The Future?

In the paper this morning there is  a report that, researchers from Oxford and Yale  say: That artificial intelligence will out perform all by 50% within 45 years. They all so say that anyone in a job earning $20 per hour, is likely to have it taken over by robots in the next few years. If you earn $40 per hour you have a 4% risk of this in the same time frame.  They think that in 120 years robots and A.I. will do all jobs.  In my life time  I have read many articles on how the future will look, about this scientific progress which is always painted in glowing terms but I'm not reading scientific papers on how, society, how people will cope with this.

I am thinking as I'm writing so forgive me if my thoughts come out a bit scrambled but I do hope to give you some points to ponder on.

Why do we work?

  • Well for many reasons I think. Naturally we need money to live, so we work to earn money.  What work we do defines us, it gives us a standing a status among our peers. If we are lucky we find challenge, absorbing interest and passion in work. Or we have learnt to do a job very well and take pride, sense of accomplishment  in doing that job well. We work for the social aspect, we need to interact  with people. How often do you come across someone who has had and early retirement  but they are now working in Home Depot, Cosco or other big box stores because they missed people.
  • Well most developed societies  have some people who are constantly out of work, there genuinely may be no work in their area. Or they kind of like being unemployed, they know the welfare systems and the charities and they can live on what they get. My father used to describe such individuals as..... starting at the bottom and liking it...  There are of cause those who have physical or mental conditions that stop them working or work does not accommodate them and their restrictions.
  • Human nature?  some people fill their free time with activities or hobbies, doing volunteer work, ( Although in my area we find it very hard to get younger people to volunteer to do anything). These people are self starters, I am one of these, I say my number one talent is making work for myself LOL. Other people with free time express boredom or only want to be entertained. I know people who go walking round shops to fill their time. I'm not saying one is better than the other, this is just how they are. Others with free time find themselves getting into trouble, drinking, gambling, crime or such, I guess they are seeking the rush and thrill.  Young males and young women too because these days they seem  often to be as near violent as the teenage males, can be in gangs. The young need physical and mental challenge, they also need to be in a social group with leadership. ( In Africa now, young male elephants often cause damage or are dangerous. They are turned out by mothers at a certain age, it used to be they would find  a group of other young males and old bulls to live with. The old bulls would not stand for any messing of the youngsters and put them right, they learnt manners. Now with poaching there are fewer old bulls to do this vital task, so these teenage elephants get in trouble).   So often youngsters do not have fathers round .....the father figure is vitally important for young boys and the girls. That is not to say single parent families can not do a wonderful job but I think any single parent would agree two parents make it easier.

So are we humans ready for extended free time? Are governments prepared for so many more without jobs without income?  I think not,  I think education needs to keep this future problem in mind. We need to foster creativity in schools, if a government thinks school cost are to be cut, the first things cut are the  arts. An interest in any of the arts gives interest for a life time. There used to be  full availability of  adult learning classes everywhere, not so much now although I know you have the open university in UK. Perhaps companies should be encouraged to extend classes for their workers and plan for day time off to attend. Don't hold out much hope of that because most companies don't even do their own research.  More organized sports for all levels of ability  with the emphasis on fun at reasonable charges.                      

I believe that Finland has already had a limited experiment with the governments giving out a universal wage and I think Switzerland has discussed it.The entire population given  a minimum wage......I don't know if it would be decreased if you earned a salary that  exceeded it?  I think I have read of a scheme in Japan, if you are retired  but would like to do something  you can be assigned one or two old people living near you. You will do shopping, take them to the doctor. mow their grass jobs like this.Or help them with a computer, fill in tax forms or take them to the bank.

This enables that old or infirm person to stay in their own homes, they are happier and the government saves money.    The Japanese have centres sort of clearing houses for odd jobs. A shop keeper wants someone to box up something say two days work, he posts that job at this centre. Healthy interested retired person gets a couple of days  paid work.  All kinds of odd jobs available - the retired person does not have to give a long term commitment, can find a bit of paid work when they want  it. They feel useful and they are socializing plus I think they get a tax break.                                                                                            

All countries are going to have to think out side the box because this is going to be a problem and it is coming sooner or later.  We have politicians  shouting about how they will bring jobs, jobs. jobs to their citizens. Is that even realistic?  Perhaps we have already started on this societal revolution? It is going to be a big revolution and not without pain.  Perhaps those politicians should be doing other things and experiment in chronic unemployment areas?    Any ideas fellow bloggers?

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Published in Questions & Trivia


  1. starlette

    If we are really lucky maybe Robots will replace the Politician’s……….and be programmed in to talk some realistic sense……..its a good idea to keep the unemployed busy with working in the community if they are fit to do so…….especially to help the elderly or disabled. Gawd knows what will happen in the future….thank God I wont be around to witness it……..

    1. Rockflower Post author

      I agree Starlette,
      I’m glad I will not be here but our kids will ,Ok it is up to them to find the solution. I think we have robot politicians already LOL! Yes I think that Japanese scheme is inspired. People may have to work a three day week or retire early in this uncertain future, I just feel many people soon get fed up with leisure and these schemes would mean you could pick a job up for a few days but if you had a pile of commitments coming up and God knows when you reach a certain age, medical appointments are the main part of your social life , no problem.
      Like wise enabling people to stay in their own homes is of great benefit to the person and the state.

  2. rose1943

    Same here, Star. What would we do without our plumbers, carpenters, electricians and all these guys we have to call when needed? I have to admit that most of my most trusted service people are European, as in they were born there. All the men laying bricks around here are speaking Polish. Where are ours? You never hear of young people ( I don’t) wanting any of these jobs. My roof was put in by 6 Polish roofers in 1 1/2 days. My guys that come every other week to cut and trim and clean my front and backyards are all Russian.
    My Jewel food store had some ‘automated’ lines for checking out and bagging by yourself. They did away with them because Albertson’s the owners felt the customers needed the ‘people’ contact checking out. I don’t think these so called experts are right on.
    As for retirement, we do have to be self-starters. I face that everyday now. My husband’s job went through 3 buy outs and we were left with $00.00 after he finally found a very low paying job. My job moved to Denver from Chicago. My son had bought a route from Lance/Snyder 8 years ago hoping to be secure from then on. Lo and behold Lance is buying back all the routes in July. No job or most jobs are not secure anymore. My one daughter teaches in Chicago public school. They’re always on shaky ground. My other daughter and my 2 son-in-laws are CPA’s all working in finances. This is where the big money and financial security lies. Huge incomes! So where will the jobs go? One phrase I learned about computers….” Garbage in, garbage out”. Don’t forget the research saying we shouldn’t eat eggs!!!

    1. Rockflower Post author

      Rose, I don’t think you would loose service people, in fact there could be more available. We need to encourage more young people to take up plumbing, repairing appliance people, house painters and such. We need for young people to do recognized work training to learn the trades. We the public need to give them the status they deserve, a good safe plumber or electrician is as useful to society as a policeman, nurse or anyone else.

      Yes we were all told eggs were bad….. not that I ever believed it, same for butter, what is butter? cream and a little salt or not What are those spreads……. oils not always good oils and a bunch of chemicals!!!!! no contest a s far as I’m concerned.
      Robots and artificial intelligence are here now.It used to take a lot more people to make a car than it does now and that is due to robots. Lawyers that used to have scads of juniors doing research for weeks, now have a computer that can scan every known bit of information in minutes. My brother was captain of a large ship when he first went to sea, navigation
      was a highly skilled job all day with a slide rule etc.Now computers do the job. When you and I were kids, we wondered at Dick Tracy and the watch he communicated with, or Get Smart and the dome of silence. We thought those things fantastical and now we have them.
      I think this change has started and it is painful, peoples lives get shattered. We have to start planning now or it will be even more painful for more people. We cannot hang on to industries and jobs that have had their time. We have to make new industries. We can’t afford to cut teachers, we need more teachers. Every child has to realize their potential. It is hard but nothing stays the same does it?

  3. goldengirl1224

    A very extensive, interesting and worrisome post, Rockflower — so glad I am at the stage in life that I am and not starting out in the workforce. Thanks for posting this.

  4. Rockflower Post author

    I think we all feel glad we will not have to deal with this and so many other things.The young have the optimism and energy to deal with it.\, goldengirl.

  5. Drummer

    All of the foregoing b logs and replies echo exactly what my wife and I have saying for months now -how often we say “Thank Goodness we are now beyond the age of having to find work” -the only security I can for the young ones is the age old saying learn a trade – tradesmen will never ever be replaced by robots – at least I trust not?

    1. Rockflower Post author

      You and your wife are right I think. You have to really smart and very good at Maths. Or you learn a good trade, get the teaching , the experience and all the papers you need. There is always a place for excellence.

    2. starlette

      Robots are now performing operations, guided of course……..but I can see the sense in that, no shaking hands….. more precision……..and no leaving instruments inside the body…..

  6. roseinbloom

    Rock flower, Thank you for causing us to think about the future. We older people need to think of the future and have goals and ambitions, draw a picture, grow a garden, write a story or finish what we never started when life got in the way.
    As for robots, I just ordered a robot vacuum and I wish it would wrap pack itself up and go back, but I will have to do it. The vacuum lacked the horse power and intelligence to go from the floor to the rug.
    The other thought is that robots can do some things, but they are and never will have a human touch. I do love my gadget that will answer most questions or give out information on many topics.
    Just thinking. Could I get a robot to clean the toilet, maybe they could do some nasty disgusting or dangerous work. Feed lions, or snakes, or gather honey could be on the list.

    1. Rockflower Post author

      Well Rose as I told someone else, if we can imagine it probably someone can make it. The thing is, will the people who make it, make enough money out of it for them to think it worth while. Everything gets back to money LOL. I have seen pictures of big robots working in Old People’s Homes, it was not clear to me what they were actually doing. The article did say that Japanese people like the robots whereas we Westerners tend to be a bit freaked by humanoid robots. I have never had one of those robot vacuums, I just know I do need my big Dyson pet hair vacuum, even if it a good workout pushing the thing about. I also fear that I should end up falling over a robot vacuum! I think we should think of the future although looking at the world as it is today, I sometimes wonder if there is one.

  7. starlette

    Rose I am on my second Robot vacuum, I have never had any problems at all except one rug it just would not clean……it will change from any surface but when it went on to this particular rug it told me………..”Robot cannot clean this surface please remove Robot “……..when it needs charging it will take itself back to its charge station……….I do use my other vacuum also but I would say Robot does as good a job……..I love my gadgets too……..

    1. roseinbloom

      Starlette, I may have bought the cheaper version, and I have hardwood floors and large area rugs and robot Bob, that is its name, cannot get off the floor and on the rug. I am sure they work for some people. It also can only work a half hour without re charging, I also love my labor saving and hand saving devices. I finally started to use my dishwasher for everything everyday. Now I would not want to live without it.
      Also, my robot vacuum cannot navigate around furniture. I don’t want to spend 6 or 8 hundred dollars. I thought it could get under beds and big pieces of furniture, but I may have to do that myself. Robots are too expensive for popular use as I have read. I am trying to find hired help from a dependable human.