How To Survive Automation

Where’s your place in the future of work?

Sam Brinson
OneZero
Published in
15 min readMar 21, 2022

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Automation anxiety isn’t new.

In response to Luddites breaking and destroying the technologies they feared would take their jobs, the British parliament passed the ‘Destruction of Stocking Frames, etc. Act’ in 1812, which made such destruction punishable by death.

Long before that, Aristotle considered how if all our tools could perform their tasks by themselves, craftsmen would no longer need servants, and masters would no longer need slaves.

But throughout the big transitions in history — nomadic to agricultural lifestyles, farms to factories — we’ve not run out of jobs. Rather, the new and remaining jobs allowed us to produce more, and the economy grew substantially as a result.

There are serious questions about the quality of the new jobs. Moving from the farm to the factory wasn’t an upgrade for a lot of people. But there were jobs. The jobs of the future may also be more or less appealing, but they will still be there, right?

As a new wave of automation anxiety washes over us, should we look to history and learn the lesson that AI will create new jobs and further increase productivity? Or is AI a fundamentally different beast for which the past can’t prepare us?

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Sam Brinson
OneZero

An emergent property of billions of chaotically firing neurons. Currently thinking about thinking. http://sambrinson.com/