Saturday, July 22, 2017

Our future jobs

First off, my newest book, University of Doom, is out. I blogged about it last month so you can read about it there.

Lately, what's really gotten me wound up is talk about a Universal Basic Income. What drives this idea is that advances in Artificial Intelligence and automation are going to push a lot of people out of a job with no work to turn to. The most popular guess is that by 2030, robots will have replaced fifty percent of all jobs. Self-driving cars are about five years away, and the first two industries to be hit hard by them are taxis (to include Uber and Lyft) and commercial trucking. In the US, we have around 3.5 million commercial truck drivers, and there's plenty of speculation about how many of them will lose their jobs to automation. In the Wolverine movie, Logan, there's a scene where robotic trucks make a cameo appearance. It's a quick look, but telling in how no one in the movie remarks about them. Plus, we have to account for the ripple affect as the elimination of those drivers will impact truck stops, diners, repair facilities, and the industry's administrative overhead.

Elon Musk is among those giving the most dire of warnings. The problem is, without jobs, what will people do for money? Representative Chris Lee of Hawaii has proposed discussing the state issuing a Universal Basic Income, but as the idea is still in its infancy, the details are yet to be sorted out. As in who gets it? How much will it be? Where does the money come from?

Which got me thinking about the world of the future as we see in it in science fiction. We seldom see people in regular jobs. We have cops, guards, soldiers, the IT geeks, assorted pilots and crew, scientists, and those people at the top calling the shots. Once in a while we might see a clerk (though according to the futurists, those jobs will be among the first to go). And what about us writers? Will we be replaced by robots? The publishing industry would love that. (I call dibs on that story idea.)

This is obviously a huge topic and one I'll return to in the future. What I'm most curious about is crime in the future. Because of technology, fraud and theft have become more widespread. Our dependence on evermore prevalent narcotics is a major factor in violent crime, and the sex-slavery trade is as prolific as ever. So it seems, we crime writers will not lack for inspiration.

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