We agree on the matter of growth and the threat to survival. But I still don’t agree on your substantive point about automation. You list a host of jobs that have disappeared in recent decades yet we still have historically high levels of employment. In my first response to you I cited some of the jobs that did not exist a few decades ago but which now employ millions — IT being the most obvious. School kids are doing the kind of coding that you and I — okay, maybe not you! — would have found incomprehensible a few years ago. All the many apps on our smart phones that we take for granted now were created by people whose parents may well have been car production workers or bank tellers.
The inescapable fact is that someone has to construct the homes we live in, grow the food we eat and manufacture the garments we wear. If we are not engaged in such activities ourselves then we must, in return, work at something those who do undertake such activities require. Robots have themselves to be manufactured in the first place, appropriate software designed and installed and frequent maintenance and updates carried out.

As far back as the 1920s — when Henry Ford created the first automobile production line — people were predicting the demise of work. Almost 100 years on it hasn’t happened. I cannot see it happening any time soon — at least not until the collapse of civilisation as we know it. That probably is not so far off!

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Frank is a retired Engineer from England now living in Ireland. He is trying to learn and share the lessons of history.

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