Humans Love-Hate Relationship With Automation

Back in the 1950’s and 60’s people said “In the future, nobody will have to work!” now they complain “In the future, there will be no jobs!” .

I┬áhave a very simple solution to this: If you automate your job, you keep getting paid for it. This would need to be a law, because obviously few companies are going to comply voluntarily, but they should, and here’s why:

Robots don’t sue you for getting hurt/killed on the job. They rarely show up drunk and get sick far less often than humans. They are massively more productive and don’t complain about office chairs or lack of natural light. They don’t form unions or demand health insurance. Long story short, it’s still a net-gain to automate even if it doesn’t reduce salary expenses.

But it gets better. With this kind of motivation, workers won’t only welcome automation, but they will help design it. Not only does this make the transition less painful, it also means the results will be superior because people who know the job will be working cooperatively to automate it. Hell, some people might find out they like it so much they go on to another job and repeat the process.

FWIW this is a normal mode of thought for programmers, going into a new task and thinking about how you’re going to automate yourself out of it. Imagine if the entire workforce approached problems this way, without fear that doing so would result in financial ruin?

So in the long run we have more robots doing work while people continue to get paid, and employers enjoy lower expenses and smarter workers. I know that win- win scenarios are not fashionable, but I think if we were willing to give up on our precious fear, it might just work.

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// jjg

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