The following text could be used as a 'Klausur' in a Grundkurs which deals with the topic of
We are now at the beginning of the age of robots. The robots that
now exist are by no means the seeing, speaking, thinking humanoid objects that
we find in science fiction.So far they are only computerized levers equipped to do a particular
single task over and over. Though they will rapidly be more complex, versatile and able, they
have a long time to go before they even appear to be human beings.
Apart from taking on dangerous tasks, which human beings would much prefer to avoid, robots can
do work which is so repetitive and dull that it stultifies and debases any human mind that must engage
in it for long periods of time. This is the kind of work robots can even do more reliably and correctly.
As a result human beings, liberated from such subhuman work, will be free to turn to more creative
And yet, before we grow too happy over this prospect, let us remember that to be 'liberated from
an undesirable job' might well be translated into 'thrown out of work'. A job might seem undesirable to someone
viewing it from outside, but to the person working at it, it is a livelihood. The robot brings with it the threat
of technological unemployment and, with that, the loss of economic security and the disappearance
One might argue that technological advance produces many more jobs than it destroys. The coming
of the automobile put a number of blacksmiths out of business. It craeted, however, a far greater
number of automobile-related jobs and vastly expanded and broadened the need for gasoline, rubber and
highways.There will be more work, more jobs by far, in a robotized society than in a nonrobotized
Nevertheless, this is an overall, long-range viewpoint that does not take into account the
individual tragedies that take place while society slowly settles into some new mode. When one job
disappears, a new job may not have appeared, or most likely, may be totally different in narure.
An assembly-line worker, who has been tightening bolts, cannot simply abandon his work and
at a moment's notice take a new job and become, say, a robot repairman.
The jobs that are lost to robots are precisely those mechanical, repetitive, noncreative ones that
a robot can do. The new jobs will require considerable specialized knowledge and power of thought
- or they will be lost to robots, too. What's more, technological change has been steadily
accelerating over the millennia of human history so that the dislocation produced by the
'robot revolution' will come upon us much more rapidly and over a far greater portion of the world
than similar dislocations such as those of the Industrial Revolution in its beginnings two
centuries ago. Clearly, we cannot wait for these dislocations to heal themselves.
If society is to be kept stable, there must be serious efforts to minimize the pain and trauma
of the transition period. With a proper revolution on education, a new generation should arise
that will fit into a computerized and robotized world, one that will from childhood be trained
into creativity to do the kind of work robots cannot do.
humanoid - human-like
lever - Hebel
versatile - performing variuous tasks
to stultify - to deaden, opp. of to stimulate
to debase - to degrade
endeavours - tasks
bolt - Schraube
to abandon - to give up
at a moment's notice - with no advance warning
dislocation - Verdrängung
1. Summarize the text in your own words (no more than 170 words).
2. Describe a humanoid robot as presented in one of the SF stories you have read and say
if you would like such a robot become reality.
3. What text type is this, point out its typical features, and say where you would expect
such a text to be published.
4. Discuss the value of paid work. Do people only work for the money's sake? Substantiate your
5. As to the last paragraph, do you have the feeling as if the proper revolution is
Quelle: Summit, Grundkurs/Leistungskurs Englisch, Schöningh Verlag 1992.
Text stammt von Isaac Asimov, Dialogue 1, 1985