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Are You Ready For A Worse Dystopia Than 1984?

Via Paul Craig Roberts…


I have been lonely in my concern with the dire economic implications of robotics, but now Clarity Press has provided me with some company by publishing The Artificial Intelligence Contagion by David Barnhizer and Daniel Barnhizer.  It is telling as to the irrelevance of the economics profession that the coauthors are lawyers. 

The concerns about robots and artificial intelligence have come from scientists who express worries about killer robots with super intelligence taking over from dumber humans with less capabilities.  Possibly, but it is more likely that these kind of concerns stem from an incorrect model or understanding of mind, consciousness, and creativity.  I do wish that Michael Polanyi were still with us to give us his take on our proclivity to attribute intelligence to machines.

The coauthors briefly mention these threats as well as the very real and already present  threats from governments armed with the intrusive surveillance and control that the digital revolution and artificial intelligence make possible.  Warnings from Stephen Hawking, Nick Bostrom, and Elon Musk of an immortal godlike superintelligence, amoral at best and immoral at worse, that will determine our fate are speculative, but the adverse economic impact of robotics are already upon us. Thus, the main focus  of the coauthors is on the massive economic dislocation that will result from making people superfluous. 

Recently, I read about a smart machine that displaces warehouse workers and also the workers at the plants that make the mechanical forklift machines that warehouse workers use to move and stack the crates and boxes. As the smart machines themselves are made by robots, the forklift production workers are also displaced.

According to the latest job report, there are 1,192,000 people employed in warehouses. Unlike the forklift, the new smart machine does not contribute to increasing the productivity of labor. Instead the smart machine displaces labor by eliminating the need for people to do the work.  Every dollar that would have been paid in wages goes instead into the profits of the warehouse owners. This is the great difference between earlier innovations that increased human productivity and living standards and the AI robotic innovation that eliminates the need for humans and makes them redundant. 

Robotics will not be implemented everywhere all at once. it will come upon us in stages. The 1.2 million displaced warehouse workers will look for other jobs. The lucky few will find one. The rest will join the unemployment ranks until they become discouraged and are dropped out of the unemployment measure.  State, local, and federal tax revenues will decline as a result of the lost jobs. But unemployment compensation and other social welfare benefits will rise. With constrained or nonexistent incomes, 1.2 million people will have less participation in the retail market. Car sales, home sales, restaurant, clothing, and entertainment sales all decline. The Social Security and Medicare payroll tax revenues decline by the earnings of 1.2 million Americans as do pension contributions. Social Security and Medicare are funded by the current work force paying for the retired work force.  As robotics eliminates the current work force, payroll tax revenues collapse.  

For an unknown period of time, as the US dollar is the world reserve currency, the federal government can print money to fill in the gap in the difference between Social Security and Medicare benefits and payroll revenues.  But large parts of the world (Russia and China) have already been driven away by sanctions from using the US dollar, and this means that the dollar will lose its reserve currency role.  Then what do we do when there are untold millions of Americans expecting Social Security pensions and medical care and there is no work force to pay the payroll tax?

These kind of questions, and there are many more, should be the primary focus of every economist, not that it would do much good as neoliberal economists are indoctrinated beings incapable of thought.  Nevertheless, that there is no concern among economists shows their irrelevance and uselessness.

Many years ago I pointed out that under present law and practice, the entirety of the GDP would flow to the handful of owners of the robotic and AI patents.  There would be no income for anyone else.  Such a situation is not possible, because it would mean that the patents would produce no income for the owners as no one would have jobs and incomes with which to purchase the products of robots and artificial intelligence.  The obvious dilemma I described received no response.

One way of looking at our dilemma is that we need artificial intelligence because those bringing us the AI revolution have no intelligence themselves.  How intelligent is it to make humans useless?  How intelligent is it to have robotic production lines when no humans have incomes from jobs with which to purchase the output of robots?  

Well, you might say, we will make the owners of the robots pay the payroll taxes from their sales revenues. We will guarantee sales by socializing the patents and sending everyone a check for their share of the GDP.  And so on.  

But why?  Why eliminate the need for human labor when no gain can accrue to the elite as there would be no consumer market for their products? The cost savings from robotics and artificial intelligence are meaningless when there are no consumers at the other end. When the patents have to be socialized in order to support a population displaced by robotics, what is the point of the robotics?

The coauthors of Contagion, and that is what artificial intelligence is, understand that humans with their limited awareness and intelligence have found intellectual interests in developing the means for their own self destruction.  Nuclear weapons, for example, are an insane accomplishment of mindless idiots, because they can not enter general use without destroying all life on the planet.  A doomsday weapon is a pointless weapon.

The same for robotics and artificial intelligence.  What is the purpose of producing threats to humans from police states and by taking away all purposes for human  existence?  This is a mindless act.  Those responsible for it are the worst criminals the world has ever known.  Yet these destroyers of humanity bask in public approval for all the benefits they are bringing to mankind.

Read The Artificial Intelligence Contagion and then tell me about the benefits.

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ascot7
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ascot7

Hi, Yes it will implode the economy. Governments around the world should tread very carefully. Think before you act. So if the time allowed by God allows these machines, what will the workers have, no pay. ; then on benefits, crazy. Humans like to work, I do. In the NWO, this is what has been planned. To replace humans with machines. A third war will do this. No one Country will win it. So after Mankind kills off the planet, God will refurbish it. For his Bride. Rev-22.

Michael R. Roberts
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Michael R. Roberts

Along the same line of thought, why go to the expense to develop more complicated and limited human space travel over potentially more efficient, cheaper, and wider-ranging robotic systems better suited for the space environment? Space offers boundless opportunity for robotics to benefit mankind under conditions beyond human capability or where human capability is a poor substitute. People will find their niche in the new economies evolving from the warehouse to the cosmos. The short term may be challenging and painful, but the long term is exceedingly promising to humans – if we can preserve the earth.

Abandon Ship
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Abandon Ship

Huh? You mean it (dystopia) can still get worse than it is now?

lizzie dw
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lizzie dw

Does anybody remember the robots that were going to flip hamburgers at some fast food chain? I don’t think that worked out too well. The thing about machines, IMO, is that they can easily get just a bit out of kilter for the job they are doing and the box drops on the floor or something.
Robots cannot think on their feet.

Isabella
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Isabella

“an immortal godlike superintelligence, amoral at best and immoral at worse, ” Robotic machines will be always amoral. They can’t be anything else. A-moral means “without morality”. This is often misunderstood to mean “of bad or wrong morals’. it doesn’t. I means a situation where morality has no application. Dictionary definition is “lacking a moral sense; unconcerned with the rightness or wrongness of something”. A rock is a-moral It is this in which the danger is found. A rock cannot have any sense of rightness and wrongness – and neither, really, can a robot. Oh – a good programmer can… Read more »

Vera Gottlieb
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Vera Gottlieb

I just don’t subscribe to the notion that robots will end up being more intelligent than humans; after all, it takes humans to program these robots who can’t think for themselves. Scare mongering to which purpose? To somehow justify the enormous job losses in the making? Just pull the plug and the bloody thing won’t run.

Isabella
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Isabella

It’s a range of intelligence, I think. I mean, I see people today [and in positions of power], and read comments, as in the UK’s Daily Mail, and frankly I think a lemon has more intelligence. There can be – and probably are right now – machines which can out think a huge range people, given a specific task. That is, as long as they stay on track, like a railway. But in the long run, you are right I think. They are still machine. They have no life, thus none of the thousands of complex attributes of life. So… Read more »

Regula
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Regula

I think there will be a different outcome long before robots take over mankind: each time an elite sucked the capacity to survive out of a large enough segment of society, that segment in time revolted and turned on the oppressors to destroy them: the revolts against the pharaos; against kings and emperors; the French, American and Russian revolutions; the bourgeoisie chasing the aristocracy out of their villas and land possessions are examples of the same phenomenon. The downtrodden turning around the boat of the elite to drown them and start with a new social order. That any such new… Read more »

George Hartwell
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The real dystopia goes way beyond displacing people from jobs and surveillance. Ask the targetted individuals the kinds of distance torture being used at the moment. Take targetted array 5G and start targeting individuals and groups not just for torture but death and disease using microwave signals loaded with the wrong wavelengths to convey negative emotions and disease to people. That is the real dystopia that is so very close.

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