Robots, as far as the eye can see. You go to the grocery store, and machines run the checkout. You walk into any recently renovated McDonalds, and machines take your order.
And sometimes you walk into your job and find that machines replace you.
Robotic automation is expected to cannibalize 85 million jobs by 2025. The robotic revolution is no longer limited to fast food and manual labor. We’re developing software and machinery that can operate vehicles, analyze emotions, and simulate artistic expression.
Naturally, people fear for their lives and livelihood.
Bite My Shiny Silver Lining
Turns out there’s an upside to the crippling fear and anxiety that the robotic revolution induces in your average human. Robots make us less racist!
It makes sense if you think about it. Robots are our “unifying other”. People are hardwired for fear. We have a primal need to be suspicious and critical of those unlike ourselves. It’s a survival mechanism. Luckily, robots provide the perfect foil.
The unhuman presence of machines in our lives gives humanity a unified target on which we may exercise that innate fear and anxiety. This in turn gives us common ground with those around us and makes us more accepting and appreciative of our fellow human.
As one study elegantly puts it, the differences that distinguish humans from robots make the differences between humans seem insignificant. Christians and Muslims have different beliefs, but at least they are both made from flesh and blood; Latinos and Asians may eat different foods, but at least they eat.
Across the board, humans become more accepting of religious, racial, and sexual differences when exposed to a robotic presence.
And sometimes, that awareness breeds results.
Eliminating Racial Bias And Gaps In Pay
scourge revolution is narrowing racial pay gaps. One study’s participants were asked to assign wages to a community of workers based solely on photographs and job descriptions. When working with a business with zero robotic incursion, the group consistently assigned lower wages to non-white workers. Strangely (or understandably, if you’ve been paying attention to this article), the same study participants assigned equitable (and larger!) wages to both white and non-white workers when robotic workers were introduced into the equation.
The very presence of robots in the workplace eliminates the racial pay gap.
Technology’s neat, right? Unfortunately, robots don’t have such a pleasant result on the gender pay gap. Turns out that the feminization of A.I. assistants doesn’t sit well with folks.
The moral of the story? Let’s make robots even more unhuman than they already are. And the next time a Terminator comes kicking in your door, be sure to thank them for all the social good they do.