Will C-3PO Take Your Job?
The film has yet to be released. In fact, it won’t arrive in theaters until December. But the merchandising is everywhere for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.
It seems like Disney has managed to rekindle the same intergalactic interest that the original Star Wars generated. Luke Skywalker lives on. As does Princess Leia. And Han Solo, after his production injury aboard the Millennium Falcon.
Not that I follow these matters closely, but I’ve been told that the plot for this film will be set 30 years after the Battle of Endor and the events portrayed in Return of the Jedi. I got lost in the original Star War trilogy after finding Jabba the Hutt too disgusting for my tastes. I preferred the likes of C-3PO and R2-D2, which brings me to the point of my blog today.
I often enjoy reading columnist and cultural commentator Dr. Jim Denison. One of his recent contributions worth reading is titled, “Why Robots are Bad for Men.” I hope C-3PO gets a copy of this. http://www.denisonforum.org/cultural-commentary/1819-robots-are-bad-for-men
Denison cites a study from two Oxford researchers. Their estimates are that 47 percent of US jobs could be taken over by robots or computers by 2033. Jobs performed primarily by men are at much greater risk than those performed by women.
Here were some of the statistics cited:
- More than 95 percent of the 3 million truck drivers in the U.S. are men; the newly developed autonomous vehicles could replace many of them.
- Men hold 97 percent of the 2.5 million US carpentry and construction jobs; a good percentage of these job tasks could be replaced by robots.
- Women, on the other hand, hold 93 percent of the registered nurse positions. The study rates their risk of obsolescence at only .009 percent.
- And those tasks that involve a wide range of decisions and skills in a relational environment are least likely to be automated. Again, statistically, such jobs are generally found in the domain of women.
Denison cites this rather mind-bending premise. “Not only are jobs likely to be lost; our entire culture is being changed in ways we may not notice. In Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari notes: ‘Our computers have trouble understanding how a Homo sapiens talks, feels, and dreams. So we are teaching Homo sapiens to talk, feel, and dream in the language of numbers, which can be understood by computers.’”
Steve Wozniak, Apple’s co-founder, earlier this year warned that artificial intelligence (AI) will take over for humans. His assessment for the future had a definite bleakness to it. Fortunately he put it in non techno-geek terms.
Being quoted on this issue, Steve said, “…I agree that the future is scary and very bad for people. If we build these devices to take care of everything for us, eventually they’ll think faster than us and they’ll get rid of the slow humans to run companies more efficiently.”
Wozniak added, “Will we be the gods? Will we be the family pets? Or will we be ants that get stepped on? I don’t know about that. But when I got that thinking in my head about if I’m going to be treated in the future as a pet to these smart machines… well I’m going to treat my own pet dog really nice.”
Earlier this year, dozens of the world’s top AI experts signed an open letter calling for researchers to take care to avoid potential “pitfalls” of the disruptive technology. Professor Stephen Hawking has previously said that the rise of AI could see the human race become extinct. Technology entrepreneur Elon Musk has also described the rise of AI in the past as “our biggest existential threat.”
Many Christians were already concerned about technology and the future. Several years ago, rumors circulated about a three-story computer in Belgium called, “The Beast.” Supposedly operated by the European Common Market, it would monitor the financial transactions of every person on earth. Author Joe Musser claims he wrote this into a fiction piece and it gained life from there. Joe said for several years he had seen the story being passed along as fact.
Followers of Jesus bring more to this world with messages of hope, peace, and love than we do of fear. But wise people do not ignore the signs of the times. As Jesus said…
“But be on your guard. Don’t let the sharp edge of your expectation get dulled by parties and drinking and shopping. Otherwise, that Day is going to take you by complete surprise, spring on you suddenly like a trap, for it’s going to come on everyone, everywhere, at once. So, whatever you do, don’t go to sleep at the switch. Pray constantly that you will have the strength and wits to make it through everything that’s coming and end up on your feet before the Son of Man.”
– (Luke 21: 34-36, MSG)
In the meantime, like Steve Wozniak, I’ve started treating my dog a lot nicer. And my boss. I think I saw a C-3PO type arrive for a job interview.
Originally posted on Mark Elfstrand’s Blog.