In a recent Q&A session on Reddit, Stephen Hawking responded to questions about the impact of automation on society. Suffering from decades of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Hawking performs the session using a device that automates his responses. Through the miracle of the internet, which vastly improves the ability to reach audiences around the world, Stephen Hawking discussed the horrible impact automation will have on the working class. Several people came away with new insights, and new respect for this academic giant.
“I felt it was very appropriate for an accomplished man of physics and mathematics to give his thoroughly thought-out views of economics. I mean, I think a few economists have discussed this topic as well, but Stephen Hawking is a physicist, and therefore an authority.”
The general consensus was that no one could really offer a better opinion.
“You pretty much have to be a genius to know physics, and geniuses, like, know everything, right? So when Stephen Hawking tells me economic reality, I listen. I don’t even have to think about what he says, because he’s Stephen Hawking, so I know he’s right.”
And there was so much support for Hawking and his views, that a small community decided to reach out and put his words to practice.
“He says the equality gap will only grow and grow because only rich people will have machines, so there won’t be any opportunity for the working man and woman. That’s why I got a small group of people together, and we pooled our resources to take away Stephen’s burdenous, automated wheelchair. We’ve sent him a Morse code interpreter to relay his finger tapping, and he now has a full-time escort to push him around in his new, motorless wheelchair. We have employed two people, saving both time and money, and closing the equality gap. Hooray for physics!”
If physics teaches us anything, it’s that the economy can’t function if rich people are running around coming up with new ways to make tasks easier. We’re looking at a fundamental revolution, all started by one brave man.
“As a progressive, it’s hard to decide whether what makes him more brave is his coping with a disease, or the massive list of academic accomplishments he has achieved while burdened by his unfortunate condition. I thought maybe it was the disease, because he earned money with his efforts in science, and capitalism is bad, but if he’s using that knowledge to show us the errors in capitalistic thinking, I’m inclined to change my mind.”
John York, a man who sells lawn mowers and an ardent supporter of the US Postal Service, was among the Q&A attendees.
“It was mind-blowing all right, to learn how horrible life would be the closer we come to eliminating scarcity. I’ve actually started selling motorless push-mowers, to reduce my impact on automation. It’s really the least I can do, if Stephen Hawking is brave enough to attack the automation he can’t even live without.”
Brave indeed. Stephen Hawking literally could not have held this Q&A without automation.