Robots in the Workplace
Asimovian Robotonomics promises to liberate humanity by perfecting the role of robots in the workplace.
The following article was originally published on The Free Advice Man's website here.
The fear of empowering others stems from the fear of the mob. And wealthy people are afraid of a mob of people becoming empowered with the ability to take away that which they own and/or have. And that stems from the fear of being impoverished and poor! Naturally and logically the fear of being poor stems from the fear of being vulnerable to the mob and being at the mercy of the wealthy!
It is truly a World of the have-a-lots versus the have-lesses versus the have-not-enoughs versus the have-not-at-alls. But the cost to everyone of such socio-economic injustice, aggressive competition, divisiveness, and subsequent violence, including the damage to the fabric of society itself and to the natural environments and biosphere as a whole, is far greater than any short-term abstracted profits that mostly benefit the few, at even the short-term to mid-term the expense of the many!
Needless to say, there is a huge difference between Ethical Capitalism that is Well-Regulated, Sustainable, Progressive, Constructive, Cooperative, and Creative, and Fake Unethical Capitalism, i.e. Plutocracy and Oligarchy (which, to be frank, are nothing but forms of Fascism!), that is deliberately de-Regulated, un-Sustainable, Regressive, Destructive, Cyclically-Disruptive (senselessly insensible Booms and Busts), and Mediocratically Kitsch (i.e. un-Authentic, full of junk and fake products that are dumped on the working, under-educated, over-exploited poor and the impoverished former middle class)!
Technology and Politics
One would think that modern technology, especially robotics, automation, computers, and alternative energy and transportation technologies, would, combined, have already been properly, ethically used to eliminate poverty once and for all, by liberating humankind from dangerous, unhealthy, and meaningless work, toil, and stress, while generating wealth on behalf of all! Even if it would be fair that the business owners would get a somewhat larger share of that wealth.
One would have thought that laws would already exist that would prevent technological benefits from only serving the interests of the few at the expense of the many (see: Asimovian Robotonomics).
But the reality is quite to the contrary! Technology has given the wealthy the power to make more money less expensively by replacing costly, unreliable, and liability-prone human labor with machines; i.e. robots, automation, computers and what not. And yet (currently—as of the time of this article/essay) there are no laws in the vast majority of the countries affected such as UBI (provision of Universal Basic Income), and laws based on Asimovian Robotonomics (i.e. an Economic System and its Laws that provides guaranteed income to those human laborers and intellectual professionals displaced by such technologies).
The contrarians would argue, to my way of thinking unrightfully so, that laissez-faire "Capitalism," where there is little to no government interference and/or regulation, is the best and only way for national economies to be able to compete internationally against other nation-states' economies, and that it is not socially responsible and healthy for any nation to simply provide people incomes for doing nothing, next-to-nothing, or not-enough. They argue that government regulations also take away the incentive for business owners and managers to be more innovative and inventive, or hire well-paid people to innovate and invent for them, better quality products, and services that can then be highly competitive within the national economy, thereby offering consumers better choices and/or cheaper prices, and also in competing with those nations that encourage innovation, invention, and hence improvement in product and service quality by factor of low or no government regulation and aggressive protection of national export interests. They point out that the (so-called) Socialist and pre-Communist governments of the past Cold War Era, especially in former Warsaw Pact CoMEcon nations, were explicit examples and evidence of the harm that government over-regulation and interference had on products and services, as those were invariably almost always inferior and non-competitive with Western Capitalist products and services; especially as could be test-compared in Non-Aligned Nations (India, Egypt, Indonesia, etc.). And they point out that China, less so today, but especially during the Maoist Pre-Deng Xiaoping years, produced tons of very colorful but generally inferior quality products that were very popular in Non-Aligned nations and Third World nations on account of the fact that they were so massively sold at cut-rate cheap prices; only as a way for China to gain access to the hard currencies it so desperately needed.
Side-Note: I remember very vividly all the colorful little trinkets, metal travel trunks, and cheap metallic toys and other colorful products produced in China and which one could buy in those under-developed countries I lived in as a child traveling and living abroad (outside my native USA).
No doubt finding the right balance between Public-Government and Private-Corporate interests, based on reasonable, logical cooperative efforts that do not put at risk the lives of individuals, society in general, and the rights of private persons and corporations is essential to achieving the true best interests of all parties. But let's be real; From incidents like the infamous Exxon-Valdez Oil Spill catastrophe to the Enron Scandal, from The Wall Street Crash of 1929 to the Orchestrated Destruction of Public Housing in Major US Cities, from the Karen Silkwood affair to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor emergency engineering design failure catastrophe, from the Union Carbide (India) Bhopal Chemical Leak horror to the Global Financial Mega-Crisis of 2007-2008, from the Love Canal Toxic Waste monstrosity to the Flint Michigan Water Disaster; it is very, very evident that government intervention, such as The Glass-Steagall Banking Act of 1933 or the Public Works Administration agency established as part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal to restore the Great American Economic Engine, to the establishment of Public Housing laws, such as The Wagner-Steagall Housing Act of 1937, and projects, were all essential to prevent total social and economic disaster!
As is probably obvious to you, Robots are now becoming more and more commonplace and are dramatically changing our World, especially in terms of how many human jobs they are managing to replace and how much unemployment and socio-economic injustice their users/owners have been causing, mostly inadvertently. Technological Unemployment has been a major problem throughout modern Human History, but it has never been as serious a threat and harm to society and the lives of countless individuals, as it is now!
Robots are for making life safer, healthier, easier, and more fun.
When Robots serve all Humanity then all Humanity will be liberated, and become free to enjoy and experience life as it was meant to be. In primitive nature almost all animals must make some physical effort to attain food, but not in order to pay for the right to have a place to live! And the idea that an animal would force a member of its own species to work for it is virtually non-existent. But not animals are the same, and the theory of primitive survival of the fittest does not apply to all species.
Are we ants, bees, or termites?
No. Definitely not.
Those insects survive as a strictly cohesive, one might say naturally hierarchical, non-individualistic, super-organism species, where the term Fascism would very much seem to apply, were it not for the fact that insects do not have any option but to be what they are; insects.
We humans are not insects. But try telling that to your typical head-in-their-ass Fascist! They tend to be too intellectually feeble-minded to understand the idea that what makes one species fit, such as the aspect of hierarchical super-organismic conduct, does not also apply to another species, and does not make that other species fit for survival.
Are we hyenas, wolves, or sharks?
No. Certainly not.
We humans are not a predatory species; though we have managed to become psycho-sociologically disoriented and thus inadvertently we have become a self-harming pseudo-predatory species!
Nor are we bacteria, parasites, fungi, etc.
Nor are we quadrupeds, ungulate mammals, etc.
We are the Highest of the Higher Primates... for now... and at some earlier epochs we were alongside other hominids, which we seem to have inadvertently eradicated out of fear, superstition, and a complex set of other factors. Our closest living Higher Primate relatives, from whom we should learn, are Bonobos, Chimpanzees, Gorillas, Orangutans, etc.
Unlike insects and pack-mentality carnivores, we Higher Primates survive best by being socially compassionate, caring, cuddling, affectionate, empathetic, compassionate, etc.
Our ability to tolerate, respect, and protect one-another's differences and rights actually strengthens us as a species!
Fascism is not at all in accordance with our genetic and natural (normative) individualistic and social nature!
If anything, Fascism is totally antithetical to being truly Human!
Yes; Gorillas do have Alpha males and females who predominate, and to various lesser extents the same applies to all Higher Primates; even the most enlightened ones: Bonobos!
But while to the untrained mind's eye of a Fascist predominance is equivalent to Fascism; predominance within Higher Primate social order is not at all Fascism! Not by a long shot!
Because under normative, natural, relatively calm, and human-interference-free conditions; the role of Alpha males and females is to help protect the group from the threat of other species, especially pack-predatory species, and to maintain a generally sensible, logical, non-abstract social order system that seeks to prevent bullying and mob-mentality-driven attacks on vulnerable individuals.
Unfortunately, due to the advanced types of technologies our species has managed to invent, innovate, produce, and mis-use, as well as our species' ability to venture well beyond our original natural habitats, we have made it possible for even the mentally unhealthy among us to attain immense hierarchical power over others, to the detriment of the majority.
In effect, we have become a sick species that, for the most part and with few exceptions, behaves in a manner that is diametrically the very opposite of what we actually need in order to survive.
And now that we have such horrific weapons of mass destruction, we are at increasing risk of triggering a Mass Extinction event that will not only result in our own self-destruction as a species, albeit totally against the will of sophisticated sensualist universalist intellectuals like myself, but which will end up destroying most of our biosphere, and most life with it!
So; The point that I am trying to make is this: We are a species that survives by seeking to help empower one-another, to liberate one-another from things that threaten to harm us, to care for one-another in a manner that makes us stronger and healthier, to respect our benign and positive differences by coexisting in a diversely unified manner! We are biologically stronger by accepting some degree of reasonable risk in being physically intimate, including sexually diverse. Furthermore, we re-learn and re-enforce the positive social values of compassion and empathy in truly treating everyone, including our most vulnerable and dependent members of society, with the respect, caring, attention, and support that every one of us truly deserves.
Laws of Robotics
We are not meant to be dog-eat-dog, big fish swallowing little fish, predators versus prey Fascists!
And Robots are not just the result of our advanced intelligence and for increasing productivity and profits, but are for liberating and empowering everyone in society, as individuals and as groups, to be able to free ourselves from dangerous, unhealthy, stressful, boring, tedious, meaningless, senseless, exploitative work and slave-labor and instead spend and invest more of our Robotically Liberated time in individual efforts to achieve true self-awareness, self-objectivity, and become a truly Psychologically Advanced Ethical, Scientific-minded Spiritually Enlightened Species!
Of course; for any and all of the aforementioned to happen we must ensure that our Robots and Computers, and other hybrid Intelligent Technologies, are governed by programs that strictly adhere to Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics:
- A Robot may not injure (harm) a human being or, through inaction (failure to act when possible) allow a human being to come to harm.NOTE: Law Number 1 here also implies that Asimovian Robotonomics Universal Basic Income has to become properly upheld and enforced law! Because Robots have a collective responsibility for the welfare of all mankind.
- A Robot must obey (follow commands, act according to programming) orders given to it by human beings except when/where such orders would conflict with Law Number 1 of these Three Laws of Robotics.
- A Robot must protect its own existence (functionality) as long as such protection does not conflict (go against) the First and Second Law of Robotics.
In order to better understand my point, let us consider what would happen if Robots, Computers, Automation, and other Machines and Devices were to replace us Humans in almost all places and situations without any proper Ethical changes in our laws:
- Most of humanity would lose the ability to earn an income, become unemployed and unemployable!
- Those who had already managed to own Robots and other valuable human-labor-replacing Machines and Devices would have to price their products and services for a dwindling number of consumers, making it impossible for poor, unemployed people to be able to afford most necessities (which actually is already beginning to happen to some extent)! Of course, before this would become an existential crisis for both producers/sellers and consumers/buyers, there would already be significant social, political, and economic instability, and resulting violence and counter-violence!
- The wealthy owners of Robots and other Valuable Technologies, as well as the select minority mass of humans who would still be wanted to perform certain types of services and tasks that Robots cannot do, on account of their not being human, would eventually be forced to remove all unwanted, un-needed, unemployed, homeless, and poor humans from cities and other areas they live in and control, and to protect wildlife and the natural flora and fauna environs; They would have to either force such un-wanted humans into what would be the equivalent of death reservations and concentration camps, and/or outright murder them!!!
Such a horrific reality, which to some lesser extent has already been happening on-and-off throughout relatively recent Human History, would result in permanent and terminal socio-psychological damage to what can hardly truly be called Human Society.
There are many dystopian Sci-Fi movies about what the future would eventually be like if what I call the Negative-type Alphas overtake the World entirely, but the one thing that the writers of the dystopian stories of those movies (I am positing a brief list of some of the most famous and/or important ones here) fail to seem to understand is that long before those horrific "realities" would actually happen the World would suffer a final collapse of Human Civilization!
Dystopian Sci-Fi Movies about Overpopulation, Robots, Social Injustice, etc.: Gattaca, Soylent Green, 1984, Logan's Run,Westworld, Total Recall, THX 1138, The Omega Man, Metropolis, The Man Who Fell To Earth, Idiocracy, I, Robot, The Handmaid's Tale, Fahrenheit 451, Equilibrium, The Colossus Project, A.I., Brazil, etc.
The current Pope, Francis The First, and Presidential Candidate Senator Bernie Sanders both understand these things very well. Because what makes us essentially Human is intrinsically our need for Honesty, Love, Caring, Compassion, Empathy, Understanding, Wisdom, and Ethical ways of Governance, of conducting Business, of treating others! And a World of dog-eat-dog parasitic conflict-profiteering opportunistic Plutocratic Fascists is a guaranteed recipe for final, full disaster!
Asimovian Robotonomics and Universal Basic Income
There is no point in having tons of things at the expense of actual living humans.
There is no point in enslaving most of humanity, and eventually having to cull the masses in order to try to save the remaining relatively pristine pockets of natural wilderness, when the actual attempt to do so would result in the total breakdown of trust between everyone!
What kind of people are those who call themselves followers of certain Monotheistic Faiths who then seek, pass, and enforce laws that make it illegal to feed, clothe and/or provide survival shelter for otherwise indigent, homeless people?!?!
Of course, these bigots tend to argue that those homeless people should simply move to existing towns and cities and suburbs that are already poverty-stricken, and that they should not be allowed to hang around wealthy and comfortable-class neighborhoods where their presence risks bringing down property values. But the actual truth is that those places are definite death-sentences for people who are themselves actually the victims of the worst crimes possible, including the crime of wrecking the financial markets and economies of entire nations as a result of greedy, illegal, corrupt, and unethical activities. It is so typical of modern-day pirates, thieves, and assassins to not only feign ignorance and pretend that they are the actual victims of big government, of unionized workers, and what not, but then to blame their victims, and further victimize them, should they dare complain, protest and seek democratic change.
And then there are those who argue that no one should receive an income for doing nothing at all, because of the psychological damage. Ah! But there is no mention by them of the severe psychological and physical health damage caused by the extreme stress of being poor and homeless or constantly in fear of becoming homeless and being malnourished and/or exhausted!
Obviously it is not fair to allow those who have somehow amassed great wealth to buy the future and deprive others of their inalienable human right to live, to survive, to be able to participate fully in our Democratic process. After all, if a so-called Democracy is only for those with the ability to earn enough money, and not for all citizens then it is no Democracy at all! Given our modern-day advanced technologies, especially in Robotics, Computers, and Automation, there is no excuse to deny people their right to the basic things needed to participate in all the essential components and functions of a True Democracy. Those basic things must include proper housing, enough money to buy basic food, clothing, hygiene products, and some forms of entertainment, sources of information and technologies to communicate with. But even if we are agreed on this; How about the real hard economics of it all?
Well, let's be clear: Asimovian Robotonomics, while compatible with most of what Universal Basic Income is, is different in that it does require that each recipient of UBI or Technological Unemployment compensation must also, if not seriously mentally and/or physically challenged, seek further education in lieu of a degree and better employment opportunities or do some few hours of basic local government work or community service, or apply for a micro-loan to start up a self-employment or small business scheme. Writers of useful and popular Blogs would fall under communal service. And what's more; There would have to be a point where one would have to stop accepting UBI if their monthly income from other sources was at least 50 percent over the UBI monthly amount provided. Furthermore, there would have to be a full shift away from traditional intrusive Income Taxation towards a full Value Added Tax system where government can collect enough tax revenue at point of sale. Otherwise UBI will overwhelm governments' budgets and undermine governments' ability to provide other essential public services.
How it Works
Obviously the overall purpose of UBI and Asimovian Robotonomics is to provide all citizens with the means to pay for all their basic needs while encouraging and helping recipients become self-sufficient, if possible. Poverty and homelessness and stress-related illnesses are cumulatively excessively costly to society and government, and can now finally be ended by means of the advanced technologies now becoming massively available to all.
Let's be realistic and fair: Technology that undermines the consumer base is counter-productive and dangerous!
Here is a simple example of how Asimovian Robotonomics would work:
Ernie worked for ACME Inc. for x number of years, until one day the company's management and/or owners decided that Ernie's work could be done more effectively, efficiently, less riskily, less costly, more precisely, faster and better than Ernie by replacing Ernie with a Robot named Asimobot.
Now, fortunately for Ernie his nation's government passed laws, as part of its Social Democratic Asimovian Robotonomics policies, that state that Ernie is entitled to receive either a Basic Income from the government, based on the government taxing the productivity of Asimobot the Robot at the same rate as would have been Ernie, if he produced as much. ACME Inc. was more than willing to comply.
Now Ernie no longer has to work in order to have a Basic Income, but that Basic Income amount is not enough for the future plans Ernie has. He wants to get married, have a family, two children, a nice family home, a car or two, and the means to take his family on vacations once every three to four months. For that he needs to either have a self-employment small business scheme, or he needs to get a useful higher education degree that will make him eligible for contractual employment that really pays decently. Until he makes enough money, he is comforted by the knowledge that he receives from the government truly enough money to live a healthy, safe, active, and socially participatory life.
ACME Inc. has not lost at all. Asimobot was just one of hundreds of Robots that replaced a few thousand employees like Ernie. And ACME Inc. was able to make that transition with low-interest loan financing from the government! And what's more, the further development and production of better and better Robots is also part of the government's overall Asimovian Robotonomics Social Democratic economic agenda.
Everyone is happy! Ernie, ACME Inc., and the Social Democratic government of Ernie's country!
Within 20 years of the introduction of Asimovian Robotonomics world poverty is a thing of the past, and war, crime, and corruption have diminished into relative insignificance; benefitting society, and the ecosystems of our planet's fragile Biosphere!
No longer is there Income Taxation, because that is not necessary anymore. All taxation is at point of sale and purchase.
Universal Basic Income Guarantee is not public money wasted at all, provided it is done in a logical and reasonably limited way.
Before a few Negative Alphas discovered that they can use brute force and threats to charge others' rent inside the safety and warmth of the fire-side cave, everyone was free to set up their resting-nest abode wherever there was a spot available up in a tree or inside a cave. And for millennia rent was a great way for nasty, dangerous bullies to get their kicks off the suffering, the fear, the sense of sheer terror that tenants experienced. And then came The Age of Robotics and Asimovian Robotonomics! And once more Humanity was free to experience life's pleasures and mysteries, to explore, discover, invent, innovate, create and share all the wonderful things and ideas that belong to all of us!
That's what Robots are for. That's what Life's about. Asimovian Robotonomics.
About the Creator
American philosopher, writer, and audio-visual artist. Author of The Most Important Thought and founder of the NGO The Infinity Society.
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