Social risks caused by robotics’ advance are starting to be considered also by G20 countries.
Future citizens will live in a dynamic and continually technologically evolving world. They won’t be able to have the same job for 40 years, but they will enter a continuative learning system, changing jobs and learning how to perform different tasks, attending ad hoc apprenticeships.
Jerry Kaplan tries to find some possible solutions: he imagines a “helping work” for middle – age people, which are often excluded from work because they can’t keep up with technological evolution and then learn the needed skills to keep on being productive for society. Another solution could be the creation of a public-private system offering a kind of loan for people who must or want to stop to experiment with new ways of working. This assistance system will obviously imply a compulsory repayment: it will oblige the taxpayer to live from the beginning a life of debts, first with school which they must repay for student loans, then with mortgages and with insurances for their old ages, and finally with loans allowing them to learn new jobs – this mechanism is widely spread out in the USA.
Interesting idea, but I believe that Europe will think about something simpler and more effective. Anyway, the subject has been put on the table. And nobody has illusions about the risks of automation.
Bill Gates, who doesn’t lack skills and sensitiveness to understand the situation, put forward a shocking idea: to tax robots. This suggestion is based on an almost clear reasoning: if governments had to face unavoidable social risks – which would involve great financial resources – taxes would create useful funds to positively close the world innovation process.
According to recent predictions, in 2055 there will be a complete implementation of automation.
In the same year, Nigeria will have 450 million inhabitants – as many as USA – and its wealth curve will be ridiculous: 0.01% of its population will own the entire cake, while the rest of people will deal with crumbs. Before this situation – which won’t obviously involve only Nigeria, but lots of African countries – we wonder whether investing so many resources in work optimisation and its automation really makes sense.
If we think about wealthy western countries, the situation is much more different: demographic collapse is leading to a gradual manpower’s decrease and this gap will be bridged by robotics, which will bring western countries a new growth in their per capita GDPs, that will probably be around 2% each year.
Great expectations for those living in the world’s lucky part. But who’s going to think about all those people living and growing up in the other part, where technological innovation will take away lots of job opportunities?
Maybe no one has a good answer.
The only thing that’s certain is that the process is on the move and interests involved are too worth to be stopped in favour of higher values, of a wellness which is not only an economic one, or at least which doesn’t involve only a little group of privileged people, as it always happens.
If there was a supranational government having wide-ranging powers, it would probably take into consideration this huge social injustice and would make suitable interventions to slow the advance of robotics down, at least until its affection is tested and positively valuated, even for Third World’s countries.
It is impossible to know, but there’s one thing that’s certain: about 4 billion people are going to live in Africa, all spectators of ad advancing world. Will they stop and stare or will they try and come on board?