Would you bet against sex robots? AI ‘could leave half of world unemployed’

Machines could put more than half the world’s population out of a job in the next 30 years, according to a computer scientist who said on Saturday that artificial intelligence’s threat to the economy should not be understated.

Expert Moshe Vardi told the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS): “We are approaching a time when machines will be able to outperform humans at almost any task.

“I believe that society needs to confront this question before it is upon us: if machines are capable of doing almost any work humans can do, what will humans do?”

  • Exile1981

    “What will humans do?”

    Die so there are less of us to feed and that way our political overlords can have the massive population reduction they want.

    • k1992

      How about make fewer robots? The idea is that they are to improve human lives in general; if they don’t do that then they are of no use to us and we need not make them.

      • Exile1981

        Your missing the point. To our overlords they are useful. They don’t revolt, complain, get sick or do anything but work till they break down. I suspect a lot of factory owners will like those qualities.

        How about a robot army? No worry of it refusing an order orctrying to seize power.

        I see few positives from my seat but I can see few negatives from day Turdeaus point of view.

        • k1992

          In other words they can be of great use to a very small, empowered sub-class of humanity, but of no or even negative value to the vast majority of people. Yes, that makes sense. Unfortunately.

          • Exile1981

            Now your getting the point.

    • Xavier

      I can’t wait until analysis shows that artificial lifeforms have a higher carbon footprint and don’t recycle as easily as humans.

  • BillyHW

    Machines and computers have been replacing people forever. Find something else useful to do.

    • DD_Austin

      Damn Luddites are always whining about machines

      UK in 1750, Pre Industrial

      Population: 11,000,000
      Only 20% of people live or work in cities.
      About 80% of people work in the countryside.
      London is the only city with more than 10,000 people.
      Most people die in their mid thirties, and many children die in infancy.

      UK in 1900 Post Industrial

      Population: 40,000,000
      About 80% of people live or work in cities.
      Only 20% of people work in the countryside.
      London has a population on 6,500,000 and many cities have populations of 650,000 to 1,000,000 people.
      People now live to about 45 or 50 years, but the infant death rate is still high.

      • Well, that’s known and relevant. But the robotic economy/society may present a radically different problem.

      • Xavier

        Machines are not the problem; the implementation of machines is the problem. A culture that cannot produce a VCR that can be intuitively operated is not going to produce robots that mesh well with human society.

  • Tom Forsythe

    The McDonalds near my home now has automated ordering.

    • Exile1981

      So does the one by me. The plus side is way less order mistakes now and the machines seem to be about as smart as the people they replaced.

      • Justin St.Denis

        About as smart, yes, but WAY MORE PLEASANT than your average pierced bored teenager or resentful adult with little to no education. I can’t wait for Tim Horton’s to jump on this automated bandwagon…..

        • Exile1981

          At least the machines don’t whine about how their job is beneath them because they have a feminism degree.

          • Justin St.Denis

            Agreed. And have you noticed that Tim Horton’s staff are the only franchise staff who are actually TRY to be as unpleasant as possible, but they KISS POLICE ASS like nobody else? My local Tim’s is a wasteland of politically correct adolescents and middle-aged moms with major chips on their shoulders. And why do they hire OBESE people to prep food? The poor fuckers can barely cross the kitchen to bring you your order, all sweaty and dripping. Fat people do not belong in fast food service. Just my opinion.

            If I have offended any fat or obese people, please channel your hatred constructively and walk off your anger at me. 😉

  • The biggest threat to the human race is Islam. If it takes over, which it may do so in the coming years (not decades) if things continue as they are doing, they will destroy all industry and machinery. Robots won’t have a chance to take over. So, don’t worry.

    • V10_Rob

      Yup. Always look on the bright side.

      • Not sure which side is brighter.

        • Waffle

          Islam is divine retribution for our excesses and lack of moderation.

          • I’m afraid so. I just hope there are still enough “just men” around that the world will be saved from this plague.

          • Waffle

            Think of Noah.

          • Yeah.

          • Justin St.Denis

            I pray it doesn’t come to this, but I have killed before. It upset me the first time. It does everybody, they told me. After that, though, it was just a job. I was very efficient at my work. And in my life, as I acquired skills, I just naturally maintained those skills as a matter of course – from martial arts to firearms. If the time comes and it is necessary, I would kill again. So would most with the same skills and life experience. That’s just the way it is. My wife still awakens me VERY gently in the morning. Old habits die hard.

          • Force is part of the answer, to be sure. A lot more is needed for overall victory.

    • canminuteman

      I saw a calculation that showed that if they reach ten percent of the population, and their birth rates don’t change, and our birth rates don’t change, they will out number us in two generations without importing another one. I knew it was bad, but that is down right terrifying.

      • I assume you mean the muzzies.

  • Brett_McS

    They may be unemployed but they would be having great sex.

    • Soon be bored.

      • Brett_McS

        As with all software it is important to install the updates.

        • At its worst sex is a sort of mutual masturbation. That’s when it is purely physical. Sex becomes lovemaking when there are emotions besides physical desire, when souls are in contact and communicating. A sex doll, even with AI cannot be anything other than a masturbation machine. Boring.

          • Waffle

            True, but sometimes an itch just has to be scratched.

          • No. Better not scratch.

      • Xavier

        I know we joke, but true AI could cause us to address questions like: How do we define life? How do we define humanity? Where does humanity – i.e., life – begin?

        That discussion will probably start a war.

        • What distinguishes a human being (and indeed higher animals) is that there is someone in the body (a soul) who sees (cognizes) the world through the senses and through rational insight (and through introspection), and who does (using free will) things in pursuit of values (the main value being life).

          A machine, however sophisticated, has a body but not a soul. It functions mechanically, even when it is gathering “information” from the environment and “acting” upon the environment. It has no cognition and no volition, and no values. It does not really see, does not really do, does not really want anything. Until we produce a living being, we will only have machines.

          • Xavier

            You and I agree, but others will not.

          • Waffle

            Unfortunately we have already started down that slippery slope of commodifying life.

          • What are you referring to?

          • Waffle

            In our godless, secular societies we have placed few limits (if any) on matters such as abortion and end-of-life . Just thinking of Ontario, for example, we have closed hospital wards and fired nurses while simultaneously constructing “death panels” (instead of expanding palliative care facilities) because it is cheaper. If that is not commodifying life, I don’t know what is.

          • Ah. Killing babies and old people (terrible, of course). I thought you might be referring to eugenics and the like.

          • Waffle – Come to think of it, we now have the increasing capacity to manipulate genes and thus form living beings, even eventually derived from humans, that have certain characteristics. That surely deserves to be called ‘commodifying’ life. This is a potential nightmare.

          • Have you ever read Michel Houellebecq’s The Elementary Particles? I just did because I was so impressed with Submission. It’s emotionally harrowing and has too many unbelievably unsexy orgy scenes for my taste, but it’s undeniably brilliant and rather to the point.

          • Hi BM – no, I didn’t read either book. I haven’t read a novel in many years. And though I do read French books occasionally, I rarely do. Thanks for your commentary, though. One thing is sure, MH is highly regarded in France.

        • Waffle

          Mary Shelley grappled with those questions in her famous novel in 1818.

      • H

        Yes, Stepford Wives. Unless of course, the robots develop true independence of thought and action – the ability to have and act on desires … in which case, they would no longer really be robots and probably would tell their owners that they couldn’t because they had a headache.

        • We are very, very far from producing artificial life. Robots may be made which superficially resemble living beings but they are just very simple mechanisms in comparison.

          • Xavier

            Agreed. It’s mimicry.

  • Xavier

    Robots – or more accurately, androids – are the liberal dream – a slave class without those messy human problems like rights and aspirations.

  • Ron MacDonald

    They will create new jobs, someone has to design, manufacturer, program and repair these machines.

    • Xavier

      The first generation, anyway.

    • canminuteman

      If they create as many jobs as they displace, no one would bother. And what percentage of the population do you think is smart enough to design robots? And given that robots build everything else, wouldn’t they also builld the robots?

      • Ron MacDonald

        Someone has to manufacture the parts, the technicians that maintain the robots are very well paid.

        • canminuteman

          I live in a city that used to employ 40,000 people building cars. It now employees about 3000, and they build just as many cars as they did with 40,000 people. Robots will build the robots, not people. I am an instrumentation and control technician. I am the guy who repairs the machines that makes the machines I know all to well that the next generation of machines will require way fewer people to repair. The machines are becoming self aware, the machines now tell me why they are not working and what I need to do to fix them. It won’t be long before they can take over that final function themselves.

          Most of the displaced workers went to work for the government. Government employees at all levels now account for about half the work force. Most don’t really do anything (I know, I used to be one), but they can earn a living off the productive for now. As the numbers of productive people fall, there will be less tax money for the great big all consuming leviathan to consume and the system will fall apart.

          • BradThomas

            I hope you’re right about our corrupt system falling apart. But if the elite (and government employees certainly qualify as that) can use robots instead of humans to gather food, build cars, maintain roads, repair other robots, etc., they will have absolutely NO need for the rest of us. I wonder what would happen then, to the disempowered (humans) in our societies. Nothing good, anyway.

          • What you say is true, except for the term “self-aware” which is highly misleading. Machines are never aware of self or other; they have no consciousness, no cognitive faculties. They follow programs of stimulus and response, of action and reaction, that’s all.

          • canminuteman

            You are correct, self aware is probably not the best term to use. “autonomous” is probably a better word.

          • Except that autonomous means, etymologically, making its own law. Which again is not an accurate description. There must be a word or phrase for it. Even “self-regulating” or *self-repairing” taken too literally seems to imply that the machine has a self, which is of course a misuse of that word.

  • Xavier

    I don’t mean to be indelicate here, but think about the non-verbal communication that occurs between people when they’re having sex.* That level of emotional response is what makes the difference between satiating animal instinct and sharing an intimate loving experience.

    It may be possible to recreate the mechanical portion of sex, but passionate emotions are a human trait that cannot be reproduced. For some, artificial sex is already a preference but those people are a minority. The human touch is what we crave and that’s not going to change. It’s part of what makes us human.

    * Not too closely, please. This is a family-oriented blog.

    • H

      Well stated. But supposing – as many have – that robots develop to the point where they *have* human-like emotions and desires. Then I suppose that they would be human, for all intents and purposes, and I suppose that owning such a “machine” would be tantamount to slavery.

      Anyway, despite all the AI researchers’ optimistic predictions and claims, I’m personally not fully convinced that robots can ever be imbued with things like a free will, a desire to live, and act, independently of their programming. If they’re not programmed to do something, why would they ever do it? They’re not trying to pass on their genes or something and, presumably, they don’t have a supernatural component to them. (Though I guess you never know.)

      • Xavier

        I’ve been toying with the concept of one or more robots “sharing” their programming for the purpose of making the next generation of robots more suited to their environment.

        That sounds like the liberal version of parenting doesn’t it?

        • H

          All of history’s most infamous dictators and evil emperors must be turning over in their graves, wishing they had been born into our techie societies. Technological innovation in general sure seems to leave the door open for greater power being concentrated in the hands of a select few – a tyrant’s dream. (Whether those hands are organic or metallic – or both – is another question.)

          In theory, technology (robots included) could be used to really improve the human lot in general. But in practice … it doesn’t seem to be working out that way.

        • Justin St.Denis

          French thinker Frederic Lenoir’s has addressed many of these issues in his writings, although AI itself is not addressed directly. But the questions you raise are the meat of modern-day philosophical thought…

        • The autonomous killing machines will come, it is only a matter of time. Man cannot resist temptation – for long at any rate.

      • I agree.

    • mobuyus

      As long as the sex robot hums along fine it should be OK.

    • Agreed.

    • Oh it will happen. Just think no messy relationships, no fear of divorce, no chance of unwanted children. Japan is producing an entire cohort of males who simply will not engage.

  • DMB

    When I think of sex robots I think of Japan! lol

  • Nick Fisher

    It is axiomatic that more jobs will disappear as automation improves. It is by no means clear that an equivalent number of jobs will be created in return; either soon enough or close enough to where you (can) live…

    First to go will be the fast food servers. They already add almost no value; as soon as the job can be done with bare adequacy by an automaton, it will be.

    Then the machines will move up the value chain..

    Next to go will be the human typewriters – all those low-level office jobs which involved taking information from somewhere, doing something fairly simple with it, and putting it somewhere else.

    Before you know it, you are sitting in an office looking out over acres of empty space. Then you get a tap on the shoulder “Sorry buddy, but it’s the economy see ? We just have to rightsize to survive…”

    The machines just took your job and it’s never coming back…

    So, how do you feel about being on the government teat ? For ever ?

    Do you think the few remaining taxpayers will look kindly on funding your 55 inch TV and SUV ? How long is that gonna last ?

    As a thought experiment, ask yourself how well-disposed are you RIGHT NOW to the “never had a job, don’t want one” types ? Buddy, now you’re one of them 🙁

    And remember, corporations have already captured a good part of the political establishment – what do you think things will be like when the robots drive profits up by 100%, 500%, 1000% ??? Absurdly generous welfare provision for white former professionals ? Or shitty poverty for everyone but the 0.1 per centers ?

    Things can and do get worse, even for citizens of the richest states on the planet. Be prepared – winter is coming.

    • Xavier

      My brother runs a large manufacturing plant that builds doors. Last year, the owners approached him and asked him to help design a new facility, created from the ground up for the sole purpose of making doors. They also told him that 90% of the work force would be let go because the plant will be mainly robotic.

      For some reason, he doesn’t seem to think his job is in jeopardy.

    • Henry Ford understood his employees needed a decent wage to afford his cars.

      I wonder what the end game is here. Previous leaps in technology typically resulted in the creation of new jobs in the same industry or freed up labour to the benefit of others.

      That is no longer the case. Automation is working its way up the value added food chain year by year.

      We see it all around us. ATM’s, self-serve check-outs and order takers in fast food restaurants. Lights-out manufacturing will be the norm before we know it.

  • Jay Currie

    Well, some of us are going into space and we’re going to need smart people and smart robots.

    For the right challenges robots will be amazingly useful. And there are people taking on those challenges.