Will people still be useful in the 21st century?

“The idea that humans will always have a unique ability beyond the reach of non-conscious algorithms is just wishful thinking. (…) When humans and computers fight it out in science fiction movies, humans always win eventually, because it turns out that they have some magical spark within them that computers can neither understand nor emulate. This is a legacy of the monotheist belief in souls.”

Yuval Noah Harari (@CNN)

Harari avoids the question of what will happen to people when people become obsolete. He adds his own wishful thinking that “some suggest that everybody will become artists”. I disagree. Why bother feeding and housing the poor if you can replace them with cheaper, lower maintenance robots?

The lower classes merely exist to drive taxis, mop floors, fix lightbulbs and so on. The middle class has a financial incentive to replace those basic jobs with robots — done cheaper and better. But the middle class will not volunteer to pay for the lives of the new obsolete. That means: they will be denied access to healthcare, housing and food. Eventually, over time, this obsolete class will disintegrate socially and stop reproducing, if there are not sterilized first, or mass ‘cleansed’ (perhaps by robot soldiers).

But the middle class is not safe either. The richest 1–10% has a financial incentive to replace flesh-and-blood middle class with slavebots. Why hire human accountants and lawyers if robots can do the same work better. Notaries, doctors, surgeons, pianists — they are merely highly trained workers. They too will be replaced by robots once technology permits.

There will be social arguments: first the eradication of the lowerclass, replacing them with blue collar robots, is deemed ‘necessary’ to solve global hunger, overpopulation, pollution, reducing stress on natural resources, ending overconsumption of the Earth. Second, the same arguments will be extended to the peoples of lower middle and middle middle class.

The upper middle class will be populated by scientists, technologists, programmers — the only human jobs left to improve the robot classes — in order to keep robots safely under human rule! Meanwhile the top 1% will spend more time living in space or artificial worlds, just “having fun” and playing “war games”, while robots on Earth will wage war against competing “teams”. Possibly at global scale, wrecking the Earth.

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