Tomorrow’s party: who is bringing the beer?

Regarding nearly everything going on in society: the hand wringing about gays getting married, trannies coping a squat in the wrong bathroom, hippies torching some bud, prom dresses showing too much. All of it misses everything that is actually going to change everything.

Technology has been advancing at a rate the economists don’t understand and its affects are barely understood. It’s not a matter of me printing off a barely functional gun in my house. Screw that noise. If I’m going to do something I’ll mix up something like Sarin nerve gas or a biological agent using stuff purchased from eBay at pennies on the dollar. Even that misses the changes.

More important is this: What happens as we automate all physical labor? We already have self-driving cars. The biggest hurdle left isn’t technological: it’s legal. What happens and who is responsible when your dumbass kid decides to run out in front of a self-driving car and is killed? However, that’s a mere quibble that can actually be solved technologically as well. What about all of the various drivers who will be unemployed with this technology? What about people who work in warehouses who will be replaced by robots who do the job better, faster, more cheaply and reliably? What about the kitchen staff we will do away with? Bartenders and Servers too? Construction workers will also be dispensed with (think huge 3D printers). Assembly lines are well down this road already. Hospital staffs can be greatly reduced. There isn’t an aspect of our economy whether legal or not that will not be affected by the rapid advancements already occurring.

Even aspects of high end intellectual work will be automated away. Most professionals no longer have secretaries or assistants. Attorneys no longer need staffs of paralegals to handle research, they use search engines that have everything needed already indexed. Accountants use ERP systems and other software to automate away the drudgery.

What will be left is the creative side. Software developers won’t be affected. Chefs, musicians, photographers, graphic artists, writers and other creatives will be in greater demand. Teachers, and tutors will continue. Sales people will be needed more than ever and so will entertainers (so much for killing off Hollywood).

In some cases ‘low end’ menial work will become super high end and exclusive. High end restaurants or other businesses that want to offer that high touch experience will keep human staffs but they will cater to a smaller client base. Some people will want that ‘authentic’ experience: the shirt sewn by an actual human (who uses a sewing machine BTW), or have the chef actually hand mix the ingredients rather than just programming the device (probably a 3d printer of some sort). These services will be available, but they won’t be cheap.

So what happens to everybody else? Soylent green? Some dystopian matrix style nirvana? Through innovation do we accidently realize Karl Marx’s dream of a ‘workers’ paradise? Robots doing all of the work while we humans sit around eating strawberries so big you can eat them like hand fruit?

The book Accelerando deals with some of these questions. Nearly all of William Gibson’s body of work searches for the questions and answers. Same with most Cyberpunk writing. The movie “The Matrix” paints a bleak picture of the outcome, but I personally don’t believe it has to go that way. I believe we can actually achieve something really cool.   How we get there is not entirely clear to me, but I don’t think socialist programs are the right way. I believe those will lead to a Matrix outcome.

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