The Robot Apocalypse Has Already Started

first_img You probably heard things are going pretty bad. While people don’t agree on much these days, we all know stuff at least looks bad. Where it’s climate change, the sudden uptick in global conflict after decades of decline, or the extreme disparity between the wealthy and the poor, it’s just grim. All around. And while not all of it can be explained so easily, one of the reasons things seem shitty is that we’re witnessing the beginning of our end.Most of the time when people talk about robots taking over, it’s almost always with a future-focused frame. We think forward to when one of us might lose our jobs, not when we’re going to have to confront the consequences of the rise of the machines. We speak about the days when we no longer have to drive, for example, and wonder about the endless possibilities and how it will free us from work and we’ll in a utopia soon. Sweet, isn’t it? Unfortunately, that’s not quite how it’ll go.How do I, some random guy on the internet, know what will happen? Because we’ve been sprinting towards this future for over 70 years.One of the reasons the US economy did so splendidly well during the 1950s (besides high taxes to support infrastructure development, supporting corporate expansion), was the fact that a good chunk of the jobs available at the time were industrial. Industry, while gross and polluting, has a lot of added value. As in, when you take a ton of raw ore and transform that into steel, you’re adding a lot of value. Most people can’t smelt metal at home (though many have tried or been forced to). So that means when you buy steel vs. the dirt and rock it comes from, you’re paying a huge premium — the work is hard, dangerous, and the equipment is super expensive. Blast furnaces aren’t cheap, nor is the health insurance on the people who work them.Robot DevilThe robots of Futurama have a highly developed culture and fill a valuable role in human society. Seeing as they have their own bars, restaurants, and even soap operas, it should come as no surprise that they also have their own church. And you can’t have a good church religion without a devil, without THE devil, right? So, naturally… Robot Devil.But now? Steelworkers, coal miners, automakers — the “blue collar” industries that rocketed the US to its superpower status over the 20th century — have largely been taken over by bots. In a recent segment on HBO, coalminers lamented that their style of work isn’t being shipped to China or hindered by clean energy. No, these jobs are evaporating because bots and machines have already come for us.There’s a lot of incentive to automate these positions too — specifically because they pay so well. Many of those in heavy industry pull wages comparable to those in computer science or chemistry. Some even stack more paper than doctors or lawyers. Businesses don’t want to have to pay for that, manage taxes on those wages, or have to support the health and safety of their workers. It’s not really their fault; businesses are largely engineered for profit and profit alone. With that system, humans just aren’t worth the risk.Plus, while a person might get sick, robots are (obviously) immune to the flu. Yeah, you have to maintain them, but when you’ve got a five-ton bot that can lift a car’s chassis on its own, and then weld new bits to it as it’s moving with 100% accuracy 24/7, you can accept a little down time for repairs from time to time.As a result, most developed countries have fallen well behind their wage targets. People are making less than ever relative to the amount of value that they put into the economy. Again, that’s because of bots.Even in the service industry, computers, scanners, credit card machines and better business management and organization have led to incredible leaps in productivity. Loss prevention software, cameras, etc. have also helped dramatically cut down on the lost inventory. And with everything labeled and tracked, people can find anything in just about any store in seconds. These are small boosts to our economy’s productivity that aren’t passed to employees. They’re also the beginnings of broader automation.There are only two things that might save your job, and neither will last long. The first is how expensive you are to replace. If you take a minimum wage cashier at a fast food joint, the second it’s viable to do so, corporations will replace those positions with bots. That’s regardless of any minimum wage increases or anything else. That’s just something we’re pretty sure will happen. After all, computers and the software that they run are getting cheaper and cheaper and cheaper every single year. At some point, no matter who you are or what’s going on, your job will be done better, faster, cheaper, and more reliably with a bot.Complexity could save some jobs as well, though it’s not really clear which ones. Some writers aren’t long for this world. Neither are doctors, actually. You’d think that’d be safer because the education required is so ridiculous that it’s just something that seems like only a human can do. But that’s not going to help much. Doctors are responsible for knowing thousands of different medications, tens of thousands of different body parts, plus thousands more diseases and disorders. And they have to be able to figure out which things interact with which bits in which ways to cause or cure various symptoms and issues. Thing is, doctors can’t and don’t ever do that. And they never have. So much and so much complex knowledge, plus the interplay between each piece of a puzzle you can only see part of isn’t something that any human being is equipped to do. Medical mistakes are one of the leading causes of death for exactly that reason. Robots though? They got this shit, easy.Computers, more than anything else, can handle vast quantities of information. For now, most of us are safe because computers are still expensive and can’t quite match us for pattern recognition — a defining trait of human intellect. They can analyze millions of case files and draw connections and correlations and causative links that no human being could possibly be capable of.You might think that we could just ban robots and be fine, right? That we could stall this economic shift by avoiding the issue altogether. Unfortunately, that’s not how people work.Businesses will still want money. A few countries, yes, may choose to outlaw AI once they fully realize how big the effects on their economy have been (I think it’ll be too late because governments don’t often move too quickly in response to possible world-ending catastrophes *cough cough*), but not everyone will. And those that don’t simply can’t compete, for the same reason that humans are obsolete for most positions. Businesses will keep pushing, too, because when you can cut out millions of workers and the wages you once paid them, you get to keep the rest. And, since businesses have only one motive…That’s not to say that corporations are evil, just that they have no systems that exist to structurally discourage them from pursuing tactics that are awesome for themselves, but awful for everyone else — a tragedy of the commons for labor markets. And, in short, that means we’re doomed. Not ten years from now, but now. The time to start addressing these issues was back in the 80s, at the latest. Now, we’re going to need to scramble for new ways to organize everything in society. Elon Musk (and plenty others) famously said that automation will force Universal Basic Income down the line, but the real question is why it hasn’t already.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Review: ‘Daemon X Machina’ Has Big Robots, Small Fun on Nintendo SwitchThis Robot Is Equal Parts Lawnmower and Snow Blower Stay on targetlast_img read more

Finally Someone Made a Beer That Tastes Like Lucky Charms

first_imgStay on target You can’t have an IPA without a healthy dose of hops. Balancing out the Lucky Charms sweetness are Galaxy and Calypso hops. Both are widely-used in IPAs, with Galaxy noted for its punch of citrus/peach/passionfruit and Calypso for apple/pear/lemon-lime notes.The resulting brew, Smartmouth says, “is sure to set you back with nostalgia, on the couch, turning on the best cartoons for a Saturday morning.”Now that you know what it’s all about you might be wondering where you can try it. Smartmouth doesn’t ship its brews and they only distribute within their home state of Virginia.If you’re going to head on out to sample Saturday Morning you might want to schedule your trip for this weekend. On March 2nd Smartmouth is hosting “Saturday Morning All Day,” with a Super Smash Bros. tournament, board games galore, live music, and a cosplay contest. Sounds like a helluva good time to us!More on Geek.com:A Brewery Is Making Beer From Rejected Corn FlakesThis Italian City Gives You Free Beer For Riding Your BikeBud Light to Debut Nutritional Label on Packaging Fiber-Based Six-Pack Can Rings Offer Eco-Friendly Alternative to PlasticEven More Kellogg’s Cereal Gets Re-Born as Craft Beer center_img It’s an amazing time to be a beer drinker. There are thousands of craft breweries in the U.S. alone and there’s no end the the creative (and downright bizarre) beers they’re dreaming up.Beers like Saturday Morning Marshmallow IPA. Yes Geek.com readers, there’s finally a beer that lets you satisfy your grown-up craving for a tasty beer with your nostalgic side that yearns for a sugary bowl of Lucky Charms at the same time!Saturday Morning wasn’t just inspired by the cereal’s trademark marshmallows. The adventurous crew at  Smartmouth Brewing actually infused their “magically ridiculous” brew with a whole whack of them straight out of the boxes. Presumably they gave the boring old cereal to their younger siblings, because that’s how it works with Lucky Charms.Rather risk the marshmallowy taste coming through in the final product Smartmouth doubled down. To make sure you know it’s there they also added a heaping helping of toasted marshmallow.last_img read more