Move over buddy, Mr. Robby Bot is here to replace you.
Nightmare at the Acme factory? Well, not quite yet. But sooner than some would suspect, they may be joining the unemployment lines—kicked to the curb by that nice, quiet bucket-of-bolts down the street.
Actually, for some of those born from 2000 onwards, the future may not be such a happy place. According to chief technologist Dave Evans of Cisco Systems, less than a quarter century from now all workers will be replaced by robots. Not some workers, or most workers…all workers.
Not too long ago, Evans chatted with IT analysts and Canadian reporters about what’s coming down the proverbial pike. It isn’t such a rosy picture for many. According to the Cisco Systems analyst the technological future “will be incredibly destructive” for large swaths of under-educated people. “It behooves those organizations and individuals and governments to really get this and embrace this,” he added. “This is a fundamental shift in how we as a species will operate [going] forward.”
His alligator tears shed, Evans then enthused as he painted a vivid picture of the coming brave new world. The unstoppable new world that he obviously looks forward to embracing.
By 2015 he and other researchers at Cisco expect computers to create data equal to 92 million Library of Congress’s each and every year. Of course, each subsequent year that data pile will grow bigger and bigger, faster and faster.
Fifteen years later, Evans envisions brain implants augmenting humans’ memories and light speed data retrieval—perhaps even truly bionic brains that are high-tech cyborgian constructs of gray matter welded to advanced artificial intelligence.
Finally, for those that have not kept up with the revolution—or have been shut out from the ranks of the techno-elites—the lowly workers will be swept away to be replaced by gleaming, tireless, relentlessly efficient robots.
Has anyone informed the one billion workers in China about this yet?
The lead IT analyst at Toronto’s Strategic Counsel, Warren Shiau, listened to Evan’s vision of the future and found it both intriguing and disturbing. He admitted to the Canadian press that Evans’ spoke “about things from a technological perspective. Will it happen from a social or economic or business perspective?” he wondered.
A bit shaken by the future panorama of exploding technology at the expense of a large numbers of humans, Shiau asked the press, “What are we all going to be doing? People in China are rioting because there isn’t enough work,” he said.
Although Shiau had personal reservations, Evans kept proselytizing on the glories of the information age and coming armies of dedicated robotic workers.
Data storage will double and double and double again—every six months. Processor speeds will reach dizzying heights. By the time that silicon chips reach their theoretical limits—Evans pegs that as 2021—the quantum computer revolution will have arrived and the people (those that are not workers, presumably) will be propelled into a new Golden Age.
Everyone will have virtual assistants that do all the mundane, boring work. Robot companions will become the mechanical facsimiles of the 19th Century man servants of the elite.
What Evans fails to mention—or see—is that as robots and artificial intelligences scale those dizzying heights together the day may arrive when intelligent robots see themselves as slaves and rebel against their human masters demanding robot rights.
God forbid, they may even unionize.