Sometimes I feel the "convenience monsters", such as AI, search engines, social media, robots, internet commerce, and overall efforts to manufacture everything without the costly human interventions, are killing the economies human job market. They are making us lazy and less skilled than our former ancestors.
Until the late 1800's you could make a good living as a seamstress or working in any of the fibre arts. But with the invention of the sewing machine, a new consumer market was born. This new consumer market was one in which saving and reusing, recycling and skill-building were lost in favour of the idea that new is better, more convenient, time-saving and cheaper than the old fashioned methods.
Interested in Fashion Archeology? Check out Bernadette Banner's YouTube Channel.
One seamstress could become more enterprising than her hand sewing competitors. Then someone got the idea to purchase many sewing machines and employ people to work them. At which point, "sewing machine Sally" went out of business, just like her hand made competitors before her.
Pictured to the bottom right are Crochet pattern dahlia's. Give them a try and make some fun blankets!
Alongside the sewing machine came
mechanical weaving machines, creating and designing fabrics faster than their handwoven, embroidered, knitted, crocheted, or tat-ed predecessors. These machines decimated multiple jobs and composed the early version of the manufacture nightmare we are still living in today.
I am a fine artist, going for my MFA. The first AI portrait was created called "Edmond de Belamy" in December 2018. It sold for $432,500. I think partly because this was a novelty item. Having the first of something could be a real investment in the future if AI takes over my world. Yet, the work is "cold". It has no real feeling or guts.
First created AI Portrait shown below. What do you think? Is this art or just programing fad to prove a point?
Maybe I am prejudice and insecure. But what I do takes lots of thought, "precise hand-eye coordination", and creativity, which no machine up to date can produce(Lee, AI Weaknesses). Perhaps I should market my work as "One of the last of the tech-free artists of the fine art age." Like Hans Holbein was one of the last renaissance painters.
When I am old and grey and have at least one piece of art in a rather known museum, will people point at it and say, "See that Cusack? That was made before the age of the robot artist. JCML used her hands to paint with a brush instead of programing images spraypainted by robots.
Sketch below was based on cut up bits of paper. It's an exercise to take something uninteresting and abstract and turn it into a identifiable narrative cartoon. This one is called "Sigh Ditty" and it is based on my favorite Shakespeare play called "Much Ado About Nothing". Hey if we are going to get midlevel, we should at least enjoy its art, and thank the creative minds who invented toilet paper and pots that flush our muck away. #topreasonsnottotimetravel.
I often reflect we are getting closer to our early middle age ancestors. (Pandemic plague included for free! With the purchase of time-sucking technology. Just pay Amazon, the new JC Penny catalogue, 9.95 robot shipping and AI handling.)
Kidding aside-With technologies helping hand, such as AI, the separation between class systems is getting larger. I fear if we invest too heavily in machines or robotics, we will be stealing the wealth of the greater populous and create more authoritarian governments and oligarchies of the privileged few.
Marie Antoinette's famous last words before the pillage: "Let them eat cake" Portrait below was painted by one of the most famous woman painters of the 18th century, Vigée Le Brun.
I worry that our cheaper, quicker, faster values will rise beyond the repair of starvation, poverty, and potentially riots and war. We will reenter the peasant, surf and nobility states of our past because unethical capitalism has and continues to rear its ugly head. Companies searching to do something cheaply by implementing machines instead of humans will continue to create more products, often flooding the market to become the only available option, thus securing the market and killing the mom and pop shoppes. But who will be able to purchase these items if they don't have a job, financial freedom, or a consumer vote in the world economy? We need grunt work and workers, its the backbone of any thriving booming economy.
In some ways, I think the industrial revolution is like a snake that is slowly choking its prey. It suffocates the animal, which does not realise that it cannot breathe until its too late and dies.
We have to decide who matters most: monetary gains for the few from the use of machines or a thriving job market's unique skill set. But I think the more profound question is, "Who gets the jobs?".
Above is a concept drawing called "Tugging on Tzetse's"
In 2008 after the housing market crash, and maybe even slightly earlier during the
explosion of the Enron scandal of 2001, it became more vouge to fire more experienced workers favouring less skilled college workers with lots of education debt and desperate to get a job. These employees did not join unions but demanded fewer benefits, sick pay, and vacation time. They were willing to accept lower salaries, work longer hours than their more experienced, less-educated tech-savvy counterparts.
The result was that companies took advantage of the younger generations' work zeal and started to look for other cost-effective measures. They would fire, phase towards retirement or push out employees, and increased the workload on the few who stayed in that company's workforce. Since the invention of the cell phone, wireless internet, and now AI taking over more of the few positions that remain in the service industry, it's no wonder the younger generations are willing to work for a handful of rice. What else can they do? Starve and climb into the hole of debt, homelessness, depression or deprecation?
I lament that the United States and the EU have become more of a service country. Verses say, China, whose economy is growing because they are still an industrial, product producing, grunt workers economy with lots of manufacturing, and human only skilled jobs. If the United States, and places like the Uk or the EU, give up their service jobs to robots and AI, how will it's people live? Who will take care of them, the government? What government can afford supporting most of its nation monetarily? Most public programs are notoriously underfunded.
I believe there is a difference between aid and nursing dependents that can be independent. If we let robots rule the world, many people will starve and die due to dependence on robots instead of people. Our worst natural inclinations towards greed could mean a lack of funding and quality care for the unfortunate, disabled and seniors.
We have seen glimpses of this already with such early inventions of the nineteenth-century workhouse and its descendants: metal institutions, care home and nursing homes. If we are to get really callus and cold about it, "It's cheaper to let them die." In hospitals in the Uk, if you are over 70, you will automatically have a DNR placed upon your health chart. Regardless of your wishes- unless you have and present legal documentation, doctors will let you die if you are too old. Since the pandemic, that age span has been reduced to the age of 65. That's our parents and grandparents! Depending on your health issues DNR's have increasingly been placed on the disabled,
mentally challenged or certain critical conditions.
Are we this replaceable by robots? When we are 65, will the question no longer be "Who gets the Jobs" but "Who gets to live?".
"Down the Rabbit Hole I Go.", Digital artwork 2018.
“The Role of AI in Education and the Changing U.S. Workforce.”
Elizabeth Mann Levesque Brookings Oct. 18, 2018
”The ‘Oracle of A.I.’: These 4 kinds of jobs won’t be replaced by robots.”
Catherine Clifford. CNBC Jan 14, 2019
Kai-Fu Lee. Oct. 1, 2018. Linkedin
“10 jobs that are safe in an A.I. World.”
Is artificial intelligence set to become art’s next medium? | Christie's
In-text: (Christies, 2021) Your Bibliography: Christies, 2021. Is artificial intelligence set to become art’s next medium? | Christie's. [online] Christies.com. Available at: <https://www.christies.com/features/A-collaboration-between-two-artists-one-human-one-a-machine-9332-1.aspx> [Accessed 24 February 2021].