For many years now, we've been saying that seminaries and religious studies centers ought to set up task forces to recommend ethical guidelines on the ever-expanding roles of robots in homes, workplaces, and communities. In the last paragraph of this paperback, Andres Oppenheimer, CNN Espanol Anchor, writes:
"Priests, imams, rabbis, and all sorts of spiritual gurus will enjoy job security for quite some time because our existential questions will not go away. As we have already seen happen for several years now, the disintegration of families and the growing loneliness of many people despite — or because of — an increasingly connected digital universe will generate a greater need for spiritual guides who can help us find meaning in life. It will be hard for robots and algorithms — regardless of how much information they might have — to replace the warm, personal touch of a spiritual guide. Spiritual retreats and mindfulness classes will keep growing and multiplying. And they won't be led by virtual assistants, but by real people, many of whom will be relying on stories and words of wisdom that have been around for thousands of years."
In the next decade, 47% of jobs may be replaced by robots or intelligent computers. Growing numbers of jobs are vanishing: elevator attendants, telephone operators, factory workers, and garbage collectors. Just around the corner, these jobs have a 97% risk of disappearing: real estate brokers, travel agents, and cashiers. Even bankers, journalists, lawyers, and teachers are experiencing pangs of fear about their future unemployment.
Oppenheimer takes us to Japan where robot-staffed hotels already exist. He talks with high-tech companies in South Korea, Israel, and Silicon Valley to hear about the changes on the horizon. Futurists are among those who believe that we are not prepared for this wide-spread transformation of work and, as a result, there are many unhappy, frightened, and helpless unemployed people around the world.
The Robots Are Coming! is a wake-up call for all spiritual counselors, service organizations, and foundations to find more ways to cope with the varied ethical aspects of the age of automation.