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Automating Invention is Robert Plotkin's blog on the impact of computer-automated inventing on the future of invention and patent law.

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June 29, 2005

Human-competitive software meets resistance from human competitors

There were quite a few presenters from private industry at GECCO this week. I had the chance to attend presentations by Erik Goodman (wearing his Red Cedar Technology hat), Thomas Baeck of NuTech Solutions, and Douglas J. Newell of Genalytics. Unfortunately, I could not attend the others but have been reading as many papers as I can.

One thing that struck me about some of these companies is that although they are able to use evolutionary computing to design products and solve other problems faster, cheaper, and better than ever before, they often face resistance from prospective clients. More specifically, they face resistance from the engineers, statisticians, and others who essentially fear losing their jobs to software.

In one sense, this is nothing new. New technology has always made it possible to displace human labor. What is worth noting is that technological automation is moving higher up the skill ladder, increasingly making it possible to automate functions -- such as those performed by engineers and computer programmers -- that were previously thought to require not only skill but also creativity and hence to be "safe" from the encroachment of automation. I believe this is one of the theses of A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink, which I plan to read soon and comment on here.

Posted by Robert at June 29, 2005 10:23 PM
category: Work

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