Future Bites 4 – Simultaneous Singularities

The fourth in a series of un-forecasts* – little glimpses of what may lie ahead in the century of two singularities. This is another optimistic one (aren’t I jolly!). The first two paragraphs might seem a tad familiar. It is 2032. Most professional drivers have lost their jobs, and although many have found new ones, they rarely pay anything like as much as the drivers used to earn. A host of other job categories are becoming the preserve of machines, including call centre operatives and radiographers. A few people still cling onto the notion that new types of jobs will...

Bill Gates says we should tax the robot which will steal your job

Bill Gates has floated the idea of taxing robots which replace human workers. He said it in an interview (here) with Quartz, a media outlet owned by The Atlantic, and staffed by journalists from The Economist, the New York Times and other publications that Dirty Donald would label as fake news. They made a nice short video (here) to promote the piece, with Gates giggling at the end about the idea of paying more taxes. It’s a neat idea, and has got a lot of people online very excited. It could help to pay for Universal Basic Income, which is...

ATMs and Asilomar

The ATM automation meme In an engaging TED talk recorded in September 2016i, economist David Autor points out that in the 45 years since the introduction of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), the number of human bank tellers doubled from a quarter of a million to half a million. He argues that this demonstrates that automation does not cause unemployment – rather, it increases employment. He says ATMs achieved this counter-intuitive feat by making it cheaper for banks to open new branches. The number of tellers per branch dropped by a third, but the number of branches increased by 40%. The...