Automation will soon touch every job on the planet: prediction

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Nov 10, 2008
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Automation will soon touch every job on the planet: prediction | SmartPlanet


By Joe McKendrick | September 25, 2012, 7:33 AM PDT
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First, the bad news: employment levels are lower than they were a decade ago, and those jobs aren’t coming back. Blame automation for much of the lackluster job growth seen in the current economy. In fact, there soon will be few jobs that machines won’t be able to do just as well as humans.

That’s the sobering prediction made by MIT professor Andrew McAfee, co-author of Rage Against the Machine, at his recent TED talk. McAfee predicts that machines and software will be touching every job — from knowledge workers to journalists to even truck drivers. At this point, he adds, we’re only at the beginning stages of the digitization of jobs. “We ain’t seen nothing yet,” he says.

Self-driving vehicles may put millions of truck drivers out of business. Articles and reports generated by algorithms take human writers out of the equation. Language translation is now a free, online service.

“Most knowledge workers are actually generalists,” McAfee points out. “What they do is they sit on top of a very large body of expertise and knowledge, and they use that to react on the fly to unpredictable demands — and that’s very difficult to automate.” However, hook an interactive, natural-language service such as Apple’s Siri intelligent assistant to IBM’s Watson computer, and all bets are off. “Siri is far from perfect,” he says. “But we should also keep in mind Moore’s law trajectory. In six years, they’re not going to be two times or four times better — they’ll be 16 times better than they are right now.”

Now, the good news: There are silver linings to this relentless growth in automation and smart systems, McAfee says. The current wave of automation is likely one of the most profound developments shaping human history — more so than wars, empires or plagues. “None of these of these things have mattered very much” when compared to the impact of the industrial revolution. “There has been one story, one development in human history that bent the curve, and it is a technology story. The steam engine and other associated technologies of the industrial revolution changed the world and influenced history so much, they made mockery out of everything that had come before. They did this by infinitely increasing the power of our muscles, overcoming the limitations of our muscles.”

Now, that same infinite power of machines is “overcoming the limitations of our individual brains, and infinitely multiplying our mental power,” McAfee says.

Technology is a great equalizer, empowering people from all backgrounds and on all continents to improve their lives. “Economies don’t run on energy, they don’t run on capital, they don’t run on labor. Economies run on ideas. So the work of innovation, the power of coming up with new ideas, is some of the most powerful and fundamental work we can do as a society.”

Previously, the only people who had access to resources are those who may have graduated from elite institutions, “who are then put them into other elite institutions,” McAfee explains. “And then we would wait for the innovation.”

Now, technology makes it possible for innovation to come from all corners of the globe. Nobody cares where innovators grew up, or “where they went to school or what they look like,” he says. “All they care about is the quality of their work. The work of innovation is becoming more open, more inclusive, more transparent, and more merit based.”

McAfee believes, however, that automation is creating new opportunities unheard of in human history. “Yeah, the droids are taking our jobs,” he muses. “But focusing on that fact is missing the point entirely. We are freed up to do other things.”
 

ThaG

Sicc OG
Jun 30, 2005
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Of course, such a prediction is entirely dependent on the assumption that the energy to run the machinery and computer that will replace jobs will be available in the needed quantities.

And that's a demonstrably false assumption.

Which does not mean the jobs will remain in existence as the same declining availability of energy will also destroy the economy as we know it (it already is doing it)

P.S. I have noticed that TED talks contain a disturbingly high concentration of charlatans. That does not speak well of the whole enterprise.
 
May 7, 2013
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Of course, such a prediction is entirely dependent on the assumption that the energy to run the machinery and computer that will replace jobs will be available in the needed quantities.

And that's a demonstrably false assumption.

Which does not mean the jobs will remain in existence as the same declining availability of energy will also destroy the economy as we know it (it already is doing it)

P.S. I have noticed that TED talks contain a disturbingly high concentration of charlatans. That does not speak well of the whole enterprise.
You were speaking from the premise that there are not endless energy alternatives, which you were wrong.
 
May 13, 2002
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Need to start considering guaranteed income sooner rather than later. The people should reap the rewards of such technological advancements rather than punished for them. We should be working less hours to survive, not more and aa automated jobs become more and more, there's inevitably going to be a lot more unemployed.

We can look at Finland, already started a national basic income experiment starting in 2017, which is also to show it doesn't make people lazy, people are still working full time and getting the same amount of money from the state.

This is what we will have to do eventually, call it whatever you want socialism or whatever label you want to slap on it it is the only real solution going forward as the jobs dwindle. Eventually to the point where only very specialized jobs are required, even surgeons will not be immune as automated surgery is already here and eventually will out perform any human hand, eventually reaching the point where only the "machine" builders and technicians are in hot demand (which will eventually be replaced as well once AI reaches singularity and machines can create their own machines).

Will be an interesting time in mankind to be sure (with guaranteed income), where human minds can be utilized for so many creative things rather than wasting away 8-10 hours a day doing mindless tasks. The potential for even further, more rapid advancements is crazy to think about.
 
Mar 25, 2005
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THE LABOR LAWS AND MINIMUM WAGE GOING UP IN CALIFORNIA IS DRIVING US TO LOOK AT THIS TYPE OF TECHNOLOGY. I WORK IN AG AND LEAD A TEAM IN SUPPLY CHAIN SPECIALIZING IN APPLIED TECHNOLOGY. WE HAD ALWAYS BEEN FOCUSED ON GETTING FRUIT FROM FIELD TO MOUTH QUICKER AND HANDLED PROPERLY TO SAVE SHELF LIFE.WE ARE NOW TURNING THE FOCUS TO AUTOMATION AT OUR DISTRIBUTION CENTERS AND FIELD OPERATIONS....
 
May 7, 2013
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Automation is a great thing. Those foolish enough to not look to the future for themselves to guarantee financial success deserve to be left behind.... Universal Income is not the answer...California's debt to GDP ratio is 15.59%, while I agree with ending poverty and rebuilding the "middle class," giving away more freebies isn't the correct way to accomplish it, especially in a State that can't pay it's debt.
 
Apr 16, 2005
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No more cashiers, no more truck, train, etc drivers, automated factories, soldiers, don't even know what else the future holds. In Germany a dude opened a whorehouse with those expensive sex puppets. Very successful. Pretty soon kids are gonna go to vr schools...interesting times indeed.
 
Apr 25, 2002
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I share mixed feelings about automation. On one hand it’s going to eliminate jobs, but it’s inevitable. You can’t be a luddite. On the other hand it’s going to allow some workers to be more efficient, and focus on work they want to do. Most companies are already engaging in RPA and elimating medial tasks with bridges that coordinate information with systems and other devices like chat bots and better search criteria. That might reduce some jobs but also means most people in those jobs can focus on more strategic work. A lot of companies that have the cash to start these initiatives are providing parallel skill training to improve the job being impacted.

The people who are truly going to be screwed by this are people who don’t have an education or skill except for manual tasks. So you think of your drivers retail cashiers etc. There will still be people in those roles but a lot less. You’re going to need skilled cashiers who can operate computers running 8-12 registers at a time. Security guards making sure profits aren’t reduced from shrink. End user distribution employees in supply chains who deliver the product.

I don’t see universal income in the US happening for several generations. I think a more realistic goal in my lifetime is healthcare and better retirement. I think as well there’s an unfortunate reality most Americans are going to have to face: the machines are coming and you need to be skilled to not get hit by the wave that’s about to hit us. You can’t not acknowledge that. If you don’t figure it out on your own the government isn’t going to help you. That’s fucked up but it’s the truth, and people KNOW the situation so they need to take it upon themselves to make things happen.
 
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