Are machines making humans obsolete?

Illustration: Thomas Pullin for the Guardian Suppose that, unlike me, you’re a fresh-faced youngster, just out of education, not yet beaten down by the meaninglessness of human existence, and looking to choose a career. Preferably one that won’t be made obsolete by technology within decades. Factory jobs are out. So is taxi-driving, thanks to driverless cars. But things aren’t looking great for accountants, lawyers or journalists, either; computers already handle the simpler bits of those jobs. Software can mark certain essays with an accuracy approaching that of teachers, and make medical diagnoses more accurately than doctors. Techno-optimists used to be confident that automation would always create more jobs than it replaced, but now some wonder if the luddites might have been right: when artificial intelligence gets good enough, could we all…


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