The robots and the workplace discussion, part n+1

A friend of mine, a surgeon, projects that a decade hence he will do the work of four surgeons because he will be supervising robots. Already in several fields of surgery, robots are better than humans. Three of his colleagues will be out of work, he indeed is studying very hard to make sure he is the one who survives. But even that stage is interim, there will be a time when systems have developed sufficiently for there to be no need for surgeons, when people don’t want to be operated upon by a human and insurance companies won’t pay for it either. And when thousands of highly trained people with vast debt will have no valuable skill.

Point is well taken that humans are required to bridge those gaps where code does not yet exist. In Uber, such people are the drivers and Uber is very very busy replacing them. Most companies who have a software background work to add code increasing efficiency meaning replacing human beings. Such web based companies that grow connecting buyers and sellers may be hiring people to fill gaps, they also are automating the trade networks that preceded them, replacing jobs.

Interestingly enough the US has managed to reduce unemployment significantly but what you see in detail is that well-paying jobs disappear and poor paying jobs are created, see

In the West Wing, “Constituency of One”, Toby Ziegler has the following line: “You want people saying, “Hey, thanks for the nine million jobs. I’ve got three of them, and I can’t make the house payments”?”
We’ve been used to living in a world where the economy serves people as people serve it, but the economy is maturing to where it can be increasingly autonomous and needs far fewer people than it serves. This is something to celebrate, decades hence, most people no longer need to work! But at this moment that only adds uncertainty to the many stresses of these times as people (especially in Europe) lose income and security and cannot participate. A minimal income or something of that nature that allows people to maintain their standard of living while they transition to new opportunities seems like a vital ingredient in keeping social cohesion.