming under the scrutiny of the technocrats. Creative people seem safe, at the moment, as these clever machines struggle to do the work of gardeners, cooks, entertainers and artists.
As reported in the Sunday Times, such is the threat that it has Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates and Elon Musk voicing concern, something therefore we should all pay attention to. Certainly the big companies such as Facebook, Google and Amazon are directing a sizeable chunk of their vast resources into technology that replaces workers.
Amazon are now hiring 10,000 robots in their warehouses to replace existing jobs done by people and experimenting with drones that would make their army of delivery drivers redundant. This however pales into insignificance compared with the leading electronics manufacturer in China who is looking to replace 1 million workers with robots!
Such are the challenges to the conventional workplace that time was given over to the subject at last year’s World Economic Forum in Davos. Whether the attendees were absorbing this information with a view to saving jobs, or to adopt it and fight off competition is a moot point but I fear it may be shaping the future thinking of these powerful decision makers, if it has not already done so.
Of equal concern is a new phrase now entering our vocabulary with ‘the internet of things’. This relates to the ‘intelligence’ we are now giving household goods, cars and many other devices we use in our daily lives that can send and receive information without human intervention.
Whilst they may seemingly carry tangible benefits, our greatest concerns have already manifested in their contribution to increasing Surveillance that can determine where we are and what we are doing. Not only this but with everything connected up, who controls how the information – often intimate information – is used and managed?
It seems that the real movers and shakers in this new robotic world will be those who manage the robots! Not that there is much relief on the job front, as it doesn’t take much to work out that only a fraction of the current numbers of managers will be needed to direct and control these ‘totally compliant employees’.
There is no doubt we are in unprecedented times as a species. We have survived and evolved with the industrial revolution, which previously had the greatest impact upon how we lived and worked. This new technology revolution, I would suggest, is something we could struggle to evolve beyond.
My primary concern is that it could destroy the very foundation upon which we fulfil our most basic of functions as human beings. The ability to provide a home and the traditional means by which we bring up the members of the next generation.
I am nowhere near as clever as the people now creating our future lives in this technological age but I do question the practicalities of what is being propounded. At its core Capitalism is primarily kept afloat by people buying goods and services. It is this simple process that provides the opportunities for new business development and the profits for established businesses. Worker’s wages buy employers goods and services that in turn pay worker’s wages.
Whilst there will be Jobs for the Boys in this future world, where the leaders of technology companies and their few human employees are the only players but how can these few sustain Life on Planet Earth? It will sound the death knell of huge numbers of traditional businesses such Car manufacturers, Big Pharma, Construction companies, Airlines and Governments. The human beings who need these products and services will not be able to buy or support them and the ‘new breed of workers’ won’t need them!
We have lost all understanding of what Life is truly about, as the 99% are discarded like chaff in the whirlwind of addiction to profit and power that has now gripped Society. Edward Snowden (see P.S. below), has given us a chilling insight into the global abuses of technology and it won’t end here, in spite of this brave man’s efforts.
Until the next time
P.S. I have just watched Citizen Four, the award winning film of how Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras worked with Edward Snowden to bring his revelations out into the world. Not only is it an intense real life thriller, it is a true record of this incredible man, his genuine humility and the sacrifices he has made, breaking with his family and loved ones, to make us aware of the enormity of the abuse we are now being subjected to.
I would ask you to take just 2 hours out of your lives to watch this, if you want to and realise how grateful we should all be for his bravery and sacrifices.
(Vivid evidence of repression at work – Launched in October 2014, why is this ‘award winning’ film not available on eBay or Amazon?)