The Dark Side Of Technological (Industrial) Revolution - How Safe Are You?

in #steemstem2 years ago (edited)

This era has been particularly remarkable for insane technological advancements. There is no disproving to the fact that we are currently witnessing the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) which focuses primarily on automation and Artificial Intelligence. This is the reason we have seen rise of heavy industries being partly or fully run by automated processes. No doubt, many of us just see technology as the "saviour" of mankind and what assists us in getting our work done, but have you taken time to look at the dark side? Hold on, we'll be taking some shocking revelations in the course of this survey.


Introduction


Just like I normally tell people, there are always two sides to the advancement of technology: the good and the dark side, but most times, the dark sides are somewhat encapsulated and masked in the good side that people tend to lay less emphasis on them. Now, the question is; how will you have a solution to a problem you are not even aware of its existence? This is why I deemed it fit to make this survey, at least to let y'all brace for impact of what to expect with further advancement of technology. However, to make points clear before I begin: No doubt, technology is very good and welcomed (I, for one, can't even imagine life without technology), but we will just focus on how to get ourselves prepared for the dark sides of technology... and yes, it does have dark sides which you'll find out soon.

[Industrial automation processes. Image from Pixabay. CC0 Licensed]

For the purpose of this survey, we will break this into two broad parts so as to have an effective overview of them. We'll start from the one that is least scary:

  • Effects on jobs
  • Effects on our environment

Effects on Jobs


Have you ever taken time to think about the sole purpose of Artificial Intelligence? Well, just to let you know, it simulates the human level of intelligence in mechanical/electronic devices. In the light of this, it might interest you to know that most industrial automation processes run on Artificial Intelligence. Let us drive our minds back through history. Before the first industrial revolution (1IR - which was initiated around 18th century ref), manufacturing field and other fields of human endeavours were heavily characterized by human labour. For example, in the field of agriculture, to cultivate a piece of farmland, humans would use hoe and other farm implements to till the land with much physical exertion.This was then replaced with animals (bulls, etc) and now we have tractors and even the automated farm tools.

Looking at this holistically, the various industrial revolutions led to digital transformation and everything is now going digital and automation is now on the increase, but at what expense? Of course, simple logic should explain to you that the services of human labour might not be required if machines can replace them and get the work done with speed, accuracy and within a shorter time frame. Just like the example of the farmland I mentioned earlier; why would a farmer involve human labour to till the ground when an automated tractor can be programmed to get the work done?

[Old farming method involving human labour and animals. Image from Wikimedia Commons. Authored by KeyStone. Public Domain]

As more human labour are being replaced by mechanical devices, what do you think will happen to the human workforce? Let me shock you with this striking revelation: An estimation was made by Business Insider based on the available statistics and they revealed that by the year 2030, a whopping 800 million human jobs would have been lost to industrial automation. This is in line with the prediction by the late Stephen Hawking in this report that industrial automation and Artificial Intelligence will decimate jobs (majorly the middle class jobs that require more of human labour).

If you think that it is only the human jobs that will be replaced, then you need to rethink. I recently read a publication of a new technology called Drone Pollinator which has been created to effectively, efficiently, and swiftly pollinate farmlands instead of the natural pollinating agents like bees. Obviously, even the services of bees may not be too required in the near future. Maybe this little video clip of drone pollinator will give you an insight of how advanced technology can be.

[Video credit: TomoNews Sci & Tech]

All these are happening because of the advances in technology, and the truth is, with all these mind-blowing stuffs we are witnessing, technology itself is still in its infancy. May I remind you that the Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI) has not yet been created. If the Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) that we have can be this efficient in replacing human labour, what should we expect with the creation of ASI? To shock you a bit: I read a mind-blowing tech review of the designing of Artificial Intelligence that has the ability to code and program other artificial Intelligence. Do you know what this means? A point is coming when AI may not need us to function - or worse case, the reverse might even be the case. Okay let's take a look at the effect of technological advancements and revolution on our environment.


Effects on Environment


I'll start with this question? Have you ever been to a highly industrialized area or a petrochemical refining plant? I, for one, have been to oil refining states in Nigeria and I can tell you this, the air around these areas are highly polluted. The last one I witnessed was horrible; thick fumes pumping out from those plants - this is just to mention the least. You will also agree with me that our cities are filled with vehicles that emit smokes into the environment, industries releasing industrial wastes and so on. An article by Cambridge has revealed that China (the city of Beijing) stands at the top of the most air-polluted cities in the world. Do you know what should be queried for this? Obviously, China is also at the top of industrialization. By interpretation, increased air pollution is a by-product of industrialization.

[Thick fumes and air pollutants released by heavy industries. Image from Pixabay. CC0 Licensed]

The above scene is just focused on the release of air pollutants, but what about other pollutants from industrial waste? A particular news made a major headline in Nigeria a few months ago where one of the oil drilling plants in Nigeria experienced accidental massive spillage. The outcome of the spillage was so devastating. The oil flowed to people's farmlands, destroying farm crops worth millions of Naira, and the worst of them all, these spills were washed into the nearby water body and aquatic animals died in mass - you can imagine how polluted and stinky the place was.

Let's Look at these pollutants from another point of view: Have you been following up on global warming? Okay if you have not, I'd like to tell you that the overall average temperature of the earth has seen increment over the last 100 years [ref] - The explanation of this increment is very easy; the earth's atmosphere retains and traps heat through the atmosphere which comprises of greenhouse gases and majority of these gases (CO2, CFC etc) come as by products of industries and engines - and the emission of these gases has been on the increase.

Let's fast-forward this scenario: Imagine if the temperature of the earth keeps increasing, what do you think will happen? Obviously, the polar region with dense ice deposits will begin to melt. This will cause the level of liquid water on earth to increase, and the impact of this will be: many coastal cities and islands might be submerged under water and massive flooding might be imminent... And yes, this scenario has already started. In the later part of 2017, according to this report, a major flooding struck Mumbai and killed over 1,200 people with millions of other people internally displaced. I once saw a video simulation of the coastal cities that might be submerged with global warming and I think y'all should have a view too.

[video credit: Science Insider]

If all these do not make you to brace up for what technology is bringing, then I wonder what will. However with all these dark side of technology, it has formed an integral part of our lives and has assisted us in many ways. I guess we only figured out how to turn our enemies into our allies.


Final Words


Just like it is applicable to other fields; with the field of technology not exempted; every new level is presented with new "devil". The massive technological revolution has not left us without obvious dark sides as we have seen. But with all these impending threats, if you are given a choice to choose either to live in this era of technological revolution or the paleolithic era without technology, what will your choice be? Well, for me, it is technology all the way.

References for further reading:

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AI will decimate boring labor, not jobs, and I don't see how that's a problem, unless you live in a political system that doesn't have a UBI. The absence of the UBI is the real issue here.

if you are given a choice to choose either to live in this era of technological revolution or the paleolithic era without technology, what will your choice be?

Can I live in the future? :P

Yeah, UBI has not yet been globally accepted, some countries are yet to adopt it. More so, it is still being experimented up, but I hope it will be useful in the future.

Meanwhile, I want to live in the future too :)

Hey Sammi,

Thank you for making us all think about the “dark side” that results from the comfort technology brings to our lives. Oblivion is not a good thing! So, as always, your posts touch on topics that I have never come across before. For example, this is the first time I’ve heard about drones replacing bees’ politization and ASI.

As I read you post I attempted to imagine what is going to happen to humanity, to the future of the planet. Governments are not preparing for such events, much less at the speed they are taking place. People are not being informed. Without information how can they possibly know what the future might hold? For them, for their children, for their grandchildren… It breaks my heart when I hear about situations like the one you mentioned in Nigeria. People’s livelihood and wild life just gone like that! :/

This is an eye-opening topic Sammi, and you managed to convey it in a concise, critical and constructive way. You rock! :*

Wish you a lovely night, filled with lots of stars 😊

Thanks a lot dearest Abbey.
I've been a proponent of emerging technology and have supported the advancement of new technologies, but we should also let people to know what to expect with advancement of technology. When we we become aware of this, then we will know how to balance the negative side with the positive side.
In all these though, technology has come to stay, the only thing we need to do is to adapt and flow with the trend.

Thanks so much dear Abbey. Much love from this side of Sub-Saharan Africa

When I was a child, many many years ago, it was predicted that automation would yield a benefit to labor because it would result in more leisure time. The work week would be shortened. Workers would have more hours to spend with families.

Of course this vision was premised on the theory that increased productivity would benefit all and that gains would not be seized by a few. What actually happened was that the owners of production (forgive me for sounding Marxist here) kept all the benefit for themselves. Increased productivity meant more profit, not better quality of life.

I'm with @alexander.alexis--UBI suggests that the benefits of increased productivity should be viewed as a societal gain. All of society would enjoy the benefits. This model is the only viable way forward. We have to change the paradigm.

As @chappertron suggests, automation can make life more comfortable (if AI doesn't try to kill us 😅), unless we let a greedy few exploit progress for narrow gain. Continuing along that path, as @samminator's article suggests, will lead not only to environmental catastrophe, but also to social unrest. Even the greedy few will suffer consequences then.

It's the political season in the US and tonight there was a debate between presidential candidates. Coincidentally, economic and social justice were high on the list of topics. This article really hit home after that debate.

Provocative and important topic, @samminator.

Nice comment buddy. Just like I also tell people "hope for the best, but be very prepared for the worst"... this also applies to the field of technology.

automation can make life more comfortable (if AI doesn't try to kill us 😅)

The last part got me laughing so hard. I remember I once wrote an article about humas merging with machines (ai) to save the future of humans... maybe when ASI will be created, we'll know if they'll kill us or not 😃

Note that your images are not visible on steemstem.io. Do you mind fixing it by any chance?

Concerning the effects on the jobs, yes this is true there will be an effect. Some jobs will be lost, but other classes of jobs will appear so that the workforce will be reallocated (haven't we discussed this in one of your earlier posts?). This is by far not something dark to me...

Exactly. But recurrently, it looks like the rate at which jobs are disappearing is far more than the rate at which they are created. This is just to mention the least. Even though I am a proponent of technology, we should also discuss these effects more often so that people will get to terms with it.

I was reading an article sometimes ago about a proposed panacea for this. Where a scheme known as UBI (Universal Basic Income) is proposed to pay back to the world's citizens a certain percentage of the income generated from industrial automation as a way of cushioning the effect of job loss.

About the image, I'll try to view it again from the app. The image is visible from other frontends. Maybe it's because of my markdown codes. But I posted through the app and it was visible when I did.

There is always a transition period between to regime. You cannot change a generation capable of working on a set of tasks A into a generation working on a new set of tasks A' in one year. However, the timescale is probably of a few decades.

Concerning the UBI, I am very sceptical. It probably could work at a small scale level (there were experiments I think). At a more global level, this still needs to be demonstrated.

Can you please try this for the image:

![](http://i.imgur.com/YZJ5LiC.jpg)

or that

<img src='http://i.imgur.com/YZJ5LiC.jpg />

I've replaced the images with the first format you gave. This one

![](http://i.imgur.com/YZJ5LiC.jpg)

Thanks a lot sir

Great! I confirm it works!

I've checked again. I think the app does not support my image hosting site; imgur.com, that is why the images are showing on other frontends but not on steemstem.io. I will have to try another image hosting site for my next post.

Thank you for drawing my attention to this sir

Please check the two ways I proposed above. They both work :)

Nice overview, thank you!

I see it positive. Since we have more robots in our company the work is more relaxed!

Let's see when they try to kill me.

Regards

Chapper

Sure technology is positive; no doubt; we are only looking at the other sides of it. But it doesn't take away the fact that they are very beneficial to mankind.

Thanks for reading



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