Several years ago, a user by the name of “FiletOFish1066” unloaded a shocking tale in an anonymous reddit post: He’d written a program that automated his own QA testing job — and for 6 years, had done “jack sh*t at work.”
“For 40 hours each week I go to work, play League of Legends in my office, browse reddit, and do whatever I feel like,” he wrote. “In the past 6 years I have maybe done 50 hours of real work.” Eventually, FiletOFish1066 was caught, and promptly fired.
His plight raises an interesting philosophical question: Should workers be permitted to automate their own jobs?
Corporations automate jobs, so why can’t you?
Per an estimate from the McKinsey Global Institute, as many as 800m jobs — including 30% of American jobs — will be automated by 2030.
One of the celebrated benefits of automation is that it will reduce the amount of time we spend working. But, when workers figure out a way to automate their own jobs, that’s often not the reality.
The reward for efficiency? More work.
There’s a famous scene in the 1936 film Modern Times, where the harder Charlie Chaplin works on the factory line, the more work he has to do.
Today’s workplace isn’t far off: Companies place a premium on speed and efficiency — but when workers (like this one) deliver by automating their jobs, they just get saddled with additional tasks.
The Atlantic recently talked to a dozen people who claimed to automate their jobs; nearly all were afraid to tell their employers. “Even if a program impeccably performs their job,” writes the magazine, “many feel that automation for one’s own benefit is wrong.”
We’ll leave it with a question: If you figure out a way to satisfactorily complete 8 hours’ worth of tasks in 10 minutes, should you: A) Get the rest of the day off, or B) Have to take on additional work?