When Uber driverless cars and Amazon delivery drones are the norm, what will happen to all the drivers and package handlers that were replaced? This is usually the first line of thinking that many come up with when approached with the reality of technological automation. It spurns a rage against the machine and this sense of a war against devices that will replace us. The problem with this perspective is that it simply makes no clear sense. It’s natural that people fear being replaced. We seek jobs and careers for a sense of purpose, livelihood and fulfillment. There is something spiritually crushing about facing a future where not only may you not be needed, but you may even be plain superfluous. This innate sense of worth and belonging is where the fear ends, though. There is nothing else after that, merely an irrational fear of being replaced by a machine that doesn’t want your job, because it doesn’t really want anything.
But what about those people pushing the technology? Surely they are looking to push people out of their workflows to reduce overhead and improve efficiency! Well yes, that is a driving factor, but then there’s another dynamic at work here. When machines flood the work force, society won’t stay as it is. It simply can’t. The quality of life will increase as the First World elevates itself. The Third World of the future will be like the First World of the present. That, along with the current Entrepreneurial Age, will ensure we don’t simply “run out of jobs.” We are amazingly good at making up jobs as soon as the opportunity arises. Titles and positions such as “digital marketing director,” “iPhone screen repair,” or “sales ninja” simply didn’t exist a hundred years ago,
Good technology has a way of winning in the end. Our grandchildren will laugh over the quaintness of the term “driverless car” the same way we do over the phrase “horseless carriage.” The opportunities related to that technology will remain foreign as long as the name of the technology itself does. Our capacity to adapt will change in proportion to our capacity to accept, and when the jobs easy enough for our technology to replace are gone, we will be ready to take on the hard ones still meant just for us humans.