MIT Tech Review‘s newsletter on the future of work had an interesting interview recently with a chap who is training robots so that AI can takeover the learning process eventually from what it’s learned algorithmically from his interventions with the robotic arms. Yes, what this means is that the chap will not have a job when this happens.
It’s a well known fact that our kettle and fridges once lasted a whole lot longer. Planned obsolescence in the age of consumerism means we replace far sooner than we need to or want to. Whilst not everyone is in favour, it’s something that happens. And it’s about to happen to a lot of the human population of workers. No one wants it, but it will be inevitable when the robots, combined with AI, become more efficient and effective than their human counterparts.
The problem at the moment is that we only have the obsolescence part. What we need is more work on planning for the inevitability.
If we could plan for our own obsolescence, we might be looking for what skills we need to survive and thrive. We might be spending more time learning. We might be making our thoughts known to our employers and our governments so that they, too, participated in planning.
But all I see, at present, is a lot of scaremongering and talk about UBI and not what we are all going to do when the robots take our jobs. Industries will definitely rise up from out of it: the entrepreneurial among us can get a head start:
- Repairing robots
- Recycling obsolete robots
- Drone pilots
- Drone traffic control
- Reclamation of precious metals from old tech
- Recycling in the age of Circularity
- Delivery to pick up points
- Concierge services for people receiving deliveries
If we are keeping an eye on the idea that the labour force as we understand it today will be substantially transformed in the next 5-10 years, perhaps we can avert the calamity that through careful planning for what we will do when we become obsolete in what we currently do. Plan our obsolescence.