A Brave New World and Old Theory of Labor

Here is a decent overview of how robotics, automation and artificial intelligence have advanced to threaten a large percentage of the current human labor market.  The phenomena often goes by the moniker Technological Unemployment.

One notable error @ 6:45:  insurance companies do not welcome driverless cars.  Industry analysts forecast large reductions in insurance revenues with the successful introduction of driverless autos and are seeking alternative / replacement revenue streams.

NPR has a good infographic (remember discussing those?) that every high school counselor should memorize.  It gives the probability of various human jobs being automated within the next 20 years (or when you kids are about 31 years old and hopefully established in your careers).  In sum, avoid jobs that don’t require (a) clever solutions, (b) personally helping others, (c) squeezing into small spaces and (d) negotiation skills.

Fringe as it may have seemed just a generation ago, this massive downward shift in the value of much human labor makes the topic of Basic Income seem like one of the few workable ideas to address the potential future problem of mass human unemployability.  Basic Income is an idea over 200 year old wherein a fixed amount of money is regularly paid by the government to every citizen unconditionally and regardless of need (as opposed to welfare which is usually restricted to means/needs testing).  Although technology will likely continue provide resources in excess for intrinsically zero/negative growth wealthy countries like the United States, the psychological adjustment to find meaning in a life without work/utility may be quite traumatic.


Without conscious, organized and carefully considered interventions it is hard to envision an alternative to the inertia of profit, curiosity and power coalescing to engineer our own obsolescence.  Hopefully FIRST LEGO League will give you a deeper understanding and appreciation about these issues to help you be the part of humanity that can address this growing problem.


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