“As algorithms push humans out of the job market, wealth and power might become concentrated in the hands of the tiny elite that owns the all-powerful algorithms, creating unprecedented social and political inequality.” Yuval Noah Harari.
Is he right?
Thanks to digital data, the state is able to have visibility on its population but is unable to govern concretely. Indeed, how can effective public policies be put in place if we can not quantify the objectives to be achieved according to the realities already observed?
The crucial problem isn’t creating new jobs. The crucial problem is creating new jobs that humans perform better than algorithms.
Consequently, by 2050 a new class of people might emerge – the useless class. People who are not just unemployed, but unemployable.
Technology is never the main driver of social progress. Technology is only an amplifier of human conditions.
Why then, do we keep hoping that technology will solve our greatest social ills?
Technology has done nothing to turn the tide of rising poverty and inequality.
Yuval Noah Harari sees the problem clearly, “The most important question in 21st-century economics may well be: What should we do with all the superfluous people, once we have highly intelligent non-conscious algorithms that can do almost everything better than humans?”
Software is eating the world. More and more major businesses and industries are being run on software and delivered as online services.
Most of what people learn in school or in college will probably be irrelevant by the time they are 40 or 50.
We need to change what we value. If we don’t our political and economic systems will simply stop attaching much value to humans. Even in an age of amazing technology, social progress depends on human changes that gadgets just can’t deliver.
What should we do?
We can’t move from the world we have to the world you want without a total paradigm shift
But what is the truth? What about reality?
Do we really want to live in a world in which billions of people are immersed in fantasies, pursuing make-believe goals and obeying imaginary laws?
Well, like it or not, that’s the world we have been living in for thousands of years already.
In order to move forward, we need to embrace technology both as a means of production and a method for producing new roles while not allowing code itself to push us into oblivion.
The world may well be becoming more equal with more technology however rather than transferring wealth from the middle-class to the tech elite it does not distribute wealth universally.
This can only be achieved by moving to Universal assets ownership.
A Universal basic salary will only fuel consumption.
I think most people really do want to believe that they’re contributing to the world in some way, but consumption without a purpose will indeed lead to creating a whole class of flunkies that essentially exist to improve the lives of actual rich people.
Of course, I can hear that Universal Asset ownership is a Socialist idea. But in a world that is now driven by the technology of detachment, we must find a way of engaging in sharing responsibility and rewards.
Sure there are plenty of ways to contribute to society, other than ownership, but, if we are to act as one people, we must be free to decide how and want to contribute.
Returning to the Question of DIGITAL DICTATORSHIP.
I think most people do not want Google to answer their questions. They want Google to tell them what they will have to do next.
If the hegemony of Google is to be demonstrated, we must also understand that the company is filling digital governance that states are struggling to reclaim.
We’ve been taught for the last 30 to 40 years that imagination has no place in politics or economics, but that, too, is bullshit.
So here is a solution.
The trove of data generated by every digital citizen should not be held by governments or companies but by citizens themselves.
If not the digital companion whispering to our ears the next stage will be delimiting the good of the bad.
We already have social-style scores, anyone who has shopped online with eBay has a rating on shipping times and communication. There is a lot of data being collected with little protection, and no algorithmic transparency about how it’s analysed to spit out a score or ranking.
I am not advocating here China’s social credit system which is a vast plan to monitor citizens, judging citizens’ behaviour and trustworthiness. The potential for abuse is enormous. The Social Credit System is in large part a direct response to a collapse in public confidence in government officials and others in positions of authority.
I am advocating a system of social credits to reward projects that reduce climate change, social inequality and that promotes free education.
Why not use human wisdom, not machines, to move our world forward.
Democracy as we know it will not survive the Forth Technological Revolution unless we all have a stake in it other than the vote.
Looking at the state of the world the idea of a ‘useless class’ might feel abstract to most of us at the moment and will remain so until we use our buying power as our voting power to effect change.
Right now we’ve got upside down democracy where every decision has been made globally, behind closed doors by corporations. If the people see no point in a democracy, because it seems to have no relevance to their everyday lives and the situation in which they live them, they will not do anything to defend it or take part in its processes.
With Universal Asset ownership business can become part of the solution,
not part of the problem.
That’s a project we can all get behind.
All human comments appreciated. All like clicks and abuse chucked in the bin.
Who actually is the useless class?