As robotics and automation become increasingly important to American industry, their implementation raises a certain number of questions, mostly concerned with the interaction between technology and human worker. Some people would say that the adoption of robotics will lead to vast unemployment and the widening gap of wealth. But many other people would counter that these alarmists aren’t seeing the whole picture–
Man vs. robot
by Peter Nowak
It’s easy to tell when a new technology has reached critical mass – discussions over its long-term effects start kicking into overdrive. That’s happening now with robots and how they are going to affect the human job market.
Conventional thinking has always held that automation and robots have historically been good things, because when a machine takes over a task, the human who used to do it is forced to do something smarter and better. This has had traditional repercussions both great and small, from auto assembly line workers necessarily having to upgrade their skills or maybe even start their own businesses, to regular people simply not having to remember minutiae like phone numbers because machines do it for them. Machines have traditionally freed our brains to worry about other, more important stuff.
However, in a recent 60 Minutes interview, MIT professors Erik Brynjolfsson and Bruce Welty raised a worrying issue – that robotic development has now reached the exponential phase, which means that machines are taking over human tasks faster than humans can come up with new and better things to do. [...]
Wired writer Kevin Kelly, on the other hand, takes a more optimistic approach when he says that we can’t even imagine the jobs we’ll create because of this increasing automation. Humans’ role in the future will thus be the same as it is now: to create jobs that only people can do at first, with those tasks eventually falling to machines, whereupon the cycle will keep repeating.
Read the full article at Macleans. What are your thoughts? What sort of highly-automated world can you imagine? What sort of creativity will we employ as we start creating new jobs?