We decided to introduce you again to some future scenarios that might have escaped your attention. This time, everything is much more hopeful.
A person will not be left idle
If it is necessary to characterize modern society in a few words, then these words are “labor society”. To live, we must work. Otherwise, we will not be able to consume the benefits created by other people who, naturally, spent their efforts for a reason. And then, with the money received for our labor, to buy what, respectively, we did, or, for example, our neighbor. For example. In fact, the chain is longer. It brings together you, the Chinese workers from Foxconn, the oil workers from the Rosneft drilling platforms, and many others.
To fall out of this chain means to lose the possibility of a full-fledged existence. Without a job, a person cannot pay utility bills, eat well, and dress well. Moreover, career growth and professional success for many are one of the main goals in life. Our professional status in many cases characterizes us more than skin color. We are journalists, doctors, workers, teachers. What we do every day, from morning to evening, with a weekend break, greatly influences our perception of the world and our behavior.
So what will happen to the planet when the production of goods and services becomes the lot of robots. Suppose we find a livelihood (see scenario below). What are we going to do in our free time?
In fact, futurists have long been thinking about what we could do in an age when machines begin to change the meaning of our existence. After resting and realizing that idleness is a path to nowhere, and in virtual reality it is actually difficult to find a purpose for existence, a person will turn to new, but at the same time familiar, types of activity.
Actually, the first thing people will pay attention to when they take off the burden of having to constantly work is how imperfect the world around them is, and they will try to fix it. Jeremy Rifkin, postcapitalist theorist, social philosopher, economist, writer and public figure, in his book End of Work: The Decline of the Global Workforce and the Dawn of the Postmarket Era, speaks of the “third sector” - an area not related to business or government. It is he who will carry away the bulk of those left without work.
These are, first of all, civil initiatives. People will turn their attention to social problems, the state of the environment, and the development of urban infrastructure. They will be involved in solving local government issues, take care of people in need of help, as well as organize cultural events.
Many will now voluntarily join in social activities. In America and Europe, a significant proportion of citizens are engaged in volunteering and community work. But in the future, this activity for many will become a permanent occupation that determines social status. Only who and how will pay for all this? In recent years, the answer to this question has become increasingly clear. This is an unconditional basic income.
Relax and don't think about money
Unconditional basic income, or otherwise unconditional basic income, is no longer theoretical calculations, but real experiments that are being carried out in different countries of the world.Ideally, AML is a cash payment that a person receives not because he cannot provide for himself, but simply because he was born and exists. In the classic version, which, we would hope, will be implemented in the future, there are no conditions for a person to receive it. Today you work, tomorrow you don't, and you still get paid every month. Equal to all other members of society.
Basic basic needs - what to eat, where to live and what to wear - will always be covered by the government. At the same time, apparently, BOD will guarantee exactly bread and butter, but not with caviar. You still have to earn money for needs that go far beyond the basic ones.
Since the beginning of this year, an experiment on paying basic income has started in Finland. The payment amount is 560 euros. This is the minimum amount of unemployment benefits in the country. But a program participant (so far only 2,000 are lucky) can go and immediately get a job. Nobody will take away the payment. Or maybe not work at all - no one is forcing him to anything.
This is the purpose of the experiment - to find out how people receiving AML will behave: they will forget about work and start an idle life, or still, even receiving monthly payments, they will continue to work, but maybe in some a different format.
Oddly enough, Finnish trade unions are among the opponents of the program. In their opinion, AML will not only disaccustom people to work, but will also lead to the fact that, without feeling the need and having no extreme need, people will be more picky in choosing a place of employment. They will not accept, for example, low-paying jobs. And this, in turn, will spur inflation.
However, according to professor at the University of London Guy Standing, trade unions are fighting for their own existence. In a society where everyone gets AML, there will be no need for trade unions. As, however, in numerous state organizations, calculating and calculating all kinds of and such individual benefits, pensions and other payments. The absence of the need for a bureaucratic apparatus, as an important plus of the unconditional income system (which is equal and the same for everyone), notes a study by the Cato Institute in Washington.
A similar experiment is also scheduled for this year in Holland. Its participants, who are currently unemployed, will be directly faced with a choice - only basic income, or basic income and volunteer work for a small remuneration. Still, no one aims to leave people idle.
Apparently, in the future, a person will be able to choose a business to his liking, even if the payment for it will be small. AML will still provide the necessary needs. It will be possible not to hold on to an unloved job and try to start your own business without fear of losing your livelihood. People will be able to learn and choose their path in life for as long as necessary. Engage in community work or family, create or help others, travel the world or devote free time to gardening and breeding new types of flowers.
Aren't robots out of work?
So what will make governments take care that we have something to live on? Indeed, when imagining a bleak future in which robots will take our place, it is worth thinking about something. Man works to consume. If he does not work, then in most cases he does not have the funds to buy goods and services. The robot that took his place is still a consumer: lubrication once a month and electricity without interruptions - that's all his needs. Computer algorithms, which are already replacing bank employees, and tomorrow - lawyers, accountants, appraisers and many others, “consume” even less.
Who will buy in the future the products of Adidas, which, thanks to robotization, decided to return sneaker production to Germany, and Foxconn, which recently replaced 60 thousand workers with robots?
In the future, robots can replace us as workers, but not as consumers. The demand for products will fall. Robots will be left without work, and capitalists will be left without profit.
American economist Jeffrey Sachs comes to the conclusion that the effect of the introduction of robotization will only be a short-term growth in the production of goods and services.Then, in the long term, through a decrease in the demand for labor and incomes of the population, this will lead to a decrease in consumption, and hence production.
Will governments and entrepreneurs let new robotic factories stop? This is hello to the collapse of the economy. For expensive robots, you need to give loans, and the downtime of enterprises will cost dearly to their owners.
In addition, when it comes to governments, there is one point to keep in mind. Power is chosen by the population, people. And robots do not participate in elections. The situation when a robot will one day claim civil rights for itself should be attributed to the very distant future. Although such problems of the future are already being discussed by futurologists. In general, the authorities will have to try to avoid a social explosion, and specific politicians will have to do their best to avoid electoral defeat.
Which exit? In addition to AML, there are other ideas. For example, job quotas for people where robots work. Entrepreneurs will be required to employ a certain number of living workers. This practice is already being applied in some countries to young people, persons with disabilities and women. Or, for example, a tax on the use of robots with the subsequent redistribution of the collected funds among citizens who have been left without work.
The earth remains for man
We believe so much in the upcoming perfection of robots, in their versatility and ability to replace everyone and everything, that, perhaps, we greatly underestimate our own experience and skills, the ability to make unexpected decisions and creativity. For thousands of years, human civilization has advanced through human mind and labor. But now we are easily ready to believe that a relatively recently invented machine is capable of replacing us in everything and sending us to the dustbin of history. And no matter what success the creators of artificial neural networks have achieved, they have not come a step closer to the neural network of our brain.
More and more often, calls are heard to be more restrained about the possibility of the coming ubiquitous robotization. MIT professor of engineering and industrial history, David Mindell, writes in his book The Rise of the Machines Is Canceled! Myths about robots”believes that people need to change their minds about robots. Even the language in which we speak about them, the terms and concepts that we use are taken from science fiction of the last century. And all this has little to do with the technical realities of our time.
The author identifies three myths related to robotization and automation, which took possession of our minds back in the XX century. The first is the myth of linear progress. The technique is gradually moving from direct control of a person (for example, an aircraft) to remote control (an unmanned drone controlled by an operator) and then becomes completely autonomous (a robot). The author believes: there is no reason to believe that the evolution of technology will follow this path. In reality, people are increasingly integrating with machines, creating complex systems.
The myth that robots will take over our tasks (the substitution myth) is second on this list. Mindell comes to the conclusion that they will take on new functions, more complex, and those that are beyond the power of a person today. For example, Martian rovers exploring the Red Planet did not take jobs away from geologists or astronauts at all.
The third - the myth of complete automation - Mindell even considers a utopian idea. First, a machine that does not depend on human input is a useless machine. Yes, the person will be less and less involved in her work, but the need for him will never disappear completely. Any autonomous system must always be able to control it, otherwise such a system is useless. It can be added that a "button" is always needed so that such a system does not become dangerous. In addition, any man-made system contains a program written by the creator of this machine.
It is at least too early to expect that the machines will "come to life", that is, they will become aware of themselves and begin to make independent and profitable decisions only for them. For now, our planet will remain with us.
The ability to live many lives
The highest achievement of science and technology of the future will be a significant extension of life. Not for 10 or 20 years, but for a couple of hundred for sure. And it's not about postponing the last final day of life as late as possible, but about prolonging the period of active life as much as possible. Not endless old age, but extended maturity.
What will we do when we become centenarians? Writer and philosopher Stephen Cave, author of Immortality: The Aspiration to Live Forever and How It Governs Civilization, believes that once life expectancy increases significantly, we will be forced to move away from the linear sequence that exists today. Life cycles: education, work and well-deserved rest, will alternate several times during the time allotted to us. And in the long term - and infinity, if we achieve immortality. In one long life, a person will be able to change several professions, build a career several times and interrupt for a long rest several times. In fact, we will “reboot” every time our work skills become outdated and a profession change is required, or we want to start a new life. Also, we will not tie the knot of an indefinite marriage, but conclude it only for the period of raising children. The future will provide us with many more opportunities that we cannot even imagine today.
P. S. If you have already managed to rejoice for the future, do not rush. We have five more scenarios. They are not so rosy. And if you have already read this article, then we have an interesting test on the topic of the future. Future. Do you know well what awaits us?