The Four Stages of Denial in your Replacement by a Machine

Almost everyone is eventually going to be replaced by a machine, robot or A.I. Accept it. Or, don’t accept it: the choice is yours. If you choose the latter option, you’ll want to review the four stages of robo-denial on your way to obsolescence.

Stage 1: Don’t be silly! Humans can’t be replaced in <insert job here>.

Ah yes, the old chestnut that your job is unique and unlike all other jobs, especially the ones that have already been replaced by machines, including such obviously repetitive, mindless ones as:

Stage 2: Ok, machines will take over part of the job. But they’ll work alongside me, not instead of me.

Famous last words previously uttered by:

  • Typesetters, who found work producing the printing plates that replaced their set type, and who eventually got turfed when digital printers replaced offset presses in all but the largest shops.
  • Professional drivers, who are confident self-driving automobiles require a human to ensure safety, despite the fact that autonomous cars are already safer than human drivers per km and – unlike humans – will continue to improve.
  • Automobile workers, who at one time knew that a robot here or there for precise, repetitive or heavy tasks would never replace human flexibility and intelligence on the production line. Until robots showed they were perfectly capable without humans on these tasks, and eliminated five million jobs.

Stage 3: People will always want a human touch in what they do. No machine can replace that!

Certain things require a human touch. Except when they’re replaced by a machine, including:

Stage 4: Acceptance.

Automation is not new. The first time someone hitched a horse to a plow, the human that used to have that glamorous gig lost their job. Yet, over some 8,000 years of technological change, more jobs have been created than lost. That may finally be about to change, but with each technological leap, even as jobs were destroyed, wealth was created. There’s no reason to believe that will change, so the only question becomes: how do we ensure wealth gets distributed when (for the first time in history) more jobs are replaced by technology than are created?

As a society, we’ll find out the answer to that question soon enough. In the meantime, the best we can do is select a career low on the replaceability index, sit back and enjoy the ride.

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