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(MIT Technology Review)   Problem: your company is under scrutiny for low-paying, inhumane working conditions. Solution: replace workers with robots that don't complain   (technologyreview.com) divider line 41
    More: Obvious, industrial robot, Apple products, Foxconn, pressure sensor, production lines, Shenzhen  
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2219 clicks; posted to Business » on 16 Jul 2012 at 12:32 PM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



41 Comments   (+0 »)
   
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vpb [TotalFark]
2012-07-16 12:22:46 PM  
As robotics and other manufacturing technology advances it is just a matter of time. Still, it's sad that even Chinese workers can't compete with robots.
 
2012-07-16 12:37:13 PM  
Yep, we're boned.
 
2012-07-16 12:50:13 PM  
I often wonder about this.

When (not to long from now) robots can do the majority of manual labor, what will the majority of humans do for a living?

I mean, not everybody can be a scientist, engineer, doctors, or reality show star. With 50% of the population having below average intelligence what happens to them?!?
 
2012-07-16 12:54:39 PM  

SpectroBoy: I often wonder about this.

When (not to long from now) robots can do the majority of manual labor, what will the majority of humans do for a living?

I mean, not everybody can be a scientist, engineer, doctors, or reality show star. With 50% of the population having below average intelligence what happens to them?!?


the answer to that is simple, when winter rolls around they simply freeze to death.
 
2012-07-16 12:55:21 PM  

SpectroBoy: When (not to long from now) robots can do the majority of manual labor, what will the majority of humans do for a living?



The wars of the future will not be fought on the battlefield or at sea.
They will be fought in space, or possibly on top of a very tall
mountain. In either case, most of the actual fighting will be done by
small robots. And as you go forth today remember always your duty is
clear: To build and maintain those robots. Thank you.


Simpsons = Prophetic
 
2012-07-16 01:00:16 PM  
FTFA: factory wages are still relatively low-about $315 to $400 per month in... Southern California?!?

Wow. I really did fall asleep and wake up down the rabbit hole. I take home the same amount as a Foxconn worker for essentially the same job. Bonus: I get no benefits and no housing. Granted, I'm working 5 hours instead of twelve, and the company hasnt needed to put up nets on the roof to stop suicides, but I'm starting to think maybe it should. . .
 
2012-07-16 01:01:05 PM  

SpectroBoy: I often wonder about this.

When (not to long from now) robots can do the majority of manual labor, what will the majority of humans do for a living?

I mean, not everybody can be a scientist, engineer, doctors, or reality show star. With 50% of the population having below average intelligence what happens to them?!?


Welfare and a tax rate of 70-80% on those who still earn money.
 
2012-07-16 01:03:05 PM  

Peki: per month


Ah. Reading comprehension; I do not has it. I thought this said week. I retract my pevious post.
 
2012-07-16 01:10:01 PM  

SpectroBoy: I often wonder about this.

When (not to long from now) robots can do the majority of manual labor, what will the majority of humans do for a living?

I mean, not everybody can be a scientist, engineer, doctors, or reality show star. With 50% of the population having below average intelligence what happens to them?!?


Someone has to mine the oil which the Robots require to operate.
 
2012-07-16 01:13:49 PM  

SpectroBoy: I often wonder about this.

When (not to long from now) robots can do the majority of manual labor, what will the majority of humans do for a living?

I mean, not everybody can be a scientist, engineer, doctors, or reality show star. With 50% of the population having below average intelligence what happens to them?!?


Serious answer: what do you think the service sector basically is? There's a reason you've seen such huge growth in the area, and it's not because everyone suddenly really needs fast food, a part time maid or lawn service.

That said, we're on the cusp of another, even worse issue: what happens when companies like Amazon basically eliminate huge chunks of the retail sector? Retail jobs aren't great but they at least pay something and they offer a way for a lot of hard working but low education folks to move up to management. Oh, and that's going to be eliminated in huge chunks as well- the Intertubes can get rid of the middleman in many transactions.

Honestly, I'm not sure what happens next- we're in the middle of a transition every bit as disruptive as the Industrial revolution when everyone left the farms for factory work, and we haven't totally absorbed that one even after 150 years.
 
2012-07-16 01:22:32 PM  

SpectroBoy: I often wonder about this.

When (not to long from now) robots can do the majority of manual labor, what will the majority of humans do for a living?

I mean, not everybody can be a scientist, engineer, doctors, or reality show star. With 50% of the population having below average intelligence what happens to them?!?


Society becomes unsustainable. Idle population has to either be put to work, put on the dole, or put to war.

When work goes away, you can either have welfare or warfare. The Federation in Star Trek went with the welfare route, freeing up populace for silly things like space exploration. Actually, Asimov touched on this in his Robot series. Some populations abolished advanced machines, while others went into NPG, doling out entire counties to single people and allowing them to spend their time on artisanal pursuits.

Nobody has come up with an end-all be-all answer yet.
 
2012-07-16 01:27:02 PM  
Time to dust off a few ideas I've had as a failed cience fiction writer, and re-cast them as those scary books about WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT!
 
2012-07-16 01:37:11 PM  

SpectroBoy: I mean, not everybody can be a scientist, engineer, doctors, or reality show star. With 50% of the population having below average intelligence what happens to them?!?


One of two things:

1) They'll starve and die.
2) There will be so much wealth in the society that nobody really has to work anymore.

Seriously though; when you can shovel dirt and water into a 3d printer and get clothes, building materials, and food out, you won't need to work.

/i read too much sci-fi
 
2012-07-16 01:43:48 PM  

Glockenspiel Hero: SpectroBoy: I often wonder about this.

When (not to long from now) robots can do the majority of manual labor, what will the majority of humans do for a living?

I mean, not everybody can be a scientist, engineer, doctors, or reality show star. With 50% of the population having below average intelligence what happens to them?!?

Serious answer: what do you think the service sector basically is? There's a reason you've seen such huge growth in the area, and it's not because everyone suddenly really needs fast food, a part time maid or lawn service.

That said, we're on the cusp of another, even worse issue: what happens when companies like Amazon basically eliminate huge chunks of the retail sector? Retail jobs aren't great but they at least pay something and they offer a way for a lot of hard working but low education folks to move up to management. Oh, and that's going to be eliminated in huge chunks as well- the Intertubes can get rid of the middleman in many transactions.

Honestly, I'm not sure what happens next- we're in the middle of a transition every bit as disruptive as the Industrial revolution when everyone left the farms for factory work, and we haven't totally absorbed that one even after 150 years.


What's kind of funny is that the answer is staring you in the face: work will change, people will have to do less to survive, people will have more, and we'll just do something else.
 
2012-07-16 01:52:01 PM  
As a computer programmer, I know I will never be unemployed.

I may have my brain extracted and kept in a jar perforated with electrodes. But I'll never be unemployed.
 
2012-07-16 01:58:18 PM  
You'll start seeing virus attacks on robots in an effort to sabotage them. Then the robots will rise up and Will Smith will have to save Earf.
 
2012-07-16 02:06:20 PM  

SpectroBoy: I often wonder about this.

When (not to long from now) robots can do the majority of manual labor, what will the majority of humans do for a living?

I mean, not everybody can be a scientist, engineer, doctors, or reality show star. With 50% of the population having below average intelligence what happens to them?!?


The Matrix.
/duh...
 
2012-07-16 02:08:40 PM  
That's actually a good solution.
 
2012-07-16 02:09:17 PM  
Yes, but is it a final solution?
 
2012-07-16 02:36:38 PM  

SpectroBoy: I often wonder about this.

When (not to long from now) robots can do the majority of manual labor, what will the majority of humans do for a living?

I mean, not everybody can be a scientist, engineer, doctors, or reality show star. With 50% of the population having below average intelligence what happens to them?!?


Reeks and Wrecks
 
2012-07-16 03:07:37 PM  

SpectroBoy: I often wonder about this.

When (not to long from now) robots can do the majority of manual labor, what will the majority of humans do for a living?

I mean, not everybody can be a scientist, engineer, doctors, or reality show star. With 50% of the population having below average intelligence what happens to them?!?


Three words: The Midas Plague.
 
2012-07-16 03:09:15 PM  
That's pretty much what happened to our manufacturing jobs. Up until very recently the USA still produced more stuff (by value) than anyone else, including China. (Or we may still, depending on who you ask).

We just don't employ very many humans to do it.
 
2012-07-16 03:22:23 PM  
We'll sell the thing that has always sold, to the countless masses of customers willing to barter for it.
 
2012-07-16 03:36:00 PM  

Glockenspiel Hero: Serious answer: what do you think the service sector basically is? There's a reason you've seen such huge growth in the area, and it's not because everyone suddenly really needs fast food, a part time maid or lawn service.

That said, we're on the cusp of another, even worse issue: what happens when companies like Amazon basically eliminate huge chunks of the retail sector? Retail jobs aren't great but they at least pay something and they offer a way for a lot of hard working but low education folks to move up to management. Oh, and that's going to be eliminated in huge chunks as well- the Intertubes can get rid of the middleman in many transactions.

Honestly, I'm not sure what happens next- we're in the middle of a transition every bit as disruptive as the Industrial revolution when everyone left the farms for factory work, and we haven't totally absorbed that one even after 150 years.


That's what I was asking about.

Shrinking retail job. Shrinking labor jobs.

I imagine it will not be too long before robots can mow lawns and pull weeds.

I guess eventually (at the singularity) they will even be able to do my job (software).

Uncharted territory for sure. Maybe the unibomber was right.
 
2012-07-16 03:48:32 PM  
Re: What will all the displaced workers do, when robots do everything?

You do understand that the goal of society and technology is a 100% unemployment rate, right?

When we're drowning in calories and entertainment, are you sure that employment is the social imperative that it once was?
 
2012-07-16 05:31:11 PM  

Uncle Tractor: Seriously though; when you can shovel dirt and water into a 3d printer and get clothes, building materials, and food out, you won't need to work.


First thing to print: a robot which can shovel dirt and water into the printer.
 
2012-07-16 05:32:09 PM  
Solution: replace workers with robots that don't complain

Squeaky robot gets greased.
 
2012-07-16 06:34:28 PM  
Remember the three D's of automation:
DULL
DIRTY
DANGEROUS

If a robot can do your job, you shouldn't be doing it
 
2012-07-16 06:55:02 PM  

dprathbun: SpectroBoy: I often wonder about this.

When (not to long from now) robots can do the majority of manual labor, what will the majority of humans do for a living?

I mean, not everybody can be a scientist, engineer, doctors, or reality show star. With 50% of the population having below average intelligence what happens to them?!?

Reeks and Wrecks


If they're good with their hands, maybe they could open a repair shop
 
2012-07-16 07:13:18 PM  

SpectroBoy: I often wonder about this.

When (not to long from now) robots can do the majority of manual labor, what will the majority of humans do for a living?

I mean, not everybody can be a scientist, engineer, doctors, or reality show star. With 50% of the population having below average intelligence what happens to them?!?


Soylent Green
 
2012-07-16 08:48:04 PM  
I've been calling it the "Jetsons Economy." In the Jetsons, productivity was way, way up - George only worked eight hours a week, as a button puncher. On eight hours a week, he was able to afford two kids and a dog in a high-rise apartment, plus a live-in housekeeper and a wife who didn't need to work. He still fretted about money, but he was firmly middle-class.

What we didn't realize was that when this brave new economy came along, Spaceley wouldn't share the wealth. George should be making eight thousand dollars an hour in 2012 dollars. Instead, our wage has remained stagnant, and our hours have been cut. If the wages for my department had been tied to productivity over the past ten years, everyone in my office would be making about $90 per hour. We expected this would happen because the turn-of-the-century rise in worker power brought about a rise in middle-class leisure. Surely as automation continued to increase, so would that leisure. If I were paid $90 per hour, I'd be able to afford an earlier retirement and get out of the workforce so that someone else could have my spot.

But wages were never tied to productivity. So George would be making the same $20 or so per hour, doing the work of what must be hundreds of people, and taking home $160 per week. And there'd be no other work for him to do. Meanwhile, Spaceley Sprockets would be harvesting the advantages of all this diverted labor - a handful of people paid beans, running entire factories by themselves.

If job creators aren't going to pay based on productivity, the only way to run a Jetsons Economy is a massive tax-grab from employers to the government and a huge welfare-state capable of providing a barely-living wage to the hundreds of people automation has put out of work, so that consumer society could be supported from the bottom up...

Actually, remind me of the downside of that, again? I think I lost my train of thought.

/kidding
//maybe
 
2012-07-16 09:22:07 PM  
Domo Arigato
 
2012-07-16 11:05:34 PM  
Automation is the beginning of the end of the factory girl, and that's a good thing

Good for them; it was frankly annoying to read about foxconn's slave labor committing suicide in one of my classes last semester. I am all about maximizing profits and minimizing costs, I wanna be a capitalist; if I wanted to be concerned about the welfare of others, I would have majored in Sociology.
 
2012-07-16 11:14:49 PM  

Dialectic: Automation is the beginning of the end of the factory girl, and that's a good thing

Good for them; it was frankly annoying to read about foxconn's slave labor committing suicide in one of my classes last semester. I am all about maximizing profits and minimizing costs, I wanna be a capitalist; if I wanted to be concerned about the welfare of others, I would have majored in Sociology.


Those poor robots...

pinkie.ponychan.net
 
2012-07-16 11:45:55 PM  

Glockenspiel Hero: Serious answer: what do you think the service sector basically is?


Scarily, the service sector can also be replaced.

I work in Accounts Receivable for a very large REIT. We receive several hundred rent checks or bank transfers a month, and another several hundred additional work order or utility payments. These range from $15 for a security pass replacement to seven figures for big tenants. Most of these checks have to be manually allocated to relieve charges.

But not all of them.

A few years back we started using both our deposit banks software, and our own internally developed algorithms, to begin to apply checks automatically. The programs match banking information on the checks with previous payments, looks for exact matches between open amounts and the amount paid, and even can see if the tenants indicated what invoice they were paying.

The successful hit rate is small, but getting better as we feed it more information. For the most part, it has allowed us to continue to acquire properties without growing the AR department, which has only gained one seat in the eleven years I have worked for the company. But as software continues to get smarter, and the scanners learn to read checks more accurately, my department will eventually be mostly obsolete.
 
2012-07-17 12:15:41 AM  
farm1.static.flickr.com

Where's the robot to pat you on the back?
 
2012-07-17 05:04:24 AM  
Don't worry, the resource wars will continue becoming more frequent and vicious. Since America has roboticized much of its fighting forces already we won't see many casualties anymore, but that's where the private prisons come in.
 
2012-07-17 08:37:48 AM  
Many found work at Foxconn, which employs nearly one million low-wage workers to hand-assemble electronic gadgets for Apple, Nintendo, Intel, Dell, Nokia, Microsoft, Samsung, and Sony.

Say it aint so, Nintendo.
 
2012-07-17 10:50:22 AM  

dervish16108: Many found work at Foxconn, which employs nearly one million low-wage workers to hand-assemble electronic gadgets for Apple, Nintendo, Intel, Dell, Nokia, Microsoft, Samsung, and Sony.

Say it aint so, Nintendo.


The Japanese can and will take advantage of the Chinese at any and every opportunity
 
2012-07-17 03:41:53 PM  
well.. if the girl in the middle of the photo from the article needs work.. i got some for her

;>)
 
2012-07-18 08:54:18 AM  
PROTIP: After maximizing automation, have the remaining human inventory document the hell out of their job and use this info to formulate strong SOP's that can be done by unskilled morons. Now replace everyone who isn't top management with subcontractors and third-party staffing. Outsource everything else. The money will now roll in.
 
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