We need more human voices for human concerns about the coming A.I. dominated job market

We need more human voices for human concerns about the coming A.I. dominated job market

Not too long ago A.I. was the future. Now we live in a time where the distance between the present and the future is blurred, where the time between concept and reality seems to shorten by the day. We already live in a world where the way we interact with each other socially, romantically and politically has changed immeasurably and irreversibly. But we now find ourselves at a point where the heart of the social contract is to be ripped up and rewritten in answer to the question:  What do we do when the robots make us redundant?

This is no longer an existential issue, it is a concrete problem. A report by The World Economic Forum posits that over 5 million jobs will be lost in just 4 years due to artificial intelligence.  A 2013 paper by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne concludes  that in just 20 years, up to 47% of jobs are at risk.

It is now old-fashioned, quaint even, to talk of A.I. simply in terms of it being superb at routine, repetitive tasks; the wolf at the door of sectors such as manufacturing. We are in an era of deep learning that is putting artificial intelligence in a position to blaze a trail through every sector. And quickly. The upshot is that there is no clear delineation within that 47% between jobs that are at risk, and jobs that are not.

At the recent World Government summit, Elon Musk spoke about the danger of so many people becoming unemployed at such a rapid pace, that the concept of a universal basic income will be forced by necessity to become a reality. The issues surrounding what a UBI world would look like is a gigantic topic in itself. Although interestingly enough, a UBI is already being trialled in the real world, with Finland testing the concept initially for two years. What is clear is that in a global society that will be dealing with huge upheavals in the world of work, the definition and concept of what a wage is could change beyond comprehension; and that is one of the biggest unknowns we have faced in a long, long time.

To take one example of a huge societal impact, how does the housing ladder look in such a world? Does the concept of a housing ladder even stand up to scrutiny in this possible new world? Imagine the political discourse around what level a UBI would be set at. Remember where the profit for goods bought will continue to flow. What will inequality truly look like in the coming decades on a global scale.

 

“The next wave of economic dislocation won’t come from overseas. It will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes many good, middle-class jobs obsolete…And so we must forge a new social compact – to guarantee all our kids the education they need.”

The above words are those of Barack Obama during his farewell address.  The guarantee of ensuring all children have the right education to succeed in the new world of the fourth industrial revolution is of course a necessity and a fundamental human right, but is education and retraining possible for the amount of people who will be losing their jobs imminently? When we then factor in the backlog of those future generations, where the world will still be in state of flux, the spectre of a post traditional wage-for-work world becomes even greater.

Where there are advancements there are paradoxes, but the paradox of the extreme advancements of A.I. versus the negative impact on humans is so drastic, so life changing, that we need to have more human voices for human concerns and human rights. It is impossible that we as a collective species are prepared for this; not one government could in good faith say that things are in place for such events  . Unchecked advancements in artificial intelligence – and our relentless drive of adopting such advancements into the fabric of our society – are a very real, very serious threat to life as we know it. We need to treat it as such.

 

 

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The beautiful downfall of Charlotte Hogg

The beautiful downfall of Charlotte Hogg

The schadenfreude derived from the downfall of Charlotte Hogg has been huge – at least for me – and not a jot of guilt will colour the emotion. There is nothing quite like witnessing the privileged be publicly dragged over the coals; there can only be smiles at seeing a silver spooned parasite exposed for exactly the qualities that make the elite so despised.

How can one not laugh at the sheer stupidity of the self-absorbed idea that the rules do not apply to them, even the very rules they themselves have drawn up. As the Treasury committee of MPs highlighted: “Professional competence for this role includes an ability to follow the rules, particularly those that one has had a hand in writing and enforcing.”

Here is a woman that is an Oxford graduate, who has also studied at Harvard and held positions such as head of Santander’s UK high street banking operation, a job that earned her £2.5million in a year, natch. Here is a woman who wrote in her letter to MPs, apparently in all seriousness: “I do not anticipate that an actual or potential conflict will arise in future.” The gall required to commit to paper something so ridiculous, when you have already been rumbled, is laughable.

This is a woman whose job would have entailed sitting on the Prudential Regulation Committee, which has day-to-day oversight of Barclays, the place of work of her brother, and she did not think there could be a possibility of a potential conflict of interest? Staggering.

The only response to such foolishness was for her failings to be hammered home and for her to be held to account, which the Treasury committee duly did.

On the subject of this seemingly prevalent attitude among the elite that the ordinary rules do not apply to them, what are we to make of the fact that when all of this first came to light, Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England,  offered nothing in response but a verbal warning? Maybe in the world of banking, a world that lives by an entirely different set of moral and ethical standards than the rest of the population, it was nothing but a banal inconvenience. In the real world though, conflicts of interest, including the potential of one, cannot be tolerated within the banking sector. Especially the banking sector.

There is a good chuckle to be had from reading Carney’s statement upon the resignation of Ms Hogg which includes: “Since Charlotte joined the Bank almost four years ago, she has transformed its management and operations.” Yes, she transformed the place enough that she paid no heed to, and broke, her own rules. Quite the culture of competence and transparency.

Let us not forget that Ms Hogg is an apple that has not fallen far from the tree, her father also being an odious character; only a man with no regard for the common person could claim expenses for the cleaning of a moat at his 13th century Manor House; the sheer audacity of such behaviour is beyond comprehension, except, for these people and the other parasites, it is nothing but normal. These are the values and behaviours that pass down through the generations, until it is seen as nothing out of the ordinary to live by their own rules, their rulebook being an establishment free pass that guarantees the best education, the best connections, the best jobs, the best of everything.

So enjoy your schadenfreude, revel in it, because they revel in all of the perks that emerging from the right vagina brings.