Automation, bots, algos… replace human brain power
OK, we get it. We saw the havoc that the financial crisis, the bailouts, QE, and ZRIP wreaked on jobs. We saw the effect on jobs and the general economy when the corporate focus shifted even more to deploying the nearly free capital to buy back shares and engage in financial engineering – and enrich the elite of Wall Street and corporate America in the process – rather than investing in labor and training.
We got that the jobs scenario in America will never be the same again. Things have changed. We moved on. Learned to cope with it. We adjusted the statistics, removed people from the official labor force, and thereby brought the unemployment rate in line where we can feel comfortable with it. Life goes on, as they say.
But now there’s a whole new problem, and an ancient one, one that is getting worse by the day, one that we as society cannot deal with easily by simply removing people from the labor force – though that will likely be part of the solution. The problem isn’t really a problem. It’s a solution to a problem. We’re proud of it. It speaks of the greatness of the human mind and is testament to its true genius: automation.
Automation used to be an effort to build machines to replace inefficient and weak human muscles. But now it’s increasingly becoming a replacement for human brains.
It’s already happening, but no one is ready for it.
Automation is inevitable, the hard-hitting video below points that. It’s a tool to create abundance with little effort – but “we need to start thinking now as to what to do when large sections of the population become unemployable due to no fault of their own.”
The stock market in many ways is no longer a human endeavor. “It’s mostly bots, that taught themselves to trade stocks, trading stocks with other bots that taught themselves.”
These bots rule. News media carry stories that were written by these bots – or algos, as we like to call them – and they’re read by bots that then trade with other bots and enter and cancel orders in a fraction of a second to drive stocks one way or the other. And other bots can write more stories about bot trading with other bots, and about stories that other bots had written, so that more bots can react to them instantaneously [This Chart Shows How You Get Screwed in the Stock Market].
Which makes me think: Is that why the mainstream media are stumbling so badly? Because humans don’t want to read stories written by bots for bots?
Even professional jobs such as lawyers are being taken over by bots. Not their rare courtroom appearances, or their roles in negotiations with other humans, but their daily grunt work, which is much of what lawyers do, such as preparing reams of documents. And then there’s discovery: “It’s already no longer a human job in many law firms.” Bots are sifting through millions of emails and memos and documents in a fraction of the time that an army of humans pulling all-nighters used to spend on it. These bots are much cheaper, don’t need pizza after midnight, and work much more accurately.
And doctors. IBM is positioning its Dr. Watson for that. It doesn’t need to be perfect. It only needs to be better than humans. And that’s pretty easy to do, given human limitations. Human doctors can only learn through their own efforts and experiences. But doctor bots can instantly learn from the entire body of research out there, from anything and everything in the entire medical data base, and from all the other doctor bots. While “not all human doctors will go away, the need for them will be less.”
And the highly paid coders of the current tech bubble? Other coders are designing bots that replace those coders who haven’t been replaced already by bots. And the cashiers at the grocery store, now being replaced by self-checkout machines? Or bank tellers, the remaining few? And the millions of jobs up and down the scale?
What are they going to do, these lawyers and doctors and coders and “many bright perfectly capable humans” who are no longer needed and have become “unemployable” due to no fault of their own? What is society going to do?
There is no way to back off from automating what the human muscle and brain used to do. It has been tried before, but automation has always won – and it will always win. Automation is inevitable. But the consequences are becoming increasing mindboggling.
And here is the CEO of a startup who delineates the prevailing attitude in today’s business world, and one of the most harrowing problems for millions of unemployed job seekers: you must have a job to get a job. And there is a system in place with convenient low-cost tools to lock the unemployed out. Read…. Startup CEO (Unwittingly) Explains Biggest Problem in America’s Unemployment Crisis