Here we go again.  Experts are stating that in the next few decades robots will take over most of our jobs and we will no longer have to work.  Neil Jacobstein, head of AI at Singularity University, has this to say:

AIs will cause significant unemployment but that doesn’t equate with poverty…AIs and other exponential technologies are going to generate vast amounts of wealth.  We have to be willing to change the social contract we have with people about how wealth is distributed.

Haven’t we heard this song before?  In fact, don’t we hear it on a regular basis?  I remember the black and white films from the ’50s presenting a futuristic lifestyle in which machines do everything for us and all we have to do is find new ways to relax.  If their predictions had been true, I should have been spending the last 20 years or so with my feet up, drinking cocktails.  In fact, computers were supposed to make our lives simpler and easier.  Instead, life is even more complex, fast-paced, stressful.  I have a feeling running a robot society won’t change that any.  And I don’t even want to imagine what happens when we get our minds microchipped, as Mr. Jacobstein suggests–my employer would probably force me to process 10,000 thoughts per minute.

The truth is I don’t want these prophecies about the future to come true.  Because life in those ’50s visions of technological utopia looks…mind-numbingly boring.  People spend their days playing tennis and watching quiz shows on TV.  I already waste too much time on Facebook–would I spend even more time on there?  Sharing updates about what kind of food and drink the robots are serving me, since that would be my only activity anyway?  I suppose I would be able to blog more often.  But if people were no longer getting exploited and overworked by their capitalist bosses, what on Earth would I blog about?

Maybe the reason this makes me so uneasy is that if I didn’t work, there would no longer be any excuse for not getting started on that big fat novel I’m supposed to write.  Come to think of it, the ennui of people who do nothing all day is a perfect subject for angsty fiction.  Hmmm….bring on our robot overlords, I guess.

When I first started to write this post, I thought–I’d like to say how I feel about us going to war, but the NSA might be reading this.

But then I realized that the reality is far sadder than that.  The conspiracy theories aren’t true.  Sure, the NSA might be scanning for some keywords, but there isn’t anybody out there attentively reading what we have to say.  They aren’t hovering over our houses in black helicopters.  I don’t believe they’re using new technologies to read our minds, or electromagnetic frequencies to brainwash us.  I really don’t think that my opposition to the war in Syria will cause anyone to send a swarm of tiny robots to invade my body (although that might be kinda cool).

They have a far better strategy than that–they ignore us.  After all, we have places like this to vent, our cafes and bars where we can bitch over our drinks before we go back to our obedient daily lives.  Many Americans, both liberal and conservative, are opposed to a military intervention in Syria, but they don’t really care what we think.  The decision about whether we go over there–yea or nay–will be made by that small group of people debating it, without our influence.

Sometimes I wish the NSA *was* reading this.

In Salon, Gary Kamiya offers evidence that Mitt Romney might indeed be a robot:  “His zombie-like cheerfulness, his excessively regular features and his strangely perfect-looking family led to widespread suspicion that he had been assembled in Silicon Valley by a team of right-wing nanotechnologists and engineers and shipped secretly to GOP headquarters.”  And there is more proof given:  his incoherent attempts at humor and his sudden (encoded?) shifts of opinion.

My only wish is that Mitt were a better robot.  Like one of those bots that mop your house or do the dishes for you.  He has just enough bland good looks to make an okay sex-bot.  Or he could be cast as a cyborg extra in sci-fi movies and get shot at with lasers for our amusement.

But a robot that has been programmed to increase the gap between the rich and the poor?  Is that really a useful invention?  We already have plenty of human beings working towards that goal…