As I was looking for poems to read at tonight’s Alchemy Poetry Reading (which was fairly successful, although not the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen there. I quite liked the featured performers, a folk duo called Nice Verdes) I came across this, which I wrote a couple of months age and was probably originally intended as a sarcastic reply to somebody’s facebook comment, but I’ve totally forgotten the original context.
There might be some jobs that robots can’t do,
but human beings are bad at them, too.
Robots are going to take over a lot of our functions in the not so distant future. The metro in Singapore is entirely robot controlled. Soon the technology will be there to make all automobiles robot driven. Human beings, proud, stupid, stubborn human beings may be hesitant to hand over the keys, but it’s only a matter of time. Some day, all factories will be manned by robots, and they’ll be doing the heavy lifting on construction sites and farms. Deliveries, sure, robots can do that. Receptionists? You bet. Cleaners and lawn care workers. No problem.
Jobs where a person has to think on their feet, improvise, and deal with other human beings in a human sort of way might take longer. Teachers, police officers, lawyers, politicians, diplomats, and artists are a few that spring to mind. But, as the poem says, human beings sometimes suck at these jobs, too.
I can definitely see an advantage to robot teachers. Eyes in the back of its head, super hearing, an extendable arm with a vise-like grip…but robots con’t have the necessary compassion and it will be a long time before they do. Also, kids might get freaked out.
A robotic cop would not be nearly as cool as the one in the movie. Faced with so many strange situations, there circuits would overload and they’d be standing in the middle of the street like rain-man.
But there are lots of bad human teachers who creep their kid’s out. There are a shit ton of bad cops out there, failing spectacularly at all aspects of their job except for corruption and beating suspects. Human civilization would not be in the pickle it’s in if it were not for our politicians, but a robot in that job might be worse. If a robot is elected with a mandate, “Do whatever is necessary to ensure enough wealth for all human beings,” it may then decide to destroy the human race. The 2 or 3% remaining would have it great, but that’s not a solution we should embrace.