No More Jobs – What to Do About It

First world problems - cookie too big to fit in milk glass

This is part of a series: No More Jobs

Unless civilization collapses, robots will eventually make us all unemployable.  I’m trying to figure out the least-bad way to do it.

Today, I’ll list some things that I think will help.  None of these even come close to solving the problems that universal automation causes, but they’ll help.  I’ll also list some things that I don’t want to properly endorse, but I think will do more good than bad.

Good things to do…

  • Decentralize control of working robots
    Insist that companies design and license them so that your robot really is yours.  I could easily see a domestic robotics company using a weird licensing system where they still own your bot, and/or including a back door so they can take control of it at any time.  They’ll use this to squeeze unreasonable amounts of money out of the rest of us.
    Here’s a small taste of what I’m talking about: if you’re a farmer and need to fix your combine before the next rainstorm, you should be able to just replace the broken parts and get back to work.  You shouldn’t have to take it all the way to a John Deere licensed mechanic after you replaced the parts just because you need to tell the tractor’s firmware about the change.
    Likewise, in a decade, I don’t want it to be possible or legal for Google or the government to take control of my car and drive it – and me – wherever they want.  I realize, of course, that this means that if my car is stolen, I can’t call google and have it drive itself home.  It also means that I can’t lock the thief in and drive them to the nearest police station.  But I don’t trust google or the government to use that power responsibly all the time.  I don’t want google to be able to charge me by the mile for driving my own car, and I don’t want an NSA official who doesn’t like my political beliefs to be able to make me late for an important event.
    The main disadvantage of such decentralization is that the company and the government can’t keep people from using their own robots to do evil.  So, for example, if I had my way, neither the government nor the manufacturer would be allowed to remotely shut down an android whose owner uses it as an automated bank robber.
    The advantages are:

    • The company and the government have less power to misuse
    • The machines that you depend on are much less vulnerable to hackers – this is especially important in times of war
  • Make a fully self-sustaining factory that’s small, cheap, and easy for anyone to use
    This continues the theme of the first one.  Make it possible for anyone who wants to, to not depend on the guys in charge to, for instance, make a car.  I’m not nearly as afraid of the abuses of the local 3D print shop as I am of a global conglomerate.  If everyone depends on a few organizations, and they don’t depend on us, they’ll eventually step on us.  And we won’t be able to do anything about it.
    Here are some other benefits of such a machine.  It would:

    • Make colonizing other planets more practical
    • Make it easier for remote areas to get the conveniences of modern life

More good than bad…

  • Make a robot-subsidized welfare program
    I don’t like this idea, and I don’t want to properly endorse it.  But I do think that once most of us really are unemployable, it’s better to give everyone who needs it the necessities of life, instead of letting them starve.
    The reason I don’t like this is that it has big side-effects.  As I wrote in a previous post, we’re made to work, and without work, most of us will find something to do that’s unproductive or counterproductive.
  • Treat entertainment as a matter of national security
    This won’t be necessary until a very large proportion of the population is unemployable.  If/when that eventually happens, the main thing keeping most of us from becoming restless will be good entertainment.  This should also give some people jobs.  Be warned, though, that these 2 “solutions” are bread and circuses.

Conclusion

We live in an amazing time, when things that would’ve inspired wonder even 100 years ago – like cell phones – are commonplace.  Whatever happens, do not forget that we’re greatly blessed to even have such problems as losing our jobs to robots.  The god who gave this great gift did not say that technology will be the end of us.  Instead, it’ll simply give us more power – for good and for evil.  Let us use it wisely, and to God’s glory.

This is part of a series: No More Jobs

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