The conscious experiences of a flesh-and-blood taxi driver are infinitely richer than those of Google’s self-driving car, which feels nothing. But what the system needs from a taxi driver is to bring passengers from point A to point B as quickly, safely and cheaply as possible. And Google’s self-driving car will soon be able to do that far better than a human driver. The same goes for mechanics, lawyers, soldiers, doctors, teachers — and even computer engineers.
What will those superfluous people do? This is not a completely new question. Ever since the Industrial Revolution erupted, people feared that mechanization might cause mass unemployment. This did not happen, because as old professions became obsolete, new professions evolved, and there was always something humans could do better than machines.
Yet this is not a law of nature.
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