Monday, 10 February 2014

Demographic Instability

A deeply unsettling article recently published in the Daily Telegraph predicts the second age of machines. Unlike much of futurology the thesis of the article, namely that many service sector jobs will be replaced by machines that exhibit a substantial degree of artificial intelligence, is not at all far-fetched, or that far away.

In fact, we can see the process is already starting: at the low skills end of the market, supermarket checkout staff have already been largely replaced by automated checkouts. Increasingly, the advertising you see on the internet and elsewhere is decided by machines that learn and predict your desires, aspirations and fears. In politics, we are entering the era of the data-driven election, already credited as being instrumental in the re-election of President Obama in the United States.

And it doesn't stop there: in three years, Google hope to be testing it's driverless cars - which have already driven huge distances in the United States with a far better than human safety record - in the UK.

Ah, you say, every technological revolution that comes along destroys jobs but in the end creates new ones: just so, but does it create jobs for everyone?

History shows us that the answer, very sadly, is no. The deindustrialisation that accelerated from the 1970s onwards stripped many male manual jobs permanently from Western economies, leaving whole classes of society with poor prospects and social problems that blight our society to this day. The second machine age will be no different, with the carnage this time being inflicted on low and mid-skilled service level jobs. Meanwhile the highly skilled, particularly those with highly numerate skills in science and mathematics, will see their wages continue to rise and wealth will be increasingly concentrated even more so than it is today.

For a society to survive the huge disparities that the second machine age will produce will require a very strong level of social cohesion, as it will necessitate very large wealth transfers from the rich to the poor. Meanwhile, the political class have been busy building precisely the opposite to what is needed, reducing social cohesion and lowering skills through mass unskilled immigration - much of which from Islamic cultures actively hostile to the scientific enquiry needed for wealth creation - as well as dumbing-down education and encouraging the dominance of an international metropolitan superclass which has little or no allegiance to the ordinary people of this country.

The only silver lining to these otherwise highly destabilising developments is that they are actually highly favourable to UKIP. It is often said by the complacent LibLabCon that demographically speaking, UKIP is doomed, as we represent the elderly and the economically insecure. Well, the elderly and economically insecure are about to get a whole lot more numerous. Fundamentally, the new machine age is a new phase in the neo-medieval age this blog has always argued we live in. That age  is about to turn pretty nasty for most people, and we had better have solutions when it does so.