Thursday, February 13, 2014

That Robot Took My Job

In the early days of machines, gears leavers and other simple contraptions allowed humans to do work beyond their ordinary physical capability.  In the industrial age, machinery became common place and people imagined a day when machines would replace all human workers, unfortunately this was far off because machines require a level of operation and maintenance, but in the computer age self managing machines may be on the horizon.

Using complex networks systems to manage robotic workers is the ultimate goal of automation, to remove the human from the process of production by creating powerful enough artificial intelligence to manage the self maintenance process.  One might wonder what purpose humans will have at all in the factories of the near future, though humans will probably maintain oversight of the automated processes, most humans are sure to abandon such tasks and take up more fulfilling pursuits.

What is the point of technology if not to free humanity from drudgery?  For some people in society technology and economics has become a tool of control, these people benefit off the work of the masses and give very little back to society, creating a massive gap between rich and poor.  Automation has the potential to create a situation where no workers are needed, production, distribution, maintenance, all these things are handled by robots with no need to economically coerce vulnerable people into hard labor.

As long as  our society has at its core a system that requires each person to labor in order to survive, we will never overcome the concept of labor itself.  The difference between economically coerced labor and freely undertaken labor is important, humans have a natural instinct to be creative and to undertake beneficial tasks, there is a myth that if people where left to themselves they would be lazy and do nothing, some people even say that people would be depressed unless forced to work.  This is an absurd notion, based on no observation outside the paradigm of our economic system, in other words we hardly can imagine what an uncoerced human would be like.

All the evidence points to the idea that people when left to their own devices are extremely productive, maybe not in the way multi-national corporations would like, but they create works of art, music, stories, plant gardens, build structures, invent machines, ect.  We live in a culture that has an unfortunate disdain for art, especially art that isn't worth money, artists tend to be thrown under the bus and never rewarded or recognized for their work.

Another part of the problem is that people are inhibited from doing art because of they are tasked with laboring to survive, and so what are ultimately useless service jobs are coveted as means of survival.  If these jobs could be done by robotic workers, it would allow all of the people currently trapped in hard labor to escape, but in order for society advance to this degree, the government must supply all people with a universal basic income.

Universal basic income is a simple idea, the government cuts each individual a check for twenty thousand dollars or so each year, no welfare, no housing or food aid, just money directly to each person without any oversight.  The money itself could come from the huge amounts being wasted on bureaucracy within the welfare system, we spend lots of money to hire people who's job it is to dole out what little is left to those in need, it would be much simpler to just give out money to each person instead.

Whats more, the United States and other European countries should institute such a policy world wide for each person.  The whole thing can come from America's defense budget, because what better defense is there for America than feeding the world?  With a global universal basic income humanity can be freed from forced labor, but it is important that the trend of automation continue, because without automation we could still face many of the economic stumbling blocks that caused this situation in the first place.

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