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Robotics Businesses United States

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

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 Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @01:25PM (#44849871)

    This has been done before to an extent allowed by the system, for example in Ancient Rome. In Rome, slaves did most of the work, while citizenry were mostly guaranteed livelyhood. Technology levels however were not high enough to support the system, and Rome eventually collapsed after hundreds of years of being one of the most defining and powerful societies in the world.

    In fact, Ancient Rome offers a very good view of how we'll likely develop. Simply replace "slave" with "automation and go read something short like this: []

    Or actually study the subject in depth for more understanding on what happens to society when a large amount of people is left without work prospects (as plebeians did in Rome after the rise of slave-based economy). What happened is exactly what is described above - a guarantee for basic needs in life and entertainment to keep the masses pleased.

  • 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....

Man is an animal that makes bargains: no other animal does this-- no dog exchanges bones with another. -- Adam Smith