October 24, 2012

PHIL BOWERMASTER: Robots Will Steal Your Job.

Some will argue that, based on history, only luddites and the technologically (or economically) ignorant fear a machine takeover of the full human employment space. The “threat” of automation has never panned out. So far. Then again, machines are getting smarter and faster at an exponential rate; we are not. So it could be that we will all end up being yoga instructors, experiencing a transition to a whole new economic model, one wherein we are increasingly employed in the lucrative field of value-added intermediation — filling the gaps the machines can’t.

On the other hand, machine capabilities may improve so fast that they leave very little gap for us to intermediate. Or there might be limited economic value in the gaps we can fill. The possibility of a truly painful transition is out there and it’s very real.

In the long run, however, there is an exponential trend that favors us. The overall human condition is improving exponentially, and has been for some time. Vast improvements in machine capability are just a subset of, and contributing factor towards, that overall trend. In fact, it may turn out that we need these machines — and their ability to do everything we can do faster and better — to keep that trend going.

Some interesting times lie ahead. Everything may work out great, but I think Pistono’s advice about having a backup plan makes a lot of sense. In fact, maybe a couple or three backup plans wouldn’t be out of the question.

The book is Federico Pistono’s Robots Will Steal Your Job, But That’s Okay.

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