I heard a story the other day about someone in the States developing AI so that they could replace radio presenters, with artificially generated voices.
The line: “just because we can, doesn’t mean that we should”, very much sprang to mind.
There is only one reason why anyone would even consider an AI radio presenter - money. There’s no need to pay presenters if a robot can do it for you - irrespective of the fact that true human connection is one of the core driving forces of the whole radio industry. But this is where we’re at, across all industries, jobs that used to require the skills of humans (copywriting, creativity, art, driving, you name it) are being phased out, not because most human beings necessarily want them to be, but because corporations see an opportunity to increase profit margins.
Now, quite obviously, “tech replacing people” is not a new thing, far from it, but it strikes me that as technology develops even more within the mental/creative sphere, thereby potentially making the mental “essence” (not simply the physical abilities) of humanity more and more redundant, we need to look inward and philosophise and debate whether or not we actually want to allow corporations to damage our very existence for profit. I don’t see these fundamental questions about technology being discussed in popular culture, but the intersection between technology and capitalism needs to be pulled apart and scrutinised.
Deeper than that though…over the years positive advancements in technology have meant that:
we don’t have to hunt for our next meal;
we don’t have to stay at home and not work due to “keeping house” being a full time commitment;
we can learn from great minds from across the world at the click of a button;
we can do the same business in 5 minutes that would have taken a week in the past….
Now all these advancements and so many others have made our lives incomprehensibly more efficient and SHOULD have therefore given us the space and time back for us as humans to work on the things that actually really matter in life: spiritual, moral, mental and physical growth. These advancements SHOULD be empowering us to move towards whatever your interpretation of enlightenment is. With more time to reflect, we should have more time for gratitude, a key component of happiness, more time to learn, to debate, to collaborate, to find elegant solutions to the biggest problems facing our world today…
…but of course, we all know, instinctively, that the opposite is true.
Modern technology hasn’t empowered us to place more time and focus on more important things - instead humanity has been forced to speed up its productivity in line with the capitalist agenda. The efficiencies provided by modern technology haven’t been passed back to us, instead the demands placed on us have gone UP!
…and now here we are in 2022, dealing with a mental health pandemic, with kids and adults alike feeling frazzled, burned out, stressed out and anxious - with every metric associated with happiness going down and every metric associated with depression going up.
If we were moving towards a world where all the “work” was being done by machines and all the people could spend their days laughing, bonding, reading, indulging in passions, reflecting and moving towards some sort of higher plane of existence, then that would be amazing!! A utopia in fact…
…but you’re an idealistic fool if you think that that’s what’s happening here.
I am not one to stand in the way of “progress”, but it’s vital that we as a species get our heads up and start to drive the conversations that need to be had to decide on what exactly it is that we want to progress towards….because if we don’t, it will be decided for us, by those that value profit over people.