Reader, what are your honest thoughts about automation?
I just got back from buying bread at a local mini-market. All three self-service check-outs were vacant but a woman waited patiently with her shopping behind another customer at the one staffed counter.
As I scanned my items and paid for them, I overheard the woman as she reached the counter say something about self-service machines “putting people out of work.”
This is something I’ve heard many times, as doubtless have you. The thought probably even crossed your mind when you saw your first self-service check-out.
There might be a valid case that these machines and other concessions to automation reduce the potential for important human interaction, but the “putting people out of work” thing surely DOES NOT COMPUTE.
Think about it. You’re saying that labour-saving (and, in this case, queue-busting) solutions should be resisted in favour of people doing work that does not in reality need to be done.
It makes me think of animals being used as household appliances on The Flintstones. Some cement is mixed in the beak of a pelican and he says to camera, “It’s a living!”
Intelligent lifeforms doing what machines can do automatically!
Serving lines of impatient customers in a supermarket–take it from me–certainly felt futile before these machines came along a few years ago; now, since the machines exist, it really is futile.
If we need to create work for people (and we don’t), how about creating work that is useful (in that robots can’t do it yet) or serves to hold back the ecopocalypse, or is pleasant to do, or is at least a little more meaningful than breaking rocks?
OR should we pay intelligent humans with the same internal hardware as Leonardo da Vinci a minimum wage to stand in the corner in case someone needs a convenient hatstand?