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In his book "Flesh and Machines", Rodney A. Brooks, the father of modern Artificial Intelligence and director of MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, claims that we are about to be simultaneously hit by two technological revolutions that together will fundamentally change our nature and the way we live. The first, the robotics revolution, will unleash intelligent autonomous robots into our everyday lives, changing our society and the ways we interact with machines. The second, the biotechnology revolution, will transform both the ways we use technology in our own bodies and the way we build machines. Thus "our machines will become much more like us, and we will become much more like our machines."

(partly copied from American Scientist).

In short, we will work less and live longer.
How will this affect our society?

A historical perspective

In the 19th century, people had to work 14 hours per day, 6 days per week, from a very young to a very old age.
This has gradually changed. The labor unions will claim this is thanks to themselves. But they are wrong.
The situation improved because of better technology.
We started finding tricks to make production more efficient: We could produce more with less labor. The smart tricks were jointly called automatization.
People are now working 40 hours per week or less, with many countries talking about working 32 hours per week. We retire younger.

In the middle ages, life expectancy was only about half what it is now. During the centuries, we learned how to live healthier. We became more hygienic, had more luxury and had to work less. We invented medicine and health care.
All of this led to a much longer life.

The two effects combined

We work less and less, but live longer and longer. The two effects amplify one resultant: a lower and lower portion of the population is working.

How will this affect our society?
What solutions do we have to find?
How dramatic will the changes really be?
what type of technology can we expect, and how will this be accepted?

Many questions that need an answer. I will explain my views in follow-up entries.

Posted on Monday, February 9, 2004 5:40 PM Artificial Intelligence , Politics | Back to top


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