“Just how does a video recorder work? And how about fax machines, cars, washing machines, electric light, telephones, vacuum cleaners, and refrigerators? You’ll find the answers here. We proudly present streaming versions of the TV series ‘The Secret Life Of Machines’ written by Tim Hunkin, and presented by Tim Hunkin and Rex Garrod.”–The Secret Life of Machines
“…the more we automate, and the more sophisticated we make that automation, the more we become dependent on a highly skilled human operator.”-Adrian Colyer, “Ironies of automation.” the morning paper. January 8, 2020.
A robot surgeon might be a great idea, but it’s going to handle the routine, the easy surgeries. What’s left is what’s hard. That’ll be the new work for human surgeons.
And who fixes the surgeries that the robot got wrong? Who watches the robot surgeons and steps in when they can’t do they job?
This is true of automation in every area. The jobs it eliminates are the easy, routine jobs. With more automation, the level of difficulty simply goes up.
If the robot does the job better, then they get the job. But, someone who does the job better than robots will always have to evaluate their work and step in when the work is beyond them.
Where will we find such people, if we don’t become them?
“Each of us has our precious things, and as we care for them we locate the essence of our humanity.”
—Bill Joy, “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us.” Wired. April 2000.
Figured it was time to revisit this old classic and get a feel for how prescient it was almost 20 years on. Still feels right on, particularly around CRISPR. The problems of runaway nanotechnology still seems far off, but it’s visible on the horizon.
Open question: Can technology’s risk of causing human extinction be mitigated?