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Robotics AI Technology

Humans Need Not Apply: a Video About the Robot Revolution and Jobs 304

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-away-or-i-will-replace-you-with-a-very-large-robot-that-breaks-things dept.
Paul Fernhout writes: This explanatory compilation video by CGP Grey called "Humans Need Not Apply" on structural unemployment caused by robotics and AI (and other automation) is like the imagery playing in my mind when I think about the topic based on previous videos and charts I've seen. I saw it first on the econfuture site by Martin Ford, author of The Lights in the Tunnel. It is being discussed on Reddit, and people there have started mentioning a "basic income" as one possible response. While I like the basic income idea, I also collect other approaches in an essay called Beyond A Jobless Recovery: A heterodox perspective on 21st century economics. Beyond a basic income for the exchange economy, those possible approaches include gift economy, subsistence production, planned economy, and more — including many unpleasant alternatives like expanding prisons or fighting wars as we are currently doing.

Marshall Brain's writings like Robotic Nation and Manna have inspired my own work. I made my own video version of the concept around 2010, as a parable called "The Richest Man in the World: A parable about structural unemployment and a basic income." (I also pulled together a lot of links to robot videos in 2009.) It's great to see more informative videos on this topic. CGP Grey's video is awesome in the way he puts it all together.

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Humans Need Not Apply: a Video About the Robot Revolution and Jobs

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 15, 2014 @12:24PM (#47678601)

    Robots increase productivity. We've had massive increases in productivity since the 70s. Yet people work more hours now than before all these productivity improvements. All the gains from the increased output has gone to the top.

    It's been time for a basic income for decades!

  • We're stuffed. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 15, 2014 @12:30PM (#47678643)

    The main issue with robots, is that they effectively replace human utility with a capital asset. Up until now capitalism has sort of worked because every human was born with a valuable asset that could not be owned or controlled. That is changing fast and our political system is not set up to handle this. It is very sad but capitalism only made it this far because it allowed individual self interest to slightly benefit everyone. This will change that equation and return us to a time where self-interest serves the needs of those who control the wealth.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 15, 2014 @12:34PM (#47678671)

    Those who still have utility value to the economy. In most cases either the very talented/creative or the rich. We are already seeing this in the way that large swathes of population have been effectively excluded from the economy since the recession, while highly skilled sectors are in huge shortage.

    Automation is allowing us to abandon people out of the economy with alarming speed.

  • by meta-monkey (321000) on Friday August 15, 2014 @12:37PM (#47678705) Journal

    For once that meme is actually on topic!

    I think something like basic income is inevitable. We have it now, it's called Section 8 and food stamps. And as joblessness increases those programs will steadily expand until, well fuck it, just give everybody enough money to buy basic food and housing and be done with it. There's no reason for anybody to go homeless or hungry in America. We pay farmers not to grow food and we have more empty foreclosed-on houses than we have homeless people. There's got to be a way to match that up.

    "But teh socialisms!!11!one!1!!" Well, the alternative is teh riotz!!!1!!

    The transition is going to be ugly but it's bound to happen. In the meantime, we computer programmer types will be fine until the singularity, and it'll still be quite awhile before robots can fix a busted water pipe so the trades can still provide a living. But transportation? Gone. Manufacturing? Gone. Knowledge work? Gone.

    The future will be awesome or terrible.

  • Whores. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hsthompson69 (1674722) on Friday August 15, 2014 @12:43PM (#47678757)

    No, really, whores. As bad as it might be to stick your pink bits into a complete stranger's body rather than some sex-bot, that'll pretty much be the last profession as well as the oldest.

    Now, one might imagine that automation eventually makes sex bots so cheap as to compete with the 20 dollar half and half, but simply on material costs alone I think you hit a constraint.

  • It was Automation (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fustakrakich (1673220) on Friday August 15, 2014 @12:55PM (#47678883) Journal

    I know [youtube.com]...

    Prices should have been going down all these years, but we let the financial markets drive the economy. It's like a rain forest canopy of money, all flowing over our heads with barely a trickle down

  • by sstamps (39313) on Friday August 15, 2014 @01:02PM (#47678933) Homepage

    As with many overly-optimistic/pessimistic navel-gazes, there are numerous factors which were excluded from consideration in the video.

    Beyond the simple fact that we're still quite far away from this post-human productivity apocalypse, considering the current state of the technology, the simple fact of the matter is that it will take a LOT of human physical and mental labor to bring it about. Even then, there will still be a need for humans to plan and make decisions, as well as deal with the exceptions that the machines still won't be able to cope with as yet.

    So, while the video may be an interesting take on the subject matter, and it is something that we /should/ be mindful of going forward, I do not believe it is quite the existential threat the video makes it out to be.

  • by Mr D from 63 (3395377) on Friday August 15, 2014 @01:02PM (#47678935)
    While I'd love the extra time off, reducing human employee's productivity & increasing their cost will only re-enforce the case for replacing them.
  • by lgw (121541) on Friday August 15, 2014 @01:41PM (#47679299) Journal

    Those who still have utility value to the economy. In most cases either the very talented/creative or the rich.

    With every industrial revolution new kinds of jobs come to exist. It won't just be engineers and creative geniuses with jobs. Robots can make things, and perform menial labor. They don't provide entertainment, and can't do any sort of work requiring any creativity.

    As "things and menial labor" become fully automated, they simply become a small part of a very large economy, an economy that has shifted farther up the hierarchy of needs. We'll all be employed still, helping one another solve our "first world problems".

    Don't like the way your apartment is decorated? You'll be able to afford to pay someone for that, since "things and menial labor" are so cheap. Confused by all your choices for wall screens and theater-quality sound systems, and don't know how to hook them up? You'll be able to afford to pay someone for that, since "things and menial labor" are so cheap. All the spa/beauty services that are luxuries today? You'll be able to afford to pay someone for that, since "things and menial labor" are so cheap.

    There's already a very broad array of non-menial services available to the rich. As with every previous tech revolution, stuff available only to the rich becomes available to everyone. A century or so ago automation didn't destroy the world, because everyone could suddenly afford shoes and tableware and chairs and all sorts of stuff that used to be luxuries. After this revolution we'll all be keeping each other busy providing non-menial services to one another, not as servants but peer-to-peer (much as the culture of Lyft/Uber is different from traditional Taxis, though that particular job's life is limited by coming automation).

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