soon everything will be different

05/18/2012 · Machines are better than men in all sectors. A revolution in the offing. But we can control the consequences: Manifesto for a socialization of the automation dividend.

This article was automatically translated using Google Translate *smirk*

Technological revolutions promote the course of history. We know this from school textbooks. And we are also in the middle. Remember, it somehow – and yet ignore it. This we know: The effects of large waves of innovation in human society were major social upheavals, revolutions, wars and mass migrations. The advent of new technology proceeded haltingly and often could take quite a few decades. Then, however, the changes occurred more rapidly than the social and economic structures could keep up. The weavers’ riots, the Luddite movement or migration of the black cotton pickers from the American South as a consequence and condition of the emerging industrialization were early examples of a process to go through our companies and over again: the established economic, political and social structure was incompatible with the state the technology.


The resulting forced adjustments are usually painful, brutal and unjust. Each tractor each harvesters, milking every farm workers made unemployed. Each automatic loom plunged many families into poverty. Most had only the migration to the cities to be there to hire in the industry – often as low-paid stooges. With luck, then maybe the kids managed to get an education, which offered them the way to better paid jobs. Every mechanical calculating machine, each digital computer made dozens if not hundreds of human calculators who previously completed the math problems with paper and mechanical processing equipment – superfluous. At best, they were able to retrain programmers, systems analyst or Data Entry.

Suddenly applies Moore’s Law
After such a technically transported breaks created new economic and social structures. Each wave of technology provided a surplus productivity. The man was not simply replaced by the machine, he has been far exceeded. If it went well, the new efficiency and productivity gains were to not only benefit the owners of the machines. Meanwhile, the recognized owner of the means of production – under pressure from the labor movement – that it was advisable to provide for social safety nets in order to bridge the transition period until the establishment of new economic structures and the creation of new jobs. Anyone got any more a reward, because a machine doing his work so far could not buy products. He fell out of the market participants and endangered social peace. Industrialization is the most dramatic chapter of the social dynamics: With steam engines, new blast furnaces, railways and other outrageously powerful devices created a whole new society, characterized by the bourgeoisie and the labor movement.

The next technology wave that will shake the very foundations of our society, rolls quietly, but dramatically. There is no single technology that drives them, but the combination and mutual potentiation of parallel developments. Computers and networks have passed the first decades of the introduction phase behind. Everyday objects are already computerized, digitized, networked. You gain much of their functionality from software. So they are no longer the traditional cycles of their business subject. Suddenly is Moore’s Law – the doubling of computing power and the concomitant explosion of possible functionality every eighteen months – for cameras, music players, televisions, telephones, sensors of all kinds and even cars that are more and more computers with a motor and wheels.

Even teachers have to worry
Computer Vision, precise, stereoscopic perception and analysis of the environment with cameras, getting cheaper. The basic algorithms were already in place and functioning, but they lacked previously in the now abundant processing power, including reasonable space. New materials, design and manufacturing processes enable a dramatic fall in prices of robots and automation equipment. The abundance of memory and processor capacity, combined with emerging through the digitization of all our expressions of life data sets, means that the products developed over many years, algorithms for machine learning and “narrow” AI suddenly start to work everyday.

All the data we create and leave behind intentionally or unintentionally, can be no greater cost to process and store. more, we train with our data and behavior of machines and algorithms to analyze ourselves better. And while more and more aspects of our being: No longer just the professional conduct is detected, and the private and cultural exchange, the preferences and consumption patterns can be studied. This has now reached a new quality: Our behavior is emulier and simulated. This is a crucial point. Machines can study human thought processes and behaviors so intense that they can emulate and optimize them. They are better than the original human data suppliers. The social consequences are easy to predict: there are no longer just the assembly line workers whose jobs may be replaced by a robot. There are also accountants, attorneys, staff developers, marketing people, even journalists and communicators of knowledge, that teachers and professors who have to worry about their professional field of work. These changes are not purely technical in nature, the combination of networking, computing power and getting used to the customer creates a qualitative leap, and that can very quickly have a dramatic impact – such as the example shows the vanishing travel agencies.

Call center to shrink
There are currently taking place in this revolution a huge difference to previous technological revolutions: the speed at which the wave is approaching. While the mechanization of agriculture over many decades and dragged the advancing automation in industrial production far more in the period of years and decades, there are activities for the automation of mental obstacles for a roll-over like change.

Mental processes are already largely been digitized, input and output of the activity are bits and bytes – either as text or as analytical results. To replace a thinking worker, no expensive investment in equipment – such as robots – product, there is no depreciation and payback periods for existing plants that must be considered. Only the man in front of the screen will be replaced by software inside the computer.

Especially the promoted in recent years in rebuilding customer habits and related business processes in order to be able to outsource to India or Eastern Europe, creates the conditions for them now to make fully automated. First, the service hotline in Germany through a call center in Bulgaria has been replaced. Now, the call center services are also available through an online chat on the website of the client. Gradually, the software takes over most of the dialogue in chat client, are always the same because ninety percent of the questions and problems anyway, and the written word can be processed automatically. And as soon as the speaker-independent recognition, processing and generation of the spoken word only one is a little better – essentially a question of foreseeable increases in computing power – can the team of the call center will be shrunk to the supervisors who take care of unforeseen problems. The rest of the dialogue with customers – whether chat or phone – then does a software system.

Automatic Journalism
The more virtuosic handling of machines with human language provides for gradual but profound changes. To recognize the spoken word of a certain person has become easy thanks to sufficient computing power and experience of the algorithms with the language of millions of users. Even before Apple’s Siri human labor, the spoken word is converted into verschriftlichtes, no longer mandatory. For many years deceived the downright ridiculous speech recognition performance of computers – cynical about the industry, “grunts detection” called – on the progress of time, which happened behind the scenes. Today dictation software automatically recognizes the specialized vocabulary, such as doctors or architects, almost perfect. The traditional role of the secretariat is not only taken over by self-typists. The implementation of a dictation into text is no longer the exclusive domain of humans. Also, this article was written with a commercially available speech recognition software.

An extreme example of the coming high-speed change is the automatic creation of journalistic texts from structured data. A small handful of startups – most notably the company’s Narrative Sciences – has identified a market niche that was created by advances in electronic word processing, along with the ever increasing availability of digital raw data. Sports reports can be made about the information provided by specialized service providers in standardized formats available data about game play, players involved, statistics, refereeing decisions by brave new method to generate the best.

Write algorithms for algorithms
This result is not worse than that of an average human sports editor who created the game from the same raw data. For millions of archived sports coverage with the associated computer-readable data gameplay created a database of phrases and idioms of the respective events, which are assembled into a coherent narrative – along the course of each game. This quality control algorithms ensure that the terms are not repeated too often, formulaic style is avoided and always occur grammatically and linguistically correct sentences. The methods can be applied to other areas of journalism, which are essentially based on standardized data, such as stock quotes and business news.

A bizarre side effect is that the text produced by the synthesis algorithms and reports of companies trading on the stock exchange course in turn detected by automated trading systems and analyze the resulting indicators are supposed to derive the market sentiment. The data extracted from the automatically generated data flow exchange messages so again in the algorithmic trading activities: Algorithms write for an audience of the algorithms.

Takeover of artificial intelligence
In his latest novel, “Fear Index” is reflected in the science well informed Robert Harris about how the end digitization, networking, the efficiency of thinking, streamlining and outsourcing the conditions for the next big step, which create complete automation. The motto of the listed company, tells the story of Harris: “The company of the future will have no paper. The compnay of the future will have no inventory. The company of the future will be entirely digital. The company of the future has arrived. ”

When Harris gets into literary exaggeration – well away from the now technically possible – a narrow-band intelligent trading system so out of control that people who have built, manipulated, and all opposition to its intended purpose is to generate maximum profits, brutally from the gives way. It can also operate without human intervention, once programmed to fulfill his task. The “Fear Index” parable of the Condensation central conflict of the coming years: Once again, the economic and political structures of society incompatible with the state of the technology. After the takeover of artificial intelligence in the company’s motto is Harris then logically: “The company of the future will have no workers. The company of the future will have no manager. The company of the future will be a digital Entity. The company of the future will be alive. ”

More and more efficiency
And this process is already running, even if the current economic boom in Germany belies. How rapidly the change in a short time can be seen on the example of lawyers who are now paid well for it to analyze documents and to search for evidence of irregularities. These so-called “litigation support” lawyers do one thing: sift through mountains of files, emails and business documents. Software – with a few highly specialized people in support – this can become better, faster and cheaper, even if this first paper mountains have to be digitized. To look for patterns of corruption, rights violations and suspected collusion is not a workplace for hundreds more lawyers that cost two hundred and fifty dollars an hour, but only a task for a handful of specialists and their computers. And the same software – market leader, the American company Cataphora – can also replace parts of the human resources department. Leaving the analysis algorithms run not only in the case of action, but by constantly lit the digital corporate communications, is one of the results, the information on which employees can be fired in a crisis, that there is no greater profits.

It is time that we communicate about our relationship with our new machines and their productivity. They are “our machines”, not “the machine”. They have, even if it often seems in literature and film so may not in the human sense intelligent life of its own, no consciousness, no will, no intentions. They are designed, built and used by people who are pursuing aims and objectives – the zeitgeist, following mostly the maximization of profit and power positions. The complexity of the machines may exceed our grasp at times, they still remain our creatures.

Consequently, it is nothing to complain about the “algorithms” that can replace more and more aspects of the human spirit. It’s not the machine itself and algorithms that are threatening. There are not programmers and nerds, who will soon take over the rule. The vast majority of these putative ruler of the digital world and develop simple program, which is given to them by those who pay their wages. The new technologies and economic structures interwoven with them do not come from the brain of an evil mastermind. They are rather the result of unchecked striving for more efficiency, to optimize the profit on the investment. The pressing question is on the horizon, such as economy and society will continue to function when fewer and fewer people still have a steady job, which is paid well enough that it taxes, social security, pension and health insurance contributions are paid. The trend is already clear: Almost three-quarters of the newly created positions are in Germany-time employment – often with relatively low incomes. Legal or social barriers to Wegautomatisierung these temporary jobs are virtually non-existent. The break can – depending on the industry – already done in the near future once the technology is ready.

A fundamental rethink is required

For the way society deals with this historically unprecedented situation, it would at first, still dominated by neo-liberal world view does not look attractive solutions. People compete with ever lower wages for working more expensive machines. The shadowy vision of the future: Maybe sometime occurs even with the hope of economists, after the – against all odds – lots of attractive new jobs will be created. Realistically, however, this race against machine, the “Race Against the Machine” – the title of one of the few current books that illuminate the problem – for most people to win is not permanent. The book provides an apt historical comparison that illustrates why the classical economists assumptions for this technology revolution is no longer true: Humans as exporters simple mental and manual labor is most comparable with the horse as the dominant means of transport, in the period before Cars prevailed. If the horse transport would only become cheaper soon enough, he would have – in line with the prevailing economic theory – may well compete against the engines. Alone, the achievable market price has passed soon not even for the feeding of livestock.

One lets go of the dogma, however, that only want to eat, who developed his own bread, this results in a surprising way of the future design, however, requires a fundamental rethinking. The current funding for our community is based largely on the taxation of human work and human consumption. This principle is deeply cemented into the foundations of our society and is virtually one of the foundations of the social market economy in the sense of “Rhenish capitalism”.

A vicious cycle
The increasing automation and flexibility in production now leads inevitably to the fact that fewer and fewer people obtain a regular wage. Local economy is booming, the unemployment rate has long been no more significant. Insecure, low-paid McJobs do, despite all opposition from the lion’s share of the jobs offered. Disposable incomes fall, which will lead to a reduction in the consumption tax revenue, if the debt facilities of private households have been exhausted.

With the present tax automation philosophy to the next wave can cause social and financial collapse of the state and society within a few years. The consequences are foreseeable. The blazing opposition comprehensive robotization and automation would lead to a general economic backwardness, to corporate relocations and ultimately to the loss of international competitiveness. A vicious cycle with no way out.

A general basic income

The alternative: a gradual but fundamental restructuring of social security and taxation systems to indirect taxation of non-human labor and thus to a socialization of the automation dividend. If it succeeds, Germany compatible to make the next technology wave, when the structure of our tax and welfare systems will be designed to more automation to more real, tangible and measurable prosperity for everyone in the country will and will get the social peace in the long term remains , this represents a competitive advantage of historic dimensions dar. Once automation is no longer with the handbrake on – the proverbial fireman on the electric locomotive – takes place automatically because everyone benefits from the productivity gains, modern miracles are possible.

At the same time provides an automation-friendly society where no one mourn for financial reasons, his job now, which was taken over by a robot or algorithm, a partial answer to the threatening demographic drama. Since mass-immigration to Germany raises yet significant cultural acceptance problems, there is only one solution: robots and algorithms have to work our pension and a general basic income. The way there is no self-evident and requires not only a significant investment in technical and social research and development. But when it once is a consensus that based on the fact that the automation dividend is socialized, that this is the way to the future and will benefit all of them, Germany would be in an enviable position.

A positive utopia
Many interesting challenges along the way it is overcome, however, virtually all obstacles to be overcome positive way, once the pro-automation consensus is even anchored in society. Not only the basis of taxation and financing of social security must be rebuilt completely. Work for most people not only earn a living, it also contributes a significant part in the self-esteem and structure of life. Without regular, meaningful activity as many people suffer from depression and boredom quickly. It therefore also applies to absorb the individually perceived loss of meaning in one’s own defeat in the race against the machines and to heal. This includes not only financial security but also offering meaningful employment. To do so there is really enough, especially when the market is not adequately rewarded in the social sector activities, art and culture in the revitalization of cities and landscapes.

For a conversion to a robot-friendly society, the current energy policy is a relatively small undertaking. It’s finally the very foundations of economic and social dogmas. The socialization of the automation dividend is therefore a project of historic proportions. It does, however – unlike virtually all other scenarios – ensures a positive utopia, the long-term social, economic and social stability and uphold the dignity of man.

* Canon
* Foxconn
* Automationworld