With the ever growing field of artificial intelligence, it’s not only necessary but also crucial to evaluate what lies in front of us, the tangible future when robotics become so abundantly available that all low level labours are replaced by robotics. What’s the implications of such scenario and how will it impact our daily life? Let’s have a fun thought experiment.
Imagine that the world has been running happily as the way it is for an indefinite amount of time, until one seemingly unspectacular morning, when everyone wakes up and sees a massive amount advertisements from a company called RoboticX featuring their $99 robotics that are demonstrated to accomplish almost all low level human labour such as manufacturing daily products, undertaking construction works, etc. The Owners of manufacturing companies will think, “Jeez! It’s so cheap! Why am I still hiring workers! I don’t want to pay for their freaking health insurance!”. Owners of construction companies will think, “Jeez! It’s so cheap! Robots don’t get accident! Robot works 24-7!”. Next day, all manufacturing and construction workers lost their jobs. How many are they? Not too many, just about one third of the world population.
Next day, everywhere on the streets you will find people crying and protesting against RoboticX which is claimed to be the sole trigger of the disaster. RoboticX doesn’t even bother, and the protesters don’t seem to get much government support. Soon the protestors realize that “Wait a sec! RoboticX is getting so rich and they are paying a lot of tax! The government is also getting rich!”. Soon the protestors redirect their fire to the government, “Government is conspiring with RoboticX! They want us to lose our jobs so they can all get rich!” Stress from one third of the population is certainly strong enough to shake any government. New politicians start to emerge and get strong support by advocating “No Robot Movement”. To compete with them in president election, the party in charge is also forced to restrict the use of robots and place heavy constraints on RoboticX. The story ends with Robotic getting a bankruptcy due to heavy political constraints and lack of people support. The world is back to the old and happy way as it was for an indefinite amount of time.
Although being an imaginary thought experiment, it occurs to me clearly that our present political structure is no longer fit for a technology dominated future. The fact that all politics are local but all economics are global is one of the biggest paradoxes in the present political environment. Singapore is a good example of such paradox. As a small island with limited human resources, Singapore has to rely on importing foreign talents from nearby countries to boost its economics. At the same time it also means that many Singaporeans’ jobs are taken up by foreigners. As a local nation deemed to serve the benefits of its local people, Singapore government faces heavy stress from Singaporeans and are forced to place constraints on importing foreigner talents which may likely to slow down Singapore’s economic growth. Such paradox exists everywhere in the political world. The problem may lie in the very notion of country itself which has its origin in the prehistorical times when forming a tribe is crucial to survival, but is such an old notion still adequate to support human being’s continuous development after we have witnessed such immense advancement in the technology world? Shouldn’t we rethink about our political structure in an ever-growing global economy?
Having read so many unfortunate stories in wars, I truly look forward to a global political reform.