The Authorities in the West are in a right muddle about three of the most important problems that have cropped up over the last few decades and will affect us in a few more decades to come: how to deal with immigrants from ‘less affluent’ countries; how to deal with robots which seem to be getting more intelligent by the day; and how to deal with the natural wish of all humans to live longer lives.
And these Authorities just aren’t talking to one another. Think about it.
When a few years ago refugees fleeing world-wide conflicts and also economic migrants seeking a better lifestyle, arrived in the West — especially the countries of the European Union and the UK — the Governments had a choice: turn them back at borders or in the middle of the Mediterranean, or benignly, accept them with open arms. To ‘virtual signal’ as they call it today, and let’s face it, to save a lot of hassle, the latter decision was taken. Not only was it the right thing to do, the indigenous people were told, but these immigrants would bring great benefits to the country: more workers.
Migrants were needed now, it seemed, and would be even more so in the future because, with the high rate of contraception and feminism, the populations in the West were just not having enough children these days. They were not even reaching replacement levels, and the Government warned us that within a few decades we should run out of workers, especially in the service industries and the NHS. A few years ago, this sounded feasible, so we didn’t argue (much); we accepted the different cultures and the crowded cities. The immigrants and their children would, after all, look after all our elderly people when the following generation would not be there to do so.
But then some scientists took the science fiction stories they read rather too far and started to create intelligent robots that would soon be able to do whatever people can do, from building our houses to doing our accounts. And, of course, looking after our childless elderly. So perhaps these new migrants will lose their jobs or perhaps even that better lifestyle they were seeking. Because the robots, with their rapidly increasing intelligence, include one who has learned to make and flip a hamburger in 10 seconds (goodbye McDonalds crew). And, going up the scale, there is another which can not only do a labouring job but even build, as it goes along, any new tool when the old one wears out, so displacing a whole factory of human tool-builders.
Meanwhile, other scientists, tucked away in their ivory-towered laboratories, have been working to find what the human race has always wanted, the Fountain of Youth, an extended lifespan. And they have done reasonably well so far, with a lot of people in the West now living into their 80s or longer, even if many of them still need the care that immigrants can give them towards the end of that life. But one day soon these scientists are going to realise why St Paul said in the bible that ‘the span of a man’s life is three score and ten’ and they are going to work out that while developing medication and slicing and splicing genes helps, it is the number of years that women can bear children which is important.
As far as nature is concerned, a woman must be able to care for her youngest child until it reaches the age of reproduction; her mate must also be around for that length of time to defend and provide for his youngest offspring for the same reason. Now, the latest age (roughly) at which a woman can conceive is fifty-five, and the latest age (roughly) that a child reaches puberty is fifteen. Put them together, and you get the magic age of seventy. Therefore after that age, there is no reason, as far as nature is concerned, for either the mother or father to remain alive.
How long will it be before these scientists who want to extend healthy life to both men and women realise that there are two avenues they can try to do so. They can either delay the age at which it is possible for women to conceive children until the age of, say, 50, 60 or later which would mean decades of pre-puberty tantrums or find some way of extending the breeding years in a woman. And once they start on that route, how long is it going to take them to achieve their aim?
That, of course, sounds more like science fiction than real life, but then, so did intelligent robots a few years ago. If they do succeed, there is another issue for those brainy scientists still seeking the Fountain of Youth: A woman of child-bearing age will remain healthy and attractive to the opposite sex, and a man who is able to father children will remain attractive to a woman who, even if she is not aware of the fact, will unconsciously be looking for a healthy, strong and, these days, intelligent man to father her children. Job done! But if a woman is able to bear children up to the age of 120… imagine the number of children she might have, contraception and feminism notwithstanding. The world is over-populated as it is.
And this is problem number three for those Authorities in the West — how to cope with a long-living and vastly larger population. Now add problem number two, the rapid development of increasingly intelligent robots which, within a few decades will be taking over most jobs done by humans at present. And on top of that, add in problem number one, how will the countries deal with what will surely continue to be a flow of hopeful immigrants who will no longer be needed?
Large populations. Most work carried out by robots. A command economy with the state issuing money to everyone. And a great deal of leisure with which not everyone will be able to cope.
So, here’s a fourth problem which our Authorities have not yet considered:
To mention the Bible once again, we know only too well just who would deal with all those idle hands