There is a very well done video sailing around the Internet today called “Humans Need Not Apply.” It is a short editorialized documentary about the role computers will play in the coming years. That role being a voracious consumer of human jobs.
No job is safe, according to the video, not even creative work. Computers exist that will learn to do whatever you do, and companies will replace you with them, thus saving themselves millions, putting all of us out of work, and bringing about the fall of modern society.
Here’s the video:
Some jobs are in jeopardy of being assumed by robots. No question. But all of them? Fall of modern civilization? No.
Technology Is Not Community
Baristas are mentioned a number of times in the video as people whose jobs are, as the video puts it, “over.” Automated coffee machines will take their jobs because “most people don’t care. They just want a good cup of coffee.” But this argument exists in a world where the only reason a person goes into a coffee shop is to get a cup of coffee.
I go to my local coffee shop for lots of reasons. Coffee is one of them, but I also go because I like it there. I like the people who work there. I’m not just buying coffee, I’m buying the lifestyle of a person who drinks fine coffee in the company of others who do the same. I have used coffee machines in Europe, and while they make a pretty decent cup, they are not, nor will they ever be, the same thing. There are still patisseries on the streets of France.
Espresso machines are already a pushbutton affair, for the most part. They’re automated as far as they can be without removing the barista herself. Why? Because she’s necessary. Without her there’s no experience.
Power Isn’t Sexy If You Can’t Sleep With It
Have you ever felt that management sometimes seems to hire more people simply so that management can say it oversees more people? Have you ever known anyone to put on their resume how many direct/indirect reports they manage? Absolutely and of course. Why? Because overseeing people is powerful and power is desirable. Do people also put down how many computers are under their control? Sometimes. But who gets a corner office: the admin of 1000 computers or the manager of 1000 people?
Power is sexy, but it’s a lot less sexy when the power you have is over something you can’t, except perhaps in some parts of Japan, fornicate with.
Simply put, let’s all calm down. Robots might be coming, but Skynet isn’t around the corner.