Humans Need Not Apply

Just as mechanical muscles made human labor less in demand so are mechanical minds making human brain labor less in demand.

This is an economic revolution. You may think we’ve been here before, but we haven’t.

This time is different.

Automation is here, and it’s been expanding in cognitive ability. We already have self-driving cars, and, by some accounts, nearly all cars will be autonomous by 20501.

The question is not if they’ll replaces cars, but how quickly. They don’t need to be perfect, they just need to be better than us. Humans drivers, by the way, kill 40,000 people a year with cars just in the United States. Given that self-driving cars don’t blink, don’t text while driving, don’t get sleepy or stupid, it easy to see them being better than humans because they already are.

It’s not just self-driving cars2 though.

There is this notion that just as mechanical muscles allowed us to move into thinking jobs that mechanical minds will allow us all to move into creative work. But even if we assume the human mind is magically creative — it’s not, but just for the sake of argument — artistic creativity isn’t what the majority of jobs depend on.

This video isn’t about how automation is bad — rather that automation is inevitable. It’s a tool to produce abundance for little effort. We need to start thinking now about what to do when large sections of the population are unemployable — through no fault of their own. What to do in a future where, for most jobs, humans need not apply.

via Kottke


  1. Autoblog: Nearly all cars to be autonomous by 2050 

  2. “Now to describe self-driving cars as cars at all is like calling the first cars mechanical horses. Cars in all their forms are so much more than horses that using the name limits your thinking about what they can even do. Lets call self-driving cars what they really are: Autos: the solution to the transport-objects-from-point-A-to-point-B problem.” 

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