Back in February, Peter Reinhardt published his fairly widely circulated blog post Replacing Middle Management with APIs. (If you haven’t read it already, do so now.)

While we were talking about the trend of building APIs to command humans (and no longer only machines) at university already a couple of years ago, Reinhardt’s post has spelled out the socio-political consequences of this trend much more clearly to me. I find myself coming back to the topic with the below visualization by Forbes in mind.

Essentially what’s happening is that in a first phase middle management is replaced by a software system of APIs (i.e. machine-machine interfaces) and GUIs (i.e. machine-human interfaces), opening the doors for the second phase: a swift replacement of below the API jobs by machines. Increasingly, the only paying work left for humans will be the one of building the software.

As I’ve said before, I think there should be nothing wrong with increased automation and rising efficiencies. Less work should be a good thing! However, this is going to play out well only if we stop demanding that everyone sacrifices their lives to do work that can be monetized—we need something like an unconditional basic income.