Aldous Huxley, the English writer, satirist, novelist and philosopher once opined that, “technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards.”
Modern humans are fast becoming passive observers to the point where we are falling asleep duped by Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Twitter and by the neo-liberal marketing executives who are leading us into the arms and psychic prison of the billionaire class. We are oblivious to the fact our social structures and values are being transformed and manipulated by these robotic technological devices; this manipulative technological determinism is slowly eroding the middle class. We often forget that what make us independent human beings are our professions and jobs, not the narcissistic selfie habits that we have developed or the addictive likes that Face book and Twitter are imprisoning us within.
During the third Century in China a mechanical engineer known as Yan Shi, an ‘artificer’ allegedly presented the King of China Mu of Zhou with a life-size, human-shaped figure of his mechanical handiwork . It was viewed by the king as a strange object and Yan Shi was ridiculed. It wasn’t until 1972 that the world’s first microcomputer controlled electric industrial robot was patented – The IRB 6 from ASEA – and was delivered to a small mechanical engineering company in southern Sweden.
Today Robotics can be described in general terms as the division of technology that deals with the design, construction, operation, and application of robots, as well as computer systems for their control, sensory feedback, and information processing. These technologies deal with automated machines that can replace humans in hazardous environments or manufacturing processes. Some robotics resemble humans in appearance and behaviour and many of today’s robots are inspired by nature, contributing to the field of bio-inspired robotics.
Left leaning Liberals, in the press and on social media, have recently lambasted the use of Silicon-based super-intelligence and robots. They argue that it will dramatically alter labour markets across the world and will have a devastating impact on the already recession fatigued middle class and working poor. Over the past ten years a new generation of robots have emerged in manufacturing, replacing blue collar jobs. Robots are described by manufacturers as more efficient, smarter, more mobile, more cost effective , more collaborative and more adaptable. They promise to bring major changes to the factory floor, as well as potential imperative to the global competitive landscape.
Many will argue that this is not the case. The retail giant Wal-Mart-Stores Inc. is still the largest employer of persons, having 2.2 million employees, and is a huge generator of wealth as a company. Although they generate annual revenue of US 482 billion their January 2016 figures show a decrease of revenue against the corresponding period by 0.7%. Conversely, Apple, ranked 12th on the list of largest companies globally, generates annual revenues of $234 from consumer electronics; their revenue has seen a whopping increase of 28% over revenue generated in 2015. We believe at Kingston–Mouth that if this trend continues companies investing in the use of robotics will grow exponentially in the near future. As companies such as Apple, Face book and Microsoft promote the use of robotics the billionaire class will become richer, forcing a crisis across the global labour market.
Across the globe, an automaton frenzy is gathering pace, cashiers and factory workers are replaced by machines and ticket counters at the major traffic counters have been replaced by automated vending machines. Bank tellers are already dwindling; they are being replaced by deposit and withdrawal machines, coupled with online banking facilities and electronic monetary transactions. The military industrial complex is also going the way of robotics and soldier’s services of boots on the ground combat is no longer necessary as it is cheaper and easier to use drones in modern warfare. Even the sex industry has been revolutionised to dupe us; the robotic crazed horny politicians no longer have to expose themselves to the intrusive embarrassment of paparazzi cameras of the Sun and the Mail by visiting a seedy brothel. Instead they can break a hectic day after parliament in their swanky hotel rooms by having a fiddle with themselves accessing porn from their Smartphones. While lonely housewives and horny single females can liberate their itchy fingers by ordering a robotics sex doll; blow up dolls are so yesterday.
Okay, I can be accused of cheapening the debate to make a forceful point but the sobering reality, according to a World Economic Forum 2016 report, is that more than seven million jobs are at risk in the world’s largest economies over the next five years as technological advances in fields such as robotics and 3D printing transform the world of work. The report explicitly stated that the burden of job losses will fall equally on women (48%) and men (52%). Given the fact that men signify a larger share of the overall labour market than women, this uniform spread translates into a broadening of the employment gender gap, with women losing five jobs for every job gained, in comparison with men losing three jobs for every job gained.
Kevin Kelly, a writer at Wired.com and author of What Technology Wants, argues that we are losing the race against machines that work far more efficiently and accurately than mere humans. He makes the frightening prediction that in thirty years time robots might well replace us in the McDonald’s fast food chain. Former Professor of MIT and robotic guru has designed a prototype robot called Baxter that can work among humans in a factory setting without injuring them. Quite frightening isn’t it? Baxter is operated and controlled by force-feeding technology and can operate from a plug socket anywhere in your home. Prior to Baxter’s invention, the cost of robots were US $ 100,000.00 each yet his replica is sold for a paltry $20,000.00. In less than two decades Baxter could be the new chef or cashier in McDonalds or the next automated housewife.
Already, many high functioning tasks are handled by Robotics: the Cat-scan robotic can pick up a testicular cancer in your scrotum that your GP might not diagnose with the polite insertion of his index finger into your back passage, Nano technology can locate and remove cancerous tumours from embarrassing crevices of women bodies, Robotics can seek out dangerous terrorists in difficult places and even save lives in earthquake ravaged buildings buried under tons of rubble. However, Robotics will never match all the complex and intuitive tasks that we humans are capable of. A Robot could not care effectively for a baby. A Robot could not solve a difficult judiciary decision such as determining whether or not Tony Blair and George Bush should be imprisoned for war crimes and genocide committed against the Iraqis . Such difficult matters are best left to high flying consultants sch as Mr Chilcot or Legal luminaries at the International Criminal Court. What we at Kingston-Mouth do know is that the scenario for the future of blue collar and middle class workers is pessimistic; there are many robots like Baxter waiting impatiently in the wings for a command from the greedy Billionaire owning classes.
This article was written by Donovan Reynolds, CEO of Kingstonmouth.com and an independent writer. Readers of this article are welcome to provide feedback at the space provided at the end of this article or at firstname.lastname@example.org. useful commentary made on our Facebook and Kingstonmouth@twitter pages.