The Future of Work and Death
Directed by Sean Blackwell and Wayne Walsh (2016)
I found this documentary really disappointing, owing to the mostly one sided view it presents of modern technology. Many Silicon Valley gurus predict 25% of unskilled robots will be replaced by robots by 2025, with as many as 60% of blue and white collar jobs replaced by mid-century. Already software programs are making key administrative decision regarding mortgage applications and insurance claims, as well as assisting doctors with diagnostic and treatment decisions (they make fewer mistakes than doctors).
What bothered me most about the film were all the claims made about industrialized farming and industrialized medicine improving our quality of life by making food cheaper and rendering people “disease resistance.” Although industrialized agriculture makes food cheaper, the food it produces is far less nutritious, in addition to being contaminated with toxic chemicals and frequently pathogenic organisms. Meanwhile the industrialization of farming has also destroyed 90% of our topsoil, in addition to contaminating much of our drinking water.
Moreover health in most people is deteriorating, not improving, with a decline in US life expectancy. Recent decades have seen an exponential increase in chronic illness, due to air pollution and toxic contamination of our water and food.
The filmmakers also wrongly attribute the 40 year increase in lifespan last century to the marvels of modern medicine. The vast majority of epidemiologists attribute the spike in life expectancy among white Europeans to improved nutritional levels. With minority life expectancy closer to that of developing countries, it seems safe to assume that increasing European longevity relates to their ability to monopolize an unfair share of the Earth’s resources.
The last half of the film concerns the transhumanist movement, which seems to focus mainly on anti-aging research and ways of using artificial intelligence to allow very rich white people to live forever by uploading their consciousness to a computer platform.
Anyone with a public library card can view this documentary free on Kanopy. Type “Kanopy” and the name of your library into your search engine to register.