7.29.2005

 

Robotics CEO savors replacing people

FANUC Robotics' Rick Schneider to Present 'Save Your Factory' at Management Briefing Seminar in Traverse City, Michigan

From the article: "Choices" means "robots". He goes on:Speeches like this make it obvious that the Robotic Nation is inevitable, and will arrive rapidly. The same logic is true for every segment of the economy. Lawyers, doctors, teachers, pilots, retail clerks, fast food employees -- in short, everyone -- can be replaced by robots. See Robots taking jobs for a long list.

Comments:
Clearly the wave of outsourcing that we are seeing is merely an intermediate step before human workers are replaced by robots. China and other developing nations will probably only enjoy 10 years as the manufacturers of choice before real automated production is going. Factories will be then colocated where ever the end users are.

The interesting conundrum is that manufacturers can replace workers for a while but once we reach a tipping point, how will all those unemployed people buy the products that the robots make???
 
I forsee that outsourcing will do the job far before "Robot Nation".

As far as the unemployed people buying the products, did the slave masters worry too much about the purchasing power of their slaves? No, they had something far more gratifying than profits: they had dominion.
 
C'mon, robots are a heck of a lot costlier than a raft of Indian or Chinese laborers. You're a little off base on this one.
 
Today, automation and innovation will save massive labor costs in the industrialized world. You’re correct; robots are expensive and primitive today. Within ten years, stipend payments better begin. I’ll stimulate the robot economy with my $25k per year!
 
Have you discussed these ideas and concepts
With our fearless leader?
 
Please don’t view an economy as static.

For instance, when I graduated from college, how did I find a job? Did someone in India get killed/fired? Was a robot turned off?

No.

I found gainful employment in a mutual exchange where my skills added value. My labor increases the size of the pie, and I get a piece of it. It wouldn't add up if the value of my labor were worth less than my paycheck. Who would hire me?

This doesn't change with the coming robots, but it does make the jobs that "add value" more select in nature (note that doesn't mean "more scarce").

Go here. You'll find the following table:
(Year, Total Non-farm Employment, Manufacturing Production Workers, Percent)
(1952, 48.9M, 12.8M, 26%)
(1962, 55.7M, 12.0M, 22%)
(1972, 73.8M, 13.5M, 18%)
(1982, 89.7M, 12.3M, 14%)
(1992, 108.7M, 12.0M, 11%)
(2002, 130.4M, 10.8M, 8%)

See a trend? Here is the real question: what percent of the net 1.2M people who left manufacturing between 1992 & 2002 are unemployed? Brain would have you believe 100%.

That is ridiculous.

The entire point of increased productivity is that people can do more for less. Those that choose to get educated will be able to snap up the opportunities available because resources are freed by those increased in productivity. Not everyone leaving manufacturing (or name your industry) is unemployed.

The key "solution" is what it's always been: learn new skills. We need a race to the top, not a race to mediocrity with talk of a stipend (quick q, yet unanswered: who pays for it?).

All that talk of automation, and automation for education hasn't been mentioned enough. Continuing the trend of people changing both jobs and fields more often, people will have to learn new skills in order to compete, probably from shrink-wrapping software.
 
Those figures you show would not be possible without massive government intervention in the economy. The few that make things are so productive, that when their output is combined with annual borrowing of hundreds of billions of dollars, we can afford all kinds of government sponsored employment from NASA to school bus drivers.

What Brain is saying is that the more productive human labor becomes, the less of it you need. One can imagine that there are futures possible where 100 million human laborers in the robot industry can do the work (via their machines) of 6 billion people today.

Now you can continue to "employ" the rest of the workforce, which is disguised welfare. You can simply give them money, which is naked welfare. You could also cling madly to lassiez-faire and watch the resultant civil strife cum civil war.

One other thing; your "learn new skills" solution: at certain ages, even the best of us will be hardpressed to learn yet another set of new skills. Moreover, there are people for whom learning was never a strong suit. Not everyone can be a phD or what have you. They have always had a role in society, are you saying "nevermore"?
 
The slave masters didn't worry about slave purchasing powers because there were other consumers buying their goods. If robots are able to replace the majority of workers around the world, corporations will have to do something. They cannot survive today by servicing only the top half of 1/2 of the population.
 
K, you are assuming a continuity of democratic forms.
 
You missed my point.

Yes, we can have a standard of living from the 1600s with only 5% of the population working. We don't because, with everyone working at higher productivity, the standard of living rises.

This means you can expect a drastic rise in standard of living with increased automation, as the resources saved are recycled.

As for 'skills', I'm not talking about getting a PhD. Considering most people change careers many times, I'm only commenting on an increase in frequency of changes, rather than a change in nature of the labor pool.

Also, you should look at where most tax dollars go. They certainly don't go to NASA. Also, servicing the debt is expensive, but does not dominate spending.
 
Anyone see the Minority Report? I love the scene where Tom Cruise goes into the Lexus factory. The director made a point to include NO humans in that factory. It was deserted, but the robots were busy building Lexus cars. It was a very surreal moment for me.
 
ivan, you still have yet to respond to Marshall Brain. He has always asked, what new jobs will appear?

What are the jobs people will do, that robots will not?

How long will it take people to train to them, and how will they make do while they retrain?

I'm not saying that these questions are unanswerable, and that Marshall Brain is right. I am saying that in this forum, where your objection has been pre-emptively counter-questioned, you must answer to the pre-emptive question: "If there are going to be hoards of new jobs, what specificly will they be?”

Answering in this way carries the conversation forward, not just lulling somewhere where it's been for ages.
 
I've already answered the question, implicitly, in saying jobs that require creativity will be last to be replaced.

When they are, robotic nation will be a bit irrelevant, as the singularity will begin and hard-AI solved. Describing the economic make-up of a situation where another, hyper-rational actor is taking part, seems a bit much to ask. Considering this is 20-30 years away (vs. 5-15 for RN), assume creativity is still a skill.

I've mentioned a few jobs which are fairly common today, that weren't only a few years ago. Personal trainers, interior decorators, designers of all varieties… Considering the rise in respect for aesthetics as an important part of functionality, this isn't too surprising. It will continue to move in this direction.

Also, it is a bit much to ask for a list of jobs to replace those that today are a waste of human thought. Kinda like asking me to predict where the economy will be 20 years from now. I would be very rich if I were better skilled at such prediction. But an important point is _why_ it is harder to predict: the technological trends are science & engineering based. It's easy to see Moore's law affect the cost of robotics, the power of computer vision, and the reach of AI. It is harder to find trends in creative areas. Hell, it's hard to even find dimensions along which to plot trends.

So we have an incomplete story here. Yes, there will be a huge rise in productivity. In the past, this has lead to a rise in standard of living, and not massive unemployment. Also, in the past, entirely new fields were created with the free resources. A big reason to hold my optimistic view, rather than fear mongering, is that inciting fear in the future is the easiest way to prevent it. If Brain isn’t a Luddite, he shouldn’t be openly concluding such a desperate scenario out of, at best, incomplete models.

Idiot politicians might do something brain-dead like make outsourcing illegal, or limit applications in robotics. Hell, they’d probably assume a response appropriate to only a super-AI, ‘Terminator’ scenario, which Brain is clearly not predicting.
 
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