The AI Will Steal Our Jobs!

They say that starting a post with a bolt statement is a good idea, so here you go: Artificial Intelligence will destroy our current economic structure. How’s that?

While that statement may seem like a gross overreaction and sound a little nutty, it is quite possibly true. As we move forward, AI will take more and more of the tasks we currently do ourselves. Right now they are mostly in highly repetitive tasks, such as manufacturing. These robots have already displaced many workers, they are cheaper and more accurate. But the presence of those robots have also opened up new opportunities in research and development as well as in maintenance. Here’s the catch: displaced employees cannot afford the new education necessary to go into these fields.

In the past, new technology has largely been geared towards making human beings more efficient at their jobs. If one person makes more stuff, the price of the stuff goes down and makes it available to more people. This has been the driver of our economic growth and high standard of living. Thus far technological progress has been the facilitator of our modern world.

But we are at a moment when this status quo is changing. Artificial intelligence is becoming better than we are at tasks we once considered exclusively the domain of human beings. This means that the jobs that were more nuanced and variable, are going the way of the dodo as those get replaced as well.

For awhile there will be new jobs created by this boom, but eventually those will be taken over as well. Eventually there will be very little, of anything, that human beings need to do.

So now it is not only the ‘unskilled’ laborers who will be out of jobs, but the more technical fields as well. The only people who will be able to make money will be those selling the products that the robots make, this will soon include such diverse things as health care and art to add to the products they manufacture today.

That won’t last long, if no one is earning, no one is spending.

So, now that I have completely depressed you; let me tell you why this could actually be awesome, and what we have to do to make sure that it is.

If you think about it, if robots are doing all the work and there is plenty of everything to go around, why should anyone ever have to go without? The only way this would happen is if we stay on our current economic course. If people need to trade their labor for money to trade for goods and services.

However, if we eliminate the need to pay for those goods and services, why do we panic over the loss of income? In other words, if we make those basic necessities available to all, it won’t matter if the robots do all the work.

Here we get a choice, how do we create an equitable system?

Option 1: Necessary goods and services are provided to all, and money is used to buy luxury goods.

This option is a good middle ground, and very likely to be the solution, but as I see it being implemented, it would be in a simple reactionary way. Like refugee camps, or homeless shelters. Necessities are covered, but living conditions are appalling with no visible path out of the situation.

If we plan ahead, we could create this as a positive way to keep everyone happy and healthy. But it would still leave the wealthy with power and influence over those who just get by on the basics with little upward mobility.

Option 2: Basic universal income.

The results of this option would be very similar to the plan ahead version of option 1. People would get some support, (although that income may not cover everything they need depending on health, implementation, and local economic variation.) but would still struggle to grow. Any growth would depend on the movement of currency to people from all walks of life. This would require that anyone attempting to improve their station from subsistence would have to advertise essentially, to gain the attention of those who do have money to burn. It would just be redistribution of the wealth between the wealthy.

Option 3: Preemptively create a non-monetary based system. No money means that all basic services would be available to all add needed. And anyone willing to grow would not need to convince someone else to part with their money, but only to show that they are providing some benefit to society. Without competition, the existing barriers of the economy would break down.

Everyone could be required to work a certain amount of time in service to community or society as we grow to reach the time of robots doing all of the work. As robots take on more of the workload, the required human workload would be readjusted and distributed equally. Less work for humans would not result in lost jobs creating starvation in a land of plenty.

As a bonus to this idea, if we got rid of money, there would be a huge number of ‘jobs’ that surround the redistribution of wealth that would disappear with it. This means that the starting workload for each person would be much less work than we currently do today. These jobs would include things like cashiers, loan specialists, stock traders, bankers, accountants, investors, and sales to name a few.

Even if we only eliminated that workload and required a lot less work to keep the status quo, I suspect that we would actually make progress toward a work-free future faster. Without all that time spent on the redistribution of wealth, the free time that people would gain would go towards hobbies.

Everyone has a few things they enjoy doing in their free time, and some of those have the potential to drive us to the future. Some people enjoy listening to music or watching movies. Some people enjoy creating neat things. Some people enjoy robotics and coding in their free time. Giving people more free time, and unlimited access to education (one of the most basic services provided) would spawn a massive outpouring of growth in many areas, including STEM. There are many people caught in the day to day grind of living paycheck to paycheck who could do so much for our world if we can unchain them from the money train.

This does require a whole new way of thinking. But in a world without scarcity, we do not need to create a system of artificial scarcity, which is how money works.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Chapter 17 (WIP)- Where Do We Go From Here?

Still amazed by what he was learning, about money and artificially restricted supply chains Rodney stood up. “My brain is fried. Jessica, what would you like to see next?”

“I’m not sure. There is so much to see, and I’m still not quite 100%. What is nearby?”

“Well, most of what you wanted to see is pretty close. Let’s save the vehicles until you want to venture out a bit more. So how about we check out some of that automation?”

“That sounds good. Since we are thinking about food, maybe we should start there.”

Rodney thought for a minute. “The delivery is by vehicle, so that can wait. And preparation, well I’m not sure you ready for that.” He paused. “Why not? I can tell you about some of the infrastructure on the way.”

Jessica stood up to follow. “I know, most of our infrastructure is automated too, but people have to maintain it, don’t they?”

“Everything has sensors and routine maintenance is done by specialized robots. Initially building those and the sustainability overhaul took a lot of labor, but now it basically runs itself.”

Jessica thought for a moment, “I know I don’t know a whole lot about how modern life runs, but I’m pretty sure that in my world no one has bothered with a ‘sustainability overhaul.’ Is that just to make it something that allows it to be run by robots, or does it have to do with the environment?”

“Well, yes it got set up for the robots, but it was primarily because of the environmental damage we were doing before.

“For instance, to replace old fuels, the roofs, windows and sidewalks collect energy from the sun. Tiny windmills line the edges of most buildings. The roads were replaced with parks like this one. It’s not really my field, so I couldn’t tell you all the things they do. I know they are more pleasant and clean up something that would have wreaked havoc on the world.”

“That must have been expensive!” Jessica exclaimed before she realized how illogical her comment was here. “But I guess that is kind of a non issue here, as long as people are willing to do the work and the materials are available.”

“The people who did that work knew that as soon as it was done everyone would have less work, most were passionate about the benefits. Some needed the hours for something they wanted. The more things that people don’t really want to do gets taken over by machine, the more that people get to do the work they love.”

“That’s really awesome that people here were able to get together in time to do something before the world starts going all to hell. Where I’m from, the people who are in a position to orchestrate something like that refuse, and tell everyone else that it’s not happening.”
Rodney was confused, but that quickly became concern. “Why would they do that? And how would people let anyone who would do that get into a position of power?”

Jessica started explaining about elections and loyalties and disheartened people and betrayal, before she stopped and just said, “Money”.

Rodney wanted to ask why people would put up with a system that caused so many problems, but he could see that Jessica was wondering the same thing. And his confusion was no match for her frustration.

They walked in silence for awhile, before Jessica stopped. ” Can I tell you something?”
Rodney was encouraged by her trust. “Sure, what is it?”

Jessica took a moment to figure out how to say what was on her mind. “I have been frustrated for a long time by the way things work in my world. This place seems to have all the solutions.” She paused for a chuckle, “Which might be why it seems like a dream.” She became serious again. “In my world I work all night long, every night of the week, just to have a roof over my head and food on my table. My boss won’t pay more than they have to, I have no time to look for a better job. Then one night a kid comes in to steal money and shot my coworker. Now I have not been working for awhile to recover. I don’t know how I will pay my bills. And on top of that I spent some of that time in the hospital. Each hour there costs more than I make in a whole night. I am beginning to wonder if I am making up this world as a coping mechanism. Each time I am here, it feels more real than the last time. Sometimes I think I am going crazy.”

Rodney took Jessica’s hands. “Do you feel this? Is this real?”

“It feels real. But how—“

“Never mind how. Never mind what other people think of it. You are here right now. Maybe you are only here in spirit, but does that make your experience of it any less real?”
Jessica was beginning to cry. No matter how many times she thought that she had released her stress and anxiety, it kept creeping back. She looked at Rodney, who lifted up her face to look at him.

“It’s alright. You will be taken care of here.”

Jessica sobbed, “But it is there that I am worried about.” Rodney gave Jessica a great big hug.

“I know I can’t help with there in any way but through your mind. How about we fill your mind with solutions, and try to find a way for you to make a real difference back home.”
Jessica pulled back and looked at Rodney. She was beginning to trust him, in spite of the strangeness of this place, these people, and his own persistence. “Thank you.”

Chapter 18 – False Expectations

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Happiness

They say that being happy comes from enjoying what you have and living in the moment. I believe that, and I try my best. Overall, I am very happy. But this is a lot easier when I ignore what is going on in the real world.

The problem is that ignoring bad things allows them to continue. Some people say that the problem is that I care too much. That may be true, but I know that if we allow bad things to happen, it will affect us down the line. If by acting now I can help prevent that, I will act now.

I keep running into the problem that so many bad things are going on in the world that I cannot really be active enough in any one thing. Especially since I am a parent and I work full-time. This frustration that I have is probably part of the reason that so much of what I post are merely rants. I know full well that I am not adding anything meaningful to the debates. I just feel the need to DO SOMETHING.

I sign petitions, but so many of them ask for money after you ‘sign’ that I don’t even know if it gets counted unless I donate. I am not a bottomless pit, and I cannot donate to every worthy cause I come across.

Chapter 12 (WIP) – Castles in Disguise

When Jessica got back to her room, she tried to think of what she should do next. She was wide awake, for the first time in months. Jessica sat thoughtfully looking at the business card that the nurse had given to her. The card had only a phone number. There was no name, no company. Jessica debated between running away from the hospital now to make sure that there were no further bills, or staying there, since at the moment she had nothing better to be doing, and was already in so far over her head it could hardly get worse. She set the card on the side table. Television did not sound particularly entertaining, but since she had no books, she figured that would be the best thing for her to do.

For several minutes Jessica flipped through the channels. Once she had been through everything three times, she settled on a show about interior design. The ‘experts’ that they interviewed on the show were the overly artsy stereotypical Designers. The things that they were saying were pretty out there, even for a college educated designer. The designers were talking about a historical building that was remodeled in such a way to keep the historical charm. The final product showed nothing of the 1920’s, when the building was made, but had a very modern minimalist theme with 1970’s furniture and modern stainless steel appliances. Jessica started zoning out when the designers were talking about ‘elevating’ the space, and how having some barely noticeable little accents of history gave the feeling that the space had some history.

Jessica began wondering why, if they wanted a historic feel, they would tear out original solid oak cabinets and replace them with brand new, very expensive, designer plastic ones. When the owner of the space come on screen they kept talking about how much they loved the 1920’s design aesthetic. Jessica wondered if they had seen their house yet. Soon it became clear that despite talk of wanting to live in a historic space preserved like a museum, the owners were thrilled with the new design of their minimalist home. They even tore out walls to create a modern open floor plan.

It occurred to Jessica the damage that could befall a medieval castle if the group on television got a hold of it. Rather than ending as a museum exhibit, the castle would have the stone covered over with an enamel resin and a ‘pop’ of color on an accent wall on each room. There would be some tacky reminder of a stereotypical castle outline echoed in a geometric shape on the new crown molding.

Through her mind Jessica ran images of old castles in picturesque locations around the world. Soon she realized that the only place she could remember many of them from was the classroom in her dream. Jessica had to wonder if any of them were real. She knew that experts say that anyone you see in your dreams you have seen before. While Jessica had a difficult time believing that, she pondered whether that would also apply to places in dreams.

She ran through the dream for a few minutes before determining unequivocally that she had never been in the classroom in her dream before, and therefore the images were likely made up as well. She turned her mind to the people of the strange town, and tried to run through the unending list of people she met at the hotel. It was not even a minute before she gave up. Her mind lingered though on Rodney. He seemed to be such a key figure in the dream, maybe he was based on someone more significant in her life. She turned to the glass separating her room from the hall outside. At that moment her doctor walked by.

Ah-ha! The doctor’s name was Rodney as well! That must be it. But wait- the doctor looked nothing like Rodney from the dream. And Jessica had the dream about the diner before she even met Kenzie.

Jessica tried to figure out what she would do for the Medieval Period class project that would not give away the fact that she did not have any memory of the rest of the course. It was a very engrossing puzzle, since she did not know the parameters of the assignment.

After struggling with this conundrum for several minutes, Jessica laughed out loud. It was a dream. She did not need to do the project. There was no-one to be embarrassed in front of. The whole place and all of the people in it were figments of her own imagination. It was perfectly likely that she would never dream of them again.

Jessica drew her attention again to the television and began flipping through the channels. It was not until she heard the words “Identity Theft” that she remembered she should probably have already cancelled her credit cards. And while she was at it, should see if she still had a job.

Chapter 13 – Something’s Missing

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Chapter 11 (WIP) – Down to Earth

Jessica opened her eyes. She was still in the hospital bed. She had been hoping that everything that had happened at the hotel was just a dream. She took a deep breath and climbed out of bed. She knew that since she had not been hurt she really should get out of the hospital as soon as possible to avoid drowning under hospital bills. She also knew that it was too late, money was tight enough as it was. As she stretched out from spending so much time in bed, she considered making a run for it and finding a way to live off the grid.

She walked out of her room and found a nurses station. She asked if she was able to leave. The nurse told her that the doctor would have to give the go ahead, and she paged him. A few minutes later the doctor arrived. He led Jessica back to her room, asking how she was feeling along the way.

Jessica said that she was feeling well, but really needed to get home and get back to work.

Jessica sat on the edge of the bed where a nurse took her blood pressure and temperature. Meanwhile the doctor continued questioning Jessica.

“Do you know what your name is?

“Jessica Marie Owens.”

“Do you know what the date is?”

Jessica stopped short, “Well the robbery was on, let’s see…I have not had a day off in quite some time so the days are running together. It was a Saturday when Mom called. That night I trained Kenzie, —-Kenzie! How is she? Is she alright? Can I see her?”

The doctor sighed “She is doing just fine. She is well enough to receive visitors. You seem to remember pretty well, but let’s make sure.”

“Of course, the robbery would have been Sunday. I know that I was told that I had been here 24 hours last time I spoke to you, Dr…”

“Rodney. That is accurate. It has been about eight hours since then.”

“So it would be the twenty….third today?” Jessica inquired.

“Correct,” said the doctor. “That is good. What we are concerned about with you is that although you do not seem to have suffered any injuries, you slept for more than thirty hours, nearly solid since you arrived. We did CT scans and X-rays, but we could find no signs of injury. We have no explanation.”

Jessica heard the bills going up in her head as she heard this. “I work graveyard. It is very hard to get any sleep. I suppose my body just decided to catch up.”

“That would be highly unusual, but the human body is an amazing thing. I want to do some research while I keep you under observation for a few more hours.”

Jessica started to tense up “I am sorry, I have no insurance. I can’t pay for everything you have already done. I need to go home.”

“Have you been under much stress lately?”

Jessica was a bit confused by the abruptness of the question. “Well yeah, like I said, I have not had a day off in over a month. I work graveyard, I can’t afford insurance, and bills are starting to pile up. Isn’t everyone stressed out right now?”

“It is possible that the stress combined with the lack of sleep might be enough to account for how long you slept. I just want to make sure that there is nothing else. I also suggest that you take a few weeks to recoup before going back to work.” Rodney turned to address the nurse. “You can take her to her see her friend.”

The nurse offered to help Jessica up, but was refused. Jessica was hardly paying attention as she was trying to figure out how to get out of this insurmountable debt she knew she was accruing. “Ms. Owens? I know that things look hopeless, but allow me to make a suggestion.” She handed Jessica a business card. “They may be able to help you.” She stopped Jessica, and lifted her face to see her better. “Now, you are going to see someone who has been through a lot too. I think she would like to see you smile.” Jessica let a weak smile out, “That’s better, now here we are.” The nurse led Jessica into a nearby room, where Jessica was greeted by Kenzie, who sat calmly watching television until she saw Jessica. Kenzie smiled and turned off the TV.

“Hey Jess!” Kenzie greeted her as if they had been best friends for years.

Jessica smiled, “Hey Kenzie, how are you feeling?”

“I’m good. They got the bullet out and patched me up good as new.” Kenzie was so cheerful, Jessica felt guilty for being so depressed. She tried to cheer up for Kenzie’s sake.

“That is a relief. It is good to see you.”

Kenzie noticed the hospital bracelet that Jessica wore. “Were you admitted to? Are you alright?”

Jessica felt a little embarrassed, compared to Kenzie, she had no business being hospitalized at all, let alone taking longer to recover, but she tried to stay positive, “Yeah I am fine! I just had a good long sleep since I got here.”

“What?! You have been asleep this whole time?”

“Yeah. I guess that is what work has done to me. I should probably call Ms. Thomas and see how things are going over there.”

Kenzie tried to brush off her concern, but kept a close eye on Jessica as they talked like old friends. Jessica found it odd that Kenzie, who had been so quiet at work, was so vivacious and cheerful now that she had been shot and sat in a hospital bed.

Finally Jessica decided to broach what she thought would be a sensitive subject. “What were you trying to do when the robber was there? You risked your life.”

“I was trying to save him from ruining his life. I know he was desperate, but there is more hope for him before he does something crazy.”

Jessica sat quietly for a few minutes, running over the scenario in her head. She had not really thought of the robber as anything other than a threat, but Kenzie’s explanation seemed to fit what happened. Suddenly Jessica realized something she had forgotten. “How did you open the safe, and why would you do that?”

“I learned how to crack safes from my father. I just decided not to follow in his line of work. I know the gunman probably did not even know it was there, but I thought that it would be a bigger temptation, and that I could convince him that it was not worth it. I suppose it was pretty dumb.”

“No, not dumb. It is amazing. You are really an enigma.”

The nurse came in and told the girls that it was time for Kenzie to get some rest. Jessica was escorted back to her room with a whole array of new thoughts running through her head. On one hand, she could see the robber as a person now, maybe even see his face a little clearer in her memory. She wanted Kenzie to be right, that the boy could be saved, but at the same time she saw Kenzie in a different light as well, and felt the need to protect her from the cruelty of the world. She felt that the robber should pay more for hurting someone so pure than she had even thought before. But somehow after talking to Kenzie she wasn’t sure if that was right, she was pretty sure Kenzie wouldn’t think so.

Chapter 12 – Castles in Disguise

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CHAPTER 8 (WIP) – COLLATERAL DAMAGE

Jessica stood up just in time to see a young man come nervously to the door. Kenzie went over and pressed the button to let him in. Jessica was just about to stop her and explain the intercom system, when the man drew a gun. Jessica ducked behind the desk in an instant.

The man stuttered across the words “Empty the t-t-till, give me your p-p-purses!” Jessica was already in the back room before the plural ‘purses’ reminded her that Kenzie was there too. Keeping her head as low to the ground as possible, Jessica peeked out to see the desk. Kenzie was still standing, slowly moving towards Jessica.

“Sir, I understand that things may not be great right now, but I can tell you do not want to do this.” Jessica debated between running to hide in the laundry room and locking every door in between, or waiting for Kenzie, maybe even physically dragging her to the back.

The gunman squeaked out “You don’t–” He stopped to clear his throat and started speaking in a lower more even tone. “You don’t know anything about me, just give me the money.”

Kenzie stepped past the door where Jessica was waiting and kept moving to where the safe was kept. Jessica knew she could not open the safe, what was Kenzie thinking? Jessica fought the urge to run away, as the gunman pressed Kenzie harder, the gun nearly in her face. Kenzie never lost her composure as she knelt down to the safe and opened it by touch.

“I have been where you are, and this money is not worth the damage you are doing to yourself.” Kenzie prepared to scatter the money everywhere to make her point. The gunman jumped up and caught the money in her hand. As he snatched the money from her he seemed to forget that he had the gun in his hand and reached with both hands to grab the stack of bills. As his hand wrapped around the treasure, his finger squeezed the trigger.

Jessica screamed. As he landed behind the desk the gunman regained his composure enough to shoot the spot that Jessica narrowly vacated as she reached for Kenzie to drag her to the back. Jessica got far enough in the room to close and lock the door as the young man made it to his feet. He took only a few seconds to find and empty the drawer that contained the till and snatch the girl’s purses from under the counter before he dashed out the door breaking the glass in the process and was back on the street.

Jessica frantically tried to stop the bleeding from Kenzie’s shoulder as she reached for a phone and a towel at the same time. Jessica knocked the phone onto Kenzie’s chest as she switched hands to use the towel to put pressure on the wound. Jessica’s hand shook as she tried to dial 911 into the phone slippery with blood.

When the operator answered Jessica could get out just a few words between her labored breaths. “robber–shot–shoulder” The operator helped to calm her down enough to get the address and a general description of the gunman. Jessica did not have much since she hid so quickly, and Kenzie was in and out of consciousness as Jessica tried to keep her attention while she answered questions. Jessica knew that she was making the pain in Kenzie’s shoulder worse, but that if she stopped she would bleed out before help arrived. The operator dispatched an ambulance and police, but stayed on the line to help.

Once help arrived Jessica shut down from shock. The paramedics put Kenzie in the ambulance, and helped Jessica step in before she really knew what was going on. Everything was a blur. When they reached the hospital she realized that she was supposed to be working and tried to leave to get back. She was told that the lobby was a crime scene, and the manager had been notified. Jessica fought for a minute before giving up and laying back in the wheelchair they brought for her. As she passed under florescent lights and through door after door the thought occurred to her that she had been putting off getting insurance and could not afford to be admitted to the hospital. This thought did not last long as she passed out rushing through white halls and past drawn curtains.

 

Chapter 9 – Anchors

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