And then they didn't want to pay much attention and complained to their bosses, "Couldn't the computer just do this part of it for me?" And the request came to me, and I automated a part of it. And behold the work was not as time-consuming.
And then a year goes by and the workers said, "It would be a lot easier if notification of completion of this part of the process was emailed to us." And the idea was sent to me, and I automated that part of it. And the people rejoiced, for the task no longer required the strictest attention.
After a few months, the workers said, "It would be nice if this part were just done, nobody really cares about the quality of that part, anyway." And the work order arrived at my desk, and I automated that part of it. And the bosses did witness, for that bit was twenty percent faster and would make a nice bullet point on the list of what was accomplished that year, and not much of a shit was given about a slightly crappier result.
Many risings and settings of the suns later, the workers asked for directions and if some kind of checklist could not be built into the emails themselves, that they might not have to remember the directions nor look them up. And that seemed reasonable to everyone, and I wrote directions anyone could follow and added them to the process.
And then the workers were let go and replaced with people who had almost no training, because it was not required, and they might be paid minimum wage as the task was integrated amongst various other duties, as the task now took two total worker minutes per unit. The workers did not rejoice at this, and instead wailed and gnashed their teeth, and they would have no more bread.
The thing that worries me is if Autor is right, and we'll have a large divide between the rich and poor in the future.
Mega-roboticization (?) of industry is a sympton, not the disease. The disease is management's unwillingness to settle for the profit margins afforded by people-made products.
In his Robotic Nation essays, Marshall Brain argues that the growing amount of automation in the workplace will eventually displace a large percentage of workers, and that in order to be able to maintain the economy, an annual stipend will be needed.
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