Event, Reviews

Techkrieg Bop: Martin Ford @ SJSU

Martin Ford’s “Disruptive Technology: Do Robots Want Your Job?” was an hour-long presentation held at The Tech Museum of Innovation.  Some of the primary points included the statistical evaluation of productivity versus compensation, the exponential leap in technological advances, and unsustainable model that Capitalism currently offers.

Ford’s presentation focused on the exponential growths from technological leaps.  The audience questioned how society would be able to cope or adapt to advancements in robotics and artificial intelligence. Ford replied that society would require a transformation in their fundamental values.   These values teetered between motivation and understanding an individual’s place within the spectrum of work.  It seemed to focus on rewriting the psychological values that society correlates to technology in general.

Another question involved how an individual can prepare themselves against robotic domination.  Jobs that were deemed “avoid if possible,” included anything office related or requiring repetitive actions.  Since technology can conduct these actions with robotic efficiency, human error would eventually be removed from the spectrum of repetitious work.  Jobs that robotics cannot replicate were considered viable options instead.  Such jobs included nursing, as artificial intelligence currently fails to exhibit empathy.  Or jobs that work in tandem to technological upgrades such as programming.

In conjunction, there was an exploration of new occupations that would arise from the fading jobs.  Ford offered the idea that entertainment would possibly rise in demand with humanities life becoming easier.  Ryan offered the idea of pursuing Youtube entertainment as a possible career choice.  An option that has only become more available as technology opened up further into the realms of entertainment. Sadly, the statistic for becoming successful on Youtube was like winning the lottery.  There are many people competing in that industry and not everyone would be capable of making a career from it.

The topic in which many people became involved with was the development of a “global basic income.”  The idea seemed quite preposterous because it offered a government subsidy or allowance to the entire populace.  However, with the advancement of technology effectively removing people from the work force, there would be a need to sustain the massive influx of the future unemployed.  While at the same time allowing capitalism to continue because money still needed to float between consumer and seller.  There was concern for the slothful nature that would come from free money.  Ford offered the idea of setting a minimum allowance that would allow people to “live.”  If individuals wanted to thrive, it would push them to the work force for additional income.  Another person offered the idea that the balancing of income would result in a global neutral class.  However, that was quickly debunked because there would always be a classification of the “rich” and “not rich.”  This classification is pushed by Ford’s model of rewarding those that pursue work beyond basic income.  A nurse offered that a global basic income could end the homeless crisis but failed to take into consideration of the mentally disabled or drug addicts that make up a bit of the homeless population.

Overall, the seminar was focused on the impact of robotics and artificial intelligence on the populace.  The audience was able to go beyond blaming technology and focused on the possible problems that would arise in adapting to technological disruption.

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