Even philosophers’ jobs aren’t safe from the robots

Humanity, you better start getting your retirement plans in order. The robots really are taking over.

Technology scholars have predicted for years that automation could be the death knell for hands-on jobs.

A 2013 Oxford Martin School study estimated that 47 percent of all jobs could be automated in the next 20 years.

Sure, but those are manual labor jobs right? The experts were talking about people on assembly lines, or data entry.

They didn’t mean those in the service industries. I mean, who would ask “Do you want fries with that?” if your local fast food joint was taken over by technology?

But low and behold, in recent years, more casual eateries, and even some sit-down restaurants have added features like point of sale ordering.

Places like Wawa, where customers can customize a hoagie order at a kiosk to be made by a deli employee, are eliminating the order-taker from the equation, even if the behind the scenes jobs are still there.

McDonald’s has been testing similar technology, and even some finer restaurants, such as the Carmel Kitchen in Allentown, let customers order their dinners on a notepad computer set on the table — though a server will assist for anyone who wants the personal touch.

Looking at such trends, one could see how such jobs could eventually be entirely replaced by computers and robotic technology at some point in the future.

Good thing I have that good old-fashioned liberal arts degree. Computers will never take over for artists, writers and philosophers, right?


Mobile apps are popping up all the time that give the everyday user the ability to instantly turn a photo into a work of art, with the styles of numerous artistic genres and artists.

As a business writer I’m already dangerously close to being obsolete, myself.

A computer program was written a few years back to autofill stories on business financial reports. There’s a basic template of what’s good, bad up or down and the program simply inputs the numbers from a company’s report to create a standardized, easy-to read business news story.

I don’t know if any business publications actually use the program – though I assume some must – but every time I read a story on a business’ most recently quarterly report, I wonder if it was written by some dirty rotten bot out to steal my job.

At least we know the philosophers are safe. How could a computer ever replace the human mind when it comes to reflecting on the nature of our existence and inspiring the human soul?

Apparently, the answer is randomization.

Yes, if you were hoping to make your fortune off of the next genius motivational poster; if you were hoping to be the creator of the next “hang in there” kitten dangling from a branch poster; you have some automated competition – Inspirobot.

I discovered the web page through at tweet put out by the Nerdist on Twitter, which was probably automatically generated.

The staff at the pop culture website claimed to have wasted plenty of company time clicking on the website to randomly generate philosophical and motivational posters.

The posters appear to come from a mash up of words commonly found in such creations. They don’t always make sense, but they’re often quite funny. I’d hang a few of them in my cubicle.

A couple dozen clicks on the site came up with some amusing motivations – some of which can be found in the above photo gallery.

Clearly, the site isn’t exactly on the “I think therefore I am” level of philosophy – hopefully because computers can’t actually “think” on their own yet.

But could it portend a future where we define our existence by automated exhaltations?

Who knows were technology will take us.

For now it’s a fun place to waste a little time during a brain break at work.

At least goofing off is still a vocation best left to humans.