The Rise of the Robots
Immigration is a big topic in this referendum. But we need to bear in mind that if we fail to halt global warming – even if the politicians keep to the promises they made in Paris scientists think we will still be heading for 2.7 degrees of warming which could tip us into runaway climate change and how often do politicians keep promises? – we shall see not thousands of migrants but millions. How are we going to deal with it? Also I’ve been reading Rise of the Robots by Martin Ford. We are without doubt standing on the brink of a technological sea change as profound as the Industrial Revolution. Given Moore’s law – computers double their capacity every few years, already the pc on your desk could send a man to the moon – the very possible advent of quantum computing which will extend their capacity immeasurably and the onset of nanotechnology, there will hardly be any job, even in the service industries already automatic pay stations are replacing check out girls in supermarkets – robots will not do more cheaply and efficiently than humans could. Work in the sense we know it could disappear. Once the machines have been paid for a plethora of goods will be produced at close to marginal zero cost. But there won’t be wages to pay for them. It could be the end of capitalism as we know it. Will we all live on vouchers issued by the government so we can obtain the goods that only the state will produce because, with no profit, there will be no incentive for capitalists? Ironically capitalism will have produced the communist paradise Marxism failed to deliver. Surely not. But what is certain is that there will be drastic change. Most of us are only marginally aware of the part that robots already play in our lives. Perhaps the immanent arrival of the driverless car will be the first shock to the system. But whatever will be, the future will surely be very different from how either side in the EU referendum debate imagines it will be.