January 27, 2014

Take a quick trip to geekdom with me.

Cinematically, “The Matrix” and “A.I. Artificial Intelligence” are sci-fi adventures, delivered in very different packages.  Thematically, though, both movies posit the same lesson: humans will eventually be usurped by the machines we create.  In “The Matrix,” our creations keep us “alive” to power their world; in “A.I.,” humans cease to exist.  The only “living creatures” are the robots which evolved from our originals.

Some will scoff at the very notion of intelligent machines, and by all means, do so.  Uniformity of opinion is not exactly why this blog exists.  Still, just based on the technology leaps of the last decade, it’s easy to extrapolate a future where machines rule the world.  Humans have an unquenchable curiosity (we’re like cats in that way), and that attribute alone lends credence to a dystopian future.

We’re not close to creating our replacements, so no need to robot-proof your home.  But where we may have already crossed the Rubicon is the technological replacement of human-centric jobs.  Technology has enhanced/bettered the human condition for the last 5,000+ years.  But as the articles below intimate, we may have swung in the opposite direction, where technology is supplanting humans at jobs once thought safe.  Say this is true, the question becomes: can human ingenuity develop enough jobs for the ever-growing global population?

This question becomes even more interesting when I look at the charitable efforts of Bill Gates.  The Gates Foundation is spending billions of dollars to eradicate diseases such as malaria, polio, tuberculosis, AIDS, among many others; and in some instances that are so close to winning their fight.  The lives being saved – both today and in the future – are almost incalculable.  But therein lies the rub, while lives are being saved, what kind of life will be the result?  If the word cynical raised through your head, you’re not the first.  But the practical question remains: is there enough work for the human populace?

The last 10 years have seen extraordinary changes in technology.  If you don’t marvel at your mobile device at least once a day, then you’re not appreciating the sheer genius of how it came to be.  Technology awes and inspires and benefits people on a daily basis.  But there is never a positive without some negative, whether it be today or down the road.  Maybe those who are part of the Giving Pledge should consider utilizing their vast resources to develop a practical plan to keep 10,000,000,000 people working, fed, and civilized.

The Future Of Jobs: The Onrushing Wave

Here Are The 47% Of Jobs At High Risk Of Being Destroyed By Robots