It can happen very quickly. It’s literally like switching off a light bulb.Within a heartbeat , I was in a room thick with cloying, inky  darkness that was gradually cooling down.

One moment ago  I was sitting with the television snickering and burbling  away in the background , the computer was  in hibernate mode and a few lights  glowed as darkness fell. The heating had been on for a few hours, so it had been  pleasantly warm in the room. I was reading an article about the threat to our futures from Artificial Intelligence {AI}. Apparently, within a generation, jobs that we take for granted  will cease to exist  and possibly many of your neighbours will be forever unable to work at anything other than the most menial of jobs. I am not putting down gardeners but that might be one of the few jobs left to do.

The machines will literally have taken over.

This might sound like something from a sci- fi film , but when the lights go out something like that  can really focus your thoughts. It has taken many years to get to this position but it has been mostly unnoticed as it happened . Something as simple as changing your heating system to oil -fired or electricity , while completely abandoning that old trusty , polluting  open coal-fire can leave a household exposed to the threat of the electricity power-cut. That’s what happened to me a few days ago. Without electricity there is no pump to to fill those heating radiators .I was back in the Stone-Age feebly searching in the darkness for a torch or a candle .

People are only  vaguely  aware that  gradual changes are being made against the background hum of society .In the tussle of everyday family life, who has time to worry about it .? We notice things though, just as we noticed  how supermarkets colonised town centres while the local butcher  or  baker had to finally close their shutters.Now we can see that in those same supermarkets there are automated tills being introduced that do not require human input at all. You just swipe your barcode  over the sensor and pay with your bank card. That’s someone not needed , right there . That’s a job gone to the machines.When I go into my bank,I may never speak to a human being at all because I can do everything I need to do on one machiine  in the foyer , should that be lodging  money , checking my account or withdrawing cash..In fact the banks are gradually  being made redundant by online banking in any case.Those brick edifices on the streets are becoming gradually redundant    Quite a lot of my shopping is now done using the internet. I haven’t  yet gotten around to home deliveries from one of the big supermarkets, but many people I know already have and many things that I would have bought on the high street are now easily  aqquired through Amazon online. I’ve read too  that Amazon’s  Jeff Bezos has invisioned introducing many more robots and robotic systems  into its huge warehouses. That will obviously make many human beings redundant. Robots and AI  are obviously set to take over many jobs done by humans and already robotics have been introduced into cars.There will eventually be little need for human intervention in all forms of transportation, especially those working within a transport grid such as trains and buses and delivery services.. Google is at the forefront of  investment in these new robotic technologies too. More and more the technology will be used in education and in clean energy research. Rows of students sitting in front of computers is no fantasy when you consider that toddling  infant children are already Smartphone savvy.

The future will be a warm place for anyone with an understanding and  a working relationship with computer technology and robotics, but at present that might only represent 10% to 15% of the adult  population . There are very many out there who still have no real idea about any of it. Many barely know how to switch a computer on.They will be most vulnerable in relation to future employment  and the fact that they  will only be required for  very specialised jobs will have social and political consequences for the future.

Technology has moved on so much in the past forty years that even when I paint an illustration  or drawing now , the paint is usually digital oil, water or acrylic; the pen , brush or pallette knife is also virtual  and the end result can be stored on a computer file or printed down  at any size  on paper, canvas or any other material…on a printing machine that a robot might now supply  or operate online. The fact that real celluloid  film is not really used now in the age of the digital camera , must have had some impact on an entire industry.We used to have our films developed by “Bonusprint”.Who does that now?  I no longer buy  watercolour paper, inks , pens or paints and canvas.There’s not much point whenI can do everything on a digital pad with a  painting stylus . There’s no more spilt paint.Of course all of this relies on a constant supply of electricity. Without it we’d be back in front of  that campfire rubbing our hands together. It’s certainly food for thought.

Thankfully, before frostbite began to set in , the lights glared  back on and the heating, computer , television and lights  flashed as electrononic connector switches buzzed and roiled . The fault had been found and the power snapped back Lazurus-like ,without any explanation.

It may as well have been robots fixing it all , of course  , for all I know…but  in any case, thankfully,  let there be light!!.


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