The American workforce has an interesting love/hate relationship with automation. Sometimes we havent known whether to fear or embrace technologys benefits. Would the robots soon be our best friends or our worst enemies?
On one side of the argument, we feared technology would rob us all of jobs, creating high unemployment. On the other side, we relished the thought of robots accomplishing everything, leaving you and me to live lives of luxury. Fortunately, the reality has not approached either extreme. In fact, the reality has been much more interesting and challenging.
Fundamental to this topic is not so much the technology itself, but rather how we choose to adapt to it. Some folks have screamed bloody murder in the face of technologys advancements. Others have joyfully embraced all technology has to offer. I dont think the issue is technological as much as it is humanHow do you handle change?
As we have so often heard in our modern era, the only constant is change. Wed better get used to it. Rather than fight it, lets train ourselves to embrace it, capitalize upon it, and allow it to enrich our lives. Writing in Bloomberg Businessweek, Sam Grobart reports on Rodney Brooks perspective on robots and the associated technologies (What Machines Cant Do 12/17/12–12/23/12, pp. 45):
Rodney Brooks, a former MIT robotics professor, is an optimist. To Brooks, who is also founder and chairman of robot maker Rethink Robotics, these machines are going to help workers, not compete with them. He points out that personal computers didnt get rid of office workers, they changed the jobs people did. (p. 5)
Brooks identifies a major point about technology: Technology does not invoke a zero-sum game. Technology simply and powerfully gives us new opportunities, often in greater quantities too. So again I come back to the more implicit challengeHow do you handle change?
The more effectively you handle change, the more effective you will be in our increasingly technical world. Technology and robotics have created far more job opportunities than they have ever negated . . . for those who are ready.
Finally, I dont think we would want technology and robotics to do everything for us. Grobart says it well:
History has never shown that a life of idle hedonism brings out the best in human beings. We excel when we are creative and productive. (p. 5)
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