Automation for the People


One could fret over his or her inherent job security after reading a new McKinsey report, “Four fundamentals of workplace automation,” which deduces that “that 45 percent of work activities could be automated using already demonstrated technology” — though if “the technologies that process and ‘understand’ natural language were to reach the median level of human performance, an additional 13 percent of work activities in the US economy could be automated” — and that “60 percent of occupations could have 30 percent or more of their constituent activities automated.”

Or, faced with the knowledge that “automation technology can already match, or even exceed, the median level of human performance required,” proceed straight to the idea that when most of your job is automated, if you are one the lucky ones who manages to keep it to perform the remaining tasks that cannot yet be granted to a machine, all that free time will allow you to reckon not just how pointless it all was anyway, but to consider the marvelous and creative and feeling person that you truly are:

While these findings might be lamented as reflecting the impoverished nature of our work lives, they also suggest the potential to generate a greater amount of meaningful work. This could occur as automation replaces more routine or repetitive tasks, allowing employees to focus more on tasks that utilize creativity and emotion.

In the future, when the body and mind are no longer sufficient for the purposes of the production of capital, emotional labor is the only labor we will have left.

Photo by Jessica Merz