The Luddite’s fallacy is a fancy term for the ad nauseum phobia, vociferated by blue collar workers that technology will replace human jobs. Now, this really isn’t an issue, these robots are replacing jobs that no one wants. No one actually wants to dig tunnels, serve angry customers, or even drive themselves around on a quotidian basis. Basic, rule-based AI or technology has already facilitated this process in making this easier.
To some extent, this human fear of being replaced by a form of otherness more capable is indeed, true. New innovations will displace current industries as we know and see them today, as with any revolution. However, it will create industries and better standards of living in the overall long term. The occupations we see today are not the 14 hour ones in London back then that made bare wages for sustenance; seldom are there seamstresses, chimney sweepers, serfs and the like making less than a loaf of bread. They are engineers that codify these machines, yoga gurus, mindfulness speakers and consultants that shape the fabric of not only work, but one’s reality and perception of their external world.
While new positions of consequence and better standards of living are implications of human evolution in conjunction with innovation, AI and robots in question only improve the human quality of life in so much as there is a uncoupling of skill from the product produced. These are general purpose technologies such as sowing machines that now have uncoupled the time and skill-intensive finesse of sowing elaborate garments to factory workers, to ballpoint pens that now democratize the beauty of handwritten notes to all, not only the select elites in the hayday that could afford a feather-tip quill and ink.
((I personally through my investments and research sought to democratize the usage of cannabis and CBD to patients that were inundated with the abuse of opioids, and the luxury, aviation, and real estate space and continually to do so as a VC and angel investor.))
However, as skill-based AI is formed– programs typically made B2B or made more personalized and less general in information technology, the natural inequalities of human propensities will be exacerbated. This means that technology that serves to empower certain classes of people, such as ones that make lives of only current graphic designers easier with those with already acquired education, real estate that caters to the 1% of property managers of inherited property, edtech with those of intrinsic nimble wit, inequalities will inevitably emerge.
Instead of advocating for a rapacious coup d’etat of those more fortunate and blessed with resources other than our own, let us recognize and celebrate these differences by working with technology but instead compensating everyone equally based off of their unique talent.
We live in a capitalist society that favors some talents over others. On one hand this is excludes certain commodities due to the simple business cycle of supply and demand. On the other, it also serves as the very agency for social mobility for those that did not come from privileged backgrounds to be recognized. Capitalism furthermore serves as the very agent of innovation itself, as in a perfect control vacuum of communism, there would be no incentive for innovation, nor the diversity and multitude in personalized culture and choice as trends and innovations evolve with business cycles and time.
While capitalist system is inherently unequal due to the intrinsic discrepancy of value placed in talent and the extrinsic qualities of market supply and demand, there are ways to allow it to coexist with a world where talents are unequal, but humans are. It would do injustice to suppress new innovation and talent in society due to overt taxation, but there should be a fair medium of motivation for success and taxation to ensure human rights are met. It is societal duty to ensure safety and understand the repercussions for the agents one enacts, that human basic needs are met, and encourage human empathy and respect regardless of the divergence in skill sets valued.
Systems such as universal basic income, healthcare rights, and social programs not only encourage individuals to treat each other with more collaboration and kindness, recognize and share our differences, and to teach us that everyone, has something of value we can learn from.
It is within humanity’s last fount of hope, this collaboration not only with technology but with each other is the last stand of mankind against the dark unknown ventures of the robotics and AI.