And it was not just the coming of the machines that was threatening the existence of the poor working class in the countryside. The Enclosures Act had taken away common rights to graze and even made the simple gathering of wood a task wrought with danger. It is no wonder farm labourers gathered themselves into ‘bands of ruffians’, to vent their rightful anger on those who gave no thought to their very survival. It is a wonder murder was not at the forefront of their minds as they wrecked and burned the machines that were at that very moment of torment the very pith of all that was evil in the world.
The coming of the robots has the same feel about it as the dark danger that faced the common man in the 1830’s. Progress, I would suggest, is the exact opposite if it brings hardship and unfairness in its wake. It is one matter to have a strata of science seeking to find ways to make life easier for Mankind in the years ahead; it is something else if politicians are not making plans for how Mankind can feed itself when unpaid robots are making men and women redundant. Of course politicians may have plans to tax the makers and users of robots to the hilt and beyond in order to keep the Exchequer topped up with money. But if they have such plans I have not heard of them. Has anyone?
I can see a scenario where the common man rises up against the robots, in a similar manner to our forebears with mechanisation. I dare say, as in the 1800’s, the Riot Act will be enforced and men and women frightened by the thought of starvation will be beaten about the head and thrown into prison, no doubt to be kept under watch by a robot armed with a Taser.
Yet there is nothing comic about what may lay ahead for our children. The threat is that imminent. The common man is being sleepwalked into oblivion. Machines that mow the lawn while the house-owner is either at work or enjoying a long cool lemonade while he takes in a few rays are one thing, when similar robotic tools switch on the lights at the factory, turns on the machines, produces a zillion products in a twenty-hour shift – even robots must take a rest, presumably, if only to stop them overheating – to be loaded onto driverless lorries, for goods to be droned in to whoever is left in the world to afford such luxuries, that is very much akin to being taken over by an alien civilisation. It is science-fiction become reality.
And don’t think that men and women will be in the forefront of the manufacture of the robots, working on an assembly line, earning the money to pay the mortgage and feed their children. If robotics allow a lorry to safely negotiate a journey from Glasgow to London, or control the airspace above and around our airports, then robots can conceive themselves. Robots will be making robots!
Rage against the robots must start now. To wait for the day when A.I. is prevalent on every street corner, in every walk of life, will be too late. Ask questions of your Member of Parliament today. Ask what is to become of Mankind when robots have control of our everyday lives?