Robots don't want to take your miserable office job

When the AI supermachines of the future get here, do you really think they'll want to come to the office team-building exercise?

Claire Reilly Former Principal Video Producer
Claire Reilly was a video host, journalist and producer covering all things space, futurism, science and culture. Whether she's covering breaking news, explaining complex science topics or exploring the weirder sides of tech culture, Claire gets to the heart of why technology matters to everyone. She's been a regular commentator on broadcast news, and in her spare time, she's a cabaret enthusiast, Simpsons aficionado and closet country music lover. She originally hails from Sydney but now calls San Francisco home.
Expertise Space, Futurism, Science and Sci-Tech, Robotics, Tech Culture Credentials
  • Webby Award Winner (Best Video Host, 2021), Webby Nominee (Podcasts, 2021), Gold Telly (Documentary Series, 2021), Silver Telly (Video Writing, 2021), W3 Award (Best Host, 2020), Australian IT Journalism Awards (Best Journalist, Best News Journalist 2017)
Claire Reilly
2 min read
Thinking Robot

"Ugh. I asked for that fax from Rick two hours ago."

Getty Images

You've read the headlines. More than half of us believe robots will be performing most human activities within 30 years. Researchers say robotic automation will take 300 million jobs by 2030. The robots are coming and they're here to terk our jerbs.

The first on the chopping block? Dull, repetitive office jobs that are easily automated.

But here's the thing: The robots don't want your crummy office job. In fact, no one wants that job.

Can you imagine a robot gossiping by the water cooler about last night's episode of The Bachelorette and why Grocery Store Joe was just so right for Becca? Would a robot know how to write the best noncommittal goodbye message in Murray's farewell card? And how can you contribute to the passive-aggressive email thread about someone stealing Jan's lunch from the office refrigerator when you don't even eat lunch?

Robots aren't built for the mean-spirited pettiness and relentless drudgery that is the modern office workplace. Their AI isn't honed to generating idle chitchat at the copier. Their gaze-tracking is ill-suited to avoiding the stare of a colleague walking towards them in an awkwardly long corridor. [Robot, run command: "Staring at floor."]

Their natural language processing doesn't recognize phrases like "hump day" or "case of the Mondays." And frankly, no robot is programmed to deal with how messy Gavin gets at Friday drinks. Does a robot know what divorce is? Can it compute the phrase "Jenny's taking both the kids" or "I don't know if I'll survive the next round of redundancies"?

Of course not! They don't belong in the 9 to 5. Give the robots the big jobs. Let them fly our rockets and write our operas. And leave the menial, robotic work day to us humans.

After all, no one beats humans when it comes to crying in the supply closet. Don't believe me? Watch the embedded video for proof.

Robotics engineer Barbie doesn't just look the part: She acts it too.

Robots are watching us: And they're learning from what they see.