If machine-produced wealth is not shared, technology will drive “ever-increasing inequality," says Hawking.
By the year 2020, you will likely be ferried around by a self-driving vehicle and receive your morning breakfast from a trained robot at a fast food establishment. It sounds ridiculous to imagine day-to-day tasks being carried out by drones and trained machines, but – according to many brilliant minds – it is likely to be an inevitable reality.
The question is, then, “How will machine-produced wealth affect our planet and the individuals who inhabit it”? Some are concerned that trained machines will bring about an “economic robot apocalypse,” but physicist Stephen Hawking believes greedy humans are far more dangerous than robots at present.
In a Reddit Ask Me Anything session on Thursday, Hawking predicted that economic inequality will skyrocket as more jobs become automated and the rich owners of machines refuse to share their fast-proliferating wealth.
He wrote that if machine-produced wealth is not shared, technology will drive “ever-increasing inequality.”
“If machines produce everything we need, the outcome will depend on how things are distributed. 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,” shared Hawking.
The great divide between the super-rich and the rest of the 99% continues to grow. French economist Thomas Piketty shares that capital – such as stocks or property – accumulates value at a much faster pace than the actual economy grows. Because of this, the wealth of the rich multiplies faster than wages increase, and the working class can never even catch up.
If Mr. Hawking is right – and greedy humans are more dangerous than man-made machines, the problem won’t be about catching up. It will “be a struggle to even inch past the starting line.”
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