Delay in App Update and Thoughts on Drones/Robots

Well, it seems that if you upgrade your development mac to a Beta version of OS X, the App Store won’t let you submit an update to your app. While I understand the limitations in the past, that if you used a beta version of the compiler the app could not be submitted, this one is a bit of a surprise.  I am not sure what Xcode is doing from a build perspective where the OS version would impact it.  Oh well, I guess I will wait until the GA of the latest OS X beta.

While I was contemplating the impact of the OS on the build process, I read an article about an IndieGoGo campaign for a Fire Fighting drone.  The article was more a cautionary tale about crowd funding, but my brain (as it is want to do sometimes) wondered to a totally different thought.  As we get more automation and innovation in the world, we look at those jobs that are dangerous or low skilled as easy pickings for new robotic solutions.  This removes the low end of the job market for many people.  We justify this by saying, this will bring new opportunity for high skilled and higher paying jobs.  While at one level, this logic makes sense, I find that we don’t address the other half of the problem.  That is, as we take away low skilled, low paying jobs, we reduce the ability for people to enter the job market at all.  Especially if we are driven by quarterly P & L statements, which reduce the incentive to take the profit and invest it into job training and education projects for displaced, low skill labor.

Drones that fight fires, would reduce loss of life and address the safety concerns of fight fires…but would we program a device to rescue a dog, in a high rise fire, if that would result in a 25% likelihood of losing the drone?  How about 50%?  75%?  What about a “priceless” piece of art?  What about an elderly relative who is on life support, and likely to die tomorrow?  What calculation would be made?

While a robot might perform skilled manufacturing for a complex piece of new technology, would the person who just got displaced by the robot be able to afford the new tech?  Do I need to continue to fund a pension plan for workers displaced by the robot?  

While robots may be a critical technology for those countries with negative population growth, they just don’t have enough workers to support their parents and grandparents … Enabling this technology (which I truly find to be cool and exciting) doesn’t mean that it will only be used in those countries where workers are hard to find.  Companies are global not local, and they will leverage the technology to improve their quarterly results globally.

Technology consistently moves faster than legislation and at times faster then morality… I believe we need to foster both at the same level.  We need to ensure that as we enable the next level of technology, we don’t leave behind our parents and grandparents or our kids and grandkids, and that we continue to innovate at the society level… Science fiction stories have two tropes, one where we no longer have to work and spend our time in leisure served by happy robots, and one where we are the servants of the robots.  I hope we find our path to the first and not the latter.  In order to find that path, we need to make sure that we don’t just focus on the P&L statement of corporations, but we focus on society as a whole.