Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Logo
Wednesday, September 20, 2017 08:30:22 PM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

Robots, not nature, now make the selection

By
09th-Jan-2017       
Comments
Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all () »

Baher Kamal :
British naturalist Charles Darwin published in 1859 his theory of evolution in his work On the Origin of Species, he most likely did not expect that robots, not nature, would someday be in charge of the selection process.
In his On the Origin of Species, (more completely: On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life), Darwin introduced the scientific theory that populations evolve over the course of generations through a process of natural selection.
Now the so-called "fourth industrial revolution" comes to turn Darwin's theory upside down, as the manufacturing process has been witnessing such a fast process of automation that machines will more and more replace human workers.
So fast that it is estimated that by the year 2040, up to 40 per cent of the production process will be handled by robots.
Moreover, the robotising trend is now being perfected in a way that machines are gradually able to solve problems posed by other machines.
Oxford University predicts that machines and robots will perform nearly half of US jobs within the next 20 years.
And the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) says in its report "Future of Work in figures" that some studies argue that 47 per cent of US employment is subject to substitution (39 per cent in Germany, 35 per cent in the UK).
"By the year 2040, up to 40 per cent of the production process will be handled by robots"
"The assumptions of what tasks are replaceable are key, but the undisputed fact is that the occupational structure will change and the tasks required to carry out jobs will also change," says the OECD while trying to inject some optimism: "Substitution may mean the destruction of certain jobs, but not the destruction of employment."
This process of "substitution" could not come at a tougher time, as the so-called job market is already much too precarious. Just an example: this organisation grouping nearly one fifth of all countries -those considered most developed-in a report titled "Employment and unemployment in figures," says that there are now over 40 million unemployed in the OECD area - that's around 8 million more than before the crisis, i.e., one million jobs lost yearly over the last 8 years.
Add to this, the fact that 1 in 3 jobs are considered precarious in the industrialised countries, and that workers now earn between 15 and 20 per cent less than in the year 2009.
These figures, however, are viewed in a positive light by the business sector as they imply a growing reduction of the costs of production.
What to do with humans then?
Politicians, likely propelled by big business pundits, have just started to think now of how to face this challenge.
One of the trendiest formulae is now to give a basic income to citizens.
Such a basic income (also called unconditional basic income, citizen's income, basic income guarantee, universal basic income or universal demo-grant) implies that all citizens or residents of a country regularly receive an unconditional sum of money, in addition to any income received from elsewhere.
According to its defenders, this would be financed by the profits of publicly owned enterprises. But it will be a difficult exercise given that the private sector has been taking over the roles of the state, which has been gradually dismantled.
Many citizens' first reaction to this formula would be -is- "… sounds great… getting money without even working is a dream!"
The realisation of such a dream poses, however, a number of questions and concerns.
For instance: where will governments find the resources needed for such basic incomes? From which national budget items will these amounts be deducted?
Will governments continue anyway to provide social services, such as public health care, education, unemployment subsidies, pension funds? Are such services sentenced to privatisation?
Will this mean the elimination of the 20 billion dollars that the OECD countries dedicate every year to the employment funds, which are aimed at promoting the creation of job opportunities?
And how can unemployed people contribute with their basic income to replenishing the retirement funds of the elderly, whose lives are already long and expected to get longer and longer?
Let alone infrastructure like public transport, roads and highways, subsidies to alternative sources of energy, and a long et cetera.
In other words, will such basic income without even working lead to the definite dismantlement of the already rapidly shrinking social welfare?
Most likely it will be so. After all, it would be about a step further in the very process of robotising the very lives of human beings.
This way, the citizens will be kept alive, will complain less about the evident failure of governments to create job opportunities, while doing what they are expected to do: that's to consume what industries produce and, by the way, continue playing their role as voters (not electors, mind the difference).
The rule of the multimillionaires
This trend, which seems to be unavoidable, will likely receive a giant push pretty soon-as soon as the new United States administration, lead by Donald Trump, takes office in January 2017.
An administration, by the way, made of multi-millionaires who are highly unlikely to have the sensibility of average citizens and workers.
The effects on Europe will be immediate in view of the irresistible rise of the extreme right in countries like Germany, France and Italy - which will go through elections in 2017 - as well as the Netherlands, Austria, Hungry and even Greece, to mention a few.
Inequality, that dangerous gap
Add to all of the above the fact that growing unemployment will deepen the already considerable inequality.
Roberto Savio, Founder of IPS and of Other News, in a recent master lecture at the Diplomatic Academy of Chile, compiled the following shocking data: six years ago, 388 persons possessed the same wealth as 3.2 billion people; in 2014, their number was of just 80, and in 2015 only 62.
These figures, added to the fact that, according to the International Labour Organization, 600 million new jobs need to be created by 2030 just to keep pace with the growth of the working age population, will leave more millions behind, forcing massive displacements, especially from developing countries, as survival migrants.
"The factory of the future will have only two employees: a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the equipment."
This is how Carl Bass, CEO of Autodesk, a private company that "makes software for people who make things," described the current, unstoppable process of automation.
Bass' comment was quoted by Xavier Mesnard in an article titled "What happens when robots take our jobs?" which was published in the World Economic Forum.
Most probably Darwin would have never expected that the current artificial selection process -propelled by an irrepressible greed and subjected to the financial interests of big private corporations exercising full control without any regulation mechanism, amid short-sighted politics - would replace his great theory of evolution and natural selection.

(Baher Kamal is Senior Advisor to IPS Director General on Africa & the Middle East. He is an Egyptian-born, Spanish-national, secular journalist, with over 43 years of experience).

Tariff
Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Editorial »

Our inactive diplomacy is deplorable : We shall need armed support


IT'S almost a month since Myanmar has started to push Rohingya Muslims illegally into Bangladesh; creating a burden for an economically weaker country like ours. Our government waiting eagerly for the international power houses to act quickly and solve the problem for us. But all our so-called proven friends like ...

Entertainment »

Antora Azim`s web series Basic Ali


Sheikh Arif Bulbon :Few years ago, Antora Azim started her acting career through Adnan Al Rajib’s a play titled Middle Class Sentiment. Under his direction Antora also performed as a model in a TV commercial of Banglalink. Later she took break from media for her study. She again started shooting ...

Entertainment »

Bhoomi item song by Sunny Leone faces Censor scissors - fans to face disappointment


The Censor Board always has a last laugh because of the immense powers vested with it. And with power comes responsibility. The Central Board of Film Certification is a statutory censorship and classification body under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. Bhoomi has been at the receiving ...

City »

BNP Standing Committee Member Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury, among others, at a discussion on `Bangladesh`s Position in Rohingya Crises` organised by Bangladesh Youth Forum at the Jatiya Press Club on Tuesday.


International »

Trump expresses his hopes for peaceful settlement to ME crisis


AFP, United Nations :US President Donald Trump again expressed his hopes for a peaceful settlement to the Middle East crisis Monday as he met Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.Netanyahu was the first leader to have a one-on-one with Trump at the US president's first United Nations General Assembly, an annual ...

International »

Hong Kong leader demands end of independence talk


Reuters, Hong Kong  :Hong Kong's leader urged an immediate end to independence debates in the Chinese-ruled global financial hub on Tuesday, warning that the issue was harming the city's relationship with Beijing's Communist Party leaders.Insisting that the government did not want to intervene on university campuses, Chief Executive Carrie Lam ...

Sports »

Canada`s Brayden Schnur (right) and India`s Yuki Bhambri shake hands after the match during Davis Cup singles tennis tournament action in Edmonton, Alberta on Sunday.


Editorial »

Rice crisis must be resolved — police action not enough


THE government on day before yesterday directed the law enforcement agencies and Deputy Commissioners (DC) to arrest illegal rice hoarders in the country. The directive comes in the wake of introducing open market sales (OMS) of coarse rice at Tk. 30 per kg, double the previous year's price, across the ...

City »

Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh brought out a procession in the city protesting persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar was intercepted by police at Shantinagar intersection on Monday.


Entertainment »

Waluscha De Sousa sets the ramp on fire in an Anj Kreations lehenga


A fashion favourite & Bollywood actress Waluscha De Sousa who made her debut in Shah Rukh Khan starrer Fan was seen walking the ramp at a preview show for an upcoming exhibition named Joya. This exhibition organised by the Moranis of Cineyug held a preview of top 8 designers participating ...

International »

US may stay in Paris climate accord : Tillerson


Reuters, Washington :The United States could remain in the Paris climate accord under the right conditions, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Sunday, signaling a shift in tone from the Trump administration, which angered allies with its decision to pull out of the agreement.President Donald Trump is willing to ...

Editorial »

N. Korea`s mad rush for nuclear status


NORTH Korea said it was seeking military "equilibrium" with the United States as leader Kim Jong-Un vowed to complete Pyongyang's nuclear programme. North Korea successfully fired a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan on Friday, responding to a new round of UN sanctions over its sixth nuclear test with its ...

Sports »

Saida Akter Mou (right) of Bangladesh Ansar & VDP and Rifad Ahmed Sabbir of BKSP pose with their trophies of the girls' singles and boys' singles of the South Bangla Agriculture & Commerce Bank 4th National Junior Table Tennis Championship at the Shaheed Tajuddin Wooden Floor Gymnasium on Sunday.


Entertainment »

Kriti Sanon marks Nat`l Engineers Day


It is a known fact that Kriti Sanon who is today known to be one of the top young actresses in the industry has a background of being an Engineer. The Bareilly Ki Barfi actress came to Mumbai a few years back from Delhi where she was studying engineering with a ...

City »

Jatiyatabadi Projanma `71, organized a discussion titled `Election-time Government: Role of Election Commission and future of democracy at the Jatiya Press Club on Sunday. Among others, BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi took part in the discussion.


 
Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
 
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Email:
Write a comment to this news