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Posts Tagged ‘The Roving Mind’

The human brain evolved by hit and miss, by random mutations, making use of subtle chemical changes, and by a forward drive powered by natural selection and the need to survive in a particular world of given qualities and dangers.
 

The computer brain evolved by deliberate design as the result of careful human thought, making use of subtle electrical changes, and by a forward drive powered by technological advance and the need to serve particular human requirements.
 

It would be very odd if, after taking two such divergent roads, brains and computers would ever end in such similarity to one another that one of them could be said to be “superior” in intelligence to the other.
 

—  Isaac Asimov
From his book: “The Roving Mind
 

 

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The problem arises, however, of what one is to do with those workers who are replaced by the robots.
 

It is not that there will be an overall diminution of jobs.  If the past is to be a guide, technological advances create more jobs than they destroy.  Thus, the automobile industry employs far more people than the buggy industry ever did.  Nevertheless, there is a change in the kind of jobs that will be available.  The repetitive jobs of the assembly line will tend to disappear.  The dull jobs of paper-shuffling and button-pressing will disappear.  In their place will be such jobs as computer-programming and robot maintenance.
 

On the whole, the jobs that will come into existence will be far more creative and will take far more education and training than will those that have disappeared.
 

It will therefore be part of the responsibility of the corporation of the future to see to the re-education of the workforce.  This could be done out of pure feelings of humanity and philanthropy, but it is more practical to suppose that it would be done out of a very natural desire to preserve the stability of society.  It might save money, in the short run, simply to cast out the displaced, but it would not be good business to have hordes of hungry and angry people ready to change, by force, the economic system that reduced them to misery.
 

—  Isaac Asimov
From his book: “The Roving Mind
 

[Asimov is referring to the responsibility of the corporation replacing the worker with automation.  In today’s political climate, it is the unemployed who must retrain themselves (at their own expense).  It is nice when the government can assist, but there is no “legal” responsibility.  And, of course, the corporation has no responsibility to their workers.  It will be interesting to see if this remains a tenable relationship between worker, government and corporation.  I believe it will not be tenable and we will end up with a voter imposed (via government) “New Deal” for workers which will shift some of the costs of retraining / re-education back onto the businesses / corporations of our economy.  —  KMAB]
 

 

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Yet

I am totally inept with machinery and, when someone asks me if I work with any computer myself, I shudder and say, “I am a signpost, sir.  I point the way.  I don’t go there.”
 

—  Isaac Asimov
from his book: “The Roving Mind
 

[Asimov was one of the premier futurologist of the last century who loved to poke fun at his own reputation.  This book is a compilation of articles written over several years.  This particular quote is from an article published in 1981, the same year the first IBM PC came out.  While “home computers”, “microcomputers”, etc had been in existence for almost a decade, the release of the IBM PC is generally seen as the event that “big business” marked the acceptance of personal computers.  After all, if IBM made them, they weren’t just toys anymore. 
 

What Asimov might have added, had he been more serious in his statement, was: “…Yet.”  —  KMAB]
 

 

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…I have been told by many idealists (including my own parents) that people are willing to undergo hardships in order that life might be easier for their children and grandchildren.
 

—  Isaac Asimov
from his book: “The Roving Mind
 

 [Hey, I resemble that remark!  —  KMAB]
 

 

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