The media is currently rife with a dichotomy pitting humans against the coming wave of robotic automation. Everyone seems to either side with all the jobs disappearing, or that technology will endlessly create new jobs keeping the status quo. I would like to point out that both these positions are very wrong, and very short sighted.
The more important question to ask when talking about new technologies, is what will it mean to be a human in the future? The video below does a good job extrapolating the short history of automation, but reaches a similar conclusion, comparing us to the horse population of one hundred years ago.
The problem here is the thinking that humans are a bubble that sits outside of technology as it increasingly changes around us. In fact, the human being itself is changing just as fast as the robots, it may only not seem as apparent. Let me try and paint a picture of the not too distant future.
Your mum’s heart is failing, so she is getting a new one printed in a warehouse down town. Meanwhile your cousin is showing off his new eyes that can zoom in, and his new legs that are so speedy, they put sprinters to shame. You want to share this information with your friends, so you literally think it to them. All this is happening while a group of nanites are quietly cleaning up your cells of a cancer that was forming in your liver. Your life expectancy is now TBD.
I cannot stress enough; This stuff is as much science fiction as aeroplane travel was in the early 20th century! This isn’t some guess, this stuff is here, and is only going to get better. It is also just the tip of the iceberg. The changes that are going to occur in the next one or two hundred years are going to be so dramatic that to many they may seem utterly incomprehensible. The funny thing is, you will likely be around to see it.
So what does the future hold for humans and robots? Well the distinction is a miscategorisation, as we are truly one and the same. The line drawn is only one of function and aesthetics, both of which are creeping towards indistinguishably different. The internet is a blueprint of how we will inevitably share a large portion of our minds, and the coming decades are really going to put our interpretation of words like, you, I, we, me and us, to the test. Don’t fear it though. Strap yourself in, and enjoy the ride that is this cosmic dance of jiggly atoms. As for jobs, hopefully we will all wake up and realise the concept was preposterous.