Robots are coming for us all.
The big focus of this week’s episode of Last Week Tonight was automation, but host John Oliver realized that discussions of robots taking over jobs only has so much impact for the current generation of workers. Like climate change and a host of other issues, automation will have larger effects on young people. So after giving one of his typically informative monologues on the topic, Oliver switched gears to talking to children about automation.
The host made the point that kids these days will probably grow up to have an “episodic” career, rather than doing a single profession for their entire working lives. So Oliver brought out a bunch of young kids, asked them what they want to be when they grow up, and then told them whether a robot could do it better than them.
Oliver wasn’t afraid to get cynical. When one girl said she wanted to grow up to be a “mermaid doctor,” Oliver’s take was “that job may be partially automated in the future, and rising ocean temperatures are going to kill all the mermaids. It’s just a fact: They’re going to be boiled alive.” He went on to tell the kids that robots could “definitely” take their dream jobs as policeman, diner workers, firemen, basketball players, and “get[ting] wet.”
But one of the kids had bad news for Oliver too. After he explained his own job, Oliver asked a young girl if she thought a robot could do that better than him. Her response: “Yep!”
Watch the full segment above.