In almost all the mainstream media there’s a very common theme when it comes to jobs and Robots. They all want to shock you into clicking their links to begin with by using dramatic headings.
However after that most pieces go on the defense. They try and paint the findings that robots will replace jobs over the coming decades in a positive light.
They try and comfort everyone by claiming that many things will need a “human touch”. That computers just aren’t capable of doing X or that look, humans can work besides robots! But the results that robots will replace jobs is neither positive nor negative. It just is what it is. Hypothetical predictions of the future.
When cars took over from horses at the turn of the 1900’s it wasn’t because cars were evil and wanted to murder all horses. It was just that we had a new piece of technology that was leagues better. It was faster, enabled more to be done in shorter periods of time and enabled entirely new industries.
Looking back now this seems clear, but we must remember to see automation, robotics and AI in a similar light now. It’s not evil. It’s not trying to take over the world (yet). The purpose of scientists and companies working on things like robots and AI isn’t to harm. They’re doing it to solve real world problems.
- To give the increasingly overwhelming number of elderly people better palliative care.
- Removing humans from driving so that the 1.25 million people that died last year in car accidents can be saved next year.
- To enable new levels of manufacturing precision.
- Aiding the disabled in life changing ways.
- To open up new frontiers, solve the unsolvable problems and quite likely also make some money on the way.
Jobs Will Be Destroyed
There’s no doubt about this. There are more and more studies into this showing that 20%, 40% or even more of jobs will disappear. And while jobs have always disappeared and been created over history make no mistake, this time is very different.
Previously machines were used to take over from physical tasks. Things such as horses muscles or even human muscles that were used to transport goods and build things. This time around Machine Learning will be replacing the mental components. You think you’re a wiz in Excel? Computers can do it with fewer mistakes, instantly, 24/7/365 and for free.
There is no competing with robots and AI when it comes to work. As explained in detail before, companies want it, customers want it and it makes almost everything better. Despite all this added improvement though people tend to only focus on the person who is replaced. Millions of customers might receive a 10x better service, for half the price and company profits might sore… but in return a team of people might be made redundant.
Now I don’t want to push aside the fact that you or I may one day lose our job. It will be a big change to whomever it happens to and no doubt a sobering experience. But with the level of job losses that are being predicted there is a seriously positive upside that most people sorely miss.
Looking Forward To The Robots
While it may be difficult to envisage now, I see robots replacing mental tasks as a very enviable thing to look forward to. To explain why I’ll use another example from history, the washing machine.
Previously humans (mostly women) would spend huge amounts of time manually washing clothes. Depending on how far back you go it would involve collecting wood, starting a fire, boiling water, letting clothes soak overnight, rubbing clothes over washing boards, passing them through wringing rollers, hanging them up to dry and on and on.
This would take, as you can imagine, huge amounts of time and physical effort. Often an entire day would be dedicated to it, then along came the washing machine.
It takes me roughly 1 minute to pile in the weeks clothes, chuck in some laundry detergent and hit “start” on our washing machine. I then walk off and do whatever I want. The amount of time this one machine has opened up and saved is incalculable and it is because of this example you should be eagerly awaiting robots to steal your job.
Freedom Of The Mind
Most people hate their jobs or at least wish they were free to do something else instead of being stuck behind their desk all week. Robots, machine learning and other advances are starting to make this wish possible! To finally allow us to simply live life and enjoy it without having to worry about all the crap that we really don’t want to do.
To be clear I’m talking about waking up in a house that has a robot maid that cleans everything for you. Not having a job because robots and AI maintain the vast majority of systems and infrastructure essentially for free. Having basic human amenities like water, power, food be so cheap as to be practically free because companies can produce them at virtually no cost.
What would you do waking up on that day?
Humans Aren’t Lazy
It’s at this point that people with no imagination claim that things will just end up like the movie Wall-E. Everyone fat, watching TV and throwing away their lives.
This will no doubt happen to some people. There are many people that currently do this and we’ve barely scratched the surface of robotics and AI. However most prefer to exercise, stay healthy, explore the world, go out on dates, have parties with friends and go on adventures. Binge watching <insert popular TV show here> is great and fun once in awhile… but only for so long.
I’d bet a substantial sum of money that if you woke up in the robotic AI future where no job or house duties were required of you, you’d be ecstatic and find endless things to do. People would still choose to do work like science or building things because they love doing it. It wouldn’t pay them anything but they would instead do it because they’re driven to. Because they must. And when humans create something with love instead of being forced to because they have to pay off their college debt you get far better results.
To me robots stealing our jobs is a key step to a far, far better future. One where not only our muscles but our minds are free to do as we please. To live our lives how we choose and do the things we love for decades and decades. It will no doubt be a bumpy transition as we search to define new ways of living, performing work and dealing with money.
But perhaps we can push through the turbulence with the idea of a better world in mind. One where we wake up to live, not waste it.
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