Motherboard Jones

Kevin Drum writes for Mother Jones’ June 2013 issue: “Welcome, Robot Overlords. Please don’t kill us.”  Drum’s article is worth reading, although it is important to note, as with all singularity trajectories laid out in the popular press, the hidden assumption that massively increasing computing speed will lead to robots with ‘true artificial intelligence.’ But, as Drum rightly points out, these future robots needn’t think the way humans do. Whether they are intelligent by our standards or not, machines will become ever more capable at all the prosaic and skilled activities that we partake, from driving to entire classes of working class job positions. Drum brings up the possibility of a further transition from labor to capital-based income generation. Those with money to own the machines win; the rest see their uniqueness being chipped away.

Drum also paints a picture in which these economic dynamics speed up exponentially- as machines double in speed, so the power of capital and the denaturing of labor ramp up.  If that model is right, then it is almost guaranteed that when society does respond to obvious change, it’s already too late. Perhaps some outstanding theatrical types can create visions of our future on stage and on camera, so we can jump in a time machine, visit the near future personally, then come back and act in the know.

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