Do you have adblock enabled?
If you can read this, either the style sheet didn't load or you have an older browser that doesn't support style sheets. Try clearing your browser cache and refreshing the page.

(Slate)   The next threat to the middle class? Machines that will do their jobs better, more efficiently, and without pay   (slate.com) divider line 211
    More: Scary, innovations, wealth inequality, Internet and Society, knowledge workers, Voldemort, Andrew McAfee, emerging technologies, luddite  
•       •       •

6226 clicks; posted to Main » on 07 Aug 2014 at 9:50 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



211 Comments   (+0 »)
   
View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest

Archived thread

First | « | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | » | Last | Show all
 
2014-08-07 08:00:09 AM  
I thought that was the same threat since Eli Whitney and his infernal gin.
 
2014-08-07 08:06:27 AM  

EvilEgg: I thought that was the same threat since Eli Whitney and his infernal gin.



That was before Erasmus Bond invented tonic water.
 
2014-08-07 08:11:02 AM  
Robolawyer? Good luck with that.
 
2014-08-07 08:15:35 AM  

Nabb1: Robolawyer? Good luck with that.


LegalZoom

Already has happened to a degree.  Sure it's small stuff, but it was the stuff that filled that gaps between big jobs.
 
vpb [TotalFark]
2014-08-07 08:20:59 AM  
It's nothing new.  It's been happening since the beginning of the industrial revolution.  Most of the population used to be employed in agriculture, now it's a small percentage.  I think it's more blue collar jobs that are threatened right now though.  I can see OTR truck drivers being replaced by self driving technology long before it makes it to personal transportation.
 
2014-08-07 09:02:48 AM  
If you want to create a true welfare state, that's a great way to go about it
 
2014-08-07 09:10:18 AM  

Nabb1: Robolawyer? Good luck with that.


Here's a tech working on one's speech unit now...

geekologie.com
 
2014-08-07 09:33:39 AM  

Nabb1: Robolawyer? Good luck with that.



Once some of our scientists learn to unfreeze cavemen though...
 
2014-08-07 09:35:35 AM  

Headso: Nabb1: Robolawyer? Good luck with that.

Here's a tech working on one's speech unit now...

[geekologie.com image 640x478]


LOL
 
2014-08-07 09:54:30 AM  

Headso: Nabb1: Robolawyer? Good luck with that.

Here's a tech working on one's speech unit now...

[geekologie.com image 640x478]


Looks more like the invoicing a client to me.
 
2014-08-07 09:54:31 AM  
izquotes.com
 
2014-08-07 09:55:12 AM  
I'm going to invent an automatic layoff machine. Think of the boot-shaking among the ranks of upper management.
 
2014-08-07 09:56:07 AM  
Obligatory:
radicalunjobbing.files.wordpress.com
 
2014-08-07 09:56:42 AM  
i work in a factory, so in theory my job should have been replaced by a robot long ago.  but it's pretty tricky work to get our products to run right on the machines, so i can't see a robot doing it any time soon.  actually we do have a few "automatic" machines but they still need an operator to set them up and fix them when they get jammed.
 
2014-08-07 09:57:23 AM  
You can't prevent technological innovation*, but you can implement responsible trade and welfare policies so that your country doesn't turn into a hellhole.

* - unless you're a patent holder with an army of lawyers
 
2014-08-07 09:57:51 AM  
It does seem like technology is making many decent middle class jobs obsolete these days, not just low skilled menial labor.  I am in the market for a house right now.  I can do just about everything my real estate agent can do by myself except let myself into a house I am interested in.  I like the guy, but he still charges the same 3% real estate agents charged when they actually had to find you a house or market your house for you.  I don't think it will be long before cut-rate agencies come in and charge 1% because, quite honestly, they aren't doing very much.  That might not be a perfect example, but it seems like a lot of solid middle class jobs are less necessary.  Maybe that's always been the case, I don't know.  I just feel like biatching about paying 3%.
 
m00
2014-08-07 09:58:42 AM  
Today's software can answer your calls, organize your calendar, sell you shoes, recommend your next movie, and target you with advertisements. Tomorrow's software will diagnose your diseases, write your news stories, and even drive your car. When even high-skill "knowledge workers" are at risk of being replaced by machines, what human jobs will be left? Politics, perhaps-and, of course, entrepreneurship and management.

Um, programmers? Materials scientists. Engineers. Product designers. Hardware specialists. Quality Assurance experts. Quite frankly, this would have been a better article had it been written by software.
 
2014-08-07 10:00:17 AM  

Headso: Nabb1: Robolawyer? Good luck with that.

Here's a tech working on one's speech unit now...



img.fark.net

Why is this Headso not favorited? Fixed that.
 
2014-08-07 10:00:44 AM  
Here's a decent short story about this premise. http://marshallbrain.com/manna1.htm
 
2014-08-07 10:02:24 AM  
This is a repeat from every couple of years since the beginning of the industrial revolution.
 
2014-08-07 10:02:48 AM  

Three Crooked Squirrels: I am in the market for a house right now.  I can do just about everything my real estate agent can do by myself except let myself into a house I am interested in.


We've bought  over a dozen houses and never used a buyers agent, selling a house is a different story but IMO the sellers agent is more apt to push for your bid if you don't have a realtor because they don't have to split the commission. That said, if you never bought a house before maybe a buyers agent is a good move.
 
2014-08-07 10:03:29 AM  

MaudlinMutantMollusk: If you want to create a true welfare state, that's a great way to go about it


I think it's amusing that people think just because they have a 'job' to go to and look busy at that it's not a form of welfare anyway.  Adult day care.
 
2014-08-07 10:03:34 AM  

MaudlinMutantMollusk: If you want to create a true welfare state, that's a great way to go about it


The way we make wealth as a society will change. While the average ancient Greek was arguing over how they should be governed, they had slaves in their fields. I think we are just replicating that idea and replacing the slaves with robots and computer programs.
 
2014-08-07 10:03:40 AM  

Tyrone Slothrop: Obligatory:
[radicalunjobbing.files.wordpress.com image 452x433]


I think that we are going to reach a point like that, probably within my lifetime.  There may well be a crisis of having way more people than jobs for them to do---then what will we do?  We can't blame people for not having jobs that don't exist.  I don't think we've reached that "post-work" economy just yet, but it could very well happen.
 
2014-08-07 10:05:03 AM  
Most lawyering work, like everything else, can be done by scripting. 95 percent of legal documents are boilerplate language. Computers can rapidly search for language that deviates from 'the norm', leaving the humans free from the drudgery of reading hundreds of pages of routine language and allowing them to focus on the exceptions.  Precedent searches are also automated. Real Estate lawyers are a prime candidate for reduced staffing.

Yes, courtroom drama still requires live actors (in both senses of the word), but that is a small percentage of attorneys.


However, I will agree that skilled professions requiring judgement are indeed still the most resistant to automation and will be the last to be put up against the wall by the machines.
 
2014-08-07 10:05:07 AM  

Jim.Casy: Headso: Nabb1: Robolawyer? Good luck with that.

Here's a tech working on one's speech unit now...

[geekologie.com image 640x478]

Looks more like the invoicing a client to me.


Maybe in the old days before third-party bill review. Now it's the other way around. I spend more time appealing cuts - sometimes made automatically by a software program, other times made by some kid out of law school who has never practiced and couldn't pass the bar so had to do something else with that JD - than preparing the initial bill.
 
2014-08-07 10:06:48 AM  
and when you lose that job to a machine you'll be poor and destitute because you're lazy and uninspired, and the lack of support in finding a new job/retraining/going back to school will be nothing more than the discomfort which will motivate you to better yourself.

you know, because that's what we like to call starving children these days, motivation.

fark your family
 
2014-08-07 10:07:17 AM  
I'd like to see a computer capable of surfing reddit and FARK making insightful comments all while giving the illusion of working.
 
2014-08-07 10:07:22 AM  

Three Crooked Squirrels: it seems like a lot of solid middle class jobs are less necessary.  Maybe that's always been the case, I don't know.  I just feel like biatching about paying 3%.


I think the difference now is that productivity increases (like the cotton gin and LegalZoom) are speeding up, with no sign of the rate-of-speedup getting any slower.

Traditionally, what made the Luddites wrong is that the productivity increases led to increased total demand, leading to more jobs overall, that people would move into. Farmers become assembly-line workers, who become machinists, who become yoga instructors.

But it's quite plausible that the productivity increases can start coming faster than demand can increase to keep up (and this may already be happening - it appears impossible to sustain sufficient demand in the USA for full employment without an asset or debt bubble). Plus the changes may start coming too fast for humans to "retrain" (what happens when entire industries come and go in the space of a few years?)

The logical endpoint of this trend is human-level (or greater) AI; at that point, no matter how fast demand grows, there's literally zero demand for human labor.

The only way to avoid mass starvation in such a world would be through redistribution that would make Karl Marx blush. (With such redistribution, the problem reduces to "post-scarcity economy", consult your local sci-fi author for details).
 
2014-08-07 10:07:29 AM  
As a pharmacist who has had thousands of experiences with automated telephone answering systems, no, your machines are only delaying service 95 percent of the time. I always need to talk to a human, who is able to resolve my issue immediately.
 
2014-08-07 10:07:34 AM  

To The Escape Zeppelin!: Here's a decent short story about this premise. http://marshallbrain.com/manna1.htm


Here's a good novel by Kurt Vonnegut about this premise.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Player_Piano_(novel)
 
2014-08-07 10:07:54 AM  

Nabb1: Robolawyer? Good luck with that.


RoboBillCollector?  Good luck with that.
 
2014-08-07 10:09:45 AM  
Also, obligatory "Hi my name is Will Oremus and while I write about economics. I don't actually understand it."

Don't worry folks the middle class isn't going anywhere.
 
2014-08-07 10:09:55 AM  
There will still be things machines really cannot do.

They cannot write amazing music. They cannot produce great art. They cannot write great novels.

Maybe we ought to examine how the bulk of us ought to be spending our time, and whether it's really necessary for everyone to work a full-time traditional job. Yes, really.

Oh, and communism.
 
2014-08-07 10:11:20 AM  

Necronic: I'd like to see a computer capable of surfing reddit and FARK making insightful comments all while giving the illusion of working.


You may jest, but that may be where some missing compensation goes.

To unpack: Productivity and profits have soared in the last few decades, but wages haven't. Mostly this is just oligarchy doom loop, etc. But some of the productivity "bonus" comes to office workers in the form of being able to dick around on Fark all day. (To be fair, some Farking is just replacing now-defunct pastimes like faxing jokes around and sexually harassing the receptionist).
 
2014-08-07 10:11:47 AM  
Yes, wouldn't it be a shame for the menial and basal tasks in society to become complete automated to the point that the basic needs of the entire society can be provided for with a minimum amount of energy expended allowing those formerly employed members of society to pursue other interests such as culture and art, or if they so chose, to simply spend their days in relaxation, reaping the benefits of high technology.

/COMMUNISM
 
2014-08-07 10:13:41 AM  

To The Escape Zeppelin!: Here's a decent short story about this premise. http://marshallbrain.com/manna1.htm


Both scenarios in the story are hyperbolic.
 
2014-08-07 10:14:16 AM  
One of the major differences between now and previous revolutions was that at least the politicians pretended to have the common mans interest at heart. Now they can promise to screw the middle class and get elected. Its a strange world we live in.

That said, once automation can be a better worker than the lower 50% of workers, those workers won't be able to be competitive. BUT as we will be producing more for cheaper we can take care of those people. We will have to make a decision as a nation of what type of utopia we want.   Its not looking so good for those people right now unfortunately.
 
2014-08-07 10:15:19 AM  

StrangeQ: Yes, wouldn't it be a shame for the menial and basal tasks in society to become complete automated to the point that the basic needs of the entire society can be provided for with a minimum amount of energy expended allowing those formerly employed members of society to pursue other interests such as culture and art, or if they so chose, to simply spend their days in relaxation, reaping the benefits of high technology.

/COMMUNISM


Yes, you describe a communist paradise very different from the capitalist hell-hole of an immortal 1% living in unimaginable luxury and lording over the countless masses of impoverished Proles.
 
2014-08-07 10:17:34 AM  

Chummer45: [izquotes.com image 850x400]



www2.needham.k12.ma.us
 
2014-08-07 10:18:18 AM  
A couple of thoughts.

BMFPitt: This is a repeat from every couple of years since the beginning of the industrial revolution.

It is true. Capital is always looking for cheaper labor. But it seems that jobs shift. We aren't focused on building railroads anymore. We are building massive communication systems (internet).

I am fascinated by the coal miner strike of 1902. The entire nation, it was said, was on the precipice of disaster if the coal miners did not go back to work. The entire nation relied on the coal- from keeping homes warm, to keeping the trains running to firing the furnaces for the iron work to helping the US' young navy trot around the globe- and so on. Labor v Capital. One strike had the potential to fragment the nation.

I am of the belief that Capital never forgot. They want to hedge their bets against this occurring again. Robots may very well be their answer at some point- although I can't see Labor stand by and watch their jobs entirely disappear.

I dunno. Interesting.
 
2014-08-07 10:19:27 AM  

Lokkii: Most lawyering work, like everything else, can be done by scripting. 95 percent of legal documents are boilerplate language. Computers can rapidly search for language that deviates from 'the norm', leaving the humans free from the drudgery of reading hundreds of pages of routine language and allowing them to focus on the exceptions. Precedent searches are also automated. Real Estate lawyers are a prime candidate for reduced staffing.


I don't know what you mean by "most lawyering work," but it's not just drafting legal paperwork. A lot of transactional work indeed involves forms, as do real estate and even litigation, but putting forms together is a fraction of the work I do in litigation. You can't automate review of documents, make determinations on where to direct subpoenas for records, or respond to written discovery requests from other parties. I wish I could automate drafting client reports that occupy most of my time. You can't have a computer program conduct depositions. And while I can Keycite cases on Westlaw to determine if they are still valid law, a program is not going to sift through all the cases and then scrutinize the facts of my particular case and make a determination how cases that favor mine are factually similar and how cases that do not support mine can be factually distinguished enough to argue they should not control the outcome. And no software program is going to put that writing together in a cohesive manner for a motion. There is a lot of analysis that goes into this, to say nothing of making judgment calls on everything.
 
2014-08-07 10:19:29 AM  
Hasn't this basically happened already?  One of the reasons the middle class has vanished, is because technology makes most office jobs so simple, that you can use a small staff of kids just college, who make ten bucks an hour, what once took a large office building full of professionals to do.
 
2014-08-07 10:20:58 AM  

eeyore102: There will still be things machines really cannot do.

They cannot write amazing music. They cannot produce great art. They cannot write great novels.


You just listed three things that computers can already generate, considering that the decision of what is considered 'amazing' or 'great' is up to the individual.
 
2014-08-07 10:21:21 AM  
"Almost exactly half of the respondents (48 percent) predicted that intelligent software will disrupt more jobs than it can replace. The other half predicted the opposite. The lack of expert consensus on such a crucial and seemingly straightforward question is startling. "

If that strikes you as a straightforward question, you suck at thinking.  You should be replaced by a journalism-o-tron that doesn't say shiat like, "Almost exactly half".
 
2014-08-07 10:21:53 AM  

Necronic: I'd like to see a computer capable of surfing reddit and FARK making insightful comments all while giving the illusion of working.


I'm pretty sure there are already prototypes out there

/trollbots
 
2014-08-07 10:22:40 AM  

vpb: It's nothing new.  It's been happening since the beginning of the industrial revolution.  Most of the population used to be employed in agriculture, now it's a small percentage.  I think it's more blue collar jobs that are threatened right now though.  I can see OTR truck drivers being replaced by self driving technology long before it makes it to personal transportation.


Na, that will never happen. After all, with out truck drivers who is going to kill all of those hookers?
 
2014-08-07 10:24:12 AM  

Russ1642: To The Escape Zeppelin!: Here's a decent short story about this premise. http://marshallbrain.com/manna1.htm

Both scenarios in the story are hyperbolic.


ProTip: In science fiction writing, things are often taken to extremes in order to explore the boundaries of possibility.
 
2014-08-07 10:24:44 AM  

Nadie_AZ: although I can't see Labor stand by and watch their jobs entirely disappear.


I'm curious as to what makes you think Labor has any say in the matter?
 
2014-08-07 10:26:17 AM  
Its greatest effect is to increase productivity, which should raise incomes and stimulate demand for new products and services.

Difficulty: Most of the gains from increased productivity are going to the wealthiest 1%, now more-so than ever. Okay, so that's part of what TFA is about...

The problem mentioned of workers losing the race between education and technology has already badly hurt blue collar workers. Automation, plus the decline of unions obviously, has made it much harder to get a good paying manual labor job. Higher and higher education levels are required with increasing specialization to get decent jobs. Some people aren't cut out for that education level, but will work hard. In the past they could get one of those good manufacturing jobs, but not so much anymore. Now they're a farked over underclass.

Honestly I'm not sure why there's disagreement among economics about this effect going forward. It's already happened to so many people. The only difference is that the percentage of people affected will continue to rise. More and more good paying white collar jobs are threatened.

"The balance between capital and labor is shifting, and the best work on that shift clearly cites information technology as the reason."

But again it's more than just technology. It's also the power dynamic between employers and employees shifting because of laws favoring employers, the decline of unions, globalization and free trade, etc. Automation is one factor and he's right, it's probably a significant one.

eeyore102: There will still be things machines really cannot do.

They cannot write amazing music. They cannot produce great art. They cannot write great novels.


Give it time. Okay, I'm half-kidding, but even if your comment is 100% true, that means almost everyone who's not very artistically inclined would be farked.

Maybe we ought to examine how the bulk of us ought to be spending our time, and whether it's really necessary for everyone to work a full-time traditional job. Yes, really.

Yeah, if we'd ever actually adapt in this way. Soaring productivity could allow for a guaranteed income so that people are more free to focus on the things machines can't do. I can't see this happening in America in most of our lifetimes though.
 
Displayed 50 of 211 comments

First | « | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | » | Last | Show all

View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest


This thread is archived, and closed to new comments.

Continue Farking
Submit a Link »
Advertisement
On Twitter






In Other Media


  1. Links are submitted by members of the Fark community.

  2. When community members submit a link, they also write a custom headline for the story.

  3. Other Farkers comment on the links. This is the number of comments. Click here to read them.

  4. Click here to submit a link.

Report