|Written by:||Meshack Masibo|
“We are being afflicted with a new disease of which some readers may not have heard the name, but of which they will hear a great deal in the years to come — namely, technological unemployment” — John Maynard Keynes, 1930
One of the biggest worries that come with the increased use of machines is that machines will replace human beings and therefore cause us to lose our jobs. People are really worried that automation will replace the majority of workers. This concern is nothing new. As humans we have been obsessed with technology taking our jobs for 500 years. In 1589, inventor William Lee traveled to London to apply for a patent. He hoped his stocking frame knitting machine would make hand knitting obsolete. Queen Elizabeth I was not impressed. She replied:
“Thou aimest high, Master Lee. Consider thou what the invention could do to my poor subjects. It would assuredly bring to them ruin by depriving them of employment, thus making them beggars.”William Lee went home without his patent and women continued hand-knitting.
But is it true that new technology really kills jobs?
The Industrial Revolution did destroy some traditional jobs, but it also created new ones. Without the technology of the Industrial Revolution, we could never have the standard of living we have today. In the short term, it was a difficult transition; in the long term, it was very worth it. “Short term pain for long term gain” is likely to be the truthful slogan of artificial intelligence too. Our generation will go through a difficult transition so that future generations can enjoy a higher standard of living.