The headline on Drudge today is that a machine is replacing anesthesiologists. I have known about this machine for a while. It’s only a matter of time before robots begin replacing humans in all kinds of jobs.
Generally, when we think about robots replacing humans, we think about low wage jobs. Fast food and factories. But, robots will replace humans in any job where the task is repetitive. Computers replaced brokers in trading. There are plenty of repetitive tasks in all kinds of high skilled labor occupations that will be replaced using a robot.
But it won’t stop there.
Artificial intelligence will replace people in many jobs that require deductive reasoning. Combine AI with a robot, and the science fiction machines we read about as kids are reality. If you can dream it, it will be built.
There won’t be one occupation what will remain untouched. Farming comes to mind immediately. Driverless tractors and harvesters combined with soil sensors that tell when to fertilize and water combined with drones that show me my fields in real time. One farmer in a remote location might be able to run multiple farms in multiple time zones.
In general, when people think about this kind of future, they think dark thoughts. They get scared. What will society do when all those humans are replaced by robots and artificial intelligence?
Society will evolve. When the buggy whip factories went out of business, society created new jobs. There are new jobs being created today that didn’t exist years ago. Who would have thought a company needed a social media strategist, and a social media team? It’s almost impossible to predict what new jobs will be created.
Of course, advancing technology will cause a lot of dislocation. It’s easy for me to say, “retrain”. It’s much harder to execute. I do believe that the entire welfare and support apparatus that currently exists in the US and state government needs to be totally scrapped. By totally scrapped, I mean written off the books and taken out of the budget. Instead, it can be replaced by one basic income.
I also think that the US educational system needs to be totally revamped as well. Vouchers need to be given directly to individuals so they can decide what sort of retraining they need. If we try to use the existing system, the only thing that will benefit will be bureaucrats and teachers unions.
Instead of recoiling in fear, people need to accept the fact that humans are insanely creative. Someone will figure out a new future that is better than the old ways. When we create a machine that replaces backbreaking work and allows that person to do something else that is more fulfilling and productive it’s not bad. When we create artificial intelligence that helps offload a lot of mundane decision making and tasks to a machine, it frees up time where they can do other things.
This evolution in technology is amazing. It’s awesome and instead of looking for every dark corner, we ought to be rejoicing in the freedom that it gives us.
If we don’t confront the march of technology by enabling individuals to access resources, then we could risk societal dislocation that will be very uncomfortable to everyone. In general, when the world has confronted events like that, wars break out.