Dear Elon Musk - Stop Lying to Us!
In an article written by the Guardian, Elon Musk claims that humans are becoming obsolete in the economy and the only way to combat this, is augmenting ourselves so that we can connect with machines on an emotional and visceral level.
Now, Elon Musk is a genius and I’m a snot-nosed 23-year-old writing on the internet. All that being said, I think I can say this with some degree of confidence.
Elon Musk is wrong.
I’m not trying to say we shouldn’t become cyborgs, or to make it sound more realistic, augmented humans. What I am saying is that the reasons why Elon Musk says we should invest in cyborg technology are clearly incorrect.
There’s no question that machines will undoubtedly replace a lot of positions currently held by humans, hell we’ve already seen this. Compare a manufacturing plant today and one from twenty years ago, you’ll see how machines have already replaced humans in a lot of ways.
Those jobs are never coming back. It will always be cheaper to employ a robot, who, unless they have Bender’s alcoholism, will not need to be paid. Almost every company will take cheap labor over more expensive labor.
(The taste of sweet cheap labor)
This is going to be the fate of a lot of manual labor jobs. Bus drivers, receptionists, security officials, cooks, and so many more. These jobs are going away and no amount of augmentation is going to bring them back.
So what do we do?
Well, first we have to acknowledge that this is going to happen. We need to start taking it seriously and not act like it is an Isaac Asimov novel.
We have to set up retraining programs, so that these people who will lose their jobs, will be able to get a skilled position. A job that a robot is far less likely to replace anytime soon, because as is stated in the article, there are things that the human brain can do that robots will not be able to do.
Setting up a better welfare system can help too. So that there’s a safety net to catch people who lose their jobs and give them enough time to get on their feet.
Creating legislation to regulate the use of machines replacing humans shouldn’t be out of the question.
The solution isn’t always a sci-fi concept that is decades away from being created. Not every solution has to be even further away from being commercially available and cheap enough for people to afford.
I am not against human augmentation. The article lists several ways that it has already been used in the medical field and flying a drone with your brain is really cool.
This is why I wish Elon Musk was more honest about why he wants human augmentation and colonization of Mars to happen. He doesn’t want human augmentation to compete with machines, nor does he want to colonize Mars because the Earth is overcrowded.
The overcrowding population has more to do with governments not getting food to their people, than not having food. It would probably be cheaper, and safer, to terraform a desert than ship and maintain a Mars population.
He wants to do these things because they’re really awesome.
I’m not saying this to insult Elon Musk, that’s how the greatest moments in mankind were achieved. We didn’t go to the moon because we thought it would cause a leap forward for humanity, we did it because we asked “wouldn’t it be cool if we landed on the fucking moon?” Also to beat the Russians.
(To the moon! And annoying Russia)
I just wish Elon Musk was honest about why he wanted to do these things. There would be no debate over whether or not it was the right thing to do, instead, it would just be everyone nodding in unison, “Yeah it would be cool if I could communicate with machines using only my mind. I would never have to explain to my Grandma how to turn on her iPad.”
Augmentation is going to be really cool, but it’s not the answer to the problem of people losing their jobs. The basic socioeconomic rules don’t change because everyone has a really fast brain implant. If Elon Musk wants to solve those problems, invest in more realistic solutions. If he wants to make really sweet prosthetics and bring us to Mars, that’s cool too, just stop lying to us about the reason.