Dinosaurs never saw extinction event coming: Mass extinction 2.0, Jobs

There’s a lively debate today about what impact the fourth industrial revolution — artificial intelligence and robots— will have on the human job market.

Will it devastate it or invigorate it? Your guess is as good as mine!

Like the dinosaurs, 56-year-old Georgia resident Sherry Johnson never it coming. Robots put her out of work, not once, but three times.

  • First a robot claimed her job at the local newspaper, where she laid out pages and fed paper stock into printing machines.
  • Second a robot replaced her at a factory that produces reading machines.
  • Third machines took over her job doing inventory and filing.

“We are approaching a time when machines will be able to outperform humans at almost any task,” says Moshe Vardi, Director of Rice University’s Kan Kennedy Institute for Information Technology.

Vardi says, “I believe that society needs to confront this question before it is upon us:  If machines are capable doing almost any work humans can do, what will humans do?

Examples of some specific human tasks in danger of going the going the away of the dinosaurs:

  • Grunt work
  • Construction- SAM (semi-automated mason)
  • Retail manufacturing
  • Farming
  • Ground transportation
  • Food service industry
  • Retail stores
  • News industry
  • Law enforcement

A law enforcement example:

The Dubai police force has hired a real-life RoboCop to patrol its busy urban areas. Dressed in a full police uniform (snappy cap and all).


The life-size robot moves around on wheels, shakes hands, salutes, can recognize faces, read license plates, and alert his fellow officers to suspicious looking packages and situations. It also sports a touch screen on its chest that people can use to report a crime or look up a speeding ticket.

Whereas in past revolutions steam power replaced horsepower, electricity replaced mechanical gears and gaslight, and computers replaced typewriters . . . the AI revolution is “specifically designed” . . .  to replace us!

Eventually, AI will replace better versions of even our prized intuition and other human je ne sais quoi. Indeed, it’s well on its way to doing just that.

So . . . will the fourth industrial revolution devastate or invigorate the job market? Your guess is as good as mine!

Excerpts from The End of Life as We Know It: Ominous News from the Frontier of Science, by Michael Guillen..

See also “Meet your new BFF: AI

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