Dystopic Times Ahead?
A dystopia (from the Greek ???- and ?????, alternatively, cacotopia, kakotopia, cackotopia, or anti-utopia) is a community or society that is in some important way undesirable or frightening. It is the opposite of a utopia. — Wikipedia
I got a note from an old friend, Barb. Sweet lady and sister of my best childhood friend. It was a link to a video that looks pretty daunting — even dystopic.
The video is well made. I thought at first that it represented one of those “Think Tank” operations that think about what they are paid to think about. But, it seems an individual effort. We do like our recognition and he goes about it far more seriously than I do in this little blog.
It looks rather scary. It is an outgrowth of and has similar warnings to disruptions that have gone before. You know. The what will happen to the wheelwright and harness makers approach and may the gods help those buggy whip makers. Going back in history this has been a popular refrain. I’m sure the guy that found fire making had his smoldering fingered critics.
When I was young and much smarter, I watched my version of the economy. I lived in Hammond, Indiana and we had train tracks galore that halted traffic. When it was a shift change in the mill, the waiting line could reach biblical proportions. Everybody, it seemed worked in the mills and rush hour on regular city streets was unbelievable. Going by the mill, you saw acres and acres of parking lots. They are still there with weeds growing through the cracks in the asphalt. Automation did away with over 90% of those jobs.
It is not hard to find disruption — past and present. I could challenge some of the views in the video but it isn’t my goal. As a programmer, making something work to spec on an ongoing basis is an unending task. Just look at the updates Microsoft pours our way.
What makes me doubt the dire view is a simple one. He talks economy but does he understand it? The economy is based on customers/consumers. If his view puts us all out to pasture, there won’t be a need for the robots that replace us. Well, some SciFi authors have seen such an end but lets assume we are neither eliminated or assimilated.
It will be a different time — no argument. Is today better than it was in my traffic jammed youth? The answer isn’t yes or no but just that it is different. I couldn’t have described today back then and that isn’t going to make tomorrow any clearer for the youth of today.
I don’t think it will end up with all our heads in jars on Futurama. Heads in jars aren’t happy consumers and that isn’t a viable economy for all those mean robots to serve.