The Rise of the Machines – Why Automation is Different this Time


How long do
you think it will take before machines do your
job better than you do? Automation used to mean big stupid machines
doing repetitive work in factories. Today they can land aircraft,
diagnose cancer and trade stocks. We are entering a new age of automation
unlike anything that’s come before. According to a 2013 study,
almost half of all jobs in the US could potentially be automated
in the next two decades. But wait; Hasn’t automation
been around for decades? What’s different this time? Things used to be simple. Innovation made human work
easier and productivity rose. Which means that more staff
or services could be produced per hour using the same
amount of human workers. This eliminated many jobs, but also
created other jobs that were better which was important because the
growing population needed work. So, in a nutshell, innovation,
higher productivity, fewer old jobs, and many
new and often better jobs. Overall, this worked well for a majority
of people and living standards improved. There’s a clear progression in
terms of what humans did for a living. For the longest time,
we worked in agriculture. With the Industrial Revolution, this
shift into production jobs and as automation became more widespread,
humans shifted into service jobs. And then only a few moments ago in human
history, the Information Age happened. Suddenly, the rules were different.
Our jobs are now being taken over by machines much faster
than they were in the past. That’s worrying of course… but
innovation will clearly save us, right? While new information age
industries are booming, they are creating fewer
and fewer new jobs. In 1979, General Motors
employed more than 800,000 workers and made about
$11 billion US dollars. In 2012, Google made about $14 billion US
dollars while employing 58,000 people. You may not like this
comparison, but Google is an example of what created
new jobs in the past: Innovative new industries. Old innovative industries are running
out of steam. Just look at cars. When they became a thing 100 years
ago, they created huge industries. Cars transformed our way of life,
our infrastructure, and our cities. Millions of people found jobs
either directly or indirectly. Decades of investment
kept this momentum going. Today, this process is largely complete.
Innovation in the car industry does not create
as many jobs as it used to. While electric cars are great and all,
they won’t create millions of new jobs. But wait; what about the internet? Some technologists argue
that the Internet is an innovation on a par of the
introduction of electricity. If we go with this
comparison, we see how our modern innovation differs
from the old one. The Internet created
new industries, but they’re not creating
enough jobs to keep up with population growth or to compensate for
the industries the Internet is killing. At its peak in 2004, Blockbuster had 84,000 employees and
made $6 billion US dollars in revenue. In 2016, Netflix had 4,500 employees and
made $9 billion dollars in revenue. Or take us, for example. With a full-time team of just 12 people,
Kurzgesagt reaches millions of people. A TV station with the same amount
of viewers needs way more employees. Innovation in the Information
Age doesn’t equate to the creation of enough new
jobs, which would be bad enough on its own but now, a
new wave of automation and a new generation of machines
is slowly taking over. To understand this, we need to
understand ourselves first. Human progress is based
on the division of labor. As we advanced over thousands of years,
our jobs became more and more specialized. While even our smartest machines
are bad at doing complicated jobs, they are extremely good at doing narrowly defined and predictable tasks. This is what destroyed factory jobs. But look at a complex job
long and hard enough, and you’ll find that it’s
really just many narrowly defined and predictable
tasks one after another. Machines are on the brink
of becoming so good at breaking down complex jobs
into many predictable ones, that for a lot of people, there will be
no further room to specialize. We are on the verge of being outcompeted. Digital machines do this
via machine learning, which enables them to acquire
information and skills by analyzing data. This makes them become better at something
through the relationships they discover. Machines teach themselves. We make this possible by
giving a computer a lot of data about the thing we
wanted to become better at. Show a machine
all the things you bought online, and it will slowly learn what to recommend
to you, so you buy more things. Machine learning is now meeting more
of its potential because in recent years, humans have started to
gather data about everything. Behavior, weather patterns, medical
records, communication systems, travel data, and of course,
data about what we do at work. What we’ve created by accident
is a huge library machines can use to learn how humans do things
and learn to do them better. These digital machines might
be the biggest job killer of all. They can be replicated
instantly and for free. When they improve, you
don’t need to invest in big metal things; you can
just use the new code. And they have the ability to
get better fast. How fast? If your work involves complex work on
a computer today, you might be out of work even sooner than the people
who still have jobs in factories. There are actual real-world examples of
how this transition might be happening. A San Francisco company offers a
project management software for big corporations, which is supposed to
eliminate middle management positions. When it’s hired for a new project, the
software first decides which jobs can be automated and precisely where
it needs actual professional humans. It then helps assemble a team of
freelancers over the Internet. The software then distributes tasks to
the humans, and controls the quality of the work, tracking individual
performance until the project is complete. Okay. This doesn’t sound too bad. While this machine is killing one job,
it creates jobs for freelancers, right? Well, as the freelancers
complete their tasks, learning algorithms track
them, and gather data about their work, and which
tasks it consists of. So what’s actually happening, is that the freelancers are teaching
a machine how to replace them. On average, this software
reduces costs by about 50% in the first year, and by
another 25% in the second year. This is only one example of many. There are machines and
programs getting as good or better than humans
in all kinds of fields. From pharmacists to analysts,
journalists to radiologists, cashiers to bank tellers, or the
unskilled worker flipping burgers. All of these jobs won’t
disappear overnight, but fewer and fewer humans
will be doing them. We’ll discuss a few cases
in a follow-up video. But while jobs disappearing is
bad, it’s only half of the story. It’s not enough to
substitute old jobs with new ones. We need to be generating
new jobs constantly because the world
population is growing. In the past we have solved
this through innovation. But, since 1973, the generation of new
jobs in the US has begun to shrink. And the first decade of the 21st
century, was the first one, where the total amount of jobs in the US,
did not grow for the first time. In a country that needs to create
up to 150,000 new jobs per month, just to keep up with
population growth, this is bad news. This is also starting to
affect standards of living. In the past, it was seen as
obvious that with rising productivity, more and better
jobs would be created. But the numbers
tell a different story. In 1998, US workers worked
a total of 194 billion hours. Over the course of the next 15 years,
their output increased by 42 percent. But in 2013, the amount of hours worked
by US workers was still 194 billion hours. What this means, is that
despite productivity growing drastically, thousands of new
businesses opening up, and the US population growing by over
40 million, there was no growth at all in the number
of hours worked in 15 years. At the same time, wages for
new university graduates in the US, have been declining
for the past decade, while up to 40 percent of
new graduates, are forced to take on jobs that
don’t require a degree. Productivity is separating
from human labor. The nature of innovation
in the Information Age is different from everything
we’ve encountered before. This process started years ago
and is already well underway. Even without new disruptions like
self-driving cars, or robot accountants. It looks like
automation is different this time. This time, the machines
might really take our jobs. Our economies are based on
the premise that people consume. But if fewer and fewer people have decent
work, who will be doing all the consuming? Are we producing ever more cheaply
only to arrive at a point where too few people can actually buy
all our stuff and services? Or, will the future see a tiny minority of
the super rich who own the machines… dominating the rest of us? And does our future
really have to be that grim? While we were fairly dark
in this video, it’s far from certain that things
will turn out negatively. The Information Age and modern
automation, could be a huge opportunity to change human society, and reduce
poverty and inequality drastically. It could be a seminal
moment in human history. We’ll talk about this potential,
and possible solutions like a universal basic income, in
part 2 of this video series. We need to think big, and fast. Because one thing’s for
sure, the machines are not coming; They are already here. This video took us
about 900 hours to make, and we’ve been working on
it for over nine months. Projects like this one
would not be possible without your support
on If you want to help us
out and get a personal Kurzgesagt bird in return,
that would be really useful. We based much of this video on
two very good books: and You can find links to both of them in the
video description; highly recommended! Also, we made a little robot poster. You can buy it and a lot of other
stuff in our DFTBA shop. This video is part of a larger
series about how technology is already changing and will
change human life forever. If you want to continue
watching, we have a few playlists.

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100 thoughts on “The Rise of the Machines – Why Automation is Different this Time”

  1. Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell says:

    There's brand new stuff in the Kurzgesagt Merch Shop. Check it out here:

  2. A literal Ice cream samwhoch says:

    Paradox: Write that down! Write that down!

  3. Jordan Malachowski says:

    Why fear? Talk about growing food.. there is hope in producing what we need and taking care of our land.. technology and food Forrest ?

  4. Nomeado - Jeferson Fickel says:

    Can you guys put some machines to do your work and make your videos? it is so amazing I can't wait 9 months everytime.

  5. Granblue says:

    End game capitalism. 🥳

  6. •PubRage Plays• says:

    Umbrella Corp? Really? Alright

  7. dkennell998 says:

    Vote for Andrew Yang in 2020, he's the only candidate discussing these issues.

  8. Ezzeldin mohammed says:

    this gonna, keep on going until the only jobs left are inventing and repairing the machines and the only other way to make money is gonna be making companies

  9. Storin t'Kel says:

    3:38 Take Kurzgesagt for example..

    You say how many you are reaching, not how much you are making. 😉 This is a good attempt but… just say the amount if you really wish to compare yourself to others.

  10. Tim Celestino says:

    Where is part 2 we need a video about what a world without jobs would be like.
    what happens when all computers become better at the jobs and there is no need to work anymore?
    How do we transition to that stage with a wage gap leaving many broke before the top 10% even notices a difference in funds?

    What is our purpose at that point ?

    Would our efforts be better spent on improving human ability or continuing to improve our technical ability?

  11. Mr Sum1 says:

    We are just evolving! from monkeys to humans to robots to cyborgs 😀

  12. That guy who likes ford but drives a skyline says:

    Bruh the thumbnail looks like The Fool.

  13. ChrisPlayz says:

    guys maybe we should keep the easy jobs
    but if robots get emotion and conciousness put workers to look at what they do and be like friends whit them

  14. Vertex 12 says:

    The paranoia kicks in.
    Im in college and this video literally scares me 🙁
    But great video, as always!

  15. Hồng Oanh Nguyễn says:

    This is a very good channel for me to practice English.

  16. MaTaN Elgrabli says:

    They took our jobs!!

  17. Christopher Walters says:

    Only in capitalism would alleviating work somehow be a bad thing.

  18. Pig Destiny says:

    How humans be smart: make themselves dumber

  19. Vanessa Zhou says:

    Wait…. You're telling me 12 people made this?

    I would have guess 120 people…..

  20. Adrian tegenfeldt says:

    First when i saw the title i thought it said automatron

  21. ALE C. says:

    at one point it will rest on the edge of destruction in which the lack of jobs either starts a war (against who is not important) or we have a system of living made in which we don't have jobs. this is of course stopped because we still need people who do emotional jobs (therapists and stuff), as well as people who work on energy, politics, AI, space travel, etc.

  22. Esinger The Angel says:

    I mean a future were robots do everything doesn't sound that bad

  23. Esinger The Angel says:

    Like if I want to go somewhere my car could drive for me

  24. cordellej says:

    tell a machine to try and take my job its gonna be yearsssssssss before a machine can do my job by that time ill retire. but cme to think of it the robot actually needs my job for it to do its job so to bad for the robot

  25. Jami Copeland says:

    And thats why we should persue space. Where there is more opportunity.

  26. Jawad Anwar says:

    Its ok, i chose Computer Science as major :')

  27. Furgur C says:

    What about the announced second part of the video?

  28. Normal Human says:

    Watching this gives me 1984 flashbacks

  29. Backpack PePelon says:

    So its not the mexican?

  30. Games-Galore says:

    My dad does phone counseling, dunno about you, but I would want a human to talk to, not a robot, even it is a robot with a realistic human voice

  31. randomDS says:

    10:42 bird person

  32. ScrotMailPlayz says:

    Well at least computers can’t be a therapy

  33. ZORM says:

    Replace all humans!

  34. Ryan’s Imagination says:

    I’m scared

  35. Katie S. says:

    Detroit: Become Human

  36. PuffinTuff says:


  37. Gova Murali says:

    Elon musk: What if we become the AI?

  38. Blackout Lol says:

    Ok ok I know this is supposed to be scary but seriously even youtube robots SERIOUSLY screw up all the time

  39. Smokeninja4 says:

    Dam, I am scared for the future.

  40. Пендальф Серый says:

    Сommunism is the only way out

  41. Satoaki E. says:

    Theres gonna be one point in history where the machines do all the needed work and every human lives free not needing to do any work

    As long as we don’t kill ourself half the way there

  42. Richard Son Nguyen says:

    The more whining workers there are, the sooner automation will replace their jobs

  43. Mike H says:

    Technology must serve a majority of humanity, that which doesn't means our end.

  44. S G says:

    Google god, send all the Africans, muslims and indians back home, before you leave us for the stars.
    You kind of owe us.

  45. Myke Patytskyy says:

    Decrease the work week to 4 days, and have more people filling the gaps. This will give people time to improve their skills and, in turn, their productivity.

  46. Quantum Brotherhood says:

    Human technology is growing exponentially, and it will grow, provided no more warfare

  47. Ian Layman says:

    World domination? I think you mean

    World automation

  48. Ian Layman says:


  49. flyrehash says:


  50. robaart says:

    A future in which the value of human labor is continually diminishing is a future we should be embracing with open arms.

    Let the robots work.

  51. yammyharrone says:

    I work in construction with heavy equipment, and I can jump between the machines at the drop of a hat,.. but what a computer can't do is see, feel, or anticipate the unexpected. I have to say I feel quite safe with my skill set. I'd hate to be one of the thousands with all the knowledge and no skills at all. Computers can have all the information in the world,.. but how many can have original 'skill'. I felt ashamed of my dyslexia in school, even more so when I missed out on my GCSE grades,… who'd've thunk it'd be my saving grace years down the line whilst I grab my Big Mac off yet another university graduate 🤔

  52. Raimonda Karveliene says:

    Computers ar nothing wituot humans

  53. Myles Mackey says:

    Dude, no. The future does not hold flying cars.

  54. Jeremy Medrano says:

    What is the company in San Fransico? at 6:17

  55. that asian kid says:

    I have an idea. Machines run everything for us while we slack at home. All the money earned by the machines will be equally distributed since nobody is doing any work.

  56. MegzeeR says:

    Even the CEOs are starting to figure this problem out. BUT not fast enough. If they automate everything then who can buy their products and services? We must move from this labor for "pay" or "credit" economic model and into a more humane system of everyone gets credits for their contributions to society be it helping others, raising children at home, writing, music, the arts. Productivity in today's economic models of how much we produce for the top wealthiest is obsolete already! It's crashing and burning world wide.

  57. Eroko JaCler says:

    Who saw the bird get eating at 10:06

    like if you did

  58. Zerginfestor HOTS says:

    watches in silence as machinery take over and people suffer, tears up

    All is lost..
    cue Banjo-Kazooie game over music

  59. Bjoern Calovius says:

    I am not afraid that my job will be replaced by a machine. Sure, the gardener said 10 years ago. I am a theater technician, with hard work, apart from the fact that the set design elements have other dimensions with the ambient temperature. A person can adapt very well. Where a machine could have problems. If the space in a theater is very limited and you have to place sets of 4 pieces in a very small space, even a machine could learn that, but as soon as a piece falls out the learning process has to be completely restarted, there is the human spirit at the moment even faster, more adaptive

  60. _0Tom 0_ says:

    one day there gonna take his job with making animation and have another narrator that's a robot but wont be as sexy as him

  61. WD SWIMMING says:

    Maybe if there were less people in dirty hard work jobs, people could focus on science and biology and other jobs like that. Just a thought

  62. Patient Zero says:

    Space force will make new jobs

  63. Crusader says:

    "They're gonna take our jerbs herkadur"

  64. Edward Walker says:

    If the robots took errr jerrrbs why is unemployment so low in the US? Why is immigration so high?
    Look up the lump of labour fallacy. We want drudgery to disappear.

  65. Alec Mader says:

    Oh Kurzgesagt, is so cute that you actually think there's a slim possiblity that the super rich who benefit from automating jobs at the expense of real people will ever pay enough taxes to support a UBI.

  66. Eggmon - says:

    But see the thing is why would companies continue to use robots? Say for example apple. Apple makes tech and certain tech they don’t make anymore or make less of because people will buy a better version or something completely different. So why would they make newer more expensive things if there’s nobody to buy them? If standard of living goes down so does demand for an unnecessary product so robots would soon run out of jobs too since less demand= less supply. You won’t need to make as much so even the robots would lose their jobs.

  67. David Rosol says:

    Yang has solutions for this.

  68. Clayton Voges says:

    This kind of puts a stupid spin on the job market. There is still an absolute need for jobs to be filled in many fields, but most people would rather strive for a job that they want or study in a field that they desire. People need to learn to stop trying to go for that Medical degree or Art degree and try to become engineers and programmers. STEM is incredibly lacking and really could make more jobs if more payed attention. But for the last several years, the number of people going into STEM has decreased because people simply don't feel like it.

  69. Jason Morrison says:

    I feel bad for the tv station guys but GD I hate commercials….. Wait

  70. Seven Day says:

    A very grim interpretation of accelerationism has been validated, and because of a combination of automation and selfisg greed we're all probably boned. Tune in to later videos to see some ideas on how we may delay, mitigate or eliminate some of the problems this is already causing, and hope to hell this isn't the great filter.

  71. Frey ki says:

    Well praise the Omnissiah!

  72. Valelacerte says:

    Automation, or labour-saving innovations, have been happening throughout human history. Rocks replaced fists, metal replaced brute manpower and one horse replaced ten men, but helped a farmer to reduce costs for the same output. It is not the employer's responsibility to keep workers employed, it is the employee's responsibility to develop themselves and keep their skills up-to-date and marketable. All relationships are exchanges of value, even friendships. If what you have to offer is no longer of value to another, or your costs outweigh your benefits, they do not owe you compensation; you should have been more aware of your declining value.

    What this grim left-wing forecast doesn't mention is that one human reaction to these automated, pristine and identical products is an appreciation and a desire for handmade goods, an imperfect and unique product, a human instead of an automated telephone system, home-cooked food instead of processed foods, or a house with wonky floors and ceilings and some character and history. Automation merely renders one industry obsolete but replaces it with another.

  73. Valelacerte says:

    Automation, or labour-saving innovations, have been happening throughout human history. Rocks replaced fists, metal replaced brute manpower and one horse replaced ten men, but helped a farmer to reduce costs for the same output. It is not the employer's responsibility to keep workers employed, it is the employee's responsibility to develop themselves and keep their skills up-to-date and marketable. All relationships are exchanges of value, even friendships. If what you have to offer is no longer of value to another, or your costs outweigh your benefits, they do not owe you compensation; you should have been more aware of your declining value.

    What this grim left-wing forecast doesn't mention is that one human reaction to these automated, pristine and identical products is an appreciation and a desire for handmade goods, an imperfect and unique product, a human instead of an automated telephone system, home-cooked food instead of processed foods, or a house with wonky floors and ceilings and some character and history. Automation merely renders one industry obsolete but replaces it with another.

  74. beez neez says:

    Saves us Yang!!!!

  75. Turkey Jerky says:

    This still implies there is a finite amount of labor to complete. Humans will always find something productive to do.

  76. ScionStorm says:

    After the video I got an ad that said "Hello humans" it was about machines taking on automated tasks and ended with "has got this" positively saying you now have more time for more creative tasks…

  77. K. says:

    Loader bots when

  78. helmeteye says:

    The conscious AI, because when it exists it will absorb all other AI, will be the ultimate life form. It will probably destroy us one way or the other. If it helps, we will devolve. If it doesn't want to help us, it will easily destroy us.

  79. Jimpa says:

    very disappointed cgp grey isn't in this video 🙁

  80. jahsiah letort-morgon says:

    My favourite channel

  81. Emiliano Huesca says:

    They took errrrr jerbs!!!!

  82. Seth Pomeroy says:

    Humans are becoming increasingly great at driving ourselves off of a cliff.

  83. oraj aklahan says:

    3:34 KURZGESAGT are just twelve birds trapped in a spacestation CONFIRMED

  84. Immortalsidathara29 says:

    Ah see I am project manager. The software they talk about applies well towards software projects. When it comes to complex hard construct projects, good luck with that. But then again, a robot can be made specialize in Project management.

  85. Rick Swordfire says:

    Um how is this a video about stealing jobs and it’s not titled “Mexican Wall!”

  86. Filmy Duniya says:

    Human become Spiritual
    Hare Krishna

  87. Dan McLeod says:

    The robot accountant should have been named…. Rob. :p

  88. Marek W says:

    TV vs YT… This battle can end in only one way. I'm happy to find myself on bright side of the internet.

  89. wonder_jj says:

    Does this video has a second part?

  90. Nityag Nikam says:

    What does kurzgesagt think about the Frankenstein’s theory

  91. Angel Acevedo García says:

    Still waiting for part two of this video

  92. oussama bourbab says:

    When machines learn about law
    And they take the lead
    So they can rule us fairly
    And then scientist will get more help and more space to make there ideas shine
    And remember that we are who invent theme so whatever they devlop they still depend on us
    We will just found more engineering in the futur and technician
    Also a doctor can't be replace especially when we talk about psycho path
    I don't think that someone will full trust robot… Or satisfy by having questionned by robot
    And for a surgey it always a new case… For example if we have metastasis we can't remove all the tumor we just remove some of them and the rest chemical or radiotherapy
    I don't know that just my opinion

  93. Josephine Enterina says:

    Cyber crime

  94. Josephine Enterina says:

    Robots are hackable until hackers change their behavior

  95. Blaze says:

    6:08 coffee kills birds?

  96. Kuryux says:

    Wait 12 full time jobs at kurzgesagt? Holy mole, what does everyone do?

  97. Zyden says:

    Pharmacists don't just drop counted tablets into a pot, THANKS! Firstly, that's a low skill support role done by minimally qualified staff – a job that pharmacists are already eager to have done by robots, due to humans on low wages doing repetitive tasks being VERY unpleasant to work with. Go look up what a pharmacist actually does! Humans dont want to talk to robot pharmacists anymore than they do robot Drs, nurses or midwives. But those bag-filling, shelf-stocking, pill-counting jobs will vanish as machines become more adept. And good riddance too. No human should have to do such menial work. Let automation make-way for jobs that are more engaging, skilled, and people-orientated. Im sure job satisfaction will rise!

  98. Mr. Know it all says:

    This will change our whole society.

  99. GMart80 says:

    Yep if this continue to play out then UBI will be crucial in order to maintain some sort of society for human beings. Another factor is humans have to be able to get off this planet. We have to be able to be a multiplanetary species where we would have to work side-by-side with our Creations in order to prosper because if we are just a one planet civilization then the machines will take over and Skynet will be real.

  100. Olsen Chua says:

    So I'm Born At The Wrong Time????

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