... at least not in my lifetime.
Today I've been watching an artist at work: a backhoe operator. The vacant property across the street from my house is being developed. As part of this project, the development company is providing utility hook-ups to the lots they plan to sell and is extending the cross street down the hill to one of the lower lots. For the past few weeks, the main job has been to expand the sewer line capacity for the five extra lots before the street extension is developed. Today, that effort revved into high gear, with some major trenching, pipe-laying, and refilling taking place.
The backhoe operator is amazing. First, he piled the topsoil on one side of the trench he dug and the subsoil on the other. Now, once the new pipe has been laid, he's very gingerly sprinkling the subsoil on top of it, avoiding the workers in the trench who make sure the soil gets spread under the pipe to support it. This is with a machine with countless hydraulic levers and that must weigh in the scores of tons! It's huge!
Here's a photo taken from my living-room window.
After watching this operation for awhile, the notion of roboticizing it naturally occurred to me. But, frankly, this makes the design of self-driving cars look simple. I think the job prospects of good human
backhoe operators will remain secure for decades to come.