Robots WILL steal our jobs: what then?

Image Courtesy of D J Shin — My Toy Museum

Robots where supposed to perform our tasks and set us free. Instead they have stolen our jobs and enslaved us.

At the dawn of our mass-produced consumerist economy the future must have looked like a pretty good place to be.

Automatic washing machines would be washing and drying your clothes while electric ovens efficiently cooked your evening meal in a fraction of the time it took you as a mere human. Then, what better than to sit back and relax as moving pictures from across the world would be beamed through space into your television cabinet set.

Someday, it must have seemed, world peace would be achieved and hunger eradicated. Not to mention that a boring old thing called ‘work’ would be consigned to the history books through which one might idly thumb while the house-robot was out walking the dog.

If only they could have seen how things would all turn out.

The very money with which we buy our Hotpoint washer dryer combis and Uber hailing palm sized super computers has a value based entirely on our labour. Not since 1693 have we had money in the UK that has any inherent value in the basis of objective reality.

The pound, as with most other global currencies, is a fiat currency. Fiat is taken from the Latin for “it shall be”. Indeed it only ‘is’ in the consideration that we all place a nominal, broadly equal, value on sterling as a currency based on units of work done, effort or labour.

What happens then when all the work; mental and physical, is performed by machines. The resultant value created then belongs to the machines owner. They buy new machines with the profit. Soon the machines have taken all the jobs so that people no longer have a means by which they can generate currency. The system breaks.

I had worked until recently in a factory. It was clear then that mechanical automation would eventually replace every worker the company had.

Much less clear was the pace at which digital technologies would progress until the point we are at now where Associated Press have algorithms churning out at least one thousand fully automated news stories every month. Funny then that I should have chosen to abandon the factory in pursuit of a future in good old human journalism.

The determined creep of technological advancement has reached almost every part of our lives. Our generation are digitally saturated. We work to buy new technologies that at the present demand all of our attention and that eventually get refined to a level where they are capable of performing all of our tasks better than us.

We are destined to live our lives poorly in service to machines that were originally designed to set us free. That said; I am looking forward to getting my new Samsung Note 4 in the post this week.