Monthly Archives: July 2014

This is Probably a Good Time to Say That I Don’t Believe Robots Will Eat All the Jobs …

This is my first attempt to reblog a post, but I wanted to expand on some of the ideas presented in this post. I wanted to post this as a comment, but that wasn’t an option.

I happen to agree with the thoughts expressed by this author. There is no finite amount of work to do (the act of even finding work is work in itself). Therefore, anytime a robot replaces a job, the more valuable human worker can apply his or her efforts to greater tasks. All the human worker needs is a reapplication and expansion of existing skills, acquisition of new skills, and a marriage of skills to available tasks. Ideally, this person is fairly compensated for their work, but that is a discussion for another time.

There is a new thought I would like to develop in the midst of this hypothesis. It is a bit of a dystopian thought. We all naturally assume that people will remain superior to robots because “robots lack that essential thing that is human.”

Here is my thought: Humans would never allow a robot to fail as badly as they would allow a human to fail. Think about it. Robots are disposable but people linger on. It is the allowance of human failure that ultimately would lead to greater human success. It is through our failures that we learn our most important lessons. If my phone breaks (badly enough), I take it to the store and get a new one. Replacing people doesn’t quite work that way, despite what your boss or job description say.

What do you think?

Marc Andreessen

Image; Tobias Higbie Image: Tobias Higbie


One of the most interesting topics in modern times is the “robots eat all the jobs” thesis. It boils down to this: Computers can increasingly substitute for human labor, thus displacing jobs and creating unemployment. Your job, and every job, goes to a machine.

This sort of thinking is textbook Luddism, relying on a “lump-of-labor” fallacy – the idea that there is a fixed amount of work to be done. The counterargument to a finite supply of work comes from economist Milton Friedman — Human wants and needs are infinite, which means there is always more to do. I would argue that 200 years of recent history confirms Friedman’s point of view.

If the Luddites had it wrong in the early 19th century, the only way their line of reasoning works today is if you believe this time is…

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