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Can machines replace humans?

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Yet another day of reflections – too many of those lately – and thinking about generations. My parents were war parents, living through the Second World War; their parents were people growing up in Edwardian Britain as a carpenter and housewife. Things were different.

I don’t remember my parents struggling, although I know my grandparents did. My mum’s father spent the 1940s war living in Chatham, Kent, building ships. At that time, the dockyard was one of the major targets of bombers and bombs, but he and Grandma steadfastly refused to move out of the area. They had work, and that was the key.

I don’t really remember my grandfather or grandparents much, but I know they had a hard life. My mum and dad didn’t. I’m not saying they had an easy life, but it was easier than the generation before. They were both teachers. Luckily for them, teachers at a college, not a school. They taught me well.

So, to my generation. I’ve had a fun life, but not without challenges. Redundant twice, divorced once, lost a lot and won a lot, never sat still  and always curious. Guess that’s why I’m still passionate about life, the world, technology and money.

So, why would I blog about this?

Well, I look at my children, millennials, Generation Z and the iGeneration, and think that every generation grows up with a different skillset based upon life and circumstances. Today’s kids are probably the most able to be entrepreneurs and build businesses but, for many of them, it is the worst of times.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

There are so many young folks now, struggling to find a job, make a living, keep active and involved. Yet has it not been always this way?

In fact, what is different today is that there are so many young growing up in societies that offer them opportunity and challenge. When I was born, showing my age, the world had less than half the population of peoples that the world has today.

Today, we are approaching 8 billion people in the world.



Will all of the people of the world find work? Will all of the people of the world be gainfully employed? Will all of the people of the world be needed?

I wonder.

Yet then, as I blogged about the other day, we need to teach children the things that machines cannot learn.

Think about it.

When today’s generation grow up, they will not have a job anything like the jobs we had. Carpenters, shopkeepers, teachers … many will be replaced by machines.

But the one thing a machine cannot replace is humanity.

Humanity is what we are. Humans. That’s you and me.

We have emotions, relationships, tantrums, fears, excitement, love, hate, hope … we are not machines.

So, when I look at my kids, I have hope.

They may grow up in a world richer, freer, happier than me and my parents and grandparents, but even if they don’t, they will know they have been loved. And isn’t that the most important thing of all?

Chris Skinner Author Avatar

Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog,, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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