Human workers becoming obsolete

A server mainframe located in the Streeter Anex is utilized by the Networking 151 class as a hands on lab for Cisco.

A server mainframe located in the Streeter Anex is utilized by the Networking 151 class as a hands on lab for Cisco.


Story and photo by Collin Berend
As college students, many of us have worked a job, either in the past or currently, some more than others. Faculty members have likely worked previous jobs as well. But all of these positions are at potential risk.

It’s the year 2017, and we are at the crux of a new generation: not in calendar years or generation of offspring, but a technological age. A revolution. For computers, their age of reason is just around the corner.

For example, mechanics or those studying to do auto body work could easily be replaced by machines. It wouldn’t take much effort to create a computer capable of doing repairs; and a machine would be faster, more efficient, eliminate sick days and holidays and be available 24/7. It would only require, at the most basic level, an ability to be aware of the surrounding enough to diagnose the situation.

While this seems farfetched now, consider how far we’ve come. We have touch screen phones connected to the internet and sending messages with others in other countries in seconds, ear pieces that translate almost any language, artificial intelligence that works as a desk receptionist and even computers that write articles. We already have self- checkout registers, and that will only improve.

In the 1980s, a car like the one from Knight Rider or driverless cars seemed surreal, but now are a reality. Driverless cars were displayed in Las Vegas recently.

Technology is moving fast. How much longer until artificial intelligence will be teaching students? While this can be scoffed at, per Moore’s Law, such technology will eventually be so cheap that 10 AI professors and instructors could cost a single instructor’s salary.

What jobs will be safe from robot takeover? Jobs that only humans could do. A computer would be a horrible pick for football, so those positions will be open.

But what about singing? Sorry, aspiring vocalists, Japan already has you covered. In Japan, a computer is famous for singing on stage with an entirely computer generated voice. At concerts, the crowd is presented with a hologram rather than a performer. Michael Jackson and Tupac have received a similar treatment since their deaths.

Acting? For those who haven’t seen or heard anything on Star Wars: Rogue One, they brought the dead back with computer generated effects that make it almost hard to tell the difference. Since Warcraft and Rogue One came out, inquiry has sprouted about how this will affect actors who can just be resurrected or be used with their faces in a computer database.

Austin Parrish, a Clackamas student and vice president of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Club or STEM, understands where such fears come into play. He asserted that this is also a good thing and that part of the STEM club’s purpose is to encourage being more open and accepting of it.

“They were primarily used by geeks,” Parrish explained of using cellphones to speak about the rising in technological advances. “Now everyone is on their phone.”

“It is surprising how fast things are changing,” said Carol DeSau, bookstore director. DeSau touched on how she was told that, with technology, the bookstore would eventually be paperless.

For students, these jobs help pay for school; and some rely on it to pay bills, for their kids to eat and be warm. Even the most mundane, low-skilled job being replaced could have adverse effects on the denizens. Some malls have closed due to less traffic. Amazon is growing, which makes online shopping easier.

“Now at McDonald’s they have places that have kiosks that cooks it for you,” said Amber Wright, a member of the Associated Student Government. “That actually kind of worries me as a future employee. What if all my jobs are turned into computers, how will I make money?”

While this problem may seem like nothing for some, it is a big one for others. Perhaps we should carefully examine what we will do. While technology is great, how does it affect us as humans, or our economy? Our jobs?

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Autumn Berend

Autumn Berend is the Editor-in-Chief for The Clackamas Print. Her focus is primarily news reports and briefs. She is the author of the inactive column "The Paradoxical" and author of the on-going column "The Angry Tranny".