"The labour being done by these robots is work that will never again be done by people."

The robots are coming and they will eat all the little people's jobs


Fri, Feb 27th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

On the London Review of Books, author John Lanchester looks at the machine age, the coming-soon era where automation and robotics will strip the poor of low-wage low-skill jobs and earn companies tremendous capital. Disturbing, relevant, excellently written.

[...] Consider the driverless car being developed by Google. This is both miraculous, in that to an amazing extent it already works, and severely limited, in that there are many routine aspects of driving that it can’t manage – it can’t, for instance, overtake, or ‘merge’ with flowing traffic, which is no small issue in the land of the freeway. But imagine for a moment that all the outstanding technical issues are solved, and the fully driverless car is a reality. It would be astonishing, especially when/if it were combined with clean energy sources. Your car would take your children on the school run while they scramble to finish their homework, then come home to take you to work while you do your email, then drive off and self-park somewhere, then pick you up at the end of the day and take you to dinner, then drive you home while you sleep off that last regrettable tequila slammer, and all – thanks to self-co-ordinating networks of traffic information from other driverless cars – cleanly and frictionlessly. It’s not clear that the car would even need to be ‘your’ car: it would just have to be a vehicle that you could summon whenever you needed it. This isn’t just an urbanist vision, since there is a lot of immobility and isolation in the countryside that would be immeasurably helped by the driverless car.

The catch: all the money would be going to Google. An entire economy of drivers would disappear. The UK has 231,000 licensed cabs and minicabs alone – and there are far, far more people whose work is driving, and more still for whom driving is not their whole job, but a big part of what they are paid to do. [...]



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