For centuries, we rewarded prowess of the human physique.
The self-sufficiency, farming and industrial revolution rewarded hard physical brute force.
Our notion of “work” involved hard physical labor.
Then later, we began rewarding the sort of intelligence that we came to represent as “IQ.”
This was left brained and logical and focused on memory and processing power.
Over the past couple of decades, we have started rewarding the right brain, creativity is seen as a powerful asset in today’s information based economy.
Combining art and technology became the mantra that drove the new economy.
Creative industries such as advertising, entertainment, design, music, publishing, architecture, film, fashion etc got more prominence, appreciation and reward.
Teaching, nurses, caring for the vulnerable are not highly rewarded, let alone seen [in terms of Sawubona].
Enter the fourth industrial revolution, what happens in a world where artificial intelligence takes over our most valuable jobs?
Aeon has an interesting essay titled: The Future is Emotional on how the future could reward emotional jobs that are currently grossly underpaid, think teachers and geriatric care workers.
“Human jobs in the future will be the ones that require emotional labour: currently undervalued and underpaid but invaluable.”
It is a compelling read and here are the last three paragraphs:
“There’s an enormous opportunity before us, as robots and algorithms push humans out of cognitive work. As a society, we could choose to put more resources into providing better staffing, higher pay and more time off for care workers who perform the most emotionally demanding work for the smallest wages. At the same time, we could transform other parts of the economy, helping police officers, post-office workers and the rest of us learn to really engage with the people in front of us.
This isn’t something our economic system, which judges the quality of jobs by their contribution to GDP, is set up to do. In fact, some economists worry that we haven’t done enough to improve the ‘productivity’ of service jobs such as caring for the elderly the way that we have in sectors such as car manufacturing. Emotional work will probably never be a good way to make money more efficiently. The real question is whether our society is willing to direct more resources toward it regardless.
Technology-driven efficiency has achieved wonderful things. It has brought people in developed countries an astonishingly rich standard of living, and freed most of us from the work of growing the food we eat or making the products we use. But applying the metric of efficiency to the expanding field of emotional labour misses a key promise offered by technological progress — that, with routine physical and cognitive work out of the way, the jobs of the future could be opportunities for people to genuinely care for each other.”
Being humane is defined as having or showing compassion or benevolence.
Previous technology waves have never managed to align wealth and success with being humane.
In fact, you could argue that being humane actually worked against you , as a warrior, a property owner, a businessman in the nineteenth and the twentieth century, or a stock market investor.
By having machines do the many things we considered uniquely human, it is possible that the AI wave will force us to reward being “humane.”
It is an outcome I’m rooting for.
No amount of Facebook likes can replace a hug.