Author Topic: Robots and their impact on the future  (Read 167455 times)

arebelspy

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1150 on: January 06, 2017, 04:17:19 PM »
If you disagree, please give me the measurement of my belief in gravity.

# of falls while behaving carelessly is a proxy

broadly

# of deaths at the Grand Canyon would be a good proxy measure

And literally every single one of them believed in gravity.  As did the people who didn't fall.  So how do you measure their belief versus the people who didn't fall's belief, because they both believed.

You missed the point of my post.

Of course beliefs have an impact.

They don't have a measurable one.

If you disagree, please give me the measurement of my belief in gravity.

Do you just let go of objects in midair and seem really surprised when they fall to the ground? When doing home renovations, to you check to make sure you're not taking out too many load bearing walls all at once?

Of course I believe in gravity.

Please measure that belief for me.

I don't think beliefs don't exist.. I think you can't measure them.
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1151 on: January 06, 2017, 04:38:03 PM »
No one claimed to be able to measure beliefs. Only the effects those beliefs have upon a person.
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arebelspy

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1152 on: January 06, 2017, 04:44:11 PM »
No one claimed to be able to measure beliefs. Only the effects those beliefs have upon a person.

Great!

Then you can measure the effect one's belief in Zeus has on their actions.

You can't have it both ways, saying that one belief (gravity) is measurable and the other (deity) isn't.

Your claim was that one's belief:
Quote
doesn't change the consequences of their actions in a measurable way.

Now you are saying the opposite.

Does ones belief in Zeus change their actions such that you can measure it?

I said yes, you said no.  Then we switched to gravity, and you switched to yes.  So which is it?
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1153 on: January 06, 2017, 05:14:46 PM »
How does a person who believes in Zeus behave differently from a person who doesn't? For some other relgions I can come up with examples. It's not clear to me that Zeus expects anythng of his followers. *shrug*

So we have examples of how a person behaves differently if they believe in gravity or not. How, if at all, does a person behave differently if they believe the whole world is a simulation? (Assuming no way to break out of simulation or communicate with whatever initiated the simulation.)
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1154 on: January 06, 2017, 05:46:43 PM »
No one claimed to be able to measure beliefs. Only the effects those beliefs have upon a person.

Great!

Then you can measure the effect one's belief in Zeus has on their actions.

You can't have it both ways, saying that one belief (gravity) is measurable and the other (deity) isn't.

Your claim was that one's belief:
Quote
doesn't change the consequences of their actions in a measurable way.

Now you are saying the opposite.

Does ones belief in Zeus change their actions such that you can measure it?

I said yes, you said no.  Then we switched to gravity, and you switched to yes.  So which is it?

False.

Beliefs do not change consequences of actions.  But they could very easily change the actions one would perform. This is true for zeus or for the matrix. These changes could be measured.  You keep putting up strawmen and advancing arguments against statements no one made. 

And now you are contradicting yourself: can the effects of beliefs be measured or not? I am saying that they can.
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1155 on: January 06, 2017, 06:26:00 PM »
There is an inherent contradiction between "realistic enough so as to be indistinguishable from physical reality " and "does not necessarily follow that we are living in a simulation that bears any resemblance to actual reality".  If it bears no resemblance to actual reality, then it isn't indistinguishable from reality.
I already included the possibility that simulations might theoretically foster consciousness in an environment which bears no resemblance to actual reality, my question then is on what basis can we assume that whatever designed it would do so, none the less would be "likely" to run "many" of them. 
If the base level programmer lives in an environment that bears no relation to reality as we know it, we can not make ANY assumptions about how it would behave.  They are no longer "post-human" - that very concept assumes that something in any way "human" actually exists.  This is not a reasonable assumption.  It comes from starting with our current reality, and extrapolating forward, but if this isn't real, there is no reason to base our assumptions on our own experience. 

You can not "conclude that we are more likely to be living in an ancestor simulation created by a posthuman civilization than to be living in actual base reality" without asserting that there is such a thing as human and such a thing as civilization, which, if our reality is a simulation, are not safe assumptions.  Therefore the very premise itself makes it impossible to assign any probability.

Bostram's attempt to get around the need to compute sub-atomic particles for every bit of mass in the universe is incompatible with Sol's suggestion that we are not the primary purpose of the simulation. 

It is essentially saying that your room ceases to exist when you fall asleep, (granted, the Copenhagen interpretation could be said to imply the same thing...)  It is entirely arbitrary to assert that only sub-atomic particles only exist when we look for them.  The programmer somehow knew in advance exactly in what way we would develop microscopes, and added code to make sure to activate fake atoms only when we actually looked at them?  Why stop at atoms?  Why wouldn't they do the same for molecules, or cells, and save the computing power needed to model cell organelles until humans figured out how to see germs?  What happens when our amazing future technology allows us to look for too many atoms simultaneously, and the program runs out of memory?  What happens if we someday send spacecraft toward the 100 closest stars at 99% the speed of light, and suddenly, after 5 billion years of chilling on autopilot, it has to actually create all the fake dots-of-light stars in Earth level detail?

Bostrom also suggests that the director can edit and/or rewind the simulation, which brings back my question about environmentalism.

The thing about this debate is, the premise keeps constantly being changed, to try to make it work.  Everyone arguing for it has a different, and fundamentally incompatible, idea of what we are even talking about.
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1156 on: January 06, 2017, 06:33:16 PM »
Ah, I think I found something that was bothering me about your arguments Bakari. And it does actually go back to my ideas regarding AI and the singularity. You appear to be arguing the idea of a simulation based on our current understanding of what is possible (ie bits == subatomic particles). From my understanding of the nature of the singularity, it quite literally means that when we get some self-improving AIs, progress will happen faster than we can understand.


We have progressed past early humans to a level that they never could have imagined.  It does not follow from that that we will ever be able to violate basic laws of physics, or that we will find loopholes around mathematical realities.
I don't see much distinction between "I'm sure future people will be able to solve X" and straight up magic.



Quote
I personally believe that (and this is a super risky belief /s) there are a lot about this particular (simulation of the) universe that we don't understand yet. I suspect that a fair amount of the limitations we currently understand are due to being 3 dimensional beings, with a very difficult paradigm to grasp when we go out of that space. String theory, quantum mechanics (I seriously cannot see how we can't get unlimited optical speeds without infrastructure based on entanglement), there is a huge amount of opportunity to challenge our assumptions.
I don't see how this changes anything.  If reality is even more complex than we realize, than that is even MORE for the computer to have to model.  Anything which we can ever discover is something the computer would have to model in order for us to discover it.  So there is no way to allow the computer additional means of processing without proportionately increasing the work it has to do. 
If the model is leaving out significant parts of reality, then there is no reason to assume that anything at all in our experience has any resemblance whatsoever to base reality.
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1157 on: January 06, 2017, 06:39:17 PM »
If our universe is a simulation, I'm pretty sure they're looking at supermassive black holes and not self-organizing bits of organic carbon.

We're a fringe effect, a random ignorable anomaly in a quiet and uninteresting corner.  All of the action in this simulation is currently generating Xray bursts as quantum gravity tears holes in the fabric of spacetime inside of galactic cores currently devouring other black holes spinning at relativistic speeds.  Event horizons mash together every second of every day while we drive back and forth to work, converting more mass to energy in a single second than our entire solar system has been using for billions of years.

It takes a special kind of hubris to think that we are the purpose of any such simulation.  Always have to put ourselves at the center of everything, don't we?


Now this actually seems at least reasonably plausible, although if it were the case we have no basis on which to assert that whatever programmed this giant physics experiment is likely to create many, or even more than one, or that more than one would contain life,


Given how many small variables could have been changed to prevent life from developing, chances are that, even if there were many simulations, no more of them would have life as we know it than planets in our world do now.  Which as far as we know, is roughly 1 in 10^24.  If the Great Programmer and His mighty Civilization created 10^24 universe sized simulations, we could expect that at least one would likely have intelligent life on it.

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1158 on: January 06, 2017, 06:40:13 PM »
It would be possible for the person running the simulation to become aware of this life, but it would have to have a significant effect on the thing the simulation was built to study.
Which, of course, we don't, and never will, so...
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1159 on: January 06, 2017, 09:43:55 PM »
If the base level programmer lives in an environment that bears no relation to reality as we know it, we can not make ANY assumptions about how it would behave.  They are no longer "post-human" - that very concept assumes that something in any way "human" actually exists.  This is not a reasonable assumption.  It comes from starting with our current reality, and extrapolating forward, but if this isn't real, there is no reason to base our assumptions on our own experience. 

You can not "conclude that we are more likely to be living in an ancestor simulation created by a posthuman civilization than to be living in actual base reality" without asserting that there is such a thing as human and such a thing as civilization, which, if our reality is a simulation, are not safe assumptions.  Therefore the very premise itself makes it impossible to assign any probability.

Think about it this way:  one of the following three mutually exclusive alternatives must be true, and the other two must be false -- either (1) we're living in actual reality, (2) we're living in a false reality that resembles actual reality, or (3) we're living in a false reality that does not resemble actual reality.  If # 3 is true, then, as you said, we can't use our own experience to make any assumptions about anything (because our own experience bears no relationship to actual reality), but the existence of # 3 as one of the alternatives in the universe of possibilities can only increase the likelihood that we are living in a false reality.  So, for purposes of trying to determine whether it's more likely than not that we are living in a false reality, we need only concern ourselves with numbers 1 and 2 (recognizing that the actual likelihood that we are living in a false reality is subject to increase, but not decrease, as a result of whatever probability is assigned to # 3).

This is why it makes sense to start with our current experience of reality and extrapolate forward.  Bostrom's argument, which is based on our current experience of reality, contends that our descendants will not eventually develop the technology to run simulations containing conscious minds and use that technology to run many ancestor-simulations unless we are probably currently living in an ancestor-simulation.  If we limit the scope of our inquiry to possibilities 1 and 2, and assume that our descendants will eventually run many such ancestor-simulations, then we have to conclude that we are more likely than not currently living in an ancestor-simulation.  If we now expand the scope of our inquiry to also contemplate possibility # 3, it can only be even more likely that we are currently living in some sort of false reality (though not necessarily in an ancestor-simulation; we may instead be living in another type of simulation, which may or may not bear any resemblance to actual reality).

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1160 on: January 07, 2017, 10:00:46 AM »
My earlier posts were intended to demonstrate that (2) is not possible: in order for it to be possible, we would have to be able to eventually simulate our entire universe, including every level of detail that we experience, which would not be even theoretically possible regardless to technology, because the computer that ran such a simulation would have to be bigger than the entire universe.

Nearly everyone's response to this is that base reality could be far larger and more complex, but that in itself means our reality does NOT resemble actual reality.

Bostrom's solution - that this is a sort of Truman show, that the sky is just painted on (and galaxies only resolve themselves once we have invented telescopes, and then only when someone is looking through them, that objects are solid until peered at though a microscope and only then do they become composed of microscopic phenomenon) doesn't really work either...

Take his example that the " structure of the inside of the Earth can be safely omitted" - for the beginning of the simulation that might work (depending how long its been running - it could have started with the dawn of life, or the dawn of man, the dawn of civilization, or it could have started 2 minutes ago, and your memories of this conversation were all pre-programmed). 
Humans didn't have any expectation that the Earth was mostly liquid.  That knowledge has had close to zero impact on anyone's behavior.  Yet, once we discovered it was, now the simulation does have to consistently model the properties of molten rock swirling about a solid nickle core forever, because we have seismographs set up all over the Earth that can be cross referenced.  It would take no less computing power to figure out what they would say only when they were actually crossreferenced than it would to actually just compute it in real time, so that doesn't save any computing power.

Or take neutrinos: their existence has not affected the path of human civilization in anyway (other than encouraging humans to build more neutrino detectors, and slightly modifying particle physics theory).  They could have been safely omitted.  And yet they are there.
It isn't enough to keep track of the mind state of individuals, the simulation would also have to keep track of when any detection equipment might randomly go off.  Even if the simulation just fills in the data after the fact, it still has to compute individual particles that would have produced those results.

Objects in our reality actually behave as though they were made of particles, so a shortcut would change our experience.
All you need is a good magnifying glass to see Brownian Motion, yet in order for it to be simulated, every single molecule in the surrounding fluid needs to be individually calculated.  But even without looking, fluids behave as though they were made of particles, so in order for things like weather to behave as if it were made of particles, you have to model all those particles.

Plus, in addition to simulating the environment we can see, it has to individually track all 7 billion humans to be aware if any of them might be about to look at a usually unseen phenomenon, AND it has to do enough calculations of every possibly observable phenomenon that IF anyone were to check, the results will be consistent with the rest of the world.  Anything we might ever discover has to be tracked in advance, in order for it to be sure to be backward compatible with what we already know.  This extra layer of complexity might take more computation and memory than actually just modeling everything to begin with.

If we are going to take his Truman Show explanation of the unseen not existing when it's not being looked, then what seems far more likely that there is only ONE consciousness in this simulation.  That would be 7 billion times easier to track, and to keep the world consistent.  Any one person is far less likely at any given moment to be off checking the granularity of reality, or how far the edges of the universe are.  Chances are you (that on consciousness) have never even seen a neutrino detector, not even in pictures, so if its just you, and all the rest of us are stimulants, the simulator really could safely leave out neutrinos.  And the motion and consistency of the center of the Earth.  And individual protons and neutrons, and everything else which you trust other people (stimulants) are telling you the truth about.

This scenario is far far more plausible, yet seems to have next to no popularity.  I suppose the idea that you are the sole conscious thing in the entire known universe just isn't as pleasant a thought as if we are all in this together.
 
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1161 on: January 07, 2017, 10:08:56 AM »
If all the unseen things were not modeled every moment, then when someone did finally check, things wouldn't be where they should be.

https://plus.maths.org/content/matrix-simulating-world-part-i-particle-models
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1162 on: January 07, 2017, 12:18:26 PM »
Nearly everyone's response to this is that base reality could be far larger and more complex, but that in itself means our reality does NOT resemble actual reality.

Why does it mean that?  Why can't a simulation resemble actual reality without replicating the entirety of reality?  If we eventually create an ancestor simulation that simulates our reality in every way except that it represents only a fraction--even a minuscule fraction--of what we take to be the observable universe, that would sufficiently resemble our reality to avoid the unsoundness of reasoning you are describing.

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1163 on: January 07, 2017, 02:56:27 PM »
Nearly everyone's response to this is that base reality could be far larger and more complex, but that in itself means our reality does NOT resemble actual reality.

Why does it mean that?  Why can't a simulation resemble actual reality without replicating the entirety of reality?  If we eventually create an ancestor simulation that simulates our reality in every way except that it represents only a fraction--even a minuscule fraction--of what we take to be the observable universe, that would sufficiently resemble our reality to avoid the unsoundness of reasoning you are describing.

We don't live in a minuscule fraction of what we take to be the observable universe.  I guess we have different ideas of what "resemble" means.  I wouldn't say a bolt "resembles" a car, even though a bolt unquestionably does represent a fraction of a car. There is a point at which the fraction is minuscule enough that it isn't the same thing.  Even to a bug walking around on the head of the bolt, that bolt would not be "indistinguishable" from the car.

I'm not sure what you are trying to say. I thought I already answered what it seems like you are trying to say - if the goal were to watch the behaviors of simulated consciousness, then including things like neutrinos, a liquid core planet, and distant astronomical phenomenon which we can detect but not see, would do nothing to further that goal while adding orders of magnitude more complexity to the program requiring orders of magnitude more processing power and memory.  Take out any details we weren't going to look for in the first place, and we won't miss them.
If what you want to play is the SIMS, there is no reason to model an entire SIM city to place them in.
And yet, while including all these details that don't affect anything of value, the simulation fails at allowing us to create our own sub-simulation capable of producing sub-simulations (because each layer would require many orders of magnitude less complexities in order to fit into the sub-routine without breaking the base level processor), which would arguably have a much bigger impact on how society proceeds.  The space they used to leave quasars and neutrinos in could have potentially allowed us the bandwidth to create our own artificial artificial consciousness, but they decided to use it up on astronomy and physics? 

If we are going to start with our known reality and look forward instead of back, what reason do we have to think that we would end up with consciousness in our simulation with anything less than a full model of a brain, down to the atoms?  That is the very premise by which we accept it as even possible that a computer could give rise to consciousness - if we could accurately model every cell in the brain, one by one, in exactly the way they exist in real life, then the result should be a virtual consciousness.  The precise way in which neurons work is dependent on the workings of the organelles, which in turn are dependent on the arrangement of the molecules that make them up.   Alter just a few molecules within a single organelle in the brain and you can end up with a highly altered consciousness, or death.  So unless we are modeling down to AT LEAST the molecular level, there is no particular reason to believe our end result would be conscious.  Certainly it is conceivable, but there is exactly zero evidence of it, so again, that makes it impossibly to claim such a scenario is "likely". 

The theory just has to keep getting more and more convoluted to answer all of the questions it raises, and with each step, while remaining hypothetically possible, it gets less and less plausible.
Occam's Razor suggests it is more likely that reality is real.
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arebelspy

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1164 on: January 07, 2017, 03:21:14 PM »


if the goal were to watch the behaviors of simulated consciousness

I would highly doubt that's the "goal."

I don't think anyone is "watching" (at least on a regular basis).

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1165 on: January 07, 2017, 06:45:44 PM »
I have a theory (which, admittedly, is limited by my understanding of my own reality) that Bostrom left out another possibility that a civilization advances such that they can simulate reality for one of their horde.  Just as any advancement only requires Serial Number One, once you convince a human that they are conscious in your fabricated reality, then you kick off a fractal pattern.  We could be in a simulation, but it is actually more likely than not that some consciousness created it and it is one of many experiences.  This whole idea that people live in simulations, or become extinct, smacks of a lack of imagination.

(as an aside, I wrote quite a bit about what might be possible in a fractal 'universe' of realities, and how it fits with Quantum Mechanics and String Theory.  I think Bakari has done good work discussing this and I appreciate his efforts!)
« Last Edit: January 07, 2017, 07:34:47 PM by EscapeVelocity2020 »
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1166 on: January 07, 2017, 06:53:48 PM »
I guess I should clarify, since I realize it could be unclear, that I think humankind will simulate reality but not be post-human nor extinct, thus kicking off the first fractal.
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1167 on: January 10, 2017, 12:45:51 AM »
I have a theory (which, admittedly, is limited by my understanding of my own reality) that Bostrom left out another possibility that a civilization advances such that they can simulate reality for one of their horde.  Just as any advancement only requires Serial Number One, once you convince a human that they are conscious in your fabricated reality, then you kick off a fractal pattern.  We could be in a simulation, but it is actually more likely than not that some consciousness created it and it is one of many experiences.  This whole idea that people live in simulations, or become extinct, smacks of a lack of imagination.

(as an aside, I wrote quite a bit about what might be possible in a fractal 'universe' of realities, and how it fits with Quantum Mechanics and String Theory.  I think Bakari has done good work discussing this and I appreciate his efforts!)

Ahh shoot... I was just about to take off to the nightclubs to find the white rabbit to take the red pill. Guess it's more likely that we're not in a simulation now...
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1168 on: January 12, 2017, 06:39:09 AM »
Superintelligence: The Idea That Eats Smart People

There's a video, but luckily in text form too:
http://idlewords.com/talks/superintelligence.htm

Guy gives some reasons why he doesn't think strong AI is anything to worry about.  Not totally sold myself, but some decent reasoning.
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1169 on: January 12, 2017, 09:06:04 AM »
That was really, really good -- thanks for sharing.

Guy gives some reasons why he doesn't think strong AI is anything to worry about.

He also gives some reasons why he thinks so many smart people's thinking that strong AI is something to worry about is itself something to worry about.

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1170 on: January 12, 2017, 09:40:41 AM »
I agree, fascinating read, thanks for posting. Finding a way to fit an "Argument from Emus" into my personal or professional writing is now on my list of goals for 2017.
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1171 on: January 12, 2017, 06:47:12 PM »
Switching gears a bit, but I think this fits in this thread. 

I was happy that President Obama explicitly mentioned in his farewell address that losing jobs overseas will NOT be the big threat in the future to U.S. jobs, but rather that technological advancements will be the cause.  And that this is inevitable, and that it can be good, as long as we use our democracy to find ways to make it equitable.

I know his statements are fairly obvious to all of us here, but they don't seem to be to the general public, so it's good to see it publicly stated on a big stage. 

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1172 on: January 12, 2017, 09:44:49 PM »
He also gives some reasons why he thinks so many smart people's thinking that strong AI is something to worry about is itself something to worry about.

Good point, and a good addition to my tiny-blurb; he definitely did that as well.

I thought the "Religion 2.0" part was particularly interesting in relation to this.

I agree, fascinating read, thanks for posting. Finding a way to fit an "Argument from Emus" into my personal or professional writing is now on my list of goals for 2017.

Haha, nice!  Let us know when (and how) you succeed!
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1173 on: January 13, 2017, 10:37:26 PM »
European Parliament thinks robots should pay taxes.

Tried to post this earlier, must have messed it up.

Edit: looks like original article was the draft, this is the proposed rule Robots need kill switches
« Last Edit: January 13, 2017, 10:42:57 PM by Metric Mouse »
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1174 on: January 14, 2017, 06:39:40 PM »
*head desk*

So I should be paying social security for my neato (the bigger, smarter alternative to a roomba)?
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1175 on: January 14, 2017, 07:08:45 PM »
*head desk*

So I should be paying social security for my neato (the bigger, smarter alternative to a roomba)?

Well, some people seem to think you should, to pay the maid that you no longer will need.

It's an interesting problem, because it could cause serious complications for UBI.
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1176 on: January 14, 2017, 07:14:32 PM »
Because the presumption is that my robotic vacuum replaces a maid vacuuming every day, rather than either A) me vacuuming every day myself or B) learning to live without vacuuming more than 2-3 times a year.

Essentially this is a backdoor attempt to block the beneficial parts of automation (work gets done which it never would have been economically viable to pay a human to do) while not doing anything to block the potentially harmful parts of automation (it's still cheaper to pay the taxes for robot than taxes + salary of a human, so all the jobs still go away).
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1177 on: January 24, 2017, 11:25:10 AM »
https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/51-of-all-job-tasks-could-be-automated-by-todays-technology-135331964.html

They touch on it but I don't think they nail the major issue that those that are replaced most likely have no education, intellect or ability to find a job that will be relevant in the future.  They do end with a topic that we have discussed.  I am pretty sure that the GOP will want to limit or eliminate the transfer of wealth from the wealthy to those that have had their jobs eliminated. 

“If automation does result in greater pressure on many workers’ wages, some ideas such as earned income tax credits, universal basic income, conditional transfers, shorter workweeks, and adapted social safety nets could be considered and tested.”


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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1178 on: January 24, 2017, 01:32:14 PM »
Thanks for posting!

The distinction between "percent of complete jobs we could replace with automation" and "percent of working hours we could replace with automation" is an interesting one I hadn't thought about much before, but I'm not sure it makes as much of a difference as the author is assuming. If you replace 50% of the work people in a particular job currently do in a day, either everyone works half as much, or people double the time they spend on the other 50% of their job entails, become twice as productive, and (assuming fixed demand for the type of work they do) half of them get fired.

Based on recent history, it seems like the second outcome is a lot more likely than the first. At least assuming our society, politics, and economy doesn't change in any other way (which is a dangerous assumption whenever we start about automation replacing jobs on a massive scale).
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1179 on: January 25, 2017, 09:16:18 AM »
Thanks for posting!

The distinction between "percent of complete jobs we could replace with automation" and "percent of working hours we could replace with automation" is an interesting one I hadn't thought about much before, but I'm not sure it makes as much of a difference as the author is assuming. If you replace 50% of the work people in a particular job currently do in a day, either everyone works half as much, or people double the time they spend on the other 50% of their job entails, become twice as productive, and (assuming fixed demand for the type of work they do) half of them get fired.

Based on recent history, it seems like the second outcome is a lot more likely than the first. At least assuming our society, politics, and economy doesn't change in any other way (which is a dangerous assumption whenever we start about automation replacing jobs on a massive scale).


I don't follow where you say it doesn't make much difference, the two scenarios you describe have very different outcomes in terms of income equality (everyone works half as much vs half of people are unemployed).


Based on very recent history, yes, but go back just a little bit father, not long in the scale of civilization, to the last time this happened, and what actually happened is the entire developed world cut back to working roughly half as much.  Just a couple generations later and we today take the 40 hour week as a given.
Of course, there was a bit of strikes and riots and unpleasant social unrest during the transition, but not really any major lasting societal economic or political changes
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1180 on: January 25, 2017, 04:31:29 PM »
Oh there is a huge difference between everyone working half as much, or half as many people working the same as before and half the people being unemployed. No argument there.

What I meant was that whether automation completely replaces 50% of the jobs, or replaces 50% of the work done by 100% of the jobs, it's still possible to end up with half as many people working the same amount as before and half the people being unemployed.

So how the 50% of work automate replaces is distributed across jobs isn't going to determine which outcome we see in terms of reduced working hours vs increased unemployment.
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1181 on: January 26, 2017, 05:44:57 PM »
got it, thanks for the clarification, and good point
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1182 on: January 27, 2017, 02:10:01 PM »
What I meant was that whether automation completely replaces 50% of the jobs, or replaces 50% of the work done by 100% of the jobs, it's still possible to end up with half as many people working the same amount as before and half the people being unemployed.
Or, more to the point, why should we expect an employer to continue to pay the same price for less labor?

If you work less hours, that means you will be paid less. So even an optimistic scenario where employers prefer to hire twice as many people to work half days (for some reason), those people will be earning less money relative to today. Probably much less.

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1183 on: January 27, 2017, 03:00:27 PM »
Or, more to the point, why should we expect an employer to continue to pay the same price for less labor?

I think this comment really highlights the fundamental disconnect in this discussion.

When technology allows society to be twice as productive, why does all of that benefit accrue to businesses while the citizens are left to die in the street?  Shouldn't some of that abundance benefit people, rather than corporate profits?

The natural assumption in America is that if workers become twice as productive, they should have half as much money instead of twice as much stuff.  This seems fundamentally wrong to me, because I believe that the fruits of this new and more efficient economy should benefit everyone who lives and works in that economy.  Instead, those people are expected to suffer while all of the newly created wealth flows to the business owners.

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1184 on: January 27, 2017, 03:16:29 PM »
Or, more to the point, why should we expect an employer to continue to pay the same price for less labor?

If you work less hours, that means you will be paid less. So even an optimistic scenario where employers prefer to hire twice as many people to work half days (for some reason), those people will be earning less money relative to today. Probably much less.
Competition puts pressure on prices, so some of the efficiency gains will lower consumer prices.

Technology enables workers to be more efficient. Workers need training to use technology. Employers demand workers with training. Workers with training demand higher wages. So some of the gains in efficiency will go toward higher wages. Reduction in prices and increase in wages will pretty much counter the reduction in hours to keep average worker purchasing power fairly flat

Capitalists demand a return on their investment in the technology, so some of the efficiency will go towards profits. Some creative workers will come up with new luxuries for the wealthy to indulge in. The rich experience standard of living increases.

Every disruptive technology brings bumps in the road; many of the poor suffer.

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1185 on: January 27, 2017, 03:22:50 PM »
Quote
I think we are seeing different shades of meaning in the word "expect." From the definitions that pop up in google, here are two that illustrate the divergence:

(A) "require (someone) to fulfill an obligation" ie "we expect employees to show up to work on time"
(B) "regard (something) as likely to happen" ie "we expect rain later this week"

This was from a very different discussion, but I think we're running into the same issue with two different definitions of the word "expect" here. Definition A has a value judgement attached. Definition B is just a person's best guess about the future.

When I say I expect automation to produce a smaller number of full time jobs instead of shorter hours for everyone currently doing those jobs, I mean definition "B", not definition "A".
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1186 on: January 27, 2017, 05:34:35 PM »
Or, more to the point, why should we expect an employer to continue to pay the same price for less labor?

I think this comment really highlights the fundamental disconnect in this discussion.

When technology allows society to be twice as productive, why does all of that benefit accrue to businesses while the citizens are left to die in the street?  Shouldn't some of that abundance benefit people, rather than corporate profits?

The natural assumption in America is that if workers become twice as productive, they should have half as much money instead of twice as much stuff.  This seems fundamentally wrong to me, because I believe that the fruits of this new and more efficient economy should benefit everyone who lives and works in that economy.  Instead, those people are expected to suffer while all of the newly created wealth flows to the business owners.

It is exactly not asking that question that has put us where we are today, with the wealth disparity.

I think it's a fundamental question for the increase in automation, but, sadly, I don't think it will be asked or considered enough.
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1187 on: January 27, 2017, 08:26:40 PM »
Or, more to the point, why should we expect an employer to continue to pay the same price for less labor?

I think this comment really highlights the fundamental disconnect in this discussion.

When technology allows society to be twice as productive, why does all of that benefit accrue to businesses while the citizens are left to die in the street?  Shouldn't some of that abundance benefit people, rather than corporate profits?

The natural assumption in America is that if workers become twice as productive, they should have half as much money instead of twice as much stuff.  This seems fundamentally wrong to me, because I believe that the fruits of this new and more efficient economy should benefit everyone who lives and works in that economy.  Instead, those people are expected to suffer while all of the newly created wealth flows to the business owners.

What does history show happens? It seems like overall, history has suggested that at least some mix of both scenarios happen. Everybody gets bounced upwards, goods get cheaper, standard of living increases for just about everyone. The top bracket sees the most improvements, but overall everyone advances. There is a bit of back and forth of course, and the gains are not distributed perfectly equally, but in general the march forward continues.
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1188 on: January 27, 2017, 11:00:40 PM »
Or, more to the point, why should we expect an employer to continue to pay the same price for less labor?

If you work less hours, that means you will be paid less. So even an optimistic scenario where employers prefer to hire twice as many people to work half days (for some reason), those people will be earning less money relative to today. Probably much less.
Competition puts pressure on prices, so some of the efficiency gains will lower consumer prices.

Technology enables workers to be more efficient. Workers need training to use technology. Employers demand workers with training. Workers with training demand higher wages. So some of the gains in efficiency will go toward higher wages. Reduction in prices and increase in wages will pretty much counter the reduction in hours to keep average worker purchasing power fairly flat

Capitalists demand a return on their investment in the technology, so some of the efficiency will go towards profits. Some creative workers will come up with new luxuries for the wealthy to indulge in. The rich experience standard of living increases.

Every disruptive technology brings bumps in the road; many of the poor suffer.


All of this, and also - assuming we go with the same number of people employed half as many hours option - unemployment drops, which means fewer people competing for jobs, and supply and demand acts on labor as well; more jobs than workers drives up wages as employers compete for scare labor, (while more workers than jobs lets them fall as employees compete for the lowest common denominator of whatever they can get)
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1189 on: January 27, 2017, 11:05:24 PM »
Or, more to the point, why should we expect an employer to continue to pay the same price for less labor?

I think this comment really highlights the fundamental disconnect in this discussion.

When technology allows society to be twice as productive, why does all of that benefit accrue to businesses while the citizens are left to die in the street?  Shouldn't some of that abundance benefit people, rather than corporate profits?

The natural assumption in America is that if workers become twice as productive, they should have half as much money instead of twice as much stuff.  This seems fundamentally wrong to me, because I believe that the fruits of this new and more efficient economy should benefit everyone who lives and works in that economy.  Instead, those people are expected to suffer while all of the newly created wealth flows to the business owners.


Agreed.  This is the fundamental problem with capitalism.  There are a lot of benefits of a free market economy (efficiency) that could be kept even if we someday decide to decouple capitalism from it.  We wouldn't even have to make too many laws or regulations to do it either, just stop propping it up with artificial distortions of the market like corporate charters
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1190 on: January 27, 2017, 11:59:56 PM »
I think this comment really highlights the fundamental disconnect in this discussion.

When technology allows society to be twice as productive, why does all of that benefit accrue to businesses while the citizens are left to die in the street?  Shouldn't some of that abundance benefit people, rather than corporate profits?

The natural assumption in America is that if workers become twice as productive, they should have half as much money instead of twice as much stuff.

You assume if productivity goes up 2x, it's the employee that's twice as productive.  From the business owner's standpoint, that's not the case.  If a factory employs 1000 people and then completely automates everything and only employs 1 person to make sure nothing goes wrong, is that guy suddenly 1000x more productive?  What about if it is a true "lights-out" factory that employs 0 people, now the (nonexistent) employees are infinitely productive?  I'm really just playing the devil's advocate here and don't really think that way but the company owners sure do.  From their point of view, they had to provide and tie up the capital and take the risk of buying the robots, why shouldn't they get all the rewards?

In the USA, this is pretty much a lost cause.  Both parties are owned by the rich and powerful and the voting system ensures that there can only be 2 viable parties.  The only way to change that is through legislation but the very people who would need to pass such legislation to change the system are the ones who benefit from the status quo.  The rich will keep getting richer while it will get harder and harder to find a job, particularly low-skilled jobs.  Sure, a lot of people talk about basic income but it will never happen.  It's like congressional term limits or marijuana legalization, the majority of the country support those movements but their representatives ignore the will of the people for their own reasons. 

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1191 on: January 29, 2017, 10:00:22 AM »
You assume if productivity goes up 2x, it's the employee that's twice as productive. From the business owner's standpoint, that's not the case.  If a factory employs 1000 people and then completely automates everything and only employs 1 person to make sure nothing goes wrong, is that guy suddenly 1000x more productive?  What about if it is a true "lights-out" factory that employs 0 people, now the (nonexistent) employees are infinitely productive?  I'm really just playing the devil's advocate here and don't really think that way but the company owners sure do.  From their point of view, they had to provide and tie up the capital and take the risk of buying the robots, why shouldn't they get all the rewards?
Not necessarily that the employee, as an individual is, but overall the per-worker productivity of the economy goes up.
The risk of buying robots is relatively small, and the company owner doesn't take 100% of it, its shared among all the stock holders, the insurance, the remaining employees, and (if its considered a critical industry) the government.
As to capital, well, that's the basic question: should having capital to invest entitle you to disproportionate rewards relative to your (individual) contribution to society? 

Quote
In the USA, this is pretty much a lost cause... Sure, a lot of people talk about basic income but it will never happen. 
This has been said before, in other contexts.  Why would either employers ever agree to or government ever mandate limited daily work hours, weekends, workers compensation, unemployment insurance, vacations, medical benefits, overtime pay or minimum wage?

Quote
Both parties are owned by the rich and powerful and the voting system ensures that there can only be 2 viable parties.  The only way to change that is through legislation but the very people who would need to pass such legislation to change the system are the ones who benefit from the status quo.
Change happens slow, and I agree with your assessment of the self-sustaining 2-party system today - although, we, collectively, certainly we could change it, if we really wanted to, by just all voting for a 3rd party candidate.  That too, has happened before.  The two parties used to be Federalists and "Democratic-Republicans".  Then there was the Whig party.  The Republican party was once the 3rd.  Change happens slow, but it does happen.

Quote
It's like congressional term limits or marijuana legalization, the majority of the country support those movements but their representatives ignore the will of the people for their own reasons.
28 states have legalized marijuana (either medical or recreational), and up to 8 more are expected to this year.  That's over half, and a significant majority by population, as CA and the NE have the densest populations.
The thing about term limits is it actually anti-democratic - if the people think a senator or congress person is doing a bad job, all they have to do is not vote for them.  The 2-party system doesn't even prevent that, that's what primaries are for.  Every two years the people get two chances to replace a senator they don't like - or keep one they do like - and term limits takes that choice away from them.  When term limits were an item on state ballots, the majority of states voted them down (8 for, 16 against), so even had the supreme court allowed it, the reality was most citizens didn't want to limit their own choice.



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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1192 on: January 30, 2017, 10:17:07 AM »
Another article on Coffee Baristas.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/robot-baristas-serve-up-the-future-of-coffee-at-cafe-x-1485781201

How wary should human baristas be? “There are a lot of things we still need them to do, like cleaning and filling,” says Mr. Hu. “What we don’t need them to do is move thousands of cups around. They’ll have a more enjoyable job.”

I can see humans being more the social aspect of the experience.  Making small talk, etc.

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1193 on: January 30, 2017, 12:55:16 PM »
Change happens slow, and I agree with your assessment of the self-sustaining 2-party system today - although, we, collectively, certainly we could change it, if we really wanted to, by just all voting for a 3rd party candidate.  That too, has happened before.  The two parties used to be Federalists and "Democratic-Republicans".  Then there was the Whig party.  The Republican party was once the 3rd.  Change happens slow, but it does happen.

That doesn't change anything, now the former third party is just one of the two parties and the "out of fashion" party goes by the wayside.  It's still a 2 party system no matter what the parties are named and it's a result of the first-past-the-post voting system.  For an informative and sometimes humorous take on why it works this way, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7tWHJfhiyo

Quote
28 states have legalized marijuana (either medical or recreational), and up to 8 more are expected to this year.  That's over half, and a significant majority by population, as CA and the NE have the densest populations.

But what the states do doesn't matter, the feds could shut it down at any time since it's still illegal under federal law and federal law takes precedence over state law.  Heck, they won't even remove it from schedule 1 even though doctors have been saying it doesn't deserve that classification for YEARS and as you observe, over 1/2 the states and well more than 1/2 the people support reclassification.  The further the politician gets away from the voter the less responsive they are to the voter's wishes.

Quote
The thing about term limits is it actually anti-democratic - if the people think a senator or congress person is doing a bad job, all they have to do is not vote for them.  The 2-party system doesn't even prevent that, that's what primaries are for.  Every two years the people get two chances to replace a senator they don't like - or keep one they do like - and term limits takes that choice away from them.  When term limits were an item on state ballots, the majority of states voted them down (8 for, 16 against), so even had the supreme court allowed it, the reality was most citizens didn't want to limit their own choice.

I'm not necessarily talking about term limits at the state level (although 25% of state representatives and 28% of state senators are subject to them), I'm talking about national congressional term limits.  There appears to be broad support for them, this page says:
Quote
A Gallup survey from January 2013 found that 75 percent of Americans — including huge majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and independents — support term limits on Congress.

Even at the state level, it was mostly through referenda that term limits were passed, not through legislative action.  In fact, in some states the people voted for term limits only to have the legislature pass laws to nullify their vote.  Either way, through gerrymandering and the incumbent effect most congresspeople are re-elected.  Congress itself generally has very low approval ratings as a whole (heck, in November 2013 their approval rating was 9% - only 9% of the country said they approve of the job congress is doing), so why do so many of them get re-elected year after year? 

At any rate, my point wasn't about term limits, it was that the people in power will not make changes that take away that power even if a large majority of the people want the change.  The voting system ensures a duopoly and the people that benefit from that duopoly are not going to voluntarily change it. 

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1194 on: January 31, 2017, 04:55:45 AM »
Another article on Coffee Baristas.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/robot-baristas-serve-up-the-future-of-coffee-at-cafe-x-1485781201

How wary should human baristas be? “There are a lot of things we still need them to do, like cleaning and filling,” says Mr. Hu. “What we don’t need them to do is move thousands of cups around. They’ll have a more enjoyable job.”

I can see humans being more the social aspect of the experience.  Making small talk, etc.

And as Millenials become core customers, this aspect will diminish - we dislike small talk, and talking in general. Give me a machine any day. Any service I have to ring up about? No thanks, I'll find an online competitor. I had to change hairdressers because having to call to make an appointment was too much of a barrier (so sorry, so anti-social. It's not a real barrier - I mean, I could do it. But I put it off so long when a competitor started allowing online booking I just went with them immediately).

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1195 on: January 31, 2017, 06:51:17 AM »


Quote
28 states have legalized marijuana (either medical or recreational), and up to 8 more are expected to this year.  That's over half, and a significant majority by population, as CA and the NE have the densest populations.

But what the states do doesn't matter, the feds could shut it down at any time since it's still illegal under federal law and federal law takes precedence over state law. 
This is grossly incorrect.
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1196 on: January 31, 2017, 07:34:26 AM »
Another article on Coffee Baristas.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/robot-baristas-serve-up-the-future-of-coffee-at-cafe-x-1485781201

How wary should human baristas be? “There are a lot of things we still need them to do, like cleaning and filling,” says Mr. Hu. “What we don’t need them to do is move thousands of cups around. They’ll have a more enjoyable job.”

I can see humans being more the social aspect of the experience.  Making small talk, etc.

And as Millenials become core customers, this aspect will diminish - we dislike small talk, and talking in general. Give me a machine any day. Any service I have to ring up about? No thanks, I'll find an online competitor. I had to change hairdressers because having to call to make an appointment was too much of a barrier (so sorry, so anti-social. It's not a real barrier - I mean, I could do it. But I put it off so long when a competitor started allowing online booking I just went with them immediately).

Although I'm a millennial an I probably am very similar in that I prefer not having to deal with a person, I prefer doing as much as I can through the internet or text based services. However I am also very introvert and I don't know how applicable this is to my generation since self-selection bias means chances are I am more likely to hang out with people similar to myself, this doesn't mean everyone in our generation necessarily feels this way. I do however think that a large portion of our and the next generation that has had computers and now tablets/smart phones since they were small kids are likely going to be more ok with interacting through computers and robots than prior generations. There might still be a niche market for people taking your orders and cooking your food at high priced restaurants for the foreseeable future, but as cost of employment rises and costs and capability of robots rises I think many fast food restaurants are likely to replace more and more labour with automation sooner rather than later and people will accept it if it saves them a little money.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2017, 10:04:26 AM by prognastat »

maizeman

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1197 on: January 31, 2017, 07:47:29 AM »
Another article on Coffee Baristas.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/robot-baristas-serve-up-the-future-of-coffee-at-cafe-x-1485781201

How wary should human baristas be? “There are a lot of things we still need them to do, like cleaning and filling,” says Mr. Hu. “What we don’t need them to do is move thousands of cups around. They’ll have a more enjoyable job.”

I can see humans being more the social aspect of the experience.  Making small talk, etc.

And as Millenials become core customers, this aspect will diminish - we dislike small talk, and talking in general. Give me a machine any day. Any service I have to ring up about? No thanks, I'll find an online competitor. I had to change hairdressers because having to call to make an appointment was too much of a barrier (so sorry, so anti-social. It's not a real barrier - I mean, I could do it. But I put it off so long when a competitor started allowing online booking I just went with them immediately).

Although I'm a millennial an I probably am very similar in that I prefer not having to deal with a person, I prefer doing as much as I can through the internet or text based services. However I am also very introvert and I don't know how applicable this is to my generation since self-selection bias means chances are I am more likely to hang out with people similar to myself, this doesn't mean everyone in our generation necessarily feels this way. I do however think that a large portion of our and the next generation that has had computers and now iPads since they were small kids are likely going to be more ok with interacting through computers and robots than prior generations. There might still be a niche market for people taking your orders and cooking your food at high priced restaurants for the foreseeable future, but as cost of employment rises and costs and capability of robots rises I think many fast food restaurants are likely to replace more and more labour with automation sooner rather than later and people will accept it if it saves them a little money.

I believe I'm technically a millennial, depending on where one choses to draw the line, and I 3rd this point. I'm a huge fan of self checkouts (no need to make awkward small talk while ringing groceries up) at grocery and hardware stores. On the rare occasions I order take out or delivery, only restaurants with online order systems need apply.

For the super wealthy, paying to have actual humans visibly doing work that could be done by robots or AI may remain as a status symbol,* but I think for everyday folks in my generation the businesses that don't require human interaction are going to have the advantage.

*A real jerk I know from back in college was raving on facebook about how he had a meeting one a sillicon valley hectomillionaire, and "the servants were ivy league educated white women!" <-- jerk may not be strong enough a word.
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EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1198 on: January 31, 2017, 08:33:46 AM »
There was an interesting interview with Charles Schwab near the back of my Time magazine which introduced me to the Precariat.

Quote
You have a phrase about the rise of discontented workers—you call it the Precariat?
I didn't coin the phrase, but it describes why people have this uneasy feeling. Is my job still safe? I think there are 3.5 million cashiers in the U.S. and as many truck drivers for whom technology might be overtaking their jobs. People feel a lot of anxiety, and it may not even be conscious.
Is technology bringing about these job losses faster than you expected?
It's coming like a tsunami, or in Davos language, like an avalanche. If you hear a storm coming, it is normal to be afraid. People feel they are losing control over their own lives. Let's get control back is a phrase that is touching a nerve.

Plenty to learn about how this new social class interacts with the changing workplace, social order, and politics -
Quote
But more significantly, the precariat has no occupational identity or narrative to give to their lives. This creates existential insecurity, and goes with the fact that for the first time in history many people have education above the level of labour they can expect to obtain.
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prognastat

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #1199 on: January 31, 2017, 10:14:57 AM »
There was an interesting interview with Charles Schwab near the back of my Time magazine which introduced me to the Precariat.

Quote
You have a phrase about the rise of discontented workers—you call it the Precariat?
I didn't coin the phrase, but it describes why people have this uneasy feeling. Is my job still safe? I think there are 3.5 million cashiers in the U.S. and as many truck drivers for whom technology might be overtaking their jobs. People feel a lot of anxiety, and it may not even be conscious.
Is technology bringing about these job losses faster than you expected?
It's coming like a tsunami, or in Davos language, like an avalanche. If you hear a storm coming, it is normal to be afraid. People feel they are losing control over their own lives. Let's get control back is a phrase that is touching a nerve.

Plenty to learn about how this new social class interacts with the changing workplace, social order, and politics -
Quote
But more significantly, the precariat has no occupational identity or narrative to give to their lives. This creates existential insecurity, and goes with the fact that for the first time in history many people have education above the level of labour they can expect to obtain.

As long as no legislation is made to prevent it from happening a lot of people are likely going to lose jobs over the next 10 years. Improvements like self driving cars are going to almost eliminate jobs like taxi/uber drivers, truck drivers, bus drivers, cashiers are on the precipice. The self driving technology is so close and only needs the kinks to be worked out. As for self checkout, it is already happening more and more in retail locations, not to mention online services where checkout wasn't even a thing to start with.

Even if you are of the belief that new jobs will form as needs change it is undoubtedly going to be a tumultuous time. The upside of these things is that these things also offer cost saving methods for everyone. Self driving taxi/uber will likely means lower fare prices possibly even getting to the point where for frugal people you could live within range of your work and the store and for the intermittent trips anywhere else would simply use a service and save more money by not having a car. Send driving trucks and self checkout services etc lower the price of goods/groceries meaning people will need less money to buy their essentials.

I do feel that this is something that should be far more prevalent in our political discussions. How is it that despite many of these things possibly happening during this presidency neither of the main candidates during the election year talked about this in any detail when it is not at all unforeseeable that this may be a mayor problem during their term?

This isn't even going in to the fact that there are changes slightly further on the horizon that are going to potentially make many more jobs go away through automation and A.I. This will not just affect the working class, but is likely to hit most of the middle and even lower upper class too.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2017, 10:17:24 AM by prognastat »