Are we ready for the rise of the robots?

Friday, 4 March 2016
I have recently read in different journals the rise of robots, and how they can actually be our substitutes in our jobs. In a society in which we need to work in order to have money to live, this can come as a scary prospect. Robots will do the things we can do and we no longer will have the minimum income necessary to live. 

It shouldn’t be so. The initial idea behind giving the work to robots was for humans not to have to do it. For us to be freer. But our society is not ready for that. 

I have also read about some proposals for giving basic income to everyone. I completely agree with that. In the case where no work would be necessary, other than creative work, I would even go further. Not only basic income, but equal income. A world where technology could do the basic things for our survival, inequality would only make a few to be the masters and the rest just slaves. Well, it sounds familiar, doesn’t it? In Chomsky’s “Requiem for the American Dream” we can see how inequality is increasing in our modern world, in particular in US. US, a country where the health system is private. Of course, I’m talking about a first world society. The rest of the world are just slaves of the first world’s countries. But even to think that our health is a matter of profit and not of basic rights in a supposedly first world country makes you think how our society works. 

A world with only creative works is a world where each individual is free to choose their path. The structure of the society has to be in such a way that each one can achieve their maximum potential. But also it must be a society that allows laziness. It should be oneself who decides to do a meaningful job or not. But then, those who contribute more to society would feel the need to take more and create inequality. 

Our ethics towards work has to change then. Education is a key factor: how to educate people to be free? Foucault rises the problem of our education being tailored to the goal of maintaining the same structures of power. If the structure of power is based on a work-based society, we won’t be free from this vicious circle. 

My opinion is that the more the knowledge, the freer one is. Education comes in all ways, not only knowledge, but also on values and behavior. We need cultivate but also compassionate people. It is not important to contribute, but at least not to destroy others peoples opportunities. Unfortunately, that’s we always have been doing since we are known to be in this planet. 

A technological advanced society needs an ethics based on science, I think. And it is not about the scientific method, but about the values that make science advance: honesty and curiosity. First of all, being honest with yourself. And that means a great level of self-knowledge and retrospection. Being critical about what other people say or believe, so that we are not slaves of other people’s ideas, and, thus, being vulnerable against power gathering in elites. 

The existentialists, even though their lives were not exemplar, got it right. Be free, try to experience as much as possible, be responsible of your own acts, be an active part of your life, not a passive being. We have to have a more advanced society, far from sin culture, and towards individualism, but, at the same time, towards a social-communist structure. Otherwise, we would be either slaves from the rich people, or be eliminated by robots. 

Yes, being eliminated by robots could be another outcome of the rise of robots. We have to give human-like ethics to our robots, otherwise they will arrive to the right conclusion that we are the vermin of the planet. Either that, or become a better society. 

Our society is not ready for non-work society, much less for a society with robots that are conscious. We can wait but, as always, I think we will first get into it, and then adapt on the whim. There will be chaos, and possibly our own destruction. I hope we don’t go that far.

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