a16z Podcast

a16z Podcast: Automation, Jobs, & the Future of Work (and Income)

Tom Davenport, Julia Kirby, and Sonal Chokshi

Posted May 23, 2016

There’s no question automation is taking over more and more aspects of work and some jobs altogether. But we’re now entering a “third era” of automation, one which went from taking over dangerous work to dull work and now decision-making work, too.

So what will it take to deal with a world — and a workplace — where machines could be thought of as colleagues? The key lies in distinguishing between automation vs. augmentation, argue the guests on this episode of the a16z Podcast, IT management professor Thomas Davenport and Harvard Business editor Julia Kirby, who authored the new book Only Humans Need Apply: Winners and Losers in the Age of Smart Machines. 

But the argument isn’t as simple as saying humans will just do the creative, emotionally intelligent work and that machines will do the rest. The future of work is complex and closely tied to the need for structure, identity, and meaning. Which is also why linking the discussion of things like “universal basic income” to the topic of automation isn’t just unnecessary, but depressing and even damaging (or so argue the guests on this episode).