Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Robo People

I want to write about robots but I'm not sure what I want to say.  It started when I heard a discussion of Rise of the Robots by Martin Ford.  First there was a story about a baseball game.  I assumed it was journalism.  No, it was a robot writing it up. Ford then began talking about how robots have already taken over mechanical jobs and will march forward moving into service jobs and eventually jobs that require judgement and experience.  The robots can do this because mass data and algorithms give them the power to do better predicting and problem solving. We're in for a jobless future.

I had already pulled my car over to the curb when I heard this alarming news.

This jobless prospect was rattling around in my brain until today when I read an article in the New York Times: Why Robots Will Always Need Us by Nicholas Carr.  (Does Carr run over Ford?)

Carr champions the obvious argument that humans create robots so the robots will always need humans to fix them when they break or get hacked;  and the other argument that if you think computers will overcome human error, computer error can be just as bad or worse.

One of the jobs that Ford said was immune from a robot takeover is nursing.  So here is what I'm left with.  Maybe the jobs that will remain are the ones not highly valued today.  The ones that require empathy, patience, flexibility.  Nursing for sure . . . therapist, day care worker, minister,
comedian . . .

As far as I know, neither author dwelled on the thought that people without jobs to take up their lives would have time to devote themselves to creativity, love, and further invention.

Carr says:  "We're in this together, our computers and ourselves."  So let's be kind to both of us.

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