In an interview, Gordon Moore (of “Moore’s Law” fame) answered this question:
Did he worry … that machines would really start to replace both white-collar and blue-collar labor at a scale that could mean the end of work for a lot of people?
“Don’t blame me!” he exclaimed!…
The “rise of the robots” is not something to blame anyone for. Rather, we should see that as yet another step forward in our human progression. We should ask and answer the two eternal questions:
- how can we use this to improve ever more lives (rather than make a few lives even better than they already are)?
- what will we expect of the people whose employment is displaced by a faster/cheaper/just-as-smart robot?
Both of these questions have answers — but they aren’t being asked often enough or loudly enough by those who are able to make the answers come to life.
The benefit of lowering the cost of doing good things should be to do more good things — instead, it is seen as an opportunity to make more money.
The concern with “what about the people” is a real one — if, say, “full employment” means that 10% or 20% of the population is unemployed, that will significantly change our thinking about how our society is defined, and — with that — what our social leadership, our government, ought to be doing.
I don’t fear the robots. I fear our own reticence to take them seriously.