"We Are All Expendable Now"
Robert Tracinski, spot on:
The basic rule of economics after the Industrial Revolution is: if a task can be automated, it will be. Or to put it differently, if a worker can be replaced by a machine, he will be. Call it the principle of expendability. The only thing that has changed since the first power loom is the number and nature of the tasks that can be automated. The first thing the Industrial Revolution did was to automate physical tasks. But now we are beginning to automatemental tasks, and what we are just beginning to see is the scope of the mental work that can be automatized. It is much wider than you probably think. . . .
If you're not taking this seriously yet, let me give you one more example. I recently came across a story about a composer and music theorist who created a computer program that writes cantatas in the style of Johann Sebastian Bach. (A cantata is a short piece with a well-defined structure, which makes the task a little easier.) The climax of the story is a concert in which an orchestra played a mixture of the computer's compositions and actual Bach cantatas. An audience of music experts could not reliably determine which was which.