Robots are taking over the workforce. It’s a remarkable showing of human ingenuity—and a huge problem for working Americans.
The next time you’re daydreaming at work, think about the tasks you’ve performed that day. Be honest with yourself about what parts of them have involved skills that you think are unique to human cognition: Empathy, maybe? Creative, nonlinear thinking? Sure. But putting things in a spreadsheet? A robot could do that. Building something? A robot could definitely do that, too. And then remember, the robots don’t stop to daydream.
In 2015, the pace of automation increased dramatically. The looming promise—and peril—of self-driving cars was the catalyst for much of this attention. And, indeed, that may be the form of automation that initially upends the American landscape. For many people, it will mean a break from boring commutes and an end to the scourge of car-related deaths (which kill as many people as breast cancer or guns in any given year). But there is another side to the story. Just ask the truck drivers: Because of self-driving technology, one of the most common jobs in America is very likely going to disappear. How will the economy absorb these robot-displaced workers?
Most jobs, it turns out, involve a great amount of easily automated busy work. No one is immune, and few tasks are actually not busy work. Even writers are being replaced by machines that can turn out entirely serviceable articles. A world where most of the work is performed by machines could either be a paradise of creativity or a hell of unemployment and income inequality. The solution may be to create a universal basic income. If not that, we’ll need to find another one soon.
Read and see more: Don’t Kid Yourself, A Robot Could Do Your Job: 2015 In Automation
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