A new automated, flying ambulance completed its first solo flight, offering a potential solution for challenging search and rescue missions. livescience.com
Once survival is assured, there are three things human beings need to be happy: a sense of being
competent at something, be it a job or a vocation; enough freedom to feel autonomous; and a community to belong to. Many of us have used our jobs for one or two of these needs, all three if we’re lucky. Then we go home to suburbs or apartments where we don’t know our neighbors.
But what will happen when the robots arrive? American politicians promise to bring back manufacturing jobs, but automation is as much to blame as globalization for the loss. Now robots, in the form of self-driving vehicles, threaten to destroy one of our largest occupations: driving. Especially high school educated men rely on driving for employment, and commercial vehicles are likely to be the first to go robotic.
But many white collar jobs are endangered too. Law is one such profession where algorithms and analytics are replacing well-paid professionals.
What will we all do with ourselves? Governments can, perhaps, tax those lucky enough to generate the GDP so the rest of us don’t starve, but what about competence, autonomy, and community? Are we being freed or destroyed?
UPDATE: The story of automation gets bigger. Later the same day I posted this piece, I read about Amazon testing a brick-and-mortar convenience store without checkouts or cashiers.
Shoppers walking into the store call up the Amazon Go app and hold their smartphone to a scanner as they would at an airport security line. That opens a gate. Then they just pick any combination of products and walk out. Amazon charges them after they leave the store….
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that cashiers are the second-largest occupation, with 3.5 million employed in the U.S. seattletimes.com
In my futurism book Glitch a character checks out of a grocery store by pushing his cart through an arch. I got the “no cashier” right but I’m already behind the times.
As the song says, times, they are a-changing.