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Fri Feb 8, 2013, 01:54 AM

What's going to happen when the robots take almost every job?

Robots are quickly increasing in the US. How are people going to make money when robots take over almost every job?

Are robots hurting job growth?
The following script is from "March of the Machines" which aired on "60 Minutes" - Jan. 13, 2013. Steve Kroft is the correspondent. Harry Radliffe and Maria Gavrilovic, producers.

Andrew McAfee: Our economy is bigger than it was before the start of the Great Recession. Corporate profits are back. Business investment in hardware and software is back higher than it's ever been. What's not back is the jobs.

Steve Kroft: And you think technology and increased automation is a factor in that?

Erik Brynjolfsson: Absolutely.

The percentage of Americans with jobs is at a 20-year low. Just a few years ago if you traveled by air you would have interacted with a human ticket agent. Today, those jobs are being replaced by robotic kiosks. Bank tellers have given way to ATMs, sales clerks are surrendering to e-commerce and switchboard operators and secretaries to voice recognition technology.

Erik Brynjolfsson: There are lots of examples of routine, middle-skilled jobs that involve relatively structured tasks and those are the jobs that are being eliminated the fastest. Those kinds of jobs are easier for our friends in the artificial intelligence community to design robots to handle them. They could be software robots, they could be physical robots.

..............................................................
Erik Brynjolfsson: Technology is always creating jobs. It's always destroying jobs. But right now the pace is accelerating. It's faster we think than ever before in history. So as a consequence, we are not creating jobs at the same pace that we need to.

Andrew McAfee: And we ain't seen nothing yet.

The changes are coming so quickly it's been difficult for workers to retrain themselves and for entrepreneurs to figure out where the next opportunities may be. The catalyst is something called computer learning or artificial intelligence -- the ability to feed massive amounts of data into supercomputers and program them to teach themselves and improve their performance.

.........................................................
It's all part of a massive high tech industry that's contributed enormous productivity and wealth to the American economy but surprisingly little in the way of employment.

....................................................
Andrew McAfee: When I see what computers and robots can do right now, I project that forward for two, three more generations, I think we're going to find ourselves in a world where the work as we currently think about it is largely done by machines.

Steve Kroft: And what are the people going to do?

Andrew McAfee: That's the $64,000 question.

...........................http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57563618/are-robots-hurting-job-growth/

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Response to ErikJ (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 02:02 AM

1. never happen...

There will always be poor people somewhere on earth that can be exploited for far less than the cost of a robot...

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Response to dtom67 (Reply #1)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 03:23 AM

9. It is happening. The point of the article is that it is happening to the service job sector

which was the sector that kept us hoping that we could have a decent employment rate.

Maybe the worst thing about the robot take-over in the job market is the illusion it creates that capital is king.

The people who invest in the technology and robots see their profits rise. They never stop to think about the fact that this bounce in their profits is putting middle class people out of jobs, that their increase in profits results from doing away with the incomes of the very people who might buy their products and use their services.

The mistake people make is to think of money as a commodity, as an object. I have a dollar means to a lot of people that they "own" something.

In fact, the dollar you think you "own" is like water held in your hand. Water gains value as it flows, as it moves from a stream to a field, to your body, back to the earth and around and around. Money is actually like that. It has to be in movement in order to have any power or worth to us.

We need to tax the profits from the technology at a very high rate to keep our economy going. The wealthy fools who think they can just extract money from the technological advances without creating jobs don't understand how the system really works.

They think that the people they fire or don't hire are unimportant. They are about to learn a hard lesson.

Of course, the increase in technology is causing deflation in terms of labor costs. But it will be a while before investors realize that they can't lower their prices enough to sell to the unemployed. And what good does it do to hire people in other countries at low wages to produce products if the customers in the developed countries still can't afford your low-priced junk?

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Response to dtom67 (Reply #1)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 06:11 AM

12. I'm Afraid You're Wrong - It's Already Happening.

Foxconn, the Chinese company that makes iPhones and iPads is deploying robots to replace the low-wage human workers it now employs. They'll get more consistency in assembly of the product and be able to work the robots around the clock, for the most part, excepting downtime for maintenance and break-downs. No dorms of thousands of people, no human rights violations complaints, no robots committing suicide due to the deplorable working conditions and abysmal quality of life the human workers endure.

While the article points out the cost of the robots is 2 to 3 times the annual salary of a human worker and calls them expensive at first I don't think they did a good job analyzing the lifetime cost of a robot vs. human workers. I would expect the robots to be in service for much longer than 2 or 3 years so the break-even of the robot vs. the annual salary of a worker seems like it's going to be a short period of time even if it stretches to 4/5 years including maintenance and operations costs.

http://www.tomshardware.com/news/foxcponn-apple-iphone-ipad-robot,19088.html

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Response to ErikJ (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 02:07 AM

2. Who will maintain the robots?

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Response to DainBramaged (Reply #2)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 02:23 AM

5. They can tend to themselves

In the same fashion that human doctors tend to ill humans, a robot could easily tend to another malfunctioning robot. Once AI is advanced enough, they'll be able to do anything a human can do and do it better. There is nothing supernatural about the human brain that prevents its intelligence from being replicated in a machine and improved upon.

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Response to forsaken mortal (Reply #5)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 03:29 AM

10. And speaking of doctors, I saw a video about a doctor at Scripps in the San Diego area

who uses phone apps to do electrocardiograms, test blood, urine and do other diagnoses by computer, long distance.

So, even doctors are not immune from unemployment and less pay due to technology.

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Response to DainBramaged (Reply #2)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 07:01 AM

15. People who thoroughly understand electronics and mechanics

About maybe one to five percent of the population.

I've fucking done complete restorations and retrofits on industrial robotic machine tools from the ground up and can't get a job any more fixing them, I'm too old.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1128&pid=483

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Response to ErikJ (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 02:15 AM

3. We need a different economic paradigm

Artificial intelligence will lead to the end of mass employment. If there isn't some kind of economic band-aid like a guaranteed income, we can probably look forward to violence and revolution from hungry people as the 1% and their army of machines basically lock most other people out of any wealth whatsoever. Someone might claim it's all just another luddite argument, but the difference is that the machines the luddites feared couldn't think and operate themselves.

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Response to ErikJ (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 02:19 AM

4. Who will buy the stuff the robots make if all the jobs are taken?

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Response to ErikJ (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 02:24 AM

6. I think there are only two possible outcomes to the inevitable march of technological advancement.

 

We can cling to our traditional, hierarchical, industrial age mindset and, as both a nation and as a people, descend into a hell-on-earth where 20% of the population works regularly and maintains a much lower but recognizable lifestyle among a horde of the desperate underclass, or we can restructure our society to accommodate the reality that we can produce enough for everybody with very little effort and adjust our economy and perceptions.

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Response to Egalitarian Thug (Reply #6)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 02:37 AM

7. 'Idiocracy' solution?

I watched the movie 'Idiocracy' a while ago and I got the idea that they citizens all owned shares of a monopolistic corporation(s) for income. Prescient? Maybe the state will have to require that all citizens are given stock dividends from what corporations exist somehow.

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Response to ErikJ (Reply #7)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 04:19 PM

16. But without the context of a comedy. More like Bladerunner crossed with Haiti. n/t

 

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Response to ErikJ (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 02:47 AM

8. South Park will do an episode mocking those who lost their "jerbs" to a robot

I'm pretty sure.

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Response to ErikJ (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 04:37 AM

11. As long as people have needs

there will be jobs. Make something that someone else wants, and they can make something that you want. If robots make everything people want, it's possible we'll be in a post-scarcity environment where all our needs are met.

However, there can still be hiccups in the system, since an individual can't just decide that they want to build a computer/car/etc. They need factories, other workers, inputs, and all of the things necessary to build something. So the problem isn't robots making everything, it's inequality and lack of opportunity.

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Response to ErikJ (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 06:16 AM

13. We'll have SOCIALISM!!!1!ONE!1

And we'll have to have an economy based on personal fulfillment that is composed of jobs that people want to do rather than ones people are doing because they can't get anything else and have to collect whatever scraps the enchanted 'job creators' throw at them.

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Response to ErikJ (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 06:25 AM

14. Same thing that happened when the looms did. (nt)

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Response to ErikJ (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 05:01 PM

17. At some point in the relatively near future we will have full human AI.

Once we acheive human level cognition in a machine, it can self-program itself to recursively improve its intelligence until it exceeds anything we can come up with ourselves. After that happens, the machine can design custom robotic drones to complete any task that a human can do, up to and including repairing itself.

When that happens, humans become redundant, and modern economic theory goes out the window. No job will pay a wage, because labor will be worthless. Robots can provide humans with everything they need, from food to shelter to medical care and entertainment, and they'll be able to do it at no cost.

What do we do then?

In the Star Trek vision of the future, humanity dedicates itself to learning and exploration while the computers sustain us. In Vonnegut's Player Piano version of that future, a ruling upperclass uses its control over technology to create a permanent and subservient underclass. In countless other works of fiction, the computers just get rid of us and keep the world for themselves. There's no way for us to know or guess which would actually come to pass.

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