We have entered an age where increases in technological advances are beginning to exceed some human capabilities. Our economic problems are the main cause behind America’s job shortage, but many people blame advancing technology for the job shortage as well. Authors Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee of the e-book “Race Against the Machine” write, “Many workers, in short, are losing the race against the machine” (Lohr, 2011).
Brynjolfsson and McAfee say that computers are typically “narrow and literal-minded” and “at a loss when a solution requires intuation and creativity” (Lohr, 2011). Such jobs are best completed by humans because we are capable of creativity. Machines have been known to increasingly take over more laborious and physical work. According to MIT economist, David Autor, 38% of all American workers were working on farms in the 20th century – presently, that number has dropped to 2% (Arnold, 2011). Ken Doctor (author of Newsonomics), Brynjolfsson and McAfee all insist that a partnership must be formed between man and machine.
In Newsonomics, Doctor explains his ninth news trend, “Apply the 10 Percent Rule” (Doctor, 2010). Doctor encourages us to move beyond the whole “man vs. technology” conflict and open our eyes as to what each side is capable of bringing to the table. Doctor says to “Let technology do as much of the heavy lifting as possible—that’s the 90 percent—and let humans come along and work on top of the technology, adding the skills, the intelligence, and the judgment. It’s that 10 percent that will differentiate what the technology can do” (Doctor, 2010).
Technology is now capable of basic human qualities, but not complex ones. We are still needed to frost the cake, if you will, also often referred to as the “presentation layer”. Dave Johnson’s article, “Technology Taking Over Jobs”, invites us to think about a world where the busy work is done for us. Johnson asks readers, “Shouldn’t a machine taking over a job be a time of rejoicing? Shouldn’t a new machine or process mean one less hour of work is needed from everyone?” (Johnson, 2009). That question will continue to be debated upon, but one thing is for certain – a human + machine equation will surely drive the future.
Arnold, C. (2011, November 3). Npr. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/2011/11/03/141949820/how-technology-is-eliminating-higher-skill-jobs
Doctor, K. (2010). Newsonomics: Twelve trends that will shape the news you get. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.
Johnson, D. (2009, January 9). Seeing the forest. Retrieved from http://www.seeingtheforest.com/archives/2009/01/technology_taki.htm
Lohr, S. (2011, October 30). Retrieved from http://www2.tbo.com/business/business/2011/oct/30/bznewso1-technology-taking-over-more-work-ar-298949/