The absent-minded and quixotic engineer/programmer/singularity prophet, Hans Moravec, started a robotics company in 2003 called Seegrid Corporation, with the goal of developing robots that will visualize their surroundings in three dimensions.
Now, Hans is also the author of several classic transhuman books like “Mind Children: the future of robot and human intelligence” and “Robot: Mere Machine to Transcendent Mind”. His company may only create “warehouse drones” for now, but Hans’ futuristic vision promises fruitful robots to come. In his view, popularizing industrial robots which do rather inane tasks is only the first step to developing an industry that will be able to popularize and produce – at lower costs – the future’s technologies.
Indeed, from an economics perspective, human enhancement technologies would free up human labor, but this would not necessarily lead to unemployment. Think of all the technological jumps we’ve made in the last century, and by comparison, how much less unemployment we have.
Ray Kurzweil sits on the company’s board of directors. Kurzweil himself is an AI genius, and has started ten successful enterprises himself, among them Kurzweil AI and Kurzweil Technologies. You’ve seen the Kurzweil electronic keyboards at Guitar Center? It’s the same guy. Together with hundreds of other leadings scientists and AI prophets, they are working towards a “singular event” in which machine capital develops faster than the developers can develop them. Beyond that horizon lies a technological utopia.
So presumably, social robots will displace labor too. But artificial intelligence is not developed enough to do sophisticated work for the bourgeoisie. Moravec seems to be right in saying that industrial robots make up the base of the labor force, and that they would need to be developed first, allowing more skilled laborers to work on developing more advanced forms of capital. Human enhancement technologies and industrialized labor, Moravec said in an interview with Scientific American, “Will create the perfect welfare state.”