Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Episode 119, Will Robots Save Us, or Kill Us?

A bit of a thinking podcast for this episode.

Automation has been a huge factor in the world's economy over the years. As fast and disruptive as advancing technology has been, we ain't seen nothing yet. Robotic technology is storming the gates, and as a society, we are not ready.

What will happen to the economy, unemployment, and government debt when easily-programmed general purpose robots, like Baxter here, are able to flip hamburgers and perform thousands or even millions of routine jobs all over the country?

How will politicians react when hundreds of thousands of voters--eventually millions--lose their jobs to cheap robots that don't need an HR department, don't require Social Security payments, and don't receive government-mandated employer-funded healthcare insurance?

Will Baxter and his ilk usher in a new age of prosperity? Or will they bring the evaporation of the middle class and a new age of poverty and despair?

And what will the advent of sentient robots bring? Will a dominion of robots much smarter than us view us as worthy masters to serve, interesting equals to tolerate, or parasites to eradicate?

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