How Can Humans Compete With Machines?

The debate over whether humans can compete with machines may seem hot and fresh, but it’s not. In fact, there’s a popular American folk story from the 1800s about a man competing with a machine. John Henry ultimately outperformed the steam drill, but he died in the process. Optimists might view the outcome as testament to man’s ability to persevere and accomplish great things. The negative interpretation is that machines are better than humans, and mankind will inevitably die at the hands of a robot.

Humans vs. Robots: Then and Now

While the conversation about man vs. machine continues today, the nuances of the topic have changed. Machines and robots perform manual labor and simple physical tasks better than humans. Machines don’t get tired, they don’t need to stop for food, sleep, or to use the bathroom. They don’t demand a livable wage, and they perform their tasks with the utmost precision every single time. The old competition is done and dusted. Robots win.

While we’ve conceded that humans can’t compete with machines to carry out the heavy lifting, we can at least take solace in the fact that we’re smarter than machines. Machines have evolved since the time of John Henry, however. The conversation is no longer about whether machines are better than people at physical tasks – because we already know the answer. Artificial intelligence and automated systems are the new source of debate.

Can humans compete with machines and artificial intelligence?

There’s a growing concern over artificial intelligence and the role humans will play once AI is perfected. We’ve seen a number of jobs disappear as a result of automation, and experts expect that list to grow as automated systems and AI become more capable.

So how can people stay competitive as AI improves? Perhaps the fate of humanity rests squarely on the shoulders of an eccentric billionaire.

Elon Musk has an interesting solution to keep humans competitive with robots. Musk expressed concern about deep learning and artificial general intelligence. He says that this type of AI would be smarter than any human, and people would find it increasing difficult to provide value.

So how can we stay competitive with machines? According to Musk, we should become cyborgs. Musk suggested a “high-bandwith interface” with the brain that would link human and machine intelligence.


We’re a long way off from cyborgs and general artificial intelligence. Currently, both people and machines are incredibly useful. Make sure your motion control system stays that way. Give us a call for repair, maintenance, troubleshooting or inspection for any of your Indramat legacy products!