Term Paper Context

Term Paper Context:

Automation is, essentially, the practice of replacing human beings with automated systems to perform particular tasks. But it’s not a new practice. Human beings have been automating tasks for thousands of years. For example, a windmill automates the task of grinding up grain for bread. Modern automated systems include software, machines, and robots. The concern with automation can be put in the form of a question: is there any job that, in hypothesis, couldn’t be performed by an automated system in the future?

And the answer is: “No.” It’s very easy to imagine an automated system performing tasks that are performed by human beings now and in the future. For example, there is a person developing an App that tells you which legal form to fill out, and how to submit it to the courts, for most legal problems, thereby eliminating the need for many types of lawyers. This raises the question: What will human beings do in the future if all tasks are automated, and automated systems have replaced human beings in the work force?


Must be 2500 to 3500 words, double-spaced, 12 point, Times New Roman fonts. Must have a page number in the top right corner of every page. May be MLA or APA cited; e.g. Socrates wrote that “There is no evil intentions, only ignorance about what is good” (Plato, p. 422). See https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/section/1/ for help.

The term paper must have in text citations, proper use of quotes, and contain proper paraphrasing. If your paper does not, it is considered plagiarized and will receive a failing grade (see the handout on academic dishonesty for more information).

The term paper may only use two sources: David Rotman’s “How Technology is Destroying Jobs” (2013) and David Autor’s “Why Are There Still So Many Jobs?” (2015)

The term paper must also include a works cited page, in addition to a cover page with the following information:

<Essay Title><Your full name> <class and section><term and year>

The term paper should include the following components: (1) An introduction portion, (2) an identify portion, (3) an analysis portion, (4) an evaluation portion, (5) a reflection port, and (6) a conclusion portion.


For our purposes, your first paragraph should be a preview of what’s in your paper, like the preview of a movie. Explain what the paper will be about by providing a brief summary of what’s in the paper. Say what you attempt to achieve or accomplish in the paper. Be clear and specific about your goals.


First, read and study both papers by Rotman and Autor. Rotman attempts to make the case for the conclusion that automation threatens human labour, while Autor argues that automation does not. Next, state their conclusions, then the support for those conclusions Identify the reasons the authors cite in support of those conclusions.. I’m not asking for your opinion here. Just the facts. Be as concise as you can. Show me the structure of the argument. An outline. Ideally the argument should be stated formally in premise / conclusion form. I have provided additional (optional) exercises and literature to help with developing and stating arguments logically in the course content. The goal here is to show that you have a good view of what’s at stake in this debate. The more organized and clear your outline is, the better your grade will be. The less organized and incoherent, the worse your grade will be.


Second, now that you have clearly stated the two arguments, you will need to provide two analysis: An analysis of Autor’s argument and an analysis of Rotman’s argument. Provide reasons for and against each argument. Support those reasons with concrete examples. I’m not asking for your opinion You’re being asked to explain what is good and bad about these arguments by supporting your point of view with reasons, examples, and facts. Each analysis must provide the PROs and CONs of each argument. It would be advisable to use headings; e.g. PRO analysis of Autor’s argument, CON analysis of Autor’s argument, etc. The more organized and clear your analysis is, the better your grade will be. The less organized and incoherent, the worse your grade will be.


Third, objectively consider the merits of your own analysis. Ask yourself whether the PRO analysis is stronger for Autor’s argument or Rotman’s argument. In particular, what reasons do you have for thinking that the PRO argument is stronger for Autor or Rotman? I’m not asking for a mere opinion. I’m asking for you to objectively evaluate your own analysis of these arguments. The essence of critical thinking consists in the activity of examining an argument from all side (an analysis) then judging whether the argument is sound (an evaluation). In this case, you’re comparing two arguments, then explaining why you think one argument is stronger than the other. The more organized and clear your evaluation is, the better your grade will be. The less organized and incoherent, the worse your grade will be.


Now that you’ve evaluated both arguments and decided (based upon your analysis) which argument is stronger, I want you to reflect upon an existential question: Suppose it’s true that all jobs, including your future career, will be automated in the future. What would life be like without work? Whatever else the consequences of automation will be, it seems prudent to ask this question.

To answer this question, I’d like you to reflect upon the following: Could human beings (including you) be happy without work? What would you do with your life without work? How would you define yourself and your existence without work? Could human beings (including you) find meaning in life without work? What meaning would life have without work? What would human beings (including you) do with their lives if they didn’t need to work? What would they do with their lives? Would life be worth living? What would make it worth living?

The reflection section is essentially your analysis of the issue of automation apart from the arguments made by Autor and Rotman. I want you to really think about the sort of life that we would have if everything was automated. While this is going to be your opinion on the topic, you still must defend your point of view. Whatever answer you give to this question, defend it with good reasons and examples.


What did you learn, if anything? What are questions someone could take away from your paper as a basis for their own paper? (i.e. what could generate further research) Did you surprise yourself? (i.e. did you start out with one position, but ended up with another?) Do you feel better equipped to deal with the problems you might face in your future career? Do you feel more comfortable and confident about being able to overcome the challenges in your professional life?

There is an optional exercise that could potentially bump your letter grade on your term paper. If you submit a draft of your term paper to dropbox that has been reviewed by someone at the learning center, and incorporate that feedbnack into your final paper, then this gives me a better sense of how much work you put into the paper, and therefore a better metric for the final grade that I attach to it. See the Learning Center handout and the Term Paper Draft dropbox for more details.

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