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Job Automation and the Minimum Wage Debate

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the go-away-or-I-will-replace-you-with-a-very-small-shell-script dept.

Robotics 870

An anonymous reader writes "An article at FiveThirtyEight looks at the likelihood of various occupations being replaced by automation. It mentions President Obama's proposed increase to the federal minimum wage, saying big leaps in automation could reshape that debate. '[The wage increase] from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour could make it worthwhile for employers to adopt emerging technologies to do the work of their low-wage workers. But can a robot really do a janitor's job? Can software fully replace a fast-food worker? Economists have long considered these low-skilled, non-routine jobs as less vulnerable to technological replacement, but until now, quantitative estimates of a job's vulnerability have been missing from the debate.' Many minimum-wage jobs are reportedly at high risk, including restaurant workers, cashiers, and telemarketers. A study rated the probability of computerization within 20 years (PDF): 92% for retail salespeople, 97% for cashiers, and 94% for waitstaff. There are other jobs with a high likelihood, but they employ fewer people and generally have a higher pay rate: tax preparers (99%), freight workers (99%), and legal secretaries (98%)."

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Communism is the only way forward (-1, Flamebait)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about 4 months ago | (#46579619)

The history of all hitherto existing society(2) is the history of class struggles.

Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master(3) and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.

In the earlier epochs of history, we find almost everywhere a complicated arrangement of society into various orders, a manifold gradation of social rank. In ancient Rome we have patricians, knights, plebeians, slaves; in the Middle Ages, feudal lords, vassals, guild-masters, journeymen, apprentices, serfs; in almost all of these classes, again, subordinate gradations.

The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done away with class antagonisms. It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones.

Our epoch, the epoch of the bourgeoisie, possesses, however, this distinct feature: it has simplified class antagonisms. Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other — Bourgeoisie and Proletariat.

From the serfs of the Middle Ages sprang the chartered burghers of the earliest towns. From these burgesses the first elements of the bourgeoisie were developed.

The discovery of America, the rounding of the Cape, opened up fresh ground for the rising bourgeoisie. The East-Indian and Chinese markets, the colonisation of America, trade with the colonies, the increase in the means of exchange and in commodities generally, gave to commerce, to navigation, to industry, an impulse never before known, and thereby, to the revolutionary element in the tottering feudal society, a rapid development.

The feudal system of industry, in which industrial production was monopolised by closed guilds, now no longer sufficed for the growing wants of the new markets. The manufacturing system took its place. The guild-masters were pushed on one side by the manufacturing middle class; division of labour between the different corporate guilds vanished in the face of division of labour in each single workshop.

Meantime the markets kept ever growing, the demand ever rising. Even manufacturer no longer sufficed. Thereupon, steam and machinery revolutionised industrial production. The place of manufacture was taken by the giant, Modern Industry; the place of the industrial middle class by industrial millionaires, the leaders of the whole industrial armies, the modern bourgeois.

Modern industry has established the world market, for which the discovery of America paved the way. This market has given an immense development to commerce, to navigation, to communication by land. This development has, in its turn, reacted on the extension of industry; and in proportion as industry, commerce, navigation, railways extended, in the same proportion the bourgeoisie developed, increased its capital, and pushed into the background every class handed down from the Middle Ages.

We see, therefore, how the modern bourgeoisie is itself the product of a long course of development, of a series of revolutions in the modes of production and of exchange.

Each step in the development of the bourgeoisie was accompanied by a corresponding political advance of that class. An oppressed class under the sway of the feudal nobility, an armed and self-governing association in the medieval commune(4): here independent urban republic (as in Italy and Germany); there taxable “third estate” of the monarchy (as in France); afterwards, in the period of manufacturing proper, serving either the semi-feudal or the absolute monarchy as a counterpoise against the nobility, and, in fact, cornerstone of the great monarchies in general, the bourgeoisie has at last, since the establishment of Modern Industry and of the world market, conquered for itself, in the modern representative State, exclusive political sway. The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.

The bourgeoisie, historically, has played a most revolutionary part.

The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom — Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.

The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honoured and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage labourers.

The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation.

The bourgeoisie has disclosed how it came to pass that the brutal display of vigour in the Middle Ages, which reactionaries so much admire, found its fitting complement in the most slothful indolence. It has been the first to show what man’s activity can bring about. It has accomplished wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts, and Gothic cathedrals; it has conducted expeditions that put in the shade all former Exoduses of nations and crusades.

The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.

The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere.

The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. To the great chagrin of Reactionists, it has drawn from under the feet of industry the national ground on which it stood. All old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. They are dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilised nations, by industries that no longer work up indigenous raw material, but raw material drawn from the remotest zones; industries whose products are consumed, not only at home, but in every quarter of the globe. In place of the old wants, satisfied by the production of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes. In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world literature.

The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilisation. The cheap prices of commodities are the heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese walls, with which it forces the barbarians’ intensely obstinate hatred of foreigners to capitulate. It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilisation into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image.

The bourgeoisie has subjected the country to the rule of the towns. It has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life. Just as it has made the country dependent on the towns, so it has made barbarian and semi-barbarian countries dependent on the civilised ones, nations of peasants on nations of bourgeois, the East on the West.

The bourgeoisie keeps more and more doing away with the scattered state of the population, of the means of production, and of property. It has agglomerated population, centralised the means of production, and has concentrated property in a few hands. The necessary consequence of this was political centralisation. Independent, or but loosely connected provinces, with separate interests, laws, governments, and systems of taxation, became lumped together into one nation, with one government, one code of laws, one national class-interest, one frontier, and one customs-tariff.

The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together. Subjection of Nature’s forces to man, machinery, application of chemistry to industry and agriculture, steam-navigation, railways, electric telegraphs, clearing of whole continents for cultivation, canalisation of rivers, whole populations conjured out of the ground — what earlier century had even a presentiment that such productive forces slumbered in the lap of social labour?

We see then: the means of production and of exchange, on whose foundation the bourgeoisie built itself up, were generated in feudal society. At a certain stage in the development of these means of production and of exchange, the conditions under which feudal society produced and exchanged, the feudal organisation of agriculture and manufacturing industry, in one word, the feudal relations of property became no longer compatible with the already developed productive forces; they became so many fetters. They had to be burst asunder; they were burst asunder.

Into their place stepped free competition, accompanied by a social and political constitution adapted in it, and the economic and political sway of the bourgeois class.

A similar movement is going on before our own eyes. Modern bourgeois society, with its relations of production, of exchange and of property, a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, is like the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells. For many a decade past the history of industry and commerce is but the history of the revolt of modern productive forces against modern conditions of production, against the property relations that are the conditions for the existence of the bourgeois and of its rule. It is enough to mention the commercial crises that by their periodical return put the existence of the entire bourgeois society on its trial, each time more threateningly. In these crises, a great part not only of the existing products, but also of the previously created productive forces, are periodically destroyed. In these crises, there breaks out an epidemic that, in all earlier epochs, would have seemed an absurdity — the epidemic of over-production. Society suddenly finds itself put back into a state of momentary barbarism; it appears as if a famine, a universal war of devastation, had cut off the supply of every means of subsistence; industry and commerce seem to be destroyed; and why? Because there is too much civilisation, too much means of subsistence, too much industry, too much commerce. The productive forces at the disposal of society no longer tend to further the development of the conditions of bourgeois property; on the contrary, they have become too powerful for these conditions, by which they are fettered, and so soon as they overcome these fetters, they bring disorder into the whole of bourgeois society, endanger the existence of bourgeois property. The conditions of bourgeois society are too narrow to comprise the wealth created by them. And how does the bourgeoisie get over these crises? On the one hand by enforced destruction of a mass of productive forces; on the other, by the conquest of new markets, and by the more thorough exploitation of the old ones. That is to say, by paving the way for more extensive and more destructive crises, and by diminishing the means whereby crises are prevented.

The weapons with which the bourgeoisie felled feudalism to the ground are now turned against the bourgeoisie itself.

But not only has the bourgeoisie forged the weapons that bring death to itself; it has also called into existence the men who are to wield those weapons — the modern working class — the proletarians.

In proportion as the bourgeoisie, i.e., capital, is developed, in the same proportion is the proletariat, the modern working class, developed — a class of labourers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labour increases capital. These labourers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market.

Owing to the extensive use of machinery, and to the division of labour, the work of the proletarians has lost all individual character, and, consequently, all charm for the workman. He becomes an appendage of the machine, and it is only the most simple, most monotonous, and most easily acquired knack, that is required of him. Hence, the cost of production of a workman is restricted, almost entirely, to the means of subsistence that he requires for maintenance, and for the propagation of his race. But the price of a commodity, and therefore also of labour, is equal to its cost of production. In proportion, therefore, as the repulsiveness of the work increases, the wage decreases. Nay more, in proportion as the use of machinery and division of labour increases, in the same proportion the burden of toil also increases, whether by prolongation of the working hours, by the increase of the work exacted in a given time or by increased speed of machinery, etc.

Modern Industry has converted the little workshop of the patriarchal master into the great factory of the industrial capitalist. Masses of labourers, crowded into the factory, are organised like soldiers. As privates of the industrial army they are placed under the command of a perfect hierarchy of officers and sergeants. Not only are they slaves of the bourgeois class, and of the bourgeois State; they are daily and hourly enslaved by the machine, by the overlooker, and, above all, by the individual bourgeois manufacturer himself. The more openly this despotism proclaims gain to be its end and aim, the more petty, the more hateful and the more embittering it is.

The less the skill and exertion of strength implied in manual labour, in other words, the more modern industry becomes developed, the more is the labour of men superseded by that of women. Differences of age and sex have no longer any distinctive social validity for the working class. All are instruments of labour, more or less expensive to use, according to their age and sex.

No sooner is the exploitation of the labourer by the manufacturer, so far, at an end, that he receives his wages in cash, than he is set upon by the other portions of the bourgeoisie, the landlord, the shopkeeper, the pawnbroker, etc.

The lower strata of the middle class — the small tradespeople, shopkeepers, and retired tradesmen generally, the handicraftsmen and peasants — all these sink gradually into the proletariat, partly because their diminutive capital does not suffice for the scale on which Modern Industry is carried on, and is swamped in the competition with the large capitalists, partly because their specialised skill is rendered worthless by new methods of production. Thus the proletariat is recruited from all classes of the population.

The proletariat goes through various stages of development. With its birth begins its struggle with the bourgeoisie. At first the contest is carried on by individual labourers, then by the workpeople of a factory, then by the operative of one trade, in one locality, against the individual bourgeois who directly exploits them. They direct their attacks not against the bourgeois conditions of production, but against the instruments of production themselves; they destroy imported wares that compete with their labour, they smash to pieces machinery, they set factories ablaze, they seek to restore by force the vanished status of the workman of the Middle Ages.

At this stage, the labourers still form an incoherent mass scattered over the whole country, and broken up by their mutual competition. If anywhere they unite to form more compact bodies, this is not yet the consequence of their own active union, but of the union of the bourgeoisie, which class, in order to attain its own political ends, is compelled to set the whole proletariat in motion, and is moreover yet, for a time, able to do so. At this stage, therefore, the proletarians do not fight their enemies, but the enemies of their enemies, the remnants of absolute monarchy, the landowners, the non-industrial bourgeois, the petty bourgeois. Thus, the whole historical movement is concentrated in the hands of the bourgeoisie; every victory so obtained is a victory for the bourgeoisie.

But with the development of industry, the proletariat not only increases in number; it becomes concentrated in greater masses, its strength grows, and it feels that strength more. The various interests and conditions of life within the ranks of the proletariat are more and more equalised, in proportion as machinery obliterates all distinctions of labour, and nearly everywhere reduces wages to the same low level. The growing competition among the bourgeois, and the resulting commercial crises, make the wages of the workers ever more fluctuating. The increasing improvement of machinery, ever more rapidly developing, makes their livelihood more and more precarious; the collisions between individual workmen and individual bourgeois take more and more the character of collisions between two classes. Thereupon, the workers begin to form combinations (Trades’ Unions) against the bourgeois; they club together in order to keep up the rate of wages; they found permanent associations in order to make provision beforehand for these occasional revolts. Here and there, the contest breaks out into riots.

Now and then the workers are victorious, but only for a time. The real fruit of their battles lies, not in the immediate result, but in the ever expanding union of the workers. This union is helped on by the improved means of communication that are created by modern industry, and that place the workers of different localities in contact with one another. It was just this contact that was needed to centralise the numerous local struggles, all of the same character, into one national struggle between classes. But every class struggle is a political struggle. And that union, to attain which the burghers of the Middle Ages, with their miserable highways, required centuries, the modern proletarian, thanks to railways, achieve in a few years.

This organisation of the proletarians into a class, and, consequently into a political party, is continually being upset again by the competition between the workers themselves. But it ever rises up again, stronger, firmer, mightier. It compels legislative recognition of particular interests of the workers, by taking advantage of the divisions among the bourgeoisie itself. Thus, the ten-hours’ bill in England was carried.

Altogether collisions between the classes of the old society further, in many ways, the course of development of the proletariat. The bourgeoisie finds itself involved in a constant battle. At first with the aristocracy; later on, with those portions of the bourgeoisie itself, whose interests have become antagonistic to the progress of industry; at all time with the bourgeoisie of foreign countries. In all these battles, it sees itself compelled to appeal to the proletariat, to ask for help, and thus, to drag it into the political arena. The bourgeoisie itself, therefore, supplies the proletariat with its own elements of political and general education, in other words, it furnishes the proletariat with weapons for fighting the bourgeoisie.

Further, as we have already seen, entire sections of the ruling class are, by the advance of industry, precipitated into the proletariat, or are at least threatened in their conditions of existence. These also supply the proletariat with fresh elements of enlightenment and progress.

Finally, in times when the class struggle nears the decisive hour, the progress of dissolution going on within the ruling class, in fact within the whole range of old society, assumes such a violent, glaring character, that a small section of the ruling class cuts itself adrift, and joins the revolutionary class, the class that holds the future in its hands. Just as, therefore, at an earlier period, a section of the nobility went over to the bourgeoisie, so now a portion of the bourgeoisie goes over to the proletariat, and in particular, a portion of the bourgeois ideologists, who have raised themselves to the level of comprehending theoretically the historical movement as a whole.

Of all the classes that stand face to face with the bourgeoisie today, the proletariat alone is a really revolutionary class. The other classes decay and finally disappear in the face of Modern Industry; the proletariat is its special and essential product.

The lower middle class, the small manufacturer, the shopkeeper, the artisan, the peasant, all these fight against the bourgeoisie, to save from extinction their existence as fractions of the middle class. They are therefore not revolutionary, but conservative. Nay more, they are reactionary, for they try to roll back the wheel of history. If by chance, they are revolutionary, they are only so in view of their impending transfer into the proletariat; they thus defend not their present, but their future interests, they desert their own standpoint to place themselves at that of the proletariat.

The “dangerous class”, [lumpenproletariat] the social scum, that passively rotting mass thrown off by the lowest layers of the old society, may, here and there, be swept into the movement by a proletarian revolution; its conditions of life, however, prepare it far more for the part of a bribed tool of reactionary intrigue.

In the condition of the proletariat, those of old society at large are already virtually swamped. The proletarian is without property; his relation to his wife and children has no longer anything in common with the bourgeois family relations; modern industry labour, modern subjection to capital, the same in England as in France, in America as in Germany, has stripped him of every trace of national character. Law, morality, religion, are to him so many bourgeois prejudices, behind which lurk in ambush just as many bourgeois interests.

All the preceding classes that got the upper hand sought to fortify their already acquired status by subjecting society at large to their conditions of appropriation. The proletarians cannot become masters of the productive forces of society, except by abolishing their own previous mode of appropriation, and thereby also every other previous mode of appropriation. They have nothing of their own to secure and to fortify; their mission is to destroy all previous securities for, and insurances of, individual property.

All previous historical movements were movements of minorities, or in the interest of minorities. The proletarian movement is the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority, in the interest of the immense majority. The proletariat, the lowest stratum of our present society, cannot stir, cannot raise itself up, without the whole superincumbent strata of official society being sprung into the air.

Though not in substance, yet in form, the struggle of the proletariat with the bourgeoisie is at first a national struggle. The proletariat of each country must, of course, first of all settle matters with its own bourgeoisie.

In depicting the most general phases of the development of the proletariat, we traced the more or less veiled civil war, raging within existing society, up to the point where that war breaks out into open revolution, and where the violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie lays the foundation for the sway of the proletariat.

Hitherto, every form of society has been based, as we have already seen, on the antagonism of oppressing and oppressed classes. But in order to oppress a class, certain conditions must be assured to it under which it can, at least, continue its slavish existence. The serf, in the period of serfdom, raised himself to membership in the commune, just as the petty bourgeois, under the yoke of the feudal absolutism, managed to develop into a bourgeois. The modern labourer, on the contrary, instead of rising with the process of industry, sinks deeper and deeper below the conditions of existence of his own class. He becomes a pauper, and pauperism develops more rapidly than population and wealth. And here it becomes evident, that the bourgeoisie is unfit any longer to be the ruling class in society, and to impose its conditions of existence upon society as an over-riding law. It is unfit to rule because it is incompetent to assure an existence to its slave within his slavery, because it cannot help letting him sink into such a state, that it has to feed him, instead of being fed by him. Society can no longer live under this bourgeoisie, in other words, its existence is no longer compatible with society.

The essential conditions for the existence and for the sway of the bourgeois class is the formation and augmentation of capital; the condition for capital is wage-labour. Wage-labour rests exclusively on competition between the labourers. The advance of industry, whose involuntary promoter is the bourgeoisie, replaces the isolation of the labourers, due to competition, by the revolutionary combination, due to association. The development of Modern Industry, therefore, cuts from under its feet the very foundation on which the bourgeoisie produces and appropriates products. What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.

You must be some kind of medical miracle. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46579783)

Despite being brain-dead, you're still able to copy and paste commie bullshit.

Re:Communism is the only way forward (0)

MadMartigan2001 (766552) | about 4 months ago | (#46579921)

srsly? Communism has been tried. It failed every time.

Re:Communism is the only way forward (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46580061)

What about the impending failure of capitalism? The writing's on the wall, and it will fail for the same reason communism failed: Greed.

Get a handful of selfish sociopaths who rise to the top, change the rules, plunder everything, and ruin the system for everyone else. The only thing that keeps power in check is fear that they will be held accountable for their actions. This is why you see an agenda in the media and in government institutions to groom the public for control. The message is very clear:

Don't question authority.
Conform.
Give up your means of defense and do not attempt to defend yourself against anyone, even if your life is at stake.
Look to the State to find out what you are allowed to do and say.
Corporations and profit are more important than the individual. You exist to serve them.

Re:Communism is the only way forward (4, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | about 4 months ago | (#46580205)

What about the impending failure of capitalism?

You're confused. Capitalism is doing fine. It's government that's failing.

-jcr

Re:Communism is the only way forward (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46580097)

It's done well in the last couple of Presidential elections.

Re:Communism is the only way forward (1)

jcr (53032) | about 4 months ago | (#46580215)

Well, maybe if they get to kill another hundred million people or so it will finally work!

-jcr

Re:Communism is the only way forward (2)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 4 months ago | (#46580257)

Well, maybe if they get to kill another hundred million people or so it will finally work!

-jcr

Communism just doesn't work. Just look at the shape that the former East Germany was in.

How can you take a nation full of diligent Germans, and manage to make a poor country out of it . . . ?

Who'll spit on my burger?! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46579629)

Gonna be a long while till robots will be able to do all the shitty things nomadic, entry-level employees do.

Re:Who'll spit on my burger?! (5, Insightful)

saloomy (2817221) | about 4 months ago | (#46579681)

I used to work in the IT dept. for a company that replaced forklift drivers with highly automated forklifts Vimeo: (http://vimeo.com/75513911) that were able to load trucks. The justification was never the cost of labor, but the increased accuracy in the supply chain, the ability to "house keep" (i.e. moving product bound for shipping close to the dock door it was headed out of, to increase maximum warehouse capacity by reducing average trip times); during the slow hours, as well as reduced damage to product, equipment and the facility. Automation is not about cost, its about having a machine do some work BETTER than workers. Arguing the cost is like arguing that cars are better at moving goods than humans because it costs less per mile to drive a car than it does to pay someone to carry your good. It does cost less, but thats not the point. Automation can scale much faster and increase accuracy, without increasing costs. Thats the point of automation. The benefits were obvious to anyone who had ever seen a mis-ship report or calculated the % of accidents involving a forklift. These units delivered

Re:Who'll spit on my burger?! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46579803)

So it is about costs.. just the reduction of costs from increased efficiency and production rates caused by the automation

Re:Who'll spit on my burger?! (2, Interesting)

saloomy (2817221) | about 4 months ago | (#46579871)

Well if you ignore the fact that the project didn't save money-spent overall, then yes, its about costs.

What you are forgetting to take into account is that you get significantly more production, at a higher rate of accuracy with machines. In some cases (not all), the accuracy and production increase is simply unfeasible with a human workforce.
Its like asking how many postmen would it take to deliver all the world's email. There simply wouldn't be enough resources to do the job, regardless of cost.

Re:Who'll spit on my burger?! (5, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | about 4 months ago | (#46580029)

Well if you ignore the fact that the project didn't save money-spent overall, then yes, its about costs.

What you are forgetting to take into account is that you get significantly more production, at a higher rate of accuracy with machines. In some cases (not all), the accuracy and production increase is simply unfeasible with a human workforce.
  Its like asking how many postmen would it take to deliver all the world's email. There simply wouldn't be enough resources to do the job, regardless of cost.

I don't think you understand "cost" - if the increase in production and better accuracy didn't make the program cost effective, then they'd dump the smart forklifts and bring back the humans. Few businesses can afford to turn the core part of their business into a speculative testbed for technology that costs more to operate than the human workers it replaced. The project may very well have cost more than the human workers it replaced, but that expense was made up by the factors you just mentioned.

Re:Who'll spit on my burger?! (2)

BarefootClown (267581) | about 4 months ago | (#46580267)

So...production increased at a rate greater than cost increased?

Yeah, it's not about actual dollars spent. It's about marginal cost: cost per unit of production. Put differently, the company increased in output more than it increased its spending; that means it's now a bigger company, in terms of market saturation, and has a greater profit, both in absolute terms and likely a greater profit margin as well.

You Will Be Surprised (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46579815)

Humans are bad at conceptualizing the very large and small, and the very slow and fast. We are pattern recognizers, but just like we have optical illusions that fool our biological eyes, there are mental situations that fool our inner circuitry.

The tech is advancing faster than moore's law, and we haven't even started using all the new meta-materials and graphene, nanotubes and all the rest.

People like to be the straight man, they like to be no-nonsense - they find comfort in being the reasonable one and enjoy a nice philosophically cul-de-sac where if history proves them correct then they reaffirm their own beliefs and if they are wrong then they still get all the benefits of the tech arriving for mass consumption. They are pleasantly surprised, if you asked anyone about the self driving cars and cellphones in the 1980s they would have said its more than 100 years away - and yet we have them now.

The problem is, with all the naysayers and luddites, their combined negative outlook slows everything down instead of speeding it up by poisoning popular sentiment which is why it takes an Elon Musk to make electric cars and space companies. It's not that Ford could not have done it, it's that Ford and similar companies are staffed by people terrified to make a decision and try anything new unless it's 100% obvious that the time for a thing has come, which is usually when a competitor starts doing it.

We need access to space, AI, roboticized labor, and the endless energy the sun is currently wasting as it goes out into space largely untapped - and everything that makes those things come faster are good things.

The ultimate form of humanity is not toiling away for 40 arbitrary hours a week just because we had to up until now.

Re:You Will Be Surprised (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46580171)

There needs to be a word for the opposite of a luddite: someone who throws every high-tech word or phrase they can think of together with barely an idea of what any of them really mean and passes off the resulting hodgepodge as some sort of profound idea of the world to come.

Re:You Will Be Surprised (2)

ppanon (16583) | about 4 months ago | (#46580197)

The problem is, with all the naysayers and luddites, their combined negative outlook slows everything down instead of speeding it up by poisoning popular sentiment which is why it takes an Elon Musk to make electric cars and space companies. It's not that Ford could not have done it, it's that Ford and similar companies are staffed by people terrified to make a decision and try anything new unless it's 100% obvious that the time for a thing has come, which is usually when a competitor starts doing it.

No, in the case of electric cars it's that Ford and the other makers of ICE cars realize that they stand to make a bigger profit with ICE-based cars than with electric cars because maintenance cost of the ICEs is higher and they get a big cut of that pie. Because the barriers to entry in the vehicle production market are so high, it's better for the established players to continue business as usual until either legislation or new successful competitors force them to change.

Re:Who'll spit on my burger?! (5, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 4 months ago | (#46579925)

Gonna be a long while till robots will be able to do all the shitty things nomadic, entry-level employees do.

It will be a while before robots can do all of those jobs, but many of them will soon be automated. If you go into a McDonald's, half the employees are taking orders, and the other half are fulfilling them. The people taking the orders could easily be replaced: Just turn the touchscreens around so that customers can enter their own orders, and then swipe a card to pay. Grocery stores have already done this, and so have banks. Fast food is next.

Re:Who'll spit on my burger?! (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 4 months ago | (#46580055)

Gonna be a long while till robots will be able to do all the shitty things nomadic, entry-level employees do.

It will be a while before robots can do all of those jobs, but many of them will soon be automated. If you go into a McDonald's, half the employees are taking orders, and the other half are fulfilling them. The people taking the orders could easily be replaced: Just turn the touchscreens around so that customers can enter their own orders, and then swipe a card to pay. Grocery stores have already done this, and so have banks. Fast food is next.

I don't understand why they haven't done so already -- I assume it's because they don't think their customers are ready for touch-screen ordering. Starbucks could do it too -- with their pushbutton espresso machines, they don't really need a human barista for most drinks.

Re:Who'll spit on my burger?! (4, Interesting)

stoploss (2842505) | about 4 months ago | (#46580213)

Gonna be a long while till robots will be able to do all the shitty things nomadic, entry-level employees do.

It will be a while before robots can do all of those jobs, but many of them will soon be automated. If you go into a McDonald's, half the employees are taking orders, and the other half are fulfilling them. The people taking the orders could easily be replaced: Just turn the touchscreens around so that customers can enter their own orders, and then swipe a card to pay. Grocery stores have already done this, and so have banks. Fast food is next.

I don't understand why they haven't done so already -- I assume it's because they don't think their customers are ready for touch-screen ordering. Starbucks could do it too -- with their pushbutton espresso machines, they don't really need a human barista for most drinks.

I can tell you why... I witnessed it firsthand. My mall food court had this system in the early 1990's. People would place orders via the touchscreen and then the food would be prepared. I saw the place get trolled (someone ordered 10 large fries at once and walked away). Obviously, this was before credit card swipes were allowed for payment so it was a cash business, and payment was collected when the food was presented. Yeah, that system didn't last long. Now the likely issue would be trolls ordering bizarre combinations and then claiming there was a mistake/demanding a refund.

As for self-checkout, most places I saw experiment with those in the past two years (grocery stores and Costco) has ripped them out and gone back to using human cashiers. The reasons? Fraud/theft and speed (trained cashiers are faster, who would have thought?). Walmart and big box home improvement stores are the outliers still offering self-checkout in my area.

tl; read anyway (2)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 4 months ago | (#46579661)

The PDF link is 72 pages long and in acrobat... you're welcome.

Re:tl; read anyway (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46579877)

No, the PDF link is in PDF. You must be a fucking idiot.

Re:tl; read anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46580105)

Hypertext markup is hyper.

One thing's for sure... (4, Insightful)

Laxori666 (748529) | about 4 months ago | (#46579665)

The higher the minimum wage, the more incentive there will be to automate those minimum-wage jobs. If it'd average out to $11/hr to have a robot do some cleaning, and the minimum wage is $10/hr, then a janitor willing to work for $10/hr will have a job. If the minimum wage goes to $12/hr, the robot will take the job instead.

I read somewhere an essay written around the time the minimum wage was being increased a few decades ago. This was during a time when there were still elevator operators. The author predicted that after the increase, elevator operators would get phased out in favor of automated elevators. That probably would've happened anyway, but raising the minimum wage probably helped speed up that process.

If it gets really bad there will be pressure to illegalize automation of certain classes of jobs.

Re:One thing's for sure... (2)

buswolley (591500) | about 4 months ago | (#46579715)

Or just helicopter drop them some money.

Re:One thing's for sure... (2)

Laxori666 (748529) | about 4 months ago | (#46579757)

That should work. People would spend that money so it'll stimulate the economy.

Re:One thing's for sure... (4, Interesting)

anubi (640541) | about 4 months ago | (#46579999)

Although I think the helicopter drop would get money into the hands of people who would spend it instead of "investing" it in rent-seeking behaviour, I feel that changes in our Tax Law would have far greater implications.

If it were simply finances that ran our Government, why in all blue blazes did we privatize the banking industry? The "creators of currency" ... I said "currency", not "wealth"... are empowered not only to draw from thin air that which they do not have, but are also empowered to exact usury for the use of that which never existed in the first place. Its a really nasty little paradigm which encourages extremely unproductive "investments".

As we move forward with manufacturing and production technology, the economies of scale lead to an environment of material goods abundance. I feel any shortages at our present stages of this game are purposely created by those who are gaming the system

I can't see where employees should cost the employer anything... the employer should simply write them off against taxes - as the employee they hired now has the burden of paying tax on his income. ( that's taxable income which would not exist if the employer hadn't created a job in the first place! ).

In short, I personally feel there is absolutely nothing wrong with the present system that an overhaul of our tax codes won't fix. But I can tell you one thing... the people who are presently gaming the system won't like it and they will do all in their power to keep the status quo by "working with" our lawmakers to make sure those changes won't happen. If that is the case, I feel we are on the road to repeating the French experience.

Re:One thing's for sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46580135)

Short-term, sure. Long term, it wrecks the economy through devaluation of the existing monetary base.

Re:One thing's for sure... (2)

by (1706743) (1706744) | about 4 months ago | (#46580015)

Or just use a drone to drop them some money.

FTFY.

Re:One thing's for sure... (3, Interesting)

DarkOx (621550) | about 4 months ago | (#46579761)

I think will find is the very bottom it will be the last to go. The guy standing over the grill of the burgle have a job, the guy actually scrubbed the toilet will have a job. The person taking orders will be replaced of the machine, the facilities manager at least have to do things like keep inventory of paper products and such will be replaced by automatic reorders and machines. Essentially the jobs will be further deskilled.

The very bottom rung earning minimum wage probably has less to worry the next rung up who earns a couple dollars above minimum wage today. The guy making 725 will certainly be making 10, the guy making 10 is going to get the pink slip.

Re:One thing's for sure... (3, Interesting)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 4 months ago | (#46579765)

The higher the minimum wage, the more incentive there will be to automate those minimum-wage jobs. If it'd average out to $11/hr to have a robot do some cleaning, and the minimum wage is $10/hr, then a janitor willing to work for $10/hr will have a job. If the minimum wage goes to $12/hr, the robot will take the job instead.

I know you're right in the grand scheme of things, esp. in corporate employment, but for a dollar an hour difference I will keep my human.

I read somewhere an essay written around the time the minimum wage was being increased a few decades ago. This was during a time when there were still elevator operators. The author predicted that after the increase, elevator operators would get phased out in favor of automated elevators. That probably would've happened anyway, but raising the minimum wage probably helped speed up that process.

Talking 'bout the good old days, when maybe you had to get up out of the recliner to change the TV channel, but there was none of that tiresome button-pushing in the elevator.

If it gets really bad there will be pressure to illegalize automation of certain classes of jobs.

I desperately hope they keep their humans at the massage parlor.

Re:One thing's for sure... (4, Insightful)

TsuruchiBrian (2731979) | about 4 months ago | (#46580019)

I know you're right in the grand scheme of things, esp. in corporate employment, but for a dollar an hour difference I will keep my human.

Why? It's a waste of human effort to be working for $10 an hour. Sure someone with no skills is willing to do it, but I think it makes more sense as a society to have only jobs that pay $20/hr, have all the other jobs done by robots, and have all those people learning new skills or just watching TV or something.

I know "more jobs" is on the lips of every politician, but actually the goal should be less jobs (for humans to do). We should be focusing on maximizing production using the least resources including human effort. I know that for all of human history we've had to work hard to get the stuff we want/need, but at some point we may just be able to get what we need/want with minimal effort or no effort at all. No one will have any money, but luckily we won't need money to buy things anyway. An economic system that gives the biggest producers more money was important for incentivizing production, but one day we won't need to incentivize production if it no longer requires human effort to do so. Rationing limited resources will be the name of the game.

Re:One thing's for sure... (0)

ppanon (16583) | about 4 months ago | (#46580235)

Bingo!

Re:One thing's for sure... (1, Insightful)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 4 months ago | (#46580269)

I know you're right in the grand scheme of things, esp. in corporate employment, but for a dollar an hour difference I will keep my human.

Why? It's a waste of human effort to be working for $10 an hour. Sure someone with no skills is willing to do it, but I think it makes more sense as a society to have only jobs that pay $20/hr, have all the other jobs done by robots, and have all those people learning new skills or just watching TV or something.

People and dogs both need a job, a responsibility, or a mission.

I know "more jobs" is on the lips of every politician, but actually the goal should be less jobs (for humans to do).

People, like dogs, are not ideally suited to leisure and no obligations.

I know that for all of human history we've had to work hard to get the stuff we want/need, but at some point we may just be able to get what we need/want with minimal effort or no effort at all.

I respectfully disagree. By your own account, we have been struggling to survive for generations. We have not been selected for a life of leisure.

No one will have any money...

Doggone it, how will we know who's winning?

Re:One thing's for sure... (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 4 months ago | (#46579797)

A few decades ago was the 1980's maybe the 1970, push-button automatic elevators were introduced in 1894, outside of a niche market the job was already long dead by a few decades, a few decades ago

Re:One thing's for sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46579851)

http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes372011.htm

According to BLS, around half or so of Janitors are already earning $12 or more and hour.

Re:One thing's for sure... (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 4 months ago | (#46579855)

If the price difference was that close, I think the robot still wins:

- It won't ever ask for a raise, and likewise raising the minimum wage rate doesn't affect it.
- It isn't subject to OSHA.
- If it does its job poorly, it won't balk at being replaced, and nobody will care if you replace it.
- It won't strike.
- It doesn't ever call in sick.
- It doesn't need vacation time.
- It is always at work and on time.

I wouldn't fret over it though. There are always professions being replaced by technology; always have and always will be. A Computer for example used to be a job title. We still haven't automated the first and second oldest professions though.

Re:One thing's for sure... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46580181)

Don't forget the downsides though:

It's probably got a EULA and software licensing/maintenance costs
It'll have buggy software/firmware that needs constant updates dependent on your maintenance contract
When it breaks down due to failed hardware or code bugs, you're at the whims of the vendor for replacement/repair.
It'll be obsoleted and you'll be forced to buy the v2.0 workforce as a replacement if you want continued support.

In short, imagine you're dealing with IBM.

Re:One thing's for sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46579957)

The true cost of an employee is a lot more than the wage paid. Retirement, medical, unemployment compensation. workers compensation, sick days, holidays and vacations come to mind. Humans also carry litigation risks such as wrongful dismissal or sexual harassment suits. Robots can also work all shifts and some robots can easily change skill sets and tooling as well.
                One of the first things to go will be commercial drivers. Trucks and taxis and the like will adopt automated driving at breakneck speed. Human truckers must rest and things like meals and sleeping arrangements must be included in their pay. Now a truck could easily drive from Oregon all the way to Key West with only fuel stops if automated and you can be certain that no speeding tickets, drunk driving or falling asleep at the wheel will occur.
                  All in all, one thing is clear. Those that do not work will have to be well paid for businesses and society to survive. It is no longer an issue involving morality nor politics. this issue is made crystal clear by technology. Even the Star Trek writers were aware that our view of economics was silly and negative and not required at all.

Re:One thing's for sure... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46579963)

This is a theory. It's not proven to be true.

Some people espouse the theory that minimum wage increases inflation. This has proven to be false, but pundits keep saying it because it's an idea promoted by the people that employ them.

Automation happens when machines can do things that humans can't, not because they're cheaper than humans.

Robotic welders exist because they're better, more consistent welders that can repeat the same task for endless hours without deviation or error. There is no number of welders at any pay scale you can throw at a modern car assembly plant and get the same result.

Automated burger flippers will happen because you'll be able to shrink the kitchen to a volume small enough were there is no room for people to fit.

Re:One thing's for sure... (1)

lgw (121541) | about 4 months ago | (#46580221)

Some people espouse the theory that minimum wage increases inflation. This has proven to be false, but pundits keep saying it because it's an idea promoted by the people that employ them.

The minimum wage certainly affects inflation. It's not 1-1 of course, because your raising wages for a small portion of the population. You can't, however, increase the overall buying power of everyone except by making more stuff. People get hung up on dollars, but ultimately unless you can make more stuff with the same resources (which is what technology is and does), the average buying power is unchanged.

Automation happens when machines can do things that humans can't, not because they're cheaper than humans.

It's a bit of both. But the key thing people miss is that when automation lowers prices, people spend money on new and different stuff, making new jobs elsewhere. We have about 150 years of direct evidence that this happens, but some people are still sure that robots will take everyone's jobs, and must be stopped.

Re:One thing's for sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46579967)

There's only one problem, you will have civil unrest. People will attack these companies, call it terrorism or whatever. If you think the crime rate is under control that will all change in a hurry.

I can see computers replacing programmers, and IT staff as well. Since 90% of them are no where close to being the next programming messiah! And considering they get replaced once they hit there mid 30's, it would be just be easier to have computers or a automated system do the work.

Not only that but governments, federal, state, public schools, local municipalities, would lose tax revenue. However they may resort to virtual currency to fund its wasteful projects, and more importantly there budgets. The fallout in Detroit, would become the norm for many major cities in the US.

I could definitely see some laws passed banning companies/business from replacing certain types of jobs with automated systems. Or you its time these companies/businesses pay there share of taxes instead of us, based on Global, Country, State, income, all three combined...

     

Re: One thing's for sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46579975)

If you are doing a job for $10 an hour that costs $11 an hour for a robot to do then very shortly there will be a cheaper robot that will do it for $9 an hour. If you can be replaced by automation then you will be, it's not a matter of if you will be it's a matter of when you will be.

Re:One thing's for sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46579985)

If it gets really bad there will be pressure to illegalize automation of certain classes of jobs.

That has already been happening for years. For instance, it is illegal to pump your own gas [wsj.com] in New Jersey or Oregon.

Re:One thing's for sure... (1)

Ichijo (607641) | about 4 months ago | (#46580243)

The higher the minimum wage, the more incentive there will be to automate those minimum-wage jobs.

Ever since the Luddites, people have claimed that automation would put people out of work, but so far this hasn't happened. All it does is create new low-wage jobs as the money saved from automation goes back into the economy and creates new things for people to spend the money on. Or at least it used to back when income inequality was lower. But raising the minimum wage takes care of that.

So it all works out nicely.

"fully replace" is the active term (1)

turkeydance (1266624) | about 4 months ago | (#46579667)

well, no.....but, close enough so that there a far fewer "fully" employed.

Getting closer to full automation (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46579707)

Can software fully replace a fast-food worker?
This robot [singularityhub.com] makes up to 340 burgers/hour.

Can a robot really do a janitor's job?
iRobot has a robotic mop [irobot.com] as well as a vacuum [irobot.com] .

Re:Getting closer to full automation (2)

buswolley (591500) | about 4 months ago | (#46579727)

How about Big Rig and cab drivers.

Re:Getting closer to full automation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46579773)

What's stopping Google from particpating in Lyft or Uber using their driverless car [google.com] combined with Google Maps?

Rio Tinto is employing automation [miningaustralia.com.au] to mining rigs - it's only a matter of time until that tech filters down to general commercial freight.

Don't raise wages. Demand lower prices. (1, Interesting)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 4 months ago | (#46579711)

Once again, I say we should determine prices by the human effort required to make a product. Once it becomes automated the price should be damn near zero.

Re:Don't raise wages. Demand lower prices. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46579837)

Yes, this approach has been tried. It's called the Labor Theory of Value as per Marx. It's been a disaster everywhere it's been tried.

Automation requires investments in capital, so the price can't be near zero. Go take an economics class.

Re:Don't raise wages. Demand lower prices. (2, Insightful)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 4 months ago | (#46579891)

No, it has never been tried. We haven't sufficient automation until recently. Go take a history class.

Re:Don't raise wages. Demand lower prices. (2, Insightful)

saloomy (2817221) | about 4 months ago | (#46579907)

Price has nothing to do with cost and everything to do with (perceived) supply / demand.

And unless you live in a dictatorship, you are not allowed to "demand" anything for any price, just as I am not allowed to "demand" you purchase any particular good or servi... oh wait. I forgot we passed the ACA.

Re:Don't raise wages. Demand lower prices. (2)

LocalH (28506) | about 4 months ago | (#46579941)

This would effectively outlaw automation, given that the costs are not zero to operate such machinery. I can understand the argument that prices should be lower, but to say that they should be near zero is to argue that those who use automation heavily shouldn't be allowed to make a profit at all. I can't get behind that philosophically.

Re:Don't raise wages. Demand lower prices. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46580045)

Once again, I say we should determine prices by the human effort required to make a product. Once it becomes automated the price should be damn near zero.

How would you accomplish that without market forces? Why, by taking totalitarian control of all transactions to mandate the price, which coincidentally will make a dictator of whoever is in control.

And who better to determine how much "human effort" every product was worth except you, of course. How convenient.

Alrighty... (1)

DrPBacon (3044515) | about 4 months ago | (#46579721)

So where do I get a job building seed-planting/irrigation robots? Bring it.

Re:Alrighty... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46580253)

So sorry, that job was outsourced to a robot from SkyNet Staffing Services, Inc.

This is not a bad thing (4, Insightful)

TrekkieGod (627867) | about 4 months ago | (#46579723)

Many minimum-wage jobs are reportedly at high risk, including restaurant workers, cashiers, and telemarketers. A study rated the probability of computerization within 20 years: 92% for retail salespeople, 97% for cashiers, and 94% for waitstaff...

A few other jobs that were lost to technology:

The knocker-up [wikipedia.org] was a person whose responsibility was to go out to people's houses and wake them up so they could get to work on time. Alarm clocks eliminated the need for them.

Acoustic locators [wikipedia.org] were people who listened to acoustic mirrors to detect incoming aircraft before radar was invented.

And sure, we can talk about buggy whips. The point is, quite a few jobs and entire industries no longer exist as a result of automation. We can start throwing our shoes at the machines like during the industrial revolution, or we can enjoy the benefits they bring us, accept the growing pains, and adapt to the new world. Personally I don't want to have to pay some guy to come knock at my window every morning so I can go to work. I hope I live long enough to talk to the younguns about all the ridiculous jobs that used to exist when I was their age.

Re:This is not a bad thing (4, Insightful)

confused one (671304) | about 4 months ago | (#46579755)

You missed the most geeky and relevant of jobs. Calculator (yes, it was a job title). Calculators crunched numbers to create all the tables used to estimate everything from taxes to rocket trajectories. Computers and digital calculators made the human job title "Calculator" obsolete.

Re:This is not a bad thing (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46579865)

The point is, quite a few jobs and entire industries no longer exist as a result of automation. We can start throwing our shoes at the machines like during the industrial revolution, or we can enjoy the benefits they bring us, accept the growing pains, and adapt to the new world. Personally I don't want to have to pay some guy to come knock at my window every morning so I can go to work. I hope I live long enough to talk to the younguns about all the ridiculous jobs that used to exist when I was their age.

The problem is that automation should mean that people are working less and living better lives, not working more and making less like is happening. Companies make more money now than ever before in history, and our country is going to tear itself apart because that wealth isn't going back to the people, but is padding the pockets of the rich and super rich.

The more things become automated, and rest assured they are going to continue to become automated, the more people you're going to have to find jobs for, or let rot in the street until they violently revolt.

"Excuse me. Why does God need with a Starship?" (2)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 4 months ago | (#46579931)

I also think the knock-her-up angle is ripe for exploitation, but that witch who listened to mirrors wound up pwned by Snow White.

Re:This is not a bad thing (2)

RJFerret (1279530) | about 4 months ago | (#46580211)

Personally I don't want to have to pay some guy to come knock at my window every morning so I can go to work.

I would pay for a cute gal to come knock at my window every morning, but not so I can go to work. Where do I look for that in the yellow pages, knock-her-up did you say?

More evidence that the prez and his handlers belie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46579725)

ve that we're all a bunch of friggin' morons.

The problem? They're 90% correct. *sigh*

Can't even believe I'm seeing this stupid Zeitgeist type crap.

Just a matter of time (1)

Trip6 (1184883) | about 4 months ago | (#46579733)

Robotics technology is following the same price/performance curve as any other technology. Eventually it will become sophisticated and cheap enough to replace most human manual functions.

growing pains toward a better future, maybe? (3, Interesting)

Kevin Fishburne (1296859) | about 4 months ago | (#46579739)

While the inevitable loss of more "menial" jobs (take no offense; I've had many myself) will suck for those affected, at some point we're going to end up with a civilization like in Star Trek TNG where people choose to work, as the provision of the basic necessities of life will have become largely automated. Of course, something "really bad" could happen before then (nuclear holocaust, plague, asteroid strike, supervolcano, gamma ray burst, etc.), but I hope someday we reach the point where robots handle the ugly bits and we all get to do whatever the hell we please without fear.

Re:growing pains toward a better future, maybe? (2)

cmdr_tofu (826352) | about 4 months ago | (#46579819)

I agree with your end goal, but if in our current economic model, the basic necessities of life (assuming we're talking stuff like taco Bell) were fully automated, former fast food workers would be unable to eat. The parent corporation has no business interest in operating a charity for their displaced workforce.
I do still think minimum wage should be higher. It's expensive to live in this world.

Surely you jest ... (5, Insightful)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about 4 months ago | (#46579903)

"at some point we're going to end up with a civilization like in Star Trek TNG"

First --- I wish, that would be an incredible and ideal future.

But society is based on power and control, both in government and private industry.

Government and private industry simply isn't going to say "Dear commoners, robots will do everything and you don't need to work and you get a free ride" --- will never happen!

And --- even if it did, look at what people with too much time on hands do to this world: crime, gangs, terrorists, cults, drug users --- most of societies ills are AVOIDED by making these people have jobs so they don't have free time.

I'd love to get to a Star Trek TNG future, but the vast majority of the populace isn't going to start creating and researching or coding solutions to the world's problems in their spare time, which is why it won't work. And the power and authority would never support a free ride of "their creations" or their use of their power.

Re:growing pains toward a better future, maybe? (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about 4 months ago | (#46580003)

No, see, everyone that is displaced by automation should "Quit being lazy and find a job!" :| There will be an ever increasing pool of jobless folks competing for an ever shrinking job pool. This is why the welfare and healthcare issues right now are so important. If we allow them to scale them back or even terminate them, imagine when a majority of everyone needs it.

Re:growing pains toward a better future, maybe? (1)

Lodlaiden (2767969) | about 4 months ago | (#46580201)

How about learning a skill that requires you to use your brain in some way that is more valuable that anything I can code up in a couple hours.
All the code samples in the programming books talk about makePizza() function that takes an array of toppings. We get all the users to order their pizzas online and I only need 1 guy at the store to manage the hand offs.

Re:growing pains toward a better future, maybe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46580039)

Unless we master inter-galactic travel like on Star Trek, I don't see your scenario ever happening. There simply are not enough resources on Earth to support it. This planet could not support every person on Earth living an "American" or "Western European" type lifestyle. There will always be "haves" and "have nots".

Re:growing pains toward a better future, maybe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46580081)

And will "the provision of the basic necessities of life" be free?

Re:growing pains toward a better future, maybe? (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 4 months ago | (#46580223)

at some point we're going to end up with a civilization like in Star Trek TNG where people choose to work

Even Star Trek had jobs that suck. Like, wearing a red shirt. That job sucked. They always had to do the shit jobs, and got killed. That took care of the unemployment problem in the wearing red shirt business.

America is boned (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46579767)

With the vehement anti-socialist thread that weaves throughout the American culture, the US will be one of the hardest hit by the coming automation age.
More socialist countries will have a chance of moving to the age of leisure, while America, god bless her, will move to the age of the gutter.

Re:America is boned (0, Troll)

MadMartigan2001 (766552) | about 4 months ago | (#46580161)

The only reason you are pro-socialism is because you have not yet experienced a socialist government that has been taken over by angry nut jobs. When that happens, maybe not in your lifetime, your socialist citizens will be in no position to oppose it. America is unfortunately more socialist than capitalist at the moment which is why you see "to big to fail" crap. In a truly capitalist system, to big to fail would be impossible. Only in a socialist system can the government decide who is "to big to fail" and consequently "to small to succeed". You long for "true socialism" as defined in your texbook. Sorry, has never happened and will never happen. People with greed (and all other negative emotions) get in the way. Human nature trumps all political systems. The best you can do is to try and let peer pressure bring out the best in others and hope empathy grows.

Re:America is boned (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46580231)

In my experience (i.e. here on /.), most Americans wouldn't know socialism if it slapped them in their collective faces. To those people it's just another word like commie/liberal/conservative (delete as appropriate) to conveniently label someone with different political views.

IF wages > cost of living THEN dead people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46579771)

People need to get better at automating things, then live off those skills.

Changes but not automation (4, Insightful)

lordlod (458156) | about 4 months ago | (#46579779)

I live in a country where the minimum wage is roughly $15USD. More crucially though, I live in an area with low unemployment so the practical minimum wage is considerably higher.

What we have seen is changes like such as smaller retailers only have a single staff member on during the week. This means that when the staff member goes to the bathroom or gets lunch, the shop closes briefly. For larger retailers there is an ongoing shift towards self-checkouts, but as they are constantly pushing their costs this seems independent of wage levels.

Other fields have seen similar pressure. Restaurants try and make do with less staff, warehouses focus more on minimising idle time and companies may consider how often they really need the bins empty.

All of these are fundamentally positive changes.

Re:Changes but not automation (3, Insightful)

amiga3D (567632) | about 4 months ago | (#46580191)

They can shove the self checkouts up their ass. I'm not scanning and bagging my own stuff. If it's one item or maybe two okay but I went to wally world about a year and a half ago and they pointed me at a self-checkout machine. I just looked at them and said they could check me out at a register or I'd just let them put the buggy full of shit I had back on the shelf while I drove over to Target. They didn't seem to like it much but they checked me on out. After I thought about it a while I really got more pissed and haven't been back to Walmart in the last 18 months. I don't miss the cheap bastards either. I'll spend a little more money not to be treated like shit.

another soulskill troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46579785)

for fucks sake, can we get rid of this worthless peace of shit that is turning Slashdot into a tabloid?

Prostitute? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46579795)

I predict the oldest profession will be the last one to be automated.

Re: Prostitute? (2)

Type44Q (1233630) | about 4 months ago | (#46580079)

Possibly sooner than you think; Facebook buying Oculus comes to mind...

A job as a janitor is "low-skilled"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46579823)

They have no idea. Many people who work as janitors do lack skill. Many people are careless and miss even obvious places that are dirty. Don't take good janitors for granted.

Guess who is replacing the low wage workers: YOU! (3, Insightful)

Aviation Pete (252403) | about 4 months ago | (#46579825)

Most of the low wage jobs have been / will be replaced by some self-service arrangement, and computerization will make it possible. Just think of the shop clerks which won't be needed when most selling is done online. Or the bank clerks - ATMs have replaced most already. Or the travel agents - online booking has made most obsolete already.

Thinking of some 1:1 replacement of a human with a human-shaped machine is too simple. The replacement will be of outdated, job-heavy business models with self-service models.

Re:Guess who is replacing the low wage workers: YO (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46580173)

That's great though, who the fuck wants to deal with salesmen? I specifically order all my clothes and music gear online because I don't want to deal with either snotty clerks or shady salesmen. Hell, I'd pay MORE to shop without human interaction. The fact that I can get better prices online is just an added bonus.

The Luddites (4, Insightful)

Livius (318358) | about 4 months ago | (#46579893)

...were on to something. Not that mechanization is evil - it is progress. But what we're seeing now that we have not faced in the past is technology and automation advancing faster than society's capacity to restructure the economy so that everyone has an opportunity for some basic livelihood. Extremes of poverty and desperation are not a good alternative.

Re:The Luddites (2)

stenvar (2789879) | about 4 months ago | (#46580025)

Automation and mechanization have never produced mass unemployment and they have always resulted in great increases of standards of living. Why should it be different this time?

Re:The Luddites (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 4 months ago | (#46580133)

Is that anything new? I imagine the millions of grain shuckers just starved to death during the industrial revolution.

It's not a crime to murder robots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46579897)

That janitor who lost his job may be arrested for vandalism, but he just cost his former employer a 50k robot.

telemarketers (1)

Khashishi (775369) | about 4 months ago | (#46579905)

The telemarketers question needs to be rephrased: likeliness of robots not being replaced by humans in the next 20 years.

The minimum wage increase movement... (-1, Flamebait)

matbury (3458347) | about 4 months ago | (#46579917)

The minimum wage increase movement is gaining significant traction and we can expect to see some pushback of the traditional right-wing conservative type trying to scare workers telling them that they'll lose their jobs if their wages go any higher. I expect to see much more of this as the movement gains more momentum.

There'll more likely be no net chnage in jobs if the minimum wage goes up to $15 p/h and the economy may even benefit if it went back up to it's 1970s value of $20 p/h in today's money.

Re:The minimum wage increase movement... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46580163)

The minimum wage increase movement is gaining significant traction and we can expect to see some pushback of the traditional right-wing conservative type trying to scare workers telling them that they'll lose their jobs if their wages go any higher. I expect to see much more of this as the movement gains more momentum.

There'll more likely be no net chnage in jobs if the minimum wage goes up to $15 p/h and the economy may even benefit if it went back up to it's 1970s value of $20 p/h in today's money.

Got the nads to Google "minimum wage vs minority unemployment" and actually read the numbers?

Naaah, you'd rather hang on to your preconceived notions than deal with what actually happens in the real world and maybe learn something along the way, right?

Can't talk about bad impacts of min wage laws (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46579943)

We're not allowed to talk about the negative impacts of minimum wage laws, or automation:

Evidence that increases in the minimum wage increase unemployment [blogspot.com] :

... the increases and decreases in the real minimum wage closely align with the increases and decreases in the gap between the unemployment rates of white and black youth. As the real min. wage increases the more unemployed black workers there are relative to white workers. This chart, while not completely ceteris paribus, is still more informative since both white workers and black workers were facing the same macroeconomic conditions i.e. recessions, expansions, etc. and yet on average the black unemployment rate increased more than the white unemployment rate when the real min. wage increased and vice versa.

Just to repeat, this is not a statistical, causal analysis. But it does provide evidence for a very sound theory that when wages are increased workers who cannot produce enough to justify the higher wage are left without employment. ...

So, who are the real RAAACISTS?

terrafoam might not be so bad (1, Insightful)

Khashishi (775369) | about 4 months ago | (#46579965)

A terrafoam house is probably nicer than what most poor people have today.

Re:terrafoam might not be so bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46580169)

I guess you missed the part where they were held in terrafoam against their will.

So what happens when there are no more jobs? (4, Insightful)

nebaz (453974) | about 4 months ago | (#46580021)

Historically, some have speculated that with automation comes more and more leisure time, people not having to work because all of their needs have been fulfilled. What ends up happening in reality however (as we see now) is that productivity gains do end up with fewer people working but instead of more people working fewer hours, there are fewer people working more hours. What happens when there are not enough jobs to go around at all?

People won't have enough money to pay for goods. Will labor be parcelled out so more people work less? Will there be a perceived "non-need" for so many unemployed people? What happens then? I can't imagine it will be a pretty sight.

Re:So what happens when there are no more jobs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46580249)

Simple: those who can pay just need to buy 10 times the goods they need. That way those who are starving won't hurt the economy.

A big missing something (5, Insightful)

holophrastic (221104) | about 4 months ago | (#46580041)

This doesn't take into account the one thing that most futurists never take into account. Maybe I'm not the only one who wouldn't enjoy going to a restaurant and not being served. Maybe I'd see that as a low-quality dive, and wouldn't be interested in a steak from a conveyor belt. Maybe the reason that I often go out to restaurants is specifically to be served by someone else. Maybe that's half the value.

Re:A big missing something (2)

RJFerret (1279530) | about 4 months ago | (#46580239)

That's why I go pay for a cheap haircut from a cute girl instead of ebaying a Flowbie.

Work Week (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46580167)

It makes more sense to reduce the work week in the face of increasing job automation.

Only fair way (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46580209)

Simple fair solution for the day that very few employees are "required" for anything. Pay everyone a base income stipend. Call it technological socialism. But to be fair you have to pay EVERYONE, just like distributing oil profits in Alaska. Everyone gets $50K a year. Enough to get by, but maybe not comfortably. Any paying work is bonus money. If you don't want to work, I'm sure there will be some enterprising people that will build apartment complexes that will guarantee a bed + 3 squares for 49,999 a year.

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