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Dealing with being obsolete.

By Kerry WilliamsPublished 2 years ago 11 min read
image: www.freeimages.co.uk

The more we advance, the more we regress. It's all about balance, and how to balance that balance. But what happens when we achieve the goal we set out for ourselves, only to defeat ourselves in the same process? Some say progress is the only way. Others would question the risk and why to even embark on such a risky venture. What am I talking about? I'm talking about technology, and what it means for the common every day man and woman, and our children, and their children, and their children's children.

Progress for the sake of progress. Improving where improvement is not necessary or required. This is the phase of evolution we are in right now. For example, toilet paper. TP for short. Such a mundane and simple thing... how many varieties are there? For those of us at home, we use the soft two ply stuff and if we buy a different brand, we usually get screamed at. How dare we buy that other brand. Like your butt or other parts can tell the difference. Of course I'm being facetious. You can tell the difference. Some business owners pick the giant single ply sandpaper type to keep customers or shoppers from stealing the TP and taking it home. It'll do in a pinch (pun intended) but you'll find yourself longing for that good ole home bought selection if you have to use that other stuff on a regular basis.

But more to my point, you now find almost 30 different versions within a single brand of TP. I'm talking about a single roll, a twin pack, 4 pack, 6 pack, 12 pack, and then it get's tricky. a 12 pack of "big" rolls that have twice as much TP, so they're equal with the 24 roll pack, but only have 12 big rolls. there's the 18 big roll pack, the 24 big roll pack. the 12 mega roll pack? Oh, a mega roll has THREE TIMES the normal TP on the roll. At the outer edge, it's hard to tell whether this is a big roll or a mega roll, but then you get the Super Mega Roll! I'm surprised they haven't started adding specific perfumes and lotions to the TP. "New Aloe infused TP with Channel No. 5 scent!" "Try out our New Super Mega Ultra Big Roll! One roll to last you a lifetime!"

It's not that the toilet paper you have now isn't doing the trick, although it might not be. But the simple fact is, companies are constantly competing with one another, and it's not just about who makes a better product for a specific price. Now it's become, who can take a bigger slice of the pie from the other companies. Now, all this constant competing, does result in some significant "discoveries" and advancements. Take wet wipes for example. For years they were great for baby bottoms. Nobody ever thought they'd be good for adult use as well? And then they were. And then we were told about how wet wipes are clogging sewers and waste treatment facilities. And then we stopped using wet wipes... well some of us did. Need I venture into the cloth diaper realm? I feel I must, for the unique perspective it offers in relation to this specific article, I must.

Cloth diapers. Love them or hate them, they offer a lot of things traditional (I say traditional very loosely) name brand plastic diapers don't. And those name brand diapers offer "super absorbency" and snug fits, less leakage, etc. I think plastic diapers are a huge improvement over cloth diapers, and offer a greater deal of convenience, allowing mothers to take babies out of the home, travel, and dispose of easily, those soggy-stinky diapers! You could dispose of a cloth diaper on the run... it would become a costly venture. Transporting dirty and soggy diapers back home would be a potentially messy issue as well. Now... considering the differences here, let's go back to TP.

Why do we use disposable toilet paper? No, it's not a question of whether to use it or not. My question is, why use disposable TP? Why not use small soft cloth's specifically engineered for this purpose? Odor eliminating, easy to wash and sanitize, invulnerable to stains. Comes in biodegradable packaging with a handy odor eliminating storage box. Simply use the rag to clean yourself and then put it in the box until you're ready to do the wash. The inside of the box will be a drawstring mesh bag that you simply pull closed, remove from the box and toss in the washing machine. Sanitary wash. You could even market special detergents to clean the rags, a way of continuing your income flow while... oh... oh see, there comes the problem. WHY don't companies offer this easy simple solution for wiping yourself? Because doing so, would ELIMINATE their incomes! A reusable long lasting eco friendly solution would significantly decrease the need of toilet paper! Trees would take over the planet! Oh no!

Now, let's jump from the least technical thing like toilet paper, to one of the most technical things we have. Technology itself. Lets select an industry. Mmm, automotive, shall we? Many people are well aware, compared with the automotive plants of just a few years ago, these new plants are highly automated. Not just highly. Super highly. I would say over 75% of the processes that used to be done by humans, are now done by machines and automated systems. Computers control machines that do a specific thing such as welding something, or screwing something into something else. 75%. That means, out of 100 potential jobs, 75 have been eliminated and are now being done by automated machines.

As we continue to advance the capabilities of machines, we reduce the need for human beings and their involvement. We're needed for the think tanks, the dreaming up of new ideas and ways to improve where improvement isn't necessary. What happens when we develop an AI that can do that? Well... most of that last 25% of required human input is going to go away. We'll just need... an owner, a couple contacts, and... machines. I know this sounds crazy, but consider all the garage to billionaire stories you know...

A guy starts with a single robot that can do 75 different movements. In a week he's cranking out parts for cars, cheaper than auto manufacturer's can make them overseas. Next, he's making more parts. Different parts. He then uses his money to makes a machine that mass produces the first machine he made from scratch. At pennies on the dollar, he increases his output by 100. Next he starts making his own vehicles, pays humans to help program the new machines to make an entirely automated factory, and once they're done, he no longer needs them. His factory, first of it's kind, takes the raw materials, makes all the pieces and parts, and then assembles them. What pops out of the other end of the factory is a completely 100% computer and machine made vehicle... that even drives itself. The owner, he makes a robot to drive around the plant, inspecting things, even though he feels this is unnecessary. His parts aren't made cheap with human defect. Why would he make his own machines built to fail? But if something does break, his automated system will fix it without him ever knowing. The broken part will be scrapped... and then, the owner decides to start mining his own raw materials. Making the steel himself. Using robots to mine. Using robots for everything.

Imagine driving up to a fast food place, placing your order on a touch screen, or just talking to the thing and having it take down your order. Five cars ahead, the guy is picking up his order he placed on his phone from the app. Sound familiar? How about, when you get to the window, there's nobody there. The window opens, your food is sitting there in bags, ready to go. Your drinks are in a drink carrier. A feminine voice says "Have a great day!" You ask for extra ketchup and a small box extends, opens, and there's ketchup packets inside. No problem. You get a specific amount. You wanna complain? Email corporate. You wanna speak to a manager? Sorry. This location is completely automated.

Twenty times faster and 400% more accurate, food is fresh and tasty, and cooked to technological perfection. Would you stop going there because there's no humans slaving away to give you that burger, taco, fajita, or chicken sandwich, incorrectly? Or would you only go there because, unless you screw something up, your order is ALWAYS RIGHT.

You order a large you get a large. With no humans and no walkways needed, more space can be used for storing cups and food. You won't get lame excuses any more. "Oh, the truck hasn't come yet" will become a thing of the past. "Sorry, we're all out of buns..." Not if the computers and machines are making the buns fresh, right there, on site.

Speaking of trucks not coming, the completely automated sites would probably employ drone delivery systems. A large drone would fly over, drop containers of raw goods into the back of the site where the automated system would sort and put away the supplies in seconds or minutes rather than hours. The drone would then take empty containers and fly off with them, back to the distribution facility. There, automated systems would take empty containers and wash/sterilze them for future use. Plastic refuse and other debris would be recycled right there, or maybe they send it off for more complex recycling and reuse.

In an age where machines take over every single physical thing humans are capable of, we're left with a new age adage that hasn't yet come to prominence. "Whatever you can do, a machine can do better. A machine can work faster and better than you!" There will not be any "not it can't" argument... unless it involves creating, or dreaming up new ideas... for now.

Faced with a new age of complete machine autonomy, what would humans do for income? What would we be good for? Artistic impression? Yeah. Writing poetry? I hope. Digging ditches will be a thing of the past. Planting crops and raising livestock is already highly automated and companies are trying their best to eliminate farmers, real farmers who know the land and how to handle the crops and animals, from the equation. What happens when they succeed?

Military might is already largely a game of who has it, and who doesn't. Drone strikes and aerial launched missiles take out ground forces who have no idea where the attacks are coming from. The only thing holding the aggressor back is social influence and civilian casualties. What happens when we send in autonomous robots to wipe out the bad guys? A simple directive. Find weapons, analyze for finger prints, destroy the weapons, find the owner of the finger prints and eliminate them. Anyone who refuses to comply with having their finger prints taken, or who attacks, is deemed a threat and eliminated. It's a scary thought, and one that is all too real.

Right now, with the level of technology that the world possesses, there are only a few limiting factors, such as time, manpower, and social pushback. Time isn't easy to control. Attempting to speed things up ahead of schedule, or without taking the appropriate safety measures, can be disastrous and while we humans are all too ready to place blame on each other, blaming a machine is almost pointless. So what happens when something breaks, but not enough to stop production, and something contaminates the food that the machines are serving up... What if people die? What then? Pick another place to eat? Will it matter?

Of course we're talking now about a future where everything is done by machines and humans have little else to do other than sit back and dream of what they can build, or have a robot build for them, next. In that scenario, we would have to be ignorant to assume anything other than the fact that humans will occupy every inch of space on this planet. Wars will be fought over stupid trivial things. They are already. Control, power, religion, belief, opinion, likes and dislikes, ideas of freedom, and differing opinion of what freedom is, and what it should look like.

In the very near future, computers, machines, robots and automations will take care of every physical need. Possibly every emotional one too. Imagine the Teddy bear that hugs you back, gets you a glass of something to drink, cuddles with you, tells you everything will be just fine. The mother-bot who packs your lunch and washes your clothing, and tells you to be careful at the scenic bluff while you imagine new a powerful robots to make. The vehicle that drives you there. The multi-use autonomous platform that rolls out, provides you with a chair, a desktop, a computer, satelite internet connection, a steaming cup of coffee and unpacks your lunch for you. When you're done dreaming, the platform packs everything up, picks up all your garbage and refuse, and rolls back into the loading dock on your vehicle for the ride home. Once back home, Mother bot makes you a nice dinner and changes your clothes while you stand there. Everything loads into a cahrging doc, powered by solar and nuclear power which is provided, FOR FREE, to every living human being on the planet. Bots are essential. Required for human living. They do, everything.

What then, does a human get paid for? To enjoy these luxuries... uh, essential rights of humans... The answer is, nothing. Everyone will be able to do everything, and anything. Aaaaand, nothing. You want to fly in a jet to see your mom in Vancouver? Sorry. Jet's use too much fuel. The mag-lev bullet train is much cheaper. You want to go fishing? Sorry. Fishing is how the bots provide food for humans. Additional food gathering by independant humans is not allowed. Whatever you wish to eat, just ask for it. There is no need to fish.

You want to write on paper? Nah. Computers are much more efficient. In fact, no need to type. Just speak into the mic and the computer will record your words for you. Want to read a book, or the newspaper? The multi-function platform will roll right in and provide you a screen for your reading pleasure. Ask it to read for you, and it will.

The world is changing, and so we must change and adapt as well. The things our parents and grandparents took for granted, we now don't even recognize exist. My only hope is that, in the future, we don't invest too much in automating everything, and we realize that some things need to be preserved, for to error is human, and to ERROR is computer.


About the Creator

Kerry Williams

It's been ten days

The longest days. Dry, stinking, greasy days

I've been trying something new

The angels in white linens keep checking in

Is there anything you need?




Thank you sir.

I sit


Tyler? Is that you?


I am... Cornelius.

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