Don't Fear the Computer Job Takeover

Don't Fear the Computer Job Takeover

Don't Fear the Computer Job Takeover

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Aug. 19 2011 4:21 PM

Don't Fear the Computer Job Takeover

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Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Good news! Computers aren’t going take over most jobs performed by humans. Not because it will be technologically impossible, but because marginalizing humans doesn’t make economic sense.

IBM’s announcement earlier this week about new brain-inspired chips—a precursor to cognitive computing—stirred up some machine anxiety, with one New York Times commenter fretting, “I believe we're 40-50 years off from most humans being phased out, with most every task automated.” Technology historian Edward Tenner responds to those fears on the Atlantic, invoking the economic theory of comparative advantage: “[E]ven if the computers are running everything, it will pay for them to let people do what they are relatively better at”—like “intuitive analysis” and “common sense” tasks that are desperately tricky to program computers to perform.

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Read more on the Atlantic.

 

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Torie Bosch is the editor of Future Tense, a project of Slate, New America, and Arizona State that looks at the implications of new technologies.