What Happens When Robots and AI Take Over?

We take our rights for granted, we figure they are a regular part of life. We also assume we will continue to have these rights and privileges forever.

But what if we only have these rights because we were born at the right time in the right place. What if these rights and privileges only exist because they make us more valuable to the state. Said another way, we get them because they make us better workers.

If this is true, does it mean in time things will change? What if our economies stop functioning the way they do, could these motivations disappear? If collected taxes reduce or governments run out of cash, will they stop protecting us?

Even the most fundamental right, the right to vote comes from the idea that we are valuable to our countries. In exchange for working, we have the right to have our voices heard.

Here Come The Robots

Robots and AI are poised to take over the world by doing most of the work. Will we be valued for our ability to work when a computer can do it better? If this were to happen, we would stop being valuable to the economy. If we aren’t of value, our opinions will stop mattering as well.

In Canada, we have what we call free health care, though we all pay for it. The main reason our governments use our tax dollars to pay for this service is that it helps us work better. In turn, working better is of value to the corporations that pay taxes to the government, so it works out.

If we get sick, the health care system repairs us so we can return to work. When companies no longer need us, they won’t want governments to pay for our healthcare. The same reasoning would go for education and public transit.

Consider Today’s Homeless

Today, we can already see this happening in ways. Homeless people tend not to contribute to the economy, so they slip through the cracks. In a sense, they become invisible.

In practice, without an address, it is difficult to vote. Even worse, it is hard to get a job or an ID. As people become “useless” they fall away from societal support.

Proximity also relates to our consciousness of people. As we see people less, we have fewer thoughts about them, and their importance to us decreases. Seeing people as useful is unfair but is often how our social connections work.

On a grand scale, as more jobs get replaced by robots and AI, more humans will be forgotten. People, in general, will become less valuable as they will provide less value.

Is there an easy way out of this situation? Will there be a future for regular people who don’t create AI and robots?

Some companies will try to slow down this transition due to its cost. But at some point, it will become impossible to avoid letting the robots take over.

What Will The Future Bring

In the future, owning a robot or AI may be the only way to make money.

Even worse, the people with all the money now will also have all the robots and AI. With this, the gap between the rich and poor will grow even more extreme.

This future sounds scary, but is there something we can do to avoid it? What can we do to prepare?

We need a better democracy. Also, we need a political system where people matter more than money and efficiency. We need to figure out better ways to reward people for the value they create.

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Originally published at abraintrust.com.