Jobs for Robots: Between Robocalypse and Robotopia Kindle Edition
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To look at the future, he first looks at the past, and the various other “robot revolutions” that have occurred previously, and shows why this one will be, ultimately, not so very different from, say, the Industrial Revolution of the 1800s. Similar cases could be stated regards improvements in agricultural equipment, or military technology, or the like. Technology doesn’t really make the human touch obsolete, it merely changes what we do and makes what we do easier; I’m writing this now without the need to hire a scribe or a message-runner, for instance, but a small army of people were involved in the the developments required to make this message possible.
Where I think Schenker drops the ball is is regards UBI, and I think that’s due in large part to a kind of tunnel vision; looking at “the big picture” entirely within the frame of the current status quo in his native US:
“It costs more than our currently failing welfare system” (it costs less than systems in Europe that actually work).
“It’ll mean higher corporation taxes and so will result in businesses pulling out” (which is why there are no major businesses in countries with a strong welfare system like Germany, and is also why countries with incredibly high corporation taxes, like Norway, aren’t topping wealth indexes time and again)
“It’ll make people lazy” (it has been tested again and again and found to free people to pursue their entrepreneurial projects and bring value to society; people enjoying UBI simply work more productively in a personally optimized fashion, unlike those who would produce something great but have to stack shelves to pay the bills).
“It’ll produce hyperinflation” (this one’s beyond my personal knowledge-base, but it’s clear that this isn’t the prevailing view of economists; I expect the reason why has to do with the fact that UBI covers only basic living expenses, not luxuries, so while there’ll be a market adjustment it’ll be a matter of a baseline moving by a finite amount (directly proportional to the amount of the UBI) and from there inflation will proceed as normal. Obviously hyperinflation would actually occur if the money were just printed, rather than coming from the tax kitty, but that’s another matter and I don’t think anyone’s proposing that).
However! While for the above reasons I currently disagree heartily with Schenker on the matter of UBI, I laud his well-reasoned arguments in the matters of job security, automation-proofing one’s ability to contribute usefully to society, and so forth, considering all but two chapters of the book (which pertain to UBI) to be very well-balanced indeed.
If I’d add a caveat, it’d simply be to read it alongside something like “Robots Will Steal Your Job But That’s OK” by Federico Pistono for the balance that’d otherwise be missing regards UBI.
From where should I start? Okay, I will try to say everything that I wanted to say by starting from the beginning. First, the title of the book suggests that the book will be about the influence of technology and robotics on us humans and on our world. If we look at the world as it is now, we will see that not only that in the past five to ten years, the technology has improved drastically, but we will also see that there is more and more need for robots. Jobs that were previously done by humans are now more and more done by robots. We could even say that the robots are slowly “taking over’’ the world (well not maybe like in Terminator movies, but then…who knows what may happen in ten to twenty years from now). The author wanted to steer our attention to that. He wanted to use this book and his previous knowledge to show us something like a warning sign so that we are aware of what could happen in the near future. The book is divided into several chapters and each chapter is divided into several smaller segments for easier understanding, which I think it is great. Overall, Mr. Schneker did an excellent job with his book. Sometimes there are times when we need a wake-up call and a reminder and I believe that this book is precisely that. Awesome work.
What I enjoyed about this book was the idea of the Robocalypse versus the Robotopia. Schenker introduces both worlds, and how robots can help or hurt the careers that are currently being worked by the human race. He shares the need for robots, but also carefully crafts his words in a way that makes us realize that someday certain jobs could very likely be automated. If I had read this as a current college or high school student, I would take head of Schenker's words. He truly put in perspective the fields that will always need a human or emotional touch versus those that could be done by something without a human pulse.
I also enjoyed how Schenker laid out both sides of the argument without causing fear or increased anxiety. His tone was conversational and easy-going, almost as if you were having a conversation with him face-to-face. He posed his thoughts with ease, articulation, and in a way that makes you go, "oh, I never thought of it that way." For me, that is a sign of a good writer and of a person who knows what their talking about.
Schenker's passion for this topic does not go unnoticed, as his use of research and detailed graphs act as evidence and really backup his theory behind his work in this book. While we all may dream of living like the Jetson's, it also makes us realize that we walk a thin line in working alongside a robotic workforce. Certain jobs can easily fall to a robots expertise (cue those major corporation who use an automated phone system to get you to the right representative). The goal is to find a career path, that will always require a human eye, mind or heart, as those are characteristics that can never be replaced by a machine.
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The world is changing, and author Jason Schenker shares his educated and enlightening insights into just...Read more