Robots Uber Alles

Instead of robots displacing humans in the workplace, what if they replaced them? Every job.

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Lately, I’ve been thinking about what can be done to keep manufacturing jobs in the U.S. especially those like steel that are vital to our national interests.

But I know what you’re going to say: Stan, you’re forgetting the realities of globalization. Labor is cheaper overseas and besides, more and more manufacturing jobs are done by robots.

Speaking of that, it doesn’t really matter to me whether jobs are done by robots or humans. But that’s easy for me to say since 1) I’m retired and 2) my career was primarily in software development during a time when robot displacement wasn’t very likely.

On the other hand, having your job displaced, whether by robots or cheaper overseas labor, matters a great deal to the displacees. The recent presidential election should have made this abundantly clear.

So, instead of robots displacing humans, what if they replaced them? Completely. All jobs. Everywhere. After all, robots don’t mind working 24x7x52, being axed by cheaper, better robots, or not being payed. They don’t get lazy, power-mad, jealous, or succumb to any of the other less than noble human instincts. This implies, of course, that these robots are not sentient or if sentient do not care whether they “live” or “die”, etc.

Is this possible? Yes. Over the next few decades practically all jobs could be done by robots. But there is a big difference between “could” and “should”.

What would humans gain from this? In a word: freedom. In a world where you don’t need to work, you’re pretty much free to do anything you want.

There’s just one tiny caveat. All of the output produced by robots anywhere on the planet (or any other place in the universe) must be fairly distributed to all humans everywhere. That means everybody has food, water, clothing, shelter, health care, and every other material product imaginable for free and in abundance. There’s a word for that: socialism. In fact, it would be the ultimate socialist society. But if it works for everyone, then sign me up. In fact, work production would likely become globalized, but who would care?

OK, maybe there’s another caveat. Human beings are, in fact, subject to all of the nastier emotions mentioned earlier. So can we get the power-mad, tribalistic humans among us to give up all of their territories, control, and so on?

Stay tuned on that one.

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By sbaptista

I talk to myself in public.

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