How Not To Become Obsolete: The Race Against The Machines
The world economy hasn’t been doing very well in the past couple of years. Things have been tough for Spaniards, Greeks and even Americans. Despite this, the level of productivity has increased significantly in the past few decades and continues to improve at a rapid pace. The same can be said of world GDP levels. Worldwide incomes have grown more in the past ten years than they have ever done so before.
However, in the U.S. the average income is on the decrease. So why is it that there is significantly more money passing hands worldwide, yet it seems to be avoiding the pockets of Americans? Well… the truth is that as world innovations and technological advances continue to lead the way into the future, Americans are falling behind.
Back before the age of computers, man had no problem keeping up and even keeping ahead of technological advances. That was because machines were only for the purpose of completing tasks of manual labor. Our current technology is far more advanced than it was 50 years ago. Machines no longer only do the physical work, they now do the calculating and planning — they do the thinking.
Human beings realized that they could no longer compete with a machine’s strength decades ago. They have now come to accept that they cannot compete with a computer either. Deep Blue, a supercomputer developed back in the late 90s beat the world chess champion in a match. Now, an application on any iPhone will best the greatest chess players that ever lived. Humans cannot keep up with the processing speed of computer technology today. And to only think — this is but a glimpse of the beginning. I shudder to imagine what we will be capable of in the next handful of decades.
It may not come as much of a surprise to many — but to me, it is rather shocking. It seems to me as if the majority of Americans have given up. Finding work may be difficult, but creating it is always a possibility — or better yet, having the courage to adapt. As a nation, we are very stubborn. For those of us that have roots that go back several generations and have a tradition of continuing their family business, the fear of change is understandable — but nevertheless must be accepted.
Those that don’t have a tradition that they are doing their best to keep alive, have no excuse whatsoever from refusing to change along with the times and refusing to put their mental resources towards areas of significant growth. Too many people are stuck in their old ways, refusing to change and do something new and foreign — all because of fear. Since when has fear ever been a good reason to stop reaching for success?
There is, of course, the issue of outsourcing. We are sending much of our work to other countries in order to reduce cost and produce products that can be sold at a lower price point. If the iPad were completely manufactured in the U.S., it would cost consumers somewhere around $14,000 if not more. But keep in mind that most of this outsourced work is the work that no one should strive for in America.
It’s the phone receptionist jobs and the factory work that is being sent abroad. Many may feel that this practice is ruining the American dream. I disagree. I believe that sending out the grunt work to other countries will force Americans to dream bigger and try harder. Or at least it should. We should not be the ones putting together new innovations; we should be the ones coming up with them.
Americans ought to be the coders, the designers, the innovators and leaders paving the way to a better future. There is so much information available to us at the tips of our fingers that we no longer need to memorize or sort — we have the machines for that. We no longer have to compute and work on the micro aspects of innovations — we have created software that can do that faster and more efficiently. What machines cannot do is create. They cannot create new ideas without guidance — at least not as of yet. But who knows how long that will last with A.I. progressing as it is.
It’s time to stop focusing on markets that are on the fall. We must focus on growing markets, markets that will bring the innovations of tomorrow. Let other countries that are behind do the more manual work, allowing themselves to catch up while we roll ahead.
If every country were to focus on what they are best equipped to produce and then trade with the rest of the world for what they do not produce, the world would be functioning at maximum efficiency and would be better united for the simple fact that we would all need each other. It is time for us to stop fighting progress, stop fighting the machines. We must use them to our advantage, improving them and as a result progressing our race.