Automation leads to relaxation, or something else?

Is this your future?

Or is this what you see in your mind when you wake in the middle of the night in a cold sweat?

Unemployment : Desperate Businessman Showing Negative Graph

I’ve touched on this a few times in this blog (my most recent post, in fact) about how computing and machines are converging and are impacting our lives in profoundly positive and profoundly negative ways. Now this article from MIT asks whether robots create new jobs after they destroy the old ones. The long-term historical answer is definitely yes (not robots, but rather, automation) but that is no comfort to the armies of people who’ve been displaced by not just cheaper labor, but by machines, methods, and software. Just today I was in a 4 hour long presentation and demo from a software vendor who wants to sell me a product that promises to significantly reduce the amount of time it takes my team to compile information.  We’re talking a reduction from hours to seconds. I told them my goal is to get it to a point where the team members will not even have to think about it. The data will simply arrive in their view and they can perform activities against it. Does this reduce employment? I believe it will eventually mean we slow our hiring because we become more efficient. But what I’m also expecting is that it will offer a hope for better work with more personal satisfaction.  Also, in this specific case, it promises to deliver to our clients better and faster guidance for how to use our firm’s software products, which, in theory, should make them, in turn, more efficient organizations and able to sell more of whatever it is they sell.  Maybe that leads to employment.

I don’t buy the argument that all employment deserves protection. If we followed that logic, we’d all still be toiling in the fields of our ancestors in the glare of a withering sun.

About Peter Armaly
I get jazzed by automation, big data, and blockchain tech. Business, technology, and fitness are things I understand. Scotch, wine, food, and fiction are things I appreciate.

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