Author Topic: Job Security?  (Read 5380 times)

merrell33

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Job Security?
« on: August 24, 2014, 05:15:16 PM »
At the risk of sounding like an Luddite or technophobe, I have a question for you people still working.  So, one of the newest technologies to hit the mainstream industry sectors is the 3D printer.  Okay, so it's going to revolutionize the world and bring everyone together and we can all sing in harmony and move the world towards greatness and progress.  People will be able to make EVERYTHING in their homes and not worry about ever traveling anywhere to buy anything.  Everyone will be able to afford the raw materials to print anything at home and life will become much better for everyone.

Okay, so I got all that out of the way.  Now, I currently work in an industry that isn't quite going to feel the effects of this technology for a while.  Other industries are going to probably feel the effects quite quickly and with greater impact.  Now I know that my ignorance is going to show through on this topic.  If industries are going to be destroyed by this technology (not just my opinion), what is going to remain?  People are talking about intellectual property management and the copyright infringements that will be taking place left and right.  The people that could benefit most from this technology would be in a field that won't quite be affected negatively by it.  I know that this is going to be unstoppable and we are all going to have to give in, but I'm getting SO MUCH anxiety over this stuff.  I'm most confused at how economies (local and global) are going to be affected by this.  I can't fathom how people will be able to afford to by the raw materials needed to print items if they have been laid off due to the 3D printer displacing their job.  It seems like only the SUPER creative CAD people (artists and engineers) will be the people to benefit the most.  I'm neither.  How can I compete with those people?

Please understand that I don't want any really snappy comments on my perception of the impact of 3D printing on my life.  I know that no one will really know the true effects of something until a while after the beginning, but I invite realistic opinions.  Thanks everyone!

Emilyngh

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Re: Job Security?
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2014, 05:24:00 PM »
At the risk of sounding like an Luddite or technophobe, I have a question for you people still working.  So, one of the newest technologies to hit the mainstream industry sectors is the 3D printer.  Okay, so it's going to revolutionize the world and bring everyone together and we can all sing in harmony and move the world towards greatness and progress.  People will be able to make EVERYTHING in their homes and not worry about ever traveling anywhere to buy anything.  Everyone will be able to afford the raw materials to print anything at home and life will become much better for everyone.

Okay, so I got all that out of the way.  Now, I currently work in an industry that isn't quite going to feel the effects of this technology for a while.  Other industries are going to probably feel the effects quite quickly and with greater impact.  Now I know that my ignorance is going to show through on this topic.  If industries are going to be destroyed by this technology (not just my opinion), what is going to remain?  People are talking about intellectual property management and the copyright infringements that will be taking place left and right.  The people that could benefit most from this technology would be in a field that won't quite be affected negatively by it.  I know that this is going to be unstoppable and we are all going to have to give in, but I'm getting SO MUCH anxiety over this stuff.  I'm most confused at how economies (local and global) are going to be affected by this.  I can't fathom how people will be able to afford to by the raw materials needed to print items if they have been laid off due to the 3D printer displacing their job.  It seems like only the SUPER creative CAD people (artists and engineers) will be the people to benefit the most.  I'm neither.  How can I compete with those people?

Please understand that I don't want any really snappy comments on my perception of the impact of 3D printing on my life.  I know that no one will really know the true effects of something until a while after the beginning, but I invite realistic opinions.  Thanks everyone!

I am not at all concerned about the effects of 3D printing.   The fact that this technology has been so hyped in the mainstream (on Colbert Report more than a year ago), to me, says that if it is going to push out major industries it would have already happened.   By the time stuff hits the mainstream, it's either already taken over or is pretty much dead in the water, IMHO.

This isn't to say that there won't be some niche application where it winds up making sense for use.   But I just don't think you have to fear this one technology.   The Black Swan that's going to transform jobs as we know them won't be seen coming, and by the time the general population knows that it's going to be big, it will already have taken over.   IMHO, of course.

merrell33

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Re: Job Security?
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2014, 05:32:24 PM »
The first thing that most people moan and groan over is the effect of 3D printing on gun ownership.  I couldn't care less about that.  I own guns and I'm not worried about other people owning guns that they printed.  Laws will still apply if someone decides that they want to shoot someone with a 3D printed gun (or collection of 3D printed parts).

I can't actually say that the change would have already happened.  I think that we are in the beginning stages.  We'll see what happens.

dividendman

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Re: Job Security?
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2014, 05:32:44 PM »
Your question boils down to: What happens when technology makes people so productive we don't need very many people working to make everything?

There is actually a lot of literature on this topic! It's not just with 3D printers. You see this with Uber and traditional taxis, automated warehouses and warehouse workers etc.

Basically there are two options:

1) We move away from a system where labor creates the most capital and people who have the most capital get richer and richer and everyone else gets poor and the world implodes due to riots and civil discontent. I think this is unlikely because even the uber rich people will realize that money doesn't mean anything if you are dead and even if it does happen it should lead to option 2):

2) We move towards a more Star Trek like utopia where we increase taxes on this capital that is so very productive and simply pay everyone just for existing. That's right, you get money (or goods/services) enough to live a comfortable life because technology has made things so productive that everyone can get things for a marginal (free) cost. The only people who need money are people that want exorbitant lifestyles so money will still be around.

I'm hoping for #2. However, I think we're a long way from this (or even #1). In the US and Canada and the western world, the infrastructure and technology is amazing (but even here many people don't have internet access yet, nevermind high speed access!). In the rest of the world (the other 6 out of 7 billion folks) they are still in the 17-19th century with respect to technology, never mind the 20 and 21st, so there is still a lot of reason to keep people busy working!

Don't fret - making things super productive will only have a positive impact on the world. Also, the technologists will likely always be in demand because someone still needs to come up with this stuff (until computers can do that too... dun dun dunnnnn!) :)

merrell33

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Re: Job Security?
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2014, 05:48:52 PM »
Thanks!  It's nice to hear these opinions from other people.  It really helps to recalibrate my panic threshold.

Please keep the comments coming!

Dicey

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Re: Job Security?
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2014, 06:08:20 PM »
Seriously? This is why we work our asses off to reach FI as soon as possible. Using MMM's formula, you can be outta there way before technology makes you obsolete. Once you've done it, who cares if 3D printers take over the world? That's the whole point.

maizeman

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Re: Job Security?
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2014, 06:22:38 PM »
As several others have mentioned, this sounds like a subset of the same discussion happening across media about increased automation generally (Amazon.com drones replacing UPS drivers, touch screen kiosks replacing the person who takes your order at McDonalds, google's self-driving cars replacing taxi drivers and truckers). There are tons of fascinating/depressing books and articles on the topic. My only general view is the same as Diane C's: I need to hurry up and accumulate capital while my own labor still has significant value.

However, specifically for your question of what industries are safe in a world of ubiquitous and cheap 3D printing:

-Basic materials (3D printers don't create things out of thin air, they need plastic or metal bases to from into new shapes)
-Energy: both production and transmission (people still need power to run their 3D printers).
-Most of the service sector: from plumbers to prostitutes and doctors to doormen
-Agriculture: 3D printing won't create calories out of thin air either

The worst hit if 3D printing really takes off is manufacturing and the number of jobs there in the US has already be eviscerated by a combination of automation and offshoring (30% of total employment in 1960, 8% today).

sol

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Re: Job Security?
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2014, 06:33:22 PM »
3D printers aren't as much of a threat as you make them out to be.  They are not star trek replicators, they are just little machines that can make parts.  Even if everyone had a super fancy one in their own home, they will still need raw materials to make the parts out of.  We'll still need to manufacture and transport the goo the printers use.  We'll still need to assemble the parts into useful machines. 

I think it will be a long time before printing yourself a carpet cleaner makes more sense than biking over to you local Fred Meyer to buy a carpet cleaner.  Major retailers will still exist, for the economies afforded by scale and robust distribution networks and seasonally adjusted supply chains and helpful salespeople.

Even if plans existed for a good carpet cleaner, and you happened to have a printer capable of making both the metal and the plastic parts, you'd still need to make some kind of cleaning solution to use in it.  You'll still need to plug it in, and you'll still need to put soap in it, and you'll still need to assemble the thing correctly and then use it correctly.  These are all jobs that can theoretically be outsourced to real humans, some of whom will still own and operate home carpet-cleaning businesses. 

merrell33

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Re: Job Security?
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2014, 06:37:20 PM »
Yes, Diane C, I am serious.  What MMM formula?  I'm busting my ass working trying to stand out and sometimes things just seemingly blindside you.  Are you FI?  If not, then what industry do you work in? 

I currently am trying to pay off things and I'm living a frugal lifestyle.  That doesn't mean that a formula is perfect for predicting the number of years needed to work at a certain salary to obtain financial independence.  Does his formula account for exponential technology growth and other unpredictable factors?  Once I reach FI (far from now) I WON'T care about 3D printers and job security.  For now, it is a valid concern.

merrell33

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Re: Job Security?
« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2014, 06:43:55 PM »
I just read some of your old posts Diane C.  So you are retired.  Good for you.  I'm currently trying to get my stuff together to achieve the same goal.

G-dog

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Re: Job Security?
« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2014, 08:47:16 PM »
The first patents on 3D printing are or have expired. Sure there are a bunch of others, but for any given technology, the job market shifts as the technology shifts. Computers haven't replaced us yet, not sure why 3D printing will. Cheap offshore manufacturing hasn't replaced us yet either.  Will segments of the job market be impacted? Yes, by either high tech, low tech, and no tech alternatives, kind of same as it ever was...

IMHO

Dicey

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Re: Job Security?
« Reply #11 on: August 25, 2014, 12:11:48 AM »
Yes, Diane C, I am serious.  What MMM formula? 

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/01/13/the-shockingly-simple-math-behind-early-retirement/

This should help you feel better right away. Best of luck to you, Merrell33!

merrell33

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Re: Job Security?
« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2014, 09:41:30 PM »
Funny.  Here I am around midnight freaking out about this stuff only to read another thread about robots and human replacement...

Johnez

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Re: Job Security?
« Reply #13 on: November 05, 2014, 03:23:27 AM »
What'll be interesting is how/when/if TPTB will try throttling this technology somehow. It'll also be interesting to see which cottage industies sprout up. There's going to be opportunity everywhere IMO. Combining technologies of 3d printing with the www? I just see endless fields of possibility here.

bmiles62

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Re: Job Security?
« Reply #14 on: November 05, 2014, 05:53:26 AM »
Here is the real problem with 3D printers!

seattlecyclone

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Re: Job Security?
« Reply #15 on: November 05, 2014, 08:00:04 AM »
I don't see 3D printing expanding past a niche market. It's a relatively resource-intensive process: the raw material has to be heated past its melting point and extruded bit by bit over a rather long period of time. Unless there's a fundamental shift in how the technology works, traditional manufacturing and delivery channels will remain cheaper for anything that has to be produced in quantity. There will be hobbyists who have 3D printers of their own and design things on them for fun, but most people will not own one. There probably is an opportunity for someone to make a bit of money on the side renting out time on a 3D printer to make the occasional replacement part for out-of-production machinery. And there has been some interesting research into using 3D printers for medical purposes. Where they work well is making one-of-a-kind, hard-to-find parts. This is not a recipe for a technology that gets adopted in most people's daily lives.

highcountry

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Re: Job Security?
« Reply #16 on: November 05, 2014, 09:49:37 AM »
This has been happening since before the industrial revolution.  I worked as a forklift operator several years back, and once calculated out how many people it would have taken to do my job before the invention of said forklift.  The number I got was 26.

The interesting thing about this is that when it comes to the question of what comes after, we have 150 years of data to answer it.  At the turn of the last century, the speculations about basic incomes and short workweeks were the same as they are now. 
Instead of reduced hours and basic incomes, the wealth has concentrated at the top and we have stratified society by country as the global economy expanded. This means that we are slightly insulated from the social unrest if it happens in, say Bangladesh. Additionally globalization makes it much harder for social unrest to cause meaningful economic change, as the jobs you do have can simply go elsewhere.

My prediction:  the wealth divide will get bigger.  Northern Europe will lean toward a basic income to prevent social unrest.  The US will not because we have shown ourselves to be stupid that way, and have grown complacent since the early 20th century. That will mean that in a few generations, we are no longer a wealthy country at all.