Every Dollar Matters

AI In the Workplace

Are We Going to Let Machines and Artifical Intelligence Replace Us in the Workplace?

1/8/2017

by eric matthews

Thomas Friedman wrote a recent op-ed entitled "From Hands to Heads to Hearts" that fired me up. Some of what he said:

"Software has started writing poetry, sports stories and business news...Uber has begun deploying self-driving taxis on real city streets...What does it mean to be human in the age of intelligent machines?"

This article really disturbed me. His attitude seemed to be that this trend is inevitable with nothing we can really do about it.

Such a sentiment disturbs me.

Amazon recently opened a supermarket in Seattle where you go in shop and leave with your items. No checkout, just get your groceries and leave.

Amazon GO

To Friedmans sentiment that there is nothing we can do about what is happening with smart machines and technology replacing our jobs being enevitable (and happening NOW!) my thoughts are ...

REALLY?

I beg to differ with such attitudes. We vote with our wallets. Do we really want to keep spending our money at places that are creating technologies that eliminate jobs?

Right now I am conflicted as this website is an Amazon affiliate and though we support local businesses whenever possible we spend money at Amazon. In defense of Amazon, a lot of the places we buy from through Amazon are small businesses. Amazon creates a lot of good paying jobs. But, some of the technology work Amazon is involved in troubles me. This store is one of them.

What if self-driving vehicles extend to UPS, Fed Ex and all commercial trucking? How many drivers will lose there jobs and what new work will we have for them?

I think all Americans and all citizens of the world need to start questioning what is acceptable in society and what is not when it comes to technology.

We have watched the decay of many American cities where our factories and mills have been closed and our jobs been outsourced to countries so products we consume can be made in workhouses with poor working conditions and pay. For what? So we can save a few dollars.

We vote with our wallets and can send businesses a message.

We have access to our political leaders and can let them know what we think.

There are implications that technology has on society. I have been reading and listening to articles that are starting to talk about a time that is coming soon where governments will need to pay their citizens a stipend to live because so many jobs are going to be replaced by machines and automation.

Wasn't our 2017 election a referendum about jobs and the decimation of the middle class? Grocery store checkers are paid a living wage with benefits.

What equivalent paying jobs are going to replace the ones lost if the Amazon Go idea scales up and gets adopted by Safeway, Kroger, Meijer, etc...?

These are the types of questions we need to be asking as automation, smart machines and technolgoies continue to replace people in the workplace. Is the implementation of technology okay if it replaces people in the workplace without creating at least the same number of equivalent or better paying jobs?

How do people earn money if robots and computers push them out of the workforce?

What can we do about this?

We still get to vote. Vote with our wallets. This is what citizens do in a free market economy. I think it is time we get together and vote.

PS - I once thought the Amish were backwards and silly for not fully particpating in our society and our modern way of life.