Am I the Only One Excited About the Future of Robots?

 artificial intelligence benefits to society

Are we not ready for Artificial Intelligence?

More and more lately I'm seeing the narrative that, as a country at least, we're not ready for AI and advanced robotics. There are two parts to this argument. On one hand, there's the age-old argument that AI and robotics will eliminate jobs. The other argument is that these artificially intelligent robots aren't our friends and could potentially be dangerous. What both arguments have in common is fear of change. You can split hairs but the reality is that AI is an inevitable culture shift that many are resisting.

Get on Board or Get Left Behind

Yes, greater advancement in robotics and automation will eliminate jobs. There are two things that will always exist in society and those are taxes and industry death. Two such dead industries in America are the steel and coal industries. If you pay attention to politics you'll see that there are still hold-out labor forces within both. Every election season they get courted by political candidates and then forgotten. My hope is that more people adopt an attitude of progression and evolution rather than complacency and stagnation. Dying industries and workforce shifts are the norms, not the exception.  We have a choice of getting on board or getting left behind. Not all dead industries and career paths are treated equally. Here's are two careers that were incredibly relevant and necessary in their time, that no one misses. Let's all take a moment to mourn these folks that due to automation never worked again, and died, or something.

The Milkman

Before refrigerators were household staples there was literally a job for someone to go door to door and deliver a pint of fresh milk, and sometimes eggs to you every morning. The refrigerator killed the dairy delivery worker and I'm sure there were a lot of holdouts that tried to resist the shift. Funny enough, it's becoming even more common to get our groceries delivered today. However, instead of there being one milkman whose name you knew and whose kids you asked about it's someone that an app assigned for your delivery. Maybe culture is more cyclical than we think? I digress, once the refrigerator became more accessible all the milkmen died because they only knew how to be milkmen and couldn't transition into newly thriving industries?

The Human Computer

If you all haven't seen Hidden Figures, please do so. Essentially, before we had computers we had mathematical genius women whose only job was to sit and calculate figures. I'm talking complicated equations that sent astronauts to the moon, were calculated by hand. Now, we have computers that are directed by humans to perform such calculations. So, what happened to the human-computer?  I think you get my point.

I understand that I'm making light of a topic that many people are deeply invested in. I'm highlighting that technology has always meant shifts in culture, careers, and industries and that society always shifts with it. Societal safety nets that help those without access to transition are necessary. Still, the proper response isn't to villianize robotics and automation it's to figure out how to help society shift with greater ease.

The Robots Are Going to Kill Us All

I don't really know how to respond to this, except, "maybe?" We could honestly find ourselves living out some dystopian terminator-esque reality where super-intelligent robots are out for our blood. Or, OR maybe a smart robot will still be on the level of a dumb human?  We're not there yet, so we don't know. There's no need to stoke fear over what may never happen. If robots do kill me it'll be after I've used them to help me create more time for fun.

I'm Excited and Ready

Robots mean more time for living

It means more time spent doing the things you enjoy. I bought a Roomba because I have a cat and a dog, both of which I'm allergic to shed profusely. Before my Roomba, every morning I woke up and the first thing I did was sweep the litter and fur off the floor. I didn't necessarily mind doing it. In exchange for a little sweeping and allergy spray, I received unconditional love; that's not a bad bargain. Still, the Roomba means that I get to just enjoy my fur babies without the menial cleaning. I have that much more time to sit and contemplate the day. I can sleep a little longer. I can eat my breakfast a little slower. 

Sometimes I feel like I'm one of few people who hold an unwavering belief that life was meant to be enjoyed 100% of the time. Life is supposed to be easy. Life isn't meant to be stressful, tiring, or chalked full of mental anguish. Even when there are lessons to be had, you can learn them in a loving way. My Roomba robot vacuum made my mornings easier, and just like that, I want everything else in my life to be easier.

I still need a robot to do my laundry. After I get a clothes folding robot I will need nothing else.

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