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Robots Will Create 'Permanently Unemployable Underclass'

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  • #31
    Re: Robots Will Create 'Permanently Unemployable Underclass'

    Originally posted by tastymannatees View Post
    and there goes another one

    Hotel Robots

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/101911755
    they will need oiling so we have a chance.
    Company CEO Steve Cousins told CNBC he sees a huge market for service robots.

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    • #32
      Re: Robots Will Create 'Permanently Unemployable Underclass'

      Originally posted by gwynedd1 View Post
      Everyone could open a restaurant .
      I don't know about that. Lack of capital to buy the initial equipment/investment seems to me to be a much larger barrier to such a thing than labor costs you can cover with cash flow - even without robots.

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      • #33
        Re: Robots Will Create 'Permanently Unemployable Underclass'

        And there are

        Noodle bots - A couple of grand a robot, they never need a raise and won't sue you for sexual harassment

        Robot chefs taking over China's noodle bars

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        • #34
          Re: Robots Will Create 'Permanently Unemployable Underclass'

          Costs are dropping -Baxter from rethink in boston costs 20K and should last two years

          http://www.rethinkrobotics.com/products/baxter/

          http://www.rethinkrobotics.com/resources/videos/

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          • #35
            Re: Robots Will Create 'Permanently Unemployable Underclass'

            Originally posted by tastymannatees View Post

            I know the response is that they will employed in "Tech" jobs however I think the idea is limited, most of the forum members here are probably high IQ types and see a tech or STEM job as no problem but to make a point here is that if you think of the average person and then recognize that 50% of the population is below that a tech replacement job is a stretch.
            I think this is a key point in the recurring robots vs jobs debate. By no means do I think humans are on the brink of being replaced by robots on the whole. However, the low ability population may face a struggle and personally I think they are already being affected by this problem. If not because of actual humanoid robots, then due to one person with a machine doing the work of 10.

            To follow up your point about everyone getting tech jobs. Go to a Walmart store. Ask yourself how many of the customers could work as robot designers. Or more to the point, ask yourself how many of the cashiers could be trained to design/refine/repair the self checkout machines. I'm guessing it's less than 10% and I'm trying to be generous.

            For example I recently had a procedure done at local Yale New Haven hospital and in my overnight stay I was walking the floor at 2 am with a bad reaction to some medication. In my little walk over a couple of hours I noted 9/10 employees on duty but only a couple seemed busy the rest were having water cooler discussions and surfing the Internet.
            In the hospital's defense, night shift is partially a just-in-case staffing scenario. If your medication reaction had resulted in a code button being pressed, I'm guessing at least some of the internet surfers would have sprung into action.

            This year they fooled 30% ten years from now perhaps 50%? thirty years 90%?

            http://www.smh.com.au/national/educa...710-zt2h3.html
            As discussed in another itulip thread, this story of a chatbot passing the Turing test is, in my opinion, a complete joke. Only by creating a persona as a 13 year old who doesn't speak English fluently was it even remotely believable and even then I can't understand how anyone was fooled at all.

            Why not ask someone to distinguish between a computer and a 2 year old with a keyboard? Or a computer and a person pretending to be a computer?
            Last edited by DSpencer; 08-12-14, 04:04 PM.

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            • #36
              Re: Robots Will Create 'Permanently Unemployable Underclass'

              Originally posted by dcarrigg View Post
              Well then why not make this prediction a bit more concrete? By which year do you expect world labor participation rates to sink to which level? Use ranges if you so wish. Here's the current World Bank graph on the matter. We're at 63.6% right now. Keep in mind that demographics and other economic forces than just technology will factor in here too.

              What is it you predict? 40% by 2040? 10% by 2050? Somewhere between 40 and 50% by 2030? And how much of the drop is directly attributable to technology? Exactly how doom and gloom is the future employment scenario you envision?

              I am genuinely curious to know how disastrously and quickly you predict the technological obsolescence of man will occur.

              I disagree with you, but that's because I tend to side with old John Stewart Mill's 1848 observation on this one:

              "Hitherto it is questionable if all the mechanical inventions yet made have lightened the day's toil of any human being."

              And I think that deep down I'm pretty sure that whether we want people working or not is a policy choice. And technology doesn't dictate our policy decisions. Just ask the Amish about that one. In fact, I think I stole that line from Patrick Deneen in the American Conservative.
              But what was the employment rate back when Mill made his statement? I imagine it was close to 100% and that would include pretty much everyone 5 and over. And how many hours did they work? The current 64% rate starts at age 15 and includes everyone "economically active". So anyone retired is not included which must already push the numbers down. People on sick are not included etc. I think it's fair to say that hours worked per capita are already way less than half of those worked in 1848 and it is almost exclusively down to technology. And why is the technological obsolescence of man such a disaster anyway?

              Having said that I don't see employment or unemployment disappearing any time soon as servants will always be in demand and people will always need to serve to survive until populations stop growing. You mentioned a quote regarding the Amish as avoiding certain technological and economic forces. However their increasing population (having large families is part of the culture) will force cultural change on them. Soon they will not be able to avoid servitude.

              Thus, a philosophy that places in the forefront a theory of human liberty arrives at the conclusion that certain historical, technological, and economic forces are inevitable, and it is futile to resist them. One might bother to ask the Amish if this is true, but they didnít go to Harvard. Clearly, they donít value human freedom, since they are not on the historical merry-go-round to inevitable human libertyóand degradation.
              Traditionally Amish males farmed pretty much exclusively. However the need to buy land for their burgeoning population has forced many men to seek alternative employment outside of their traditional communities. The Amish are not free of economic forces after all.

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              • #37
                Re: Robots Will Create 'Permanently Unemployable Underclass'

                Originally posted by llanlad2 View Post
                But what was the employment rate back when Mill made his statement? I imagine it was close to 100% and that would include pretty much everyone 5 and over. And how many hours did they work? The current 64% rate starts at age 15 and includes everyone "economically active". So anyone retired is not included which must already push the numbers down. People on sick are not included etc. I think it's fair to say that hours worked per capita are already way less than half of those worked in 1848 and it is almost exclusively down to technology. And why is the technological obsolescence of man such a disaster anyway?
                According to the Historical Statistics of the United States: Millennial Edition, Vol. 2, pp. 2-77 to 2-82; the labor participation rate 2 years later was 51.8%. Of course, the survey back then was Whites only, thanks to slavery. And the split was 88.1% male and 13.1% female. Far more men had jobs. Far fewer women did. Overall, labor participation is higher now than then.

                The Amish are not free of economic forces after all.
                Never said they were. Just saying that technology does not have to run one's life. We have a choice in the matter. That's all.

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                • #38
                  Re: Robots Will Create 'Permanently Unemployable Underclass'

                  Originally posted by dcarrigg View Post
                  I don't know about that. Lack of capital to buy the initial equipment/investment seems to me to be a much larger barrier to such a thing than labor costs you can cover with cash flow - even without robots.
                  If its so expensive then cheap labor will compete against it.
                  Last edited by gwynedd1; 08-13-14, 11:09 AM.

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                  • #39
                    Re: Robots Will Create 'Permanently Unemployable Underclass'

                    I just realized that a paradise with no wants or needs will cause everyone to be part of the permanently unemployable underclass.

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Re: Robots Will Create 'Permanently Unemployable Underclass'

                      Many good posts here and things to consider.

                      I can add this. I work at a fortune 500 company that employs lots of low wage, low skill labor.
                      I work in the "robot" department trying to either make employees more productive (reducing the labor costs) or replacing them. We have replacements for people but so far, they have been too costly to do the job. You can buy a lot of labor for a 500K robot. And the person is a bit more flexible than the one task robot. However .... the recent push for moving the minimum wage from about 8.00 an hr to 15.00 per hour will re-evaluate uses of automation at our company. Some of these jobs will be eliminated.

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                      • #41
                        Re: Robots Will Create 'Permanently Unemployable Underclass'

                        Originally posted by dcarrigg View Post
                        I am genuinely curious to know how disastrously and quickly you predict the technological obsolescence of man will occur.

                        I disagree with you, but that's because I tend to side with old John Stewart Mill's 1848 observation on this one:

                        "Hitherto it is questionable if all the mechanical inventions yet made have lightened the day's toil of any human being."
                        My statement was aimed at the US labor market, not the world market. Their time will come but not as quickly as ours approaches.

                        This problem, automation happening faster than we can replace jobs, is more troubling today than it was 40 years ago, much less in Mill's time. The rate of change continues to increase and as it does, replacing work which pays a meaningful wage with new work also paying a meaningful wage, will continue to become more difficult.

                        It was Keynes that observed in 1930-ish the phenomenon of technological unemployment. "This means unemployment due to our discovery of means of economising the use of labour outrunning the pace at which we can find new uses for labour."

                        In the US we already have a bifurcated system of employment developing where the middle class is being hollowed out and jobs are often low paying service jobs or high paying jobs that require problem solving skills and/or strong social skills. These valued skills are not easily resolved with an algorithm but much more complex machine learning and mobile robotics will make more complex, non repetitive jobs go away as well. Think, truck and taxi drivers, construction workers, tax preparers, accountants, bank tellers, loan officers, real estate brokers/sales people, cashiers, paralegals, etc.

                        There are two great destroyers of jobs in the US, off-shoring and automation. I would argue that off-shoring is largely driven by computerization and is simply a sub-set of the automation issue. Both will continue to hollow out the US middle class.

                        We've redefined unemployment from U6 to U3 to hide the current 12.2% unemployment rate and we've classed 2.4MM Americans as criminals and hired another 2MM Americans to catch them, process them and watch them. We also have another 1.5MM people on active military duty. Automation is breaking our social contract in the US and we're grasping at straws to find meaningful employment for people.

                        I am surprised that this is a controversial issue. The rate of automation is moving too fast today and the pace will continue to pick up over the rest of this century. I can't imagine a scenario where more Americans have employment value in the future than they have today.

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                        • #42
                          Re: Robots Will Create 'Permanently Unemployable Underclass'

                          Lots of great comments here. Am enjoying the thread.

                          There are two great destroyers of jobs in the US, off-shoring and automation. I would argue that off-shoring is largely driven by computerization and is simply a sub-set of the automation issue.


                          I'd agree with your first statement, but not the second. Off-shoring to china was not driven by computerization, but rather much cheaper labour. Sure, they have all kinds of advanced factories there (i.e. foxconn), but these were created because overall operational costs were cheaper there - most of which are comprised of labour. In other words, it was the cheap labour that allowed for the move and setup of the advanced computerized factories, not the other way around.

                          Due to bitcoin related research, I've recently learned that PCB (printed circuit board) manufacturing for medium to large volume sales all went to China. I thought it was a near fully automated robotic process, but it turns out (VIDEO) its actually still a very labour intensive process (look at all the humans!) despite a lot of processes having been automated in the past 2 decades. Much if it has to do with the sheer number of options in how it can be made (size, # of layers, types of holes/vias, material type for operational environment/temperature, type and quantity of metalic elements, countless finishing options, countless chemical baths along the way, etc) combined with human inspections required along the way for nearly every step, to say nothing that each robot/machine requires a human standing by to perform some task unique to that PCB - and that's just the bare PCB. The "assembly" of 'doo-dads' (i.e. capacitors, oscillators, chips, resistors, etc) onto the bare PCB is a whole other sector of the industry (VIDEO) with its own complexities and humans (look at all the humans!) required, despite also including massive amounts of automation.

                          According to this future projection graph which extrapolates a 17%/yr Chinese Wage growth, we get the following result:


                          At some point before the two lines touch, manufacturing will be offshored to the next cheapest country - Somewhere in Africa or other East Asian countr(ies)? I guess it depends on sector and what is being offshored - telemarketing? design? production? assembly? post-sales support? Either way, my point again is that the decline of many labour related jobs is not due to advancement in robots that can replace humans, but that cheaper 3rd world labour humans continue to replace 1st world humans:




                          Now, to play devil's advocate, my borrowed theory will break hard in the near (10-40 years?) future once we hit the theorized 'Technological Singularity' of AI. That is, not when machines find their ghost or acquire one, but when their synthetic intelligence achievable by not-yet-existent *real* quantum computers that provide it its immense processing power, allow a machine's 'brain' power to exceed not only that of a human, but that of all humans on Earth combined. At that point, the AI machine(s) create exponential advancements such that in a mere year or two (or less) we enter into a Star Trek Economics situation whereby technological advancements not only replace nearly all hard labour, but also consumption can be endless at no cost and every human is free to do as they wish with their entire live's worth of free time.... or all hell breaks loose!... As per the recent hollywood thriller:

                          Transcendence Official Trailer #1 (2014) - Johnny Depp Sci-Fi Movie HD



                          PS. I don't buy for 1 second the idea that consciousness can be transferred to a machine, that aside, the movie is not bad.
                          Last edited by Adeptus; 08-13-14, 02:41 AM.
                          Warning: Network Engineer talking economics!

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                          • #43
                            Re: Robots Will Create 'Permanently Unemployable Underclass'

                            Another automation that will destroy many jobs, higher end professional and managerial jobs, not $1 per hour factory, is Cloud computing and Cloud services. Even coders that program Cloud services will become redundant in a matter of time, as when the code is mature, fewer people are needed to maintain code.

                            A factory worker can become a waiter working in a restaurant or train to become a call center operator. But people holding onto the higher end jobs will find it most difficult to switch career.
                            Last edited by touchring; 08-13-14, 02:45 AM.

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                            • #44
                              Re: Robots Will Create 'Permanently Unemployable Underclass'

                              Ok, I'm just going to skip all that as you guys missed the point entirely and are debating your previous arguments and not mine. Have any of you watched Wall-E?

                              I did not say "Technology destroys jobs and we're all going to be poor"

                              Mine point in very simple black and white terms is "When Technology replaces someone's job, that person should NO LONGER NEED to work"

                              Technology improvements frees up human labour so we can pursue other endeavors. This should appear as the cost of living (a proxy for the demand on your time to meet your needs) dropping, and thus REDUCING your need to actually work; because a machine is doing the work for you. However despite the highest and most efficient use of human labour in history we now have to work longer/harder than we use to.

                              True leisure time and prosperity has been steadily increasing since the industrial revolution. However between the "Space Age" and the "Information Age" we went from 1 income family with little debt to maintain a standard of living to 2 income families, live at home adult children, multi generational homes, and lots of debt to maintain a standard of living.

                              Why hasn't production gains from technology allowed us to at least live/work as before to maintain our standard of living? (let alone the slow decline we have today)

                              My feeling is that Central banks, and capitalist oligarchs have created a "skim" off the top of these labour improvements. During the days of the baby boom this skim was easily fed by a growing population. However now the worm of population growth is turning and the Skim has grown proportional larger against the now declining working population. The result is that technology improvements AND our labour increases are now going to feed the Skim (manifested as increased inflation, debt, and taxes, on reduced wages).

                              The truth is we actually need robots and technology to care for people in our inverted age pyramid as well to become more efficient in a time of declining per capita resources. However the current economic structure means we, the actual workers, will receive only as much benefit as necessary to keep us placated; TPTB on the other hand will gain everything else.

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                              • #45
                                Re: Robots Will Create 'Permanently Unemployable Underclass'

                                Originally posted by Adeptus View Post
                                Now, to play devil's advocate, my borrowed theory will break hard in the near (10-40 years?) future once we hit the theorized 'Technological Singularity' of AI.


                                I'd bet that the Second Coming of Christ will happen before the "Technological Singularity" A.K.A. Nerd Rapture.

                                Strong AI requires a ghost from the machine before 'the singularity.'

                                Like I said, all the transistors and processing power in the world != intelligence or conscious thought. Even quantum computers. It's not the same thing. They don't think on their own. They're not going to start any time soon. At MIT they've been trying to get even a flatworm-level understanding of how this works for decades. They're not done yet.

                                This idea that Moore's Law -> Thinking Machines -> the plot for Terminator is absolutely insane to me. But then again, it comes from a man who says he's going to live forever and pops hundreds of untested pills per day to try to do so.

                                But here's what I really think:

                                Transhumanism is a cult, Kurzweil is their prophet, and the Singularity is their millenarian motivator.

                                Heaven's Gate - the white Nikes and mass-suicide by Kool-Aid guys - were also transhumanists who thought they could download their consciousness and live forever. In fact, everything Kurzweil has been saying is ripped almost directly from their playbook.

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