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Robots Will Eliminate 6% of All US Jobs By 2021, Says Report (theguardian.com) 400

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: By 2021, robots will have eliminated 6% of all jobs in the U.S., starting with customer service representatives and eventually truck and taxi drivers. That's just one cheery takeaway from a report released by market research company Forrester this week. These robots, or intelligent agents, represent a set of AI-powered systems that can understand human behavior and make decisions on our behalf. Current technologies in this field include virtual assistants like Alexa, Cortana, Siri and Google Now as well as chatbots and automated robotic systems. For now, they are quite simple, but over the next five years they will become much better at making decisions on our behalf in more complex scenarios, which will enable mass adoption of breakthroughs like self-driving cars. The Inevitable Robot Uprising has already started, with at least 45% of U.S. online adults saying they use at least one of the aforementioned digital concierges. Intelligent agents can access calendars, email accounts, browsing history, playlists, purchases and media viewing history to create a detailed view of any given individual. With this knowledge, virtual agents can provide highly customized assistance, which is valuable to shops or banks trying to deliver better customer service. The report predicts there will be a net loss of 7% of U.S. jobs by 2025 -- 16% of U.S. jobs will be replaced, while the equivalent of 9% jobs will be created. The report forecasts 8.9 million new jobs in the U.S. by 2025, some of which include robot monitoring professionals, data scientists, automation specialists, and content curators.
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Robots Will Eliminate 6% of All US Jobs By 2021, Says Report

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    We'll all look like the lazy fucks stuck on the spaceship in WALL-E.

    • by ranton ( 36917 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2016 @05:40AM (#52884543)

      We'll all look like the lazy fucks stuck on the spaceship in WALL-E.

      Considering 80% of jobs are either sedentary or require light activity [nytimes.com], it's at least likely that people would get in better shape on average if everyone becomes unemployed. I was in great shape when I had the time to spend 15-20 hours per week working out or playing sports, but now that I have a job with real responsibilities I've gained a lot of weight. I was unemployed for about six months during the last recession and I lost 40 pounds. It only took a couple years of working to put it back on.

      • by Mr0bvious ( 968303 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2016 @06:36AM (#52884731)

        The US labour force will increase by 6% and provides increased GDP without the extra mouths to feed, infrastructure to support (roads, water, sewage), people to house, etc.

        There's some value in that.

        • by GrumpySteen ( 1250194 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2016 @07:23AM (#52884889)

          That's not how unemployment works. Unemployed people do not increase your GDP and replacing 20 million people with automated systems does not add 20 million jobs for the newly unemployed people to take.

          • Labour get redistributed.

            Has any technology ever had any long term unemployment increasing effect throughout human history? I've heard and read about the fears of human unemployment crisis due to X tech, but I'm yet to see any hard evidence of it in the real world.

            If machines are doing ALL the jobs, then other than for social/psychological reasons I can't see why unemployment is an issue, we'll have food thanks to "robots".

            • by ranton ( 36917 )

              Has any technology ever had any long term unemployment increasing effect throughout human history?

              Yes, just not with humans yet. Horses as a species had weathered many technological advances without losing value in the economy. But past history was irrelevant once technology finally reached the point where horses were mostly not needed. It took 35 years for their population to drop from about 21.5 million to 6 million in the US.

              The situation of horses in the early 1900's and humans today is not a perfect comparison, but then again comparing future human employment amidst technological change with past h

      • You are not typical.
    • by Big Hairy Ian ( 1155547 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2016 @05:52AM (#52884579)
      Just wait for the robots to unionize then there'll be 6 times as many jobs for humans as robots refuse to do degrading jobs that violate their inhuman rights
    • by johannesg ( 664142 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2016 @06:35AM (#52884721)

      Those people are being taken care of. What makes you believe anyone will be taking care of you? The unwanted and undesired live like rats. Visit any place in the third world to see the truth of that. You're future isn't WALL-E, it's this: https://d.fastcompany.net/mult... [fastcompany.net]

      If you want to avoid that, maybe it's time to start manufacturing stuff at home again, instead of farming all of that work out to China.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I think robots replace jobs for less skilled labor. Leaving them with less options for alternative jobs. Many times getting new jobs with less incomes. The past recession has taught us that. A participation rate at historic lows, and a U6 number which is people under employed or eligible workers who have stopped looking.
    Is still at anemic highs. Unless we can improve overall educational achievements and skills for these alternative jobs. Many underachievers or low skill people will begin to see less and les

    • by Daemonik ( 171801 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2016 @05:42AM (#52884549) Homepage

      You're living in a priviliged bubble where you think because your job requires some skill it can't be automated. Lawyers and paralegals used to think that before advanced algorithms started replacing them too.

      Truth is there are very few jobs that can't be automated to at least reduce the requirement for most current employees. Eventually the only people who will be able to get into a field will be the top top performers, the superstars.

      This isn't about education either. This is about profit. Current business practices emphasis maximized profit over human presence and with the demand for higher wages to match the cost of living while robotics continue to drop in price, it's inevitable that humans will be replaced (Most 'job creators' have an antagonistic view towards labor anyway). No amount of education will stop this. There will, for a time, be refuge in jobs like repairing the various robots. Google cars won't repair themselves after all. But even that can and will be automated in time.

    • by ranton ( 36917 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2016 @05:47AM (#52884563)

      I think robots replace jobs for less skilled labor.

      That has been true for "dumb robots", but as AI progresses even highly skilled jobs can feel the pinch. There are many highly paid professions which require a great deal of knowledge but not much creativity. Many jobs in the law and medical professions come to mind. Software has already disrupted the pipeline between recent law graduates and experienced lawyers making life very hard on new lawyers. Over the next twenty years it will become more common for people who have spent 8+ years of college to join a workforce which no longer needs their profession, even though the job prospects looked great when they started school.

      Most skilled work will see more demand because of improved AI (until general AI that is), but very few supposedly skilled jobs will be "safe".

    • Nothing new here (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2016 @06:03AM (#52884611)

      I think robots replace jobs for less skilled labor. Leaving them with less options for alternative jobs.

      Sometimes they do but sometimes automation replaces skilled labor. To use a simple example, welding is a job that requires considerable skill and training to do well. You can replace a welder with a robot in cases where the economics make sense. You could in principle replace something like a radiologist with a computer program that reads xrays or replace a paralegal with an expert system. Vulnerability of a specific job to automation has less to do with skilled vs unskilled than it does the economics of that particular job. Automation comes into play when there are opportunities to decrease the unit cost of production. The limit on automation tends to be more economic than technical in a lot of cases.

      Leaving them with less options for alternative jobs. Many times getting new jobs with less incomes. The past recession has taught us that.

      In the short run this will be true for any job at any time. The entire industrial revolution has been people being pushed from jobs that were no longer necessary into new ones. That's been a good thing for over 200 years and there is no reason to believe that it will cease being a good thing any time soon. Yes sometimes this involves some near term difficulty for some of the work force. In places like the US that have enjoyed higher than average incomes for several decades it might involve a reversion to the mean on incomes compared with global competitors.

      Many underachievers or low skill people will begin to see less and less opportunities. This poses a serious potential of increased demand for government assistance.

      Umm, why do you think this is something new? That has ALWAYS been the case.

      • by gtall ( 79522 )

        " That's been a good thing for over 200 years and there is no reason to believe that it will cease being a good thing any time soon."

        There's a lot of reasons to believe that this will cease to be the case. The alternative jobs for getting machined out of a job in the past were typically not that highly skilled and required a relatively large number of people to do. However, most of the low-skilled jobs are getting machined out of existence. Even Chinese companies are moving towards robotics. The legions of

        • However, most of the low-skilled jobs are getting machined out of existence.

          Demonstrably not true. WHICH jobs they do changes but there so far is no evidence of an end to low skill jobs. Unemployment rates are well within historical norms for all types of jobs even allowing for higher numbers of folks not actively looking. Which jobs low skilled people do is changing but they aren't going away. The problem they face is not automation but competition in a global market. If someone in china is willing to do the same job for half the price someone who hasn't learned any skills is

      • the cost of schooling needs to come down in the us. As who to dump 2-4 years + 20K-60K to get new skills. Or take out an 40K-60K+ loan that can't be discharged?

    • by RabidReindeer ( 2625839 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2016 @06:27AM (#52884705)

      Robots have already done a pretty good job of replacing unskilled and semi-skilled labor.

      What should concern us more is that they're replacing now.

      Stop thinking about robots as tin-plated mechanical men or blind automated arm-devices. Start thinking of them as disembodied algorithms. Think of them as Watson. Think of them as Siri. Be afraid.

      It's been happening for some time now. AI-directed securities trading programs that make decisions at speeds so fast that the SEC has had to take measures just to give mere humans a chance. In the last few years, we've seen AI playwriting, AI recipe-design, and a lot of other things.

      Mostly the AI approach to creativity is pretty primitive at the moment, but when it comes to raw decision making, AIs can often do at least as well as humans. Although to be fair, in some cases, dart boards have been shown to do as well as humans. Machines and dart boards don't let their emotions or their greed cloud their judgements.

      What happens when the day comes that major corporations can only be competitive when their executive decisions are made by machines? First you clear out the executive suite - who needs all those VPs and C-levels? Then, might as well dump the CEO himself, since he's nothing but a figurehead. The actual decision-making is done on a rental basis from IBM. Sales people? We've been training people to be "self serve" when buying for decades now.

      This is the real SkyNet and it's already happening. Hopefully it won't make a computed decision to kill all humans, but that doesn't mean that it has to keep them on the payroll either.

    • I think robots replace jobs for less skilled labor.

      There's no reason to think that this will continue into the future, especially since people are trying to replace the more skilled jobs.

      More importantly, one of the things that the next generation of robots will do is greatly change the jobs that are not replaced. Robots will make a single worker far more efficient, replace most of the workers. An historical example is that machines have not gotten rid of farmers, they still exist. However, there are far, far fewer of them, as one farmer with machines

    • Hmm, in the 19th Century, we had combines and such replacing farm jobs. Many of the jobs were "less skilled", some not so much.

      And yet, we don't have 70%+ unemployment now. Those disappearing farm jobs provided workers for factories.

      Same sort of thing happened in the 20th. Some jobs disappeared, to be replaced with jobs that didn't even exist before.

      I expect the same will happen now....

    • Again.. all people are not equal. Humans are not a commodity where you pour education in to their ear and you get an engineer or a researcher. Some people are not capable of analysis. This is reality.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 14, 2016 @05:09AM (#52884453)

    This will disproportionately affect minorities, especially blacks, who tend to work in jobs that are candidates for replacement by robots. This definitely is a racial issue, and it's really disappointing that a little extra profit is worth further disadvantaging minorities.

    • by Z80a ( 971949 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2016 @05:20AM (#52884481)

      So, will all those millionaire rappers etc get replaced?
      It's a poverty issue, not a racial one.
      Yes, there is some bias caused by the actual racism of the past, but you will not solve that with quotas or any stupid racist measure.
      Just fight poverty and watch your "racial issue" evaporate.

      • Re:Race implications (Score:4, Informative)

        by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <[mashiki] [at] [gmail.com]> on Wednesday September 14, 2016 @05:44AM (#52884553) Homepage

        So, will all those millionaire rappers etc get replaced?

        Considering what's done with vocaloid? Yes.

        • Heh.

          I've heard enough rap that was nothing but murky audio, heavy repetitive bass and lots of epithets. Also repetitive. That would be trivial to automate. You don't even have to support a melody line.

      • Re:Race implications (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Ogive17 ( 691899 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2016 @06:44AM (#52884759)
        What percentage of the black population in the US do you feel are millionaire rappers?

        You're right, it's a poverty issue but that hits minorities much harder. The problem continues to get worse because we cannot address the disparity in schooling for wealthy districts vs poor districts.

        And I don't have an answer, so I'm not trying to play this off as if it's an easy fix. My personal experience with being a mentor shows me the lack of emphasis poor families typically put on education, the parents pass along their negative attitudes to their kids.
        • Re:Race implications (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <[mashiki] [at] [gmail.com]> on Wednesday September 14, 2016 @08:09AM (#52885113) Homepage

          You're right, it's a poverty issue but that hits minorities much harder. The problem continues to get worse because we cannot address the disparity in schooling for wealthy districts vs poor districts.

          And I don't have an answer, so I'm not trying to play this off as if it's an easy fix. My personal experience with being a mentor shows me the lack of emphasis poor families typically put on education, the parents pass along their negative attitudes to their kids.

          We've been "fighting poverty" for nearly 90 years at this point. But you're right it's a harder problem, but there's a lot of simple fixes that can be found. Those are mainly as partially pointed out, education for one. The other is family structure. You can even plot the downward trend when blacks(in the US) started abandoning family structures and single parent welfare households became the norm. If there isn't a strong family structure, everything else simply causes a self-fulfilling problem. No one pushing for better education, poorer education. Support for gangs/criminality, generational and cyclical self-reinforcing negative culture. Canada sees the same thing with native culture and again you can plot out nearly to the year it started to happen. The two groups are fundamentally different, but the solution that government has applied has been the same: Take kids away from their families(in the past), or apply forced abortions/eugenics, break up families, then throw money at the problem for decades and hope it goes away. This has been followed by openly supporting "alternative" schooling that has no structure on focused learning and now you've got the start of a collapse of an entire segment of the population. That know next to nothing, feel they have nothing they can do, and look for what everyone else is doing to survive.

          The same solution has been used for education, simply throw more money at it. Now we're seeing the same alternative types of schooling happen in the general population of people, funding in many cases has never been higher. And grades, basic skills are falling through the floor so hard that it's scary. Here in Ontario for instance, over 50% of children failed the basic math and literacy testing for grade 6(even in higher ed like high school). In the 1980's when I was in school that number was around 20%, and being held back a year for failing a single subject was the norm. You can read [macleans.ca] a couple of articles here on it if you want. [www.cbc.ca]

          I'm sure some retard is going to go hur-dur-dur racism or something. But if you're unwilling to look at the actual problems and start crying "racist" every time someone points out what the actual problems are, they're never going to be fixed. And they're only going to get worse.

      • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2016 @07:08AM (#52884827)

        It's an education issue. Yes, there is a correlation between poor skills, poor education and it all leading to poor job prospects, but in the end, that's what we're facing. The jobs for people with low skills and low ability to gain any due to a lack of intellectual condition to acquire more (read: too dumb to learn) are the first to go, as we have already seen. And this development continues.

        And we, as a society, will have to find a solution for this problem. Intelligence is distributed on a Gauss bell curve. So far we have been "lucky" that all we have eliminated are the people whose intelligence is SO low that they are few. So far we have eliminated the jobs that require an IQ of less than about 70 or 75. That affects about 5 percent of the population, that's something we can compensate. Eliminating jobs under 80 will affect more than 20% and if an IQ of 90 becomes the limit, a third of the population will already be unemployable. With 100, of course, we reach about half of the people.

        And no later than that we have a HUGE problem at our hands. Though it is likely that the problems will start way earlier than this. Imagine: You realize that you have NO chance to get a job. Ever. Any job you could do, any job you're capable of, can be filled by a robot that is cheaper. Nobody will EVER employ you. And that't not just you, that's a fourth of the population.

        How long do you think such a person would hold still?

        • we have eliminated the jobs that require an IQ of less than about 70 or 75.

          No we haven't. Here are some that can't be mechanized at or below minimum wage yet*, with current technology. Sweeping a heavily dusted floor with people moving around. Moving boxes from arbitrary points to other arbitrary points with no more instruction than a person saying "put all of those over there" Driving in various conditions. Walking a dog. Mowing a lawn. Making a cheeseburger with minimal instruction. Cleaning industrial
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 14, 2016 @05:17AM (#52884469)

    It's sad to watch division of labor and industrialization slowly deliver on its long standing promise: at last, having to work less and less for survival, and our society incapable of coping with that: no decent survival without a job (except for the small rich minority, that is).

    We as a society need a plan for that, and those in power (or with near access to it) just keep repeating, sheepishly, the mantra "moar of the same".

    Ideas?

    • by ranton ( 36917 )

      Ideas?

      Basic income combined with employment insurance based on recent levels of industry disruption.

      The answers to this problem aren't very complicated. The political processes involved in enacting the solutions are a different story. They require a significant amount of wealth redistribution which is not popular right now for a large percentage of voters. My guess it will become more popular once even U3 unemployment creeps over 30%.

      • by gtall ( 79522 )

        I think "income" distribution is very hard problem if by that you mean "money" distribution. The problem isn't that people do not have enough money, it is that they do not have enough food, shelter, and other basic essentials. Money is only the barter system we use to grease the distribution network. There is no guarantee that the available pool of money taken from the people who make it is sufficient to cover the people who don't.

        Put another way, the total economy can shrink even as the top 1% make out lik

    • by RabidReindeer ( 2625839 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2016 @06:12AM (#52884637)

      Just out of curiosity, I yanked a copy of the Communist Manifesto off Project Gutenberg the other day and was rather amazed to discover that all this had pretty well been already anticipated by Marx and Engels.

      We have been programmed to think of Communism solely in terms of "rob the hard-working rich and give to the useless parasitic poor", but that wasn't the primary focus there. Instead it was based on the idea that industry would become so productive that without communal ownership of resources, we'd ultimately end up with exactly what we fear we're heading for.

      Not to say that the Communist Manifesto presents a viable solution to that problem. After touching on the above, it goes on to promote things that have either been demonstrated not to work and/or morally offend, but it does indicate that we haven't discovered anything new here.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 14, 2016 @06:35AM (#52884723)

        > and was rather amazed to discover that all this had pretty well been already anticipated by Marx and Engels.

        This is no coincidence. We're living through a "second industrial revolution" of sorts, with many parallels. Some differences:

        - globalization is much more advanced now than it was then
        - mobility is much higher (people and wares)
        - the speed of changes is much higher (compare the time it took to perfect steel making from 1850's to 1900's to the time it takes self-driving cars from crazy idea to marketable)

        As the other poster put it, we need (socially) new ideas. Basic income might be part of a solution (I'm convinced, others not), but the details and the political realizability are pretty messy.

        We haven't got much time, though.

  • Complete nonsense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2016 @05:53AM (#52884583)

    By 2021, robots will have eliminated 6% of all jobs in the U.S., starting with customer service representatives and eventually truck and taxi drivers.

    Bullshit. I work with robots and automation in my day job. This is a complete fabrication. We are not going to eliminate truck drivers within 5 years. End of story. Will not happen. The technology just isn't even close to being there yet. Even if it was ready today (which it isn't) it would take a decade at minimum to roll it out. No business is going to throw out a perfectly functional truck to buy an expensive self driving truck just because one became available.

    The notion that Siri is going to supplant customer service representatives in any meaningful way within 5 years is just stupid. Siri can't even deal with very basic questions that any human would easily understand. And yet they are basically arguing that it will be a substitute for a human within 5 years? Not buying it outside of some corner cases. I can't imaging an automated attendant being able to deal with a screwed up credit card statement. And let's say that somehow they magically pull that trick off. They think that will replace 5%+ of the workforce in under 5 years? Hogwash. Just complete nonsense.

    Current technologies in this field include virtual assistants like Alexa, Cortana, Siri and Google Now as well as chatbots and automated robotic systems. For now, they are quite simple, but over the next five years they will become much better at making decisions on our behalf in more complex scenarios, which will enable mass adoption of breakthroughs like self-driving cars.

    Umm, what? Some idiot thinks Siri has anything remotely to do with the technology in self driving cars? That is the biggest hand waive [wikipedia.org] I've seen in many a year. We've had Siri and similar technologies for about 5 years and they are no where close to being ready to replace humans in any meaningful numbers. And those technologies have essentially nothing to do with the technologies that would be involved in physical automation.

    • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2016 @06:00AM (#52884601) Journal

      We are not going to eliminate truck drivers within 5 years

      You don't need to eliminate truck drivers to eliminate most of the jobs. If you can make a truck that can drive in fully automated mode on the interstate, then you can make a truck that has a bunk for the driver to sleep in and can go 24/7, with a driver only doing the parts near built-up areas. That could easily eliminate half (possibly more than half) of truck driving jobs.

      The notion that Siri is going to supplant customer service representatives in any meaningful way within 5 years is just stupid.

      I take it you've not used customer support recently. Remember all of those humans who used to follow a script in call centres? Now they're tier 2 support - a chat bot is tier 1 and if you divert from the script too much it will elevate you to tier 2. Again, it doesn't have to be 100%, it even 90%. A chat bot that can help 50% of people will let you halve your workforce (and make customers happier, because 50% of them will never be waiting in a queue).

      • Re:Complete nonsense (Score:5, Interesting)

        by swb ( 14022 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2016 @06:15AM (#52884647)

        Assuming you have a technology so good that it really could allow trucks to run on the highway while the driver slept, it would take at least 5 years to align all the state laws regulating truck highway traffic, change federal regulations regarding the number of hours drivers could be on the road without mandatory stops.

        And that's just regulations, even if by magic such an automated truck was available *tomorrow*, you have a capital base of billions of dollars worth of trucks already out there which can't do this. And these trucks are, for the most part, built for extreme long-term durability with useful lifespans of at least a decade. It would take 10-20 years for such an automated truck to replace the existing base of trucks.

        I don't doubt such a transformation will happen, but its decades away, not 5 years by any stretch of the imagination. And none of this factors in other potential transformations which might be more appealing, such as hybrid powertrains or even other forms of efficiency replacing long-haul trucking, like further growth of intermodal transportation or other large-scale logistical changes which would compete with automated trucking.

        • by NoImNotNineVolt ( 832851 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2016 @10:18AM (#52885985) Homepage

          And that's just regulations, even if by magic such an automated truck was available *tomorrow*, you have a capital base of billions of dollars worth of trucks already out there which can't do this. And these trucks are, for the most part, built for extreme long-term durability with useful lifespans of at least a decade. It would take 10-20 years for such an automated truck to replace the existing base of trucks.

          Sunk cost fallacy. If the cost savings that result from decreased labor costs are greater than the cost of buying an automated truck and disposing of a manually-piloted one, it's a fiscally sound decision to make.

      • You don't need to eliminate truck drivers to eliminate most of the jobs. If you can make a truck that can drive in fully automated mode on the interstate, then you can make a truck that has a bunk for the driver to sleep in and can go 24/7, with a driver only doing the parts near built-up areas. That could easily eliminate half (possibly more than half) of truck driving jobs.

        Several responses to that. 1) None of that is going to happen within 5 years. We aren't even close technologically no matter what Elon Musk claims. 2) Even if the technology were ready today (which it isn't) it would take far longer than 5 years for it to roll out. A full rollout will cost hundreds of billions of dollars (probably trillions actually) and will take many years to accomplish. Economically it is going to take quite a long time to happen even if the technology is perfect from day one - whi

      • The notion that Siri is going to supplant customer service representatives in any meaningful way within 5 years is just stupid.

        I take it you've not used customer support recently. Remember all of those humans who used to follow a script in call centres? Now they're tier 2 support - a chat bot is tier 1 and if you divert from the script too much it will elevate you to tier 2. Again, it doesn't have to be 100%, it even 90%. A chat bot that can help 50% of people will let you halve your workforce (and make customers happier, because 50% of them will never be waiting in a queue).

        They're using "chat bots"?!? That could explain why customer service sucks -- are they using that 13-year-old Polish moronic chatbot Eugene who can't actually interact and avoids answering questions (but who supposedly "passed the Turing test" [slashdot.org])? [\sarcasm]

        On a more serious note, most of what I've seen replaced so far in customer service at most places is just swapping out the old "menu system" ("press 1 to check your balance, press 2 to pay your bill," etc.) with voice recognition. In most cases thos

    • by frnic ( 98517 )

      You seem to suffer from the Slashdot syndrome in wanting to find someway to disagree no matter how silly it makes you look.

      I doubt you will find anyone that think ALL TRUCK DRIVERS will disappear in the next 4 years. But some will. Companies are pushing hard to replace the inefficient human driver that drives up insurance rates and can only operate a limited number of hours per day. It's not about technology, it is about MONEY. And OTR drivers can begin to be eliminated in the next 4 or 5 years. How fast de

    • by EvilSS ( 557649 )
      The vast majority of customer service could be replaced, and in some companies has been, today by software. The people working those first tier calls today are running off of scripted responses. Customer asks this, respond with that. Customer requests this, click this button and the back-end software will complete the request, etc. It isn't hard to replace that with a automated system. The biggest hurdle right now is acquisition and implementation cost vs outsourcing it to cheap humans in the Puerto Rico*,
    • By 2021, robots will have eliminated 6% of all jobs in the U.S., starting with customer service representatives and eventually truck and taxi drivers.

      Bullshit. I work with robots and automation in my day job. This is a complete fabrication. We are not going to eliminate truck drivers within 5 years. End of story. Will not happen. The technology just isn't even close to being there yet.

      The summary and article are a poor representation of the Forrester document. Look at the summary of the original here [forrester.com]. It focuses primarily on cubicle work, office drones, assistants, etc. And it says 7% by 2025. The self-driving car / truck aspect is further in the future.

    • It's not just whether we can do it; if we're talking about a smooth delivery of 6% productivity increase in 5 years, that's ... not bad, actually. We might peak at +1% unemployment in that time.

      The jobs will get replaced. Productivity improvements cause prices to not keep with inflation in the long run, at the very least; this feeds back into wages not keeping with inflation (because 6% more productivity means you can lag inflation by 6% and still break even), which feeds back into costs and prices. P

  • 5 years from now (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    most of us will laugh at how wrong this article was.

  • Tractors (Score:5, Insightful)

    by swm ( 171547 ) <swmcd@world.std.com> on Wednesday September 14, 2016 @06:10AM (#52884635) Homepage

    Robots? 6%? Phhh. Small stuff.

    100 years ago, tractors eliminated, like, 80%-90% of all US jobs.

    Boy, I miss the farm. Plowing, hoeing, raking, weeding; day after day, year after year, endless hard manual labor. Yeah, those were the days....

    • With 60%+ of the workforce working in farming, the Industrial Revolution was predicted to cause massive unemployment that the society could never recover from.

      Same shit different century.

      Hint: human desire is infinite.

      • We're actually continuously making technical progress and cutting back jobs. That's what all these layoffs are. Everyone cries that Dell or Hostess killed off 14,000 jobs over two years, but do you really think 14,000 jobs in a labor force of 171,000,000 matters? It's 0.008%. Costs fall, prices don't keep up with inflation, people find more money in their pockets eventually, and they buy more stuff, creating replacement jobs.

        The two modes are "lose 60% of jobs in 2 years" or "lose 60% of jobs in 3 dec

      • Re:Tractors (Score:4, Insightful)

        by dunkelfalke ( 91624 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2016 @08:58AM (#52885375)

        Except that it has indeed caused massive unemployment. Communist parties didn't appear out of thin air, you know. They have appeared thanks to masses of disenfranchised and angry people.
        Hint: Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Human desire is only infinite when all basic needs are satisfied.

    • Except that almost anyone could afford new advanced manufacturing machines (tractors) back then. At this time however, advanced machines producing valuable products (electronics, food, clothes) are owned by couple of huge enterprises and there is really small (ever smaller) chance for you or me to become credible competition to them. It seems that most jobs currently is focused on servicing people locally placed around you, with services that for some reason cannot be (yet) provided remotely by Google et al
      • But you don't need to own the advanced machines.

        I "need" a $250,000 HP Indigo 7600 Digital Press. Rather than spend the money on a machine that will sit idle 99% of the time, I found a company near me whose core business is owning the machine and allowing others to use it. The company operating and maintains the machine saving me the trouble, but I get to use the machine (along with several thousand other people). I pay a tiny, tiny fraction of what it would cost to have my own machine, I get all the
  • By 2021, robots will have eliminated 6% of all jobs in the U.S.

    No, you've got it wrong. They're going to eliminate 6% of all job seekers.

  • We won't have (a lot of) self-driving cars (that are actually allowed to be self-driving all the time) in 2021. That's four years away.

  • by GrumpySteen ( 1250194 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2016 @07:16AM (#52884861)

    The article makes a lot of assumptions about security and reliability that it shouldn't. I see a very different future...

    The doorbell rings, and itâ(TM)s the delivery of a new pair of running shoes, in the wrong size and in a style and color you hate. And you're a double amputee who doesn't have feet. Hereâ(TM)s the kicker: They were listed for $3,000 on eBay and you didnâ(TM)t order them. Your intelligent agent did after being hacked by the guy in Nigeria who placed the eBay listing.

    But hey.. shipping was free, so at least you've got that going for you.

  • Seem to be in a repeat of the industrial revolution, going on now. We are seeing more machinery and jobs shifting from blue to white collar (last time it was agricultural to blue collar.). Increased immigration. There will be many effects in the end, but those unemployed workers won't stay that way forever because them newfangled machines put them out of work.
  • Maybe they can fix the re-posts, typos, and broken Unicode formatting!
  • Different jobs - a hell of a lot of people used to work as telephone operators but as the world changed there were different jobs to do so there was not mass unemployment due to automated exchanges.
    The "robots" have been there taking tens of thousands of jobs for decades but it didn't really matter in terms of the unemployment rate.
  • 6% seems pretty pessimistic.

    I bet if we raise the national minimum wage to $15/hour, we could hit 10% by 2021.
  • The US is likely to be in a better position to handle this.
  • Let's start with the point that "45% use the aforementioned digital concierges"... use and useful are two different standards. I have both an android and Iphone. The degree to which digital assistants are useful is not measurable. Speech recognition is too slow and error prone, it doen't interact with apps in a useful way, and tends to be more of a pain then it's worth - but yes, I try and do things with them once in a while just to reinvigorate my frustration with them.

    Let's do a mental experiment -
  • by mlw4428 ( 1029576 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2016 @01:56PM (#52887747)
    Capitalism relies on a basic priniciple that all actors have needs that outweigh supply. As an employee I need to have more work than I have employees to hire more employees. I need raw resources to be abundant enough to be cost effective for me to build my product/service. As an employee I need to have a larger desire to have money to be conivnced to work. The amount I get paid also has to be at a level to afford a life style that I'm OK enough with to spend X hours working for someone to do. As a consumer the product has be priced at such a price to be affordable.

    Automation is making it so that, as an employer. At some point automation will make it so that I won't need to hire people as I simply won't have enough work to justify hiring them. As material sciences advance the materials the machines are made out of will become more robust, needing less maintanence, and simplier to repair/replace. This completely fractures on of the core pillarstones of capitalism and leads to the employee segment becoming significantly weaker. In turn this means that consumers (who are, largely, the same people as employee class) will have less money and in turn that will force employers to do more to minimize costs.

    At some point the capitalist economic system cannot sustain itself. It may happen in 50 years or 500, but I cannot see how it won't happen.

Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.

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