Artificial Intelligence, Robotics And Automation Could Herald A Utopia For Humankind

West, one of the big brains at the acclaimed Brookings Institute think-tank in Washington, is the world’s leading authority on the future of work – on how our jobs and society will change beyond all recognition because of artificial intelligence, automation, and robotics. ‘If companies need fewer workers as a result of automation and robotics,’ says West, ‘but most societal benefits are delivered through full-time jobs, how are people outside the workforce going to get income and retirement benefits. Devices linked to the internet – like Fitbit, and Amazon Echo – aren’t just cool, they herald something much more disruptive, an era when data does away with the need for human workers. Dystopia is easy – we just let it happen; utopia is hard – we need a paradigm shift in the way we view work, welfare and the role of government. Studies at Oxford and Yale universities found that ‘researchers predict AI will outperform writing high school essays, driving a truck, working in retail, writing a bestselling book, and working as a surgeon there is a 50% chance of AI outperforming humans in all tasks in 45 years and of automating all human jobs in 120 years’. How do we pay for all this? Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, suggests a ‘robot tax’, saying: ‘If a human worker does $50,000 of work in a factory, that income is taxed. Data-driven change has huge economic potential, and unions are ambitious to transform these new sources of wealth into shorter working weeks, higher wages, and fulfilling work in every sector of Scotland’s economy.

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