What Do We Have to Lose to Robots?

Robot umpires in sports are becoming commonplace. It’s expected that robots will referee Major League Baseball soon. But the New Yorker wonders, “But isn’t yelling and screaming about bad calls half the fun of baseball?”

Their review of the Automated Ball-Strike System accepts the fact that an automated umpire is less biased and more accurate than a human one. The problem is, players and fans lose out on the traditional quarrels and controversies humans bring to the game.

Automation losses

We’re not ready to get sentimental about the dull, dirty, dangerous jobs automation has taken over and rescued human beings from. Broadly speaking, we think that people shouldn’t be doing jobs that machines can do.

But bread made by machines is not as good as bread made by hand. And there’s a loss for the bakers as well as the consumers: the satisfaction of kneading dough and seeing artisanal loaves rise is worth something.

Millions of people sew for pleasure. Not the people who work long hours in sweatshop conditions for pennies an hour, obviously, but sewing robots won’t feel the meditative pleasure humans get from hemming a skirt or the creative pleasure they get from finishing a garment.

Work can be satisfying. People enjoy making things and doing things. Sometimes automation improves that experience, but often it removes the satisfaction.

It can also remove some the uncertainty that l3ads to excitement. As a philosophy professor said about the robot-umps, “This is part of a movement to use algorithms to take the hard choices of living out of life.”

Is your discovery of a new favorite movie less exciting if Netflix suggested it based on their algorithm?

Leaving philosophy aside…

These may be interesting philosophical questions, but you want the robots you employ in your facility to be predictable and reliable. When your Rexroth drive and control systems need service and support, call us first. We’ll get you back up and running fast.

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