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45% of U.S. Jobs Vulnerable To Automation 625

Posted by Soulskill
from the introvert-utopia dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A new report out of Oxford has found that the next 20 years will see 45% of America's workforce replaced by computerized automation. 'The authors believe this takeover will happen in two stages. First, computers will start replacing people in especially vulnerable fields like transportation/logistics, production labor, and administrative support. Jobs in services, sales, and construction may also be lost in this first stage. Then, the rate of replacement will slow down due to bottlenecks in harder-to-automate fields such engineering. This "technological plateau" will be followed by a second wave of computerization, dependent upon the development of good artificial intelligence. This could next put jobs in management, science and engineering, and the arts at risk.' 45% is a big number. Politicians have been yelling themselves hoarse over the jobs issue in this country for the past few years, and the current situation isn't anywhere near as bad. At what point will we start seeing legislation forbidding the automation of certain industries?"
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45% of U.S. Jobs Vulnerable To Automation

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  • by liamoohay (765499) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @11:41AM (#44849019) Journal
    My father, an early pioneer of automated teaching (and a teacher himself) once told me that computers would soon replace teachers and, he added, not long after that they would replace the students too.
    • by fyngyrz (762201) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @11:48AM (#44849075) Homepage Journal

      Yep. When AI arrives, very few jobs (other than things like ambassador to AI or positions in Luddite cults) are likely to require a human. Whether AI will see fit to participate in our job market is not intuitively obvious, though. Still, with AI in place, lower level robotics should be quite sophisticated.

      I've always thought that the current presumption that a job is required and inherently a good thing was an artifact of scarcity of labor. Remove the latter, and the former may well radically change.

      • by Nutria (679911)

        I've always thought that the current presumption that a job is required and inherently a good thing was an artifact of scarcity of labor. Remove the latter, and the former may well radically change.

        Change to what? That having a job is not a good thing?

        • by fyngyrz (762201)

          That's certainly one obvious possibility, yes. Or, it might be a good thing if you like that sort of thing, but in no way a requirement, any more than any other optional choice in life or lifestyle is. Or, it might be punishment. Or something else no one has thought of yet.

          If you can get everything you need in the material sense, you might prefer, for instance, to spend your time diving off Maui, enjoying fine dining, playing an instrument, etc., ad infinitum. Or, if you're sort of perverse, maybe you'd lik

          • by Psiren (6145) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @12:39PM (#44849497)

            Sounds like you're describing Iain M. Banks' post-scarcity Culture (I'm sure there are other sci-fi examples). That can't really happen until we have an abundance of energy and the ability to manipulate matter to create any material goods we may require. I don't see that happening for another millennia or so, assuming we last that long.

            • by Lennie (16154)

              Well, supposedly solar power development is on a similar curve like Moore's law (I believe it's 30% per yaar).

              Some say this will make solar rediculously cheap in 2020:

              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKL8wJunKA0 [youtube.com]

              So that would solve your energy problem, it also helps solve water and food problems.

            • by ron_ivi (607351) <sdotno AT cheapcomplexdevices DOT com> on Saturday September 14, 2013 @03:46PM (#44850891)

              to create any material goods we may require.

              "Require" is the key word -- and pretty much since the invention of the plow and the tractor, we've been able to create whatever's really absolutely "required".

              That starving people still exist is that societies really don't care that people starve (how many days of the Iraq war == the cost to feed all the poor in the world?); and would rather invest in increasing the wealth of their own powerful people - at the expense of unneeded people starving.

              That will get worse, rather than better, as more people join the unneeded group.

          • by OrangeTide (124937) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @12:46PM (#44849557) Homepage Journal

            How will I pay for my material things? Why would someone invest money into building and operate a factory of robots only to give away free snorkles and swimfins?

            You imply some kind of utopia on the horizon, but I fail to see a path leading there.

            • by modmans2ndcoming (929661) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @12:53PM (#44849611)

              The future is Communism! You let AI run the economy and the government commissions the investment in the building of the production plants, then people just get their stuff from the corner store using their pre-determined rations based on the AI computations.

              you righties think being "slaves" to "socialists" like Obama is bad...wait until the first real AI production plant reduces labor costs to nothing and we see a run-away train toward this future where we are dependent on automated production to survive. you either follow the law or die of starvation because you have forgotten how to take care of yourself.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by sjames (1099)

              Same reason someone would sit down and write a Unix clone and then give it away?

            • by Nadaka (224565) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @02:35PM (#44850387)

              No.

              You wouldn't be giving away free snorkels and swim fins.

              You would be selling them, and a large portion of your profit would be taxed.

              Those taxes (along with the taxes on all over profit) would pay for each citizens basic minimum income.

              The majority of that basic minimum income would pay for things like rent, food, utilities and transportation.

              As a luxury goods producer, you won't be getting much of that back.

              However, the people who do the remaining 55% of work will still be buying luxury goods like swim fins and snorkels. And since that 55% of work will likely be spread over more than 55% of the population, they will have more time to actually use those swim fins and snorkels in their free time, driving your profits higher.

              This maintains a capitalist system even in the face of recognizing survival as a basic human right and allowing the government to actually defend that right.

          • by Nutria (679911)

            you might prefer, for instance, to spend your time diving off Maui, enjoying fine dining, playing an instrument, etc., ad infinitum.

            Joe Budweiser and Abdul Colt 45 aren't going to spend time educating themselves for the sake of education, diving off Maui, enjoying fine dining, playing an instrument, etc., ad infinitum.

            They'll just do more drugs (the crack wave has past and meth seems to be receding; what's next? another heroin revival?), be destructive and drive the country into a government-dependent dystopian nightmare, which is pretty much already happening.

            (Just because there's no God or Devil, it doesn't mean that the St. Jerome wa

            • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @01:44PM (#44850023) Journal
              Sounds like the Brave New World solution is required. Stop demonising drugs, and make freely available drugs that give a sense of euphoria and lethargy. If people don't want to do anything with their lives other than take drugs, then let them get on with it in a non-destructive (to people other than themselves) way and remove themselves painlessly from the gene pool.
            • by dryeo (100693)

              Heroin is fairly harmless (causes constipation) so what would be the problem with having really cheap, clean heroin available? The main problem is the puritan attitude that drugs are bad and being addicted is really bad unless it's coffee or such.

        • by xelah (176252) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @12:47PM (#44849567)

          Of course it's not a good thing! Look around you at how many things there are worth doing with your life. Even if the basic dreary parts of production could be automated, there's no shortage of stuff out there to engage in - from the social, family and exploratory (travel the world, anyone?) to the intellectual (learning, research and the arts).

          The problem with it is not that it's physically impossible for everyone to live a happy life that way, but that it's socially and economically impossible. The way our society and economy works just can't cope with distributing that output well in those circumstances. At the moment the need for labour acts as a way to force that distribution, but imagine if controlling capital (the automated machines) were the only way to receive anything above a minimum politically acceptable income.

          A good example are the oil rich economies. There's enough oil money in some gulf states that no citizen really needs to do much useful work...but distribution of consumption becomes about political power and your position in society.

          To deal with it well we'd need a way to distribute ownership of the robotics properly - and keep it distributed properly - without destroying the incentives every economy needs to generate to organize it's production and consumption effectively. That's hard.

        • by RabidReindeer (2625839) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @01:23PM (#44849853)

          I've always thought that the current presumption that a job is required and inherently a good thing was an artifact of scarcity of labor. Remove the latter, and the former may well radically change.

          Change to what? That having a job is not a good thing?

          There are two reasons why people have jobs

          1. To obtain the goods and services that make life at least sustainable, and preferably enjoyable.

          2. To satisfy the inherent human need to feel valued.

          We have been reducing the effort required for item #1 at an accelerating rate for centuries. That's the mirror side of productivity.

          For most people, item #2 has been their job simply because they needed to fulfil item#1 and historically people without jobs are not valued. To be valued, you must either exert significant physical exertion or be capable of showing a waiver in the form of a large paycheck.

          As we approach the point where full-time work is no longer required to satisfy item #1, our first response has been to jettison enough people to keep the remaining workers fully-occupied, and along with that, instill enough fear into them that they have to work even harder/longer. But we are by all accounts reaching a tipping point where the number of unemployed and underemployed are rising to levels that cannot ignored and the number of people who truly need to be employed is shrinking.

          We have not yet come up with suitable alternatives for item #2. That, I think, is the real challenge. When George Jetson really can work grueling 3-hour workdays and still be considered as a valued member of society.

      • by pipatron (966506) <pipatron@gmail.com> on Saturday September 14, 2013 @11:56AM (#44849161) Homepage

        The problem right now is that the current political mantra thinks that jobs are the most important thing, and if you don't have a job you're worthless and a problem that must be taken care of. It will be a painful period for jobless and workers alike until this discrepancy between current reality and ancient politics is gone.

        • by peragrin (659227) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @12:07PM (#44849235)

          What would people do without jobs?

          A small percentage would improve themselves by learning new things exploring new concepts, etc. The majority however would do nothing but become restless, and that would lead slowly to fighting each other. Humans need to do something that keeps there minds and bodies occupied.

          However robots can't do engineering. Robots can't think. AI is a pipe dream for at least the next century. We don't really understand how our own minds work. Computers are binary. Humans brains are at least trinary. Until a computer can do maybe then true ai is impossible.

          • by Wansu (846)

              What would people do without jobs?

            They would find something to do. Perhaps it would be something counterproductive or criminal but they would find something to do.

              The majority however would do nothing but become restless, and that would lead slowly to fighting each other.

            Fighting each other is a job of sorts and I'm so not sure that the process leading to people fighting each other would be all that slow.

            • by sjames (1099)

              It's simple, most of them can veg out watching a few of them fighting. Depending on the style we can call it 'boxing' or 'wrestling'. perhaps a few might be called 'extreme'

          • by DarkTempes (822722) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @12:26PM (#44849403)
            Yes, because all of the retired people in the world are always so busy murdering each other.

            It's truly tragic.
            • by OrangeTide (124937) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @12:48PM (#44849581) Homepage Journal

              They're too old and tired to becom restless and troublesome. They just want to see their grandkids and have dinner at four in the afternoon.

            • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @01:54PM (#44850089)

              What would people do without jobs?

              A small percentage would improve themselves by learning new things exploring new concepts, etc. The majority however would do nothing but become restless, and that would lead slowly to fighting each other. Humans need to do something that keeps there minds and bodies occupied.

              Yes, because all of the retired people in the world are always so busy murdering each other.

              Exactly. Or, for even a better example... before the feminist movement put most women in the workforce in the past 30-40 years, a lot of women tended to not "have jobs." Individual salaries were often high enough for families to be supported by one (typically male) income.

              I don't recall reports of hoards of homemaker housewives fighting in the streets. Does anyone?

              Women had more time for their families, more time for their homes, etc. I recall visiting my grandparents when I was a kid: the house was always immaculately kept, food was always prepared from scratch every day, etc.

              I'm not saying everyone would enjoy obsessing over such things today: many people today view cooking and cleaning as chores, rather than a point of pride. To each his/her own. Other women I knew in previous generations just tended to watch soap operas all day, particularly once the kids were grown.

              There are plenty of things one can find to fill the hours of the day, if you have a good attitude about it. If you don't like working around your home, go read some books. Visit a museum. Take up art or music. Join a social club. Surf the internet, or even watch TV.

              The problem isn't that humans can't fill that time, or even don't have useful activities that could fill that time. Rather, the past half-century or so has trained us to think of most of the common everyday activities of previous generations as "chores," rather than simply "everyday life."

              I'd love to be able to spend more time at home experimenting with cooking and baking, doing yardwork and gardening around the house, growing my own food and preserving/fermenting/canning it, doing various upkeep and projects around the house (painting, repointing the brickwork, random home maintenance), perhaps even building furniture or doing some of my own remodeling. There are some "chores" I don't particularly look forward to (like washing dishes), but many others are incredibly satisfying when you get to say, "I made this" or "I did that."

              I think back to most of the people in my grandparents' generation that I knew, and they took a similar pride in what they did around their homes. Today, you use the microwave instead of the stove, get the crappy store-bought pastry instead of baking your own with real ingredients, buy the frozen dinner and the cans instead of cooking fresh food and canning your own produce. You just buy the leaf blower instead of the rake, the rototiller instead of the spade, the weed wacker instead of the hand edger. And then after you finish all your yardwork in 1/4 of the time, you spend 45 minutes working out or jogging or whatever, when you could have already had your work-out doing the yardwork in the fresh air.

              I feel a sense of accomplishment when I do my own tasks for my own family or around my own home. Lots of people in previous generations did too. In fact, go back a century or a little more, and most people were farmers: their only "job" was growing food to keep themselves and their own families alive. They didn't need external "work" to make their lives interesting enough so that they weren't sitting around idle and getting into random brawls.

              I'm NOT a luddite or hopeless nostalgic person arguing for a return to an agrarian world or something, where lifespans were a lot shorter, life was a lot harder, and crime rates were admittedly higher.

              I AM saying that there are a lot of everyday things people could take pleasure in doing, while simultaneously making their lives better (e.g., cooking your

          • by TheSpoom (715771) <slashdot@@@uberm00...net> on Saturday September 14, 2013 @12:41PM (#44849523) Homepage Journal

            Humans brains are at least trinary.

            Citation please, and exactly how would "not being trinary" prevent effective AI?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Myu (823582)

            However robots can't do engineering. Robots can't think. AI is a pipe dream for at least the next century. We don't really understand how our own minds work. Computers are binary. Humans brains are at least trinary. Until a computer can do maybe then true ai is impossible.

            Both Philosophically and Neuropsychologically, the idea that the mind is foundationally more complicated than some kind of Turing machine network is very much in dispute. We're getting loads done by treating the human mind mechanically and exploring its heuristics and biases or its structures and protocols in a mathematically classical background framework. The human brain is a massively complex device, and has techniques for understanding that there are some vaguenesses and gaps in the way we semanticall

          • by OrangeTide (124937) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @12:47PM (#44849569) Homepage Journal

            However robots can't do engineering. Robots can't think.

            s/robots/most humans/

          • by houghi (78078) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @12:54PM (#44849621)

            What would people do without jobs?

            Instead of having one person doing a 75 hour job and 2 people doing nothing, you could have 3 people doing 25 hour jobs. That way they still contribute AND have lots of time with friends and family and do whatever they desire.

            In an ideal world, the way to pay this is by giving the money that is saved by giving the job to automation to the people who were doing the job in the first place.

            However in the real world, we will have one person doing a 75 hour job and have no life and 2 people have nothing and ALSO have no life, just so the person owning it all get a little bit richer.

            • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @02:21PM (#44850295)

              Instead of having one person doing a 75 hour job and 2 people doing nothing, you could have 3 people doing 25 hour jobs. That way they still contribute AND have lots of time with friends and family and do whatever they desire.

              Exactly. According to productivity stats, we should already be in a place where people are working 25-hour weeks or less, rather than 40-hour weeks, assuming constant production over the past half-century or so. Instead, though worker productivity keeps rising like crazy, wages are static or rise very slowly. People actually end up working longer hours to keep up with increased social pressures to have more consumer products that are now "essential" (supposedly) for everyday life.

              However in the real world, we will have one person doing a 75 hour job and have no life and 2 people have nothing and ALSO have no life, just so the person owning it all get a little bit richer.

              Yes, the competitive business work ethic ends up working against everyone. We reward the mid-level executive who's willing to give up his family and work 80 hours every week to get ahead. The top-level executives in companies end up being filled with people who think that the only employees with any worth are people with that sort of dedication.

              Once the mid-level guy gets to be a real executive, he might be able to afford a little more flexibility in his time. But everyone below him obviously isn't worth as much and should be willing to work 80 hours (or at least produce enough in a shorter time to qualify for working "that hard").

              It ends up in a spiral where everyone feels like you can't get ahead unless you're willing to sacrifice the rest of your life to your job -- all because of a small percentage of competitive alpha males who see the only possible achievement in status, power, and money.

              But this is cultural. Workers in the U.S., for example, have to deal with such expectations at most companies. There's never any expectation that increased productivity might lead to work-weeks with fewer than 40 hours or more vacation time or whatever. And even if it were offered, many workers would simply prefer a raise.

              In many countries in Europe, though, taking a vacation is not viewed as an unmanly waste of time when you should be working harder and getting ahead at your job. Take a look around Germany or Italy or France in late July and early August, for example. Almost everyone seems to be on a holiday. It's not uncommon for many people to take an entire month off in the summer. Total vacation time each year is often double or triple what a normal worker has in the U.S.

              And, of course, there are lots of studies that show this is actually a good thing for workers. Vacations tend to give a psychological boost that can actually increase worker productivity. Shorten the arbitrary 40-hour work-week a little, and you might even see a productivity gain.

              In sum -- if we get rid of the alpha-male you're-not-committed-unless-you-never-see-your-family craziness, and actually started decreasing expected hours per week at work when productivity increased, we'd probably end up with happier people and just as much stuff. But executives and investors wouldn't get quite as rich, so it probably won't happen anytime soon....

          • by sustik (90111) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @01:19PM (#44849821)

            Most people around me suffer from not having enough time to spend it with their family or on vacation or persuing arts or be politically active etc. The latter is actually a serious problem. There are people who tell me they do not vote because they do not know who to vote for because they have no time to keep up with politics. And when they say that they do not mean the 1 minute sound bites from TV etc. but instead reading research papers and in-depth analysis; maybe a whole book about issues like education, poverty, competition, issues of governence or philoshophy.

            Instead people spend time commuting to a job and overall more than *half* of their time awake time on a job. If you are an artist or researcher this may well be what you want to do, but I doubt this is the case for most.

            • by danomac (1032160)

              I live five minutes from work and I spend more than half my awake hours at the job. When you only have 16 hours of awake time and an 8 hour-a-day job, it's hard to not be under half.

              I know of some people with 8 hour-a-day jobs and they spend 2.5 hours commuting, they spend at least 65% of their awake time at the job or commuting there.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Bullshit. Current political public relations says that jobs are the most important thing. The ACTUAL poltician doesn't give a shit about jobs because their corporate masters don't give a shit about jobs.

          I think Wisconsin is a great example of this. The "leader" of that state talks about bringing jobs to the state but it is just talk. The real agenda is to set up an environment where his corporate masters owe nothing to society or the country.

          The vast majority of our politicians care NOTHING about if the

        • by fyngyrz (762201)

          The *current* reality is that if the economy doesn't roll, then the government can't roll either, and then the jobless become a lot more of a problem than they are now.

          Only in the context where scarcity has been eliminated by a force other than constant human effort does the possibility arise for a significantly jobless population stand as a reasonable condition.

          • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @12:28PM (#44849415)

            The economy is doing fine. GNP has been growing at a 2% rate for the past 5 years.

            The problem is that this doesn't require the entire working age population to have jobs, only 60% or so.

            In 10 years it may be 50%.

            The result of this process is continual concentration of wealth. Recent published statistics show 95% of the economic growth in the past 3 year was garnered by the top 1% of the population.

            The idea that everyone needs to have a full time job is just not practical any more. The concentration of wealth at the top we have is a threat to democracy.

            It seems to me we are at a real watershed.

            • Recent published statistics show 95% of the economic growth in the past 3 year was garnered by the top 1% of the population

              And roughly 1/4 of that went to the top 1% of the top 1%.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by LordLimecat (1103839)

        Quick, break all the spinning frames and power looms before they steal our jobs!

        Except that never happens. New jobs are created; someone has to innovate, someone has to maintain.

        • "never"

          Never?

          "someone has to innovate"

          Has to?

          You sound religious.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Quick, break all the spinning frames and power looms before they steal our jobs!

          Ah yes, 19th century dumb machines are equivalent to 21st century AI robots.

          Back in the 19th century, automation improved worker productivity. Today, automation replaces workers.

          BIG difference.

          Except that never happens.

          Actually, it has. The labor numbers prove it.

          There's no stopping it - and we shouldn't .

          But what we REALLY need to do, is examine how to deal with it because what IS CURRENTLY happening is we creating an ever increasing class of jobless.

          Jobless people have a bad habit of partaking in social upheaval. And it usually

        • by Livius (318358)

          Except that never happens.

          That's never happened yet.

          There is no guarantee that the next time won't be different.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      My father, an early pioneer of automated teaching (and a teacher himself) once told me that computers would soon replace teachers and, he added, not long after that they would replace the students too.

      Aren't books suppose to replace the teacher (aka, "wise man") too?

      When jobs become unnecessary, perhaps that will be when we will need to find some better economic system than capitalism. Capital will be obsolete, hence capitalism will be useless.

      A lot of science fiction deals with this scenario. People work to keep busy, not because they need to work. Some people today already do that.

      captcha: DEPOSED

    • Interesting comment; when Edison invented a type of Phonograph,(google it), he said virtually the same thing.
  • oblig (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Velex (120469) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @11:42AM (#44849025) Journal
    • Re:oblig (Score:4, Insightful)

      by LordLimecat (1103839) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @12:16PM (#44849313)

      The author of that makes some amazingly bad mistakes, like assuming that progress means people lose work (see the luddites, or any transformative technology), or that people would blithely accept being micromanaged (they wont), or that we have no economy other than "making stuff". He also completely discounts human nature.

      If the future is a dystopia, its not gonna be because of some marvelous new technology.

    • by sayfawa (1099071)
      Indeed. People are always talking about job loss, like it's some terrible thing when, if were were dong this correctly, we should be happy. Who doesn't like less work? But if we keep this attitude that if you don't work then you don't eat, we'll go down the same road as in Manna.
  • The jobs of the future may be done by robots, but they'll need people to build and maintain those robots.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYu1qW8Dctk [youtube.com]

    • The jobs of the future may be done by robots, but they'll need people to build and maintain those robots.

      Unlikely, except as an interim stage. Even without AI, you can have general assembly and repair robots that are competent to build and repair, respectively, the same models as they are, as well as other models. With AI, all need for people in manufacture and repair is gone, and further, the robots can be built to be a lot more effective -- more arms, special effectors, built-in diagnostic tools, etc.

      We'

    • Yup and the ratio will be 1 new job to 100 jobs replaced by robots... then 1 new job to 1000 jobs replaced by robots.

      Robot designers will require a certain degree of creativity but robot repair (especially of modular design) is highly automatizable.

      As for building then. I think you need to reconsider that. Apple's new factory to build iPhones is going to have almost no human employs and Foxxcon intends to replace a million humans with robots. They are currently about 10% along the way.

  • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @11:49AM (#44849081) Homepage Journal

    I think this isn't actually a troll... but a REAL posit...

    The first jobs to go when there are jobs automatable by real AI should be legislatures.

    Let a real intelegence that can't be biased by the current bullshit lobbying system write laws balanced for the common good of EVERYONE and reduce legislatures to one or two people per state as that can vote up or down.

    Obviously lots of holes in that half baked idea, but our major societal problem in the U.S. is a lack of real leadership. If you make the leadership job simpler and not affected by the plauge of the lobbyist then maybe we can have a society that works for everyone and not just the select few that can PAY for their free speech.

    • by bondsbw (888959)

      You need humans to legislate what is best for humans.

      But, I think computerized systems could eventually help in the area of finding discrepancies and ambiguities in the law. And then, in judging the law.

      • Well you notice the human isn't left out. What they CAN'T do is ammend the ideas, and that's key. I think if you could get rid of the human WRITING the law (not deciding what eventually is made law) it would be a vast improvement.

    • Let a real intelegence that can't be biased by the current bullshit lobbying system write laws balanced for the common good of EVERYONE

      You do understand that the system you propose will be defined and limited by the values of its programmers? That the geek carries his own load of bullshit into politics?

      • by AK Marc (707885)
        Yeah, things like I'm a libertarian for Head Start. But most libertarians and conservatives are against it. How does that work? The smallest government possible includes Head Start. Head Start saves more money (on other "essential" services, like prisons) than it costs. So anyone who wants small government and thinks that prisons are an essential service of government should be for programs like Head Start.

        So, if the system coded for best efficiencies (libertarian style), head start would be included.
  • by tgeek (941867)

    At what point will we start seeing legislation forbidding the automation of certain industries?

    The day we can automatic politics . . .

    • When the hated unions have real power and money. Labor money in congress is a tiny percentage of the lobbying pie, and since Citzens United the most money wins unless a HUGE number of people are mobilized. This is what happened with SOPA and, even then, they have to have certain huge multinationals on their side before they were even heard.

  • On that note, Slashdot will not longer be taking submissions for stories or allow for user comments. Instead, machine learning bots will scan the web for content and natural language recognition bots will make witty comments and then debate them endlessly.

  • will produce goods and services to the majority of people who will be removed from the workforce by robots.

    Anything wrong with that?
  • It's coming. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 14, 2013 @12:08PM (#44849245)

    Unfortunately we've got the classic "boy who cried wolf" scenario. When machines were replacing people in the 50s it was common to think everyone would be replaced. It didn't happen, because the machines replaced some people but still needed someone to run the machine. However, with advances in robotics we're going to start seeing the machine operators replaced. I expect within 10 years to see a fully automated car assembly line. So what happens to those people? Nothing, I guess. Those jobs won't come back and there won't be any jobs to replace them. We could just belittle them as "buggy whip makers" and say, "get educated so a robot can't replace you." But 1) there are only so many jobs for the educated, and 2) soon a lot of those jobs will be replaced too.

    I'm always amazed by people who say, "get educated and you'll get a job" then turn around and complain, "why can't I find a job I've got a degree and experience!" I don't get how they square saying if some uneducated guy gets a degree he'll magically get a job. There's almost a million auto workers in the US. They lose their jobs then get an education. Do we need a million more teachers? A million more lawyers? A million more programmers? The job market is tight so where are these million educated workers going to go? "Get educated and you'll get a job" is such an easy answer when you don't think about it.

    I was an attorney but then decided to do something else (great choice by the way). I expect a lot of mundane legal work to be automated within 10-15 years. First you'll see specialized paralegals do the work then second you'll see Google or LEXIS or West develop an automated system for them to use. Third you'll see that system be allowed for private use for a limited set of issues. What happens to those junior associates that used to do those cases? Do they all become partners? All start their own firms? No, they'll be out of a job. There isn't an infinite amount of jobs for law partners or law firms. We aren't in a situation like the industrial revolution or the 50s where machines helped streamline a process. Technology has advanced far enough to replace whole segments of work and render the worker unnecessary.

    It's neither a good nor bad thing it just is. But we can't act like we've been here before. This isn't the Industrial Revolution Redux, it's the automation revolution. We've got to deal with it one way or another, and just saying "get another job" isn't going to work this time. It's taken more than 100 years, but the warning of "these jobs are gone and never coming back" is finally going to occur.

  • by jacobsm (661831) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @12:11PM (#44849263)

    As soon as they automate politics. That's when politicians will ban it.

  • Using it wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

    by brxndxn (461473) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @12:11PM (#44849265)

    I absolutely hate how people talk about the negatives of automation like somehow things are better when humans did all the menial tasks. I remember an old Russian video where a worker was winding a ball of yarn by hand. That is degrading. What is even more degrading is paying a bunch of foreign people a lot less to do manual (and meaningless) tasks to make cheap products and then ship them across the world. Even further degrading is the layers of bullshit we have decided to surround ourselves with in other professions that waste the hours in our days.

    The problem is not that 'there will be fewer jobs.' The problem is not that 'there are not enough resources.' The problem is that the jobs and the resources are all allocated wrong. We could (at least in America) have 20-30 hour work weeks, plenty of family time, decent pay, and a low unemployment rate.. if a certain select few did not make ALL the money and take control of ALL the resources.

    I am an automation programmer. I work to automate any task I can possibly automate. I do not feel bad about it. Any automation I create has to be maintained.

    As far as legislation forbidding the automation of certain industries.. Since the US Government fucks up everything it touches, I believe it will work to create laws to forbid the jobs that should be automated and laws to automate the jobs that should be manual. For example, the NSA said it will fire 90% of sysadmins and replace them with automation. Anyone in IT knows that idea is 100% stupid. Another example is the rise of red light cameras everywhere. As subjective as it is to enforce the law, our wonderful government has decided to make it legal for robots to do that for us. And, since the US military is having trouble finding new hires that have zero morality, they are working to automate drone warfare also. Great..

    So, anyway, what I mean to say is.. Automation itself is not bad. It's the way we're using it that will be bad. Instead of using it to free ourselves, we are using it to enslave ourselves.

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)

      The problem is that the jobs and the resources are all allocated wrong. We could (at least in America) have 20-30 hour work weeks, plenty of family time, decent pay, and a low unemployment rate.. if a certain select few did not make ALL the money and take control of ALL the resources.

      Hear, hear! Before dismissing it as partisan politics and easy wealthy-bashing, think about it for a second: generalized automation means that there won't be enough work for everyone. It either means unemployement for most people or it means shorter work weeks. Free market does not care to choose between these two alternative, the choice will only come from politics and from rules we make.

      the US Government fucks up everything it touches

      This is really a problem that US citizens need to solve quickly. Free market and automation won't lead to a techno-utop

      • by brxndxn (461473)

        I disagree with you about Snowden.. Snowden has proved that he was the only one trustworthy enough with that kind of information.

  • Don't we do all of this for survival purposes? If the development of such technology begins to hurt our ability to survive, what's the point? Who would develop the tech? Who would buy it? And ultimately, what government would allow it to get to that point?

    I think one of two possibilities are possible. We will either get to the point the tech will find some equilibrium with the human economy, or we will get to the point that the government (especially if it remains a representative one) will step in and prev

  • by Chalnoth (1334923) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @12:13PM (#44849277)

    The thing is, automation makes peoples' lives easier. It means that less work has to be performed to get the same results.

    A sensible response to the promise of automation is not to be a luddite and ban the practice, but to ensure the benefits of automation are widely-distributed. In short, the answer is to prevent the concentration of wealth (a problem we need to focus on right now whether or not the fears of automation are realized).

  • At what point will we start seeing legislation forbidding the automation of certain industries?

    Never.

    If governments had any interest whatsoever in protecting jobs there have been ample opportunities to stem the tide of automation over the last forty years, and they have done absolutely nothing. The ruins of Detroit and the death of unskilled on reasonable wages should demonstrate that point.

    I say this all the time, but we have to start thinking about providing a reasonable standard of living to people who are automated out of a job. The situation as it stands is unacceptable, so what good is legislat

  • we need will need health care for all that is not tied to jobs if 45% of jobs will go a way and or we move to a systems where people only work about 20 hours a week.

  • What would the 3 Laws of Robotics [wikipedia.org] look like in actual practice?

    The 45% that will lose their jobs? Will be the ones that need a job.
  • At least until we get strong AI, my job programming computers is safe.

  • what about banning OT (other then in few limited cases) this will me salary pay may have to pay ot or have some like an 100K+ COL level before it can be used to work some over the OT level. also have an forced added pay level when some at 100K+col needs to work over 80 hours an week.

    Let's also move the OT start level to 32 hours a week with OT OK to 40Hours and then after 40 start to limit it.

  • by macbeth66 (204889) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @12:27PM (#44849411)

    Please, can't someone develop AI managers, politicians and lawyers?

    I, for one, would welcome our robotic overlords. If they just got rid of those first.

  • Framing Problem (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gznork26 (1195943) <gznork26&gmail,com> on Saturday September 14, 2013 @12:39PM (#44849495) Homepage

    This entire discussion is based on a premise that is no longer true. Once upon a time, wealth was created solely by the performance of labor, the users of the means of production, by people, under the control of capital, the owners of the means of production. But now, wealth is mostly created by capital, either by manipulating the rules of society and of the economy, which is what banks and other financial institutions do, or by the performance of labor by automation. The relationship between the human laborer and the creation of wealth no longer matches the economic model in which people can pay for their living expenses solely through the wages paid to them for that labor.

    The solutions that are being offered by governments in the thrall of capital are inappropriate to the reality in which people now live. Wealth derived without the participation of labor is being hoarded by capital. This is the core of the problem. Until and unless that wealth is used to enable people to purchase the products created without their participation, this situation cannot be resolved.

    Capital has used the for-profit banking system to control governments and people to their own benefit. Debt money loaded to nations at compounded interest can never pay that debt, because the value of the interest demanded was never introduced into the economy. It's a broken system. Technical people who understand logic ought to be able to work through the math of this, and the network of interactions, to satisfy themselves that this is so. We should also be able to design a better system, rather than argue over how to kludge a fix that can only hide the real problem for a short time.

  • by crizh (257304) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @12:48PM (#44849575) Homepage

    Or to translate into common sense.

    US economy can get 45% larger using automation.

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