Steven Hawking is a very clever bloke with a brain the size of Yorkshire. Sometimes though, I do wonder. In recent years he has warned about the catastrophic dangers humanity faces in the 21st century. He said we should be cautious in attempting to contact aliens warning that advanced extra-terrestrial life may not be friendly toward us and could destroy the human race. Of course they won’t be friendly. Didn’t he ever watch Dr Who?
Hawking though has more recently warned of what he thinks is a more dangerous threat to civilisation, automation. He argued that the future is wrought with the peril of rampant inequality expedited by an automated machine-based global economic system.
“If machines produce everything we need, the outcome will depend on how things are distributed.” Hawking continued, “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.”
We’ve been on a trajectory of wealth consolidation amongst a shrinking percentage of population for many years and it will present pretty serious issues for our children’s generation. Rather like demographics however, it is one of those big themes which no politician has the courage to take on. Certainly, our education system is woefully inadequate in preparing children with the skills they need, that will be in demand, in the coming fifty years. Food for thought though.