You can’t live forever — so don’t worry too much about automation…

At the risk of simply repeating myself (I do a lot of that), I think we humans may well be doomed. We are doing our race in by way of our rush to automate everything — turn over all work (physical and mental) to machines, robots, computers, what have you (I know it’s the computers that run all that).

Again, I know I’m likely repeating myself here, but I recall quite some time ago a family member assuring me that those who do jobs that are, shall we say, more cerebral? do not have as much to fear. Wrong. It seems, as one article I just read and will try to link you to below, says that automation is moving up the food chain into heretofore seemingly safe jobs. In other words it is not just low-wage and low skill-jobs being threatened.

For the past 20 years now (or almost anyway) I have been working as an over-the-road truck driver. I’m not sure where that fits in on the chain (I mean if you ask me it is relatively low pay — but everything is relative to something else — but it does take a certain amount of skill, and patience), but one might think such work would be impervious to automation. But, as you know, driverless cars are a reality (I have not seen any on the road yet, but laws have already been passed to allow them), and as you may or may not know, driverless trucks have already been tested out. The video I saw was actually one truck with a driver leading a pack of others without — but in eventual practice it would be all driverless.

I firmly believe that within the decade the so-called driver shortage will be dealt with by the introduction of remote-controlled trucks. There will be other drastic changes too, but hard to predict.

But through the use of ever-faster computers and the use of algorithms (and I am out of my league here) and big data, robots have been or are being designed to do all kinds of work in the legal field, medicine, and other endeavors. They have been of course initially employed where the work is redundant (standard contracts, sorting out pills), but now also in things heretofore thought only able to be done by the human brain.

You really can’t stop this kind of thing. If you even try or suggest you are called a “Luddite” (workers in England who destroyed machinery during the Industrial Revolution ) and no one wants to be called that.

Now we might move into a world where none of us has to do real work, where we have time to enjoy nature and, well, each other.

But, again, I am repeating myself, but how would we decide how to share limited resources? Now we use money as a kind of token that gives us our share (and perhaps much more for some of us). Most of us get these tokens through traditional employment. Some of us are more clever and through the wonders of capitalism we amass tokens and then loan them out at interest and accumulate more tokens by doing that. And then the real lucky souls receive their tokens the old-fashioned way — they inherit them.

So I don’t know. I had always hoped that through some fluke I might live forever. Maybe this coming reality gives me some solace, as reality tells me I can’t live forever.


A link to a piece in the New York Times on this subject:

I hope that link worked. If not, check out the opinion section of the April 19 edition of the Times.

P.s. P.s

It is hard to imagine or even hope for a world without work. I mean work is part of culture and culture is what separates humans from the rest of the animal world.




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