Podcast #15: are humans still a valuable workforce?


There's no denying that robots will outperform humans in numerous tasks. How do we adjust to this emerging reality?

In 2018, Musk acknowledged that excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake. He paid a rare compliment to us mere mortals by saying “Humans are underrated.” Robots slowed down the production of the Tesla Model 3, prompting the now-famous Musk quote.

But this was five years ago, and five years in the technology industry can feel like a lifetime. AI and automation are making rapid advancements into high and low-skilled jobs alike. Can we compete? And, more importantly, should we?

Through a Glass Darkly, a biweekly Cybernews podcast, is here. In a 50-minute episode this time, we attempt to discuss the following:

  • Do we need to compete? There’s a shift toward humans being valued for their social skills and personality rather than knowledge – is this a good thing or a bad thing?
  • Henry Ford once asked, why is it every time I ask for a pair of hands, a brain comes attached? Why companies are rushing the machine adoption
  • The endless drive for more growth is a capitalist imperative – when do we say enough is enough?
  • Skills that computers can’t acquire will be valuable. But it’s dangerous to claim there are any skills that computers cannot eventually acquire. What are humans good for, anyways?
  • Overconfidence in tech is leading to complacency – what are the consequences of too much tech too quickly?
  • How much responsibility do we give to a machine? Would you be comfortable having a machine operate on you without human intervention?
  • Which fields do we insist should be run by humans? Courts? It’s where individuals need to be held accountable.
  • Aren’t we underrating ourselves? The rush to find tech-based solutions to everything is making us underestimate our own strengths.

The rapid and sometimes reckless embrace of technology is fueling concerns about the potential displacement of humans by robots. I am confident that this transformation is inevitable. If businesses discover more efficient and cost-effective methods to manufacture goods, leading to increased profitability, they will undoubtedly pursue such avenues. So, where does this leave us? Unlike steering clear of social media, this is not something you can simply avoid. Whether you embrace it or not, this technological revolution is unfolding.

One approach is to bury your head in the sand and pretend that nothing is changing, but another, more constructive option is to acknowledge the trends, be mindful of your emotional responses, and consider how you can find happiness in a world increasingly dominated by technology. This doesn't necessarily mean you have to acquire new job-related skills. It could involve starting your own garden and striving for greater self-sufficiency as an alternative path to contentment.