The big debate about the future of work, explained

Share this video on

What's Hot

What's New

Top Grossing

Top of the Chart


KhanStopMe : An interesting counter argument to points raised by CGP Grey's "Humans Need Not Apply" & Kurzgestagt. Although, 7:08 - labour saving innovation is being counterbalanced by the structural shift to the knowledge economy occurring in the most developed nations. As a greater proportion the economy reaches the Tertiary and Quaternary sector, labour productivity is decreasing because most firms are structured in a counterintuitive manner for productivity in the knowledge economy. Additionally, new technology, such as social media, is eroding the average adult's ability to focus deeply creating a decrease in productivity within the knowledge economy. The book 'Deep Work' by Cal Newport explores this in greater depth and I would recommend it to anyone.

B-doe - ThatsHowitBdoe : A robot created the title...nice try.

Yash Kshirsagar : The automation is different this time around though. Machines are smarter and are constantly learning thanks to AI, meaning they can potentially learn whatever new jobs humans get displaced to, and creating unemployment. On the other hand, if this automation leads to decreased production costs and end-consumer costs, we won't need to work for money in the traditional sense. Really hope it works out that way :)

Arctic Fox : CGP Grey has excellent counterpoints to the claims in this video. The main problem is that automation is different this time. Automation started with machines doing physical work for humans, directed by humans (think printing press). Then it became machines doing physical work with much lower human guidance. Then humans were not needed to run the machines. That's fine, because people can ascend from physical labor to mental labor. We can make a robot arm to lift 1000x as much, 100x as fast, and 10x as often, so the displaced people found work in the next breakthrough. They used brainpower to do things a dumb robot could not. Now, human brains are being replaced in the job sector by self-learning AI. Humans will be replaced in both physical and mental fields, but since the AI is self-creating, *there is no rung to move up on the ladder.* Machines and AI will totally eclipse humans in capability, with the only jobs left being centered on neither brains nor brawn. What is left for humans to do? Maybe therapists will exist for the human touch, to help over 25% of the workforce come to terms with being unemployed and entirely obsolete within the next 100 years.

David Reyna : In the future people will make money vlogging and entertaining each other

Mr IY : In a populated country such as mine (India) it is surely gonna be an issue as unemployment due to politics is a grave issue.

Ryukachoo : Unemployable is the right way to put it. Machines have been replacing base tasks for a long time, but this new era can replace even very complicated tasks. All of the service industry, all of the transportation industry, all retail, will be very easily replaceable in a decade.

Cedric Quenette : This time it's different. Before automation was only able to take over repetitive jobs; robots on a car assembly line simply need to repeat the assembly steps over and over, doors on subway trains only need to be opened and close etc. Now we are reaching a turning point in artificial intelligence, it is no longer robots just taking over repetitive tasks they are now able to challenge humans in intelligent and creative tasks. When a robot is as intelligent or more so than a human both logically and creatively, what jobs could there possibly be left for us to do?

Enders Turkers : Yes new jobs will apear but who will do it? AI of course

Kayla B : what complete and utter BS... robotics caused the huge loss of industrial age jobs and right now, coders are having to code automation and we are automating ourselves right out of jobs. i am not an economist but i program automated tasks that eliminate jobs and will probably eliminate mine one day or force us all into one field which is data visualization and analytics.

Joe Capo : This video was made by evil robots

SeanG Plays : *THEY TOOK OUR JERBS!!!!!*

JDiculous : Problems with this video: 1. Something not happening in the past doesn't mean that it won't happen in the future 2. Job automation DID cause massive job losses and suffering. Laborers protested, rioted, and died over this. 3. Job automation is already wrecking havock on the labor market, it's just not something some ivory tower economist will see looking at bullshit statistics (eg. unemployment rate) from his/her cubicle. Just look at all the unemployed/underemployed college graduates working retail jobs (my neighbor graduated from a top 3 public university with a STEM degree and is currently waiting tables at a restaurant), or the decimated areas in the rust belt. Everybody knows that free trade shipped factories overseas, but what doesn't get enough attention is that automation is responsible for a huge percentage of those jobs being lost. Again, you're not going to see this from some doctored unemployment figure. 4. The question isn't just about # of jobs, its about QUALITY of jobs. Unemployment rate can remain flat, but if 3 million truck drivers with middle class salaries start working minimum wage retail and personal care aid type jobs (the jobs with the most projected growth), then that's an impending disaster. 5. People need money to buy things. If they lose their jobs, then they can't buy things. I'm glad you're raising attention to this enormously important issue, but to suggest that we should carry on as though everything is ok while millions of Americans are in danger of getting their careers automated away is incredibly irresponsible at best, incredibly selfish at worst.

Scott Freedman : The argument that technology won't cause job losses because people have been wrong about automation in the past sounds a lot like the argument that climate change isn't happening because scientists were wrong in the past about an impending ice age. Also, and this is just speculation of course, but; where in the past technology might have driven productivity allowing businesses to expand, thereby creating new jobs for low-skill workers in retail, field work, warehouse work etc.; modern technology will no doubt soon be replacing those jobs as well -- regardless of any productivity boom it might achieve. It may pave the way for more highly skilled jobs, but you can't retrain everybody who's been displaced to work those new jobs, and even if you could, many people just don't have the aptitude for it.

JuxtaposedStars : This is wishful thinking. Going forward, automation will eliminate most low or unskilled positions. Not every one is suited to be a college educated or white collar worker(many of those jobs will also disappear). If(for example)fast food chains replace their workers with robots, you have a huge number of people immediately unemployable. The number of new jobs created(like robot mechanic or programmer) will never equal the amount of jobs lost. You'd need laws setting artificial quotas of human workers. When consumers can choose between a robo-burger that is always made perfectly for $1 vs. human error at an ever increasing cost to support the human workers' lifestyle, people will take the lowest price. If anything, the current political climate in which coal and factory workers think their old jobs can come back is a perfect example of those who will be left behind.

Duwang Man : That's what the robots want you to think

Jurgen Strydom : Here is how its different this time around, it threatens to do this to almost all industries at almost the same time, not just a few industries over a large period as in the past. How will new jobs be created if the extra money and extra productivity is also serviced by robots (robot chefs, robot barbers, robot caretakers, etc.). Sure a store may open more locations, but it is no use if the interface to that store is now also a robot. If robots can service cars, why wont they service themselves? The things humans can do better than robots are shrinking quickly and never before has it been on such a large scale. Economist of all people should know past behavior is not an accurate predictor of future behavior.

DarKMaTTeR : This argument reminds of the "Oil isn't running out, because we keep finding new oil reserves". Is oil infinite? No. Therefore it will run out. "We won't run out of jobs, because there are professions which aren't automatable". The missing word is "yet". Is there anything that a human can do and a robot can't? With AI and lab-grown tissues, the answer is no. There will be a day when robots will even give warmer hugs. It's not this generation's problem, but the day will come. That's not a bad thing in itself. It just means that the current design of our society, where everyone has to work in a market to earn a living, will simply become outdated. Capitalism will have to be replaced. The real problem is that the people with the power to change things are the ones who don't stand to lose.

THE GOOD CONTENT : No job = no money No money = no purchases No purchases = no profit No profit = no robots Pretty simple actually.

poppet pala : *_COUGH_* tesla gigafactory *_COUGH_*

Satochi NAkamoto : I will try to make it simple for you. YOU'RE wrong this time. It involves complex math, micro, macro economic 's, and finance. 2016 the world purchased $91 billion in robots. 2020 projections, if realized expected $198 billion used to purchase robots.. Jobs that robots do now ejecting human labor from those jobs forever. Kiva robotics owned by Amazon numbers in excess of 100,000 robots in 110 warehouse 's replacing humans. A Locus robot is more advanced than Kiva 's. Costing $40,000 each that can replace a Walmart human that can replace items that need to be put on the shelves. If a human worker stocking shelves earns $13.33 per hour, the Robotic worker pays for its purchase price on the 126th day, working 24 hours a day times 125 days times $13.33 per hour. 126th day for the next decade Walmart doesn't have to pay a human worker.168 hours in a week. The one Locus Robot will replace 4.5 human workers. 100,000 Locus Robots will replace and permanently end 450,000 human jobs. So the store paying the human worker to stock the shelves is still expending $13.33 per hour where the other one using the robot is not. The robot doesn't need dental or health insurance.

Court 02468 : At 5:37 it activated my Google Assistant.

Vox : Thanks for all the thoughtful comments and debate! For those recommending that I watch CGP Grey's video on this, I have of course seen it already! To understand the key difference between our arguments, consider his 'humans are the new horses' analogy. The point of my video is: Horses don't buy things. Consumption rises with productivity growth, and it expands into weird unpredictable places, and that's what the futurists of the past couldn't imagine. They thought we'd work 15-hour weeks by now. Instead we're buying smart phones and apps, watching netflix, and eating at restaurants. That said, I hope nobody takes this video to mean we shouldn't worry about the future. It's not that there won't be challenges, it's that we need to diagnose those challenges correctly and precisely. If we sit around waiting for mass unemployment to show up so that we can pass a basic income, we may find that those conditions don't arrive any time soon. The idea is to shift the focus from the number of jobs to the quality of jobs, the prospects for mobility, access to education and opportunity. That's not as sexy as daydreaming about a robot jobpocalypse, but it's truly the task at hand. We'll be discussing some of these topics in future episodes, so stay tuned. And thanks for watching :) -joss

Nathan H : The problem with this argument is create new jobs (based on expansion) humans need to be integrated, soon there will be maybe one or two humans employed per store. Thus new stores (or whatever building the company has) will not help.

Enthused Norseman : Here's a thing that always strikes me about this near-total-automation scenario, where people are no longer employable: who will buy the goods and services that these robots and programs provide?

Azio Prism : *Kurzgezagt robots already made a better video about this.*

dave c : You are my favorite reporter at vox. Good job with this video, it helped me see the issue in a different light. For me I first heard about this issue from CPG grey's video: human's need not apply. I have happy to see the new side of the issue but I am still skeptical of both sides. Only time will tell.

johanna vaiz : I live in Ontario Canada. We are putting into place in the next 10 yrs a standard living wage allowance. Which means you will get a check from the government if you don't earn enough $. This is happening to Ontario because of robots and the Canadian government says we won't have jobs do to technology....... In Toronto where I'm from Google has bought some of our lake front where they will have a Google test site with robots and driverless cars . This test site is to be tested on the people of Toronto..... VOX YOU ARE BSing US!!!!!!!!

Hulky Smashy : There is a big problem with this video from 3:10 to 4:10. The problem is that the jobs that have overtaken them will only employ a fraction of what the original job had employed. Moreover, the more computers get advanced the more likely they will take over jobs that have been a part of the economy for over 3 centuries. CGP Grey made a video about this, you can see it here:

Fortnite Times - chizzy : *ONE QUESTION* ........ *CAN THEY SING REESE'S PUFFS BACKWARDS?*

Outkast : I don't get it isn't the whole point to not work isn't that why we're making robots in the first place if there's no jobs then there's no people to buy stuff from the people that have the robots so it'll Force the people that have the robots to lower their prices and maybe we'll just get a wadge from the government not such a big problem when you realize that the whole point is to not work

Ashish Krishna Pandey : "People will never be replaced by machines. In the end, life and business are about human connections. And computers are about trying to murder you in a lake." - Michael J. Scott

John Smith : That's why I'm a communist.

Emad Ze : I love her sound!

The Suicidal Muffin : Sounds like something a robot would say.

Azio Prism : *Automation needs to happen quicker, it may be painful at first but then its all comfy.*

MisterWilly : Dear reporter person in this video; may I offer you a coffee sometime? Sincerely, a fan.

kricku : Halve workdays, PLEASE!

Corrupted Archangel : Let the robots run government and why not the whole civilization? They are smarter than we are, and could be better in every way. Make them a servitor, our needs and wants are petty. They could be simulated easily. It could streamline our process to make it so efficient that or own waste is negligable to our new AI overlord (not lords, unless something really goes wrong)

Andrew Kovnat : Boston Dynamics just made a new video today! What a coincidence! If ya don't know, Boston Dynamics are the dudes behind a lot of the automated walking robots you see on the interwebs. Give them a quick look!

Al F : In my opinion yes. People are becoming lazy and don’t want to do work. So we use technology as an advantage to do things for us. We I live many shopping malls and small businesses like Kmart or big lots are closing. Because of increase of online orders. Which is another reason why many people in my city are also unemployed or have low paying jobs. In my opinion robots are in the same category of technology.

Christopher Stone : You have fundamentally missed the point. Automation will NOT replace human labor. As half of your video proves, this has been talked about ad nauseam. **Machine Intelligence will replace Humans**. In the same way the car has replaced horses, humans will be replaced.

Itbelink : This video misses three important elements. One, as they say, the economy does in fact correct for this, but it's because everyone is forced to continue working to pay for things they need, so they end up developing new products and services, therefore jobs, to fill the gap. That will continue to happen like it has in the past. The video merely missed that as the actual reason for their argument is partially true. Two, this time is different because of the magnitude of displaced jobs and creation of new jobs. Even if we create new jobs like mentioned in number one, it won't be long before a machine will also duplicate that job too. We won't be able to outpace new products and services with the amount that machines replace. And three, we will hit leveling off or maximums in products and services where things are "enough" for everyone and there will be less incentive to want or need more. We already see this effect in food production. We still have time to get to a leveling off of many many things, but it will not be coming in the next 20 years for sure. The only thing that might change that, would be transportation. If we take to the skies or increase ability to travel, then consumption will continue to grow.

yoo : TOTAL BULLSH*T - the problem is not the jobs, but that salaries has been decreasing since the 70s - more productivity, lower salaries ( fore a period it was ~90% increase of productivity and only ~7% increase of salaries). So this video is very unprofessional ...

Mimir Fonten : Did not happen in the past --> Will not happen in the future... That seems like a pretty weak argument. Until now jobs have not been eradicated, because humans could shift from physical to intelligence jobs. And that is the last refuge that is now being tackled by AI.

LRGD : they aren't just robots, they are neural networks, basically learning machines, they're far more advanced and have the power to learn an infinite amount, we should be worried if we don't regulate

Phil Morris : But, but I want robots to do all the work. So we can hang out, travel, relax, retire! Why work?!

Greg Umansky : Vox is making smart, classical liberal points? What??? No...Before you know it they’ll be talking about how protectionism and the minimum wage have negative effects on the economy.

Craig Rosario : lol, If we create robots/AI to make ours lives better, why wouldn't it be vice versa. Why would people needs jobs when they won't exist anymore, one day as humans evolved, so will robots/AI. Think about what the past generations did? So many wild life gone, even currently, just cos people don't need them/or care about anything other then just themselves, so why wouldn't a robot/AI? If I were a robot/AI, trust me humans would be a waste of my energy to just keep them alive. I would be better off with them, creating clones of myself to get my job done better & maybe if i learn a bit of about human kind, I might just keep the birds, animals, insects, trees, even a little bit of humans alive, but in a cage for entertainment. ;)

Eleanor Taylor : I'm no expert but the HUGE contrasts between these examples of the past and the present is that automation is now replacing a different skill set. After the industrial revolution, human labour shifted from mostly physical to mostly mental. Now that the robots are becoming better than us mentally, where do we shift to? Another minor difference with this new automation, ie. AI, is that once set up it will take little hunan labour to run. With large physical machines, large numbers human engineers and technicians are required to build and maintain these machines. With AI, sure a large team of coding whizzes may be needed to set it up, but after that it can be duplicated with no extra cost and that human labour is no longer needed.