Vonnegut’s Dystopia Becoming a Reality as Computers Take Human Jobs

Gears and ideasMovies have been made about it, Kurt Vonnegut predicted it, and now Matt Munson and Will Iverson are making it happen: machines are replacing people.

Munson and Iverson are founders of a Seattle-based company called Dev9, which specializes in creating software that writes software by a process they call “Continuous Delivery.” Dev9 is literally creating robots that can reproduce.

Munson, Iverson, and their highly skilled team of designers are programming servers to perform mass functions, and ultimately teaching them how to be self-sufficient. The software effectively replaces the need for software development by human workers.

According to Iverson, the benefits will be incredible: “If Continuous Delivery is done correctly, it can eliminate human error, reduce the rollout of new software from weeks to just minutes, and yes, it’s cheaper.”

In eliminating human error, are we also eliminating human labor? Are these software developers essentially building their own replacements, which will leave them unemployed as their skillset becomes completely obsolete? This glimpse into a very possible future sounds eerily similar to Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Player Piano, written in 1952. In a society where engineers have created machines that can do nearly any job imaginable, people are left poor, useless, and struggling to find purpose.

The field of information technology, which includes software programming, system analyses, network administration, and computer science, is growing rapidly. In recent years, we have been introduced to cars that drive themselves and computers that have replaced waiters in restaurants, and now we are creating computers that can program and build more computers.

Munson sees the fatal flaw, but it doesn’t seem to worry him, as he notes, “We like to joke that the last job in history will be a developer. It will be the person who writes the last code that teaches a robot how to do his own job.”

Munson and his team may be laughing now, but their Continuous Delivery process is bound to impact the tech landscape in the U.S., and it may not prove favorable to people in the tech industry who make a living doing jobs they believe computers can do better.

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