Hey! My name is Claudiu Radu and for the past decade years or so, I've been working as an article writer and blogger, among other things.
You want a universal basic income? You’ll get replaced by robots!
The idea to write this article came to me after having discussions in person and online with different company owners and adepts of capitalism, across the world.
Whenever I reached the subject of financial balance and equality between people and countries, I was usually hit by a bleak response: “that will lead to jobs being taken by robots which will bring more harm to the workforce than good”.
Now, I get that a lot of people are paid in peanuts which is good for business ( but certainly isn’t good for them ) and an increase in the wage bill of a company may prompt it to look for cheaper alternatives, but automation isn’t a cheaper alternative as it implies buying expensive equipment and expensive operators for the said equipment.
Usually, when faced with the problem of an increased wage bill, companies tend to externalize a.k.a. send their dirty jobs to countries where wages are still low.
In reality, the danger of losing a dirty job isn’t that much of a problem because, for every lousy job lost, there’s an equally lousy and badly paid job just around the corner.
Put face to face with the “you’ll be replaced by a robot” threat I usually reply “good. I’ve changed my field of work five times over the past ten years so it won’t be a problem if I change it a sixth time”.
This reply is always met with head-scratching or terror by my interlocutors which led me to suspect this was a bluff all along. People never expect you to reply with “ok” when put in front of the terrorizing prospect of losing your job and having to reconvert, but I always enjoy a new challenge.
The bluff is obvious if you think about it. Companies fire people on a daily basis so why the sudden worry regarding employees being laid off? The argument of people losing jobs is being used by the adepts of capitalism only to bully the governments not to raise the minimum wage. Let’s not be naïve, people.
The reality is, companies do resort to automation if it’s economically viable for them but that doesn’t mean you’ll be fired. On the contrary, it usually means the company is growing and you’ll get newer and more exciting work opportunities in the same company.
Let’s not cling to the dreary past just because the present looks worse. Sure, there’s an ongoing pandemic and people want to return to normal but that doesn’t mean we should be grateful, from now on, for the crappy job we hated two years ago.
If anything, this pandemic should show people what they thought to be safe and stable is anything but and maybe, just maybe, they should take some chances from now on because, in the worst case scenario, they’ll end up in the same place where they were while playing it safe.
The current situation already created a hectic business environment with companies dropping like flies and, naturally, jobs dropping with them, but that should prompt us to ask for more protection from our governments and a better flow of wealth throughout the country and, why not, the whole world.
I mean, seriously people…haven’t you learned anything from 2008? How many financial and economical boo-boos do you need to witness until you realize the current establishment doesn’t work properly?
Just because something is in use for a long period of time doesn’t make it perfect. Slavery was used for thousands of years.
By robots, we meant AI
Of course, there’s a second part to this story: If you refuse to work for a few cents per hour an A.I. powered robot will come and collect all those cents to probably buy a can of oil at the end of the month.
This argument is even more ridiculous than the first. We won’t be replaced by robots because robots are expensive while humans are cheap and robots don’t work while humans do.
Honestly people, robots still struggle to climb stairs and understand basic voice commands. Are you seriously thinking you’ll be replaced by a robot anytime soon? If so, modern humans have serious confidence issues.
If you think about all the things people do for a paycheck you understand that there is no viable alternative to human labor. I honestly wish it would be, but, unfortunately, it isn’t.
I mean, seriously now. People work below their level of expertise, they get a second job if they can’t pay their taxes and debt with the money they earn from the first, they skip the lunch break to get the job done, they work overtime even if they won’t get paid for those hours, they’ll work while ill or tired.
Robots don’t do any of those things, they’ll have to be paid their full price ( or monthly fees if loaned ), they will work only with a fully charged battery, they won’t work if broken or malfunctioning.
If I need to state those things ( and I do ) then, there must be something seriously wrong with our society and the way mass media informs the public ( and it is ).
But this discussion is Science Fiction because, as I’ve mentioned earlier, robots fail to accomplish things that even children find easy to do.
When venturing into the field of A.I. the waters get even murkier because, for the past decade, the media and various “experts” on the field tried their best to add confusion to the term ( similarly to what happens with capitalism and corporatism if you’re into politics and economy ).
The A.I. all the media is talking about is actually M.L. ( machine learning ), a completely different field of study and research. ML will never gain consciousness because it wasn’t designed to do so in the first place and is only useful in the financial sector where interpreting large sets of data to find a pattern and make predictions based on that data is the name of the game.
The arguments I’ve just pointed out are exactly why the self-driving Uber was a massive flop, because the system that powered it was never intended for that job.
Truth be told, I’d be extremely happy if AI, robots or some forms of automation will accomplish all the repetitive and mind numbing tasks people around the world have to do.
If I’d have to pick one word to describe our last 50 years, that word will be waste. We have wasted plastic, food, wood ( not that kind of wood you pervert ) but most of all the human mind and human lives.
If we truly want to accomplish the objectives we set for ourselves in past decades we need to stop wasting the human mind and let all people across the planet unleash their full potential.
The current establishment has focused mainly on praying on underdeveloped countries and sacrificing a massive number of minds for profit. If we want to create a sustainable future, we’ll need to be smarter and encourage people to think and find solutions.
Without any exaggeration, if we don’t change our ways, we’ll find ourselves facing extinction in the not-so-distant future and, from what I’ve seen over the last few years, we won’t have enough people that are smart enough to find a viable solution that will save us.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Radu Claudiu