On September 13th Time magazine ran a cover story on the plight of underpaid teachers in America. A few days later, an Amazon worker published an expose about inhumane working conditions and low pay in Amazon’s warehouses, while Bloomberg reported that the retailer is considering opening 3,000 cashierless stores by 2021. To cap off the week, the World Economic Forum published a report that predicted robot workers are going to steal 75 million jobs by 2025.
It was a worrying week if you’re a human.
Yet also on September 13th (coincidentally?), Jeff Bezos announced the creation of a $2b fund to create a network of nonprofit preschools in low-income communities. Rice University also made the bold move this week to offer a free education to Middle-Class and Low-Income Students, and even the concerning report from the World Economic Forum suggested that all the automation might also create 133 million human jobs in that same period.
So should we panic or not?
I think the answer might lie with Hal, the medical training robot who can cry, bleed and urinate like a real boy to help train doctors. It took humans to make him and it will take humans to interpret his emotions too. In a world where we can automate all the things no human wants to do (like shit Amazon delivery jobs), perhaps we will finally assign more value (and salary) to the things that we should want more humans to do.
Like teaching our children.