Man vs. the Machine

One of the biggest challenges I had to face while working on my final project was that I have no coding knowledge and thus couldn’t build the mobile application I envision on my own. I went to NYU’s Leslie eLab to seek some help and soon realized that building a well-functioning mobile application is way more complicated then I imagined, it takes very long time and no one will do it for free. I left the eLab with empty hand and only one though on my mind – I wish I knew how to write code!

Coding is such an integral part of our everyday life that I believe it should be though at schools like Mathematics or another Language. Today we have “more interaction and experience with new technologies but a lot less in creating them and expressing ourselves through them,”  says Mitch Resnick of MIT Media Lab in his 2012 TED Talk “We can read but not write.”

Resnick argues that becoming fluent in new technologies is an important tool that will enable kids to express themselves; to express their ideas. “When you become fluent with language, it means you can write an entry in your journal or tell a joke to someone or write a letter to a friend. And it’s similar with new technologies.” That is where my problem lays, I can read new technologies but I can’t write them. Without knowing how to write I can’t express myself, I can fulfill my vision and share it with others. Sure, if I had the money I could pay someone else to do it for me, but I don’t. And even if I would, coding seems such an essential knowledge in our technological world that I’d rather learn it and do it myself. In 2012 “the country of Estonia decided that all of its first graders should learn to code,” notes Resnick. I believe that all countries should follow Estonia footsteps. Coding is an elementary skill in today’s world and should be a part of every country’s school curriculum.

Coding is not just limited to our computer or smart-phone screen we “can also code to interact with the physical world around [us],” says Resnick. We have done so for years by creating tools to make our life and our work easier.

But what if someday the tools we created will become so good they will do all of our work for us. The next video by C.G.P Grey envisions a world where technology and machines will replace human labor in every field. “As we once built mechanical muscles that made human labor less in demand, so the mechanical minds we build [program] today will one day make the human brain less in demand.” claims C.G.P Grey.

What C.G.P Grey is talking about is automation and artificial intelligence (AI) that will eventually push humans out of the economy. Every industry taken by autos and AI means people losing their jobs. Though :not having to work cause machines can do my work for me” might seem like a nice idea, in reality it means human will become useless. To follow C.G.P Grey premise – in the not-so-far-future if you are not writing code and developing autos or AIs than you won’t really have anything to do. Machines will do it all for us, they will even create art and compose music!

The robot economic revolution C.G.P Grey is describing will change our world. Several movies gave us a few possible trajectories to what our world might look once robot will take over all human labor. One is Wall E, in which humans became fat floating creators who are too occupied in satisfying their own selfish needs and completely destroyed the planet while doing that. Another is A.I. Artificial Intelligence, in which the human specie was eventually extinct and the world was taken over by AI bots. Both trajectories are terrible both for humans and the plant.

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Picture from Wall-E.

I don’t know if C.G.P Grey prophecy will actually come true, but I do know it means that our world is changing in a rapid pace that requires us to take a harsh look at our life and ask – do we really need this? We need to decide, as a society, what technological changes are a must have and will help us develop as a specie, and what technological changes are a nice to have and serve no goal other than to make our life a little easier.