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Monday, April 25, 2016

Of Robots and Government Policies

I am currently reading Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov and I would like to share a quote from the book that provides social commentary in the context of social unrest.

The context is that more and more human jobs are being replaced by robots ever since the invention of the "positronic brain." As time goes on, increasingly advanced robots are being built. The scene is at a department store where the clerks have recently been replaced by robots. A female shopper starts complaining about not wanting to be served by robots and this complaint starts a chain of events that eventually leads to a mob forming outside the store that is on the verge of rioting and tearing apart the robots. The author covers the fact that most of humanity has an increasingly more severe fear of being replaced by robots and one of the ways this fear manifests itself is through riots throughout the city. He then continues to make an astute observation on the topic of social unrest:

... individual robots were not to blame. Individual robots could at least be struck at. One could not strike at something called 'governmental policy' or at a slogan like 'higher production with robot labor.'

This observation touches upon the fact that majority of people are not able to process complex or abstract ideas, especially when they are angry. They want something straightforward and concrete to attack so they can vent their frustrations. I imagine this might even be the case with most of Trump's supporters. They are angry at various government policies and other complex issues involving numerous stakeholders, thoroughly vested interests, and situations that have a long history. These individuals are frustrated and are looking for an outlet for venting their anger against something/someone that is easy to visualize and hate on. This could partially explain some of the racism and hatred present among Trump's supporters. They need a way to channel their anger and Trump is providing them with easy and simple targets that don't involve analysis or thinking of any sort. It's tempting and very human to take the path of least resistance when solving a problem. In this case, the "problem" is frustration that has no easy outlet.

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