All posts by Sam Cavanagh

Undergraduate at the University of Wollongong studying a Bachelor of Communications and Media Studies, majoring in marketing and digital media. Interests include branding and identity, social economics, and underground techno and house enterprises.

Genesis 3:19

According to Genesis 3:19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food” condemned Adam to a life of endless labour for his consumption of forbidden fruit. According to Wells, T. (2014) through the introduction of robots into society and the introduction of universal basic income (UBI) humanity may finally rid ourselves of this dire sin.

The prospect of UBI is becoming increasingly prominent through the idea of an automated society. The Committee for Economic Development in Australia  (CEDA, 2015) reports that up to 40 per cent of Australian jobs existing today have a moderate chance of disappearing within 15 years as a result of automation. While technology doesn’t necessarily reduce employment, UBI may allow for a softening blow for low-skilled workers (Whigham, N. 2016). Wells states that if automation does significantly impact the capacity of employed individuals, our economic system may ultimately experience an overproduction/underconsumption crisis.

Following the displacement of work within the manufacturing industry following the industrial revolution, increases in clerical employment dismissed the idea of technological unemployment (Hughes, J. 2014). Hughes floats the idea that we may entering a techno-utopian period, and thus no solutions to technological unemployment due to ‘superabundance’ are advantageous or required, as through access to 3D printers allowing low-socioeconomic individuals the capacity to build whatever they want. Perhaps through techno-utopia we may commit the grave sin of idolatry.

However Wells (2014) demonstrates that we are brought back to the moral ground of the protestant work ethic which I have discussed thoroughly in previous posts, embedded by Western religions may prove to be the ultimate hurdle. Since the economy is a foundation of various constructs that make up a measurable value, it would be wrong to apply any ethical or religious imposition upon economic achievement of further value for society.

 

Reference:

CEDA (2015) Australia’s future workforce? Committee for Economic Development in Australia, viewed 03.04.16 <http://adminpanel.ceda.com.au/FOLDERS/Service/Files/Documents/26792~Futureworkforce_June2015.pdf>

Hughes, J. (2014) A Strategic Opening for a Basic Income Guarantee in the Global Crisis Being Created by AI, Robots, Desktop Manufacturing and BioMedicine, Journal of Evolution and Technology – Volume 24, Issue 1.

Whigham, N. (2016) Should Australia seriously consider a universal basic income? NEWS.com, News Corporation, viewed 04.05.16 <http://www.news.com.au/finance/economy/australian-economy/should-australia-seriously-consider-a-universal-basic-income/news-story/d35635c64bd5f089c92ebba54852bd3d>

Wells, T. (2014) The Robot Economy and the Crisis of Capitalism: Why We Need Universal Basic Income, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, viewed 04-03-16 <http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2014/07/17/4048180.htm>  

Taming Technology And Religions Affect On Such Acceptance

 

According to Kaplan, F. during the Meiji Period of 1868 – 1912, in order to defend itself from international threats to Japanese culture, the political and social attitudes developed a defensive emphasis on the acquisition of complete knowledge on foreign technologies that would ultimately threaten Japanese interests. This is what we can define as taming technology, as illustrated below by Kaplan:

Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 12.44.17 pm
Kaplan, R. illustrates an example of acceptance through Pokemon, an international pop-culture founded in Japan, applying the ‘taming’ of a foreign technology. Thus technology is associated with the harmonisation of the Japanese community. Moreover societies across the history have tamed wild ‘technologies,’ being that of animals, to perform labor for human interests. Thus the concept of foreign technologies is not entirely new to western society. Bearing in mind the protestant work ethic discussed in previous blogs (that a successful life is correlated with prudence and work effort (Westby, D. 1997)), and how that may impact the integration of robots into society – is there a difference between the application of animal ‘technology’ and newer robotic technology to help human achievement.

However dissonance between western religion and technology has basis, with the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11:4-9 illustrating the desire for humanity to go beyond capabilities and constructing a tower to reach the heavens through a unified language. Thus God strikes down and scatters humanity through the creation of diversified languages, inhibiting construction. Resulting as a warning for overreaching technologies (Love, D. 2015). Contrast to Japanese unification of technology, western Abrahamic religions apply a level of negativity of humanity developing a singularity through technology, instead we have God ‘taming’ us.

Reference:

“Company History”. ポケットモンスターオフィシャルサイト. The Pokémon Company. Viewed 02.05.16 <http://www.pokemon.co.jp/corporate/en/history/>

Kaplan, F. (Unknown Year) Who is afraid of the humanoid? Investigating cultural differences in the acceptation of robots. Sony Computer Science Laboratory. Paris, France. Viewed 02.05.16 <http://www.itu.dk/people/britt/DDKS/EKSAMEN/jap_roboculture.pdf>

Love, D. (2015) Artificial intelligence will make religion obsolete within our lifetime, Daily Dot, viewed 02.05.16 <http://www.dailydot.com/lifestyle/superintelligence-meets-religion/>

Wesby, D. (1997) Protestant Ethic, viewed 02.05.16<http://mb-soft.com/believe/txn/protesta.htm>

Ethical Associations With Robotics and Income

Building upon the concept of how religious or cultural principles impact the economic and social constructs relative to robotics, we must study how varying cultural ethics influence the divergence, and that of a capitalist society. Ultimately for my research project the distinction of religious and cultural ethics on robotics, the impact on the international economy, basic income and how such effects the current capitalist community will be the central focus.

Kitano (2015) argues that the cultural divergence of automation is relative to ethics. With ‘Rinri’ the term for ethics in Japanese associated with the harmonisation of society, with each individual forming a responsibility and accountability to that community. Moreover robots identify with their proprietor, and through such responsibility are just as accountable for the harmonisation of Japanese society. However the rapid development of Japan’s economy following World War II, with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) of Japan stating the robotics industry as one of the most critical in the modern economy, has ultimately failed to provide the platform for conversation regarding human-robotic interaction.

Western ethics consists of varying subjectivities contrast to Japan’s, we can convey the Western dissonance to robotics beyond idolatry with that of the ‘protestant work ethic,’ in which discipline, prudence and effort are the effect of an individual’s confidence in Protestant commitment (Westby, D. 1997). Additionally ‘protestant work ethic’ has been correlated to that of ‘spirit of capitalism’ (Westby, D. 1997), thus through such beliefs development of robotic industries has become of major economic concern to some, challenging that of a capitalist society and application of the notion of universal income (Forrest, A. 2015).

Through the developing automation industry the concept of universal basic income has become an increasing debate. The ‘protestant work ethic,’ central to that of capitalism, may be the hurdle of such income generated from robotics. Wells (2014) argues that this is due to our social systems, such as education, have been constructed to complement the labor market relative to economic productivity. However such work ethic would be irrelevant with considerable absence of jobs.

Reference:

Forrest, A. (2015) What happens when robots take our jobs? The Big Issue, viewed 21.03.16 < http://www.bigissue.com/features/columnists/5970/what-happens-when-robots-take-our-jobs>

Kitano, N. (2015) Animism, Rinri, Modernization; the Base of Japanese Robotics, School of Social Sciences, Waseda University, viewed 21.03.15 <http://documents.mx/documents/kitano-animism-rinri-modernization-the-base-of-japanese-robots.html >

Wesby, D. (1997) Protestant Ethic, viewed 22.03.16<http://mb-soft.com/believe/txn/protesta.htm>

Wells, T. (2014) The Robot Economy and the Crisis of Capitalism: Why We Need Universal Basic Income, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, viewed 04-03-16 <http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2014/07/17/4048180.htm>  

Economics, Religion and Why We (The West) Don’t Want Robots

Computerisation, automation and interconnected networks have allowed for certain social conditions and convictions to arise. Such social constructs help form an ambiguous ‘cyberculture,’ associated with automation and assembly. Economics and cultural assumptions of capitalism, that of a ‘postcapitalist’ society and ultimately religion lie within the centre of arguments relative to robotics (Wohlsen, M. 2014).   

Mercedes-Benz demonstrates the integration of automation and human resources through introduction of ‘robot farming’ (Gibbs, S. 2016).  However, the language used by Benz delivers the assumption that this is a present consideration until technology overcomes that of human capital. Santini (2016) builds upon this illustrating that robotics will eventually outpace human development. Demonstrating an attitude towards human capacity decreasing to the point of mass unemployment.

Such rhetoric and expression of fear associated with employment and automation can be considered unwarranted, with Wells (2014) attributing through automation our socio-economic principles may change to the point of universal basic income, a form social security in which unconditional income is received on individual basis (BIEN, 2015). Additionally the relationship between religious credence and automation, employment and ultimately intelligent AI can be related to the display of societal fear. To illustrate such the segment of Shinto faith that is Animism, illustrates the belief that all entities, even those constructed by humans have a spiritual essence. Idolatry, the creation of life through assuming the position of a ‘false god,’ in Western religion is considered sinful (Mims, C. 2010). Thus the negative associations of automation in the West can correlate to that of humanity as creators, and contrast to that of Asian doctrine holding spiritual significance to that of robotics.

Reference:

Gibbs, S. (2016) Mercedes-Benz swaps robots for people on its assembly line, The Guardian, viewed 05-03-16 <http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/feb/26/mercedes-benz-robots-people-assembly-lines>

Santini, J. L. (2016) Intelligent robots threaten millions of jobs, Technology, phys.org, viewed 07-03-16 <http://phys.org/news/2016-02-intelligent-robots-threaten-millions-jobs.html>

Wells, T. (2014) The Robot Economy and the Crisis of Capitalism: Why We Need Universal Basic Income, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, viewed 04-03-16 <http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2014/07/17/4048180.htm>  

Wholsen, M. (2014) When Robots Take All Work, What Will Be Left For Us To Do? Business, Wired.com, viewed 04-03-16 <http://www.wired.com/2014/08/when-robots-take-all-the-work-whatll-be-left-for-us-to-do/>

Mims, C. (2010) Why Japanese Love Robots (And Americans Fear Them), MIT Technoloy Review, viewed 04-03-16 <https://www.technologyreview.com/s/421187/why-japanese-love-robots-and-americans-fear-them />

Unknown Author, (2015) What is basic income? BEIN, Basic Income Earth Network, viewed 04-03-16 <http://www.basicincome.org/basic-income/#history>