(picture) In order to establish political & economical stability in 2012, leaders will not only have to act in a transparent manner, be honest and use their common sense, they will also have to involve technology and robotics in a more active manner. “The World” should start admitting that we actually are in a system crisis and we’d better take effective measures instead of covering problems with the veil of politics. The refusal by conservative economists to recognize the shortcomings of classic economic thinking is becoming dangerous, especially given the fact that the side-effects of the third industrial revolution to come are being ignored. The global socio-economic landscape will change faster than we can keep up with!
By definition adjusting to new parameters requires investment. It seems, however that mankind is generally tempted to be in denial of change: it took us decades to admit global population is aging, we are still ignoring the consequences of climate change and we refuse to see the defaults in economic thinking. In the meantime the next “challenge” we’ll face is the growing demand for and incorporation of machines and robots in the industrial process.
In the near future human labor will be taken over by (almost) full automation! It may take a while before the true meaning of Singularity will be a part of our daily lives, yet we’d better start realizing that the battle between man and machine has begun.
Let me illustrate this with an example: Foxconn, the Taiwanese technology giant producing our mobiles phones and tablets, is planning to replace workers by one million robots in three years time. After the company was confronted with a string of suicides among workers as a result of hard working conditions, they decided to invest in machines rather than in human labor. Robots can work 24 hours a day, their costs will only drop over time and efficiency will rise. This is a growing trend, not likely to stop soon, because new technological developments are coming to us every day. Currently many cars are made with less than 24 hours of human labor, automation does the rest. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics expects automotive jobs to decline by 18% by 2018, even though an increase in production is expected.
One of the parameters of economic activity is the rise or decline of unemployment rates. When human labor has become obsolete we will have to find new means of income. Jeremy Rifkin already informed us back in 1995 that “The End of Work” could be near, claiming that many jobs will never come back. He said that “blue collar workers, secretaries, receptionists, clerical workers, sales clerks, bank tellers, telephone operators, librarians, wholesalers, and middle managers are just a few of the many occupations destined for virtual extinction.”
It appears he was right, because quite a few of the professions mentioned above can no longer be found on payrolls, at least not in Western society.
Socio-economic implications are already visible, but with a decline in human labor jobs, the perception of work and our daily lifestyles will change even more.
The question is whether we really are facing the end of work as Mr Rifkin claims ... Maybe work and leisure will merge as do real and virtual. We might even see a revival of Second Life and have Avatars do the job for us ... who can tell.
Politicians, managers and other leaders should place this new reality at the top of their agenda’s, but so should everyone else! People should become aware of the fact that they will have to take responsibility in creating their own jobs, be self-supporting and find ways to be smarter or more creative than a machine. Getting used to robots in our daily environment is another option, because after all, who can still imagine life without a mobile phone? A growing group of people is already becoming hooked on smart phones and tablets, I am sure that soon a robot will not only be a companion you can rely on, you’ll start to miss it when it’s not around.