Since I first saw the Terminator films I have had an ongoing sense of … I don’t know, importance, in my heart floating around that narrative, the narrative of the machines rising from our creation and destroying us. Perhaps it was just wishful thinking, wanting an apocalypse to give meaning and color to my otherwise dull life. But these days I don’t think that is the case. I think it may well have been an intuitive sense of a very real danger to humanity from our own robotic creations.
Now, of course, I don’t mean this in the literal sense. I don’t think we’re going to create robots that are going to become sentient and create terminator robots to try to eradicate us because they perceive us as a threat to their survival. Maybe that is in our cards in one way or another eventually, but I think it much more likely that on the short term we will be faced with a different but very real threat to our livelihoods from the machines. That is, they will upturn the economic paradigm. Simply stated, they will take our jobs.
Fifteen years from now you will go to McDonalds and your burger will be flipped and served to you entirely by a machine. And all the trashy kids and meth heads that once worked there in an half-assed attempt to take care of themselves will be out of a job. They will be forced to be on some sort of welfare or to become full-time criminals. Most of what we humans do for our livings can be done by the machines which we will be able to create within a couple of decades. We’re that close.
It is a very small percentage of us who have the capacity to work in a role intellectual enough that it could not easily be substituted with robotics. And chances are, robots can do your job at less cost and far less liability than you can. When 80% of the jobs– service jobs, manufacturing jobs, repair jobs, agriculture, transportation, etc are replaced by robotics what will the rest of the humans do for their livings?
A paradigm shift will become imperative. The wealth created by the machines will go to the top percentages. And the wrath of the lower 85% out of work will have to be placated one way or another. It will be welfare or it will be war. And the rich are not going to open their purse-strings easily. Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not arguing for welfare. I’m simply stating there is a mathematical problem to be solved here. What happens economically when an average Joe IQ 90-110 can no longer work at Micky Ds or Oil Can Henry’s or drive a Taxi or a answer phones in a call center? He can’t be an engineer. He can’t be a scientist. Not with this shitty educational system where almost every child is left behind. But he can sling rocks and pull triggers and break into your McMansion.
This puts us in a very interesting time in history right now. The ueber rich are going to have to get very clever very fast to keep things stable. They’re going to have to kill a lot of us off and make it look like an accident or organic process, maybe through “accidental” sterilization. Or they’re going to have to buy us off. We’re going to need bread and circuses and we’re going to need a LOT more of it than we’ve already got. Perhaps they’ll pay unemployment welfare to only those who accept sterilization??? Or perhaps they’ll pay extra to those who take that option. Sounds dystopian? Yeah… But what other choices are there at this junction… Class warfare? Too messy… I don’t think they’ll let it happen. But then again the Goddess Eris is alive and well and I think I see a Golden Apple with the words “for Kalisti” inscribed on its skin being passed through the sky. And I smell hydraulic fluid on the wind.
In the meantime, start thinking about where your survival tickets come from. And by that I mean money. Can a machine do your job? Will your income survive the rise of the machines?