The 7 Stages of Denial That a Robot Will Replace Your Job

From an excerpt of Kevin Kelly’s recent book, The Inevitable.
In the coming years, our relationships with robots will become ever more complex. But already a recurring pattern is emerging. No matter what your current job or your salary, you will progress through a predictable cycle of denial again and again. Here are the Seven Stages of Robot Replacement:

  1. A robot/computer cannot possibly do the tasks I do.
  2. [Later.] OK, it can do a lot of those tasks, but it can’t do everything I do.
  3. [Later.] OK, it can do everything I do, except it needs me when it breaks down, which is often.
  4. [Later.] OK, it operates flawlessly on routine stuff, but I need to train it for new tasks.
  5. [Later.] OK, OK, it can have my old boring job, because it’s obvious that was not a job that humans were meant to do.
  6. [Later.] Wow, now that robots are doing my old job, my new job is much more interesting and pays more!
  7. [Later.] I am so glad a robot/computer cannot possibly do what I do now.


This is not a race against the machines. If we race against them, we lose. This is a race with the machines. You’ll be paid in the future based on how well you work with robots. Ninety percent of your coworkers will be unseen machines. Most of what you do will not be possible without them. And there will be a blurry line between what you do and what they do. You might no longer think of it as a job, at least at first, because anything that resembles drudgery will be handed over to robots by the accountants.

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