Technological Future and the Loss of the Problem Solver

 

I’m a big believer that, if we can survive the present, a technology-based utopia is possible. Between 3-D printing, drone delivery systems, driverless cars, and the already big on-line ordering system I see people no longer having to do mundane tasks. Add in a Universal Basic Income and we might finally reach that time when people get to do what they want instead of what they have to.

But there’s a problem

As I mentioned yesterday, my computer needs to go in for service. It turns out there’s only one Apple store for the greater New Orleans area. One. And it has crappy reviews. So I’ll be driving an hour plus to a cute little college town on the Northshore as that’s the closet place that would take appointments.

It’s not the inconvenience that bugs me. I expect brick-and-mortar stores are on their way out and I could mail in my computer for it’s repair. Most of the time sales people bug me. But it’s the unseen person in the back that I’ll miss. The one who magically makes it all better. I used to be one of those guys. As computers end up running robots to build and fix everything we lose the problem solvers. It would be easy to say those people are just very knowledgeable about the product, but that’s not entirely true. Think of Edgar Hansen on Deadliest Catch or MacGyver. It’s not just a matter of knowing the item on the workbench. There’s a creativity unique to fixing things with whatever is handy. I fear we as a species are losing that ability.

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