Today’s article is not about new technology or anything of that sort, but rather about the very real ramifications of the direction the technology we already have is taking. The question in this blog post is this : Is there a point where the problems brought on by a technology outweigh the gains? If so, where is that line drawn? Let’s take a look, shall we?
Essentially, a research firm called Gartner says that computers, and technology like 3-D printers, are making the human element of the workforce obsolete, and computers will very soon be running almost everything. Not in the evil overlord kind of way, but in the WALL-E, robot on the job, kind of way. The point they wanted to make is that with more robots on the job, that means less people on the job, which means more unemployment, which means a lot of unhappy people. These unhappy people will most likely, according to Gartner, spark a lot of social unrest, similar to Occupy Wall Street in 2011.
The machines which were meant to make our lives easier, are in fact possibly making them harder for a lot of people, at least indirectly. Is this okay? Well, there are a few things that I would say about the current position. First of all, we are in a time of flux, when everything is new and changes are happening so quickly that their full ramifications have not been seen. For example, while it is true that 3-D printers and such could very easily reduce the number of actual people with jobs, there is also the possibility that they might lower costs as well, so that each person needs less money to live, and thus could get by with a job at Wal-Mart or something. For example, if TVs start to be printed out fully made, and there are less workers needed, could it not be possible that in the future a nice TV might cost $100? And since bio-printing is a thing, maybe in the future all food will be printed out, and make the cost of growing it go down. Of course, I am aware that 3-D printing is expensive at the moment, but everything is at the start. That’s why I mentioned that we’re in flux. In time, as with everything, the price will go down, as designers learn new, better, and cheaper methods of building and performing 3-D printing.
But what if that never happens? What if the prices never drop, and people still keep losing jobs? Should development stop in favor of keeping people employed and happy? I don’t really think so. On the one hand, there’s really no way to stop the progress. It has started, and it will continue, in one way or another, until it’s reached it’s full conclusion. On the other hand, this might not actually be that terrible of thing, in the long run, even if prices stay the same. Not that there won’t be problems, and lots of unemployment, but I think people with adjust. In time new jobs will open up, they just won’t be the same type of jobs from the past. They’ll be jobs in programming, jobs in maintenance, jobs in repairs. Robots can’t do everything. There will always be jobs. The only problem will be getting people who able and willing to do the jobs required.
Robots are taking over, and jobs are getting scarce as a result, but I don’t think this means the end of the world. In Matthew 26:11 Jesus says that “The poor [we] will always have with [us]…”. We can never get rid of poverty, and even if for a little while there are rough times, it will end up being temporary. The article points up the possibly of social unrest, but this is inevitable in any change of the social paradigm . It will happen, and it will stabilize, and people will find new ways to make life work. It’s the way things have always happened.