Sunday, April 30, 2017

Destroying Jobs Is A Good Thing

I just read an article, in the Seattle Times, about harvesting apples with robots.  In short, Washington is experiencing a shortage of farm-workers to harvest its fruit orchards.  Consequently, companies are racing to get contracts and sell machines.

Okay... so what?  Just another example of how technology is destroying jobs, and making it impossible to survive in this economy.  That's the narrative we consistently hear.  I mean, it's even directly in the article:
"The eventual loss of jobs for humans will be huge, said Erik Nicholson of Seattle, an official with the United Farm Workers union."
That's not good for innovation and progress.

This is where I think we, as IT professionals, have to frame the story.  We're not taking jobs.  We're changing the work people do.  I look at examples like this as one step closer to feeding everyone.  The purpose of technology is to improve lives, efficiency, and productivity.  If we can solve a problem, like world hunger, using robots, then shouldn't we do it?  The point of work isn't to be busy; it's to achieve something meaningful for humanity - to solve a problem.  If our food supply isn't an issue, which I think is a pretty good reality, then let us feed everyone, and focus on another problem - like scarce drinking water.  There aren't many things we need to survive, by the way - food, water, shelter, clothing, and protection.

The two gaping holes in my position seem to be: 1 - people "have to have jobs;" 2 - the argument that "my grandfather grew apples, my dad grew apples, and damnit, I should be able to make a living growing apples."  I'm not quite sure what to do about those types of concerns.  I think jobs should solve a problem, and as we solve those problems, we address new ones.  Don't support that neighborhood video store, when Netflix is better.

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