DailyDirt: Stop That Robot, It Stole My Job!

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

The industrial revolution has had obvious benefits to our civilization, but it didn’t happen without significant costs. A century ago, about a third of employees in the US worked on a farm, and now less than 2% of US workers produce far more food. For the most part, the would-be farmers among us aren’t sitting around unemployed; we’ve been educated to work on other things, pursuing some careers that were unimaginable just decades ago. Here are just a few links on robots doing work that might displace some human labor.

    If you’d like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.

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Comments on “DailyDirt: Stop That Robot, It Stole My Job!”

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Hephaestus (profile) says:

There are 20 technologies ...

Robotics, automation, digital currencies, immortality, nanotechnology, cheap solar energy, cheap energy storage, etc, all converge on or about the year 2025. The job loss due to automation is just one of many concerns. The deflationary pressure and loss of tax revenue is the one that should concern everyone, as it will lead to governments making seriously stupid bandaid style choices, that will only make things worse.

OldMugwump (profile) says:

Jobs are not property

…so they can’t be “stolen”.

Anyway, what people mean when they say they “want jobs” is that they “want money”. Jobs are just the traditional way of getting money.

For the most part people don’t really want “jobs”; most people would rather be doing something else – if they had enough money.

Once robots and AI can replace _everybody’s_ job (and that may not be so far away), nobody will need to work in order to provide goods and services.

As to how people will get money…that is a separate problem.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Jobs are not property

There is also a general want to do something meaningful so you don’t feel like just a waste of oxygen and actually contribute something. The logical endpoint of automation, barring singularity is to have all of the manufacturing (including extraction) and most of service automated. Therefore only mental jobs like leadership, performers, education, art, research, design jobs remaining.

At this point there will be two options really, the most likely one is accepting employment as optional, if only because not everyone is capable of filling all superiorly tasks. The other is a grand undertaking in education to retrain the workforce into being capable of these new jobs. Research and development are a good “infinite” sink for employees even if they’ll probably be lower quality due to the metaphorical barrel scraping.

The Old Man in The Sea says:

Re: Re: Jobs are not property

Agree with you that people generally want to do something useful, however, I disagree that only mental jobs would be remaining. Skilled craftsmen and craftswomen will have avenues to express themselves. Someone who makes beautiful furniture or develops new machines (including cars, boats, etc) will always be needed. In fact, in a society that really mass produces without the need of people, these kinds of craftsmen and craftswomen will become even more valuable as a skill group.

This subject has been looked at for many decades but we have never been in a situation where machines have replaced people in most areas, there have always been new areas of employment developed.

ChrisB (profile) says:

Re: Jobs are not property

The greatest “robot” that was invented in the last century was the computer. It replaced many jobs. Are we worse off for it? Of course not. Automation always creates wealth and raises the standard of living. However, at the beginning, it does redistribute wealth away from legacy industries and workers. The next generation will adapt and thrive.

Miker (profile) says:

"Lost" jobs and shifting employment

@Ninja You seem to be making the implicit assumption of everyone who sees not mass unemployment, but jobs “shifitng”: That there will be somewhere for them to shift _to_.

In an economy where essentially EVERY job is automatable, how exactly do you envision meatsuits competing with machines? I suggest you re-read @OldMugwump’s comment above. And you aren’t allowed to begin any sentence with “But people can…” or “But machines can’t…” 🙂

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: "Lost" jobs and shifting employment

“Once robots and AI can replace everybody’s job”

Exactly how will this come about?
And you are not allowed to use any hollywood references.

“and that may not be so far away”

Really? Considering the present state of AI I doubt that. I suppose if there were a miracle ….

“In an economy where essentially EVERY job is automatable”

This premise is simply ridiculous. One could define a situation with very few requirements and therefore very few so called jobs this would meet the scope of your given presumption but it is not a realistic situation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: "Lost" jobs and shifting employment

There’s no assumption that there will be somewhere for everyone to go.

In fact, many, many people are put out of work all the time due to more efficient mean of production, and not all of them are able to easily find work. And it sucks for those people.

Just think how many people have been put out of jobs because of improvements in assembly lines and other efficiency gains over the last 60 years. And yet, somehow, there are vastly more people working (in absolute numbers) than in 1950.

Readjustment sucks. But capital improvements allow unforeseen services and products – heck entire industries – to appear which can dwarf their predecessors.

If you were raised on the the idea that you can get a career or a job or a skill and rely on only that for the rest of your life, then you got some bad advice.

No one has a “right” to a particular job.

The Old Man in The Sea says:

Re: Re: "Lost" jobs and shifting employment

Or industries disappearing or being redeployed into countries where the local costs are much lower.

However that said, one of the problems of today is that “bean counters” make many of these decisions without consideration of the future consequences for the business or businesses for which they are making these decisions. The major thing they lose is knowledge and expertise and in most cases this is irreplaceably lost. There are so many examples of this it is almost depressing.

There are many places where automation can be a big benefit, but it does take insightful people to implement this. I have at various times automated many tasks out of existence for people which has allowed them to actually do the work that they were employed to do in the first place. There are many tasks that are time-consuming and at large relevant for the company but not to the person doing them. These kinds of things should be automated out of existence to allow other tasks to replace them. But again it takes insightful people to see this and in my experience, most “bean counters” are the last people who should have input into this. They are so brain-dead focussed on the bottom line, they cannot see opportunities that present themselves that will be of benefit to everyone around them.

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