Allocating robots to knowledge work only demotes humans to having to do more of the menial work

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.

Such a great essay:

From a capital investment perspective that’s a message that asks: why invest in costly capital intensive equipment when it’s so much more cost effective to hire low-paid humans to do the same job? That business model is well exploited by technology companies like Amazon.

As argued on Wednesday, the idea society should fear the invention of robots which would displace humans from low-paid menial work is laughable. Schumpeterian logic dictates that as long as overall productivity goes up — i.e. these robots are more cost-efficient to operate in that industry than humans — this sort of tech will help us create much more attractive jobs elsewhere.

But of course, if what we’re really doing is spending resources on technology for technology’s sake, which isn’t more efficient than humans at making the essential stuff, it stands to reason an ever greater number of humans must move down the job-quality chain (if not to subsistence-level work) to compensate for the deficit.

You could think of it this way: Allocating robots and AI systems to the luxury of knowledge work only demotes humans to having to do more of the menial work.

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