What will humans do when the robots take over?

On the topic of robotics and its effect on employment and the economy, writing in The Times today, Matt Ridley raises the question “Will there be any jobs left for our children?”

Quoting Bill Gates, The McKinsey Global Institute and the almost ubiquitous book: The Second Machine Age by McAfee and Brynjolfsson, Matt agrees with the threat to mid level knowledge workers but has faith that, after numerous new technologies that have disrupted many industries, human beings will once again find occupations for themselves. The big question seems to be whether this will be in gainful employment, or the playful unemployment yearned for by Arthur C. Clarke.

Reinvention is what humans do well. I don’t see robots with a conscience, empathy, or a genuine smile for many centuries yet, if ever. The threat of robots to the human race is invariably overplayed. Let them take over the meaningless drudgery that consumes many human jobs right now and let humans do what they do well. We’ll all be much happier in the long run.

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