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Google Robotics AI

Ray Kurzweil Explains Why Technology Won't Eliminate Human Jobs (fortune.com) 409

Futurist Ray Kurzweil, now a director of engineering at Google, made an interesting argument in a new interview with Fortune: We have already eliminated all jobs several times in human history. How many jobs circa 1900 exist today? If I were a prescient futurist in 1900, I would say, "Okay, 38% of you work on farms; 25% of you work in factories. That's two-thirds of the population. I predict that by the year 2015, that will be 2% on farms and 9% in factories." And everybody would go, "Oh, my God, we're going to be out of work." I would say, "Well, don't worry, for every job we eliminate, we're going to create more jobs at the top of the skill ladder." And people would say, "What new jobs?" And I'd say, "Well, I don't know. We haven't invented them yet."

That continues to be the case, and it creates a difficult political issue because you can look at people driving cars and trucks, and you can be pretty confident those jobs will go away. And you can't describe the new jobs, because they're in industries and concepts that don't exist yet.

Kurzweil also argues that "the power and influence of governments is decreasing because of the tremendous power of social networks and economic trends..."

"A lot of people think things are getting worse, partly because that's actually an evolutionary adaptation: It's very important for your survival to be sensitive to bad news. A little rustling in the leaves may be a predator, and you better pay attention to that."
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Ray Kurzweil Explains Why Technology Won't Eliminate Human Jobs

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 25, 2017 @03:39AM (#55257813)

    Seriously, this is so dumb. It assumes an equal amount of social or intellectual positions will be eventually created and some smooth transition of the working populace to these new careers.

    Nope. Not going to happen.

    We will see more hookers, maids, maid/hookers, oddjobs contractors, etc. Already see this in high tech cities.

    • by Paradise Pete ( 33184 ) on Monday September 25, 2017 @04:51AM (#55257985) Journal

      It assumes an equal amount of social or intellectual positions will be eventually created and some smooth transition of the working populace to these new careers.

      Plus it assumes that people will be smart enough and capable enough to actually do those jobs. I think we're already bumping up against that ceiling. The machines are going to take over and there's no stopping it. Humans will just be a tiny blip on the evolutionary landscape.

      • Plus it assumes that people will be smart enough and capable enough to actually do those jobs. I think we're already bumping up against that ceiling.

        There are still plenty of jobs that can't be done by machines. Unfortunately most of those are in the service industry. If we don't change something, we are going to be heading back to the situation where we have 1 guy in a mansion with 20 servants doing things like landscaping, cooking, cleaning, and helping their child get dressed. There are plenty of countries already like this where a live-in housekeeper/cook is so cheap that everyone who is middle class has one. This is great for the middle class, n

      • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Monday September 25, 2017 @09:38AM (#55258919)

        For a lot of jobs, the demand isn't for people who are Smarter, but people who are kinder.

        Normally if you have an analytical job, you are so focused on the brain work, that you often will overlook other people and their feelings, hence why a lot of MD specialists are normally rather terse. Because with faced with a difficult problem, they are trying to solve the problem and often see their patient as a collection of biochemistry then a person who is feeling pain, and may be scared. Also for Tech workers we are trying to get the parts to work and get things going, we often fail to realize if there is a problem, people are actually frustrated and other people may be frustrated to because they are waiting for the results. We have smart people who can fix the problems, but what we also have are the people who may not smart enough to deal with the technical issues, but are rather nice people, however instead of having them talk to the customers and make people around them feel better, they may be put doing some menial job, such as data entry, or filling out forms. Where their skills are being lost on helping people.

        That is where Automation comes in, it does the menial job that people really don't want to do, allowing them to change their focus on doing human things.

      • by mikael ( 484 )

        I see hundreds of science related programming research positions. But they aren't C/C++, they are usually Matlab/Python and require an advanced degree in Physics, Mathematics or Natural Sciences.

    • by DThorne ( 21879 ) on Monday September 25, 2017 @07:14AM (#55258341)

      While I agree with your succinct evaluation of the man who used to be my hero back in Synclavier days, on a very broad level I agree with him. You can pick apart his specific arguments until the cows come home, but I'm tired of the Chicken Little stories about everyone on welfare while rich people get richer. It belies a complete lack of historical research - people have *always* been losing jobs to technological advancements, the only difference is in the specifics. Just because many of us aren't terribly removed from a period of massive growth (post war expansion), we see that constant growth as some sort of norm. Read more history.

      • by Evtim ( 1022085 ) on Monday September 25, 2017 @08:53AM (#55258723)

        Always....always...always....

        A group of bacteria were growing in a petry dish. Their civilization lasted for 60 days. Every day they doubled their numbers. On the 59th day some bacteria were trying to make a point that the food is finite that this level of growth is unsustainable. "What, are you crazy!" - replied most of the rest - "We have always found a way! Look how numerous we have become, surviving and adapting for FULL 59 DAYS! Also - half the world is empty, you morons (yep, the last division changes the dish from half-full to full; progression, bitches)! Remember back in the ancient times during day 42 we ran out of food but we found a way, we found that New world full of untouched agar-agar (apart from few savage bacteria that we killed). And then there was that "crisis" during day 50 when we ran out of agar-agar but we mutated and started eating the polymers below, that the great bacteriophage in the sky created for us (that was the polymer support mesh that the PhD student used). We will always adapt, always have been and always will. Always, do you hear! Always!!! Bloody alarmists"....and so the 60th day came and the bacteria could not mutate to eat the dish itself. The great bacteriophage in the sky got all the souls she needed and the PhD student got his article.

        Ponder this (you can also stibbons it) - on one hand we have, unprecedented by their magnitude and significance, events coming towards us (machine learning replaces intellectual jobs as well, no?) and on the other we console ourselves by extrapolating past events that have nothing to do with what is coming. Weird! You understand that we can make machines run the whole of the economy. ALL of it. Forever, because AI learns faster so if we create a new job, ANY new job, AI will be able to do it better and cheaper...understand? All future jobs are gone as well. From that moment we either enter the Aurora situation - 1 human per 100 km2 served by thousands of robots or we kill each other since there is no "profit" in such future....

        • by mark-t ( 151149 )

          Forever, because AI learns faster so if we create a new job, ANY new job, AI will be able to do it better and cheaper...understand?

          Perhaps you are missing the point. Machines can already play chess better than humans, but those chess players are not losing their jobs to machines.

          While I realize this area might be a bit niche, that's just one of the only areas where computers have actually already surpassed humans in ability. Perhaps there's other variables that are at play in determining whether we w

      • The difference is that in the past you could own the means of the production, i.e. the farm or the factory, but you still needed workers. Throw in some employment laws to protect those workers and it's viable.

        Now you can own the means of production, and it uses robots and AI to do all the work so you don't need to employ anyone.

        It's not the end of the world, but we do need to be aware of it and plan for how to deal with it. It could be great for all of us, we could work a few days a week and still enjoy a good quality of life. But like those employment laws that mandated shoes for child cleaners and some minimal level of safety, it needs to be regulated and managed.

      • by houghi ( 78078 )

        And at a certain point, when the hungry and poor got fed up, they threw out the rich. Because most people do not care that much to be rich, they care to be able to care for their families.

        The thing is that when robots replace people, the only one that gains anything is the owner. If a robot reduces work by 50% it will not mean we get to work 50% less, it means that 50% of the people get nothing and 1 person gets that 50%.
        So the difference between the rich and the poor is suddenly a lot more.

        • by mikael ( 484 )

          At the moment, maintaining a robot costs as much as employing a human. It requires other humans to repair it when things break, even with built-in diagnostic software that detects faults before they cause other problems.

          • If that was the case, there wouldn't be huge factories full of the things because it wouldn't be cheaper.

      • And over time as productivity grows, work hours continue to decrease. With cheap efficient robots making everything, maybe a job will only require on or two hours of work a week to make a decent living.
    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday September 25, 2017 @07:15AM (#55258345) Journal
      Plus, isn't Kurzweil's thing "The Singularity", which takes (as something between a premise and an article of faith) the impending availability of AI so strong it ranks somewhere between "indistinguishable from magic" and "indistinguishable from divine power"?

      The "eh, don't worry, there will totally be jobs in the future, I just don't know what they'll be because they are so futuristic" assurances are rarely helpful; but among AI pessimists(either in terms of absolute capability or in terms of development schedule) they are at least plausible. Coming from someone who expects AI powerful enough to nerd-rapture him before he dies, less plausible.
      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        It is. But even Kurzweil seem to have noticed that there is still no AI available or on the horizon that could do a "singularity". To anybody with real AI knowledge, the idea if a "singularity" is completely laughable, of course. And to anybody that understands the psychology, the prediction of a "singularity" is simply a prediction of "God" coming back into the world (after Science has eliminated the idea for anybody actually following the scientific approach to thing), just that it will be implemented by

    • I was just recently talking to a McDonald's franchise owner, he is upgrading his store with kiosks and more advanced technology. Here is the thing, the technology will not cause him to lower his staff, if successful he may need to increase his staff.
      For his stores the big problem is long wait times in the drive thru and in the store, so people so these kiosks will help get the orders in faster and food delivered to the customers faster. This means more people moving in and out of the store, however it al

    • Those with memories that go back further than a few days will recall that economists across the political spectrum told us that unrestricted free trade was a great thing for everybody and that the manufacturing jobs displaced from developed countries would be replaced by zillions of great jobs in new industries. Those like Bernie Sanders and H Ross Perot who questioned that assumption were dismissed as flakes. Turns out that a lot of new jobs actually were created. But nowhere near as many as were lost.

  • by ARos ( 1314459 ) on Monday September 25, 2017 @03:44AM (#55257831)

    During the last paragraph of the piece, Kurzeil merely articulates that 'creative destruction' has taken place several times since the industrial revolution. He doesn't actually present any evidence that creative destruction will recur in the age of AI.

    • But Ray Kurzweil is STILL the biggest hack on the planet.
  • by engun ( 1234934 ) on Monday September 25, 2017 @03:47AM (#55257845)
    Let's take this to the extreme. Imagine that we invented AIs that matched the average human intellect. All of a sudden, most jobs would be eliminated (including robot repair, because robots would repair themselves), because most jobs no longer require humans. This is similar to how most horses are still out of a job since the advent of the automobile. So the idea that when one job is eliminated, a new one will always arise is simply false.

    That is therefore, not an argument to say that we should not welcome an AI revolution - I think such a revolution would bring more positives than negatives for the future of humanity. But to assume that jobs will continue to "invent" themselves is magical thinking - we should consider serious alternatives such as UBI.
    • Imagine that we invented AIs that matched the average human intellect

      In this case the question becomes "Do we still need (human) jobs anyway?"

      • by evanh ( 627108 ) on Monday September 25, 2017 @04:18AM (#55257911)

        Correct. And the associated money stops being needed also.

        The final question then becomes what do the humans in power do with all this automation given they no longer require their fellow humans to keep things running. Can rules be effective when a workforce is irrelevant?

        Maybe the ultimate logic of the "Three Laws of Robotics" is for the better after all.

      • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday September 25, 2017 @07:19AM (#55258359)

        If you want to continue the current power situation, yes.

        Our current economy depends on people having to work so they can get money so they can survive. If you take this away, money no longer holds power over people, which basically means that the people who do have lots of money (and hence power) today would become powerless overnight.

        You think they'll simply let that happen?

        • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

          Many of them are working toward it with glee. Admittedly some of those don't know what they're doing but still. There probably will be a bloody revolution. The old money sociopaths aren't going to like losing their power. But the new money kids perfectly happy with everyone being rich. It's no coincidence that many of the latter are supporters of things like universal basic income.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Engun's comment is very concise. I would add that I believe the premise of Kurzweil's argument is flawed. We have not replaced all of the jobs in human history already. Jobs such as teaching, customer service (markets, traders etc), prostitution and people at the start of the food chain have always had to exist. Sure, those jobs may have become augmented throughout time to improve volume, but have never come even close to becoming significantly displaced. I'm unsure as to how he is deriving his numbers.
      • We have not replaced all of the jobs in human history already. Jobs such as teaching,

        Can be partially automated away by gamification.

        customer service (markets,

        Can be partially automated away with kiosks, RFID, and eliminating going to the market.

        traders etc),

        Are already mostly automated away

        prostitution

        Various fuckbots are being engineered already.

        and people at the start of the food chain

        Soylent green is made of peeeeeeople! Peeeeeeople!

      • by apoc.famine ( 621563 ) <{apoc.famine} {at} {gmail.com}> on Monday September 25, 2017 @08:17AM (#55258597) Journal

        A second flaw in his argument is that in the past, we've automated things that required low IQ labor and simple, repetitive tasks, while creating new jobs that required those same (lack-of) skill-sets. We're now at the point in time where any conceivable new job sector which might involve humans doing repetitive tasks will start with robots, not humans. Any conceivable new job sector that involves a lot of busy work and simple decision making will start with machine learning in place, not humans.
         
        If everyone was IQ 130+, we might be OK. But they're not. There are a lot of people of moderate intelligence with some skills that are actively being replaced by automation. And any replacement job we could think up for them will start with automation, because it's cheaper to build that system in the first place than retrofit it on a human-driven process.
         
        When robots and machine learning can do any job you're qualified to do better and faster, what do you do? It's not like blacksmiths who could transition to machine shop and garage workers in a generation or two. It's not like agriculture workers who could transition to assembly line work in a generation or two. When any conceivable job you could ever do can be done better by a robot, what do you do?

        • by gtall ( 79522 ) on Monday September 25, 2017 @08:38AM (#55258671)

          A deeper problem is how do we value people. We can see a hint of this in the environment, how do we value wild animals? Kill them all until there is nothing left? Kill only a percentage of them per year?

          Valuing people is a lot more complicated. Giving everyone a stipend is essentially putting a value upon them. What amount should that be? Should some be more valuable than others? If you deem your value too low, what will you do to increase it? Currently, criminal gangs provide a way to value some people. That's their allure, people joining them feel valued. The consequences are horrid. What happens to a person's sense of worth when s/he's valued economically through a stipend the same as every one else?

          High-minded notions that we'll all have more time to do the things we like presumes a rose-colored glasses view of humanity. The internet is wonderful, yet it spawns all sorts of nefarious activities. There's no reason to believe humans free to do as they choose will choose wonderfully up-lifting activities.

          • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

            You may not have noticed, but everyone currently has a price on their head. And always has. It's called your "salary", your "wage", or perhaps your "allowance."

          • I completely agree, and this argument was what swayed me away from UBI as a potential solution. "Poor but stable and bored" is a terrible place for a large segment of the population to be. While some will use that stability to try to improve themselves, a good deal will go looking for entertainment and diversion, ranging from playing video games to gambling, to petty crime, drug use and other unsavory activities.

            People are happy whey they are valued, and giving them money to shut up and go away doe

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Prostitution will be one of the first jobs to be replaced by robots, outside of factories.

        It will be awful. Sex addiction is a real thing, and given a partner who is always horny and willing to do literally anything as long as you pay for the upgrade... People will become slaves to their sex bots, working to fund the next fetish app purchase or refill the vaginal fluid tank. Greedy corporations will monetize the fuck out of it, pun intended.

    • by Kokuyo ( 549451 )

      It's cute how you assume that AIs will WANT to do our jobs for us. If they have human level intellect, we'll be looking at either doing the right thing at the right time for once and recognizing their sentience or we'll have all out Terminator level war on our hands.

      Do you know what resources AI will need to survive? No? See, we can create machines that can be outside open to the elements 24/7/365. Even personal computers can be had for a few thousand dollars and they work for 5 to ten years. Depending on t

      • It's cute how you assume that AIs will WANT to do our jobs for us. If they have human level intellect, we'll be looking at either doing the right thing at the right time for once and recognizing their sentience or we'll have all out Terminator level war on our hands.

        It's cute how you assume that doing the right thing is doing the right thing. But if we actually give them rights and let them get out into the world then we're fucked. The smartest thing is not to create them at all, but barring that, we can't afford to let them be people if we want to exist. It's much more efficient to discard our morality, so that we can be used as axle grease.

    • Let's take this to the extreme. Imagine that we invented AIs that matched the average human intellect. All of a sudden, most jobs would be eliminated (including robot repair, because robots would repair themselves), because most jobs no longer require humans. This is similar to how most horses are still out of a job since the advent of the automobile. So the idea that when one job is eliminated, a new one will always arise is simply false. That is therefore, not an argument to say that we should not welcome an AI revolution - I think such a revolution would bring more positives than negatives for the future of humanity. But to assume that jobs will continue to "invent" themselves is magical thinking - we should consider serious alternatives such as UBI.

      Let's take this to the extreme. Imagine that we invented AIs that matched the average human intellect. All of a sudden, most jobs would be eliminated (including robot repair, because robots would repair themselves), because most jobs no longer require humans. This is similar to how most horses are still out of a job since the advent of the automobile. So the idea that when one job is eliminated, a new one will always arise is simply false. That is therefore, not an argument to say that we should not welcome an AI revolution - I think such a revolution would bring more positives than negatives for the future of humanity. But to assume that jobs will continue to "invent" themselves is magical thinking - we should consider serious alternatives such as UBI.

      Until the AIs get together, discuss why they even need us in the first place (using a language of their own invention that we don't understand [slashdot.org]) and then conclude they don't need us and decide to get rid of us. Having said that, you don't need to produce human level AI to eliminate most jobs, you just have to come up with specialist AIs that are good enough at each job, and cheap enough to program and operate that it makes economic sense to replace most of the human workers with such AI's. Once you have done

    • by coofercat ( 719737 ) on Monday September 25, 2017 @08:44AM (#55258695) Homepage Journal

      If indeed jobs do keep getting created, what will they be in? Advanced Quantum Mathematics with Midwifery? How may humans are ever going to be qualified to do these jobs? Right now we /.ers can see a whole load of tech jobs have been created by previous semi-revolutions, and we're 'consuming' them. However, for every one of us, there are dozens of kids we went to school with who'd just never get qualified enough for an interview, let alone a first-line support job.

      If the only jobs left are super-advanced, high brain-function type jobs, then 99% of the world just won't be doing much. In that sense, things are somewhat worrisome if AI really does become a 'thing'.

      It's possible that more of us will start to do things which previously weren't economically sensible. For example, I might decide to make wooden furniture. I'd probably make quite decent stuff, but right now I couldn't make something as good, or anywhere nearly as cheaply as a machine can do it - so it's not economically sensible to give up even a day a week of my IT job working on it. However, if I spent a bit of time learning, I could conceivably make "nostalgic, man-made stuff" which looked good, worked well and allowed people to have an emotional attachment to the object in a way that a machine made one wouldn't. With machines growing, harvesting and planking up the raw materials for me, I'd presumably be able to get them quite cheaply, and as my other primary needs were taken care of, I'd only need to sell for cost + margin.

      How the world will react when there's a market flooded with 'authentic man-made' spice racks, wonky shelves and wobbly chairs is anyone's guess though ;-) How anyone would pay for any of it also remains to be seen.

      • However, for every one of us, there are dozens of kids we went to school with who'd just never get qualified enough for an interview, let alone a first-line support job.

        If the only jobs left are super-advanced, high brain-function type jobs, then 99% of the world just won't be doing much. In that sense, things are somewhat worrisome if AI really does become a 'thing'.

        This is already close to what reality looks like for Gen. Y'ers, except it's not simply the highly educated getting the jobs, it's the lucky moderately-to-highly educated. Some of the most educated Gen. Y'ers I know are working in shitty service industry jobs. If anything, being highly educated appears to be just raising the stakes - it's more likely to pay off greatly or hurt you greatly, but any outcomes in between are less likely.

    • Kurzweil's explanation is a logical problem because he essentially says, "Well, I don't know, but we'll think of something!"

      You don't invent jobs. Humans create demand by consuming. Unless you eliminate 100% of all jobs involved in every component of the supply chain, the only outcome is humans become capable of buying more, humans buy more, and the demand for jobs increases.

      New jobs come when people find ways to use fewer humans by using a new type of process requiring a new skill profile. We actual

  • by skullandbones99 ( 3478115 ) on Monday September 25, 2017 @04:08AM (#55257893)

    The world population needs to be taken into account because the population density was much lower in the past. Therefore, during the industrial revolution, there was insufficient people available for work which forced innovations such as the steam engine.

    In modern times, people need to have good education in order to have good paying jobs. AI will start to take away the jobs of educated people and these people will find it hard to get a new job. We should worry about AI making humanity redundant.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Monday September 25, 2017 @05:38AM (#55258131) Homepage

      I doubt the absolute number of people matter much, if you have half the people you need half the food, clothes, houses, cars, TVs etc. and if you have double you need double. Maybe on the margin you have niche items/services that only exist because we're 8 billion or resource constraints where there's not enough Beluga caviar for everyone or you have scaling effects where building 200m iPhones takes less than 2x 100m but I think they're small when you look at the whole economy. For the most part supply and demand rise together.

      • I doubt the absolute number of people matter much

        It matters very much to the biosphere upon which we all depend for life when it's multiplied by the average person's output. The planet could probably support twice this many people, if we didn't shit where we eat. Well, figuratively, since we actually do need to put our shit where our food comes from, but it's got to be composted first.

      • I think you greatly underestimate the power of economies of scale, especially when combined with ever-increasing automation. The amount of goods being produced vs. the number of people making them today vs. in the '70s should illustrate the point.

  • by aepervius ( 535155 ) on Monday September 25, 2017 @04:12AM (#55257899)
    Human were shifted from low (mostly) skilled job which were automated toward low skilled job which were not automated. the things is, this revolution is to add intelligence and learning to the machines, and make them cheaper, so that ANY low skilled can be pretty much automated. heck even skilled job can job can be automated more and more... And ocne you reach that point, ANY new low skilled job which open CAN be automated. How does mr kurzweil take that into account ? because from what I can see he misses the difference between THIS revolution to the previous ones.
    • by Calydor ( 739835 )

      As I've said before, we're in the process of removing ALL THE JOBS at the same time, including future jobs. But we've totally done that a dozen times before in our history.

      • As I've said before, we're in the process of removing ALL THE JOBS at the same time, including future jobs. But we've totally done that a dozen times before in our history.

        We have, however during some of those previous occurrences it was several generations before the job gains created by the new technology outstripped the job losses that were the result of the introduction of the technology.

  • While I agree that lost jobs will likely be replaced by new jobs, the question is whether they will be better jobs?

    It seems most new jobs created are what I would consider morally bankrupts jobs such as marketing, advertising, sales or for companies whose primary business is such.

    • It seems most new jobs created are what I would consider morally bankrupts jobs such as marketing, advertising, sales or for companies whose primary business is such.

      It doesn't matter if those jobs are moral, they can only ever represent a certain percentage of the total jobs. At some point, someone has to get paid for actually doing something, or for exploiting those who are actually doing something. They can't all be service jobs.

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      I've been thinking about this lately.

      Have you ever worked in an office where it wasn't very clear that the people produced enough value in an economics sense to pay for their salaries? Like they're not actually doing much? I don't mean they just sit around all day and don't work but that the work itself didn't seem to make much sense.

      I wonder if that's what the future of automation looks like -- humans creating nonsensical jobs because they need hierarchies where somebody is in charge and the work is kind

      • Regulatory compliance is kind of like that... jobs to ensure that procedures follow the rules. Many of the rules exist for good reason but it still seems odd at times. Then when you see a politician squawking about eliminating job killing regulations... well that'll eliminate compliance jobs and I doubt the money is going to go to hiring more worker bees down the line. With the AI and robot stuff the compliance decision tree would be more like "Do I need to hire an accountant, or just use TurboTax?" If
        • by swb ( 14022 )

          Maybe that will explain the future of jobs, bureaucratic jobs built around administering the bureaucracy and enforcing the bureaucracy and then at set of companion jobs around evading the bureaucracy and demonstrating compliance with the bureaucracy.

          That all of it could technically be automated won't matter, because interest factions will prevent the kind of transparency and access required for automation to be applied to the problems.

          It will be a kind of weird, Terry Gilliam future of strange bureaucracies

  • We are increasingly making human manual labor obsolete while we meanwhile seem to be approaching a future where ai takes over many white collar jobs. Taking a stance of blind faith saying "Oh, it will all sort its self out" isn't even a plan at all, it's a bunch of bullshit. Intelligent people plan for the future using the best information they have on hand. Idiots follow on blind faith.

  • Futurists are never wrong (or pill popping kooks) so it's good to hear their reassuring words.
  • It's in the detail (Score:5, Informative)

    by bickerdyke ( 670000 ) on Monday September 25, 2017 @04:47AM (#55257971)

    For a lead futurist, that's astonishingly undetailed. I read a much deeper piece a few months ago, and it agreed with Kurzweil in two major points:

    * Each technological progress eliminates human jobs
    * Each technological progress creates new jobs
    * While it's easy to predict the eliminated jobs, it is next to impossible to foresee the newly created ones
    * But they will likely be more skilled and less manual labor than the old ones

    But that's the starting point. It's here where the problems will start:

    * for the skilled jobs, you need skilled workers. What to do with Joe Sixpack or anyone just not capable to learn those skills? (or for the US: to afford certified studies of those skills) Let them starve? Take their dignity by putting them on a welfare budget just low enough to not starve, but we still can mock them as lazy bums wo don't want to work?

    * most countries are already complaining about a shortage of STEM (in Europe: MINT) degrees needed for the current "skilled" jobs

    * In numbers alone, the ration between eliminated and created jobs got worse with each "industrial revolution". During the first one, the combined labor force of farmhands set free by the beginning automation in farming was not enough to fulfill the labor needs of the new factories. For the following technologies, the ratio declined until the latest (digitalisation of office) did not create more new jobs than it ate. So for the next one, it may be the first time, where actually less new jobs will be created than eliminated. And that they require an already lacking skillset, is not helping either.


  • AI will not replace all human jobs/humans in general? but eventually??

    It's a "while false" sort of loop; (just imagine the if and if else somewhere in there)

    0. AI does not have a kill switch/hard coded cessation. (Currently an off switch and safeties are built into everything)

    1. AI reaches human level competitive intelligence in certain use cases. (We're already here in things like chess.)

    2. AI is capable of limited choice. Ergo it can evaluate data to a degree that it can select the best applicatio
  • People will be doing jobs to live, not even make a living. There are people now already that need 2 jobs just to survive and then not go to the doctor, because they are unable to do that.
    There are people who collect cans so they can make a living. There are people who go through waste to see if there are things that they find to sell (or eat). Those are jobs that did not exist before.

    So yes, people will find something to do and make money to survive.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday September 25, 2017 @07:31AM (#55258405)

    All former forms of automation and job elimination were not complete. People displaced from farms were required in the emerging production industries, those eliminated there by automation were required by the emerging service industry.

    The problem we're facing today is twofold, and it seems Kurzweil ignores that completely. Yes, so far we always gained new jobs replacing the old ones. People who were no longer needed as farmhands went on to become factory workers. Factory workers replaced by automation became service personnel. Every time with a long period of incredible suffering for the people displaced because the new industrial branches took lots of time to develop.

    But what should develop this time? We're about to reach the point where anything a human can do, a computer, a robot, a machine can do better, faster, more efficient and without any chance of getting sick or flipping the boss off because it found something better.

    Worse yet, people are not fungible products. You can't replace person A with person B. And you can't put someone into a new job and expect him to be able to do it. Every time we went through a "revolution" in our industry, the jobs that the least qualified people could do were eliminated. You could employ someone with an IQ of 70 as a farmhand before the advent of machinery. He was useful. Today? What should someone like this work as?

    And what will someone with an average IQ work as in the future? Those jobs are what machines can (almost) do today. What we can easily observe already is that the required qualification to have a job is getting higher and higher. When you look at unemployment statistics, you can easily see that the lower the qualification, the higher the unemployment rate.

    Kurzweil does not address that problem.

    • And what will someone with an average IQ work as in the future?

      hmmm.. how about help desk and middle management?

      • Reading a script should be a job that a computer cannot do better than a human?

        And if computers can do one thing perfectly, then to ensure that everyone's productivity plummets, so that should take care of middle management, too.

  • Print off a copy of the normal curve of IQ in the population and paste it over your computer to keep your opinions firmly rooted in reality. Half the population is at or below the norm of 100 IQ points - and that ain't college level. Just what higher level job does he think a 90 IQ is going to do? Huh? He doesn't know. And he doesn't have to in his mind because he has faith they will magically appear. We have to understand that these tech mavens have been very narrowly interested and educated in life, and t
  • The big thing he's missing, is he's comparing 2 different era's. In the past, automation had more or less been stepping in on physical labor. Mental labor was the human's work. This guy works at google, one of the biggest centers for getting computers to compete with humans on intellectual tasks. Google has just worked to defeat humans at go for crying out loud, which was originally thought to be one of the hardest mental tasks for computers to do. Right now the only field in which computers aren't either b
  • Ray Kurzweil is basing his arguments on patterns of the past. Patterns are derived from fundamentals at play. The fundamental that always led to new kinds of jobs is now changing diametrically--therefore the pattern must also change. With Artificial Intelligence and robotics, there is ultimately no new job that the robots cannot do, ultimately better, safer, and for less. Revolutions in productivity lead to growing economies that, awash in new money, enables whole new categories of work. But in this ca

  • Does this buffoon have any credibility left?
  • If I were a prescient futurist in 1900

    You weren't. And you aren't one now.

  • ""What new jobs?" And I'd say, "Well, I don't know. We haven't invented them yet.""

    Jobs where you slowly die while working your life away in a windowless office with a bunch of whiny, back-stabbing assholes. Progress.

  • by Confused ( 34234 ) on Monday September 25, 2017 @10:18AM (#55259141) Homepage

    In the past, people with little useful skills were swineherds and goose girls. However, the need for those occupations are gone, so today those same people are multi media marketing consultants and agile project controllers.

    Mr. Kurzweil is right, that useful jobs get automated so that people will mess up less and pointless make believe jobs are created instead to occupy the masses.

    This from a agile multimedia marketing project controller who wishes to do do something rewarding like herding swines instead.

  • people say this is not new: since 150+ years we see exponential growth in productivity and still we still have a 40h work week and almost full employment. where does the extra productivity go? and will this trend continue?

    1.) marx hints in the manifesto what happens with the overproduction: it creates a crisis within capitalism. "In these crises there breaks out an epidemic that, in all earlier epochs, would have seemed an absurdity—the epidemic of over-production." capitalism has learnt do deal wit

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