What will Edie do? Maybe she can be a lawyer, we will always need humans to argue on our behalf right? A writer? no computer can add soul to content like a human can — this is my thought process, as the idea of the inevitability of large swaths of jobs one day being completely automated by the time our two-year-old is of age. As we all know, self-driving cars are here, you can sign up on Tesla’s site to order one right now. Uber and Apple are also testing out driver-less cars as well. There are legalities still at play in many states, but the writing and money savings are on the wall. On the consumer level the idea of self-driving cars is incredibly sexy to someone like me because I hate driving and have actually dreamt of self-driving cars since my college years when I would have to make the 7+ hour drive home between semesters.
But as convenient as the idea is for my car to one day be able to parallel park itself, it would be very short-sighted if we thought driver-less personal cars were a period to the conversation instead of a comma. If we can have driver-less cars, why not driver-less trucks? The implication of no longer having to hire drivers to operate trucks to ship goods cross-country (rough estimation of 8 million jobs) would cast a major blow to our economy. Depicted below is a breakdown of the most common job by state.
Yes, I think driver-less cars much like the internet will be a mainstay someday. But why stop at driver-less cars/trucks? What about robots instead of surgeons? You wanna talk about steady hands and all the world’s knowledge readily and instantaneously available?
— All this to say, I believe it’s not too far-fetched of an idea, to think we could one day innovate ourselves out of jobs.
Before you come at me with “but Tracey, what about the Great Industrial Revolution in the 1800’s?– won’t we just adapt?”. My theory is that some of us — those skilled in computer programming, will still have thriving careers but a large portion of us particularly the last threads of the middle-class might find themselves without full-time opportunities.
With robots at the helm, there wouldn’t be a need to pay for benefits, wages, 401k contributions, raises etc. basically everything it cost employers to hire and maintain employees. This is where the idea of basic income seems to make more and more sense to me.
Enough money so that poverty would cease to exist in America and that social safety net programs would vanish overnight. Families could have the flexibility to have one parent stay home with their children and we could end world hunger, and finally have peace in the middle east 🙂 …alright alright I know unicorns don’t fart glitter.. one can dream though right?
I have more questions than answers at this point, but the more we invent and streamline work the harder it becomes to justify keeping jobs around for the sake of keeping them around.
What do you think?
Food for thought.