There are now cyborgs/Transhumanists in Chicago! But most deceptively, they do NOT resemble the frightening photo, pictured above! Rather, they look just like you and me! This is what I discovered on Thursday, February 23, 2017. I attended WORKING IN TOMORROW’S WORLD, a Special Presentation hosted by The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. The moderator for this event was Paul Earle, Adjunct Lecturer on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. The three invited speakers were: Steve Pemberton, Vice President, Diversity and Inclusion, Walgreens Boot Alliance; Rick Wartzman, Author, Senior Adviser, Drucker Institute, Claremont University; and Amy Webb, Founder, Future Today Institute.
Paul Earle introduced the speakers and gave an overview of the strange New World of Work. For instance, he pointed out some of the coming job losses associated with so-called “digital progress”: “The arrival of autonomous vehicles, alone, may cost us 3 million jobs!”
Rick Wartzman played a central role in describing the likely consequences of The Gig Economy. He informed us that about 15-16% of the current American workforce is part of The Gig Economy – – doing mainly short-term work, rather than full-time, permanent jobs. By the Year 2020, however, he claimed that 43% (almost half!) of the workforce will consist of freelance, private contractors. Specifically, these are people laboring in “alternative” work environments. And with this disruptive change to The Gig Economy, a whole host of important social issues will be created. These big changes will especially affect our retirement and health care, and most surprisingly, they are creating a general rise in anxiety within our society – – especially amongst our young people!
What are the drivers? The latest “Thing” in 2017 is the new platform (pattern) of The Gig Economy, which used to be the company where an employee permanently worked. Many people lament the appearance of automation and The Gig Economy – – the new platform which has a certain degree of permanence. We can ask ourselves, “What does this mean for humanity?”
Steve Pemberton noted that many employers now see workers as costs, rather than assets! He also claimed that we have recently spanned a “Transformative Period.” This Period is one in which the very oldest Millennials have come to hold a different orientation towards work than the youngest Millennials, who are very mobile.
They talked about a Movement Towards Automation: About 47% [almost half] of jobs are at risk, due to computerization. There is a continually-ongoing, massive conversion from human labor to machine labor.
Nevertheless, the speakers seemed almost unrealistic in their prediction of future job categories needing to be filled with human workers. “There is a sense that although automation will cause many jobs to be lost, it will also create many other jobs.” Jobs mentioned included nanobot experts and roboticists, network operations specialists, ethicists, and nurse practitioners. However, one speaker warned that, “Nobody is preparing for the jobs coming next.”
Violation of Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics
Rick Wartzman cited concern that Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics have been severely violated – – if not completely forgotten! In brief, he described these laws as: “(1.) The robot cannot injure a human being; (2.) The robot must obey people; (3.) The robot has a right to protect itself.”
Rise of the Machine Hybrids (Cyborgs/Transhumanists)
I was most alarmed by startling comments from Amy Webb: “I am a robot hybrid, because I have equipment in my body. For example, there are ingestible bots. Inevitably, we are moving towards human-machine hybrids. This must be reflected in public policy. Will the Trump Administration or the U.S. Government prepare workers for this? We must create a system of Lifelong Learning.”
“We don’t have a Department of the Future. One reason for this, is that the people who create the law, are only there [in Government Employment] for a few years. We have reached an Inflection Point in our Development of Technology! We have to face the facts of: (1.) Continuing Automation; (2.) The Gig Economy; and (3.) More demographic diversity in the workforce. We have to change the way we’re THINKING! If all the dots are the same, we don’t get any new innovation. We have a club that is self-perpetuating.”
MY THOUGHTS AND CONCLUSIONS
After the presentation, the moderator asked the audience for questions. I raised my hand immediately, and was the first person selected. I jumped right out of my chair and turned to face the audience. “I BEG you to listen!” I fervently pleaded. “I am the Founder and President of Robowatch! You have completely ignored the dire predictions of Singularity Theory! This Theory predicts that by the Year 2030, AI will approximately equal or own NI – – Natural Intelligence! Even worse, by about the Year 2045, AI is predicted to be over one thousand times as strong as our own NI! Mankind will NOT be able to survive! We are violating the principles of homeostasis [relative constancy of the body’s internal environment]! This will surely create a deadly disease state, for many of us! Tick-tock! Tick-tock! So winds down the 2045 ROBO-DEATH CLOCK! Please come see us at Robowatch!”
Amy Webb was busily signing copies of her latest book, THE SIGNALS ARE TALKING: Why Today’s Fringe is Tomorrow’s Mainstream, when I approached her at the back of the conference room. I asked about her educational background. She replied that she held a Master’s Degree in Computer Science, and that she was a “Gamer.” [Later, I told one of my friends – – a Professor in Computer Science – – about this fact. His disdainful answer was basically that, “A lot of these Gamers are Strange Cookies, and Out of Their Minds!”] “And here she is at The Chicago Council, acting like some kind of Big Authority?” I shook my head in incredulity.
“Let’s stage a Great Debate between me and Amy Webb!” I loudly suggested to Ian Whitaker, Director of The Chicago Council. “Do you know who I am?” “WE know who you are!” Whitaker disdainfully hissed, turning his back and walking away from me. So, Fat Chance that they’re ever going to let Dale Layman debate anyone!
Therefore, Dear Robo-Witness, I believe that a strongly pro-robotic, pro-cyborg environment is being widely promoted! With hardly anyone besides me, debating this biased position, are we really doing the right thing for Future Mankind? Instead, we have a subtle proliferation of “robot hybrids,” who are, in effect, cyborgs! They just still LOOK human! This is both very UNWISE, and very DANGEROUS, for the Future Children of Sleeping Mankind! So, are we creating a Fearful “Robot Fairyland,” where anyone in Chicago who wants to compete for a job must become a “closet cyborg”? Specifically, will future job hires need to have one or more computer chip implants within their body, but still not LOOK inhuman – – in order to compete with the “closet cyborgs” in Chicago and other major cities, for available jobs?
[SPECIAL NOTE: Please see references to this specific Robowatch blog post, on both LinkedIn pulse, and on Facebook.com.]