Tools of the Technocracy: #3 Robots, IoT, Automation, Oh my!
With big data as the brains, robots act as the eyes, ears, and fists of the technocracy. Ubiquitous 5G (and above) connectivity gives autonomous systems a massive advantage over human beings. Understand that there is more to these systems than meets the eye. There is an entire orchestra of coordinated systems and services that harmonize into incredibly powerful tools. These tools are only beginning to be weaponized against the public.
Eventually the digital world needs to make an impact on the physical. Robots are the ideal tool for the technocracy to enforce it’s will on the material world. In many situations it is becoming much more inexpensive to accomplish tasks with robots than to equip humans for the same task. Robots won’t question their orders, they won’t (likely) turn against the system, and most importantly they don’t have legal rights. The technocracy has an urgent need to replace thinking, responsible people with autonomous drones with pre-programmed commands.
The most obvious example would be police robots. When equipped with advanced riot suppression technology, these robots will by able to quell any and all public uprisings with little resistance. Far from science fiction, the capability exists to terminate people with almost fully automated systems.
While scouting for information, highly mobile drones can be equipped with a large variety of surveillance equipment, sensors, and weapons. Having an aerial view can provide incredible context to large scale situations. While soaring up above, acting as the “eye in the sky” drones can be used to transmit information to a variety of systems. Small disposable drones have advantages that other “heavy duty” robots may not, they can operate in swarms and each independent unit may be entirely expendable.
Transport and Access
The convenience of autonomous delivery will be what ushers in the invasion of more autonomous drones, cars, and trucks. Autonomous vehicles are an invaluable tool for the technocracy. By removing humans from the driving-seat of the economy the system can effectively seize control of nearly all trade. Eventually, access to goods and services can be entirely restricted by simply not allowing vehicles to travel to certain places. If proximity isn’t something that can be controlled, locks can be used to prevent access to specific places. Beyond merely imposing fines for arbitrary infractions, a person’s entire life can be restricted by the manufactured world around them.
Robots in disguise
Any robot, with it’s variety of sensors, tools, and networks will be able to perform a wide array of functions in a highly robotic world. A robot preparing your food may also be listening to your conversations simply to fulfill some contract in the system. Cryptocurrency and smart contracts can be used to expand what existing robots can be used for. More and more these discrete systems will converge into a single operating fabric. Robots will become more generalized as technology advances, with tasks being mostly assigned by proximity.
Smart phones, smart TVs, smart homes… What is it that makes a tool “smart” anyways? In a general sense “smart” simply means that it can be used against you. Why is your phone “smart” but your laptop isn’t? It’s because your phone is a surveillance device. It provides the system vital functionality that isn’t under your control.
Is a device or appliance really “yours” if it is constantly working to incriminate you? How about if it refuses to work under conditions dictated by others? These systems don’t specifically need to be commanded by a malevolent entity, your dishwasher could simply require you to use a smart contract to operate it. This smart contract could be fed real time information about water use in your region to ensure it is being rationed correctly. Smart contracts can be incredible mechanisms to make systems fair, but their ability to make unjust systems shouldn’t be underestimated.
Smart contracts define incentive structures, and they can be designed with an incredible amount of precision. It is entirely possible for products and services to micro-manage quality or effectiveness relative to your status in the system. This means that the most innocuous and fair systems could end up being leveraged against people if the system itself has a flaw.
Not all digital devices are optional. As medical technology advances people can be very reliant on complicated systems. It is of the utmost importance that people with disabilities are empowered by these tools and not harmed by them. While giving up your privacy (or opting in to ads) may seem like a fair trade for your sight back, this is not a trade we should force someone to make.
The major challenge is that there is no end to what can be turned against you. This can be forced onto the more vulnerable by making the only affordable items sabotaged with tracking & control. The most dystopian outcomes imaginable are on the table when the effects are unseen or individualized. People are far too quick to rationalize the suffering of others rather than to truly take the time to understand the underlying causes.
There’s nothing sacred to the technocrats. There’s nothing special about biology that would prevent them from using your individual cells like they use your data against you. Most people are familiar with the idea of nanobots. but the idea of manipulating small-scale natural processes directly is very much out of mind. The very nature of tiny technology is that it very easily stays out of sight, and can be difficult to properly conceptualize.
Nano-machines and “smart dust” are still very real concerns as well. Even in the most benign of circumstances they can become a terrible form of pollution like micro-plastics. The technocracy has shown terrible stewardship for the natural world despite manufactured appearances. It would be very difficult to properly investigate the long-term ecological or individual health impacts of individual nano-scale applications.
Automation isn’t simply about making robots better, but also making our lives more robotic. In many cases is it much easier to simply reduce a task into smaller tasks than to design, build, and equip a robot to take over the entire work. This has profound implications for the direction the system is moving in. People will become marginalized to make room for robots in the name of efficiency. The most insidious part is that workers are already being conditioned to train artificial intelligence to learn from them. Many workers are training their replacements without knowing it!
This has far-reaching impacts beyond the service industry. Nearly any job can be broken down into small units of work that could be automated eventually. The safest positions are the ones that are harder to break into smaller units, or tasks that take advantage of a large variety of skills. Media and legal institutions will be pressured to force professionals to undermine their own field to make it easier to be automated away.
It’s worth noting that automation itself isn’t inherently evil or wrong. Ideally workers would be properly compensated for training AIs and people would be supported with the understanding that their livelihoods were sacrificed for greater efficiency. Currently automation is a super-weapon against the working classes. There is no reason it has to stay that way.
Consider countermeasures against robots
- Instead of WiFi, using wired networks
- Setup spaces your devices can’t listen in to.
- Use a faraday bag for your smartphone
- Use analog/low-tech solutions where possible
As more and more valuable tools are converted to “smart devices” there is an immense opportunity to take up a niche market of simpler devices that don’t violate their owners privacy. AI doesn’t need to be a harmful development. By learning about these systems we can avoid the dangers as well as develop more humane ways of moving forward.
Build and maintain the “human economy”
Robots & automation are going go displace an incredible amount of people in the best-case scenarios. The optimal strategy would be for people to work on establishing an economy for people instead of one against them. This doesn’t mean you shun progress, in fact developing efficient systems allows you to share the gains with your community.
If you’re building autonomous systems ensure that they are licensed, developed, and distributed in a way that benefits human beings. For example, a city could establish a smart contract that requires robots to pay taxes on transactions that help support local food & housing systems.
As the world becomes more and more controlled, the machine of last resort is you. A self-driving car may decide where you can drive to, but your own body can be the limit of where you can bike to. Even better if you have access to horses for travel. Developing tools and methods that focus on augmenting what you can do yourself will liberate you from relying on tools that work against you.
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