Rise of the Robot Workers

Centrelink staff were next…

First, they came for the lighthouse keepers, then the secretaries, tea lady’s, checkout chicks, movie projectionists and streetsweepers.

I didn’t speak up because my job was safe, for the time being.

Folks, you don’t have to look very far back into the history of employment to realise we’ve never lived in a more exciting time. Of course, there’s a very thin line between being excited and terrified, I suppose it depends on which side of the unemployment line you happen to be standing on.

Now, I’m not here to discuss philosophy, but the fact remains, automation and robots are here to stay; whether we like it or not.

Still, you must admit modern technology is pretty amazing. A semi-robotic, cyber-surgeon, is capable of operating inside an eyeball, performing brain surgery via a vein in your leg and on the way out, giving your heart a quick once over.

Even the most stubborn, whale-oil lamp burning, Luddite would be impressed by that.

It’s all about faith. We’ve still got a way to go, but most of us trust modern autopilots to keep aircraft in the sky and huge ships on course.

I’ll admit they’re not perfect, but machines don’t tend to suffer from mood swings, irrational decisions or turn up to work full of mind altering chemicals.

Devices may break down, but they won’t skive off every time the boss looks away, don’t steal stationary, visit the toilet three times an hour or ask for ciggie break.

Plus, one machine can replace any number of workers, e.g.: a single backhoe can quickly excavate the career graves of twenty ditch diggers. It’s the same for switchboard operators, typesetters and wharfies.

The good news is, modern machines have created some new jobs, particularly for the few people engaged in designing, building, installing, repairing or cleaning our robot overlords. Obviously, they’ll all be made redundant when machines take over those roles too.

Still, if some machine tosses me onto the unemployment scrapheap, I’ll fill my days scrounging for food and compiling lists of careers made extinct by technology.

That’s one guaranteed job for life.

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