Monday, March 3, 2014

Are we Obsolete?

Are we obsolete?  Are computers replacing us?  Are computers our future?

The short answer:  Not yet, not completely....

There have been several recent reports that as many as 45% of US jobs can be replaced by automation in 20 years.

This has always been a concern.  Whenever there has been a technical advance, people have been fearing for their jobs, for example the cotton gin, cars replacing horses and related technologies, etc.

Change has been accelerating as I discussed a few weeks ago.  People have started to use more and more technology.  Back in the 30's, large robots like Elektro The Man (Westinghouse, 1939, NY Worlds Fair) were displayed and everyone thought we would have robot helpers by now.

There are many examples of how computers are replacing jobs.  Three examples are:
  1. Foxconn, the Chinese company making iPhones and other devices announced several years ago that they planned on deploying 1 million robots to replace 1 million jobs.  They are serious and making significant headway.  Foxconn is even working with Google to accelerate the deployment of these robots (also here Google and Foxconn partnership)
  2. Computers are even replacing law enforcement officers, for example with red light cameras and automated border control systems.  These systems have a lot of issues and have been challenged (for example too-short yellow lights to catch more red light offences and law enforcement handled by companies not police).
  3. There is an ongoing debate over will computers replace Doctors?  Some computer systems do a better job diagnosing illnesses than Doctors.  Robots are being used in surgery.  
Google’s director of engineering Ray Kurzweil's recent post that computers smarter than us by 2029!  Will they?  Future projections of technology have ALWAYS been off, often underestimating change.

Are we approaching the Technological Singularity, "a hypothetical moment in time when artificial intelligence will have progressed to the point of a greater-than-human intelligence, radically changing civilization, and perhaps human nature".  How near is it?   Visit Ray Kurzweil's web site for more details!  Very interesting (and quite scary) stuff!

Will our next evolution be self-replicating computers?  Will we build weaponized, self-replicating computers that will replace us, or even challenge us?  We we create Fred Saberhagen's Berserkers where robotic, self-replicating machines intend to destroy all life.

What will the future hold for us?

Will your job be replace?  Will you be replaced?  Is it time to retire?

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