As someone who is big proponent of automation of all kinds, I often hear the argument posed, either by someone I’m talking to, or online posts and comments, that automation “takes away jobs” and is bad for society as a whole.
I want to take a minute to analyze this statement and show how the assumptions underlying it are completely off base.
There is nobody today that would argue that the invention of the car was the cause of thousands of wagon drivers losing their jobs. It would be an absurd argument. In truth, those who were wagon drivers, and never learned how to drive a car did lose their careers tragically.
However, the absurdity of the claim is obvious today, because as a more efficient vehicle, more cars were able to be produced, and more people were able to drive them, and more people were able to get jobs driving them.
I believe at the heart of all automation is the principle of efficiency.
Why expend more effort and labor to achieve a given outcome when technology can be leveraged to accomplish it with less?
As to the humans displaced by these technologies, it is obvious from all previous advances in efficiency that a more powerful and efficient system does not reduce the amount of labor, but rather increases it, but in a more efficient and valuable way.
Another point to consider is that the kind of work that can be automated is, for the most part, boring, repetitive, not creative, and frustrating. The more we can eliminate this kind of work, and push our population into more creative, unique and valuable work, the better.