Will automation take jobs?

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I’ve written about this before, but got into a discussion again, captured here.  Robots won’t – or needn’t – take our jobs.  Some reflections;

I think apocalyptic predictions about work automation miss history’s evidence that people will always find ways to harness human energy for profit. Potential never sits idle for long.

Specifically regarding today’s challenges, in the long term automation may reduce numbers of people, just as it has done in agriculture and manufacturing, but one thing is very different now: the velocity of change. Automation needs stability: defined repeatable tasks.

Machine learning helps automation adapt, but a balance of human and machine is essential to ensure agility (speed to change).and resilience (response to failure). We should think of automation as creating superhumans, not replacing them.

As automation increase productivity, and new ways of working and managing do too, we need to stop that being channeled into the wealth of a few, and distribute it better across the many. I’m all for a UBI backstop. I already live in a socialist country. I know it’s best.

To be fair, some people like doing a repetitive job.
And some jobs aren’t as mindless as they appear, e.g ticket seller. The job may be mindless but some enjoy the human interaction.
Even more importantly, we make jobs mindless when they dont need to be. If workers are empowered to think about their jobs and free to improve them, they cease to be mindless. I love the NUCOR Steel story. I’ve worked in a foundry.

 

So on multiple levels there is no imperative to eliminate all repetitive jobs. Nor is likely we will.