I, Robot – September 14, 2016

For someone growing up in the post Isaac Asimov world, the idea of a hostile robot is not hard to fathom.

For years in countries where unions are more part of the management of corporations and exist more as trade guilds – their purpose being less about protecting seniority and demanding higher wages – the delicate balance between the cost of labor and profitability has continued to be checked by the creation of robot type implements that replace many of the traditional jobs held by humans.

As a clear indicator that this technology will replace many existing jobs, a recent study by Georgia State’s Center for State and Local Finance (August 1016), points to the need for the State of Georgia to point its limited resources away from manufacturing jobs.

To quote directly from the study, “The report found that manufacturing jobs in Georgia declined by 27.5 percent between 2000 and 2014”. “’We’ve got limited resources,’ said David Sjoquist, an economics professor at Georgia State and the study’s author. ‘We’ve got to decide whether to spend them pursuing manufacturing or some other type of effort.’”

Amongst other factors such as outsourcing to low-wage workers in other countries, Sjoquist said, “technological developments … let manufacturers replace workers with robots. ‘Newer manufacturing requires highly skilled workers but fewer of them,’”.

Sjoquist encouraged that, “Rather than waiting for plants to close before offering training to unemployed workers, it suggests developing programs to prepare existing manufacturing workers for expected changes in required skill levels for new jobs.”

In other words, we need to preemptively retool our otherwise obsolete people.

When I recently purchased my used 2013 Toyota, I was amazed at the new gadgets that had been added since my 2004 model. After a week, I mastered most of the “skills” necessary to operate this phenomenon of modern science. However, I quickly learned that I no longer needed former skills like watching for columns and other automobiles as I navigated this machine through hostile parking deck obstructions. This wonder of modern science did this for me.

We need to realize that skills have limited value when it comes to long term survival. The ability to adapt is far more critical. This is where our focus should be. Teaching people to think rather than constantly training them in new skills.

In our efforts to create a better world, we have sought to lessen the pain of having to think.

After all, they might think that they would prefer to do something else.

Think about it.

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