Monday, July 11, 2011

Will robots destroy our society?

Today I have for you something different than usual robot video, there will be no robot videos in today article. This article is about future of robots and us humans, it will not be nice future, at least for some time, in this article you will find out why, even there will be no war with robots and that it will change the whole human society as we know it.
Since the birth of humankind many various kinds of simple machines were used by us to help us in work and it was really great for us all the time. Well, the human society was growing and becoming more and more complicated and complex.
In times when humans were just collecting food, hunting or gathering food from simple agriculture there was only very low level of work specialization, so really almost everyone could do any other job. Thanks to "science" of those times human race started to grow both in population and in level of economy. Well, there is the point in time that will make it really hard for us in near future to absorb working robots in our society. As human society and economy grew, people had to do just one specialized job and had to be really good in it to have decent income, so they even needed after some time to prepare for the job for more and more years, process we now call education. Not much changed from that time. We also live in society that needs extremely specialized people, if you are not specialized you do some simple manual work, work of machine.

It happened before

If you know history you probably also know very well that situation when machines caused that many and many people lost their job happened before and humankind survived that situation. Well, if you know history really well you also know that the problems did not end in just few destroyed machines in factories and some strikes, no, the problem was much deeper and transition of society was very painful and radical. Everytime something like this happened in society it had huge impact on everyone, it caused wars and change of whole world. This fast evolution in agriculture, then few times in industry happened few times before, created feudalism, nationalism, socialism, communism, but no one knows what it will create this time. The only thing we can be sure about is that it will happen and I say that robots will cause it this time. So where is the big problem with robots? It is really not that they will start war against us like in Terminator or Matrix, no it will be something different this time.
I'm sure that fans of robot videos are fans of robots as big as I'm, so don't get me wrong with this, I think that robots will make the world better place, but before that will happen, there will be big and painful transition in our whole society and economy, which is in some point of view the same thing.
The society and economy will have big problem, problem much bigger that the crisis of past years. Imagine situation in next about 10-25 years. Today there is really extremely huge number of people who do manual jobs, but we are now very close to "break point" of automation and robotics. Graphene, optical circuits, new batteries, all these things together or something absolutely different will accelerate development of robots in just few years to levels we cannot even imagine now. Maybe it has already started with that robot from IBM called Watson, or those autonomous drones of US military or some other project of DARPA, no one really knows. After this "break point" people will start to lose their jobs because of robots fast, so fast that economics will not be able to sustain it.

How exactly will robots destroy our society and is it really something bad?

Even today people are losing jobs because of various automats and robots, but it is still quite slow. Well, it is slow compared with the situation that is ahead of us. In next 10-25 years about 90% or even more people with low education level will lose their jobs, because robots will do their work better (it means cheaper). If you don't believe this, then take a look on this older robot video. I think this video shows it all, even two years ago there was robot quite cheap what can learn work millions of people do today. What kind of robots there will be in next ten or twenty years? If you think that owners of factories will still want to have people as workers you are absolutely wrong. The only thing they want is money and robots are very cheap workers.
Every company that produces something today has one biggest expense and that expense are wages and of course taxes. There are no wages you have to pay to machine selling cola and chocolate bars and of course there are also no taxes from that work because you don't pay that work. Well the work is still done. If you want to sell cola and chocolate bars somewhere you cannot just put there boxes with cola and chocolate bars and think that people who gets the bar from box will also pay for it. You have to either put a person there that will collect the money or machine that will do the same. To pay someone for this job when he sells 15 colas and 10 chocolate bars a day would be too expensive because you would have to pay that person wage+taxes, but if the machine do the work, you pay just electricity, it works 24/7/365 and never strikes - best employee ever! This means that robots (from some point that is of course different for every job) are much cheaper than humans and soon we will see, that everywhere where it is possible will work robots instead of humans.
Imagine society where 90% of those low educated manual workers lost their jobs, because of robots. It is really strange situation, because these people does not have
any money and they need money from government to survive. Well, where the government will get the money, when it does not have any money from all those poor low educated who used to work hard and give big percent of their wage to government? I don't know where the government will get the money, definetely not from robots, that is for sure, because they don't have any. we know government, they will find a way. There is something much worse than the fact the governments will have much less money. The biggest problem is in fact quite a paradox.
Imagine that there are so many unemployed people with no money in society because of robots, what will happen to economy? Yes, economy will fall down and really very deep and probably very fast. These people cannot buy anything, they cannot even buy products they used to create that now creates robots, but they also cannot buy any products or services that are still made by humans. What this will do with society? It will change it as similar things changed it before, there will be wars, famine, poverty, new regimes and ideologies. We can just hope that this will not be the end of humankind, because we have now very destructive powers we can use as weapons. In previous transitions we had no such weapons.
I don't want to finish this article so negatively, because I think fans of robot videos are positive people and people who thinks that robots will bring us bright future. I think that also, if we survive this painful transition, there will be beautiful future for humans in world where most of bad work will be done by robots. No human as it is today will have to do dangerous jobs, jobs that kill people both physically and mentally, boring jobs, stupid jobs or just any job you don't like. People will have the time and resources to educate themselves, to do arts, science and later even to explore space and maybe even meet other civilizations and finally after long time, to reach the last step of evolution - finding the reason of existence. All this thanks to robots.

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