When Robots Are The Real Employees, What Will Be Of Humankind?

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.

Advertisements

Can Higher Wages Grow An Economy?

Around the world, China is increasing her presence as we speak.  As China grows her global presence in geopolitics and world economy, competitive countries such as the United States have to worry about the future in which China will have more influence in all things global.  If China is going to be too dominant and overtaking the United States in the influence of global affairs, the United States may have to find ways to cooperate with China.  If the future isn’t about the cooperation of the two biggest countries in the world in term of economics and raw power, then the future is certainly going to be very grim.  How grim?  Perhaps in such a grim situation, the grimmest outcome might be of a zero sum game.

I can’t imagine the kind of hell that a zero sum game is going to be waged by the two most powerful countries in the world in a nuclear age. The implication of such a zero sum game in our time is definitely scary.  If the United States and China are going to have a hot war in the future, both United States and China will force other countries to take side.  This means we might have a new world war if the two most powerful countries in the world are going to have a hot war.  Any sane person in my opinion would not want to witness a hot war between any two most powerful countries in the world, and so I think it’s very important for us humans to push for more cooperations to weed out the warmongers among us.  In order for one society to cooperate with another, we need to understand each other.  This means, the people in the United States need to understand more about China, and the people in China need to understand more about the United States.  I believe more cooperations between the two giants of the world can only bring more peace and prosperity to the rest of the world.  Most importantly, the cooperations between the two giants can also raise the quality of life for the people who are living in both countries (i.e., China and the United States).

In the video right after the break, professor Yasheng Huang gives a lecture on how capitalism has been developing in China, contributing to the huge growth of the Chinese economy that we’re seeing today.  I think his lecture is profound. In the lecture, he honestly points out hidden problems that are existing and may exist within China.  This means being a big country such as United States or China doesn’t mean big challenges are not there.  In fact, I think the bigger the country the bigger the problems are going to come out of the woodwork.

In the video, professor Yasheng Huang insists that personal income dictates the real wealth of a country.  He mentions how desperate a banker can become if regular people cannot afford to spend or buy house.  By this he implicates that the regular folks are the healthy roots that hold the strong economy together.  If regular folks cannot afford to spend on necessary things and housing, then businesses and housing construction have to slow down.  This means the bank institutions become poorer as people won’t have money to spend and deposit and businesses won’t have money to pay back loans and whatnot.  The real economy will decline if the everyday people cannot afford to spend on important things such as housing.

Personally, I partly agree with professor Yasheng Huang on the point that everyday folks with higher wages can grow the economy.  Nonetheless, I think professor Yasheng Huang needs to also lecture on how inflation can play a pivotal role in dictating the real strength of the personal income.  Inflation is very important in my opinion, because personal income can either be grander or weaker depends on the inflation.  For an example, one dollar can purchase a cart of lollipops yesterday but can only buy one lollipop today has great effect on how people spend their personal income to grow an economy.  In fact, I think a growing economy is the result of many positive economics factors, and the optimization of the balance of personal income and inflation is one of those very important, positive economics factors.  This is why I think China is not only wanting to grow her economy in quality and quantity, but she also wants to control her inflation in a way that it makes sense for everyday people in China.

Since we’re living in a global market, inflation can be exported and imported.  This means inflation policy in influential countries such as the United States can have great implication for the inflation in China.  Currency war is one of the tools that a country can use to import and export inflation.  If the United States imports inflation by weakening her currency exchange rate to promote export competitiveness, she can induce high inflation in China for China has accumulated United State’s treasury bonds over a trillion of dollars.  Simply put, if United States weakens her currency can induce China to mimic the United States’ inflation policy to keep China’s export market and United States’ treasury bond value up.

Nonetheless, weakening one own country’s currency to induce higher inflation means to weakening the personal income of everyday people.  I think currency war is going to hurt the everyday people a lot more in the end.  I know China knows this, and this is why we’re seeing China is gradually moving away from accumulating more treasury bonds from the United States.  Nonetheless, by doing this China can push the United States into hyperinflation as the dollars cannot find a home abroad.  More dollars will rush back to the United States, pushing the inflation to the unstoppable rate.  If this to happen, the United States economy will crumble as the everyday folks will not be able to utilize the dollar for purchasing whatever at a hyperinflation exchange rate.  Of course, the United States can reduce the inflation rate by buying up the treasury bonds herself and introduce higher interest rate, but this will make her already huge national debt harder to manage.  As right now, according to usgovernmentdebt.us website, United States’ national debt is at $18,176,295,505,000.  It’s a very hard situation for the United States to be in.

But can we really blame China?  China is also wanting to balance her inflation at a sensible rate that can help induce her own economic strength!  I don’t think there is an easy solution to the ever struggle between countries’ inflation import and export.  I guess in the end, it’s the local economy strength that helps a country to weather the inflation storm.  To fight insensible inflation rate, I guess a country needs to have strong employment and high personal income wages.  In the end, I think professor Yasheng Huang is onto something here, because I agree with professor on the importance of higher wages for everyday people.  Professor Yasheng Huang also emphasizes on the importance of building human capitals, but I guess you have to watch the video for the details as I’m going to end my blog post here.