Watching: Genius of the Modern World

Season 1, Episode 1 is about Karl Marx. I suppose I’m going to have to read Das Kapital at some stage if only because I know Marx was an economist of sorts. He saw capitalism in its dark phase – where children were working 15 hour days, and other abuses of the people were happening as machines took over for people.

The issue we face today is that machines have taken over more of our methods of production than in the past. And it got me thinking, we have something of the opposite problem of Marx in the 21st century – we will have more people without jobs due to robotics and artificial intelligence than at any time in the past. We’re already seeing precursors of this – walk into a department store like WalMart, Target etc. Self checkout lanes are starting to displace the number of cashiers required.

And AI in the form of Autonomous Vehicles  – big huge swaths of people will be put out of work by that. Think for a moment, we’ll need fewer cars as your car or a car can do double, triple or quadruple duty while you work. So the auto industry will contract, so too the transport of goods.

The thing is, not everyone can be a rocket scientist – or Info/Computer Scientist. That latter will be employed for some time as machines in the guise of computers do break down on occasion. And the care and feeding of databases is still a pretty big deal. And having the skill to diagnose electronic problems like me will be valuable too.

And we’re starting to see the bubbling up of a concept called UBI or Universal Basic Income. But what to do – all that leisure time what could potentially happen? You’ll have thinkers who might push forward our understanding of the physical world, artists in all guises from paint, to light to audio.  Not to mention care of children and family. It’s all about to change again.

Next up in the series is Nietzsche. This should be fun.

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