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Possible Effects of AI, Automation and Robotics on Society

Silicon and other non-biological systems and devices are getting smarter and more powerful every year!

With the exception of high level government officials and possibly some forms of art, I can see practically every job eventually being performed by some sort of smart machine or system.  And to add insult to injury, the real kicker is that the tasks they perform could be done better in all ways, meaning they could be done more quickly, accurately and much cheaper than a human resource could do the job.

So if what I stated above is true (and it is…), what are we supposed to do?  Are we doomed for extinction like what was presented in the “Terminator” movies?  I don’t think so, but let me whip out my pretend crystal ball and see some potential futures that are all within the realm of being possible.

Possibilities

  1. A.I (Artificial Intelligence) combined with sophisticated Robotics become the dominate intelligent form in the world.  I believe robotics is just really just sophisticated machinery, AI and smart computing is the real meat of this form of intelligence).  Don’t think of just traditional forms of robots (like Robby the Robot, or B9 in Lost in Space).  A robotic system could be bigger than a house, smaller than a fruit fly, and even in various states (solid, liquid and who know, maybe even gaseous in the future).  What really scares me is that the very rich won’t need us non-rich people in the futures since they’ll be able to buy or build thousands of smart robots, or robots that share a common centralized AI Core (like the IBM product called WatsonRobbyandB9Robots), except these systems will be only for that particular person (think Jarvis in the Ironman movies).  So the future could be even worse than the ancient Feudalistic class model of the past.  I’ll present an example…  What happens if Bill Gates gets tired of the rest of us continually “rich bashing” him and goes out and builds 500,000 death robots?  Let’s say that each death robot on average can take out 100,000 people.  Well, pretty much we could have a society where it’s just him and this killer robots.  Obviously, this will never happen because Bill Gates is one of the biggest philanthropist in the world, but it is possible.  After conquering the world, pretty much Bill would just live out this existence while the robots now run the world.  Crazy though and extremely doubtful, but still possible…
  2. Robotic systems run everything, and money has no meaning anymore, but we are all the equivalent of being rich.  Technocrats and other smart folks start running the government and proactively put in place monitoring and controls that limit robotics to peaceful practices in the public (anything goes with the military usage though).  They let robotics do all of the heavy lifting mentally and physically, and we all live in a limited version of paradise where money is no longer relevant.  for some reason Robots don’t complain about the work that they do, nor do they expect any type of reward… they are strange alien creatures to our current financial system.  But think about it… the entire system could be complete with no monetary exchange even necessary.  AI Robotic systems would mine their own materials, create replacement robots as old ones break and pretty much control anything and everything for free.  It would be an amazing world for us biological lifeforms!  Oh sure, there would be huge delays in gratification with certain luxury items (like flying to Paris), but with virtual reality making a dent lately, perhaps that would be a non-issue too.  This is the world I would hope for, but it’s unlikely too, but very possible and should be tried as a test scenario somewhere, sometime… I hope!
  3. The very rich would have all of the toys, and a Plutocracy would exist, but with a pleasant twist where everybody would get a minimum level of income and wealth for survivability and possible have a good middle class lifestyle.  Who knows, this might even be a phase before we would get to option 2 above.  Hard to say…  There would definitely have to be some human controls in place to contain human population growth, and a big reliance on clean, renewable fuels sources (especially wind and solar).

So in my last article about Automation, I painted a bleak picture for our human labor force in the near term.  And to be honest, I do expect that there will be an uncomfortable period until we adjust and create new ways of operating.

That said, in the long term, someday work could truly be optional and money might be worthless and valueless.

Just thinking out loud,

Don

 

 

 

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