There is a man named Ray Kurzweil. He is an inventor, a scientist, author, and futurist. If you follow Ray online or even in real life, you are aware that many his predictions have come to fruition several times throughout our lifetime.
My fascination with Ray began when I stumbled upon some of his theories about technology. This is when I found out about transhumanism and the singularity, respectively.
In short, transhumanism is the maximum melding of man and machine. This is the fastly approaching apex of humanity as we know it.Super-evolution. Some say we are already there and it is impossible to stop the momentum now even if we wanted to. Ironically, the majority of people don’t want to stop the momentum and that’s generally because they have no idea what awaits us as we manually recalibrate our collective existence. No one does. Not even Mr. Kurzweil or his colleagues. Nonetheless it’s just a matter of time before we are legitimately part human and part robot. Cyborgs, as people used to call them.
Conversely, the singularity is an event that will occur when computers and all their counterparts become smarter than the humans that created them. It’s when they’ll reach a level of artificial intelligence that no longer requires nor dictates the sponsorship of a human being. As the technology matures and grows, the machine’s manifestation of contrived thought and apparent emotion is an unavoidable milestone. At some point — in the near future — “they” won’t need us anymore. Much to the chagrin of those who know better, science has raced against some imaginary clock to give digitized entities the ability to make “choices” and solve problems. This already happens millions of times a day, however, on a smaller scale via our smartphones and tablets and smart cars. We’ve given devices tremendous decision-making authority over our everyday lives. But imagine if we didn’t need to give the phone or the car any command or riddles to solve. What if it were more human?
You don’t have to be a science fiction movie buff to forecast the possible levels of doom and despair that can occur from this inevitable, ominous happening. Artificial Intelligence, otherwise known as consciousness, for what it’s worth, is like the prettiest girl in high school. We all want her, but only the one that gets her truly understands the width of her reach, the degree of her difficulty, and the complexity of her delicate maintenance. He eventually finds out that there’s no way to control her beauty nor tame her ambience. And while he may never fully regret the relationship out loud, he’ll likely always be woeful of the day he decided to open that box. Loosely, this is Artificial Intelligence. All we see are bells, whistles, and the shiny parts. Clearly, we’ve forgotten the story of Dr. Frankenstein.
Years ago, conversations about either of the aforementioned topics would have sounded like farfetched mumbo jumbo, the type of bullshit that Hollywood blockbusters are built upon. Today, not so much. The future is here. For example, cars will be driving themselves in common traffic very soon, effectively destroying any driving jobs humans now occupy, which brings us to the main point of all these words.
Social bounds are made daily that push us towards becoming more — and one day fully — automated. At that point, jobs will be eliminated by the 100,000s. This is a slowly churning process that just received an unexpected uptick by the very people this overhaul will decimate: the working class. The working class banded together to secure more funds for the menial tasks they do, citing the monetary compensation of such work as less than enough to live a decent life. They didn’t make enough money to live, they said. Loudly. As a group. And ironically, what began as a well-intended trek for the collective betterment of an entire subset of the country’s citizenship derailed somewhere between today’s struggle and tomorrow’s prominence.
The government listened and responded and thusly, minimum wage is increasing bit by bit, throughout the nation. Families rejoice with the tangible possibility of self, as well as social betterment being merely a few ticks away.
But, another, less quiet thing is happening also.
Some companies shunning the notion that they should be forced to rearrange their priorities (pay these people more), stating numerous reasons, including healthcare dues, inflation, and an increase in overall overhead to compensate for the allowance — all things that would be negative for the respective businesses. As the government applied and continues to apply pressure, a few companies decided to revolt. Carl’s Jr. and a handful of other fast food chains recently announced that they’re in the process of robotizing their workforce. A likely chess move, however timely and (co)incidental.
Workers are being replaced with robots. And not just in America. Some have stated specifically that they’d rather buy robots than continue to fund people.
Corporations rarely make internal advancement with the worker’s well-being in mind, and in this particular instance of justifiable uprise, the corporations are equally as justified in making the decision to leap aggressively into the present day future by contracting machines. Replacing humans with robots and computers has been a social and economic goal for years, by various visionaries. Countless companies, the same companies that will eventually fire most of their human staff because of this, work adamantly to make an automated world a reality. Sweet irony never seemed so sour.
This leveling of the robotic playing field will undoubtedly spread into and onto other areas of the working world. Devil’s-advocately speaking, if there’s a successful transition made with the fast food industry, I have zero doubt that the retail industry is next. The snowball just gets bigger and faster from that point, until it eventually avalanches atop your proverbial hopes and dreams.
The first and second rung workers of America’s labor ladder decided they’d had enough abuse and collectively shook their fist until Uncle Sam and his marksmen had no choice but to take notice and make it rain harder on them. But it seems that the companies would rather pay for machines than pay humans. Now, thanks to this unnecessarily stubborn pushback against conceivable humanity, the machines must become “smarter,” which will in turn fuel the necessary flames that will help accelerate the singularity.
All the people wanted was more money for their services. What we got instead was an unintentional introduction to The Terminator franchise in the realest of real time.
Questions, comments, complaints?