Robotic workforce could lead to “hellish dystopia”

by Nicola Middlemiss18 Jan 2018
Most HR professionals have some concerns about the burgeoning robotic workforce but few will have fears to match that of Dr Subhash Kak, who claims the rise of AI will leave humans miserable.

Kak, a computing expert at Oklahoma University, has warned that mankind is heading towards a “hellish dystopia” as machines continue to take over jobs around the world.

The Indian American computer scientist says billions of people will lose their jobs to robots, leaving many without a sense of self-worth or purpose.

 “There will be massive unemployment,” he told Daily Star Online. “People want to be useful and work provides meaning, and so the world will sink into despair.”

The 70-year-old even said there are already a number of signs which suggest the beginnings of the dystopia are already in existence.

“In my view, the current opioid and drug epidemic in the US is a manifestation of this despair,” he said. “Likewise, phenomena such as ISIS are a response to the meaninglessness that people find in a world devoted only to the cult of the body.”

While Kak’s claims might sound outlandish, they’re actually supported somewhat be a recent study which suggested that 800 million workers could be replaced by machines by 2030.

The same report found that physical jobs in predictable environments – including machine-operators and fast-food workers – are the most likely to be replaced by robots. Roles in relation to the collection and processing of data will also be at risk.

“This could displace large amounts of labour - for instance, in mortgage origination, paralegal work, accounting, and back-office transaction processing,” read the report.

Conversely, jobs in unpredictable environments are least are risk.

“Occupations such as gardeners, plumbers, or providers of child – and eldercare – will also generally see less automation by 2030, because they are technically difficult to automate and often command relatively lower wages, which makes automation a less attractive business proposition.”

Some industry leaders have soothed concerns by pointing out that new jobs will be created and Kak acknowledges this but says more needs to be done.

“Some say that current phase of automation will create new kinds of jobs that we cannot even think of. The current revolution is replacing the thinking human and so its impact on society will be enormous.

“Policy makers have begun to speak of a minimum guaranteed income with everyone provided food, shelter, and a smart phone, and that will not address the heart of the problem.”
 

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