The Machines Are Farming Themselves, Too

It’s not only the simplest organisms that can seed fresh new populations.

Remember how we used to say that when the machines start reproducing, we’ll know we’re in trouble”? Well maybe it’s time for a gut-check on that one. This making-of movie from memory-chip manufacturer Lexar demonstrates a process eerily devoid not only of human intervention, but of human mimesis. The robots aren’t even trying to look like us anymore.

Here’s Aaron Saenz’s take at Singularity Hub:

As robots get cheaper and better you have to pay your workers less and less to compete. At some point, machines win. And not just in manufacturing — automation is creeping in at all levels of the economy, including research science. In the years ahead, human labor is likely to be removed from any repetitive task. Manufacturing, tech services, legal research and other fields could try to make their way to even cheaper labor markets, but I think that robots will ultimately make such geographic concerns a thing of the past. Watching Lexar’s tour through their creation process leaves little doubt that the domination of automation is well underway. It’s only going to get more robotic from here.

Returning to the gut-check: despite the massive move to automation, we don’t have the attendant unemployment. Of course there’s a word for that: Asia. But in the parts of the world where computer manufacturing was born, the employment spectrum has changed. I sometimes wonder whether the turn towards helmets in impact and speed sports was a harbinger of increasing social dependence on higher cognitive functioning—concern for football head injury as a sign of expecting our brains to do more work, and to do it later in life, than previous generations did. Whether that dynamic can continue globally remains to be seen; maybe when we start seeing lots of bicycle helmets in Asia, we’ll know.

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