The New Stuff

Robots on the rise, will we lose our jobs?

You are afraid that manual labor jobs will be replaced by the robots, since it has already happened. But, professional are safe right?

IBM_Watson-webSay hello to Watson. Watson’s job is to be the best doctor in the world: to understand what people say in their words and give back accurate diagnoses. While Watson giving guidance on lung cancer treatment, lawyers are loosing job to the professional bots. The bulk of layering is actually ‘discovery’ which is where boxes of paperwork get dumped on the lawyers and they need to find the pattern or the out-of-place transaction among it all. Discovery, in particular, is already not a human job anymore in most of the US law firms. Clever research bots sift through millions of emails and memos and accounts in hours and they do it more accurately than humans.

See, these bots don’t need to be perfect, they just need to make fewer mistakes than humans to replace us.

After, Paleolithic age (since 10,000 BC) human started to settle down, agriculture and livestock became more stable source of food. Since then, we work for others. Some of us work to live and others live to work. We hate going to work, but, work also fulfill us. If you take a camera to interview a chocolate factory worker, she will try to establish how much she loves chocolate. But, she being in the job has nothing to do with her love of chocolate anymore. Not to the management and in the end not to herself as well. Do bulls and horses love toiling soil and carrying human around? Still they do it more efficiently and cost effectively than humans. Passions in workplace is only needed to keep you awake during the shift.

newyork-horse-jobsHowever, if you look at career life of horses, you will find a summary of 12,000 years of human careers and future. Horses were first needed to help us go distances, then, to fight wars. Later on, when they were not needed in battlefield, few remained in villages to toil soil and others left for the cities. In cities, they were doing less risky job with better food and care. And when auto mobile replaced them, they started working in entertainment and royal sectors. No more hard work, no more risks, easy life. Moreover, since 1960 horse population worldwide has gone down only by few millions, but, all of them have good life now. So, robots replacing our current jobs may not be that bad.

Our fear of machines eliminating the job has a long history. In 1764, when thread spinning machine: “Spinning Jenny” was invented by James Hargreaves, villagers attacked his home and destroyed his equipment to protect their livelihood. Later in 1811, English textile workers (called Luddites) started to protest and destroy all labor-economizing technology for fear of being forced out of work. Economists now use the term “Luddite fallacy” to explain the fear that technological advancement will lead to unemployment. But, while machines throws people out of jobs, it also creates new job dimensions in other sectors. When automated looms were built, consumers experienced lower prices and therefore, after buying clothes, they had more disposable income to buy other goods.

In 1972, people would earn the amount of money needed to buy a color TV was worth income of 2 years of his work  and now you can afford a slimmer one with your half month’s salary. Recently, Switzerland declared 6 hours of office per day to let people spend more time with family.

We are spending less time working to procure food and meeting basic survival needs but, that doesn’t mean we have become lazy. We have freed ourselves up to solve other problems. When robots perform mundane tasks, more people will be involved in uniquely human jobs.

Studs Terkel interviewed 130 people about their jobs in 1974. Many, felt their work gave their lives meaning to accompany the earned daily bread, but, others felt trapped,

“I’m caged” said the bank cashier.

“A monkey can do what I do” said the receptionist.

“I’m an object” said the fashion model.


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