“You may not believe it but it’s coming, and it’s coming in the form of a self-driving truck that’s going to run you over.”—-Antonio Garcia Martinez
The other day I was moved by an interesting piece that ran in the Daily Mail which quoted Antonio García Martinez, a former Facebook product manager, when he was talking about the future of “A.I.” or “artificial intelligence” in our world. Martinez was speaking ahead of a BBC special which went deep into the happenings in Silicon Valley. (Read the Daily Mail piece here). In essence, Martinez had this to say:
“Within 30 years, half of humanity won’t have a job. It could get ugly – there could be a revolution. You don’t realize it but we’re in a race between technology and politics, and technologists are winning. They’re way ahead.”
As pessimistic as Martinez is he is surprisingly not alone. For example, earlier this year Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, told The New Yorker that around half of all Silicon Valley billionaires have some degree of “apocalypse insurance.” Furthermore, Pay-Pal co-founder and influential venture capitalist Peter Thiel recently bought a 477-acre bolthole in New Zealand, and became a kiwi national as well. Apparently, New Zealand has been effectively selected as one of the premier apocalyptic getaways for the well to do’s should the end of civilization come about.
I am not privy to the Silicon Valley circle and I am sure not many of us are but I do pay attention to my world in so far as when I notice how dependent on technology we have become in this digital age. It’s an age where we all seem to live on our phones, rely on more and more apps to do our jobs and our thinking and, most importantly, personal communication is quickly becoming as passe’ as yesterday’s newspapers. Therefore, I do not think that it’s a stretch to presume that some portion of what Martinez and the others are saying probably is, to some degree, true. After all, even the Obama Administration predicted that with the advent of self-driving vehicles that 3 million people would lose their jobs.
So where does that leave us if what Martinez and others say is true? Frankly, I am not qualified to discuss a solution to that problem. To answer that question one would need to know the true intentions of the technocrats, the real inner workings of Silicon Valley, as well the complicated principles of economics and probably much more. But, what I am able to do is to raise awareness and try to start a dialogue on this subject for us, the common folk. You know, that portion of the population that cannot relocate to New Zealand on a dime or that segment of citizens that does not have a helicopter gassed up and ready to take us to a faraway place once disaster strikes. Yeah, that group.
We all have heard rumblings about which industry is the next one to venture into extinction at the hands of robots or “A.I.” and anyone who is not thinking about this issue in our rapidly advancing technological age–where technology is growing at a rate greater than ever before–is simply putting their head in the sand. We need to think–and talk–about it. Now.
Otherwise, prepare for this to be your typical musical entertainment:
Editor’s Note: We do not mean to demean or disrespect the accomplishments of the creators of Compressorhead which is a robotic band which came out of Germany circa 2013. However, by the same token the point is that robots–in all facets of life including music–appear destined, to some extent, to replace many functions, jobs, and tasks previously performed by humans. Is that the right result?