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Will robots will take our jobs?

Discussion in 'Speaker's Corner' started by Mercenary Keyboard Warrior, Dec 21, 2017.

  1. Cern

    Mobster

    Joined: Jul 3, 2008

    Posts: 3,412

    Location: London

    Nope that's not the argument I was presenting.

    My point is not that automation causes mass unemployment, rather it pushes people into ever more pointless and unrewarding forms of employment. Rather than freeing people up to do 'better' jobs and have more leisure time, it makes people scrabble around just finding stupid pointless things to do and actually work longer hours because of unstable, insecure, low paid jobs.

    Is it any wonder that at the heart of the Trump and Brexit movements are low skilled workers wondering what on earth it is they are supposed to be doing with their lives, struggling to make ends meet, worrying about losing out to immigrants and wanting the return of old roles such as manufacturing, agriculture, mining and so on? But this can't return and yet there is very little retraining into 'value added' roles and not everyone is suited to them anyway.

    We're now a service economy, not a manufacturing economy, but once service starts to get increasingly automated, what next? No it won't be mass unemployment, but we'll have to find new ways to get our noses to the grindstone. Perhaps we'll all become creatives and flood the world with endless self published novels and mindless narcissistic You Tube content (already happening of course)?

    Even with all this automation, people STILL cannot cope with the concept of ordinary people not having regular jobs or being productive. Which is why we have such hysteria about benefits scroungers and people are working longer hours than ever before. There's now talk about how 'wonderful' it'll be after Brexit when we can get rid of the Working Time Directive and people will be able to work longer hours, do more overtime, have less days off, less paid holiday and sick pay and in ever more pointless jobs. This is progress?

    So no, automation doesn't necessarily cause mass unemployment because people always find 'something' to do, because that's how society operates, making sure people are doing 'something' even if it's essentially pointless, unrewarding or irrelevant. Those in control just need to make sure to keep most peoples work-life balance suitably messed up and pressurised that they don't get ideas above their 'station' and get too jealous of the ever rising inequality around them. Same old.
     
  2. Fusion

    Sgarrista

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 9,856

    Location: Notts

    You're vastly over simplifying the complexity of certain tasks, and the ease in which they can be automated. You think it's possible to replicate decades of experience gained from a sector, with appreciations for nuance and sound judgement? How long before we reach this stage of development, if ever?

    I'm not going to turn this into a debate about the immediate political context, but generally speaking, living standards are sky high by historic standards. Your cynicism about monetarising new technologies, media and methods of working shows that you are perhaps unaware or unappreciative of their potential.

    Discussions about quality of life post-automation are a little moot, because they're framed in a way that we are somehow able to "resist" what are feared as sweeping changes undertaken by actors who are identifiable, and must be fought or challenged. In reality, "automation" is a large number of small process and capability improvements undertaken by a large number of organisations, over a long period of time. As I mentioned earlier, it's been going on for centuries, and is unlikely to ever stop. Process improvement is a natural part of most businesses, and will exist while ever there are quality, fiscal or reputation factors.

    To halt progress would be to essentially rewrite the textbook on how capitalism and economics should work in our society.
     
  3. something daft already!!

    Mobster

    Joined: Jan 11, 2007

    Posts: 4,449

    Location: South East

    Vote for thread name change to Rise of the Robots!
     
  4. edscdk

    Soldato

    Joined: Jul 17, 2008

    Posts: 6,666

    We pay unemployed people quite a lot,
     
  5. TallPaul1878

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Oct 21, 2012

    Posts: 2,333

    The thing is that employment support is supposed to tide you over until you find a new job. We all know that there are people who have never done and never will do a day's work in their life but they are actually just an exception rather than the rule.

    What happens when everyone is like that though? Tax revenues will not be raised by income tax and exclusively from corporation tax. Will the state have to nationalise everything to pay for Universal Basic Income? Will private corporations be happy having large chunks of their profits taken away to pay for UBI?

    If corporations or the state do not pay for UBI then nobody will ever have any money at all and the whole shebang will just come crashing down. They won't be able to sell a single product and I'm pretty sure they aren't just going to give things away. They're in it for the profit after all.

    Without the profit motive then there is no reason to produce anything. It would take a global attitude change to work it out.
     
  6. Jokester

    Don

    Joined: Aug 7, 2003

    Posts: 38,840

    Location: Aberdeenshire

    Yes, I think we are going to see massive social upheaval in the next 30-40 years. Personally I think we’re ****ed as a society.
     
  7. something daft already!!

    Mobster

    Joined: Jan 11, 2007

    Posts: 4,449

    Location: South East

    No, we really don't. I was made redundant 7 years ago. I was getting only a some of my lowish rent paid and 75 quid a week to live on. I spend that in a day often. Fortunately I found work quite quickly.
     
  8. dowie

    Caporegime

    Joined: Jan 29, 2008

    Posts: 42,452

    I think some of these points are unrelated to automation and more related to politics and short term effects of government policies etc.. I think across a longer time frame it is pretty clear that people in general are healthier, living longer etc.. and we've got a better safety net. IIRC there was a program a while ago where people on benefits had to live by 1950s standards of benefits and the requirements were much tougher, go back further and we had workhouses etc.. even on the political side things do have a tendency to improve over time. As for the more leisure time argument, that isn't something I've proposed - I guess in some respects we actually do, we tend to have more holidays/paid leave than we did when say my grandparents were around, a few decades ago air travel was only for the rich whereas these days even the lowest paid can visit Spain, Greece etc.. and the cost of a ticket via the budget carriers as a portion of the average weekly wage is tiny compared to how it used to be. I do think you're vastly underestimating how much automation/technological advancement has affected our abilities to do things.
     
  9. dowie

    Caporegime

    Joined: Jan 29, 2008

    Posts: 42,452

    This again all relies on the luddite fallacy suddenly becoming true after being repeatedly shown to be false over the past two centuries. I doubt very much we're going to see this mythical future where no one has any work to do any time soon if at all.
     
  10. kedge

    Mobster

    Joined: Sep 5, 2010

    Posts: 3,679

    I'd be more concerned about the knavish person and roguebots. I can picture a futuristic scene ...War is declared, the elite enslave thousands and force them to work in factories building their automatous killing machines, human resistance and the rage against the machines and the elite proves futile and all sides are wiped out, algorithmic formulas turn virulent and automatous society 2.0 self terminates, the end.



    Have a nice day people.
     
  11. VoG

    Soldato

    Joined: Jan 20, 2004

    Posts: 5,680

    Location: Nottingham

    I'll be all right, but then I do programme & toolset the robot welders at a local engineering co. :p
     
  12. Stretch

    Capodecina

    Joined: Feb 14, 2004

    Posts: 11,538

    Location: Cambridge

    But if everyone is unemployed, who pays the taxes in order to raise the money to pay the unemployed.

    Also, robotics and automation essentially solves a production problem. There still needs to be innovation. Where is the incentive to study, take risks and invest if everything currently produced is given away for free?

    They'll be a robot for that.
     
  13. Fusion

    Sgarrista

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 9,856

    Location: Notts

    Lot of optimism here regarding what robots are going to be capable of!
     
  14. dowie

    Caporegime

    Joined: Jan 29, 2008

    Posts: 42,452

    people have been getting a bit carried away after watching sci-fi films tbh...
     
  15. Jokester

    Don

    Joined: Aug 7, 2003

    Posts: 38,840

    Location: Aberdeenshire

    I think a lot of people are going to be completed unprepared for when they start losing their jobs.

    It’ll be taxi drivers first, truck drivers and anything that is purely information based such as accountancy and the likes that will bear the brunt of the first wave in the next 20 years.
     
  16. dowie

    Caporegime

    Joined: Jan 29, 2008

    Posts: 42,452

    I'm still not seeing the issue - taxi drivers, lorry drivers - they're doing something incredibly mundane... hardly a tragedy if they get replaced - ditto to lots of accountants. At one point we had most of the population working in fields, I don't really see it as a huge problem that now only a tiny % of the workforce need be dedicated towards producing our food. This sort of progress is generally a good thing!
     
  17. Cern

    Mobster

    Joined: Jul 3, 2008

    Posts: 3,412

    Location: London

    But these mundane jobs are usually just replaced by alternative mundane jobs.

    Most of those who formerly worked in the fields lost their mundane agricultural jobs to mechanisation and wound up in factories doing alternative mundane jobs, often in worse conditions.

    As mechanisation (and cheap labour competition) has increased in manufacturing the workforce has moved into other alternative mundane jobs such as office work, clerical, call centres, delivery drivers, warehouse work and all manner of minimum wage service industry jobs etc. As robots replace these jobs what new mundane jobs will they move into?

    It's only 'progress' if all these advances make peoples' lives better and improve the work-life balance. There's not much evidence of that. Big chunks of the population still work long hours in poor conditions for low pay.

    I'm not suggesting the past was wonderful, most of those old mundane jobs were exhausting, dangerous and debilitating. People died young. But let's not pretend that automation naturally creates a better society, because it doesn't. It has the potential to, if properly regulated. But that's not how it tends to work out in practice and the ordinary worker nearly always ends up getting shafted in some mundane job or other.

    Same old same old.
     
  18. dowie

    Caporegime

    Joined: Jan 29, 2008

    Posts: 42,452

    There are plenty of people not in mundane jobs today whereas most of the population would still be ploughing fields if not for progress...

    this really isn't true though... like I already pointed out most of us would still be ploughing fields - technological progress has improved our lives (including our work lives) rather dramatically
     
  19. jsmoke

    Sgarrista

    Joined: Jun 17, 2012

    Posts: 7,619

    Depends on how you define a better life. Not sure if food is healthier now than 50 years ago. Also depends on how far back regarding shorter lives. Didn't the great generation live long and healthy lives overall. It's advances in chemistry and medicine that really improve the quality of our lives. A factory job is hardly a health hazard nowadays with all the health and safety regs. As you said it may not be very fulfilling but shouldn't stop someone living a long healthy life.

    Same old story though, money dictates most things. Hard to have a healthy diet if your on minimum wage etc.
     
  20. Cern

    Mobster

    Joined: Jul 3, 2008

    Posts: 3,412

    Location: London

    Ploughing fields and tied to the land, repetitive factory work with barely a day off, stuck in a call centre booth on a zero hours contract with monitored loo breaks, rushing around as a delivery driver trying to meet your targets unable to take a day off sick without being fined if you don't find a replacement.

    Is it all really so different and 'progress'?

    Well, the post Brexit 'bonfire of red tape' we're promised could very well undo a lot of the health and safety regs and turn the clock back on work conditions.

    And all the advances in chemistry and medicine are only of benefit if we have a viable NHS to deliver them (or an alternative system that provides universal health care). This is currently very much under threat and life expectancy is already much less (and actually decreasing) in more deprived areas.