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Robots Taking All Our Jobs? Ridiculous
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mHealthTalk
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mHealthTalk,
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9/30/2013 | 4:36:19 PM
re: Robots Taking All Our Jobs? Ridiculous
Oh, Robert. While I respect your opinions and usually agree, you are sadly far off the mark on this one, only offering one side of the debate. Your one-sided view and consistent use of the term Gǣneo-LudditeGǥ gives away your agenda.

What if you're a well educated and highly paid knowledge worker? Your job may be even more at risk, and here's why.

Artificial Intelligence, Natural Language (e.g. Siri), Big Data Analytics (IBM's Watson), and Cognitive Computing (IBM's Synapse) are examples of IT innovations that help automate knowledge work. Unlike mechanical innovations like robots used on factory floors, the pace of IT innovation is accelerating exponentially with Moore's Law.

Futurists like Ray Kurzweil already expect to see $1,000 computers with the reasoning, analytical, and cognitive abilities of the human brain by 2037. By 2049, such a system could have the power of the human race. And 10 years later it could be a tiny embedded nanoprocessor chip that costs a penny and is connected in an immense Internet of Things that each have the power of the human race. Cell-sized devices will even circulate in our blood stream, making sure all's OK and eliminating cancer cells and toxins.

Will this future technology be used for good, or evil? Will it create or destroy jobs & economies? And what will be the implications on humanity, society, politics, wealth creation, and poverty as it evolves? Is our glass half empty, or half full?

See two opposing views at http://www.mhealthtalk.com/201....
mHealthTalk
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mHealthTalk,
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9/30/2013 | 4:21:46 PM
re: Robots Taking All Our Jobs? Ridiculous
I generally agree with you but see one additional problem. Companies are not paying commensurate with one's IQ, education, skill, or experience; and with high unemployment they don't need to offer profit-sharing incentive programs. That directs all profits from increased productivity (from automation, thanks to smarter employees) and reduced expenses (from lower wages, benefits, etc) upward to the investor class rather than the workers.
Becca L
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Becca L,
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9/29/2013 | 7:29:21 PM
re: Robots Taking All Our Jobs? Ridiculous
At the age of 10 my dad paid my brother $15 to mow the lawn, plus $1 for each additional year. By the time he was 18 my brother was mowing the lawn a little too frequently. Dad decided it was more economical to take over, bought a more efficient mower, and my brother had incentive to take on a job at a summer camp. Does everyone win?
elleno
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elleno,
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9/29/2013 | 5:20:25 PM
re: Robots Taking All Our Jobs? Ridiculous
Robert Atkinson is right and wrong at the same time: technology does destroy lower level jobs, but creates newer sophisticated jobs at the same time.

The problem is that these newer jobs require smarter people and there are simply not enough smart people available. Hence you have the current contradictions. There is high unemployment at the same time as there are shortages of workers in particular fields.

The problem is political correctness that emphasizes that all people are the same (just like the Greeks and Germans, for example). Problem is it is bunk. There are dumb people, average people and smart people. Hard working people and lazy people. People who can handle abstract concepts and people who cannot.

The work of average people is being mechanized and move up the IQ bell curve as it were. Atkinson's analysis is pretty superficial.
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
9/29/2013 | 2:26:27 PM
re: Robots Taking All Our Jobs? Ridiculous
Medicine automation is an example of the difficulty finding ROI in some use cases. Say a nurse doesn't need to stop by to deliver medicine. But the higher value is that nurse coming in to check on a patient's well being -- to make a judgment. So can you really remove cost?
BugsyS
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BugsyS,
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9/29/2013 | 8:00:13 AM
re: Robots Taking All Our Jobs? Ridiculous
Those who question the impact of automation on employment are not necessarily "anti-technology" or "anti-robot" as claimed.

But there is no law of economics that says that new technology must always create more employment. Nor is there a law that says that any new jobs created will provide remuneration equal to or above that provided by work before it became obsolete.

Human wants are indeed near infinite but the issue is the comparative abilities of the man vs the machine. Even if the machine permits new opportunities it is mere assumption to think that people will necessarily be capable of taking advantage.

Belief in technological unemployment is becoming more widespread because people can see that the middle class is being slowly hollowed out. Inequality is rising and yet people are more educated now than ever. People may in time adjust their skill set (assuming they are capable and anyone who lives in the real world knows that some people are never going to be neurosurgeons) but how long will it take and at what pace is technology accelerating?

Artificial intelligence is about to start taking many low skill jobs that formerly required human dexterity and common sense. The traditional economy has always depended on jobs that involved simple labor. We may have transitioned from the farm to the factory, but simple jobs have always remained (thus far). But if a machine can sweep a floor, can pick fruit, can drive a car, can checkout people's groceries, can serve a latte, then these simple jobs disappear and it is simply not tenable to think that the traditional underclass is going to all become robot-engineers. It's wishful thinking motivated by an ideological belief in the free market.

The real kicker though is not robots, but virtual reality. Give it 20-30 years and it will be as realistic as real life and if not already integrated into the nervous system, soon will be. Once this is possible then infinite wants can be met: whatever you imagine can be made real. Count the number of movies/songs on your hard drive. Count how many were paid for. That's the economy of the future.

Far from being anti-technology I think the promise is more than we could ever dream of.
Hayaka
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Hayaka,
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9/29/2013 | 5:34:13 AM
re: Robots Taking All Our Jobs? Ridiculous
"There are lots of jobs machines cant do: police, massage therapists, dentists, CEOs, and even think tank analysts."

Those are your examples of jobs that will remain? Every one of those except perhaps massage therapists are jobs that the person with an average physique and average level of education cannot do.

"And re the point about low wages overseas hurting US incomes, this is not really true. Our wages are determined by what we produce in the US and how we choose to allocate that production among 300 million or so Americans."

I don't even know what that means, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't rebut the point that hundreds of thousands of jobs which used to be done by stateside Americans are now being done much cheaper overseas. The ease with which information can now be transferred has rendered national borders virtually meaningless with respect to whole categories of employment.
ratkinson
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ratkinson,
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9/28/2013 | 4:09:10 PM
re: Robots Taking All Our Jobs? Ridiculous
Some more comments.
de
To continue from last point. I am not as optimistic about AI as some of you seem to be. I would bet that there is no winner of the Turing Test for at least another 25 years. FOr one reason, Moore's law is likely to slow down. But even if i am wrong. There are lots of jobs machines cant do: police, massage therapists, dentists, CEOs, and even think tank analysts.
Re Laurrane's question. Autonomous vehicles will eventually happen, although slower than many people expect. But most of the impact will not save us time, it will just let us work (or watch movies) while we commute to work. It may put some truck drivers and cab drivers out of work, but not all. Re drug delivery by robots. I hope this happens even more. Hard to say whether the savings will be funneled to lower prices for hospital care or better quality (e.g. redeploying nurses to other functions). My guess is that depends on whether we end up raising the retirement age so that all our money doesnt go to retired people.

Finally, re Anon. We have a system to pay people when they are laid off, by robots or any other reason: unemployment insurance. To be sure, it is not very good, especially in many Southern states. But the principle should be to give displaced workers some temporary financial assistance, with the key point being temporary. if its til they get a job, they wont get a job for a long time. And re the point about low wages overseas hurting US incomes, this is not really true. Our wages are determined by what we produce in the US and how we choose to allocate that production among 300 million or so Americans. Wages are simply a means of allocating production. What matters most is producing more, and that requires productivity and automation.
ratkinson
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ratkinson,
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9/28/2013 | 4:00:46 PM
re: Robots Taking All Our Jobs? Ridiculous
Thanks for the thoughtful comments to my blog. To respond to a few.

Some of the comments refer to the threat that automation will have differential impacts re skills and that they will destroy low skill and all that will be left will be high skills, and that many workers wont transition. Two responses. First, as we find in this blog http://www.innovationfiles.org... automation is likely to be easier for low skill jobs. However, of the top 10 jobs to be added from now to 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics none of them require a college degree. Moreover, there are lots of workers who are currently overqualified working in lower wage, lower skill jobs. Second, this points to the need for a better human capital strategy for the US.

Some comments (bfately914 and barnaby0077) suggest that technology will get so powerful that virtually all jobs will be eliminated - eg. AI. But this ignores the fact that human consumption needs for all practical purposes are infinite. Imagine a world where median income increases 10-fold (to half a million a year) and work hours are cut in half (20 hours a week). I dont know about you but i would think i had died and gone to heaven. But getting to this nirvanna would require productivity to increase by a factor of 20. Given that in the history of the US productivity has never increased by more than 4 percent a year, you would have to assume that somehow there is will increases on an order of magnitude.
Jim
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Jim,
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9/27/2013 | 10:15:57 PM
re: Robots Taking All Our Jobs? Ridiculous
"If technology enables the same amount of work to
be done with fewer people, the argument goes, then it must be bad for
employment." = More productivity per person working and higher incomes for each of those working.

If there is the same output, the total revenue should be about the same. The extra income per person will be equal to the income lost by fewer working at that job. The higher expenditures from those still working will be spent on other goods meaning there should be about the same number of jobs overall. We end up producing more with those freed up resources and as a group are wealthier.
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