Tag Archives: robots

Sunday Share: The Robot Chronicles Times Two

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(Image: http://itmakessenseblog.com/files/2013/05/unemployment-line.jpg)

In the course of my blogging I’ve “met” many people; one, Aline Kaplan, seems to see eye-to-eye with meon many employment issues (and, in fairness, not so much on some other issues… but then, that’s life!).  She and I seem to have acted as mutual foils, and each has written essays that have spurred the other to follow through and build on the concepts.  It’s been interesting!

In her recent post, The Robot Chronicles Times Two, she links to both her and my essays about robots / AI, and the looming Jobpocalypse.  Thanks, Aline, and here’s hoping we can generate some traffic on this.  Perhaps more importantly, perhaps we can prompt some serious and sober discussion and thought about the fact that while technology has always displaced people from their existing jobs (which, in principle and historically, has not been a bad thing), this time the scale, scope, and pace of technology replacing people is utterly unprecedented in human history.  Ordering FLANK SPEED! into uncharted waters where multiple lookouts can already see, and are pointing out, breakers on reefs entails a great deal of risk both to the rank-and-file people manning the ships, as well as those giving the orders to do so.

And no discussion of the Jobpocalypse would be complete – IMHO of course – without also mentioning Neil Patrick, who runs a great career-related blog, is one of the high-ranking job search / career development people in the UK… and who, I believe, coined the twitter hashtag #dearrobots in his commentary also expressing concerns about technology not augmenting, but replacing, people.  (And on the topic of careers; Neil and another fantastic career coach, Marcia LaReau, have a book coming out soon about the new career landscape and how to plan for it… watch out for it!)

 

As Cheap as Human Life Itself…

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In the book about the first Man-Kzin war, The Children’s Hour, there is a scene in which agents from earth have been sent to Alpha Centauri to kill the Kzin leader (think “sentient tiger with opposable thumbs”), who is an exceptional Kzin and in a leadership position to actually make changes detrimental to mankind’s survival as a free species.  Meeting with Japanese criminals, descendants of the Ninja clans, they seal a deal and are then offered a free meal.

The senior of the two agents observes that they would be out of place, being served in a “fancy live-service place”.  I.e., food prepared and served by humans.  The Oyabun, the leader with whom they have just dealt, replies “You would do well to observe local conditions, man from far away.  It has been a long time since automation was cheaper than human life.”

As I said in The Robot/AI Curve Accelerates:

It is just penetrating our consciousness that our pond of human employment may have a robotic lotus problem. What will we do, what will happen, when – amazingly and almost overnight – the pond is covered?

And… how long before, in the words of the gladiator trainer / slaver Lentulus Batiatus from the classic movie Spartacus, will all these people displaced by AI and robots be viewed “… as cheap as human life itself.”?

(c) 2016, David Hunt, PE

Robots, AI, and Alien Proverbs

A short observation this morning.  I was reflecting on my Future Shock essay and doing some net browsing as I composed an email to my sister… and this quote from an alien (a Vorlon, from Babylon 5) came to mind:

The avalanche has already started. It is too late for the pebbles to vote.

Let’s simply say that the episode in question did not end happily.  Neither, IMHO, will this tech avalanche.