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Humans Need Not Apply: A Guide to Wealth and…
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Humans Need Not Apply: A Guide to Wealth and Work in the Age of Artificial…

by Jerry Kaplan

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Goodbye, Rosie the Riveter, Hello HAL

This look at the near future takes a different tack than most. It’s not so much whizzbang/Jetsons as how are we going to manage at all. The problem is the solution everyone is working on – automation. Robot machines taking over all our jobs, huge unemployment, grim prospects. Jerry Kaplan calls himself a progressive optimist. He has prescriptions for all of this to work for us instead of against us. Unfortunately, his prescriptions require a total rethinking of government and society. At the moment, the regressives are in charge, so the chance of any of his ideas being implemented is microscopic.

Humans Need Not Apply is best when it poses conundrums. When robots are able to fulfill requests, who is liable for their actions? Their owners? Their programmers? The dealership? What if you told your robot to win a chess match, and it arranged to down the airliner bringing your opponent? What if a surveillance system saw a man and a woman discussing a key, one grabbing it from the other, and the system immobilized the man and called the police? There is lots of legal precedent from the time of slavery that the slave is responsible, for everything, being simple private property. Do we put robots in jail? What happens when robots run the factory, and the whole company for that matter? The owner could be an offshore corporation, and may or may not have humans at the helm. These are great questions we are about to face for real.

Kaplan also presents scenarios where robots are not necessarily humanoid replacements. He gives the example where students watch classes at home, then go to schools to do their homework so teachers’ aides can help them. It’s all part of a complete makeover, where there is less and less need for paid labor of any kind. Driverless cars mean elimination of truck drivers as trucks roll 24/7. There will be no need to own a car at all. A car will come for you, take you to your destination, and park itself somewhere. Once the strawberry picking machine is in mass production (shortly), no farm workers will ever be needed again. Education will not be a way to get ahead, it will be a lifelong need to keep up with shifting labor requirements.

Kaplan boils the problem down to one great evil in our way: inequality, in which the rich consolidate more and more of the assets every year. While the stats say the averages climb every year, the 99% suffer more and more with less and less. Kaplan’s answers include more government help in the form of labor mortgages that fund all this training for a cut of future wages, and public benefit companies that are far more beneficent than C corporations.

Because this book so thought-provoking, let me say what Kaplan missed is the greatest equalizer of all. Economist Henry George realized 170 years ago that land is the root of all greed. By taxing land used for profit, speculation ends, the consolidation of wealth slows to a crawl, families can afford to live, cities become hives of affordable activity, and the entire society changes shape as people have more disposable income.

So while Humans Need Not Apply has an answer, there are far more direct solutions to the coming crisis of computers and robots doing essentially everything.

David Wineberg ( )
  DavidWineberg | Jun 3, 2015 |
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Pruden, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0300213557, Hardcover)

After billions of dollars and fifty years of effort, researchers are finally cracking the code on artificial intelligence. As society stands on the cusp of unprecedented change, Jerry Kaplan unpacks the latest advances in robotics, machine learning, and perception powering systems that rival or exceed human capabilities. Driverless cars, robotic helpers, and intelligent agents that promote our interests have the potential to usher in a new age of affluence and leisure — but as Kaplan warns, the transition may be protracted and brutal unless we address the two great scourges of the modern developed world: volatile labor markets and income inequality. He proposes innovative, free-market adjustments to our economic system and social policies to avoid an extended period of social turmoil. His timely and accessible analysis of the promise and perils of artificial intelligence is a must-read for business leaders and policy makers on both sides of the aisle.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 13 Jul 2015 12:45:52 -0400)

Researchers are finally cracking the code on artificial intelligence. It has the potential to usher in a new age of affluence and leisure-- but as Kaplan warns, the transition may be protracted and brutal unless we address the two great scourges of the modern developed world: volatile labor markets and income inequality. He proposes innovative, free-market adjustments to our economic system and social policies to avoid an extended period of social turmoil.… (more)

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