Days Black People Not Re-Enslaved By Trump

Monday, May 20, 2013

Technology and The Coming Gender Relations

In past posts I have discussed the human problems with the rise of robotics in industry. I have also discussed the serious dangers to the world posed by drone warfare. Today I will discuss a multi-prong technological issue and it's relation to gender.

In Star Trek: Insurrection, the “Next Generation” crew has an adventure with a group of humans who had left the highly technological world in order to get back to what they considered being human. One might wonder what they objected to in the technological wonder that was the Federation that they wanted to leave. I would suggest that one such technology was the “replicator”.

The Past

If we look through human history much of the heavy work has been done by the males. If it needed to be killed, smashed, lifted or dragged the males did it. If there was an above average risk of injury or death, the males did it. This is largely due to the fact that among humans males generally have greater upper body strength than females. Males also generally have 50% more muscle mass than the female of the species. If you had to choose between one of the two to do hard physical work you choose the male.

In the course of his work males produced tools of varying effectiveness to aid himself in his quest to master his environment and provide for his family. Whether it be as simple as a spear or slingshot or as complex as the automobile and train, it has almost always been the males who have been at the forefront of “taming” nature by producing tools that made it easier.

Of course women also benefitted from these things. Better construction methods lead to better shelter which made life easier to raise and look after children. Better means of farming produced better crops.
The more productive a man could be and the more “wealth” he acquired the easier his female partner had in life: more secure and plentiful food, better and more clothes, relative safety from violence.

If that male became wealthy enough, his female partner could go so far as to delegate child rearing and housework to other lesser status females.

In the home, mechanization of time consuming chores “freed” the woman from the home. Washing machines removed the time needed to manually wash clothes (and anyone who's done it by hand on a washboard knows how much time that can kill). Cooking, which included killing, de-feathering, de-furring and/or skinning meat and the by hand preparation of bread and bread like material is also time consuming. In comparison to “5 minute meals” that passes for “food preparation” in many countries, women in the past had to start dinner shortly after breakfast. In fact if one has observed any society in which most things are not mechanized, you see a stunning argument for why gender based rolls evolved and why they were not “unfair” or “oppressive” as some would like to believe. It simply makes sense.

So in the past the male-female connection was largely based on a set of reciprocal needs. Man needs to have children first and foremost. Secondly he needs to be fed (and so do his children) after putting in the work necessary for building and maintaining his home and the community. He could not possibly be “watching the children” AND hunting or farming large fields. Nor, could a woman be doing the same. Since babies do not grow on trees a man must convince a female to bear children for him. His offer being that in return for providing shelter, etc. that woman would provide children and take care of the homestead while he was out. In agricultural and hunter-gatherer societies this is a good deal. Men aren't sitting around waiting on some other man to give them a job, they are out working all day (fieldwork or hunting which can take days) while women are at home working. Nobody is getting off easy or working up to their “potential”.

The Present


Technology changed the prior working relationship between men and their work to women. As machines were able to allow fewer men to do more work in less time (increased productivity) there was a shift in men largely working for themselves to working for other men. This is not going to be a thesis on the changes made by the Industrial Revolution though. All we need to understand is that the “better” technology got the less men as a group were needed. If anything shows this most profoundly it was the institution of slavery. Slaves were the most disposable unit of labor in an economy. The problem though is that they take upkeep. Unless you have inexhaustible supply of slaves you will have to upkeep them. They get sick. They die. They become less efficient after a certain age and they tend to rebel. Worse though, you can't sell slaves anything because slaves have no income. Now when you look at a slave in comparison to say a tractor then you ask yourself a few questions: Why have slaves to maintain a field when you can have one or two men in a tractor do the same work? Why have slaves milk cows, when one or two men and a machine can milk more cows in less time?

Mass agricultural slavery was and is “inefficient” and a barrier to “innovation”. After all if people get used to just throwing more bodies onto a field and don't ever consider the concept of a tractor, then no tractor will be made and your productivity is limited by man-hours.

The Future

There is no denying that robotics continues to advance at a rapid clip. While many of us are focused on robots that look like us, the ones that will be job killing will unlikely look human in any way most likely because while the human form may be the “most efficient” for nature (debatable) it is clearly unnecessary and likely undesirable for the various jobs we will want robots to do.

Let us be clear, eventually the jobs done by firefighters, police and construction will not require humans. The first two are tied to government budgets. As pressure grows on governments to be “efficient” technology, which requires no paycheck and no benefits will replace humans. The humans that will be left in these departments will be those who maintain and “operate” the robots (for those that are not autonomous). Because most of the “point of contact” positions in policing and firefighting are males, these are the persons who will be most affected by these changes.

Think of what we are seeing now. There is a push to get drones into the hands of law enforcement. These drones, with the proper battery systems, will be able to surveil a wide area in a far more efficient means than a human in a vehicle or on foot. Furthermore these drones can be equipped with night vision, microphones and other sensors that can detect guns and gun shots. Facial recognition software would search for known fugitives or other persons of interest. Drones could (and probably will) be armed and be able to inject itself into a situation with an armed suspect. This is in addition to bomb sniffing and disabling robots that we already have.

Mind you I'm not even talking about artificial intelligence. I'm talking about stuff that is possible and available right now.

Similarly firefighters could be replaced with firefighting robots. You don't need feet, legs or arms to fight fires. All you need is the ability to get water or some other form of fire retardant into a building and onto a flame. We already have robots that can run and jump and maintain their own balance. Encase them in a shell that can withstand the heat of a fire and you can send them into a fire with a hose (or whatever) and they can get to the source far faster than any person without the risk of life.

It is possible that two trained people can maintain an entire firehouse of equipment. On a scene of a fire it would be possible for the same two people to coordinate the use of multiple robots and drones to deal with a fire. And they could do so without risking a single life.

Construction is another area heavily populated by men that is ripe for automation. Currently a lot of construction is done by men who control machines. One simply needs a robot smart enough to manipulate the machine (or be integrated into the machine) for those men to be out of a job permanently. If you think this cannot be done please look at the recent advances is driverless cars. Understand that those cars have people in them, by law, only because lawmakers are nervous about liability. Those vehicles are “safer” than the drivers they replace. They can combine data that no human can access such as GPS, Satellite imagery, light and sonic sensors, heat sensors, etc. They do not have a union. They do not require a paycheck. They do not require background checks. They do not require lunch breaks. They do not get tired. They do not get sick and therefore do not need medical insurance (private or public). Nor do they distracted by a short skirt that happens to walk by.

Also, provided there is enough power, they can work 24/7.

Until there is AI, there will be a need for a person or two or three to manage the machines. By manage I mean send them on their assigned duties (assuming these robots cannot inform each other when they are done with their own task). There will be jobs maintaining those robots but those too will be eventually automated. And lest one think that a human is needed for “delicate” procedures, I assure you right now that there are robot hands that are very sensitive to pressure.

So the near future is pretty clear to anyone with a spec of foresight. Many occupations that a robot can do will be done by one unless restricted by law. Since much of European based societies are highly risk averse (with their own lives) I believe the laws will actually come out in favor of automation. This will happen for two reasons:

1) The money to be made off of automation for those companies that supply said robots (Roombas are 500+ bucks and all they do is vacuum your floor)

2) The safety argument will be forced by insurance companies which would rather pay to replace or repair a broken robot than pay for lifetime medical and workman's compensation to a human.

The question becomes what do these men do and if they can “do” nothing because what the vast majority of them had done has been taken over by machines, of what value are they to a family?

Well they will of course be told to go into fields dominated by women (which a lot of fields will be). However they will not be safe there either. Robots are already making inroads there as well. The duties of those person who say “get sheets” can be done by a robot today. Robots can take X-rays and whatever else without risk of exposure to humans. There are experiments with robots to run entire restaurants. Clearly then the cafeteria staff is going to go the way of the dinosaur. Staff who push patients here there and everywhere are unnecessary when robot from the 1980's could do that. Janitorial staff can be replaced by industrial sized Roombas. Machines already monitor our vitals. Don't need a person to do that. Yes there are cases where a person is needed but most of those cases are currently in the ER. Once a patient is stable the need for human intervention is minimal. The want may be there, but the need? Not so much. Once again I will point out that as the costs of medicine increases institutions and insurance companies (or the government) will start to demand these “low overhead” robots be placed into hospitals in higher numbers.

So yes, men could go an compete with women for a ever shrinking pool of jobs that would eventually be replaced by machines. Good luck with that.

But the danger is not only posed by robots and automation. The danger also exists in the area of medical science. I previously noted that men need women in order to have children. It is still the case. Men cannot carry children (and probably do not want to if childbirth is anything like I've been told) and therefore must depend upon finding a willing woman to carry a child to term. Women on the other hand only need to be inseminated in order to have a child. Modern technology is already disrupted this co-dependent relationship by allowing women to remove having any relationship with a male in order to have and raise a child.

Still though the insemination industry still needs to have men who would donate their sperm. But what if that could be eliminated? Well the technology is about here. Recently we had the phenomenon where an ear was created for a child. A Ted Talks speech was given where a presenter showed a “printed” kidney to the audience. Yes, 3D printing combined with advanced cellular growth technology has or will soon get to the point where a testicle can and will be “printed'. At that point a fertility clinic could harvest it's own sperm from its own in house testicles that were created specifically for them. They could have testicles representing all manner of races, body types, intelligence, etc. for women to pick.

At that point having actual males around will be technically unnecessary. Why would a society produce males who commit the vast majority of crimes? Why produce males that are unnecessary to build anything since robots can do that? Why produce males when robots can police the remaining women, fight the wars that “need” to be fought and put the fires out? In all seriousness, Outside of reproduction, in the technologically advanced world, why would males be necessary? And if they cannot be employed in the areas that had largely been the bastions of male employment and the resulting competition with women for the rest of the jobs leading to conflict, what would the stone cold logic be other than to limit the number of males in society via technology?

If women can and will work; where they can have their children watched after by robots in conjunction with low status females . Where the elderly can and will be watched after by robots; why would you pay a male to do anything when he isn't necessary? Not needed to provide anything at all (including his sperm). His entire existence would be for the entertainment of the population. A “few good men” to play football, soccer, baseball and other competitive sports where robots “just wouldn't be the same”.

One could suggest that the same technology could produce an artificial womb. I'm not saying that such an event couldn't happen but rather that it is currently and would continue to be far easier to produce artificial testis than it would to produce an artificial uterus. Even if we could get away with not needing an actual uterus, there are issues of fetus growth, umbilical cords, placentas and the like that would have to be addressed. I would say that these issues would likely require the reconstruction of a number of other biological structures and therefore are at least an order of magnitude more difficult to accomplish. Testicles are far easier to create and maintain and will continue to produce so long as it is “alive”. We already have the technology to preserve and “deliver” it's product. There are far less unknown unknowns with testicles than there is with an artificial womb AND the fetus that would be developing in it.

Some would suggest that such extreme sex selection is improbable. I disagree. Sex selection already happens in fertility clinics along with disease screening and designer choices in eye and hair color to name a few. In less technologically advanced times, female children were often discarded at birth in those societies that regarded male children very highly. In some modern countries there are extreme imbalances between male and female populations due to past practices of sex-selection (usually via abortion). But the “new” means can be done by women with no input by men at all. There are already groups of women who simply hate their male children. What if future women can simply decline to have boys? What if rather than simply a matter of personal choice it becomes a matter of policy because of mass unemployment of males. Think about it. If you lived in a world where your male child was unlikely to be employed, unlikely to live a life on his own. Likely to get into trouble because he hasn't the skills or inclination to do the work available would you choose to have one?

A quick note about inclination. This is pretty important. We must understand that people have different likes and dislikes that are at their very core. It is why people gravitate to certain types of work and entertainment. To act as if folks just need to be “motivated” to be good at something is nonsense.

So going back to the Star Trek: Insurrection movie. What was it they found so objectionable that they decided to leave? The removal of the human element. The purpose. The sense of having a place in society. The replacement of human work by machines in the name of efficiency, safety and profit eventually kills what it is to be human. One of the things I hear often is that retirement is the greatest predictor of death. Why is this? Well the change in lifestyle is one thing but the next is that there is no purpose anymore. No reason to get up in the morning. What happens when it is not just “old” people who are “retired” but entire populations? Perhaps they saw the threat it posed to their families and sense of being. Maybe we'll get to that point ourselves.