The era of automation is here.
The era of automation is here. Thomas-Soellner

The robots are here

First, they came for the lighthouse keepers, then the secretaries, tea ladies, checkout chicks, movie projectionists and street sweepers. I didn't speak up because my job was safe, for the time being.

Folks, you don't have to look very far back into the history of employment to realise we've never lived in a more exciting time.

Of course, there's a very thin line between being excited and terrified. I suppose it depends which side of the unemployment line you happen to be standing on.

Now, I'm not here to discuss philosophy, but the fact remains, automation and robots are here to stay whether we like it or not.

Still, you must admit modern technology is pretty amazing.

A semi-robotic, cyber-surgeon, is capable of operating inside an eyeball, performing brain surgery via a vein in your leg and giving your heart a quick once-over on the way out. Even the most stubborn, whale-oil lamp burning Luddite would be impressed by that.

It's all about faith. We've still got a way to go, but most of us trust modern autopilots to keep aircraft in the sky and huge ships on course. I'll admit they're not perfect, but machines don't tend to suffer from mood swings or irrational decisions, or turn up to work full of mind-altering chemicals.

Devices may break down, but they won't skive off work when the boss looks away, and they don't steal stationery, visit the toilet three times an hour or ask for ciggie break.

Plus, one machine can replace any number of workers. A single backhoe can quickly excavate the career graves of 20 ditch diggers. It's the same for switchboard operators, typesetters and wharfies.

The good news is, modern machines have created some new jobs, particularly for the few people engaged in designing, building, installing, repairing or cleaning our robot overlords. Obviously, they'll all be made redundant when machines take over those roles too.

Still, if some machine tosses me onto the unemployment scrapheap, I'll fill my days scrounging for food and compiling lists of careers made extinct by technology.

That's one job guaranteed for life.