Automation and A/I – a new world.

We are on the brink of a new world. The future does not need an army of workers. They are fast becoming surplus to requirements.

Look at the jobs that are going to be replaced by automation:

drivers

shelf stackers

factory work,

deliverers

miners

brain surgeons

pilots

soldiers

bricklayers

Robots and automation will do both unskilled and skilled work.

In the present day the skilled workforce was kicked out of well-paid jobs in mining, shipyards, docks, building, steel works, car plants, factories. They were replaced by automation. A machine can work night and day and does not need paying. It is cheaper, more efficient and less troublesome. A manufacturer can make much higher profits.

Our docks are all container ports now. There are no stevedores shoveling coal or carrying sacks.

The displaced workforce were put out to work in low-paid menial tasks. They are now stacking shelves in supermarkets, flipping burgers, driving an uber or dashing around all over the country delivering parcels.

Soon those jobs will go. Driverless cars will soon be the norm. Deliveries will be made by robots. We already have self-stacking supermarkets with no need for a checkout. They have machines that lay bricks and robots that build cars. There are automated fast-food joints. Drones replace soldiers and people are blown up remotely. Robots do a better job. The product is done to perfection. They are more efficient, faster and better. They are also a lot cheaper.

I have been doing a daily walk up my hill past the fields and observing the huge fields either side of my lane.

A couple of hundred years ago these were small fields with hedges and streams. The village would have been involved in planting tending and harvesting. It was very labour intensive and inefficient (but fun). Now it is different.

A big tractor comes along and in one day it ploughs the whole massive field. After a while another big tractor discs it. A tractor comes along and sprays the field with fertiliser (the needs assessed from assays. A tractor would come along and sow the seeds. Every few weeks a tractor comes along and sprays the field with pesticide and herbicide. On the big day, when the crop is perfect, three massive machines come along and harvest the peas. I stood and watched (with memories of laboriously shucking peas with my grandmother). The machines chopped the plants, separated pods from plant and shucked the peas. A tractor with wagon rolled alongside the harvester and the peas were poured from a shoot into the wagon. The wagon drove off to the factory where they were frozen and packaged to be sent to the supermarket. The whole field was done in a morning.

What took a whole village could now be achieved by one man, part-time, and five men for a morning.

In a few years time even this will be automated. There will be no need for tractor drivers.

What struck me was that no pea was touched by human hand. The whole process of sowing, tending, harvesting, freezing, packaging and ending up in the shop is automated. The only time a pea touches a human is when the fork enters the mouth.

The end result of this automation is scary.

The manufacturers can produce more goods more cheaply and efficiently and make more money.

People are no longer needed. The workforce is redundant.

We end up with a two-tier world. The extremely rich manufacturers and a very poor underclass who cannot find work.

Something has to change.

New jobs will be made. Robots need tending to. There is design and innovation. Factories need overseeing. Computers need programming.

But a lot of these jobs require skills and intelligence. Not everybody is suited.

There are the caring and leisure industries and education. But even these will be affected by A/I. Distanced learning and robotic friends, arse-washing toilets and smart wheelchairs.

The model for capitalism is under threat. How can people buy the mass of things manufactured if they have no money?

This could lead to a world of pleasure and leisure or a world of two classes of people.

Which is it?

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all be paid handsomely for work and only had to work two or three days a week?

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could be trained to carry out caring jobs – nursing, caring for the elderly, looking after nature and teaching – which paid well and gave you plenty of time to prepare and have time off – with the money to do things.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we lived in a more equal society where the wealthy was more evenly distributed (on a global basis) so that everybody could proper from this new affluence?

Or is it going to end up with an extremely wealthy elite, greedily raking in the money while the rest of us live on peanuts?

What do you reckon?

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