In our rapidly advancing technological age, it’s not uncommon to hear discussions about what jobs and tasks will be taken over by machines. I tend to look at it from an flipped perspective: What if we assume every task you deal with today is meant for machines. Humans are born burdened, unnecessarily, with repetitive and labor-intensive processes of work. Our ancestors could not advance without physical labor. This is a temporary state that we deal with until we figure out the best way to, inevitably, hand these tasks off to machines. From the beginning of human history, we have always been simply the “in-between”.
Reframing our problems and ideas allow us to remove walls that are only set by tradition or cultural perspectives. Once we find ways to break free from those binds, we can more easily identify ways to advance. The goal is to increase our happiness and ease of existence, not savor the burdens we are born with, or that have been passed down.
Many people are familiar with the concept of the “mechanical Turk,” where human labor is used to perform individual tasks instead of relying on a machine. However, isn’t everything a mechanical Turk? Isn’t that definition backwards? Isn’t every task not done by a machine simply an example of us imitating machinery? From making eggs to driving to work, filling out spreadsheets, targeting investments, and delivering a baby, these are all tasks that could be broken down into simpler repetitive tasks. We are not losing tasks to machines, but freeing ourselves from machine-appropriate tasks so we can do and live as freely and unburdened as possible.
By assuming that everything is meant for machines and that humans are merely the in-between, we can more easily identify the tasks that should be handed off to machines to improve our quality of life. This shift in perspective can help us reframe problems and ideate new products and procedures that are more efficient and beneficial for humanity.