Opinion: The world of work had become too specialised and too monotonous; automation is a good thing

By Dave Olsen

April 8, 2020

Automation is advancing all the time. Self-driving cars based on AI and machine learning are already far safer than human drivers, and technology can seem to be taking over our whole lives.

Some people don’t see this as a threat, on the grounds that all prior technological revolutions have created more jobs than those with which they have dispensed. They contend that this revolution, too, will further our prosperity and bring us closer to a society without joblessness.

Others, though, rightly point out that this time, things are a little different. Until recently, we have created machines which have largely taken over our physical capacities, leaving humans with the edge in cognitive abilities. Slowly, though, machines have come to aid us and even beat us in some cognitive fields  —  and the pace of change here will only quicken.

There are, then, two responses to this theory. One suggests that we need to halt automation to preserve the relevance of humanity and ensure our continued prosperity. The other, as I will outline, suggests that, rather than a dystopian future of irrelevance, humans will be able to, with state intervention, be able to live better and more fulfilling lives.

Currently, with the many lockdowns playing out around the world, we are getting back in touch with nature, our passions, and the people closest to us — all because we have been freed of work.

Jobs, really, are good only if they provide two things: purpose, at the core of the human psyche, and money, for our essential needs and to pursue other desires.

The world of work had become too specialised, and thus, too monotonous. It was boring, and the meaning and purpose had, for many, been sucked out of their jobs. If robots can take over the many dead-end, dull jobs, then that, surely, is a good thing.

And, even if robots take over jobs, money won’t immediately stop flowing, because you don’t need to pay a machine. You can pay the humans which AI have replaced.

The point, then, is this: mass joblessness seems inevitable, because we have nothing left to offer, over and above the physical and cognitive abilities of AI and machines. But, though it is inevitable, it is not necessarily a danger.

It will be a chance for people to re-engage with their true passions, people, and nature. It will provide the opportunity for genuine fulfilment and purpose. It will not create destitution and poverty; rather, it will bring about ever-faster growth, a healthier planet, and a healthier population.

Dave Olsen is the content director at Politika.

This article is curated from politika.org.uk

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