Disruptive innovation. Exponential responsibilities.
My moral and ethical point of view of the phenomenon.
On Thursday last week, I had the chance to listen to Marcus Shingles CEO of Xprize talking about disruptive innovation and exponential growth.
On a very interesting presentation, full of wow facts and very mind blowing content, he manage to make us feel inspired and very much aware of the depth of the changes we are living on.
As usual on this kind of conference, you can ask some questions and I did. I asked him what about the ethical and moral matters regarding this re-evolution. His answer caught very much my attention; “this is the first questions I get every time I do this conference…”
Before I go deeper on this, my question arose when he was talking about Baxter The Robot and how a $25.000 USD is already changing the manufacturing process, because [guess what] China was one of the major interested player.
So, I asked myself… What if a portion of the labor force of China is replace by robots? What are the cost of that in terms of everything for them and the world? [Because according to the projections, almost 40% of the workforce in the USA will be replaced by machines and up to 60% in Latin American and other countries]
If 20% of China’s labor force is replaced by this type of robots, a 170 million [according to 2013 data] people would be left unemployed. On 2013, the world’s unemployment rate was 6% [today is 5,7%] equivalent to 400 million people. So, if only the 20% is replaced by them we’ll have a 4.25% increase of unemployment rate worldwide. That’s a huge issue!
According to Peter Diamandis and other authors, abundance is where we are heading. This means, that the use of technology will help us find, use and become more efficient about the resources planning and utilization. The thing is that, unless abundance means free living in the future [which would be great, but somehow boring], we still need to be working, earning money to buy things [products robots make] and keep the economy growing.
Based on simple facts, the inequality in the world is huge and outrageous. The 1% [<>5%] gets mainly all the benefits of the modern economic model. So, how this disruptive innovation and exponential growth will be accesible and useful for the 99% percent, if throughout history this hasn’t been possible?
You can argue with me that I’m being a bit exaggerated and maybe I am. But, this doesn’t make my reasoning less true.
My only concern is that we become blind to all this sexy looking innovations and forget about the responsibilities that we have toward the humanity in making our planet, not only technologically but also spiritually evolved.
Inequality, unemployment and poverty, are not [isolated] issues, they consequences of a way of living. So, what if this phenomenon is the sexy version of this inequality 2.0?