The Job Terminator

We have all seen movies about technology trying to terminate the human race such as Schwarzenegger in the “Terminator”.  The thing about all good Sci-Fi films is that there is always an element of truth in them to make them seem credible but not enough to scare us from coming for more.  The problem is we don’t take that element of truth to heart.  Its great entertainment and too removed from our daily realities to impact us, or is it?

We are already experiencing the subtle impacts of job terminating technology today.  Our tech savvy technologists are turning out new technological innovations at an ever-increasing rate.  New generations of cell phone come out ever six months to a year that are each smarter and cheaper than the previous.  Other gadgets are being created constantly to satisfy our insatiable appetite for gadgetry and convenience.

Yet behind all this gadgetry are the foundations for making machines smarter and more capable of doing tasks far better and faster than we.  Machines now aid in making and designing other machines.  Soon they will do much more than just aid.  Nano printers can replicate many of the things we make by assembly and have the potential of doing far more.  Smarter and smarter robots are being designed that can do jobs more precisely and tirelessly than us without lunch or other breaks.  They work nonstop other than for brief maintenance.  They ask for no wages or benefits nor go on strikes as mechanical slaves.  Computers networked to countless other computers around the world are getting increasingly better at diagnosing diseases and medical conditions and will ultimately replace most doctors, especially non-surgical doctors.  General Practitioners will be among the first to go.

Ask yourself what can people do that computers are unlikely to do other than screw thing up.  Through artificial intelligence computers can learn to get increasingly smart and they never forget anything and some can constantly think billions of times faster than us without rest.  The PC became popular only 30 years ago.  The smart phone has existed less than 7 years.  The power of digital gadgets are advancing at explosive rates and prices constantly decrease.  How much longer do you think it will take until any mom and pop store or large company can buy smart robots to take the place of their clerks and other employees?  Then where will all the jobs be?  We are experiencing unemployment now.  The economy is again very robust.  So unemployment is no longer as a result of the 2008 crash.  It is as a result of outsourcing and automation.  Bringing jobs back to the U.S. will not solve long term unemployment because robots will ultimately be doing many if not most of those jobs.  Look at how many robots work at auto assembly plants and high tech companies today.

So the writing is clearly on the wall.  Even education will ultimately not be able to help us compete against computers and robot technology.  Who will be the consumers to buy good and services if most humans are unemployed?  What kind of society will we be if there are no longer any jobs?  How will we survive with no income?

I think that any techno geek or expert in robotics or artificial intelligence will tell you that there is ultimately little computers and technology can’t do that man can and that they are a lot more capable of doing things that man can’t.  The question is who will ultimately be the master?

But the digital gene is out of the bottle.  Once society realized the problem it may likely be too late to do anything about it.  Workers will demand that the use of robots and automation be limited in industry.  But industry will fight this effort with all their financial and political might, especially high-tech companies who not only use automation but make and sell it.  Even if industry realize the long-term impacts of high unemployment of the middle class in the decline of purchasing power no one will be willing to be the first to limit the production of technology.  So Congress will be unable to do anything until the economy collapses again due to the middle class taking a dive down towards poverty.  By then it will be too late to recover unless industry voluntarily stops using so much automation or the country becomes socialized so that everyone gets a permanent unemployment checks.

This will be a much different world where people will be permanently unemployed and machines will be doing everything for us.  So there is very little the President can do to boost employment.  Perhaps we can somehow limit or slow down technological innovation.  But who would be willing to do that?

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