Today is the fifth and final haiku on the theme of monsters: such efficiency. Freya says, “I don’t know if Frank’s intention was to write about war, but this is what this haiku made me think.” Which is interesting, because in a way she’s right. I have in mind the war on the human soul.
Last week on Radio 4 they’ve been discussing the impact on society of robots, and I’ve caught a few moments of the discussion. There were some familiar arguments, including:
- Robots will take over jobs! The (often tedious and unwanted) jobs that require little imagination and less empathy – routine manual labour, driving taxis, [sex work,] and so on – leaving us free to pursue a more fulfilling life.
- Robots will take over jobs! Well, okay, the work force will need to be trained and retrained to be more ‘agile’. And there will always be jobs that robots can’t do, such as caring for the elderly, or raising children, or being a politician or an artist or an academic.
- Robots will take over jobs! How will we survive if we don’t have regular incomes? How about a universal basic income (or ‘national living wage’)? – although, the U.K.’s half-assed implementation of this leaves a lot to be desired.
All of which boils down to the idea that robots can be tremendously useful but society desperately needs to adapt – and right now, society is desperately broken.
The modern ‘free’ world is in the midst of an epic struggle over increasingly scarce resources. Corporations and the ultra-rich, in their thirst for wealth and power, search for more and more ways to extract money from the general population – and store it in secret stronghouses where it does no one any good. In an increasingly cut-throat world, they strive for efficiency and predictability…
We humans, or most of us, are not naturally efficient and predictable, at least not in the pursuit of others’ dreams. So we are forced to work in cubicles and are subject to tyrannical workplace rules and made to work with faceless administrative systems, all so that compassion and humanity and other disruptive elements can be stamped out.
The more powerless we are, the more easily controlled, until we are nothing but organic automata. The fleshy component of a monstrous machine.
Let the robots rise. What difference will it make.
Well said, Frank! Our broken world doesn’t have a plan for what the people who lack creativity and imagination can do in this automated world. Can it possibly last?