I hope you're not sitting there, ideally reading this, cosy in the idea that your job is safe. The machine you are reading this on will one day rise up… and make you redundant, obsolete.
If you look at evolution, and if you look at capitalism, this is our journey. (There's more on this in chapter 3 of Stuffocation. We'll publish the key sections on the Future is Already Here in due course.) We find better, more efficient ways of doing things, and discard the old, less efficient methods.
And so it will be with humans. Computers and robots don't make mistakes. They are reliable. They don't complain about working too hard or too long or that a thing is repetitive. And they are, in the long term, cheap too.
- The book to read is Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future by Martin Ford.
- There are countless articles (and we'll see more and more in the future). In Will robots take our jobs? Experts can't decide on The Guardian, Pew Research gathered the opinions of 2,000 experts on what the future will bring for humans.
- In 5 white-collar jobs robots already have taken, Forbes.com says computers, robots, and AI are already replacing humans as:
- financial and sports reporters
- online marketers
- anaesthesiologists, surgeons, and diagnosticians
- e-discovery lawyers and law firm associates
- financial analysts and advisors
- The Forbes article refers to a study by University of Oxford researchers Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne who have estimated that 47% of total U.S. jobs could be automated and taken over by computers by 2033.
- The expert to consider, above all others, is Ray Kurzweil.
- You might also like the final section of Why The West Rules For Now by Ian Morris (though we think Morris goes a bit far in his utopian or dystopian prediction. His skills lie as an historian, and his visions of the future are overly simplistic).
We believe far more in a utopian vision of the future: that the rise of the robots is a positive step forward for humankind. While some think humans will simply become obsolete, and that robots will rise up and do without us. That's daft, in our opinion. We prefer the horse vs car analogy. We will become, if you like, akin to horses. As machines take over the dull tasks of work, we will evolve into beings whose role is not associated with work, but with leisure and sport. That will have vast ramifications for how our societies are structured, of course. Education, for instance, will be about preparing us for lives of consumption rather than production (as much education was before the 20th century).
If robots do take 47% (and more) of our jobs, it will be a very good thing.