Recently, I came across an article with the headline “Building work starts on first all-robot manufacturing plant in China’s Dongguan” by scmp.com (South China Morning Post), and since then I have been thinking to myself the implication of this development for a future in which I’m going to be around, still. To speak the truth, I don’t want to pretend that I’m a somebody and having a stake in this development at all, because I’m a puny human being with insignificant footprint on this earth. Nonetheless, I’m a curious human being at the same time, and so I like to scratch an itch which contributes to me being noisy (not nosy, but maybe…).
I can’t help but wonder the state of a future in which human beings are going to delegate most jobs to robots. To tell the truth, this would be a heavenly condition for some people, but this implication for most people would be rather scary. The implication of losing jobs to robots will be scary since you can only get angry at the company/corporate that employs robots only, because robots have no emotion, whatsoever, to care for your well being at all (i.e., humanity’s well being). If you throw in the smart robots that have stellar artificial intelligence, even these guys are not made of blood and sweat and probably taking commands from the company/corporate to the letter unless the robots decide to dominate us humankind.
When robots get to the level that they can feel, think, and empathize even though in reality they are manufactured by us humans, I bet humans will have laws that prevent robots from being destroyed by a human being. To destroy such a smart, near humanlike being is like murdering a sentient being. If this scenario becomes real at a point in the future, what will humans do when protesting against robots for taking humankind jobs? Perhaps, by then, the humankind will have to face two dilemmas, one of the dilemmas is the human traitors who only think of profits and the other dilemma is the robots who consider to have sentient rights.
Perhaps, I have overly fantasized the scenario in which robots rule over humans, but in near term it’s no less scary to see stupid robots take away human jobs. Will humans be able to cope with massive layoffs around the world? Will humans be able to cope with poverty when losing jobs to stupid robots? What will be the future political system for a country if robots get to work and humans get to live in poverty? Will there be a system in place to ensure humans stay above the poverty line when robots become more productive than human beings?
Imagine in a zoo where bananas keep popping out of thin air, the monkeys don’t really have to go pick bananas off the banana trees themselves. If this scenario is real for the monkeys, these monkeys have few choices in this zoo. One of the choices may be that the monkeys would become really fat and lazy, because the monkeys don’t need to get sweaty for picking the bananas. Another choice may be that the monkeys become more productive in other areas since they don’t have to worry about gathering bananas anymore. Perhaps, the monkeys would get sweaty for picking other foods other than bananas for spicing up their meals since bananas could be obtained from thin air? The question is if the robots produce everything humans need, is it necessary for the humans to slave away like robots? The fear is that humans might get lazy and fat, and one day robots or whatever will discard the stupid, fat, lazy humans. If the humans get smarter and be more productive since making a living is no longer a requirement for there are robots that fill this role, then I guess this is a positive thing to have going.
If companies all over China decide to install robots and fire off human employees, I think companies in China will be able to generate bigger profits and outcompete non-Chinese companies. Robots might not need to be maintained that often, but these robots can slave away without asking for higher wages. Chinese companies can attain gigantic saving by cutting away the costly, sentient wages. By investing the savings into cutting edge research and development programs, Chinese companies can outcompete not only in pure manufacturing process but also in innovation arena. Since China is known as a manufacturing hub for the world, other countries may as well install robots-only-factories to compete against China. This will lead the whole world into a vicious cycle of laying off the less productive, high cost human employees. Even though it’s only one company in China is doing this right now, how do we know this won’t be the prefer solution for our near future when it comes down to hiring (i.e., hiring robots and firing human employees)?
Besides other scary calamities that may occur in our near future, us humans may have to face a future in which robots will slave away for some human masters. Not all humans can master over robots since it will take money to produce and configure an army of robots to slave on whatever. If that isn’t enough, artificial intelligence might get smart enough to become the master of the humans. Of course, robots as master over humans scenario is still in the realm of science fiction. The question is will such a scenario be possible? In my opinion, you can never say never to anything! Nonetheless, since this topic has gotten catapulted into an out of this world stratosphere, I think it’s also possible to imagine that humans may utilize technology to implant hardware that can improve human software (e.g., human brain, strength, sight, hearing, etc…). Perhaps, this will be the alternative path for humans to compete against highly intelligent, sentient robots.
In summary, we are witnessing a near future in which robotics can become the main workforce and the human employees might not be able to find jobs in this sort of workforce. As human populations around the world continue to grow in leaps and bounds, what will happen to us all when the robots take jobs away from us human beings? I have a feeling this scenario will come true in a near future, but I just don’t know which path the humans will take in such a future. A path to destruction or a path to salvation? Personally, I sure hope us humans will be more productive in an environment in which robots become the main workforce. Assuming, us humans are smarter than the monkeys in a zoo with magical bananas that I had described earlier in this blog post.