Dingo the Dissident

THE BLOG OF DISQUIET : Qweir Notions in the Armpit of Diogenes by DINGO the DISSIDENT binge-thinker since 2008.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

The Rise of the Robots, and the continuing Fall of Man.

"It used to be the case that we imagined that computers - robots - would take over the menial work in our lives...be our robot maids, doing the housework or whatever,leaving us free to enjoy our leisure. In fact, the reverse is happening. We have plenty of spare, unintelligent human capacity to do those simple menial jobs, often for very long hours and poor pay.  Instead, the humans that computers are replacing are members of the educated classes: translators, medical technicians, legal clerks, accountants, financial traders."

Robert Harris, THE FEAR INDEX, 2011.

"In the late 20th century, while the blue-collar working class gave way to the forces of globalization and automation, the educated elite looked on with benign condescension. Too bad for those people whose jobs were mindless enough to be taken over by third world teenagers or, more humiliatingly, machines. The solution, pretty much agreed upon across the political spectrum, was education. Americans had to become intellectually nimble enough to keep ahead of the job-destroying trends unleashed by technology, both robotization and the telecommunication systems that make outsourcing possible. Anyone who wanted a spot in the middle class would have to possess a college degree — as well as flexibility, creativity and a continually upgraded skill set.

But, as Martin Ford documents in Rise of the Robots, the job-eating maw of technology now threatens even the nimblest and most expensively educated. Lawyers, radiologists and software designers, among others, have seen their work evaporate to India or China. Tasks that would seem to require a distinctively human capacity for nuance are increasingly assigned to algorithms, like the ones currently being introduced to grade essays on college exams. Particularly terrifying to me, computer programs can now write clear, publishable articles..."

Barbara Ehrenreich in N.Y. Review of Books, May 2015.

1 comment:

Srikant said...

You're right. Indeed, intellectual activities -- such as writing, or playing Bridge -- can be easily analyzed, and turned into a computer program. But much physical labour -- like sweeping a room, for example, requires dexterity, and skills which we learn intuitively rather than through analysis.