As I was looking for interesting tweets few weeks ago, I found the tweet below – I suggest everyone to watch the video because in few seconds you will get the big picture about robotics and the future of work. I realised immediately that the Twitter account HumanVsMachine (@HumanVsMachine) provides very interesting visual insights about automation and the robotic (and maybe jobless) future.
"A robot that makes sneakers, can single-handedly produce 2,400 shoes in eight hours–a task that would normally require 200 people." pic.twitter.com/zRJeQsU9aw
— HumanVSMachine (@HumanVsMachine) November 30, 2016
My curiosity stimulated me to search who is behind the account and I was happy to discover that it was not a robot! He was the artist and basic income activist Philippe Chabot (@philllchabbb). Obviously, I contacted him and today I am happy to present his interview. Thank you very much Philippe and keep working on HumanVsMachine aspects – your work reminds me the words of Edgar Degas “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see”. I am sure you will enjoy this interview!
“Why did you decide to start then tweeter account Human Vs Machine? What is your scope of work and what the users should expect from it?
The origin starts with CGP Grey‘s video Humans Need Not Apply. Which led me to understand humanity is having one of the biggest transition yet and that most peopel aren’t aware of it at all. A lot of people are afraid of robots taking jobs, but what if it didn’t have to be this way? It’s my belief that with a system change like basic income it doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
How do you see the future of work in a robotic world? Do you think that there is a high possibility that some of the current professions will be completely substituted from robots, and if yes, which of them? What will be the impacts to the labor force?
Every sign points to yes, and every day you see new technology being created that has the potential to change jobs. Right now it’s a slow transition. A little here and there, too subtle to see the big picture, but it is happening faster then we think. You get very smart people like Stephen Hawking saying “the automation of factories has already decimated jobs in traditional manufacturing, and the rise of artificial intelligence is likely to extend this job destruction deep into the middle classes, with only the most caring, creative or supervisory roles remaining.”. The list keeps growing. I can’t predict the future, but with HumanVSMachine the goal is to show the reality of what is happening now to start this important discussion we should of already been having a while back.
Do you think that robots will be also involved in the artistic creation and substitute creative human work?
There are Artificial Intelligence systems composing music and painting now. But it’s hard to tell how far along they could go, but I wouldn’t be surprised if one day you walk in a museum and can’t distinguish the art between a human or machine.
What are the key-issues we have to take into consideration to prepare ourselves for a robotic future? How we should response as societies to the threats involved like massive unemployment?
This is exactly the reason I’ve created the account in the first place. Massive technological unemployment for millions of vanishing jobs that won’t be coming back. What will we do? Is humanity ready for post-job reality? The machines are slowly becoming the working class but we don’t have an structure in place for the unemployable humans. We can’t have a society that runs on 8 billion robot repairing jobs. This is why I advocate for basic income.
So you believe that a kind of a minimum universal income for everyone, independently of her / his work, will be part of the solutions required?
For sure it will be. The basic income comes from the wages the machines don’t earn. Enabling humanity to pursue the most meaningful work for them. This is a very important discussion we must have. What happens when you got the Self Driving Trucks, cars, drone delivery, automated factories, AI lawyers, etc. We need a floor for everyone to stand on with dignity and automation is just another reason to have that. There’s a reason it’s being tested around the world. People from all sides are speaking about the inevitability of basic income from Elon Musk to former Sec. of Labor Robert Reich.
How far do you believe we are from fully robotised waste collection and recycling?
Imagine the self driving truck. Ford just announced self driving cars are 5 years away. Imagine a self driving waste collecting truck and mix it with automated recycle system. Hard to say exactly when, but for sure it’s around the corner and not in 50 years. The future is now!”