Children all over the world are being brought up in a world completely unlike that of their parents’ childhood world. The most striking difference between the childhood experience of today and that of our parents is the difference in the kinds of technology available. When our parents were kids the most technologically advanced environment was most likely the kitchen. Today, kids see advanced technology everywhere. Many of today’s new technologies are actually old technologies that have been re-engineered to incorporate technology of the information age. Much of this re-engineering is focused towards the automation of processes that used to require human interaction.
Think about it, there are automatic flushing toilets, mail that delivers itself (email), robots that build cars, and even vacuums that automatically clean your floors. For each and every one of these successfully automated technologies there it’s a fraction of the labor force that now has no niche to fill. Why would someone pay a maid to clean their floor if a robot can do just as good of a job for a one-time fee. The same logic was applied to the manufacturing business and now many structurally unemployed people have to acquire new skills so that they can survive in a world that is no longer willing to pay for their services.
The information age has changed the American job market irreversibly. Jobs in manufacturing and physical labor are disappearing fast. What then will kids of today strive to be as adults? Many a child asserts proudly that he/she would like to be a fireman when he/she grows up. Not to crush all of their dreams of heroic feats of bravery but what will they do if fire detection systems become so advanced that firefighting is obsolete? Those kids will be forced to use their brains rather than their brawn. As more and more jobs fall victim to automation in the work place, the average Joe will have to become an extraordinary Joe in order to compete. The highest paying jobs in today’s market are given to those with extensive collegiate schooling. Given, this is not much different from the past but what is different is the fact that an increasing percentage of the available jobs require college degrees.
The goal of my image was to draw attention to this restructuring of the work place. Smart people invent technology that performs jobs formerly held by people. The unemployed now has to become smarter in order to get a new job. I represented each new generation entering the job market with the child holding the vacuum. The child is performing a job that is quickly becoming obsolete due to the automated vacuum (representing all automated technology). The robot tells the child that he needs to become smarter because the job he is doing wont be around in the future. All of these elements help to make the topic of my image clear but the real argument in my image is conveyed in the text. The picture is supposed to be an advertisement for robotics (robotics… because no one wants to do that job anyway). My intention was that people who could be replaced by robots see this message and develop a level of anger. They should be thinking… “hey! I want to do that job… I need to do that job.” This anger hopefully would spark debate about what people will do when there are no simple jobs left. I hope people will look at my image and wonder what the future will be like when there is a large percentage of the population that simply is not smart enough to hold a job. Where will these people go? Will they adapt and rise to meet their challenge or will they lay in defeat living off security nets like welfare? Humans are unmatched in intelligence on this planet and because of that have no competition. We have enjoyed decades of technological progress that allowed us to conquer the natural world. Now, when we literally have nothing left to compete against but ourselves, it seems we are making technologies designed to challenge our species to evolve as a whole and become smarter.