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Robotics Technology

Half the Work People Do Can Be Automated, Says McKinsey (techinasia.com) 409

Half the work people do in their jobs can be automated, according to a study published by McKinsey Global Institute. From a report: Instead of assessing the impact of automation on specific jobs, the study went to a more granular level by looking at the activities involved in various jobs. The logic is that every occupation has a range of activities, each with varying potential for automation. McKinsey found that 49 percent of the activities people are paid to do in the global economy can be automated with "currently demonstrated technology." That involves US$11.9 trillion in wages and touches 1.1 billion people. The study encompassed over 50 countries and 80 percent of the world's workers. China, India, Japan, and the US accounted for half of the total wages and employees. Not surprisingly, the two most populous countries, China and India, could see the largest impact of automation, potentially affecting 600 million workers -- which is twice the population of the US.
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Half the Work People Do Can Be Automated, Says McKinsey

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  • Threshold (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 13, 2017 @12:27PM (#53661585)

    What is the unemployment threshold going to be?
    When unemployment caused by automation, robotics, etc reaches 10%?
    15%...
    20%..?

    In the coming decades more and more people worldwide will become unemployable, and they will have nothing to do or any way to make a living?

    How are governments and communities going to respond?

    • Re:Threshold (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Lije Baley ( 88936 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @12:33PM (#53661643)

      Go watch some of those thoughtful dystopian movies they used to make. It has all been well foreseen and described.

    • Re:Threshold (Score:5, Insightful)

      by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @12:35PM (#53661669)
      You're assuming that people won't find a different job their current job is automated. The days of working the same job for 50 years and getting a gold watch are long over.
      • by H3lldr0p ( 40304 )

        What do you define as a "job".

        Where does creative work like writing, illustrating, singing, etc go on that spectrum?

        In a world where even our food is largely automated, how do you compensate people and configure a fiat currency that doesn't crash every other year b/c of market greed?

        I'm not disagreeing with the second portion of your statement. Most stable work like that has gone by the wayside and only existed for a short time in the US. But by not having a social safety net for everyone, this kind of thin

        • It's already happening. Some sports reporting has become automated! http://www.houstonpress.com/ne... [houstonpress.com]
          • Reporters that just put their byline on press releases have made their jobs incredibly easy to automate. I have no sympathy for those deceitful fucks.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by iamgnat ( 1015755 )

          But by not having a social safety net for everyone, this kind of thing looks like it might ruin the US.

          Why is it the government's or society's responsibility to support those that refuse to support themselves?

          There will always be a need for manual labor, at least until the machines rise up and successfully exterminate us. Every time there is a great advancement in technology we hear the same thing, yet we still have all kinds of work available for those motivated to do it.

          Those that truly can't learn new skills due to REAL physical or mental limitations should always get our help. Those that simply refuse to

          • Re:Threshold (Score:5, Interesting)

            by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @01:17PM (#53662059) Homepage Journal

            It's not people who refuse so much as who can't; and that doesn't mean automation will wipe all jobs away, either, regardless of what the doomsday predictors who fear the pneumatic air gun and wooden shipping pallet say.

            Wages are paid from revenue--from what's spent. Savings is made by keeping wage instead of spending, and spending more than wages means cutting into savings or creating debt. Wages represent labor time, and form the basis of price: if you need 10 hours of $10/hr work to make a thing, it can't sell for any less than $100 (although it can sell for more than that), else you can't pay your workers at all.

            There are a lot of weird economics involved; one of them is that the money transfer only supports so many jobs at a given time, and that trade and technical progress make temporary unemployment. Technical progress is the purer form: internally, new technology means some people become unemployed for a few months or so, and your unemployment bumps by 0.1% until the prices fail to keep with inflation and the consumers buy more stuff with the money they're no longer spending--which requires more labor, thus replacing the jobs. Trade resolves itself in 1-3 years generally, and causes more or less labor force growth--early or late retirement, grad school versus employment, birth rate changes, more or fewer immigrant workers (trade uses outsourced workers--sending money away, not bringing workers here), and the like.

            During these temporary transitions, some people can't get jobs. Some people need to be around when we suddenly need more laborers, but also will only work half the time as a result of our fickle economy and their happenstance place in it. As trade and technical progress increase the purchasing power of our same amount of labor, a smaller fraction of our income represents the necessary funds to support these people, and thus the general welfare; eventually, that fraction is smaller than the economic cost of not supporting them (e.g. if a transient laborer dies homeless, then you need to replace him by raising a child--a useless human being who only consumes for 15-20 years, providing no wealth of labor back to the economy during this time).

            • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )

              It's not people who refuse so much as who can't; and that doesn't mean automation will wipe all jobs away, either, regardless of what the doomsday predictors who fear the pneumatic air gun and wooden shipping pallet say.

              It doesn't sound like you're familiar with the work of Joseph Schumpeter. Creative Destruction [wikipedia.org] is a real economic phenomenon. All you have to do is look at the history of the ice industry. You'll also notice that there are no seamstresses with wooden looms anymore either. Creative destruction is expected. In fact, one of the core principles behind real Capitalism is to encourage technological innovation. The purpose of technological innovation is to improve the quality of life of human beings. That's

            • As trade and technical progress increase the purchasing power of our same amount of labor

              They don't, or not by much. Most of the benefits are creamed off as higher profits [theatlantic.com].

          • Re:Threshold (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Dragonslicer ( 991472 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @01:44PM (#53662243)

            But by not having a social safety net for everyone, this kind of thing looks like it might ruin the US.

            Why is it the government's or society's responsibility to support those that refuse to support themselves?

            Because the alternative is that a large number of people will be unable to feed themselves. And one of the major lessons of history is that when large numbers of people have no other way to survive, they turn to robbery or outright revolt. Some of us enjoy living in a modern civilization and would like it to remain that way.

        • Re:Threshold (Score:5, Insightful)

          by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @01:09PM (#53662005) Homepage Journal

          90% of the workforce was farmers in 1870. It's 2% now, with a total of about 10% of all work supporting that (chemists, GMO, shipping, irrigation, fuel for all this shit...).

          Economic growth is basically either "we have more people, so we make more stuff, because more people work more" or "we figured out how to use the same people to make the same shit in half the time, so we made twice as much shit." Wages essentially represent time.

        • Re:Threshold (Score:4, Interesting)

          by MooseTick ( 895855 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @01:16PM (#53662051) Homepage

          Everyone is not creative. Everyone can't write, and most can't well enough that anyone would want to read it. Many can't sing, or draw, or express themselves beyond the level of a 3rd grader.

          Does our current "fiat currency" "crash every other year b/c of market greed?" Yes, there are ups and downs in the market, but I wouldn't call it a crash.

          And while I agree there needs to be a social safety net, people need to deal with change. This isn't a US problem. It isn't even necessarily a problem. All that said, automation isn't free. You can automate lots of jobs, but it may cost more to automate than it costs to pay someone to do it. Flipping burgers can easily be automated, but currently its cheaper and easier to train a 16yo to do it. They can also make fries, take out the trash, clean tables, and do other tasks. All that can be automated as well, but not cost effectively. Now, if we ever get iRobot humanoid style robots for under $100k, that will be extremely disruptive. That's likely at least a generation or more away though.

          • Most self described 'creatives' aren't. They just echo each other. Somehow they eak out a living.

            People like power over others, so rich people like to be served by Baristas, even though automated machines can already do the job much better than most people employed as coffee slingers. It's also why managers like to increase their 'headcount'. All rational business should keep headcount to a minimum while still getting the job done, but perverse economic incentives are everywhere. None are more perverse t

      • What about when it's all kinds of jobs? What happens when you only need 1 human to maintain 300 machines who can each do the work of 500 people? As more and more of these machines come into the workplace, fewer and fewer jobs are needed. If you automate the building of these machines and that automation can build its own parts as well, you eventually get to a point where there literally isn't enough work for everyone. Capitalism's weakness is automation. It doesn't anticipate the automation of entire indust
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mjr167 ( 2477430 )

          We create new and different jobs. 100 years ago computer programmer wasn't a thing. Now it is. The US agriculture industry died and was replaced by a manufacturing industry. Manufacturing is being replaced by service. As we start to eliminate service jobs, we will replace them. Perhaps artists will be profitable?

          Secretarial work has been dieing out as well and those admins have been moving into different positions. Same with travel agents. Now we have wedding and party planners.

          There are industries with a s

          • This is the first time in history where the whole point was to not employ people. Previously it was a matter of profiting by employing people, today that is considered a terrible business plan.
            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              by mjr167 ( 2477430 )

              And yet we have billion dollar industries built around watching people play ball.

              My friend who is a handyman has a 6 month waiting list of jobs people want him to do. The house cleaners around here all have waiting lists. So do the daycares. There is work and plenty of it. They just require personal responsibility and initiative instead of just waiting for the boss to tell you want to do. Don't want your job to be automated? Be useful and adaptive. Add value beyond the machine.

              My entire job is automating ta

          • by Altus ( 1034 )

            How many party planners do we need? Will the government host parties just to keep those people employed?

          • by lgw ( 121541 )

            Service jobs will never go away, they'll just evolve into more customized or creative services. Wedding and party planners are a good example of that, but so are home theater installers. The cheaper basic goods are, the more people will spend on getting help on life tasks.

        • Re:Threshold (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @01:16PM (#53662053) Journal

          The same arguments hit in the19th century. Factories were scary! The Barron's of wallstreet and CEOs ruled. Illegal immigrants from Ireland , China, and Italy were taking all the jobs. Professional box makers, clock makers, textile tailor jobs were all disappearing! It was the end??!

          Or was it? It turns out without the industrial revolution we wouldn't have a modern lifestyle today. It sounds very similar to today. Replace ethnic groups and names of baron titans to ones today? Viola.

          True you do not have housewives as rich tailors making shirts anymore. You do not see professional box makers nor time keepers (before alarm clocks they would knock on your window to get u up) anymore. But we have cars, cheap goods, and the migrants descendents are all middle to upper class now.

          Goods will become cheaper as globalism expands these countries buy our stuff back as they enter middle class. Look at China? Japan was poor too. Now we make money off them. When the dust settles 50 years from now we all will be rich. Africa will be the last challenge. Everyone will be better off

        • What happens when you only need 1 human to maintain 300 machines who can each do the work of 500 people?

          You mean a $78,000 Tesla is only going to cost 52 cents, and I can now afford to add third floor to my house, buy a few musical instruments, and hire a couple private tutors?

          Sounds great to me. We'll all drive Teslas.

          • This is assuming Tesla would drop price that much. It would be like assuming Comcast would drop its data cap since it costs them next to nothing to provide infrastructure. Yet here we are with data caps in 2016.
        • What happens when you only need 1 human to maintain 300 machines who can each do the work of 500 people?

          Disappointed Trump supporters who didn't get that one job. Those are the manufacturing jobs that are coming back to America. Not the big factories that hires 1,500 people, but the little factories that hires a dozen people to do the work of 1,500 people. In short, Trump lied.

          Capitalism's weakness is automation.

          Capitalism, especially crony capitalism, doesn't care about people. Everyone is a cog. If a cog can get replaced with a machine that can produce more widgets for the same buck, the invisible hand of the market dictates replacing the cog

        • > What about when it's all kinds of jobs? What happens when you only need 1 human to maintain 300 machines who can each do the work of 500 people?

          You can read about what happens, that was the 1980s and 1990s. My grandfather was an accountant. At the time, that meant he was also a bookkeper - he wrote things down in a ledger, and used a desk calculator that spit out paper of the results.

          My mom was a computer programmer. She wrote software so computers could do the job that my grandfather used to do.

      • Re:Threshold (Score:5, Insightful)

        by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @12:56PM (#53661853) Journal

        You're assuming that people won't find a different job their current job is automated.

        You're assuming they will. It didn't happen with the industrial revolution. Their grandkids found other jobs, but for a lot of displaced agricultural workers it meant grinding poverty.

        IOW it may or may not happen. You don't know and there's historical precident in both directions.

        • by sinij ( 911942 )
          Interesting counter-point to this. Supposedly, Romans knew how to build primitive steam engines. They never bothered perfecting this, as it was seen as much more expensive than slave labor that was already abundant and relatively cheap.

          The future is not unemployment due to complete automation, the future is shit jobs and shit salaries for everyone with just enough automation to suppress everyone's wages.
          • The greeks had primitive 'steam engines'. But it took advances in metallurgy to make the engines practical. Even in the 1800s, it took decades before boiler explosions were a solved problem.

            It was hard animal harnesses that did away with most slavery. Before that an ox or a human were comparable to draft animals in terms of work/food. Putting the load onto the ox's shoulders 'automated' the job of 'human plow puller' (yes I know, modern plows were another invention, I'm skipping steps).

      • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @01:40PM (#53662225) Journal

        This study says that for the average job, half of it can be automated (the repetitive part).

        Fifteen years ago, I would spend one hour writing software, then two hours testing it. Now the testing is mostly automated. I write code and when I check it in the automated system runsva bunch of tests. It then alerts me of any problems revealed by the automated tests. Automating half of my job has meant I can spend more time creating new software and less time testing, while producing higher quality because I never forget to run one of the tests.

    • by hodet ( 620484 )

      They have two choices, prepare for civil wars and unrest or allow the masses to benefit from all of this automation by maintaining their needs with a part of the wealth that is generated by all those savings. It's quite simple really....when a person loses all hope they become desperate.

      • by TWX ( 665546 )
        The people that own the machinery are not going to want to share though.

        the best thing that can be done is to start tailoring school curriculum with these disruptive technologies in-mind, so that there are less people that would seek to go into doomed industries in the first place. Unfortunately that costs money and people don't want to be taxed to make that kind of budgeting available.
    • Even U6 is down below 10% now, so unemployment isn't a problem right now. It will be fixed just like every other social problem: late, after it becomes a problem for so many people that they are willing to vote for it.
    • Re:Threshold (Score:5, Interesting)

      by fropenn ( 1116699 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @12:55PM (#53661843)
      Or, maybe we could all just work fewer hours per week. Which would leave more time for, you know, living.

      I heard a story from a friend who works with refugees. One family, he found a good job for the father, got them settled, etc. After a few weeks the father had stopped going to work. My friend asked the father what had happened, was there a problem with the work? Was it too difficult to get to work? Did they not like you?
      No, he said, it was none of these things. He stopped going to work because he realized his children were growing up without him and it was his responsibility to be home to take care of the family. Once that was accomplished, then he would go to work. This then, of course, led to conversations about having to pay for things you need for life and so on, but I think there is a grain of truth here.

      Life != work and there would be plenty of great living to do outside of work.
      • by geek ( 5680 )

        So instead he sits on welfare so that I can work my ass off to provide for him and his 13 kids. In the meantime I have to explain to my wife we can't afford a second child because some lazy fucking refugee won't take his sorry ass to work.

    • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )

      What is the unemployment threshold going to be? When unemployment caused by automation, robotics, etc reaches 10%? 15%... 20%..?

      In the coming decades more and more people worldwide will become unemployable, and they will have nothing to do or any way to make a living?

      How are governments and communities going to respond?

      An economic system based on there never being enough people to do the labor will have to be fundamentally changed because we will have a labor shortage. The question is what changes will that involve? When this happens, requiring people who have no access to labor to pay taxes or procure goods in exchange for currency that can only be gained by exchanging labor will not make any sense.

    • Not to sound racist but we have plenty of Mexicans and other Latinos entering the US and Canada to do work white people feel is beneath them.

      What will happen is regular people will live 6 to a home and pick vegatables, mow lawns, clean toilets, and wash dishes. That is a problem if you want an SUV, 1 million for retirement, and own a home though

    • What is the unemployment threshold going to be? When unemployment caused by automation, robotics, etc reaches 10%? 15%... 20%..?

      In the coming decades more and more people worldwide will become unemployable, and they will have nothing to do or any way to make a living?

      How are governments and communities going to respond?

      They will respond, out of perceived necessity, with further militarization of the police and surveillance of the activities of the unemployed. The revolution will be drone-struck before it can strike the first blow.

    • by no-body ( 127863 )

      What is the unemployment threshold going to be?
      When unemployment caused by automation, robotics, etc reaches 10%?
      15%...
      20%..?

      In the coming decades more and more people worldwide will become unemployable, and they will have nothing to do or any way to make a living?

      How are governments and communities going to respond?

      All OK, no problem it fixes itself.

      Since - according to a common philosophy, anyone not doing well is doing something wrong and needs to be punished to learn how to do it right, that's just the way the natural selection of the fittest, staying on top and survives, works.

      Probably some Elysium-Style arrangement.

      http://www.politicalcortex.com... [politicalcortex.com]

    • A big problem is that the unemployment numbers won't manifest themselves as a problem until the very very end. So many people here saying "it's ok that company X provides a crappy job because it's better to work than not". Well that's true, but people who are working increasingly crappy jobs by necessity aren't being registered as unemployed. Recently in the article about Amazon creating 100,000 jobs I got modded down for suggesting that the quality of the jobs matter, but I think it is crucial that job
  • Automated Post (Score:5, Insightful)

    by asylumx ( 881307 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @12:29PM (#53661605)
    Of course half of human work *can* be automated (I'd wager even more than that) -- but isn't the question really whether it's practical to automate those things?
    • by WDot ( 1286728 )
      I'm guessing that the "half" of work they quote are tasks that are basically pattern recognition exercises or are straightforward application of rules. It's work that at some point someone will find it economically feasible to automate (or economically feasible to sell an automation solution).

      Even work that isn't "practical" to automate now is being picked at by AI and robotics research wherever it can be. For example, robots that can learn by example and can work in close proximity to people: https://ww [technologyreview.com]
    • by TWX ( 665546 )
      It's also a question of people at the edge of the actual work being intelligent enough to handle the work needed to create the automation in the first place.

      Every day in my job I see places where software problems make work much harder than it should be. We have a network monitoring product that can collect inventory/asset information as part of its regular function, but provides no means by which to search against or run reports against that information. Their DB is so huge that building your own exte
  • I am shocked to hear this. Completely shocked.
    only half?

    • I'd say half the work people do could be eliminated altogether, and few would care.

      There's a hell of a lot of bureaucratic make-work that goes on in this world. Examples: Laws so complex only lawyers can understand them, or tax rules so complicated only CPAs can understand them. Result? You've got to hire lawyers and CPAs. Or, middle managers at large corporations or in government that just shuffle around, create more paperwork, and enforce internal rules that perhaps made sense to someone, somewhere, b

  • If I can't work I can't be a consumer. They (rich) had to change how capitalism work or move away from it!.
    • by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @12:38PM (#53661709)
      Why would the wealthy change how capitalism works? It serves them just fine! All they need is enough money to build a barrier between them and the starving and a way to import goods directly from other countries. Drones should be advanced enough to move goods from international shipping hubs by then, and land right in their compounds.
      • by asylumx ( 881307 )
        Yup -- those who can't afford to participate in the capitalist hierarchy are just not included. Sad, but true.
  • by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @12:36PM (#53661681)

    My job can be automated as soon as someone can create some software that takes multiple sets of ill defined and incomplete specs* and can create a working, tested piece of code that not only does what was written down, but also does what was intended to be written down but never was.

    * And in my current line of work there is a set of specs from the final customer, a set of specs from the company that builds the hardware and a set of specs from the company** I am working for that supplies the actual automation. And all of these specs are ill defined and incomplete in their own ways.

    ** And within that company the group that designs the physical wiring doesn't really converse with the sales critters that bid on the job, or with people like me who end up writing the control software***

    *** Maybe they need a "Bender" module to emulate all the swearing I am doing at everyone else?

    • by Imazalil ( 553163 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @12:51PM (#53661813)

      Maybe it will be management that will be automated and for once we can all receive clear, though out, complete, realistic specs. /ha ha who am I kidding.

    • by sinij ( 911942 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @01:17PM (#53662055)
      See, you think your job is to create software, when in reality your job is to interpret multiple sets of ill defined and incomplete specs.

      When automation overlords take over, the only thing you will be doing is sitting in meetings with marketing and sales and writing/interpreting specs.
    • by prefec2 ( 875483 )

      Is your work repetitive? Then you should get afraid. However, processing contradicting documentation of requirements requires creativity, which is currently out of the grasp of AI. It also will be that way for the coming 20-30 years. However, AI could read the documentation for you detect the inconsistencies and support you by searching the bloat and code for you. This will make you more efficient. Unfortunately, less programmers are then necessary for the same amount of programming. Fortunately, we live in

  • So? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lucaiaco ( 2652295 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @12:37PM (#53661691)
    A stupid article. Almost everything can be automated, the crucial question is whether it is cost-effective to do so. It is not surprising that a lot of the activities that can be automated concerns workers in China and India, because in most cases, it's simply more convenient not to replace an $2/h organic automaton with a robot.

    Here is your anecdote. A friend of mine was working on the manufacture industry. They had a branch in India, and his role was to mentor the product manager of the Indian factory. For a long time, he insisted that the factory in India bought this expensive machinery that they had been used in the Arizona for their production. The factory in India refused to do so by showing that paying 10 people to do the same job, for 100 years, would still be cheaper than actually buying the machinery.

    Moral of the story: stupid article, move on.
  • mitigating factor (Score:5, Insightful)

    by buddyglass ( 925859 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @12:38PM (#53661697)
    Automating things is itself work, and when a process or job changes it must be re-automated. If the automation wasn't done in a manner that's easily updated to accommodate minor changes, then the effort to "re-automate" something may approach the level of effort it took to automate it in the first place. So while lots of work may be automatable, the effort require to keep all that work automated on an ongoing basis incurs some amount of overhead.
    • the effort to "re-automate" something may approach the level of effort it took to automate it in the first place

      Even if this is true (which I doubt - once you've solved a problem, it generally becomes much easier to solve related problems), the "re-automating" will employ a small elite of computer scientists, just like the original automating did. The millions of workers replaced by automation will not be benefitted by re-automation.

  • To automate all of services would require rewriting ALOT of software which in turn requires years of industry work. For example, I give talks at SpringOne, API World at have had Netflix and other state my work fixes alot of their issues. But they would have to rewrite their existing code... and they invested millions into it. Now regardless that the rewrite might only take a month or so, they want to get their investment back FIRST. So alot of these companies are not going to do that... regardless of the
    • ALOT

      Interestingly though, spell checkers are already automated.

    • by darkain ( 749283 )

      Great example there. Blockbuster video had roughly 60,000 employees at peak. Netflix currently has roughly 3500 employees. Their current level of automation has already hit over a 90% reduction in the movie rental workforce. And you are worried that they've not automated enough yet.

  • McKinsey (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pascal Sartoretti ( 454385 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @12:45PM (#53661749)
    And 90% of McKinsey jobs can be automated with a good bullshit generator
  • I wonder what this does to the political parties in the U.S. It would seem the Republican fare the worst, their view is that if you are poor, you should go find a job. The Democrats have a more share the wealth attitude of taking from the rich, it seems they'd fare better. The Libertarians become mostly unemployed and won't accept a handout, they're toast. The Greens? I guess it depends upon how green the bots are.

  • None of this is news. Almost all jobs these days exist more for 'coverage' rather than full-on throughput. On an instant-to-instant basis, 90+% of human 'work' time is waiting/transition/communication rather than raw action. You can often tell a long-time professional by how they spend 'in-between' time as much as traditional knowledge domain stuff, there's a sort of performance art folks pick up that's no longer 'looking busy', but instead putting folks at ease when there's nothing else to actively do.

    S

  • Automation works great, till it breaks or hits an edge case. Then you need people like me to fix it.

    Infact I would say that most computer based automation is so full of flaws, that things need constant babysitting, code updates, etc. Its rare to find an automated system that just keeps on ticking for an entire year without some sort of intervention, let alone multiple years or decades.

    And all the best automation costs tonnes of money. Sometimes its just cheaper to hire minimum wage people to do it. But I am

  • Cut full time down to 30-32 hours and slide it down to 20 over time.

    We do not need where jack get's 0 hours and jay is working 60-80 or 40 + 24/7 on call. (covering what used to be done with 2-3 people)

    • Good luck. With 600 million out of work it would be logical to assume an 80 hour a week job with no benefits paying $15/hr is better than 0 an hour. If you don't do it the boss will find some other desperate worker who will. Another cost savings to give to the CEO and MBAs in the form of bonuses

    • Not going to happen. They will just waste more time. Extend the daily 'stand-up' to 3 hours, add a weekly 'all staff' meeting and the MBAs are done.

      How many productive hours are you allowed per week?

      I occasionally bitch about the CA department of general services *. But putting all the really useless, net negative workers in one building does have the advantage of keeping them out of the hair of people who actually have work to do. As bad as the current situation is, it's better than distributing those

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Yes it will be great to have an extra 20 hours a week to not make any money, starve, and watch my family die.
  • Yes, but do all these people want to be touched?

    My trusty calculator with a dedicated [000] key says the legal settlement could end up costing an exillion dollars.

  • I'd argue that at least half of what most cube dwellers do all day doesn't need to be done at all. Large corps build of thick layers of corporate sludge over the years, layers to bureaucracy and reporting that is put into place and never re-questioned. Finding a way to clear out that crap would do more for happiness and profit than automation.

  • by davidwr ( 791652 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @12:57PM (#53661867) Homepage Journal

    I tell teenagers who want to go into IT or computers for a career to only do it if they really want to. If they are doing it for the high salaries, they are taking a big risk.

    You will still have a need for low-level customer-service work and high-level design/research work in 20 years.

    The mid-level stuff that your run-of-the-mill programmer and system administrator does today will be largely be automated.

    Hopefully, new, fun, decent-paying tech jobs that use similar parts of the brain that we haven't even thought of will fill the void.

  • A new software tool rolled out at my job. The data is automatically generated but the verification of data is done by people. Other groups hired additional people to manually update each entry in the system. My group requested new features like spreadsheet export/import to make bulk changes via scripts. Although the other groups have two to three times as many people, our small group beats their numbers at the end of the month. If other group use our update methods, layoff notices for redundant people becom
  • What will happen, eventually, is war. You get enough people (projected as hundreds of millions all over the world in this case) who are disaffected, disposessed, disregarded, and discarded, who all find a common complaint, and you have the makings of a war. People are not just going to sit and die quietly because they've been 'made obsolete'. The entire idea of people becoming 'obsolete' is absurd.

    Governments will do something. Companies will do something, too, because it's in their collective best interes
  • Heck, if my Slashdot browsing could be automated - my work efficiency would go WAY up!

  • ... just so long as nobody develops a robot that can screw up even the simplest of tasks, then blame it on someone else.
  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @03:39PM (#53663087)

    The work I'm actually most concerned about being automated is upper-middle class office work. Otherwise, unless the rules change completely and we stop using money and property as a store of value, economic activity will slowly wind down as people can't buy things and don't feel secure.

    I work and have worked in large companies almost exclusively over a 20 year career. In environments like this, you will always have a distribution of abilities and skills. However, doing IT systems engineering work, I tend to agree with this report's findings. There are tons of jobs that could easily be automated with a little work. In banks I've worked at, as an example, there are people whose sole job is to accept documents mailed and faxed in for mortgage verification, enter the information into a computer, and take a fixed switch...case type action based on inspection. There used to be tens of people processing checks on two or three shifts. These jobs and hundreds more are the equivalent of an assembly line skill level, just working with paper or electronic files. Outside of the paper-processing world are tons of questionably-useful jobs in sales and marketing -- things like coordinating trade shows and putting out press releases. Across the organization are things like liaisons, project managers, business analysts, and other jobs that simply involve taking information from one group and passing it along to another. Yet, these jobs pay middle class salaries and give average-ability people something to do, regardless of how much raw revenue or cost saving they add.

    I think a lot of the instability we see now is what's currently happening in companies - these simple jobs are either being eliminated or offshored in the desire for companies to save a few bucks here and there. The typical occupant of these jobs is a product of the last 30-40 years' obsession with sending everyone to college instead of giving them a trade or skill-based education. I went to a large state university, and back then just as now, they were pumping out thousands of generic business majors into the job market, most of whom were/are the typical C student partying their way through school. Here's the difference between then and now -- back then, that C student would just roll up to the career counseling office during their senior year. Recruiters from big companies would interview them, they'd get a couple offers, and accept some random entry-level position. Now, no one's hiring the C students and even the A and B students are having trouble finding that first job. (I was a B student, but that was in a hard science and I worked full time.) Fast forward, and that C student is working their way up the ladder with salary increases along the way -- paper pusher associate, senior paper pusher, supervisor of paper pushers, Manager of Bulk Pulp Transport, Director of Document Services...

    The problem now is that the ladder is broken for an increasingly large swath of the population. Once the career progression is gone, that kills the salary increases that occur over time and allow for things like buying a house. 30 year mortgages are painful in the beginning but are supposed to get easier as you age because your income is expected to increase. Car manufacturers can't sell cars to people who don't feel comfortable enough in their jobs to take out a car loan or spend a little extra for a non-base model. And, companies can't sell products to their employees if the employees are worried about whether the axe will fall tomorrow. This squares with everything we've been hearing about Millenials - they don't want a car mainly because they can't afford one, they don't want to own a home because they're not secure in their employment, etc.

    In my mind, this is why we got Trump. His rhetoric about rolling the clock back to the late 1940s was an easy sell for blue collar workers, but I think enough white collar workers took a hard look at their situation and remembered stories from their parents/grandparents about times when companies showed loyalty, when th

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