The Idea of robots taking over society is age old dating back to the beginning of the 20th century, The idea that technology is going to create a permanent underclass of workers is even older dating back to the Luddite movement in the 19th century. Ideas such as this have recently made a comeback with much prominent public intellectuals such as Steven Hawking warning about the dangers of AI research and Internet intellectuals such as CPG grey taking a more direct stand in his video “Humans need not apply” which claim major job losses will happen as soon as 2020.

This has led to the rise of a new Futurism movement which rejects the optimism of futurist movement of old and instead replaces it with a cold cynicism. This movement was born due to concerns voiced by public intellectuals, Nurtured by the Internet intellectuals but is fed by startup hype. The start-up’s culture of framing everything as a disruption of existing industries has created an environment ripe for the creating of fake headlines. The creation of a better drug locker which can dispense drugs electronically becomes “New drug locker will replace chemists”. An expensive machine which can perform basic surgeries for five times the price and twice the risk becomes “Surgeon automated: Is your job safe ?”. The most blatant case of this was Thernaros as a company which claimed to have been able to execute a whole battery of tests which previously took weeks instantly using a drop blood. The company has recently collapsed as it was exposed as a scam but not before the futurist media had managed to run away with it.

The typical futurist article is High on buzz-words, low on data but filled with hype and taking the claim of start-up founders at face value with a little scepticism. The topic might be about anything from a bee to asteroids but the gist is always your going to lose your job thanks, this awesome new technology. These articles almost never show the data you need to establish how economical this technology this instead simply saying costs will come down soon but they are big in imagining the possibilities.

Like many religions, Futurist’s believe that the coming event sometimes called the disruption can’t be avoided and that there is only one path to salvation for the people BIG. BIG stands for basic income guarantee a welfare reform idea dating back to 1960’s which proposed replacing conventional means-tested welfare with block grants to every person residing in a country for a certain amount. Proponents claimed that it would save money by drastically cutting administration costs and if a correct tax structure was implemented it would eliminate welfare cliffs which plague most western welfare systems today. This idea has had a resurgence of popularity within the futurist movement.

They have however replaced most of the arguments of old with the idea that a massive outbreak of unemployment is around the corner due to automation and the only way to allow people to survive will be a massive wealth transfer which BIG will facilitate. Most futurist plans for BIG are completely unfeasible as they either claim double digit year growth rates from immediate implementation of the policy or plan to triple government spending in most western countries due to ridiculous amounts suggested. The majority of the future demographic is composed of urban liberals who feel mistreated in the workplace and unsatisfied with their income and place in life.

Futurist rarely ever provides any sort of economic proof for their claims instead dismissing it as a failed science while shamelessly plagiarising their ideas. They dismiss statistics and the productivy paradox with statistics and conspiracy theories about the suppression of real unemployment. They have all the hallmarks of the economically illiterate left mixed in with tech worship making their proposal even more ridiculous due to a reliance on a ridiculous future that it’s not going to happen.

5 thoughts on “The problem with futurology

  1. There is such a thing as skeptical futurology. I’m aware the overinflated headlines are bullshit and of the white papers that get buried which are never going to happen. I read /r/futurology for the “green links”; I find bleeding edge tech to be inspirational. If you stick to the “green links” and stay away from all the others you get some great articles on tech that is happening now.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. The majority of the future demographic is composed of urban liberals who feel mistreated in the workplace and unsatisfied with their income and place in life.

    That sounds like me. Does that make me a bad person?

    Like

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