I do not believe that the same solution would work as well in Richmond as it did in Bolzano. The difference is that the history of the fascist movement in Bolzano is now a relic of the past, so there is less of an issue that fascism is being idolized by leaving the monument up. In Richmond as well as the rest of the United States, the confederate movement and the racial undertones that debatable started it are still present. The divide between those that still support the ideas of the confederacy and those who feel confederacy monuments symbolize white supremacy is still an intense conflict and a compromise is unlikely to leave both sides satisfied.
Although the intelligence agencies are collecting large amounts of data on people, numerous acts of terrorism have shown that predicting the occurrance of such events has been largely unsuccessful. The future of mass surveillance will turn to automating it in order for the intelligence agencies to have the capability to collect even more data, but even more importantly, the ability to analyze it at scale and quickly. Current concerns are no longer able collecting data, but how to use the data in order to make decisions to stop attacks of terrorism and prevent breaches of national security.
Over the decades since the Industrial Revolution, technological innovation and the creation of large scale manufacturing processes have brought about an exponential increase in standards of living and productivity. With the adoption of more and more mechanical machinery stemming from the use of steam power and water power, this led to a rapid increase in the expansion of human civilization. The rise of mechanization has drastically the economic, social, and political landscape. Economically, the rise of highly efficient manufacturing processes meant that companies could produce more products, more efficiently, at lower cost, and with less margin for human error. And beneficially for consumers, the cost of consumer goods such as cooking utensils and clothing also fell as a result (Nardinelli, n.d, n.p). Socially, the falling prices for consumer goods meant that there was now a huge demand for such items. To keep up with demand, more factories and industrial centers were built, and around them, housing was built as well to accommodate the workers employed at the factories. Politically, the invention paper machines able to mass produce paper and steam machines being applied to the printing press led to increased literacy as people had access to more newspapers which in turn increased citizen participation in politics (Nardinelli, n.d, n.p). However, even with all of the benefits to society that mechanization and automation have brought, it hides away dark truths about its true benefits to society. Although industrialization has brought about great changes to society’s quality of life, with each technological revolution, from steam machines to mechanical machines, and now to digital machines, larger numbers of people are displaced as the capabilities of the machines being built grow to take over an increasing amount of responsibilities from humans. With the advent of computers and digital automation, many industries are looking to turn to such technologies in order to reduce their costs of manufacturing and increase profits simultaneously. In doing so, the humans that once performed the job now taken over by robots and computers are now unemployed. In contrast to the 19th century where dozens of industries sprung into existent and replaced the ones that were automated away, the future of the 21st century is one where new industries will be ones built with the absence of humans in mind. As the roles for humans increasingly shrink, the need for a universal basic income becomes more and more important. The solution for the future in order to sustain current and future society is to instantiate a universal basic income for workers that have been replaced by automation. As more and more people become displaced by automation, the universal basic income program should be expanded to provide for more people as industries attain full automation. The program will be funded by the companies that choose to make use of machinery over human resources. Eventually, as all existing industries have finished transitioning to being fully automated, by then the entire population of the world will be a universal basic income program.
Nardinelli, C. (n.d.). Industrial Revolution and the Standard of Living. Retrieved from https://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/IndustrialRevolutionandtheStandardofLiving.html
What solutions to the problem have been proposed in the past?
Because of the impending future of automation and artificial intelligence taking over jobs, many discussions have begun about the implications of and the solutions to the future where all jobs will be operated by automated machinery. A simple solution, as proposed in the 17th century, is to just ban the application of automation technologies and protect the workers being replaced (Bix, 2002, 81). Unfortunately, the rapid growth of the population and increased demand for consumerism meant that machines were not just a nicety, but instead a necessity in order for businesses to keep up with demand. A more tenable solution, proposed by the Obama administration, is to invest in job retraining and social safety nets in order to provide for those displaced and replaced by machines. The administration has reserved judgement on promoting a universal basic income, preferring instead programs with clear defined goals and benefits, such as job search assistance, job training (Galeon, 2016, n.p).
Bix, A. S. (2002). Inventing ourselves out of jobs?: Americas debate over technological unemployment, 1929-1981. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
The constant improvement of technology means that a future where jobs are automated away is a certainty and attempts to stop such an event from occurring is futile. This impending future where there will be large amounts of the population unemployed will result in an economic depression greater than that of the Great Depression and eventually lead to war should no action be taken. The focus of labor in the future needs to shift to training and shifting workers towards areas of employment where machines cannot perform. Much more resources are needed in order to assist humans in keeping pace with automation before it reaches a point where too many people are unemployed and no longer able to provide for themselves.
Galeon, D. (2017, January 17). White House Releases a Solution to Automation-Caused Job Loss. Retrieved from https://futurism.com/white-house-releases-a-solution-to-automation-caused-job-loss
The recently released report from the Obama details the concerns and issues with the upcoming automation wave and potential solutions. The report proposes allocating resources to running government programs to help workers that have been replaced with training into different industries. The report focuses on reeducation programs and job search assistance programs. The Obama administration believes that government safety nets would be more beneficial than a universal basic income due to the focus on solving employment issues rather than dealing with unemployment issues.
How did we get here? In other words, what is the history and cultural/social context of your problem? Who are the stakeholders?
Although the issues of machinery and computers taking over human jobs seems recent, the concept has been around for many centuries. Since the Industrial Revolution, humans have been on a relentless and never-ending pursuit to create technology to replace humans. Beginning in the 18th century with the start of the Industrial Revolution, new technologies has been heralded as being the breakthrough that would elevate the quality of life of society and free humans from the shackles of back breaking manual labor. The reality, however, is that during the 18th century, the living situation did not improve as was hoped for by the Industrial Revolution. New manufacturing techniques meant that consumer goods could now be produced much cheaper and as a result, worker wages fell along with it (Feinstein, 1998, 627). Then, the cheaper cost of goods meant that there was more demand leading to rapid expansion and construction of factories in order to keep up with this demand. Factories need workers, so large amounts of people would migrate to the cities where these factories were built, overwhelming city construction and resulting in slums being built without sewage, leading to greater diseases and crime. In modern times, wages have stagnated not only because technology has made people’s jobs easier, but because it has replaced jobs entirely. In 2017, the World Economic Forum, estimate that although 2 million jobs would be added to the economy in the fields of computers, engineering, and mathematics, 7.1 million would be lost (Rasca, 2017, 476). The stakeholders are the companies and leaders that seek to drive down costs and increase profits while forgetting about all of the people being left at the wayside.
Rasca, Lavinia. (2017). Human Resource Challenges for the 21st Century. De Gruyter. 475-481
With the rapid pace of innovation in technology, the future economic landscape will be vastly different than from what exists today. The World Economic Forum in 2017 estimated that although 2 million jobs would be added to the economy, it would be counteracted by the 7.1 million jobs that would be lost as result from automation. Studies have also noticed that the workplace in 2020 is likely to be different from today. As the younger generation, which has lived most of their lives entwined with technology, the workplace will shift to more technology aided jobs and shorter workweeks due to the greater efficiency that new technology brings.
Feinstein, C. H. (1998). Pessimism Perpetuated: Real Wages and the Standard of Living in Britain during and after the Industrial Revolution. The Journal of Economic History, 58(03), 625-658. doi:10.1017/s0022050700021100
In the 18th century, the Industrial Revolution started the path towards mass manufacturing and the technology driven world that we have today. Although the innovation and technologies that have come about since that era have undeniably changed the world as a whole for the better, in some areas, its immediate impacts were more negative than it was positive. During the 18th century, the invention of machinery that made jobs easier meant that consumer goods could be produced for much much lower prices. However, due to the lower prices of consumer goods, worker wages also fell, failing to benefit workers as was hoped for. Additionally, due to lower prices on items, demand for those items increased, so more factories had to be built in order to keep up. These new factories obviously need workers, so there was a mass migration of workers into the cities these factories were located in, overwhelming the city’s resources, which lead to the rise of slums without proper sewage. As a result, workers were forced to work for low wages, with dangerous equipment, and in poor living conditions.
What is the problem that needs to be solved?
Since the Industrial Revolution, the production of consumer goods has been able to become cheaper, faster, and more efficient than ever. Although new technology has forced many people into unemployment, many more jobs were created as a result. However, with the increasing speed at which technology improves, automation is “replacing people faster than the economy can create jobs” (Brown, 2012, p. 24). Current generation robots are now able to perform tasks that were unthinkable in the past. In warehouses, item picking robots are now capable of the cognitive task of identifying the object in front of it and correctly organizing it, using machine vision technology based similarly on the Xbox Kinect, called PrimeSense, to detect and analyze information about the world in mere milliseconds (Ford, 2015, p. 4).
Source 1: Automation vs. Jobs
Brown, A. (2012, April). Automation vs Jobs. Mechanical Engineering, 22-27.
Automation vs Jobs focuses on the rapid pace of technological improvement and its impact on the future economy. According to Moore’s law, available computing power roughly doubles every 18 months. And with the advent of artificial intelligence, machines are reaching the point in which they are surpassing humans in terms of cognitive ability. IBM’s artificial intelligence supercomputer, named Watson for its goal of surpassing human intelligence, has been applied to the medical field in order to provide diagnoses of illnesses faster and more accurately than humans are capable of. Autonomous driving, which was originally thought to need decades of research in order to reach a basic level of functionality, reached a level in 2007 where autonomous cars were able to complete the DARPA Urban Challenge, successfully driving on a 60 mile test course without any human intervention. With the exponential growth in computing power, digital machinery is becoming capable of replacing both low-skilled and high-skilled workers alike.
Source 2: Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future
Ford, M. (2015). Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future. New York, NY: Basic Books.
Modern technology has reached a point in which the cognitive ability of computers is as capable or more capable than the humans that it has replaced. In warehouses, item picking robots with machine vision technology can pick and sort boxes and products of various colors and sizes with the same dexterity as humans, but at a much faster rate than humans and without the drawback of needing breaks or refueling times. In the category of white-collar jobs, software written by Northwestern University called StatsMonkey is being used to generate statistical reports of baseball games and provide a natural language summary of its reports. After the creation of StatsMonkey, the same team from Northwestern University applied the ideas from StatsMonkey to a new and much more powerful artificial intelligence engine named “Quill” that is now being used by media outlets such as Forbes in order to generate news articles, businesses to analyze financial reports, and the CIA to ingest the massive amounts of data collected every second. The capabilities of systems such as “Quill” have not only replaced humans but have far surpassed anything that humans could possibly ever achieve.