Flutterby™! : I, for one, welcome our robot masters

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I, for one, welcome our robot masters

2003-11-21 06:31:09.040252+00 by Dan Lyke 2 comments

Rafe had a link to The Irony of Outsourcing. It starts out with:

Question: Since 1995, two million American manufacturing jobs vanished. How many manufacturing jobs did China add during the same period?

Answer: None. China lost sixteen million manufacturing jobs since 1995, a higher percentage of their manufacturing workforce than the US.

And goes on to point out that:

As far as the economy is concerned, it has exactly the same effect on workers and consumers if we use a boat marked "to Japan" or a fantastic new technology invented in Silicon Valley called the "wheat-to-car-converter".

I'm going to ignore the big questions, things like "what does it mean that they're getting better at building stuff and we're getting better at growing wheat?" and "how much do farmers make, anyway?" and flip to a "I guess I'm not explaining this right" sort of "aha" moment: Humans have a symbiotic relationship with machines.

Now it's kind of weird to use "symbiotic", 'cause we don't think of them as alive, but we help them (don't anthropomorphize machines, they hate that) reproduce, and they help us reproduce. In fact, we live in an awful lot of climates in which we could not reproduce without the assistance of assorted mechanisms.

Bill Joy realizes this, and it scares him, and we all made fun of him and blew his assertions out of proportion to make him look silly, but it's the truth: Right now the machines need us to reproduce, but the machines are improving a lot faster than we humans are.

We can't stop the tide, but we can try to figure out how to be the humans who help the machines reproduce. This doesn't necessarily mean building robots, in fact it probably mostly means finding applications which the machines can do more efficiently than humans so that we have reason to build systems to do those tasks, but it does mean we should be conscious that even though it's not "alive" in the conventional sense, the technology is part of the ecosystem.

[ related topics: Robotics Invention and Design Sociology Consumerism and advertising Economics ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: I, for one, welcome our robot masters made: 2003-11-21 13:49:41.901143+00 by: meuon

And we reproduce without rhyme or reason beyond that which our society and planet easily supports... Maybe when robots become sentient and self-reproducing, they'll only reproduce enough to accomplish the goals of the society. Hmmm.. Anyone read "Ismael", a book about takers and leavers as cultures?

#Comment Re: I, for one, welcome our robot masters made: 2003-11-22 01:42:24.128277+00 by: ebradway

I don't have the book with me (I'll add the quote later), but I just finished Cleansing the Doors of Perception by Huston Smith. The first appendix contains a number of short blurbs about how society seems to be trying to replace religion with secularism and spirtuality with science but in reality, problems are just being translated. Nuclear power solved some of our energy problems but created many new onces. Antibiotics have saved many lives but now seem to be causing the creation of much more virulent bacteria. Faith and belief will always exist as long as the problems exist, but in his words, we are changing from a world ruled by deus ex machina to deus in machina...