Don’t fear the robot

Bring on the ‘bot economy

By Mark Luedtke

Don’t fear the robot. It works in the wind, the sun, and the rain. And the dark. Apologies to Blue Oyster Cult.

In order to convince us to surrender our wealth and power to them, our rulers need us in a constant state of fear. Artificial intelligence (AI) provides a new boogieman. First, Stephen Hawking expressed concern about artificial intelligence. Next came Elon Musk. Self-serving AI experts signed an open letter expressing their concerns. Bill Gates jumped on the bandwagon. Then Apple.

Don’t trust the plutocrats. They’re concerned about AI, but not in the way they claim. They’re concerned AI will put them out of business. You don’t need Microsoft Windows when you have an AI interface to your computer.

According to Observer.com, Musk said at an MIT event, “I’m increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory oversight, maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish.”

Like the government oversight that refused to treat black men with syphilis for 40 years?

Musk, who made his billions from taxpayers, is an expert on lining his pockets through government interventions in the marketplace. He isn’t calling for regulation to make AI safer. He’s calling for regulation to quash competition and grant him and his fellow plutocrats a cartel over AI so they can become even more super-rich at our expense.

The Daily Mail proves this point: “Elon Musk, chief executive of electric carmaker Tesla Motors, on Friday unveiled OpenAI, a nonprofit artificial intelligence research company that is backed by other prominent names from the technology world.”

That was less than a year after his comments at MIT. Musk doesn’t fear AI. He fears not controlling it. OpenAI is about producing patents so he and his partners can control AI through monopoly grants from the government. The other plutocrats want the same.

But you can’t have a political movement consisting only of plutocrats. You need to gin up fear in the common man. That’s why headline after headline warns AI will take millions of jobs.

In one sense, that’s true. Just as automobiles wiped out horse and buggy driving jobs, AI will wipe out some jobs, but in the process it will make us all wealthier.

An economy isn’t about producing jobs; it’s about satisfying the demands of consumers. AI will greatly increase productivity, which means goods will become cheaper in real terms. Cars and houses made by robots will cost a fraction of what they cost today. The same for food, clothes, air conditioners, computers, TVs, and everything else. Everybody will become wealthier, and if people can work less (or not at all) to obtain that higher standard of living, so much the better.

According to NBC, Chinese billionaire and founder of Alibaba Jack Ma gets it. “I think in the next 30 years, people only work four hours a day and maybe four days a week,” Ma says. “My grandfather worked 16 hours a day in the farmland and [thought he was] very busy. We work eight hours, five days a week and think we are very busy.”

One day, after robots are employed, we’ll look back and wonder how people tolerated doing some of the dirty, dangerous, backbreaking work they do today.

While robots in the hands of entrepreneurs will be beneficial, AI won’t be all positive. Entrepreneurs want to sell stuff, so they want people to be wealthy enough to buy stuff. Businesses make everybody wealthier. But when minimum wage laws and other government interventions in the market force entrepreneurs to replace workers with robots—like putting kiosks in fast food restaurants—those robots destroy wealth.

Worse, because rulers make a living by stealing, they will use robots to threaten and kill us. Socialism, including crony socialism like we suffer under, always bifurcates society with a ruling elite preying on the masses. Government-controlled AI will exacerbate this problem.

Government is already developing robot super-snipers. “Army researchers are teaching artificial intelligence to learn from humans to become sharper shooters,” the Daily Mail reports.

It takes years of brainwashing to train human soldiers to kill others, especially their countrymen, but killer robots will have no compunction against it.

Of course governments will engage in a killer robot arms race just like they continually engage in arms races of conventional and nuclear weapons. That’s not new. The scariest part is rulers will face less resistance to wage war with robots than with people.

The views and opinions expressed in Conspiracy Theorist are the views and/or opinions of the author and do not reflect the views and/or opinions of the Dayton City Paper or Dayton City Media and are published strictly for entertainment purposes.

Reach DCP freelance writer Mark Luedtke at MarkLuedtke@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Mark Luedtke
Reach DCP freelance writer Mark Luedtke at MarkLuedtke@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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