John K Clark (
Sat, 25 Apr 1998 09:16:04 -0700 (PDT)


On Fri, 24 Apr 1998 Paul Hughes <> Wrote:

>Is there a single field which is intrinsically safe from automation
>in the course of the next 20-30 years?

It's only a matter of time before machines can do everything better than any
human, 20-30 years might be long enough for this to happen, or it might take
a little longer. I think the jobs most resistant to automation may not be the
ones that people naively assume. They might not have much bedside manner but
even today I'll bet a good expert system could diagnose most diseases better
than most doctors most of the time. On the other hand, no machine yet built
can drive a truck nearly as well as a nearsighted rookie with a hangover.
Truck driving in an inherently more difficult task, it just doesn't seem that
way to us because evolution made us very good at profoundly complex things
like pattern recognition, an ape that was good at spotting a saber toothed
tiger hiding in the bushes had lots of descendants, an ape that was only good
at memorizing long lists of facts did not.

>what will the rest of humanity do in order to survive?

No reason to think that humanity will survive. The probability that in a
hundred years biological humans as we currently know them will exist anywhere
in the universe is low. In a thousand years I would rate the probability as

John K Clark

Version: 2.6.i