In a recent discussion about the future of work, Dr Andreas Cebulla, an Associate Professor in the Future of Work at Flinders University, raises an interesting question: why do we think of robots and not computers when we wonder who will take over the world? He points out that when computers first became mainstream, people were afraid they would take their jobs, but now the focus is on the latest robot revolution.
Dr Cebulla suggests that as a society, we have determined which jobs are valuable and which ones are not, even though some of the so-called “low value” jobs are actually the most difficult for technology to replace. Our perception of what is “scary” changes over time, and while nuclear war once dominated our fears, climate change and AI robots are now seen as potential threats to humanity.
He explains that computers were initially seen as tools that we use, while robots were designed to perform tasks for humans. However, our perception of computers has shifted over time, and similar concerns about job displacement existed when consumer versions became widespread in the 1990s.
In addressing the potential impact of robots, AI, and computers on our jobs, Dr Cebulla emphasizes the need for collaboration. He believes that consultation is the key because technology is not neutral. It is up to individuals and organizations to decide how they want to use technology, including robots. Consulting with workers is essential to ensure that technology benefits them.
Furthermore, Dr Cebulla challenges the stereotypes associated with certain jobs. He highlights the skill and artistry of professions such as baristas and Uber drivers, which are often undervalued. He points out that even with advancements in autonomous vehicles, scientists still struggle to create self-driving cars that can navigate without issues, demonstrating the complexity of tasks that humans currently perform.
Overall, Dr Cebulla urges a collaborative approach to navigating the future of work and reminds us that technology is a tool that can be used in various ways. It is crucial that we recognize the value of all jobs and ensure that workers are included in the decision-making process.
– Dr Andreas Cebulla, Associate Professor in the Future of Work at Flinders University