robotic questions

Rapid change and slow debate

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I was watching the last episode of the TY programme ‘The Tribe’ last night, about a tiny Ethiopian village community’s efforts to embrace government-provided education, set against the backdrop of their time-honoured, cattle-herding life. Like primitive cultures all around the World, this tribe is having to make a very rapid cultural change within one generation. They weren’t in denial. And they faced change as best they could, with quiet courage and dignity.

Today, I then read and listened to the following web-link.

http://singularityhub.com/2015/06/30/whats-the-meaning-of-life-if-society-doesnt-need-you-any-longer/

Here, arguably is the beginnings of a great and noble debate going on at the moment in the social networked World, raising the ‘sound level’, to support the quiet technical revolution going on around us.

Is society planning for these changes enough? Are we fundamentally reforming the tax system to ensure it can effectively extract enough revenues generated from the owners of new technologies, to provide for the ‘infrastructure’ needs of people acclimatising to such changes?

Are social workers, therapists, careers advisors and counsellors undergoing enough training in preparation for these future changes (automation, robotics, the internet of things, mass market 3D printing on demand)?

Are Droids really taking our jobs?

Today I listened to an interesting interview on TED hour by Andrew McAfee titled ‘Are Droids taking our jobs?’ -see the following weblink.

http://www.npr.org/2013/08/16/173000457/are-droids-taking-our-jobs

Personally, I think this debate will run and run as parents & policy-makers start to think about children’s/the voting population’s future employment prospects.

Here are four points to add to the debate:

1) Are Droids really taking ‘our jobs’, or just taking over tasks that to date, humans have undertaken because automation wasn’t reliable and effective?

2) As consumers, each of us wanting to be treated special. Will we turn to 24/7 robot-type providers over 9 to 5 (sometimes surly or less knowledgeable) human service-providers, once we have that choice? And are told both choices will cost us the same?

3) If we get some consumer services faster from the 24/7 robot-type providers, will we use the time saved to capture greater meaning in our lives e.g. high quality human interactions?

4) If paid work really does save us from boredom, vice and need (apparently a Voltaire quote), then with growing automation causing the government payroll tax-take to go down, how should robotic service-provider profits best be taxed, to make up the fiscal shortfall and handle the social results of growing boredom, vice and need in our societies?