It’s official. Artificial Intelligence is speeding the robot revolution and will soon be responsible for replacing a huge portion of the human workforce with machines, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it.
When artificially intelligent robots finally replace humans in the labor pool, life as we know it will be forced to change, much as society shifted dramatically during the industrial revolution.
Until the AI revolution is complete, however, there are things humans can do to slow the automation of the workforce and the outsourcing of human jobs to intelligent robots.
In an interview last week, Bill Gates told Quartz that job-taking robots should be taxed just like a human employee and the money used to retrain displaced workers with new skills. The robot tax would slow the automation of the workforce and could be used to fund human jobs taking care of the elderly and young for which people are better suited than machines.
“Right now, the human worker who does, say, $50,000 worth of work in a factory, that income is taxed and you get income tax, social security tax, all those things. If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think that we’d tax the robot at a similar level.”
His comments come as tech industry leaders are starting to realize they could quickly become public enemy number one if their product makes a huge portion of the workforce obsolete.
That’s one reason why industry leaders like Elon Musk are starting to call for a universal basic income, where every citizen gets a regular check from the government, according to CNBC.
“There is a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income, or something like that, due to automation.”
Vote With Your Pocketbook
Customer operated check stands are spreading through the retail and food service industries and large corporations are increasingly relying on the machines to cut labor costs and reduce the number of humans on the sales floor.
McDonalds announced the installation of self-service kiosks last year, partially in response to the fast food worker’s Fight for $15 labor movement. Wendy’s is following their lead with plans to install 1,000 self service kiosks this year as part of a move to save on labor costs, fast food research consultant Darren Tristano told KTVL.
“They are looking to improve their automation and their labor costs, and this is a good way to do it.”
Humans can fight the AI revolution by simply refusing to use the self-serve kiosks or, even better, by spending their money at stores and restaurants that don’t employ the automated machines.
An Uncertain Future
From manufacturing machines to driverless cars to self operated check stands, artificially intelligent robots are poised to replace as much as 50 percent of the human workforce in the next 20 years, according to Wired. Some humans will transition to operators charged with monitoring the machines, but there will still be a significant loss of jobs, which will force a radical change in society.
Without the need to center life around work, human society will transform, but no one is sure what form it will take.
Dystopian science fiction writers paint a bleak picture of a world without human jobs where citizens are forced to huddle in shacks and survive on the bare minimum of the necessities to survive.
It doesn’t have to be that way, however. With a universal basic income serving as an income floor, humans would be free to start their own small businesses, launch artistic endeavors, or even explore the galaxy.
What do you think will happen when robots replace humans in the workforce?
[Featured image by Petmal/iStock]