There was a thought I was saving for my second book. It’s actually in the first version of Diary of an Angry Father, but it’s been developed much more in the year since the original book went to press. In a nutshell, as a result of corporatism and accelerating technology, the United States will lose about half its jobs to automation or AI by 2025. That’s not all that far away. With that in mind, how do we guide our children towards a career in anything?
I have to admit I am a fan of movies dealing with time travel, the future, and societal dystopia. Why? I’m looking for warning signs to protect my flock. No one can think of everything, but a little imagination combined with a collective intelligence can help formulate very effective hypotheses. My vision of the future for our children is quite dark and dysfunctional, as every prediction of a future generation has been since predicting the future has been a thing. With each successive implementation of technology, societies in general require less hard work and physical labor to survive and prosper. And for the first time ever, humans may no longer be required to think and innovate. We already have trained machines to do that for us. The hair on the back of #StephenHawking and @ElonMusk’s necks is standing at attention at this premise.
Here’s the thing. Technology is amazing. It has saved countless lives and allowed most of the developed world to achieve an almost ideal standard of living. Cheap and plentiful food. Widely available medical treatments. Comfortable and clean shelters and pastimes our ancestors could not have imagined. The people who invent technological advances are brilliant, as are the shrinking groups of people who have benefited financially from those advances. And therein lies the problem. Calm down, my fellow Republicans. I am not advocating redistribution or a socialist movement. However, the fundamental flaw of technology is that eventually it displaces the roles of people.
Some things won’t change. Those who want to work will find something to do. Unfortunately, it may not be as ethical as we would hope. And those in the ivory towers will still earn exponentially more than those who don’t for doing even less than they do now.
In Rise of the Robots, author Martin Ford details what machine intelligence and robotics can accomplish, and implores employers, scholars, and policy makers alike to face the implications. The past solutions to technological disruption, especially more training and education, aren’t going to work, and we must decide, now, whether the future will see broad-based prosperity or catastrophic levels of inequality and economic insecurity. Rise of the Robots is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand what accelerating technology means for their own economic prospects—not to mention those of their children—as well as for society as a whole.
What’s frightening is no one is talking about this. Martin Ford, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking, and other geniuses are being completely ignored by our government leaders. The presidential debates showed two clueless candidates pandering to dummies promising to create millions of new jobs. Shareholders of all sizes, shapes, and wealth are well aware this is a ridiculous and unrealistic promise. People as employees suck. They call out sick. They don’t show up. They’re irresponsible, ineffective, unreliable, and litigious. A robot will gladly work 24 hours a day, never unionize, and never ask for a raise. Automation ROI is a no-brainer.
I traveled to the future in a time machine, right after Brian Williams and I came back from saving the world from North Korea and ISIS. No, smart ass, it wasn’t in a Delorean. Or a hot tub. I still can’t believe John Ballsack refused to do the second movie. Even Chevy Chase reprised his role, and he’s a much bigger star. But I digress. The BMW electric car I traveled in was much more suitable for time travel. It already had a fusion chamber and a flight kit.
On the civilian end, things are bleak for lower-level jobs including the only job sectors with current growth, manufacturing and service industries. Self-driving cars are expected to roll out in or about 2018. Over a million people a year are killed in automobile accidents in the United States, with even more life-altering non-fatal injuries sustained annually. A large percentage of those accidents are human error. There is no doubt the roads would be safer, assuming anti-hacking technologies are improved substantially by then. I would guess that there are nearly four million, maybe more, Americans employed as bus, truck, delivery, taxi, Uber, and limousine drivers. We are already seeing semi-automated trash trucks in our neighborhood. And what about valets, parking lot attendants, construction workers who build parking lots, gas station attendants, auto repair technicians, automobile builders, and other related jobs? When self-driving technologies mature in less than a decade, in our wonderful nation where shareholder equity is more important than social responsibility, what positions do you think your favorite large companies are going to cut first?
A neighbor recently told me a tale about being romanced by automated bartenders on a cruise ship that poured and mixed perfect drinks. Apple, America’s darling (and sometimes richest) company is working to remove child labor from its outsourced manufacturing processes with even younger workers – that run on electricity. Hospitals are not immune – medicines are already distributed by automated delivery systems, and tests are read by machines or doctors seven different time zones away. Chances are you’ve called a company recently and spoke with a computer rather than a person, perhaps to the completion of your task or the resolution of your problem.
And let’s look at he ultimate fallback for underprivileged kids or Americans without a direction – a twenty-year career in any branch of the United States Military. Recruiting centers tend to pop up in failing malls and shopping centers of socioeconomically disadvantaged areas, which became disadvantaged through the last rounds of societal change, labor outsourcing, or automation technologies. Now that Google and other companies are jockeying for position by purchasing or investing in companies that develop and manufacture robots and artificial intelligence (AI), what do you think will be the first application of this new technology? That’s right kids, drones and robots will replace pilots and soldiers sooner than you think. This is happening right now: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/26/us/pentagon-artificial-intelligence-terminator.html. You don’t have to pay robots, you don’t have to feed them, you won’t have to provide expensive medical and retirement plans for them, and no pine box, folded flag, or survivor benefits are necessary when a robot gets killed in action. CNN reported the cost of keeping one soldier in Afghanistan for a single year was close to one million dollars. Soon, our government will be able to purchase ten robots for that figure, and use them indefinitely, or more likely, disposably.
Running further with the AI thing, we cannot be far away from computers that are capable of building more efficient machines and writing better code faster than any human could. With 3D printing already a reality, in the grand scheme of the history of civilized society, we are merely hours away from the complete automation of everything.
So, the question of the day remains: What the heck are we going to do? How am I supposed to tell my kids what college or career path to follow, where there might not be anything left for them to do?
And there’s the problem, fellow capitalists. If there are no jobs, what do you do with all the people? We all have to eat, we all require shelter, and we all require medical care at one time or another. But with no jobs, there’s no income. And if there’s no income, there can’t be any income taxes. Who’s going to fund all those cool new military toys? No worries – the whole country will simply go on unemployment, right? But with no tax revenues, how do you pay for those benefits? Tax the wealthy, right? Not. Politicians assume if you tax the wealthy, they’ll leave for another country with greener pastures. Many prominent American investors and companies have already set up shop in tax havens like Ireland, Switzerland, or Grand Cayman.
Are you beginning to see the conundrum?
I’m not smart enough to figure this one out. Donny Trump and Hilly Clinton both promise to create millions of new jobs. But these jobs would be temporary at best.
What I do envision is an entirely new transformation of what we consider civilization. Call it hybrid socialism, communism, whatever… I can’t fathom another alternative. Business-sympathetic advisers and reporters tell us not to worry, because throughout history, another industry always evolves, saving the economy, and produces millions of new careers we can’t even imagine. The dot-com economy happened, see? I apologize to those geniuses, but I can’t see how that theory will apply this time, since we’re replacing people with automation and intelligence that will soon eclipse ours. There will be very few things humans can do that robots won’t do better. Computer software has proven it can write news articles and blog posts. Even the darkest cornerstones of human civilization, slavery and prostitution, may be simulated and automated by some future capitalist genius. By 2025, half our jobs will be gone. By 2050, there ain’t gonna be jack for any of us to do, and there ain’t jack any of us can do about it.
In all seriousness, I have no idea how to advise my children in their future careers. All the genius plans I had now seem irrelevant and futile. My youngest is now 14, and his generation may eke by in the traditional sense of things. I told him he should build robots. But his kids will be completely screwed.
I’d love to hear your theories and solutions. Maybe we can once again save ourselves with a collaborative effort. I mothballed the time machine, in case anyone asks any questions.
Even tech entrepreneurs agree. http://www.npr.org/2016/09/24/495186758/as-our-jobs-are-automated-some-say-well-need-a-guaranteed-basic-income
Lawyers? Doc Brown predicted it in Back to the Future, and it may happen by 2020. http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2015/10/law-firm-bosses-envision-watson-type-computers-replacing-young-lawyers/
3.5 million truck drivers will be looking for a new “10-20.” Don’t forget the 80,000 truck stop cuties too. http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2015/05/28/driverless-trucks-armaggeddon-so-truck-drivers-will-just-go-do-something-else/
Oh, and hotels have already rolled this out. See here: http://www.nbcnews.com/tech/gadgets/robot-butlers-roll-action-starwood-hotels-n178626 and here: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-hotel-robots-20160207-story.html
And on Royal Carribbean ships: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBF7EE2xnN4
And in a restaurant in Ningbo, China: http://nypost.com/2014/12/04/this-restaurant-replaced-waiters-with-robots/
Forget about being the next Iron Chef, because the next Iron Chef may really be made of Iron. http://www.wired.com/2015/11/innit-future-kitchen
Carl’s Jr. is not great. Now it’ll be not great and automated. http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2016/03/17/carls-jr-ceo-wants-to-replace-all-human-workers-with-robots/
And so will McDonalds: http://newsexaminer.net/food/mcdonalds-to-open-restaurant-run-by-robots/
Waste Management has already replaced the non-driving trash guy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WRQH0-OJ_8
A career in the military, perhaps? Sorry, Charlie, you’re no longer necessary. http://www.popsci.com/israeli-defense-company-unveils-robot-warhsip and http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/26/us/pentagon-artificial-intelligence-terminator.html
Even the medical genre is going to be quashed, as doctors and researchers become replaced by smarter machines: http://www.pcmag.me/a/2498688
And just for kicks, here are nine other jobs that’ll be gone within 5 years: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/42183592/ns/business-careers/t/nine-jobs-humans-may-lose-robots
North Carolina says half its jobs may be gone in one generation: http://www.ncspin.com/emerging-issues-how-can-nc-deal-with-threat-of-jobless-future/
Hopefully, someone else, maybe a robot, will continue to write this timesucking blog for me. In the meantime, I’m hoping Real Dolls finishes my sexbot soon.