Monday, 22 February 2016

Capitalism FTW: It's Just a Matter of Time until Robots Take Over Our Jobs

As human beings, we always strive for improvement in every life aspect. That is why our prehistoric ancestors created their own stone tools, bow and arrows, and other survival tools. The evolution continued until the existence of modern Homo sapiens, which is the modern human nowadays. Modern humans discovered more complex inventions such as wheels, medicines, propellers; basically our surroundings are the latest development of the earlier technologies. Humans are constantly improving new technologies in order to assist our daily activities, to innovate breakthrough technologies; we will not stop inventing because it is our instinct to make daily things done faster and be easier to do; it is our survival mechanism.

However, this whole modernization thing is known to make conflict amongst us. The Industrial Revolution in 18th to 19th centuries was a both historical and controversial transition from labour production methods to powered, special-purpose machinery in many industries such as textile, agriculture, transportations, and many more. Although the Industrial Revolution brought an increased volume and variety of manufactured goods and an improved standard of living for the middle and upper social classes, it was controversial since it gave an adverse social impact which is the reduction of living standards of the poor and working classes because they have been replaced by machines. Matter fact, many workers’ living standards strongly declined under early capitalism.

Until today, it is highly possible for a machine to take over our job. As Rhett Allain said in his article in Wired website: “Robot will probably be cheaper and better than many college graduates.” Referring to the future-based science fiction movies and series, of course we have seen how robots integrated with human daily life. We watched how robots can be police, nurse, doctor, virtual personal assistant, and many more. Apparently slowly but sure the technologies in those movies and series already came true. We shouldn't be too surprised since we already familiar with the technology such as smartphone. Smartphone is just like a personal assistant for its owner; it can operate the tasks we command by using our voice, for example, to dial a contact from the phonebook. Another example is McDonalds’s store in Phoenix, Arizona who employed robots in the middle of 2015 to run its daily operations and entire workforce after it had an earnings decline for the first time in nine years along with workers minimum wage demand of US$15/hr. The robots which named as McRobots (of course, what else would you call it?) are reported to have speed 50 times faster than the average human employee with no chance of error and if it goes well, McDonalds will continue to employ McRobots by opening 25,000 robot-run restaurants by 2016 spreading in the US. 

Besides operating simple tasks, software can also perform complex tasks too, depend on the software engineer. Robots nowadays can be taught to read, draw, calculate taxes and payments, create music, conduct a surgery, driving a car, even there is such thing as journalistic algorithms where it can produce articles about certain topics such as sports, weather, even poetry! It is highly possible for companies to create software in automating research or writing by summarizing lengthy texts, rewriting press releases, or sorting through unstructured documents for insights. Last year, the AP announced that it invested in a content generation tool called Wordsmith so it can generate stories on corporate quarterly earnings reports, created by a company called Automated Insights. Other news organizations such as Fortune, Big Ten Network, and Los Angeles Times are also invested in similar custom software to auto-generate a story from a company called Narrative Science. Matter fact, according to Jayson DeMers on his article in Forbes website: "There is a huge chance that you’ve already read at least one article that was written by a machine." Oscar Schwartz, a writer and a poet, through his lecture at TEDx he examined on how artificial intelligence algorithm can make a poet in any language. Apparently, computers can be taught on how to write just like a human being.

TRIVIA QUESTION #1: Can you guess which poem is human-made and which one is written by a computer?

TRIVIA QUESTION #2: Can you guess which poem is human-made and which one is written by a computer?

Just like the Industrial Revolution, the shift to automation will not happen in a short period. However, since computers can be taught both of low skilled jobs and high skilled jobs all we have to do is to embrace it because it surely will happen with or without our agreement because in the end, economics will always win. Unfortunately, due to high demands of profit maximization many human jobs would likely ended up being replaced. Many companies would prefer robots because they will never ask for salary raise, days off, and lunch break meanwhile they are able to do things faster with no such thing as human error. If one day the world will be filled with highly functioned robots we surely need to find a way on how to be more humane therefore our existence can be more valuable. 

Anyway, have you guessed the trivia questions yet?  
Question 1: The first poem is written by a computer, the second one is written by a famous poet, Franco Jara 
Question 2: The first poem is written by a famous poet, William Blake, the second one is written by a computer 
Computers can be programmed on how to write poems just like humans--complicated and such. There are also poets who write poems just like "computers" which is seemed to be simpler. Thus, there is no distinctive writing style between humans and computers. Did you guess it correctly? For more info about poetry algorithm you can click the video link above.

In the Future, Robots Will Write News That’s All About You
New McDonald’s In Phoenix Run Entirely By Robots
McDonald’s To Open 25,000 Robot-Run Restaurants By 2016
The Top 7 Content Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2016 
Can a Computer Write Poetry? | Oscar Schwartz | TEDxYouth@Sydney

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