September 22, 2014

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But it is not only blue-collar jobs that technology is chewing up and spitting out. Tech-oriented jobs such as “€œdata entry”€ and “€œword processing”€”€”ubiquitous only a few decades ago”€”hardly exist anymore. Increasingly sophisticated computer programs have likewise sent many jobs in accounting and finance the way of the dodo bird. A California company called Blackstone Discovery has developed software than can allegedly analyze over a million legal documents for less than $100,000, which should strike fear in the hearts of lawyers coast to coast. And IBM’s Watson supercomputer is well on its way to becoming the world’s best medical diagnostician. There is even software that will make writing and reporting obsolete, which is confoundingly problematic for me because the fast-food robots will make it impossible for me to return to my lowly post as a French-fry chef.

More and more, workers can no longer be exploited because they offer nothing worth exploiting. There will be no need for labor, and thus no need to exploit it. In a not-too-distant dystopian future where machines have supplanted laborers, the great bulk of humanity will be left idle and abjectly dependent”€”parasites who can only take because they have nothing to give.

It’s quite a wretched, gloomy scenario. What’s the answer? I”€™m not sure there is one. A very human frailty lies in believing that every question has an answer, every problem a solution. In this case, nearly all humans except a tiny technological elite may have ceased to serve any evolutionary function, at least in an economic sense.

Workers of the world, goodbye. You have nothing to lose but your jobs.


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