Will Robots Make Us More Human?

Will Robots Make Us More Human?


Vsauce! Kevin here. Until robots render me
and everyone else with a job obsolete… or make us more human than we’ve ever been. Humans have been working for a long time.
We work the soil, we work at jobs, we work on homework, we hate going to work, but work
can also fulfill us. Some of us work to live and others of us live to work. But should
robots do all the work for us? Where did the modern idea of work come from, and is it natural?  In the Paleolithic era, our human ancestors
were hunters and gatherers. They roamed the world surviving on natural resources for over
two million years. Working to improve their lives, very slowly, along the way. Like by cooking meat in a fire to make it
easier to chew and digest or observing time by marking lunar movements on mammoth tusks.
And the louse put effort in, too, by migrating from people’s heads into their newly-invented
clothes and evolving into the human body louse. Which tells us that clothing may be about
107,000 years old and that lice are great history teachers.  When the population eventually blossomed to
the point of making the “happy hunting grounds” lifestyle unsustainable, people needed to
settle down. We built simple homes instead of depending on caves and started to plow
the ground. We developed agriculture and animal husbandry to take more control over feeding
ourselves. Many a goat was consumed. This newfound permanence meant that we could
store food surpluses, support larger families and develop communities. For the first time,
a smaller number of people could work to feed the population. Neolithic humans could put
some of their time into new, productive pursuits. Like move really, really big rocks. Humans began to realize the potential — and
the necessity — of working together. With each technological advance, we created
new types of work and relegated some tasks to history… and that’s when it started
to become obvious that some work is better than others. Proof of how much people like
not having to perform difficult, unpalatable professions goes back almost four thousand
years. The Instruction Of Dua-Khety, a Middle Kingdom
Egyptian text in the form of a letter from a father to his son, extols the benefits of
being a scribe — a new profession that rose to prominence with the development of writing.
The father disparages other, more physically-taxing professions, while declaring that life as
a scribe was the best line of work. During the Ramesside Period of 1200 BC his instruction
became one of the most frequently used practice texts for student scribes. Which means ancient
civilization homework was literally motivation for avoiding certain jobs. Language evolved to describe professions and
work, but it wasn’t until the mid-1500’s that we had the most recognizable word that
defines our role and participation in that system: job.  “Jobben” in middle english meant to jab
or peck, a small action that’s part of a larger effort — which is why a job is just
a piece of the whole. That whole being work. Often someone else’s work. The word “employ”
meant “entangle”. As an employee, you’re caught in the snare of your job.   And it came to define who we were. Occupational
last names like Carpenter, Baker, Eisenhower and Cabrera identified a person’s position
in society by their profession. They did one job for so long that it permanently branded
their family. A job became a legacy that dictated your path through life. Sometimes with heavy
consequences. To ensure future work for their families,
metal grinders during the Industrial Revolution denied safer working conditions because if
they lived longer, there’d be fewer job openings for their sons.  Fear of other humans limiting job availability
soon gave way to the panic of machines eliminating jobs altogether. The Spinning Jenny single-handedly
wiped out a job that had existed for thousands of years – spinning thread. A job so ingrained
in human culture that the term “spinster” was coined to describe a woman who spent her
whole life spinning thread without marrying.  Invented in 1764, the spinning jenny made
the weaving process so efficient that people were afraid it’d take their jobs. Spinners
broke into inventor James Hargreaves’ house and destroyed his equipment to try to halt
progress and protect their livelihoods. Decades later, English textile workers called Luddites
banded together to destroy labor-economizing technology for fear of being forced out of
work. Economists now use the term Luddite Fallacy
to explain the fear that advances in technology will lead to structural unemployment. What
really happens is that technological advancement causes industry-wide production costs to fall,
which lowers the competitive price and increases the supply and, in theory, leads to more input.
Labor that becomes irrelevant shifts into new areas, and our goods get cheaper and better
as our standard of living rises. In 1973, it took the average American 97.1
hours of labor to afford a color TV – more than two weeks of full-time work. By 2009,
it took only two days to afford a slimmer, lighter, more energy-efficient, High Definition
TV. We’re spending less time working to procure
food and meeting basic survival needs but we haven’t become lazy — we’ve freed ourselves
up to solve other problems. We’re beating back Belphagor. The chief demon of sloth and one of the seven
princes of Hell, Belphegor was described by 16th century German witch-hunter Peter Binsfeld
as using the promise of innovation and ingenious inventions to lure humans into laziness. The
fear was that work-reducing technology would free up too much time and allow evil to creep
into humanity. However, lifespans and standards of living have consistently improved with
each passing generation — which means by today’s standards Peter Binsfeld could have
hunted witches more efficiently and for longer. With the advancement of steam engines leading
to electricity leading to computers leading to robots it’s leading to…?  The end
of many jobs. A natural function of human progression that has happened over and over.
From the printing press eliminating scribes to telephone switchboard operators being replaced
by complex telephone and data exchange systems.  Narrator: The equipment that makes this service
possible is among the most complex that man has ever devised. Humanity needs technology because human labor
can only accomplish so much. It’s why large animals like horses were first used to make
up for the shortcomings of human muscle. But all animals have limits — as CGP Grey illustrates
in his Humans Need Not Apply video, the horse population plummeted after the advent of machine
power, but we still use the term “horsepower” as a measurement of a machine’s output. Narrator: The horsepower unit proved very
useful. Watt was able to tell mine owners and businessmen exactly what size engine would
be needed to replace the horses they’d been using. Inventions help humans overcome our shortcomings,
writing was developed to make up for the limitations of memory. And technological advances allow us to use
our labor more specifically. The industrial revolution marked the first time in human
history that the majority of people were put to work doing specialized jobs. Prior to that,
specialization was the work of the elite. Scribes copying texts, architects hired for
public works projects, court jesters juggling batons. Now, if you want to spend your life
reviewing seagull poop simulators, there’s a job for that. But the reasons robots will replace humans
in many labor sectors are the same reasons that Scottish engineer James Nasmyth preferred
self-acting machines and tools over skilled workers in the 1800s. They, “never got drunk;
their hands never shook from excess; they were never absent from work; they did not
strike for wages; they were unfailing in their accuracy and regularity.” Machines are more
dependable and consistent. But machines and robots aren’t human. And
their continued implementation in the workforce means our humanity may be the most valuable
attribute we have. When robots are performing mundane tasks, more and more people will be
involved in uniquely human jobs. Markets built around human connection and collective experiences.  We’re on that path right now. The amount
of hours humans work per lifetime are dramatically lower than ever, and a 2015 U.S. Department
Of Labor report stated that the average number of jobs held by a baby boomer from age 18
to 48 was 11.7. Through most of human history, we worked constantly at one thing — and now
we’re working less and doing many different jobs with greater flexibility. Increased opportunities to work from home
— and work less — have improved the family dynamic by allowing parents to spend more
time raising their children.  If we automate the systems that fulfill our
most basic survival needs, will it finally allow us the freedom to spend our time the
way we want? Studs Terkel’s landmark book Working includes
interviews with 130 people about their jobs. Many felt their work gave their lives daily
meaning to accompany the earned daily bread — but others felt trapped. “I’m a machine,”
says the spot welder. “I’m caged,” says the bank teller. “I’m a mule,” says
the steelworker.” “A monkey can do what I do,” says the receptionist. “I’m an
object,” says the high-fashion model. But from the upper crust white collar to the lowest
paying blue collar workers – one phrase is used repeatedly.  “I’m a robot.” And as always – thanks for watching.  Narrator: We know we are somewhere in the
middle of a period of unprecedented economic change. For those of us who view history as
a fascinating spectacle, the prospect of the coming quarter century is exhilarating. It
is as if we were privileged not only to see but to participate in centuries of development
telescoped into a brief span. It is not too early to train your sights on this prospect
right now. Man: Same old story all over again. No jobs.
No luck.

98 thoughts on “Will Robots Make Us More Human?

  1. me(In a room with all of the people from Vscause):I like Vscause too! Kevin: Aw, thanks! Me: I meant all Vscause. Kevin:-_-

  2. More than ever the distinction must be made beteween "Job" and "work". Even if we don't have a job we alway work. We are never lazy (at least not so much). Even unemplyed poeple tend to work (at home, for their family, for themselves etc).
    A french politician introduced to the mainstream french audience the notion of "universal wage". Since their will be no more jobs to provide employement for everybody, fuck the notion of job, let's reward work.
    weither you work as a student, as a mother at home with kids, as a job seaker, etc we should all be assured a minimum living. because, even if we don't always have a job, we are always working.

  3. I’m watching television from a telophone, how ingenious, now I’m going listen to music from a record player on the same telephone ☎️ +⏰+📺+📷+📽+🔦=📱⌚️🖥💻📀

  4. Vsauce1: General
    Vsauce2: Existential Crisis
    Vsauce3: Science Fiction/Fiction
    All Vsauce: Existential Mindblow about Science and Fiction
    Edit: Add 1900's videos for Vsauce2

  5. We just need to return back to hunter gatherer times, its our natural way of life and I bet we as a species were actually happy

  6. I love your videos , I really do and I hope you will continue making them…but I can’t help wonder: why this music? Does it mean something to you? Does it come from a weird experiment of Cold War era known to provoke specific feelings? If not I don’t see the purpose cause it is reeeeally annoying😆

  7. Me: Hmmmm im not sleepy yet, lets see what youtube has for me
    Youtube: depressing videos to promote existential dread and midlife crisis at a young age
    Me: oh goodie i get to be scarred before going to sleep

  8. there is always the antithesis that as machines replace workers are lives will be worse. that because of the deterioration of the machine has two component parts both ware and tare from use and rust from unused. that manufacturers will try to keep their machines running as long as possible. this leads to the extension of the working day or where that is fixed by law the increase in the intensity of labor in order to increase its productivity. this argument is more important for manufacturing or labor intensive jobs. and thus less applicable to creative jobs however it is something to keep in mind that the advent of steam power and the spinning jenny by no means freed the workers from the factories but where the surest means of entrapping them there.

  9. 1:21
    It depends, if u settle near tusk, ivory or something similar, you should develop animal husbandry first… them agriculture.

  10. Huh…weird….I'm still working 65 hours a week and I guess I could by a tv after just 2 days wage… But more like 2 weeks for a nice one

  11. Yeah but the poor are running out of jobs most of the jobs are moved to sweat shops in third world countries

  12. Having a job gives life meaning. It shows the person they are needed and important. If you want to know how humans will act without any purpose just ask someone on welfare about all the meaningful and impactive things they are doing to improve themselves and the world.

  13. Hiligaynon is there!! Seeing my own language, which is not widely use worldwide, in an famous YouTube video gives me chills. hahaha

  14. When playing online games, as soon as I know there are "bots" I can't play the game anymore. I will not waste my time doing something a robot can do.

  15. The etymology of the word "robot" makes the end of this video mildly ironic. It comes from a term used in reference to indentured laborers, it literally translates to "forced laborer"

  16. Evolution is necessary to improve the quality of human lives. Technology will replace the most obsolete jobs, which will increase the human temporary unemployment. Like it or not, Evolution can’t be stopped

  17. "I'm a robot"
    Well, considering that the word literally comes from the archaic czech word "Robota" – meaning "Work" – anyone that works is, indeed, a Robot
    But the word's meaning's changed, so

  18. It was not mentioned that the word “Robot” derived from the Czech word for Forced Labour – the equivalent of “Slave”.

    I feel like a robot. Perhaps we all are.

  19. Hang on, at first you say specialisation of jobs used to be the preserve of the elite, before the industrial revolution. Then around 9:05 you say that people used to do the same job their whole lives, and only now are we doing a variety of jobs.
    This seems like an obvious contradiction.

  20. yeah to be honest if you job can be replaced by a job its not a job a human with its potential should be doing say its welding specific parts together or pushing button to punch a hole feeding thread threw a weaving wheel whatever its a waiste of a human potential when a machine can replace your job and do it just as well if not better bit fuzzier when machines start gettign into the more creative sectors of work but hell if a machine can run out lives for us humans are then freed to what they desire take jobs that there pleased with less so then jobs they must take to eat another day hopefully this all being said in an optimists outlook there could be the dark future were humans are miserable lot because there is no work for us in any sector and it all becomes somewhat robocop

  21. Ok. Big risk here. O.k. So i'm posting this without having looked at the video. Take it or leave it… I'm so excited about future robots in homes because i believe they will actually change the world; for example, some future robots…will help to diagnose people sooner than humans and they can actually monitor/condition human behavior–as a result, there'll be fewer incarcerated people, i hope (security) and there'll also be fewer ill people-on the streets…not just homeless…sorry stereotyping…–& ill in every aspect of the word. I believe it'll work because humans will have something to BELIEVE in, other than a human.–sorry for all caps. Dogs are great for humans in this way–unconditional, or so they will say. The dogs give belief to humans, at least i would think. I'd love to fund this project. I'm no engineer expert, but the only problem i see could be that the robots must be, at least in my intelligence, robots must be programmed smarter than humans. Dogs already do diagnose humans and drug/weapon paraphernalia, and people do believe in this non-human, i say respectfully.–animals, especially, dogs are compatible and complements to us with their senses, you know–common knowledge–…i wish no experts to be tested on animals for this exercise/vision and no transplants of their organs. Bionic man/woman okay; however spiritually, no -to living forever. I did, however, not mention the automated engineering quirks/effects? Anyway, this is my belief! Take it or leave it. I will fund the above said project for the reason of changing the world, but not merely for like making us lazier creatures! 🙂

  22. Are there any theological reasons why laziness was/is considered evil?
    The only that i personally can understand why being lazy is bad is for subjective or societal survival.
    Is this again one of those society labels that were created to keep humans inside the cage of what aristocracy profited off?

  23. the thing that scares me most about the emerging abundance of robots in our society is them replacing humans for love… robotic kids, robotic significant others/sex bots… shudder

  24. The myth being promoted here is that machines free us from labor and give us more liberty.The truth is that machines make more profits for the ruling class and reduce our inherent value as labor. Yes it will take less labor to produce the same quantity of goods in the future. So what to do with all that excess population?

  25. We should look at our own society to figure out why the complete automation of labour is a bad thing.
    In an ideal system that'd mean we could all run around doing what we want all day, safe in the knowlegde that we'll be alright.

  26. But robots won't write books or develop games, etc right because if they did, these wouldn't be unique

  27. I think automation of jobs is fantastinc! If the jobs that stress us are done for us, all we have are the good ones!
    Imagine a world whare nobody hated their job, and yes, alot of funner jobs pay less, but what difference does it make if automation lowers prices anyways?
    Without work tying us down, we can focus on our friends, familys and finally fix what we've done to our planet.

    In the world of efficiency…we are free.

  28. Hey Vsauce, Alfred here. Wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your time and effort you put into every video. I love how you present things that are normally above my comprehensive and make it fun and easy to understand! Keep doing a awesome job.
    Alfred S. BaltimoreMD

  29. fun fact, the word "robot" is derived from Czech "robota", meaning "hard work" or "labor". or more darkly, "slave".

  30. Mike Hunt: I don't like this game anymore
    Ben Dover: You tell me. I am not allowed in 10 mile radius in my son's school

  31. You should stop dreaming with a utopia here on earth. That is not possible. People thought that internet would bring knowledge to the whole world. But the most viewed videos are dumb. When we get robots, it will be no different. On every age, what makes people happy is self sacrifice for the good of self or others and gratitude: Socrates reached happiness by teaching others to seek truth, a father reach happiness by working and getting things for the family and/or by taking part of his time to give love to his family, when Thomas Edson built a working lamp, he reached happiness. The key for the true utopia is love and love always means service. We should not make robots to have more time for ourselves, we should make robots to help us service others better.

  32. "I have to grind this wheat."
    No need, I can do that.

    "I have to forge this steel."
    No need, I can do that.

    "I have to spin this loom."
    No need, I can do that.

    "I have to drive this car."
    No need, I can do that.

    "I have to write this poem."
    No need, I can do that.

    "I have to find some purpose."
    No need, I can do that.

    "I have to live."
    No need, I can do that.

  33. it definitely makes more sense that agriculture would be developed before a population boom

  34. In india iphone xsmax cost $2000 and avg indian yearly income is $2000 so for avg indian today iphone is whole year of work 8hrs a day every day…whole year without taking any taxes or insurances or food

  35. My dad goes into an existencial crisis whenever he has vacations and he is not traveling. I think it is because he feels useless to society so he tries to distract himself from it. I take advantage of this by playing Pacman with him because that is the only videogame he has ever agreed to play with me.

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