Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Humans Need Not Apply

The video above is the latest from one of my favourite YouTube explainers, CGP Grey. This video is about the future impact of automation, specifically, not whether it should happen—it is and will—but how we deal with the inevitable time in which large sections of the population are, through no fault of their own, unemployable.

This is a topic that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. Maybe it’s all the silly post-apocalyptic movies out nowadays, but I wonder sometimes about the world we’re creating for ourselves, and whether we even want to be part of it. I’m not sure.

The history of our technological advance since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution has been aout reducing the drudgery of physical labour while increasing the benefits of wealth spread around. But that disappeared in the past generation or so as corporations sought to increase profits without any care or concern for the humans left on the scrapheap in that pursuit of higher profit.

Will we reach the point at which we decide to unplug the machines? Or, as the movies predict, will that decision come too late? Or—third option—will we ever get to that point?

Personally, I think that the challenge is to decide what we HUMANS want and to dictate to corporations what is permissible, NOT the other way around. I don’t give a stuff how much profit is returned to shareholders if it means that billions of humans are to be condemned to subsistence living at best. We humans should control our own destiny, and if that causes problems for corporations, well, too bad.

But, that’s just me. Maybe most people are happy to live as serfs and vassals, always subject to the whims of corporate masters (or their machines…). But at the very—VERY—least we ought to be talking about these things and what we want. While we still can.

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