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June 12, 2017

Make Sure Your Job Requires a Soul

The Goal is Automation

I want a self-driving car. I want to go to sleep and wake up where I’m going. I want to be free to turn pages, with a pleasant spot on the map and place for a bookmark awaiting me at the end of my journeys. I’m likely to get an automated vehicle in my lifetime because of companies like Tesla (though you may disagree about whether they deserve credit or blame).

The promise of technology was supposed to be easier living and working and laughing and loving and playing. But lately there’s a growing fear that technology will develop to completely dominate and replace us. There are a surprising number of TED talks now about AI (artificial intelligence) that revolve around allaying our fears!

Of course, we’ve had dishwashers, computers that beat chess masters, and robotic arms that build cars for a while now, but according to Elon Musk, AI will be able to beat us at everything by 2030 or 2040.

What if he’s dead wrong? After all, this is a guy that believes we are all holograms.

What if we humans have components that can’t be emulated by machines?

“My Irreplaceable You…”

Consider these two ideas:

If there is an immaterial part of humankind, then machines will never possess it.

If this immaterial part is required for certain skills, then machines will never replace us in the jobs and relationships that require those skills.

Whatever this immaterial part is called – soul, spirit, God gene, psyche, self, consciousness, life force, chi, etc. – if it exists, it sets us apart from other moving matter. I believe it does exist and gives us intrinsic worth and dignity that metal and circuits will forever lack. I also believe it gives us an edge economically.

I believe that in 15 or 30 or 75 years, scientists will be scratching their heads as to why the prophecy of AI has not yet come to pass.

This is because I don’t believe a machine will ever have the emotional intelligence to be a marriage counselor. Sure, it could divvy up divorce assets in an equitable way, but it won’t be able to tell a spouse that they’re being selfish.

I don’t believe a robotic architect will ever be able to blend an aesthetically pleasing design and an adequately useful floor plan into one successful blueprint.

I don’t believe a program will ever write a novel that touches anyone on a level deeper than mental understanding.

I don’t believe a simulated composer will ever accomplish more than a deduced, derivative ripoff of songs or symphonies that came before them.

In fact, I don’t believe any glorified calculator will ever merit the use of pronouns that we should reserve for people. Your future robot butler should be a mere “it” to you.

Robots are and forever should remain our slaves.

Make Yourself Useful

Can your job be added to my list?

It’s extremely likely that any job that can be automated will be automated. We see that throughout history.

If you have the capacity (and you probably do since you’re reading this), it’s up to you to make sure you’re able to compete in a world where we are moving from jobs of the mind to jobs of the heart. You have to hone and polish skills that require you to be distinctly human.

Otherwise, you’ll get passed by as you wait for your government to work out the kinks in its Universal Basic Income rollout. “Please, sir, I want some more.”

Don’t let this happen! Be proactive. Stack your skills, and be useful.

The tsunami of exponential technology is growing ever larger. Paddle before the waves break, or you will be broken.

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