Stephen Hawking turns potato when confronted with a robots versus the market question on reddit.
We’re going to go back in time to when a certain confined individual speaking through a certain digitally enhanced aperture did partake of what some are calling possibly the derpiest reddit thread of all-time (ok, so that would actually only be me, but whatever).
The star of this reddit thread was no less a person than the esteemed gatekeeper of the secrets of the universe, nay, even existence itself. That man is none other than Stephen Hawking who, to quote Ronald Reagan, who was quoting Shakespeare or something (when he was talking about the Challenger shuttle disaster), slipped the surly bonds of earth.
Even more significantly, his death caused my Facebook threat to blow up with heartfelt goodbyes to the human-machine that is, and now was, Stephen Hawking.
That last part, that man-machine part, don’t let that little bon mot of delightful data too swiftly leave your auditory or visual short term memory, because you’re going to need to access it soon.
It seems our man, our machine-man- our some percentage of human and some percentage of machine (I’m not even trying to do math on this post, so….) man, told a bunch of folks on one of those Reddit Ask Me Anythings that robots are fine, it’s the filthy dirty capitalists you have to watch out for.
Ok, so I’m paraphrasing, to be sure. But bear with me because I’m pretty sure my rephrasing still nailed it.
The Reddit Ask Me Anything session happened in October of 2015. Some redditer moseyed late into the session and asked this question, “….Have you thought about the possibility of technological unemployment, where we develop automated processes that ultimately cause large unemployment by performing jobs faster and/or cheaper than people can perform them? Some compare this thought to the thoughts of the Luddites, whose revolt was caused in part by perceived technological unemployment over 100 years ago. In particular, do you foresee a world where people work less because so much work is automated? Do you think people will always either find work or manufacture more work to be done?”
That’s a lot of one question questions you crammd in there, Sparky, but let’s see what the world’s smartest living man (wait….he ded….too soon?) has to say. Let’s see what the now dead Steve had to say in response to this late-arriving questioner.
“If machines produce everything we need, the outcome will depend on how things are distributed. Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality.”
Clearly, Stevie H has absolutely no problem with the machines, which makes sense because (now’s where you get to use that bon mot of delightful data I referred to earlier) he’s freaking half machine! So OF COURSE he welcomes his robot overlords.
Without the robot overlords, dude would have been dead like 50 years ago. He’s a freaking robo plant is what he is (well, was, because, well, he ded.). That’s why he embraces them so. He was sent to this earth to spread the lie that robots are benign and capitalism is evil.
If he had watched Billy Madison, he would have known what was going to come next on this post. But I bet he didn’t. I bet he never saw Billy Madison.
And that’s ashamed, because had he seen that movie, had he known that, a few days after his death, which was a few years after he dropped this potato all up in a reddit thread, he would have known that this video would be the response that would greet his hot ball of “what the hell did he actually just say” answer.
He may have paused for a moment, before he activated text to speech to text (how the hell did he type, exactly?), and said to himself, “no, not today, potato brain, not today.”
He would have responded, dude, as long as people don’t try to artificially manage outcomes, there will always be freaking ‘jobs’ created as new technologies emerge. We can’t even begin to imagine all the unexpected jobs that will emerge as the robots take complete control of our lives (not that I’m complaining, because I welcome my robot overlords). And then that’s that. Everything would be good.
But then, if that happened, Bodhi Agora, my cohost on iSDaily Tuesday, would never have found this article and this wouldn’t be our top story for the Lulzilla segment of our show (and we’d probably end up talking about gender-fluid crayfish….again).
The moral of the story is this, kids, you may be a whiz at physics, but if you don’t know eff one about economics, you’re still just a potato.
Here’s some responses to Stevie H’s potato.