Friday, November 25, 2016

Humans Need Not Apply

This video gives an explanation for how robots and AI may overtake nearly all jobs in the not-so-distant future, a premise which before fell under the process of creative destruction. As menial labor jobs are destroyed, jobs open up to to maintenance and building those robots.

However, Grey brings up the idea — what about when those robots can just build and maintain themselves?

Also here's another interesting article about the same idea.

Some questions I think might be good to think about are:

Is the analogy comparing humans losing their jobs to horses losing their jobs valid?

What can humans do in the future if the demand for humans is so low? Will human populations fall as there is less to do in the world?

Are there positive and negative externalities to humans not having jobs?

Would this lead to a Star Trek-esque society (where people don't have to work because scarcity is a thing of the past so people just do stuff in order to live a more fulfilled life)?


  1. 1. I think the analogy comparing humans losing their jobs to horses losing their job has valid points. Like at the end of the video, the narrator stated that horses are unemployable. I believe that increasing technology can create jobs, but not at the same rate in which jobs are destroyed. This analogy makes sense, but in my opinion, it is a loose analogy. The foundation of the analogy, however, is valid.

    2. If the demand for humans is low in the future, I think we will adapt. Populations will fall. I disagree with the notion that creativity does not create jobs. I believe that although technology is taking over basic human jobs, there will be things that only humans can do. I think there will always be some sort of demand for humans to fill certain job positions. As the demand decreases, I think we should focus on working to better the technology. Technology is good, but there are flaws, as there are with us as well.

    3. Positive externalities to humans not having jobs would be the benefit of the labor of robots, and the economy may benefit as a result as robots don't require wages. Negative externalities may include pollution or environmental harm.

    4. I don't know if I have the place to predict such a far-fetched idea, but, I can't imagine a world where nobody has to work. However, I can also imagine a world in which robots take over so that we don't have to do anything. I hope they are benevolent. But I think there will always be some sort of scarcity.

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    1. No one cares until it’s their job. People do not care about who is losing a job, what sort of technology is coming down the pipe, and/or what trends are affecting the market unless it directly affects them. When factory workers were replaces by automation, most people were ambivalent. It didn’t affect them. Shareholders in companies probably were happy, since it meant more profits and greater gains for their portfolios. However, I think that we are at the point that the vast majority of us are quickly becoming replaceable, yet no one really seems to care. When we are replaced by more and more automation, then what? Is everyone on the planet supposed to become a robot/AI designer?

      I think the analogy comparing humans and horses is pretty valid. Unfortunately, while the horse population plummeted as their use dropped, I don’t see human populations dropping. In fact, issues like limited access to family planning, less entertainment options and higher fertility rates among the poor seems to suggest that when the job market dries up due to automation, human population growth might actually accelerate.

      The primary problem I foresee is that humans need to work to get money. You need money to eat and pay rent. Food and rent are going to still be there in the automated future. This is not going to change. Star Trek society resides in some sort of socialist utopia where everyone provides for everyone else. That’s clearly not the case with reality. People want things, and that want is an unquenchable thirst. There simply are not enough resources for everyone’s wants. Thus, we are stuck with the current system.

      So what do I think will happen? Well, there will be a balancing point. Automation takes money, and while it might be preferable to companies, there will be a point where there is so much cheap human labor, that hiring 15 people might be better than buying one computer/robot. These people basically amount to slave labor, and there is little incentive for companies to view them as a valuable commodity as they are incredibly expendable.

      I just don’t see the use of most people in a heavily automated future.