Sunday, August 17, 2014

Robots and the future.

When the Robots take over.

Recently the Pew Research Centre asked some 1900 technology experts whether they thought automated intelligence robots would displace more jobs than they created by 2025. Well there was no prizes for knowing the answer, but what did surprise was that half felt white collar jobs were the next to go. We all know about driverless cars and factory production carried out automated machines, but few have thought that highly skilled jobs would be whittled away. According to the report only jobs requiring compassion such as nursing, primary school teaching and other forms of care employment will remain. Lawyers, accountants, surgeons, soldiers, and so on will all lose out to intelligent robots all in the name more free time.
The compassionate occupations have traditionally been performed by women, so well you may ask what is the male workforce going to do to earn a living in this new world. The driving force that automated machines are cheaper than human labour may suggest greater profits for the companies concerned, but one wonders who will have any money in their pockets to purchase anything. This is a major question about the future for all of us. State ownership has been tried and failed, so how will governments raise revenue if there is no one  working to tax resulting in no welfare. Are we all to grow our own food and return to hunting rabbits, personally I do not have a clue! There is always the option to take up art, unfortunately today it seems dominated by computers.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

School Days

First Day at School.


First days at school are generally fixed firmly in the back of our minds, mine is no different. My Mother always called me PJ .short for Peter John for as long as I can remember claiming I was called after a back page comic strip in the Daily Mirror. As a child I paid little attention to such nicknames accepting the title with some pride. Little did I realise that when I started school that the name when haunt me, other boys mocked the grandiose nature of PJ. an attitude that caused me no end of trouble.

Mr Allwork’s Primary School was located at the far end of our village, and being a fairly shy boy the shock of confronting strangers on that first school day proved traumatic. There was the gauntlet of aggressive boys that needed to be navigated opposite our house who took great delight in hurling abuse and throwing stones at those they consider different. I never have understood the hostility and even now thinking back it resembles similar experienced encounter between Catholic and Protestant school students later years.

The day inevitability developed into a push and shove between first dayers until someone’s finger found its way into an eye. Most of the boys had led isolated lives and were not terrible good at sharing. A fight developed resulting in my receiving a black eye from a rotund boy called Barany whose father owned the local soft drink factory. Thinking back it is hard to imagine what the disagreement was about, but we became good friends. This had the added advantage gaining access to the never ending supply of lemonade his father made a delicacy only available in my home on birthdays. The resulting fight led to our being made to stand outside in the school yard, noses pressed hard up against the stone wall.

It was only then that I remember the box of matches in my pocket I had ‘borrowed’ from my parents art deco cigarette boxes scattered around the house like wild mushroom after rain. It was September and the dry summer grass remained in abundance. I suggested to Barany that perhaps a little diversion was in order and much to our delight we soon had the grass on fire. Being five year old we had not taken into consideration that smoke quickly finds its way into any open window. Parents were called and another round of talks with the parish priest followed about the need to act responsible. Strangely no one ever enquired as to whether I had enjoyed my first day at school.