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A few weeks ago we published an article titled Robots Are Coming: Is Your Job On The Hit List? It spells out the long held and promoted idea by the IT / robotisation buffoons that Robots are out there to get us – us, humans, that is.

In a different form, one could argue, the fear has been around ever since the industrial revolution started in 18th century, but it was fully articulated by the Sci-Fi literature and was invariably upped each time the new wave of technological revolution swept our shores. Different eras produced different responses to it – the Luddites of the early 19th century provided somewhat more radical, although completely fruitless response in form of destroying machines (mainly textile weaving and processing mills).

The fear of bots taking over

Once the imagination gave robots a human-like appearance coupled with superhuman abilities, the fear took form of life-and-death struggle, nicely captured by The Terminator Trilogy. For a period Isaac Asimov managed to allay those fears by formulating the basic robotic laws, the first and inviolable one being that a robot could do no harm to a human being. Naïve, as you would agree – since humans do daily and unlimited harm to each other, why would robots be precluded from joining the fun? Besides, what would make robots obey an essentially human law? Furthermore, what constitutes a harm – only physical? Or, is emotional, economic, etc.damage is included too?

As we like to classify everything in tidy, collectable and re-arrangeable cubicles, we invented new cute terms to describe the feelings we have for robots – like techno-phobia or robo-phobia. While some describe these two categories as irrational (suggesting that other emotions towards robots are therefore rational), they nicely fit into the whole complex of our ambivalent relationship with robots.

More recently and particularly as nowadays we measure everything in terms of individual effect and economic cost, the fear of robots has taken a form of fear from displacement and obsolescence . That is us, humans becoming obsolete as a result of the unstoppable onslaught by unrelenting and uncaring robots. They will take our jobs! Now, if we continue down the anthropomorphic path started by Sci-Fi writers, why stop at jobs? The robot has beaten Kasparov in chess, didn’t he (or was it she?) … They could certainly run faster, jump higher and throw further – there go Olympic Games and gold medals! Google, Tesla and others are already working on robbing us of the driving pleasure. Who cares to flip the bird to a passing driverless car? They will take EVERYTHING! Our homes, beer, wives and children! (Ummh, on a second thought – they can have children ..)

robot invasion

Who wants those boring jobs anyway

Perhaps I digressed a bit – back to the jobs! The article we started from is discussing the possibility of robots replacing humans in performing repetitive, mechanized jobs, such as flipping burgers, driving a taxi or disbursing money over the counter. But stop and think about it – who wants these jobs anyway? Low skill, repetitive, boring and unimaginative – no different from the menial agricultural laboring 500 years ago! Please don’t tell me that poor peasants in rural 1600’s France enjoyed their toll?! Day after day pushing a plow through hard soil, following some oxen arse through rain and heat alike?! I can think of better ways to earn a living. Thus, when “robots” in form of tractors and combine harvesters came on the scene, EVERYONE was happy! Millions of displaced humans went to cities and (admittedly it took them a few decades) became factory workers, tradies, teachers, department store assistants and the rest.

The idea of robots (intelligent machines, but nevertheless machines) displacing humans relies essentially on two premises: one, that robots can do repetitive jobs better; two, that robots can learn and therefore self-improve, whereas human will not?! Makes sense? Well, not really – the prime characteristics of humans is indeed their supreme adaptability. They learn. Improve. Change. And learn more. New jobs emerge and with them humans grow and improve their lot. Ever heard of knocker-upper? Seen a switchboard operator room live? Of course not – these jobs have long gone. But we do have web designers, scuba-divers and nuclear engineers instead.

Deep down, the notion of human displacement and robot ascendance is a reflection of – yes, it is paradoxical – human arrogance! A few buffoons, completely engrossed in their cocoon-like world of surreal circuitry and integrated nano-boards perceive themselves so superior that no other humans seem able to reach their level. Geeks thus become gods and as for the others – well, too bad. Gods do what they are supposed to do – create followers – robotic Adam and Eva, who will do the rest. Including, probably, the original sin. Which is another story. Amen.

Humans evolve and adapt

The world is not The Matrix. Humans evolve and learn. The capacity of your brain, they tell us, is incredibly greater than what you utilize at present. So, the capacity to improve is huge – perhaps infinite.

As for me – I am off. Looking for a new job. They just told me that my old job – the blogger – is no more. Funny that.

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