Thursday, July 20, 2017

"The Mother of All Disruptions"

Warning: don’t read too much about the future of jobs in an era of Artificial Intelligence if you are—psychologically speaking—in a dark place. If you’re a lover of the arts and humanities, for example, you should probably go full hermit in the basement of a university library with plenty of provisions (but no WiFi). If you greet all technological advances with gee-whiz enthusiasm, you’d best avoid long conversations with people who make a living driving trucks or reading X-rays. If you’re an antiglobalization protectionist, get ready to look with longing on a time when the biggest threats to jobs were NAFTA and an ascendant China. And even if you believe in the long-term benefits of what economist Joseph Schumpeter called creative destruction—as I do—prepare to have your convictions tested.
I think this is only part of what is coming actually...Not to be an alarmist, and I am generally an optimist, but the increasing tendency of Man to create a distancing from each other, from those stupid new credit card chip checkout machines which obviate the ability to actually talk to the checkout person, to social media, smart phones, the Internet and good old TV, is another revolutionary "thing"  too.  People have a seductive screen world to focus on to the detriment of the real world.  Even more interestingly, there are studies that show all this input is leading to speeded up brains and people, which helps cause everything from the extremely rapid editing needed in tv, movies, etc. to sustain interest, to the anxiety and other emotional, mental and even possibly physical difficulties caused by the passive contact with screen world, and the rapid and unceasing flow of information, not to mention the effect on other revolutionary aspects of society, like the coming change in the racial and cultural make up of this country (whites losing their majority in about 20 years) as well as the culture wars around civil rights, race, religion, income inequality and other areas.  And I personally think the younger generation, many of whom have formed their brain through screens, think in an almost fundamentally different way.

In the past, such combinations led to revolution.  But there is also the prospect of a permanent underclass, sustained just enough by modern types of bread and circuses, and then like Rome, a decline because a society cannot work with a disconnected populace.  However, unlike Rome, our automated society is controllable, because of the increased power the new channels and things give their makers and sellers.  For example, you can be tracked constantly though internet use, cell phone signals, and even video cameras on stop lights, in cities, and other places, etc.   Your opinion can be manipulated through selective presentation of "news."  Your car and everyone else's can be controlled -- imagine a scenario where China, who is a major car seller (and car parts seller) in the US  -- embeds code in those millions of units to centrally control the vehicles.  Then China could, theoretically, central control all the vehicles, which is a pretty powerful economic and wartime power.  And code is embedded everywhere in everything, especially with the new Internet of Things.

Of course, Man could end up doing well through all this.  On the other hand, or not.  sigh.  

1 comment:

  1. When have individuals not been manipulated by and subjected to control of others? However, now people have willingly submitted to controls. As you point out, the reckoning for that submissive indifference is on the horizon. I don't think any of us are prepared for the coming apocalypse. I recall HAL in 2001 Space Odyssey. Terror awaits.