attack of the (job!)killer robots survey

hi all. robots have been attacking people for over a decade now, they’re called drones, and the public outcry has not been too substantial. however, maybe the slumbering masses are starting to wake up to a related threat, job-killing robots.

this is a very complex topic that has been bubbling at the edges for years but 2016 finally seemed to mark the transition/ jump/ tipping point into mainstream consciousness. and theres some alarm/ panic, with headlines reflecting it.

despite this headline on this blog, despite the headlines elsewhere, it is really not a topic to be taken lightly. it has international implications. its affecting global economies. its tightly connected with the last few decades shift of globalization and neoliberalism, both of which seem these days (with Brexit/ trump upsets) maybe to be showing signs of aging and “long in the tooth”. it seems to be tied up with the future of technology, economics, and governments/ politics (eg whitehouse/ trump)![l] hence its one of those devastating crosscutting trifectas, aka “perfect storm”. its even starting to show up in intelligence agency strategic predictions/ alarm bells, and they are not pretty.[k1]

we see a huge split in the attitudes about it. some take it as deadly serious and many others are still considering it something like a joke. the truth is that robotics has already had a massive effect on international economies that is still underappreciated/ undernoticed/ undervalued.

have been blogging about this in pieces over half a decade, in this blog and in another. in some ways its one of the core/ smack-in-center topics/ themes of this blog, the revolutionary-yet-humanitarian aspects of robotics, AI, its groundbreaking/ transformative effect on culture, etc.

last year the coverage on this topic really exploded, there are many aspects. various high profile individuals are starting to wake up to this threat and blare the horn. probably one of the biggest factors seems to be the World Economic Forum releasing a report early in the year.[c]

it looks like a major paradigm shift in play.

the high profile outlets covering it are top in brand names/ prestige.[a] washington post, atlantic, new york times, telegraph, business insider, new yorker, economist, bloomberg, new york post, etc, many others. few people have not heard this news in some form at this point.

then there are a lot of “2nd tier” outlets, still very high profile, with the headlines about “jobstealing/ killer” etc.[b]

there are many new papers and books on the topic.[d][e] one other notable/ remarkable shift is that experts outside of economics are starting to examine it in more detail, eg computer scientists.

whats a possible solution? the MBI, minimum basic income idea is circulating.[f] its somewhat radical by todays standards. it seems utterly unlikely that the US will achieve anything like it first, because the US can barely even setup a global healthcare system. here is an area of innovation that seems to sit between govt and industry that is falling into a big gap (aka “falling between the cracks”).

the US once accomplished big ambitious projects/ transformations like the moon landing, but those times seem behind us. these days, instead US is leading/ mainly effective in massive/ budget devouring Warmachine technology.

in contrast to gridlocked or sclerotic govt adaptation, corporations are racing to increase robotics.[g] oh and its just some huge coincidence that the biggest names in high tech automation eg amazon, google, apple etc are leading pioneers/ innovators in international tax avoidance and oppressive working conditions! right! (but only noticable if you can get past the intense/ state-of-the-art propaganda PR!)

this makes me think that capitalism may be something of an illusion. it may seem that authorities in govt have some control over it. but it might have an intense mindlessness to it. aka “running on autopilot”. this large-scale mindlessness or “race to the bottom” can be seen on occasion and it can be very scary, even apocalyptic looking, eg the fall of the soviet union, or the US/ intl 2008 crash etc.

as for govt and capitalism we are locked into a more than 2-century old system that relates/ originates to 1776 coincidentally (as pointed out by my highschool econ teacher) the same year of our founding/ constitution and also Adam Smiths Wealth of Nations. in some ways govt/ business/ capitalism have changed radically over that time, in other ways it seems there is very little difference in human affairs.

to put it another way sometimes maybe the “Powers That Be” (aka “elites/ decisionmakers/ policymakers/ intelligentsia/ bureaucrats/ elected officials/ authorities” etc) may appear that way but dont really have special Powers. or their Powers are (sometimes rapidly?) melting away.

marx identified some of this reality over ~1½ century ago of “workers versus owners” and capitalism as a “race to the bottom”. its starting to materialize in front of our eyes. just because robots can do our jobs, doesnt mean we will benefit directly! the entire concept of human work as related to lifetime role is starting to be questioned/ decoupled/ threatened! but what is the alternative? none seems conceivable from where we stand. as the old expr goes “you cant get there from here.” the ominous quote/ gem by gramsci (recently added to quotes page) comes to mind:

The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear. —Gramsci

another key element is that robotics seems to be increasing economic inequality, a foremost/ critical unresolved problem with current economic systems. [k1] argues this is at the extreme point of affecting political stability all over the world.

there are a few countervailing voices that argue that its no big deal or no alarm or major action is necessary at this point, or that its not unprecedented and the economy and masses will adapt as they always have in the past.[i] but these are in the small minority at least in this survey (this is not supposed to be an unbiased sample).

what does the future hold? there are different ideas but it might be much different in some ways.[k] [k14] is optimistic and looks at the grand sweep but changes are likely to be “wrenching”. one might argue they already have been and our “future glaze/ future shock” is interfering with our sober appraisal.

be careful what you wish for, you might get it…

a. mainstream media
b. jobkilling/stealing
c. WEF
d. papers
e. books
f. MBI
g. corps
h. analysis/ commentary
i. counter
j. interview
k. future
l. whitehouse/trump
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