My strongest contrarian belief is that it won’t be tech which puts people out of work, it’ll be our choices. It takes longer to input your order into the machines at McDonald’s but I’ve just watched 5 people cue to use them over a human server.
Why would we choose this?
How can we possibly have a preference for slow service and destroying jobs? Why can’t the staff see that they are present while they allow it to happen?
That is literally the future we are demanding. You might not think that a single everyday choice will lead to a future without human contact but think about it, every time you choose the machine over the person you become another data point in a graph showcasing our preference for technology.
Don’t use people > the cost of human servers goes up
Choose to use the machine < the need for human servers goes down
We choose both of those outcomes. What we provide the decision makers in these organisations with is the data they need to show human preference married to increased profitability. When measured in those terms the choice becomes academic. Customers prefer it and it’s cheaper.
It’s not just McDonalds, it’s supermarkets and every other consumer facing industry. We are meant to be social animals but when we are faced with the choice of talking to a human or doing something ourselves, even if it takes longer, we choose the isolation of doing it on our own.
This is a terrible outcome
Some people’s only human contact comes from these interactions. I remember going for groceries with my Grandmother when she was alive, and it was one of 3 times in a week where she had the chance to talk face to face with another person. She loved this chance to ask how someone was, hear about their day and ask if they’d been busy. If she was still alive she would see the dwindling number of check out assistants and bemoan her need to use self-service. We accept it as an inevitability without recognising the implications of our own actions as being the thing which accelerated this change.
We are killing blue collar jobs
It’s not the technologists, or the multinational corporations.
If we preferred to order our food from people the rate of machine based service wouldn’t be growing exponentially. Instead, our reluctance to stand and chat forces their hands. They are simply responding to what the data suggests. They are making a cost based analysis and a preference backed up with clear consumer preference data. It’s not technology killing jobs, it’s us.
Think about Recaptcha’s
We are teaching the things that will replace us.
The greatest contribution we could make to the future of humanity could be a refusal to embrace our replacement. Or we accept it and face the consequences. The great debate centred around the inevitable rise of machines has always been through the lens of possibilities that it will endow humanity with. It will be a net positive people suggest when we are relieved of our need to work for subsistence.
But at what cost?
People prefer machines