This video is…rad. Dude.
This is my glib response to The End Of Everything As We Know It.
Technology, and its voracious beneficiary, automation, will make human involvement obsolete. The writing is so clearly splashed across the wall. Who can deny this? Even my mother, who has been somewhat resistant to the notion of a technological displacement of humans, is coming around thanks to my persistent badgering and citations in the news.
“Automation” is a trend that stretches back thousands of years but which is exponentially accelerating now. It is not unimaginable that in 25 or 50 years the human workforce will have shrunk 25% or more.
This is a human condition: the human condition of laziness and sloth and gullibility at the novel. A condition of conformity and herd thinking. Humans will render themselves obsolete simply because they are helpless to think or doubt the onward rush of passive reality.
What will happen to society?
I see two outcomes, neither of which are mutually exclusive.
1) We will slowly succumb to a bland world of homogeneity and lack of differentiation. We will ascend in a blurry, nondescript crescendo of monochromatic monotony. I credit the novel The Giver with having the fantastic foresight to envision such a world of inhuman sterility. A world in which nothing is extraordinary or terrible. We will forsake the joyous in order to achieve a middling equilibrium absent the terrible. At the 2:50 mark in the video, the narrator tells us something that embodies this human urgency to live an orderly world of soulless recursion: “Or take the hundreds of thousands of baristas employed worldwide. There’s a barista robot coming for them. Sure, maybe your guy makes the double mocha whatever just perfect and you’d never trust anyone else, but, millions of people don’t care!” Human obsolescence will also spell the end of excellence and taste and hierarchical differentiation.
2) The second outcome is more nebulous and something I’ve batted around personally for a while. It’s of such abstruse origins that I have difficulty articulating it because in fact, it is so alien to our current paradigm that it eludes comprehension. I believe automation will, of course, render most jobs obsolete and the result will be ensuing generations of people with nothing but time on their hands and an industrial base that gets richer and more efficient but must face a rapidly shrinking customer base (because no one can afford anything!) Consequently, the familiar paradigm of supply and demand and its ideological offshoots of capitalism, socialism, communism, etc, will become obsolete themselves. With the supply and demand framework slowly vanishing, the evolved human duality of give and need will be meaningless as well. Once again, human evolution will face a bend in the road where the past does not benefit the needs of the present. The winner/loser dichotomy, alpha/beta, master/slave, consumer/supplier…all these established polarities will shift and disappear. We will map a new way to survive and enable a survival paradigm in our new society, because ultimately, human social evolution is genius and astronomically adaptable. It will find ways we can’t imagine now as we are mired in the 1-dimensional palate of zero sum complementary human nature and invention.