Author Topic: Robots and their impact on the future  (Read 167453 times)

MoneyCat

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #150 on: October 26, 2014, 02:22:44 PM »
Robots will inevitably take over almost all unskilled and then skilled jobs.  The numbers of unemployed will increase and wages will decrease due to the massive labor pool.  At that point, pressure will build until there is revolt.  A lot of people will get hurt.  It's happened before and will happen again.  The current era reminds me a lot of what I've read about the "Gilded Age" from the late 1800s-early 1900s.  Hoard your cash because it's all going to come tumbling down again.

Hoard my cash?  Why wouldn't I invest it in all those companies that are going to be making all the money?  Seems smarter to own some of those than be part of the labor...

That's all well and good until the guillotines come out and play.

arebelspy

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #151 on: October 26, 2014, 08:30:33 PM »
Robots will inevitably take over almost all unskilled and then skilled jobs.  The numbers of unemployed will increase and wages will decrease due to the massive labor pool.  At that point, pressure will build until there is revolt.  A lot of people will get hurt.  It's happened before and will happen again.  The current era reminds me a lot of what I've read about the "Gilded Age" from the late 1800s-early 1900s.  Hoard your cash because it's all going to come tumbling down again.

Hoard my cash?  Why wouldn't I invest it in all those companies that are going to be making all the money?  Seems smarter to own some of those than be part of the labor...

That's all well and good until the guillotines come out and play.

You think the guillotines will come out for someone holding <1% share of a giant publically traded company?

I'm not so worried.
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tomsang

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #152 on: October 28, 2014, 11:42:01 AM »
On Yahoo - Lowe's replacing (some) humans with robots

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/not-science-fiction--lowe-s-to-debut-robotic-shopping-assiciates-150411173.html

“The downside is you don’t need a human begin on the floor of your store now if you can do this…” and while there will still be a person in the store assisting via video conference, this means “one human being with a job but there are a lot of human beings who used to be on the floor and now don’t have jobs.”

 “If you’re an employer and you look at this OSHbot, which apparently costs $50,000, you're saying a minimum-wage worker plus benefits is maybe going to cost me $25,000 to $30,000-a-year, but this robot is never going to take a sick day, is never going to want to go on vacation…”


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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #153 on: October 28, 2014, 12:03:46 PM »
On Yahoo - Lowe's replacing (some) humans with robots

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/not-science-fiction--lowe-s-to-debut-robotic-shopping-assiciates-150411173.html

“The downside is you don’t need a human begin on the floor of your store now if you can do this…” and while there will still be a person in the store assisting via video conference, this means “one human being with a job but there are a lot of human beings who used to be on the floor and now don’t have jobs.”

 “If you’re an employer and you look at this OSHbot, which apparently costs $50,000, you're saying a minimum-wage worker plus benefits is maybe going to cost me $25,000 to $30,000-a-year, but this robot is never going to take a sick day, is never going to want to go on vacation…”
Cool. Maybe the service will improve.
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #154 on: October 28, 2014, 12:29:16 PM »
On Yahoo - Lowe's replacing (some) humans with robots

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/not-science-fiction--lowe-s-to-debut-robotic-shopping-assiciates-150411173.html

“The downside is you don’t need a human begin on the floor of your store now if you can do this…” and while there will still be a person in the store assisting via video conference, this means “one human being with a job but there are a lot of human beings who used to be on the floor and now don’t have jobs.”

 “If you’re an employer and you look at this OSHbot, which apparently costs $50,000, you're saying a minimum-wage worker plus benefits is maybe going to cost me $25,000 to $30,000-a-year, but this robot is never going to take a sick day, is never going to want to go on vacation…”
Cool. Maybe the service will improve.

I am dubious about the on-board 3d printing part of this but otherwise this will happen.  I have no issues with 3d printing in it self and do think it will come to Lowes/HD/etc but would seem better to have that at a fixed point (or two) in the store rather than mobile.

Just hope there is a mute for the adds running on its back, those things at the gas station drive me up a wall.
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VirginiaBob

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #155 on: October 28, 2014, 12:40:05 PM »
I was reading an article that stated that 1/3 of the jobs in the country are related to transportation.  If we were to automate truck driving and loading only, we would lose something like 8.7 million jobs.

Mykl

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #156 on: October 28, 2014, 12:49:46 PM »
I was reading an article that stated that 1/3 of the jobs in the country are related to transportation.  If we were to automate truck driving and loading only, we would lose something like 8.7 million jobs.

I believe this is why changes of this magnitude need to happen slowly so society can adjust.  We can't just have 8.7 million people become unemployed over the course of a couple of years and expect it to go well.  Converting over 15-20 years would give people time to retool their skills and find a new path.

Either that or provide extremely good unemployment benefits to those who are affected.  I suppose increases in efficiency and the associated savings would allow tax rates on transportation companies to increase while still lowering the bottom line.  But then again, not increasing taxes could lead to lower prices on the products which are transported, bringing the cost of living for everybody down a bit.

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #157 on: October 28, 2014, 01:11:34 PM »
I was reading an article that stated that 1/3 of the jobs in the country are related to transportation.  If we were to automate truck driving and loading only, we would lose something like 8.7 million jobs.

I believe this is why changes of this magnitude need to happen slowly so society can adjust.  We can't just have 8.7 million people become unemployed over the course of a couple of years and expect it to go well.  Converting over 15-20 years would give people time to retool their skills and find a new path.

Either that or provide extremely good unemployment benefits to those who are affected.  I suppose increases in efficiency and the associated savings would allow tax rates on transportation companies to increase while still lowering the bottom line.  But then again, not increasing taxes could lead to lower prices on the products which are transported, bringing the cost of living for everybody down a bit.
So are you saying we should artificially slow down progress because it might be disruptive?
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Mykl

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #158 on: October 28, 2014, 01:38:57 PM »
So are you saying we should artificially slow down progress because it might be disruptive?

Basically, yes.

Converting our transportation services to automated may ultimately be a net positive.  But losing 8.7 million jobs over a short period of time, and not trying to draw it out a bit to allow for the landscape to compensate, becomes a huge negative. 

8.7 million jobs and their families....  that's in the tens of millions of people who are now without income and struggling to survive.  Add a charismatic and convincing leader and that's the stuff that violent revolutions are made of.  Because the advice of "pull up your bootstraps and get to lookin' for another job" doesn't work when there are 8.7 million people competing with you for the few jobs that may actually be available.

I'm not saying stand on the brakes and prevent progress.  I'm just saying that it needs to be carefully measured.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2014, 01:40:30 PM by Mykl »

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #159 on: October 28, 2014, 02:28:01 PM »
So are you saying we should artificially slow down progress because it might be disruptive?

Basically, yes.

Converting our transportation services to automated may ultimately be a net positive.  But losing 8.7 million jobs over a short period of time, and not trying to draw it out a bit to allow for the landscape to compensate, becomes a huge negative. 

8.7 million jobs and their families....  that's in the tens of millions of people who are now without income and struggling to survive.  Add a charismatic and convincing leader and that's the stuff that violent revolutions are made of.  Because the advice of "pull up your bootstraps and get to lookin' for another job" doesn't work when there are 8.7 million people competing with you for the few jobs that may actually be available.

I'm not saying stand on the brakes and prevent progress.  I'm just saying that it needs to be carefully measured.

This.

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #160 on: October 28, 2014, 02:45:23 PM »
I'm not sure I agree. Countries that are willing to go through the painful transition will rocket ahead of those that won't.
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Mykl

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #161 on: October 28, 2014, 02:49:35 PM »
I'm not sure I agree. Countries that are willing to go through the painful transition will rocket ahead of those that won't.

Right, but there's a difference between "painful transition" and "suicide."

We have to trust that the people with the information to make rational decisions are making the right ones.

I couldn't tell you what the exact right balance is here.  I don't know how fast too fast is because I'm not that smart.  But I do know that there is such a thing as "too fast."
« Last Edit: October 28, 2014, 03:00:34 PM by Mykl »

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #162 on: October 28, 2014, 03:06:46 PM »
I'm not sure I agree. Countries that are willing to go through the painful transition will rocket ahead of those that won't.

Right, but there's a difference between "painful transition" and "suicide."

We have to trust that the people with the information to make informed decisions are making the right ones.

I couldn't tell you what the exact right balance is here.  I don't know how fast too fast is because I'm not that smart.  But I do know that there is such a thing as "too fast."

Not just countries but also states and city's.

From a practical point of view I would favor helping those displaced (among others) rather than govt trying to control the pace of innovation.  Mykl-maybe I am just more cynical than you, dont know what govt you live within, but I have little confidence Uncle Sam could ease the transition to an automated/AI economy if it wanted to and it only takes a minority group in one of our two parties to stop everything (see Tea Party) and given both parties are largely controlled by Mega-Corp who would (in the short term at least) profit from AI I just cant see our leaders directing a slow down of tech innovation.  (sorry for run on).
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Mykl

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #163 on: October 28, 2014, 03:17:16 PM »
Not just countries but also states and city's.

From a practical point of view I would favor helping those displaced (among others) rather than govt trying to control the pace of innovation.  Mykl-maybe I am just more cynical than you, dont know what govt you live within, but I have little confidence Uncle Sam could ease the transition to an automated/AI economy if it wanted to and it only takes a minority group in one of our two parties to stop everything (see Tea Party) and given both parties are largely controlled by Mega-Corp who would (in the short term at least) profit from AI I just cant see our leaders directing a slow down of tech innovation.  (sorry for run on).

Traditionally I believe this is done via the application of taxes on whatever it is you want to see slowed down.  Trying to legislate a slow down of technical innovation seems like a losing idea, generally speaking.  Except in this case, legislation might actually be useful....  requiring these companies to keep a warm body in the automated truck in case of emergencies could preserve jobs for a while to ease the transition.  This could also be useful in that it would build public trust of this technology, because I'm guessing the average person might be a little leery of the idea of driverless freight trucks at first.

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #164 on: October 28, 2014, 03:21:09 PM »
So are you saying we should artificially slow down progress because it might be disruptive?

Basically, yes.

Converting our transportation services to automated may ultimately be a net positive.  But losing 8.7 million jobs over a short period of time, and not trying to draw it out a bit to allow for the landscape to compensate, becomes a huge negative. 

8.7 million jobs and their families....  that's in the tens of millions of people who are now without income and struggling to survive.  Add a charismatic and convincing leader and that's the stuff that violent revolutions are made of.  Because the advice of "pull up your bootstraps and get to lookin' for another job" doesn't work when there are 8.7 million people competing with you for the few jobs that may actually be available.

I'm not saying stand on the brakes and prevent progress.  I'm just saying that it needs to be carefully measured.

Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm not arguing the impact of it. I agree wholeheartedly. The only thing I don't think is realistic is slowing it down as a solution. These types of disruptions are going to come faster and faster as technology advances. I don't think slowing things down would work, though. I've been thinking about this quite a bit lately, and I'm not sure what the best way to manage this would be. However, here is kind of what I've come up with as far as why slowing things down wouldn't really work (I think).

The publicly run companies couldn't just wait to implement this (assuming it wasn't cost-prohibitive) in the current system. They have a responsibility to their stake-holders to increase the bottom line, and there is no actual argument that this technology wouldn't do it (hence the reason it's such an issue). If our current driverless cars are any indication, just the reduction in accidents would be worth it. But let's put that aside. Let's say that all the companies choose not to implement this policy. The 8.7M figure is for american companies (I assume). What about the rest of the world? Even if 90% of the producers decided to not do this, that remaining 10% would have such decreased costs that they would very quickly start grabbing up a good chunk of that market share. I'd think something like 5-15% per year.

I'd have to dig through some of my available data to attempt to find something resembling a historical precedent, but even those numbers wouldn't necessarily be accurate due to the increased speed in which we can roll something like this out. So I'm pretty much pulling these numbers out of my ass, but conservatively.

Then what happens? Profits for the companies abstaining from this new technology would take a major financial hit, and have to do layoffs. The people are out of the job anyway, but the stakeholders suffer, and the entire market would probably be negatively effected as well. That would start screwing with a much larger number of people (mainly non-mustachians who pay attention to the short term).

And all of this would happen pretty damn quickly, too.

And all that is assuming that the first step would be taken to begin with. I'm pretty sure it wouldn't happen out of some type of understanding of the issues and the desire to prevent that from happening (there isn't any profit in it) which would leave us with essentially two options that I can see. First, the consumer of products uses the power of their wallet to make a difference. The problem with this is that people have been historically shitty at doing this. Otherwise, once wal-mart started reducing the quality of their merchandise in order to increase profit margins, people would have stopped. When people were outraged over Nike using sweatshops (at least I think it was Nike), they took a small hit, completely disproportionate to the amount of 'outrage' over it. And they are still around today. Second, the government steps in. How a bill of any kind gets through the partisan bullshit going on in Washington is anyone's guess, but I'm pretty sure it has very little to do with the good of the people. And besides, it would never happen quick enough to actually stop anything. But let's say somehow it does happen, what would that look like? I think the most realistic thing would be an extra tax on those using the new tech. Perhaps some type of new CDL-A tax credit, so that money gets back to those directly impacted. I'm going to do some back of the napkin math real quick.

Let's just say that the tax rebate for out of work drivers is the median (although I doubt it would get much past minimum wage). It's currently $51K/pa. Let's just round that to $50K.
Now let's look at how many people would be directly affected (immediate family). A quick google search shows that it is 2.55. So 8.7M * 2.55 = 22,185,000.
Now there are currently 177,199,652 registered voters, and while the gov't reports show a much smaller number, some places on the first page of google results state that 40% of registered voters don't vote, leaving 106,319,791 people who would vote. That means that even if everyone directly affected by the layoffs did vote, that is slightly less than 21%. With all of the noise about entitlements and raising the minimum wage (for the first time in 5 years), could you really expect the additional 29% of the needed votes? I just don't think it would happen at $15K (minimum wage), let alone the median of $50K.


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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #165 on: October 28, 2014, 03:22:30 PM »
Already happening in the ports world:

http://www.bunkerportsnews.com/News.aspx?ElementId=89d0c983-0d2e-4824-b06f-9d17f94f90f5

In this case, AFAIK, the US is already being surpassed by asia as far as port efficiency and automation goes. They make our ports look like they are stuck in the stone age.

Good or bad? Who knows, I certainly do not.
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Albert

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #166 on: October 28, 2014, 04:03:33 PM »
Isn't it a bit different in this case? A new legislation is needed which would allow driverless trucks on public roads instead of the other way around.

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #167 on: October 28, 2014, 04:31:16 PM »
Isn't it a bit different in this case? A new legislation is needed which would allow driverless trucks on public roads instead of the other way around.

Now that is an interesting direction I didn't think of. Granted, we already have 4 states that allow it. I think it'll probably get approved just because people will want it for personal use. Shit, I know I do. Plus those cars are better at dealing with bikes than actual drivers. As long as you are bigger than a squirrel...you're good.

Granted, after a touch more research, for the most part it's not actually illegal, just because the laws didn't envision it. The 4 states I mentioned above have laws that specifically mention autonomous vehicles. And apparently my for-the-most-part-awesome state actually rejected it last year. Grrr.
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #168 on: October 28, 2014, 04:46:28 PM »
So are you saying we should artificially slow down progress because it might be disruptive?

...

Just wanted to say that I read your post, and it's well reasoned, and I don't really have much to respond with.

Regarding what Albert just said....  he has a good point.

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #169 on: October 28, 2014, 05:24:22 PM »
Just wanted to say that I read your post, and it's well reasoned, and I don't really have much to respond with.

Regarding what Albert just said....  he has a good point.

Damn. I was looking for some other ideas. :-) This has become a kind of passion for me lately. These changes are going to happen more and more often. I can't help but think that there are only two ways it's going to go. The oligarchy are going to use this to essentially create a slave state. Now, as much as I am convinced that people for the most part are dumb enough to fall for this, I know that the person for the most part is smart enough not to, and it's just a matter of not allowing the herd mentality to take over. The other side is going to be a major shift in society. It's a move towards, if not necessarily post-scarcity,  something close to it. Something where your time is more valuable than your stuff, mostly because the cost of stuff is so low. Now, the idea of post-scarcity is such a fundamental shift that it won't happen all at once. People aren't smart enough for that drastic of a move. Once we get rid of the idea of 'entitlements' and the associated stigma, it won't be such a huge jump to just assume that basic needs are going to be handled, whether that be from your state, your federal government, or some type of community. It's some interesting times that we live in, and I really look forward to watching this all play out.

One of the things that really made my start down this track is the Manna story. Mykl, have you read it?
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #170 on: October 28, 2014, 05:55:00 PM »
Personally, the only thing I would change would be to try to get my hands on one of the 3D house printers (they are still working on it). All of the labor costs go straight into your pocket (minus the discount you provide people), since your costs are so much lower.

I'm of the opinion that much news about 3d printing is overblown hype. I've seen the video demonstrations of the whole-house 3d printers, they're slow and still require human intervention to build the foundation, route mechanical, install windows & doors, apply finishes, and etc; in addition to the constant baby-sitting and maintenance. Basically it can only replace the framing, which is basically the shortest part of any build when you're using people to do the building. Replacing the shortest portion of the build time with a long, energy-intensive, printing time doesn't sound like money gained to me. Then you'd still need to pay someone to make the 3d model - much building today is *not* done with proper 3d models for printing. I suppose setting that up for a few limited models or modular construction elements wouldn't be that hard, but it's still a cost.

Using a 3d printer/robot to build a foundation would be great, if someone could figure out how to automate digging, mechanical connection placement, and reinforce the concrete while pouring it. You'd save on site positioning, loads of labor, waste material in form-works, and maybe time since if machine could go 24/7. There might need to be some more tech that doesn't exist yet for that to happen though - I'm not sure how the machine would position itself to the globe, and goodness help you if your CAD tech drew the thing wrong.

One of the printers I've seen can't even build a whole house yet, it must build fairly small pieces which are then hoisted into place later. Structurally insulated panels are probably a better bet and have been in use for years now.

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #171 on: October 28, 2014, 06:33:20 PM »
Personally, the only thing I would change would be to try to get my hands on one of the 3D house printers (they are still working on it). All of the labor costs go straight into your pocket (minus the discount you provide people), since your costs are so much lower.

I'm of the opinion that much news about 3d printing is overblown hype. I've seen the video demonstrations of the whole-house 3d printers, they're slow and still require human intervention to build the foundation, route mechanical, install windows & doors, apply finishes, and etc; in addition to the constant baby-sitting and maintenance. Basically it can only replace the framing, which is basically the shortest part of any build when you're using people to do the building. Replacing the shortest portion of the build time with a long, energy-intensive, printing time doesn't sound like money gained to me. Then you'd still need to pay someone to make the 3d model - much building today is *not* done with proper 3d models for printing. I suppose setting that up for a few limited models or modular construction elements wouldn't be that hard, but it's still a cost.

Using a 3d printer/robot to build a foundation would be great, if someone could figure out how to automate digging, mechanical connection placement, and reinforce the concrete while pouring it. You'd save on site positioning, loads of labor, waste material in form-works, and maybe time since if machine could go 24/7. There might need to be some more tech that doesn't exist yet for that to happen though - I'm not sure how the machine would position itself to the globe, and goodness help you if your CAD tech drew the thing wrong.

One of the printers I've seen can't even build a whole house yet, it must build fairly small pieces which are then hoisted into place later. Structurally insulated panels are probably a better bet and have been in use for years now.
That's a very real possibility. Granted, I don't look at how 3D printing is portrayed in the media, so it probably is over hyped. That being said, the potential and the things that are actively being worked on could already change how we build, but we only have proofs of concept at this point. Also bear in mind that I'm not talking about the ridiculously fragile style of building that seems to be the norm, I'm talking about construction methods that capitalize on the technology (and are way better by any measure). Even the open source CNC plans would reduce costs by a huge margin.
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #172 on: October 28, 2014, 10:31:17 PM »

Matchewed asked: ‘Money is exchanged for labor, when people no longer labor where do they get their money?’

I did comment on this. Being paid for labor is seen as a ‘legitimate’ form of making money – understandably. Receiving rents and dividends from investments is also seen as legitimate. If advanced machinery – or robots if you prefer – take most jobs in the future, then taxing companies and distributing this tax as income will have to be seen as a legitimate way of receiving an income.

Thomas Paine, late eighteenth century, suggested the idea of a basic income, and regarded everyone in a nation as entitled to a share of the bounty of nature, regardless of whether they owned land or not. Today, advanced machinery provides a bounty of machine production, and it is inappropriate for people not to share in this bounty just because they do not own the means of production.

Such an idea is a major economic change, but not a major economic problem. The problem is political and social. People have to accept that advanced machinery can promote them to what is, in effect, a rentier class. In my previous post, I suggested this would be Feudalism 2, where machines take the place of flesh and blood serfs, and all people in a nation are seen as belonging to the rentier class. People, workers and business people alike, can choose to allow this to happen, or they can choose to foul things up.

I expect that in the long term, Feudalism 2 will emerge.

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #173 on: October 28, 2014, 11:18:30 PM »
Interesting idea, Myki, slowing automation to allow an easier transition. The problem is that machines displaced agricultural workers a hundred years ago, who then worked in manufacturing. More recently, automation displaced workers in manufacturing who then moved into services. Once service jobs are automated, there is nowhere else to go.

I have written elsewhere that automation can promote everyone in a society to what is, in effect, a rentier class. This would be Feudalism 2, where machines take the place of flesh and blood serfs and workers, and all people in a nation are seen as belonging to the rentier class. Science writers sketched these ideas in the sixties, when I became aware of them. It was seen as a long term project. I assumed at that time that people would be attracted to this possibility, but I now see that even an attractive change still needs acts of political will. People can choose to support Feudalism 2, or choose to support the idea of Business As Usual, which may include Myki’s idea of slowing or even stopping automation. I saw a quote recently: ‘The Luddites were not wrong, just two hundred years too early’.

The future may see a two level world, the intelligent and scientifically knowledgeable minority living in Feudalism 2, and the majority living in Business As Usual – by choice.

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #174 on: October 29, 2014, 08:01:29 AM »
People can choose to support Feudalism 2, or choose to support the idea of Business As Usual, which may include Myki’s idea of slowing or even stopping automation. I saw a quote recently: ‘The Luddites were not wrong, just two hundred years too early’.

Whoa, easy there....  please don't misrepresent my argument.

The word "stop" is nowhere to be found in anything I have to say about the subject.  I am entirely for progress, I see the benefits of automation, and I am all for it.  We absolutely should NOT stop moving forward.

I'm only suggesting that we try to be smart about it.  Try to do it in a way, and at a pace that minimizes the pain of transition.

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #175 on: October 29, 2014, 12:39:51 PM »
Robots will inevitably take over almost all unskilled and then skilled jobs.  The numbers of unemployed will increase and wages will decrease due to the massive labor pool.  At that point, pressure will build until there is revolt.  A lot of people will get hurt.  It's happened before and will happen again.  The current era reminds me a lot of what I've read about the "Gilded Age" from the late 1800s-early 1900s.  Hoard your cash because it's all going to come tumbling down again.

One of my coworkers says the same thing about why he doesn't invest in the stock market, and hoards his cash in bonds.  He believes that we are approaching the 300 year life of our country and we are going to fall soon just like the Roman Empire did.  I always respond and say, if true, what good will having all your money in government bonds from the soon to be former United States of America?  Heck, at least my money is invested in companies that do business Internationally that aren't necessarily tied to any particular country.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2014, 12:43:58 PM by VirginiaBob »

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #176 on: October 29, 2014, 03:30:42 PM »
Robots will inevitably take over almost all unskilled and then skilled jobs.  The numbers of unemployed will increase and wages will decrease due to the massive labor pool.  At that point, pressure will build until there is revolt.  A lot of people will get hurt.  It's happened before and will happen again.  The current era reminds me a lot of what I've read about the "Gilded Age" from the late 1800s-early 1900s.  Hoard your cash because it's all going to come tumbling down again.

One of my coworkers says the same thing about why he doesn't invest in the stock market, and hoards his cash in bonds.  He believes that we are approaching the 300 year life of our country and we are going to fall soon just like the Roman Empire did.  I always respond and say, if true, what good will having all your money in government bonds from the soon to be former United States of America?  Heck, at least my money is invested in companies that do business Internationally that aren't necessarily tied to any particular country.

My initial reaction when people say stuff like "You should hoard cash/gold/silver/bonds/diamonds because XXXXXX is going to come crashing down", my initial thought is that regardless of what comes crashing down, one should always hoard toilet paper and recreational drugs. Those will be way better than cash. :-)

I'm going to break down your comment below Leisured, since there are a couple of things I want to address specifically. Overall, I think we are pretty much on the same page, but for some reason, I really don't like your verbiage (rentiers and Feudalism 2). I'll try to figure out why as I respond point by point. Also, as I respond point by point, bear in mind that I'm not talking about "eventually". I am of the opinion that eventually stuff will happen, and it will be awesome or it will suck. This philosophy has been right 100% of the time, so I'm sticking with it ;-).

My main concern, and where I come from, is what Mykl touched on: How to manage the transition. The transition will happen, but how it happens is more important than anything else. In Mustachian terms, it's control vs. concern. I'm not in control of the eventual outcome, because the transition has to happen first, and that is what I can have an influence on.

And I'm going to do it in a separate post.
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #177 on: October 31, 2014, 04:59:53 AM »
Sorry, Myki, if I misrepresented you, by suggesting that society might stop technical advance. I agree with jordanread that the important thing is to manage the transition to a predominantly automated society.

On further thought, I will push beyond your position, Myki, and suggest that, for many people, a neo Luddite society is not as silly as it sounds. I have already suggested a two level world, where a minority lives in an advanced, automated society, and a majority lives in a Business As Usual society, with restrictions on automation.

In twenty years, the BRIC countries, (Brazil, Russia, India and China) will live roughly near the level we do now. Sweeping automation will affect existing rich countries, and BRIC countries, at about the same time, so all these countries will be in the same boat. Faced with mass starvation because so many people are out of work, society has two choices. A huge income redistribution scheme, as suggested by Cyrano in Sept; or a neo Luddite scheme, winding back automation to, say, the 1980 level. This latter approach will include outlawing driverless vehicles.

Now comes the interesting part. There is no need to limit advances in medicine, because medical advance has little effect on employment. There is no need to limit technical advance in improving the aerodynamic efficiency of vehicles, including aircraft, nor is there any need to limit technical advance in wind and solar power.

I have spent most of my working life in the science industry, and have come to believe that most people do not care much about science and technology, and are not averse to limiting technical advance in select industries, if such limits would solve social problems.

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #178 on: October 31, 2014, 05:03:36 AM »

Jordanread, you do not like my terms; ‘Feudalism 2’, and ‘rentier’. I am not thrilled by these terms either, but we do need descriptors. Under Feudalism 1, a thousand years ago, a lord might seize some agricultural land, with its serfs, from another lord, and become a rentier. The serfs grow wheat and sell it, paying a share to the lord as rent. Under Feudalism 2, all people in a society become ‘lords’ and ‘force’ robots and other advanced machinery to work for them, so becoming ‘rentiers’. Functionally, Feudalism 2 is almost identical to Feudalism 1, which is why I use the term Feudalism 2.  Do not let these terms bother you.

I am Australian, and know that Americans can be sensitive to these ideas, believing, correctly, that America has progressed beyond feudalism. America has certainly progressed beyond Feudalism 1, but I have already made the point that there is nothing wrong with feudalism if the flesh and blood serfs and workers are replaced by machines. Hence Feudalism 2.

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #179 on: October 31, 2014, 06:17:05 AM »
I am Australian, and know that Americans can be sensitive to these ideas, believing, correctly, that America has progressed beyond feudalism. America has certainly progressed beyond Feudalism 1, but I have already made the point that there is nothing wrong with feudalism if the flesh and blood serfs and workers are replaced by machines. Hence Feudalism 2.

I'm glad you commented as you did (I noticed I haven't responded like I initially meant to, so sorry about that). Funnily enough, the thing you mentioned above is absolutely not the reason I have issues with the terms. I think it's along the lines of elevating the machines to something besides tools which people can and do own. I think that is what is rubbing me the wrong way. It's just not a valid comparison, I think. One is not capitalizing on the work done by others, as in feudalism, one is having increased gains of efficiency. The feudalism concept doesn't address the owners of the machines (besides relatively generically). I hope I'm making sense, it's early. :-)

As far as having an issue with feudalism, I always thought Lord Jordan had a nice ring to it.
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #180 on: November 04, 2014, 11:46:49 PM »

Thank you for your reply, Jordanread.

Numerically controlled machine tools emerged in the late fifties, and replaced skilled machinists. A numerically controlled machine tool sculpts a metal part from a billet of metal, and so is ‘elevated’, to use your term, to the equivalent of a skilled machinist. Is this a problem? If so, why? Motorized vehicles and  farm tractors replaced horses, and horses, if they were able to think about these matters, would regard these machines as being ‘elevated’ to the level of horses.

As advanced machinery displaces human workers, the machinery reminds us that work is just work. This has never bothered me, but I suspect that some people are bothered by the idea that a gadget can replace their work contribution.

You state correctly that feudal lords of old appropriated the production of serfs and workers. Under Feudalism 2, we, the ‘lords’, appropriate the production of machinery. There is no difference. Talk of increased efficiency or productivity is a misunderstanding. Under Feudalism 1, serfs and workers live close to subsistence level, under Feudalism 2, machinery get the fuel, electric power and spare parts they need, and no more. Machinery exists at subsistence level. I see no difference between Feudalism 1 and 2, except that flesh and blood serfs and workers are replaced by machines.

I am glad that you like your promotion to Lord Jordan.

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #181 on: November 05, 2014, 08:22:36 AM »
Quote
You state correctly that feudal lords of old appropriated the production of serfs and workers. Under Feudalism 2, we, the ‘lords’, appropriate the production of machinery. There is no difference. Talk of increased efficiency or productivity is a misunderstanding. Under Feudalism 1, serfs and workers live close to subsistence level, under Feudalism 2, machinery get the fuel, electric power and spare parts they need, and no more. Machinery exists at subsistence level. I see no difference between Feudalism 1 and 2, except that flesh and blood serfs and workers are replaced by machines.

I might quibble with some of this, I suspect 'machines' will be 'given' the resources to 'reproduce', 'evolve' and 'better themselves'.  Self improving AI is a current goal of research.  But given a power shortage it will likely be the machines whose 'lights' go out and not the humans.
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #182 on: November 06, 2014, 04:52:37 AM »
Suppose that advanced automation sweeps through the US economy in the future, and people have to rely on a Basic Income rather than being paid for work, how much would this cost? The link below tells us that total wages and salaries in the US is about $7.5 trillion dollars, 46% of the $16 trillion GDP. Wages and salaries do not include business and partnership profits, rents or dividends.

http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/WASCUR

25% of US GDP is paid as state, federal and municipal taxes, see link below, first para.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxation_in_the_United_States#State_administrations

If, in the future, technological unemployment reaches 50% and stays there, then nearly half of $7.5 trillion dollars of wages and salaries will be displaced by automation. I know that the unemployed will on average be less well paid than those still in employment. I do not know the discrepancy, so I assume that the Basic Income will replace $3.5 trillion dollars, or 21% of GDP. This sum will have to be raised by a combination of taxes, and when added to the existing 25% of GDP paid in taxes, will drive taxes to 46% of GDP. The Basic Income will replace existing welfare payments and age pension payments, so the actual percentage of GDP paid in taxes will be less than 46%.

The last time the US saw taxes on this scale was during WW2. It is achievable, but will need a stiff dose of political will.

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #183 on: November 06, 2014, 03:08:09 PM »
Ultimately capital will be in the hands of a few, and most people will subsist upon a basic income collected from those wealthy as taxes. I haven't heard a single endgame scenario that makes even 1/10 as much sense as this.

The issue, as in all utopias, is the transition. How do you get legislation through congress to allow the automation of vehicles on federal roads when so many people are truckers? Their unions are a huge bastion of Democratic support. I think it will eventually happen, as with the dockworkers, but it will be slow and they will go screaming.

In fact I wouldn't be surprised if this isn't the next great political divide, since the culture wars are essentially over: The Technocratic Republicans (hopeful for the future but heartless about the present) vs. Luddite Democrats (loath automation because people). That would be one hell of a political shakeup.

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #184 on: November 06, 2014, 05:41:47 PM »
Ultimately capital will be in the hands of a few, and most people will subsist upon a basic income collected from those wealthy as taxes. I haven't heard a single endgame scenario that makes even 1/10 as much sense as this.
Is that sustainable, though? You mention below that the issue is transition. I don't see anything like this being more than a transition. Do you really think those few would be okay with this setup for long?

The issue, as in all utopias, is the transition. How do you get legislation through congress to allow the automation of vehicles on federal roads when so many people are truckers? Their unions are a huge bastion of Democratic support. I think it will eventually happen, as with the dockworkers, but it will be slow and they will go screaming.
I don't think it's going to be that slow. The wonderful thing about the time we live in is that things move a hell of a lot faster than they used to. People comment on the similarities between gay and interracial marriage. There is some interesting data (that I started researching based on an XKCD comic) that shows that the actual approval rate vs. legalization. While the comparison was fun, what I realized was how much faster we can get things done (at least at the state level) in this day and age. Shit, we already have 4 states that specifically mention automated vehicles.
 
In fact I wouldn't be surprised if this isn't the next great political divide, since the culture wars are essentially over: The Technocratic Republicans (hopeful for the future but heartless about the present) vs. Luddite Democrats (loath automation because people). That would be one hell of a political shakeup.

That is something that I've never looked at before. It's pretty funny.
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #185 on: November 11, 2014, 09:28:58 AM »
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/robots-are-replacing-real-human-interaction-and-millennials-don-t-care-002657066.html

"Customers on average are now visiting banks 85% less than they did in 1995, but for every Starbucks in the U.S., there are nine bank branches, and they cost billions to maintain. Big banks like Lloyds and Citibank are responding by announcing the reduction of branches."

This is interesting for many reasons.  We have discussed the effect on people, but the other issue relates to commercial real estate.  There are many prime expensive commercial locations that become a nuisance vs. the go to profit place.  How do you stay on the right side of the tracks?  Malls, Banks, Shops, Movie Theaters, Restaurants, and many others could become obsolete in the next 20 years.  Thoughts?   

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #186 on: November 11, 2014, 10:06:16 AM »
Ultimately capital will be in the hands of a few, and most people will subsist upon a basic income collected from those wealthy as taxes. I haven't heard a single endgame scenario that makes even 1/10 as much sense as this.
Is that sustainable, though? You mention below that the issue is transition. I don't see anything like this being more than a transition. Do you really think those few would be okay with this setup for long?

Though we've somehow managed to forget it here in North America over the last few decades, taxes are arguably a form of wealth insurance for the rich.  Look at some of the other countries in the world for examples:  In most countries with massive concentration of wealth and a huge number of people in poverty, the rich spend a lot of time and money maintaining security guards, avoiding being kidnapped and otherwise being afraid of the people. 

The few will no doubt complain mightily about having to pay any taxes at all, that is what people do - especially those with lots of money. But they might we more willing to pay taxes than to be paying ransom for their kids every couple of years.


An example from Vancouver.  Violent crime is very low in Vancouver (a few drug dealers kill each other once in awhile, but that's about it).  For a city of >2 million, it has very little violence.  What it does have is a highly concentrated group of homeless, mentally ill addicts living on the streets in the 'Downtown East Side'.  It's a really apocalyptic neighbourhood.  Not dangerous necessarily, but very uncomfortable to pass through.  Lots of desperate people means lots of petty property crime.

I used to live a few blocks from the worst of it (some of the best neighbourhoods are nearby).  It was a rule of thumb - never leave anything in plain view in your car.  Never, ever, leave your home unlocked.  If you leave a bike outside, use at least two heavy duty locks - and don't leave it overnight.  Property insurance was relatively quite high (my contents insurance on my 2nd floor apt was higher than my total insurance on a 1400 sq. ft house now).  Vehicle insurance was 50% higher than I am currently paying, mostly because of break-ins.  Lots of things just are not covered by insurance - basically anything that gets left outside and is not heavy.

Now, I'd much prefer to pay higher taxes that go towards effective mental health, addictions and housing support than pay higher home insurance and still have my house broken into several times (5 in total over 2 homes).  I am not rich, but I would see those taxes as wealth insurance - much better and with a lower deductible than my home and car insurance were.

Before anyone leaps to stereotypes about homeless, mentally ill and addicted people, I should caution that I used to work in that field and not one of us would ever want to change places with one of them - especially not their early life. 

Basically, those few would have to be OK with supporting the rest with a basic income, or the rest would end up just taking it - one way or another. 

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #187 on: November 11, 2014, 10:11:48 AM »
but for every Starbucks in the U.S., there are nine bank branches, and they cost billions to maintain. Big banks like Lloyds and Citibank are responding by announcing the reduction of branches."

This was a huge flap back in the 90s about how ATMs were going to cause an economic recession because all of the bank tellers would suddenly be unemployed.  It was just another case of "robots are stealing our jobs".  I'm totally fine with 80% of those bank branches closing down.  I visit a physical bank about twice a year.

Quote
the other issue relates to commercial real estate.  There are many prime expensive commercial locations that become a nuisance vs. the go to profit place.  How do you stay on the right side of the tracks?  Malls, Banks, Shops, Movie Theaters, Restaurants, and many others could become obsolete in the next 20 years.  Thoughts?

I agree this is a huge problem.  We have a vast and complex urban infrastructure designed around physically visiting brick and mortar stores, usually by car.  As most of those stores become obsolete, either because their services have been replaced by robots or their products are easier to obtain online or from a big box store, many downtown urban cores are turning into wastelands.

There's an obvious answer, though:  housing.  Downtown cores have available pre-built real estate with profitable densities, easy access to the remaining shops and restaurants, and good public transportation.  I think we should be rehabbing those empty buildings into condos.  And while we're at it, let's turn all of that useless asphalt parking space into microparks.
 
« Last Edit: November 11, 2014, 03:53:08 PM by sol »

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #188 on: November 11, 2014, 11:55:58 AM »
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #189 on: November 12, 2014, 07:08:42 AM »
but for every Starbucks in the U.S., there are nine bank branches, and they cost billions to maintain. Big banks like Lloyds and Citibank are responding by announcing the reduction of branches."

This was a huge flap back in the 90s about how ATMs were going to cause an economic recession because all of the bank tellers would suddenly be unemployed.  It was just another case of "robots are stealing our jobs".  I'm totally fine with 80% of those bank branches closing down.  I visit a physical bank about twice a year.

And that twice a year will be like visiting the DMV. Since there will be so few branches, the lines will be long.

And it probably won't save you anything, but will just add extra profit into the owners pockets.

I'm okay with it too though. Just won't be too fun.
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #190 on: November 12, 2014, 11:36:27 AM »
This is interesting for many reasons.  We have discussed the effect on people, but the other issue relates to commercial real estate.  There are many prime expensive commercial locations that become a nuisance vs. the go to profit place. How do you stay on the right side of the tracks?  Malls, Banks, Shops, Movie Theaters, Restaurants, and many others could become obsolete in the next 20 years.  Thoughts?   

Not at all what I observe here and I live in a rich country too. Our downtown is still very much a go to place for entertainment, eating and shopping (upscale, but not exclusively). Apartments in the old town are very expensive. As for a more distant future malls and banks might diminish, but place for entertainment including restaurants will not. In fact I expect even more of that in prime locations.

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #192 on: December 02, 2014, 12:48:15 PM »
https://www.yahoo.com/tech/s/stephen-hawking-artificial-intelligence-could-150024478.html#Pdy07Al

‘Artificial Intelligence Could Spell The End Of The Human Race’

If we can make robots smarter than humans, they can out-invent human researchers and out-manipulate human leaders, “developing weapons we cannot even understand,” in Hawking’s words.

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #193 on: December 02, 2014, 03:11:13 PM »
https://www.yahoo.com/tech/s/stephen-hawking-artificial-intelligence-could-150024478.html#Pdy07Al

‘Artificial Intelligence Could Spell The End Of The Human Race’

If we can make robots smarter than humans, they can out-invent human researchers and out-manipulate human leaders, “developing weapons we cannot even understand,” in Hawking’s words.

Don't forget that Elon Musk said something similar. However, we've gotten away from the robots part and started getting into the idea of a singularity and broad AI. I'm totally down to discuss that if you want (and probably not even if you want...it's a wonderful subject that I absolutely love), but it might be better to create a new topic more specific to that discussion.
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #194 on: December 03, 2014, 08:44:46 AM »
http://www.takepart.com/video/2014/12/01/amazon-robots-bad-news-workers

Interesting article and video. The video show that there is still a number of people that are involved in the process. It looks like automation has a few more years. Also it sounds like they have only automated a few of their distribution centers. I would think that within 5 years that most of these positions will be eliminated/automated.

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #195 on: December 04, 2014, 11:49:13 AM »
A slightly more reasoned approach: http://www.wired.com/2014/12/armageddon-is-not-the-ai-problem
Not new, but nice to see.
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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #196 on: December 07, 2014, 01:14:42 PM »

Security guards at $6.25 per hour. R2D2 is protecting the mall. Interesting about scanning license plates and other data collection to predict crime.
http://www.cnbc.com/id/102240810

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #197 on: December 21, 2014, 01:19:48 AM »

jordanread

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #198 on: December 23, 2014, 10:21:11 AM »
Sometimes the terminology that is used by The Oatmeal for things just gets me. Here is something he wrote about Google's self driving cars...or as he puts it Skynet Marshmallow Bumper Bots.
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tomsang

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Re: Robots and their impact on the future
« Reply #199 on: February 03, 2015, 06:41:42 AM »
Bill Gates also concerned about AI. He agrees with Elon Musk about the need to understand how the technology is used.

http://www.cnbc.com/id/102380523