Working Futures: The Future Of Work And The Blurring Of Humans And Machines

from the it-gets-complicated dept

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Since releasing our Working Futures book last week, we've been profiling the various stories so that people are aware of what kinds of stories are in the book. We profiled the first three, then the next three and earlier this week, another three. Below we'll profile three more stories and then next week we'll profile the last few stories in the book as well.


Trash Talk by Holly Schofield explores the kind of job that probably doesn't get much attention when people talk about "the future of work": jobs that require manual labor. Many people seem to assume that those will just be entirely automated away but, as this story explores, it's possible that we'll just enhance humans with machines, rather than replacing them altogether. And sometimes that might create some, well, tricky situations.

A Quiet Lie by Ross Pruden. We previewed the first half of this story the week before we launched, so you can read it right here on Techdirt. It's also a story that explores how more traditional jobs might be enhanced by technology, perhaps leading to ideas and concepts that simply aren't possible today. What's interesting to me about this one is that people have responded to this particular story in totally divergent ways. Some think that the story presents an exciting possible future world, while others see it as a dangerous path. It's a kind of test of how you view the world.

The Mummer by James Yu. James talked a bit about his thinking behind this story on our recent podcast, talking about how it explored the blurry lines between when a human "helping" machines becomes a part of the machine itself... while also exploring when a machine becomes increasingly human-like. It's a fascinating character study that raises a bunch of questions about what is a machine and what is a human being.


I think it's great that these three stories follow one another in the book, as they all explore different (often very different) aspects of a world in which computers and technology "enhance" work -- and the consequences (both good and bad) that can result. These are big questions that we're going to be dealing with for a long, long time, and these three stories provide some perspectives on ways to think about that issue.

Filed Under: ai, enhancement, future of work, machines, working futures


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  • identicon
    Pixelation, 11 Oct 2019 @ 6:05pm

    I imagine that those people willing to become cyborgs will get jobs over "pure" humans.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Oct 2019 @ 12:55pm

      Re:

      We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 11 Oct 2019 @ 6:12pm

    In case you don't want to give Jeff Bezos money…

    If you don't like Kindle or their DRM or don't want to strip off the DRM of their books but want to read the collection of short stories in the format of your choice, you could download the EPUB here or the PDF here. However, TechDirt needs to be supported, so you can support them here.

    Share the book if you can, but make sure you support TechDirt in the process!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Optimus Average, 11 Oct 2019 @ 7:17pm

    "Prime of Life" -- Missed your calling as an actuary, eh?

    First, you're charging $2.99 for 1013129 bytes including the wasteful PDF formatting?

    I skimmed thoroughly Wednesday, and didn't get back because it's not worth bothering with. Just CRAP as I predicted.

    I'm disappointed. Expected hoots. You're going on about insurance. Yeesh.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Optimus Average, 11 Oct 2019 @ 7:20pm

      Re: "Prime of Life" -- Missed your calling as an actua

      [Skims to:]

      Basically, they recognized that your life insurance company had more incentives in keeping you alive than your health insurance company, who might find it more economical if you died.

      The assertion is just plain wrong because so complex! -- As trivial case, the first few premiums are pure gravy because there's a waiting period before any payout. And they "invest" premiums, so actually rely on productive corporations and gov't to make money for them!

      The health insurance side actually has nearly no incentive to keep you alive, that's why so many strictures in statute and moral considerations are applied.

      Having gone so wrong on premise, you can't possibly make any valid points.

      [Skims on...] DOOG DOG! You labor on for PAGES! Do you REALLY think anyone is going to slog through and follow that?

      HOW LONG are you going to run pieces trying to promote this? You look desperate. -- And, will you ever state sales numbers?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Oct 2019 @ 9:09pm

        Re: Re: "Prime of Life" -- Missed your calling as an a

        It's a fictional story, guy. Fiction. You know, like your comments?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 12 Oct 2019 @ 4:03am

          Re: Re: Re: "Prime of Life" -- Missed your calling as

          Nah. At least the book has some creativity and a point outside the ravings of a pathetic basket case.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Optimus Average, 11 Oct 2019 @ 7:20pm

      Re: "Prime of Life" -- Missed your calling as an actua

      Special note to Timmy: Read yours enough I state "read". I'll go so far to state you're the least objectionable because most realistic, BUT it's still a routine idea with fixed outcome ineptly written.

      My expectation (and urge) when you specified "knee high" robots all over is the character starts kicking them out of the way. But that's another, better, story, eh?

      Start editing. Cut out details of motions unless vital, merge so less text, and punch it up: "She sat down at her desk. Grace, her long-time AI 'assistant', popped up with the day's sched. There is no way to turn off the computerized devil in techno-hell. She regarded it coldly, even knowing its AI calculated that her thoughts were robo-cidal."

      Take my slant and try to write it. Sincerely, one letter-arranger to another.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Oct 2019 @ 9:13pm

      Re: "Prime of Life" -- Missed your calling as an actuary, eh?

      including the wasteful PDF formatting?

      Wait. Let me get this straight. First, you, as an entitled brat, demand that Samuel make you a PDF of this and then, after he does so, you then blame Techdirt for the "wasteful PDF formatting" that you know they didn't do since you were the one who asked for it in the first place.

      For someone who constantly calls out people here claiming they're entitled, you should maybe look in the mirror.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Samuel Abram (profile), 12 Oct 2019 @ 3:03am

        Re: Re: "Prime of Life" -- Missed your calling as an actuary, eh

        Exactly this. Makes me wonder why I bother sharing sharable media.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Samuel Abram (profile), 12 Oct 2019 @ 4:01am

        Re: Re: "Prime of Life" -- Missed your calling as an actuary, eh

        Also, the PDF was converted from the EPUB, which in turn was converted from the Amazon proprietary file. If anyone should be blamed for the formatting, it is me, myself, and I. TechDirt had nothing to do with it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 12 Oct 2019 @ 4:06am

      Re: "Prime of Life" -- Missed your calling as an actuary, eh?

      "First, you're charging $2.99 "

      You have the choice not to pay if you don't think it's worth your money. The authors are even kind enough to allow you to read without paying, which immediately makes it more valuable than most of the trash you do support.

      "Just CRAP as I predicted."

      Fun fact: art is subjective. Your opinion is irrelevant to anybody else's enjoyment. In actual fact, there might be people who read your monic drivel and decide to pay just to spite you! Thanks for increasing sales of this creative endeavour.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    smmvilla (profile), 12 Oct 2019 @ 1:29am

    humans and machnines

    now a days mens are replaced by machines in every firm , it makes difficulties for poors and average people because no of jobs are less for people when machines are replaced by humans
    https://www.smmvilla.com/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Roy Rogers, 12 Oct 2019 @ 3:24am

      Re: humans and machnines

      The opposite has been true in the past.

      I believe it will be different this time though.

      In the past, for example, we trained shovel handlers how to drive a tractor. Not a whole lot of training involved.

      This time will be different in that job training will take years to complete, not days or months. By the time they are trained, they will likely need to be, at least partially, retrained because of the pace of tech advances.

      Entertainment will be the only jobs of the future.

      You can be a court jester for the elite or be their prey after they become so bored that they start hunting other humans for sport.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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