Robots Will Not Take All the Jobs

Robots will not take all the jobs.

When new technologies emerge they frequently are accompanied by incredible hype. Each new technology will replace everything including the kitchen sink. Then reality pushes in and we find that the new technology provides a cost-effective solution with appropriate convenience in a few markets. These markets may be large or small; but they are only vary rarely all encompassing. Examples of such technologies include WORM, digitally encoded videodisc, CD-ROM, digital cameras, etc. etc.

A recent example of a technology with such hype is Robotics; “Your job, and every job, goes to a machine.”

Marc Andreessen of Andreessen Horowitz demurs and wrote an excellent piece titled This is Probably a Good Time to Say That I Don’t Believe Robots Will Eat All the Jobs …

Marc has credibility because he is a successful venture capitalist. Further … “Marc co-created the highly influential Mosaic Internet browser and cofounded Netscape, which later sold to AOL for $4.2 billion. He also cofounded Loudcloud, which as Opsware sold to Hewlett-Packard for $1.6 billion.”

Marc agrees that “it is certainly true that technological change displaces current work and jobs (and that is a serious issue that must be addressed)”. He goes on to suggest ways to address this issue.

Robots will not take all the jobs

But Marc points out that for all jobs to be lost to machines you must believe that “either (a) There won’t be new wants and needs (which runs counter to human nature); or (b) It won’t matter that there are new wants and needs, most people won’t be able to adapt to, or contribute/have jobs in the new fields where those new wants and needs are being created.”

Marc also notes “advocating for slowing technological change to preserve jobs equals advocating for the punishment of consumers, and stalling the march of quality of life improvements.”

Marc goes on to make four excellent points:

  • “There is still an enormous gap between what many people do in jobs today, and what robots and AI can replace. And there will be for decades.
  • Even when robots and AI are far more powerful, there will still be many things that people can do that robots and AI can’t. For example: creativity, innovation, exploration, art, science, entertainment, and caring for others.
  • When automation is abundant and cheap, human experiences become rare and valuable. It flows from our nature as human beings.
  • Just as most of us today have jobs that weren’t even invented 100 years ago, the same will be true 100 years from now.”

Conclusion

Marc makes his point eloquently. I would add, just once, it would be nice to watch the emergence of a new technology accompanied with only a lot of hype.

References

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