Has Automation Made Human Labor Unnecessary?

When technology started to emerge in the 1950s, there was much optimism and pessimism as to what kind of future would follow.  On the negative side, many people thought that such automated technology would take over the jobs of workers.  Those who were optimistic thought that technology would make our lives easier.  By making our lives easier people would not need to work as many hours and would have much more time for leisure. So who was correct?  It is obvious today that neither group was entirely correct.  On the contrary, neither group was entire wrong either.

In many ways the pessimists were right. Factories and refineries were a major economic stronghold at the time and automation did take over many aspects of such industries.  However, the factory system is no longer an asset to the economy because of computer technology.  Technology has made most of that industry obsolete.  So does this mean that many people lost jobs?  Not exactly.  Technology has created opportunities for jobs in the areas in other areas to make up for those that it took away.  For example, factories may not need a person to put a steering wheel on a car, but someone is needed to tell the computer how to do that.  Computers have created an entirely new technological industry, which has fueled new job opportunities around the world.

The optimists in a way were also correct.  In many ways technology has made our lives easier.  We can look up anything that we want to know in a matter of seconds using the Internet.  We can compose writings much quicker and more efficiently than using a pencil and paper.  However, computers have not reduced the amount of time we work.  We still work the same amount of hours, but we can get much more done in the hours that we work.  Do we need to work as much?  Probably not, but it is human nature to get ahead of our neighbors so we continue on.

So should we thank automation or curse it for making our lives so busy?  I think it is how we look at it.  Yes, automation and technology took certain things away from us, but it also provided many new things for us.  Overall, I believe humans and technology have a give and take relationship.

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