While society is not run by robots – yet. There are a lot of people learning programming and a lot of companies who’s only product depends on a lot of automation.
If you think about online bill payment instead of checks, then you understand the shift. The printing of checks, a long time ago, required a pressman (and they normally were men). That man set the type, checked the proof, loaded the paper and ran the job. With digital presses today, the operator just loads the paper, sets a few settings, and uploads a file. The process has been automated.
Online checking requires even less physical work, and more programming. The question is, are we in the age of programming?
Before the robots get here, there may be an age when most humans work to program something. Life for man started as hunter gathers. This stage of human life revolved around nomadic wandering. Then came the agricultural age – typified by farming. Followed by the industrial age where factories and factory workers dominated culture. While short-lived, the information age has ended.
But when does an age end … it ends when the products that typify that age are commodities and something newer commands value.
Today, farm products are called, “commodities” which indicated there value to the market place. Most any country can produce most any product – so more manufactured items have little distinction. The iPhone without apps would not be very valuable.
The internet has made information a commodity. In fact, most experts agree that the information age ended in 2007 as informational products started loosing value. Most apps today are .99 pounds or only a fraction of the local currency. This is a radical shift to the price of software.
This downward spiral in price is largely do to programmers who realized that a low cost product, sold to millions, makes one a millionaire quickly. So software developers set prices for their apps to the bare minimum.
And the same is true with Kindle books. Every author want to make a buck form one million people. So, they set their price low in hopes that low price will encourage sales. This only lead to prices dropping in books and apps. And so we have proof that information is now a commodity also.
So what, “age” are we in?
Decidedly we are in the automated service age. From auto shipments of diapers from Amazon to automated, recurring, online bill pay. If we look at work today, more and more people service the automation machinery where we work. Either we program the computers that automate the services we buy, or we service the computers.
Back to our printed checks example. With digital printers, operators really just change toner and fill paper. Programmers write code to handle all the decisions of printing the job that were the domain of the pressmen of the past.
Unlike in the industrial age, were workers maintained dumb machines; today workers program and maintain ever smarter machines. At some point, the machines will program and maintain themselves.
But we are not there yet. We still live in a world that requires human workers. But it may be a world were WE are programming the machines of our demise – or at least our termination from work.
The 1927 the movie Metropolis showed workers slaving to an all consuming, machine. We may be on the brink of that.
Ask yourself how may of your friends either program or maintain systems of computer automation. That could include entering data into a computer or running reports from that system.
If you want to watch a movies that depicts that thinking, watch Metropolis. In the movie, an underclass serves an elite who live an utopian existence. The workers, don’t serve directly, but by maintaining the machines.