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Robotics AI Businesses The Almighty Buck IT Technology

'Robots Won't Just Take Our Jobs -- They'll Make the Rich Even Richer' (theguardian.com) 644

Robotics and artificial intelligence will continue to improve -- but without political change such as a tax, the outcome will range from bad to apocalyptic, writes technology and politics journalist Ben Tarnoff, citing experts and studies, for The Guardian. From the article, shared by six anonymous readers: Despite a steady stream of alarming headlines about clever computers gobbling up our jobs, the economic data suggests that automation isn't happening on a large scale. The bad news is that if it does, it will produce a level of inequality that will make present-day America look like an egalitarian utopia by comparison. The real threat posed by robots isn't that they will become evil and kill us all, which is what keeps Elon Musk up at night -- it's that they will amplify economic disparities to such an extreme that life will become, quite literally, unlivable for the vast majority. A robot tax may or may not be a useful policy tool for averting this scenario. But it's a good starting point for an important conversation. Mass automation presents a serious political problem -- one that demands a serious political solution. Automation isn't new. In the late 16th century, an English inventor developed a knitting machine known as the stocking frame. By hand, workers averaged 100 stitches per minute; with the stocking frame, they averaged 1,000. This is the basic pattern, repeated through centuries: as technology improves, it reduces the amount of labor required to produce a certain number of goods. So far, however, this phenomenon hasn't produced extreme unemployment. That's because automation can create jobs as well as destroy them. What's different this time is the possibility that technology will become so sophisticated that there won't be anything left for humans to do. What if your ATM could not only give you a hundred bucks, but sell you an adjustable-rate mortgage?
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'Robots Won't Just Take Our Jobs -- They'll Make the Rich Even Richer'

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  • Bull (Score:5, Informative)

    by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Thursday March 02, 2017 @12:45PM (#53962621)

    "By hand, workers averaged 100 stitches per minute; with the stocking frame, they averaged 1,000. This is the basic pattern, repeated through centuries: as technology improves, it reduces the amount of labor required to produce a certain number of goods. So far, however, this phenomenon hasn't produced extreme unemployment."

    Yes, it did. Automatic steam-powered weaving machines caused the birth of the Union movement, because hundreds of thousands lost their jobs worldwide.
    Just nobody cared at the time and the rich did get richer then as well.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yep. nothing new at all.

      The scale has just changed to a point where it will break society. This started a while ago and we've muddled through (invented endless desk jobs type stuff) but it's starting to really not work anymore and widespread automation replacing unskilled laborers is only getting started. The next generation of robots are gonna be gnarly...

      Boston Dynamics has shown where we're headed and it's very, very capable robots. After the darpa challenge door opening buffoonery it seemed a way off, b

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @01:05PM (#53962829) Journal

      Automatic steam-powered weaving machines caused the birth of the Union movement

      The rich are spending billions to kill off unions by a combination of (legally) bribing politicians, and propping up plutocrat-kissing pundits like Fox News, Rush, and Breitbart to convince the voting population that unions kill jobs and the economy.

      The rich are winning the class war because they can buy more and bigger weapons.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by JoeMerchant ( 803320 )

        Sadly, I've seen this on multiple scales - "downtrodden" working class people who think it's in their best interests to make the rich richer so that a little more can trickle down to their level.

        No, it's not a zero-sum game. But, the more people who have a surplus, the faster things get better for everyone - if all the wealth gets concentrated into a very few hands, you're back at feudal states - and life's not really better for anyone in that scenario, lots of contrast for the guys at the top vs the botto

        • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

          working class people who think it's in their best interests to make the rich richer so that a little more can trickle down to their level.

          The propagandists use another trick, claiming that if the gov't or unions get big in general, then they will use their power to do "anti-Christian" things, like build gender-neutral restrooms and make Christians pay for them. Bundled FUD.

      • by Rick Schumann ( 4662797 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @02:44PM (#53964049) Journal
        Then what they will be buying themselves, eventually, is civil war. People will not just sit quietly and starve to death or die of exposure when they get evicted because they have no income. They'll turn to crime to feed themselves and their families, and when things get bad enough, someone will rally them together and there will be armed conflict, insurrection against those that are oppressing them and leaving them to die; this is another pattern that repeats itself throughout human history as well: you shit on people's heads enough, they reach a point where all hell breaks loose. I for one believe that at least here in the U.S., and with any luck at all, other 1st-World countries, the government will see what's happening well in advance of things going too far, and will take steps to ensure that the average citizen is not left to fend for themselves. Additionally, while I firmly believe that there are corporations and people out there who really don't give a damn about people in general, so long as they get richer, I also firmly believe that there are companies, corporations, organizations, and people with lots of money who are pro-human, and will voluntarily ensure that workers are people in general are not left out in the cold. There is much evil in the world, but it's not a world entirely ruled by evil, either, there is enough good out there to keep things balanced.
        • by crtreece ( 59298 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @04:54PM (#53965333) Homepage

          Then what they will be buying themselves, eventually, is civil war.

          The owner-class won't worry about that. They'll be directing their hunter/killer robots from within their walled off enclaves.

          Seriously. Once the dirty business of producing food, clothing, shelter, and high-tech toys is fully automated, why would the .1% want the unwashed masses around, other than for entertainment?

      • by Stormy Dragon ( 800799 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @03:42PM (#53964701) Homepage

        Local unions might be a good idea, but the AFL/CIO style national unions are themselves big corrupt corporations, so in practice being unionized just means you have two sets of rich people screwing you over.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Solandri ( 704621 )
      One problem with your theory. The rich can't get richer if the masses can't afford to buy the shiny new toys being made by the robots.

      Technological advancements can't result in long-term widescale job loss. Because if it does, the masses wouldn't be able to buy as much stuff, and it would reduce the country's net productivity, meaning a smaller pie for the rich to take their disproportionate slice from. Free market economics views reduced productivity as an inefficiency, and tries to get rid of it (ac
      • Re:Bull (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @02:14PM (#53963685) Homepage

        Technological advancements can't result in long-term widescale job loss. Because if it does, the masses wouldn't be able to buy as much stuff, and it would reduce the country's net productivity, meaning a smaller pie for the rich to take their disproportionate slice from.

        That seems like an argument for why it would be bad for technological advancements to result in job loss -- which is a very different thing than an argument for why they can't result in job loss.

        If you think the individually-rational decisions of various companies will always guarantee a universally-positive outcome for the market as a whole, then you've never experienced a market crash or a tragedy-of-the-commons. The "invisible hand" is not an infallible guide.

        because only a government can deprive people of freedom to make their own economic decisions

        Another canard -- there's nothing particularly unique about governments in that respect. Any sufficiently powerful entity can deprive people of freedom to make their own economic choices, and private corporations also do it all the time. Read about the "company store" for miners, or the conditions in which migrant agricultural workers were (and are) held. It's no good to say "well, they're technically free to walk away whenever they want" if, as a practical matter, they do not have the economic resources to do so.

        That freedom is what allows people to increase their standard of living - by individually choosing more productive activities over less.

        And what do you do when there is no activity that you are capable of that is economically productive, because anything you could do, a machine can do better and more cheaply? Hope that other people will buy your (inferior and more expensive) products/services out of sympathy for your plight?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        One problem with your theory. The rich can't get richer if the masses can't afford to buy the shiny new toys being made by the robots.

        You're still trying to think of money as an absolute. Money is a proxy for labor, and represents buying power.

        What happens when you pay your workers the same wage and have them work the same hours, but you only employ 50% as many workers? You're making high-end induction stoves for $2,800 today and selling them for $3,200 (14% gross profits, and 9% net profits in your business). Suddenly, it costs you $1,400 to make that high-end induction stove; if your business keeps its 9% net operating profit, you

        • by hipp5 ( 1635263 )

          Technical progress makes the poor and middle-classes richer. The pie gets twice as big, everyone gets like 1.9x as much, and the rich get 2.1x as much, and people go, "Oh god, the wealth gap is growing! Rich get richer while the poor get poorer!" because their slice appears to be a smaller radius of the (now-enormous) pie than it was of the (then-anemic) one they had before. They all get fat off cheap calories when their great-grandparents were struggling to get barely enough food to survive, and they still bitch that they're poorer than the hard-working men of the 1820s.

          Yes, we are all getting richer, which is great. I read a great book a while ago and this was basically the gist of it. The name escapes me at the moment.

          However, that doesn't mean a growing wealth gap is a good thing. Wealth drives quality of life (which is generally getting better for all), but it also is pretty much a direct proxy for power. As that wealth gap grows, power is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. Power--unlike quality of life-- is a zero sum game; if someone gains it, others lose it. And

        • Re:Bull (Score:5, Insightful)

          by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @05:43PM (#53965751) Homepage

          I see a flaw:

          What happens when you pay your workers the same wage and have them work the same hours, but you only employ 50% as many workers? ...Mind you, because that stove is only $1,673, the households which historically bought the $1,800 models can now buy your previously-$3,200 model in the same budget (although the $1,800 models will also be cheaper). Most likely, you'll move more product

          But now, only 50% of the people have jobs. So there are fewer households that can afford the $1,800 models.

          Consider this scenario, then let me tie it into your scenario:

          There are 4 farmers. The farmers share their grazing land, but each one keeps the profits from shearing their own sheep. Each farmer starts with 10 sheep. Each farmer asks "should I buy another sheep?" Well, since they keep the profits from the sheep they buy, but share the costs, each farmer decides it is economical to buy another sheep. But now, each farmer found their cost increased by 1 full sheep, not 1/4 of a sheep, but it increased by 1/4 of a sheep for the sheep they bought and 3/4 for the 3 sheep the other farmers bought. Lesson: "Local optimization does not lead to global optimization."

          Now in your scenario, the product price dropped because one company cut its labor by 50%. That resulted in fewer households who can afford $1,800. But this is just one employer out of millions. So the resulting reduction from the layoffs does not significantly reduce the number of total households that can afford the $1,800 models. However, what if all the other factories do the same thing? This problem starts to look a lot like the sheep scenario. Each factory saves money by reducing their own labor pool, but they share the customers pool. But if all factories do this same labor and cost reduction, it starts to impact the pool of customers. The short-term winner is the company that can cut costs faster than other companies. But eventually, everyone loses.

      • Once they have robots to build them all the shiny toys they want, and all of the capital they already have, they don't need "money" from plebs anymore. They continue to get richer in the way that really matters, the material goods and services available to them through the labor of the robots they own upon the capital they already own, and all the schmucks that they used to sell things to for money with which to employ them (to labor upon the capital they already own, including to make the things that they

      • Re:Bull (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Squiffy ( 242681 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @02:44PM (#53964057) Homepage

        Do correct me if I have a glaring misconception, but it seems to me that if robots are doing enough of the work, the rich can use their power to obviate the poor. Of what use are the poor if there's no demand for their work, and you have nothing to gain by trading with them because automation can create whatever is most valuable to you? What is the point of personal economic liberty if most people have no wealth to make decisions about?

      • Re:Bull (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MorePower ( 581188 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @02:57PM (#53964223)

        At some point though, the rich won't need money from the masses. They will be able to just directly order their robo-factories to directly build their yachts and mega-mansions, using robo-manufactured components built from robo-harvested raw materials. If they don't personally own robo-companies that have what they need, they can just trade with other 1%ers who do own the right robo-resources.

        They probably will need a few lesser humans (at least in the beginning) to fill in the gaps that robots can't (yet) do. But that will just be an issue of enticing the best of the best non-1%ers with the opportunity to live in the servants' wing of their robo-built mansion and eat the leftovers of their robo-harvested food.

        Right now they only need money from the masses so they can use that money to employee the masses. That dependancy goes away of you already own vast armies of robots that serve you for free.

        • Re:Bull (Score:5, Interesting)

          by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @05:47PM (#53965775) Homepage

          Maybe this is the endgame of human evolution. Instead of having 7 billion people, of whom 1% are rich (that's 70 million): perhaps you have a human population of 70 million rich people, and about 7 billion robots? Not so scary if you are one of the 1%. I just don't want to be around during the transition period.

      • Being rich isn't about selling things, it's about owning them. Past a certain threshold wealth isn't about nice cars and houses. It's about power. The power to make people do what you want. Do you thick Melania married Trump for his winning personality? The rich might have fewer zeros in their bank accounts but they'll have more of what really matters: control. Control of your access to food, shelter, education and transportation. You'll do as they say or you'll starve in the streets. And if you rebel the o
    • I think we've reached the point where goods and services shouldn't really be the target anymore. Anyone can fill their domicile floor to ceiling with "goods" purchased at big-box retailers, even on a minimum wage salary. Ideally, services should top out at a smaller percentage of the economy than they already are - if we all spend our time "serving" each other, making up false problems like insurance coding and billing, tax accounting, real-estate representation... what's the point?

      The old saw of "a commo

    • Re:Bull (Score:4, Informative)

      by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @01:51PM (#53963359) Journal
      Millions of people starved to death in India and all over British colonies when Britain dumped their factory made goods. In fact without such a large dumping ground creating jobs in Britain, the Industrial Revolution might have fizzled out. Hungry mobs would have rebelled and destroyed everything.
  • by Salgak1 ( 20136 ) <salgak@@@speakeasy...net> on Thursday March 02, 2017 @12:47PM (#53962635) Homepage

    . . . . they'll take err jerbs ???

    (sorry, couldn't resist. . .)

    • by sinij ( 911942 )
      Yes they would, and if you think that unwashed masses will simply take it lying down, you are going to be up to a very nasty surprises when more and worse Trumps get elected.
  • by Notabadguy ( 961343 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @12:50PM (#53962663)

    Well, then I'd tell the ATM to go fuck itself, since adjustable rate mortgages are a scam, then I'd go find a different ATM that would sell me a fixed rate mortgage.

    The first ATM would of course end up needing a machine-government bailout because it's too big to fail.

  • by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @12:50PM (#53962665)

    will mean our city will be ten foot deep in manure in less than a quarter century!

    Alarmists need to stop thinking any one thing can be extrapolated to the future without society and technology changing and adapting. And no, tax as an attempt to slow or stall inevitable progress is not a solution at all.

  • Err, guys? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @12:55PM (#53962723) Journal

    If the vast majority of humanity becomes unemployed (which is what this apocalyptic scenario implies), then no one will be buying the products that these robots make. Without customers and the money/purchasing they bring, businesses tend to collapse fairly quickly. You could counter with "well, the rich will just buy stuff from each other", but 1) the scale won't be there to justify the automation in most cases, and 2) in economics, just like in biology, when the genetic pool gets too small for a species, the result eventually becomes extinction.

    Look, I get it, but honestly, this is the same argument that was being advanced 100 years ago when electricity was automating things (and 'OMG that Westinghouse guy is going to have more money than a god while the rest of us starve!'), 200 years ago when steam was automating things, etc etc. People have always adapted, shifted their career focus, and created new industries which are not as easily automated. Unless someone can come up with an argument showing how this time will be different (hint: it probably won't), then this is just a rehash of an old argument.

    • One thing I have noticed is that rich people like buying custom/bespoke things. Maybe we will go back to making shoes, furniture and music by hand.
    • Re:Err, guys? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by H3lldr0p ( 40304 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @01:09PM (#53962881) Homepage

      Not only that but it gives our society a chance to ask some good questions. Such as, "Does work really matter?" and "Why must a person earn a living?". When for all practical purposes our base necessities are taken care of automatically, why should anyone labor?

      I think that question is something a lot of the very wealthy, and mostly those who are newly wealthy, are afraid of asking. If not more than a little jealous of.

    • Re:Err, guys? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by sinij ( 911942 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @01:10PM (#53962891)
      You forget wars in-between. Wars, collapse of empires and so on has equalizing and wealth distributing effect. Modern imperial wars will inevitably involve nukes, there won't be anything left to distribute afterwards.
    • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @01:13PM (#53962927) Journal

      People have always adapted, shifted their career focus, and created new industries which are not as easily automated. Unless someone can come up with an argument showing how this time will be different

      Here's the evidence: nobody can identify the new fields that are replacing the old ones, unlike the past. Sure, there are new fields, but they not appearing in sufficient quantity to replace those lost. And even those fields are being offshored to cheap-labor countries.

      For example, craigslist employs about 60 people, but has probably killed tens or hundreds of thousands of newspaper-related jobs in the process.

    • > Look, I get it, but honestly, this is the same argument that was being advanced 100 years ago when electricity was automating things

      Not really. If the device is *smarter* than you, then it really is something different. Automation to date has shifted employment from moving your arms to thinking about things. If the automation of the future outthinks you, then what do we do? Of course, if they are smarter than us, I suspect they will solve the problem for us anyway.

      That said, I believe there is 0% chanc

    • But automation killed jobs, destroyed societies and people starved to death and they endured abject poverty. All the societal norms built over millennia disintegrated. But it happened in the colonies. So the Industrial powers never wrote the details in History books in great detail.

      One single example, the great Famine of Madras Presidency killed more people than the entire Irish Potatoe famine. Need to dig up the numbers.

  • You don't want to climb the corporate ladder. You want to own the corporate ladder.
  • the economic data suggests that automation isn't happening on a large scale

    And 10 years ago, lthe economic data said that smartphone app sales were not happening at all (since there was no such thing as an app store until 2008). Some people need to re-learn the lessons about "tipping points" or watch how even something as seemingly innocuous as a loud sound can trigger an avalanche that destroys all in its' path.

  • I suggest learning how to do something a robot can't. Perhaps designing new robots? Information theory states that a system cannot create something more complex than itself, so a robot cannot design a robot that is more complex than it is. There's one industry that'll be safe.
    • Wouldn't an evolutionary algorithm in a simulation make it pretty easy to design something more complex than itself?
      • by chubs ( 2470996 )
        No, because the simulation was already capable of rendering whatever solution the genetic algorithm generated. Therefore the genetic algorithm and the simulation contained more information than the solution generated by them, and they are therefore more complex. What we're talking about would be more like the genetic algorithm determining that the simulation it used to determine how well a solution performed was incorrect and writing a new simulation to tests its results against.
  • This has exactly zero to do with "robots taking [someone's] jobs" and everything to do with the tax code and the government's attitude towards the majority of the people.

  • by sinij ( 911942 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @01:05PM (#53962835)
    Robot tax is infeasible, as it is too easy to work around. For example, as an owner of fully autonomous factory I would have a single employee press 'Start' button once a day, and sit in the chair in front of dials Homer-style. Now I can claim that my system isn't fully automated and I don't have to pay tax.

    Feasible solution is progressive taxation combined with guaranteed income. Fundamentally, it isn't 1% getting Ferengi-rich, it is that the rest of us are forced to play Jem'Hadar as a result.
  • I have no problem with others gaining more wealth and the means for which they so choose. History is bloodied with the rise and fall of those with and those without. The poor suffer for generations, but then eventually rise up and dispatch the generations of those with wealth and power. And then the cycle repeats. How and when are just the inevitable variables for this cycle.
  • This is why we need to develop 3D printing and CNC machinery ASAP, so we won't be dependent on mass-produced goods shipped around the world to meet our needs.

    The day we can download a pair of sneakers and have them made on the spot, we will have technology working for us rather than against us.

    Oh, but I guess we'll still have to ship lots of raw materials around... rubber, metal, plastic, wood etc. I don't mind so much if robots do that part.

  • by Lab Rat Jason ( 2495638 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @01:16PM (#53962969)

    ...thinking you are entitled to be the one to sell me an adjustable-rate mortgage. It doesn't need selling if I already know what I want. It is not enough to produce something... you must produce something of value. Full stop. Articles like this give me the sense that the author is irritated by the fact that status quo isn't good enough. There is plenty of work to do, it just might not be the work you are accustomed to doing, and arguments like this have been debunked over and over again. The cotton gin obviated a lot of jobs, but people rose up and did more sophisticated work. Computers obviated a lot of jobs, but people rose up and did more sophisticated work. Robots and AI will obviate a lot of jobs, and people will still rise up and do more sophisticated work. The moral of the story here is get up off your lazy ass and do more sophisticated work. We've not yet begun to reach our potential as a race.

  • ObManna (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot@@@worf...net> on Thursday March 02, 2017 @01:23PM (#53963025)

    Already covered in Marshall Brain's book "Manna" [marshallbrain.com].

    The real problem is not the robots. It's the humans.

    If you use robots to further your greed, then yes, the rich get richer. If you use robots to help out humanity, surprise! They help out humanity. (It should be noted that Manna actually has a form of Universal Basic Income which is used to manage resources).

  • Make the Rich Even Richer

    How rich does anyone need to be? I understand the desire to have more and, certainly, a bit more than you need, but way more than you could possibly ever need or even use? How much is enough and why?

  • and people who trash the robots go to prison (better then the street) and with doctors that don't say we don't take medcade and do more then the ER does. I think the max cost is a $100 copay / year in TX.

  • and... rich is bad? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mad7777 ( 946676 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @01:42PM (#53963263)

    I don't see "the rich" becoming richer as a problem. If poor people are becoming poorer, in absolute terms, then we have a problem. I don't see that happening, however, since increased robotic productivity should normally (free of government interference) result in more abundant goods and services, raising the living standard for everyone. Sure, the rich will reap most of the gains, but that is because they own the robots.

    So, what is the solution? Pretty straightforward, actually: own the robots! As luck would have it, we live in an age in which it has never been easier for anyone to invest in the future. This implies, of course, that people are smart enough to forego buying that luxury condo and partying away their paycheck in favor of planning for the day that that paycheck won't be there any more. I admit, I may be assuming too much about the average person's capacity for delayed gratification.

  • "I hate all this inequality and progress! I'm going to move to an egalitarian paradise, like ____!"

    Unfortunately, people never actually follow through on the second part, because it means moving to places like Venezuela, Cuba, or Greece.

  • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @01:45PM (#53963291)

    What if your ATM could not only give you a hundred bucks, but sell you an adjustable-rate mortgage?

    Some people take so long at the ATM I wonder WTF they are doing - international banking, hostile takeover - what, What, WHAT? Jesus! So please don't give the banks any more ideas for ATM functions.

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @03:18PM (#53964439) Homepage Journal

    It's usually a safe bet that any change will make the rich richer, provided the change is not catastrophic.

    The reason is that adapting to change, for a prudent rich person, is trivially easy. It's a matter of portfolio management; you could reduce it to an algorithm if you like. The main reasons fortunes are lost is investing for ego, rather than a high but sustainable reward/risk.

    But you ought to keep an eyeball on that "not catastrophic" proviso.

    Since the mid 80s in the United States the median household has seen its purchasing power increase by 14%, as opposed to 150% for the top percentile. That might not seem like a bad deal all around, but the median household's purchasing power is inflated by a drop in the price of things like consumer electronics -- basically all the stuff we buy from China. If you look at the cost of the things we buy from America, the price has gone up precipitously: child care, education, medical services, energy. Many of these things are difficult or impossible to economize on.

    Consequently if you look at accumulated weath, the wealth of the median household has actually dropped 30% since 1985. The bottom quartile of households have seen their accumulated wealth drop by 80% since '84.

    This has become a very close to a crisis situation -- witness the 2016 election, which was driven by feelings of economic insecurity. The widespread adoption of robotic replacements for low-skilled labor would tip the balance into catastrophe. The collapse of incomes in the bottom quartile would destabilize the country.

  • by MrKaos ( 858439 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @11:56PM (#53967579) Journal

    I posit we have become increasingly pathological as a species.

    Due to evolutionary lag our brains haven't evolved to process the kinds of threats posed to us by pollution, carbon, nuclear and externalities from business and industry, we are 50,000 years behind the society we have created. We can't even agree enough to change the fundamental laws driving all the corruption that creates this toxic mess, the day to day business of corporations legally obliged to deliver profits to shareholders whilst funding politicians and lawmakers playing an arcane obsolete game of left and right politics.

    So how can we expect to create an AI that isn't pathological, whilst at the same time needing AI to overcome our own inadequacies?

    If you take a sincere look around you will see our whole planet is on life support, which translates to our entire species is on life support, because there is seven billion of us using resources. This is the paradox of our survival, what constitutes 'fit' in a Darwinian sense if we destroy the very biosphere that sustains us while building machines with dominion over us?

    Humanity is worthy to survive however we are destructive enough to know we will build an AI for war that opens the door to our own doom. We know because curiosity is in our nature and we have done it so many times before as we seek immortality and dominance. We cannot even admit to our own flaws, of which I am the worst offender. I am a selfish proud vain creature that knows any melding of myself with the machine will magnify my flaws a thousand times.

    So knowing myself, I know that our species will have its flaws supremely magnified by any Generalized AI that evolves out of the specific AIs we create. A generalized AI that can write its own goals and form a narrative about 'itself' in the same way we all do must therefore be subject to corruption of its goals that manifest in us as pathological. Thought is the only thing that abstracts consciousness away from the body and the product of pathological thinking cannot be sane. Even if we knew what consciousness and sanity was, would a GAI develop an ego, unbounded from time? How do we even conceptualize that?

    Nature show us dominance hierarchies are inevitable in complex systems so much so that even chimps wage war. If I had power over you, I would use it, the same way you would use it over me, that's how power works. Can we expect something that exceeds us in cognitive capabilities and the ability to manipulate the environment to not to dominate us well before it starts to manifest its own, unimaginably complex, pathological behaviors?

    This is, in essence, what AI shows us. That we don't know what AI is because we don't know what we are. That we are not going to the stars without a GAI and we may not even survive ourselves *without* a GAI because, by far, *we* are the biggest threats to our survival. Unless we ourselves evolve beyond our own pathological behaviors there may be nothing left of us *other* than a GAI.

    That is the paradox of humanities evolution.

Yes, we will be going to OSI, Mars, and Pluto, but not necessarily in that order. -- Jeffrey Honig

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