Robotics revolution slashing need for human labor

In a story with potentially profound implications,
The New York Times
writes about two Philips Electronics factories, one on the coast of China that employs hundreds of low-wage workers, and another in the Netherlands that employs several dozen. They both produce the same product, but thanks to increasing high-tech robotics, the Netherlands plant does so more efficiently. As the story notes, the robots “do it all without a coffee break — three shifts a day, 365 days a year.”

“This is the future. A new wave of robots, far more adept than those now commonly used by automakers and other heavy manufacturers, are replacing workers around the world in both manufacturing and distribution. Factories like the one here in the Netherlands are a striking counterpoint to those used by Apple and other consumer electronics giants, which employ hundreds of thousands of low-skilled workers….

Many industry executives and technology experts say Philips’s approach is gaining ground on Apple’s. Even as Foxconn, Apple’s iPhone manufacturer, continues to build new plants and hire thousands of additional workers to make smartphones, it plans to install more than a million robots within a few years to supplement its work force in China.

Foxconn has not disclosed how many workers will be displaced or when. But its chairman, Terry Gou, has publicly endorsed a growing use of robots. Speaking of his more than one million employees worldwide, he said in January, according to the official Xinhua news agency: “As human beings are also animals, to manage one million animals gives me a headache.”

The falling costs and growing sophistication of robots have touched off a renewed debate among economists and technologists over how quickly jobs will be lost. This year, Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, made the case for a rapid transformation. “The pace and scale of this encroachment into human skills is relatively recent and has profound economic implications,” they wrote in their book, “Race Against the Machine.”

In their minds, the advent of low-cost automation foretells changes on the scale of the revolution in agricultural technology over the last century, when farming employment in the United States fell from 40 percent of the work force to about 2 percent today.

That’s a compelling comparison. The mechanization of agriculture changed the face of the nation, particularly here in the South. The Great Migration of black Americans out of the rural South into places such as Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia and later to points west was driven to a significant degree by the introduction of the mechanical cotton picker and other devices, rendering their farm labor useless. For many white workers in Appalachia, mechanization of the coal industry played a similar role.

For decades, America’s growing industrial base absorbed that excess labor, and the nation as a whole transitioned from an agricultural to an industrial economy. But if mechanization is in the process of performing a similar transformation in the industrial world — replacing even the millions of low-wage “animals” now doing that work in China and elsewhere — where does that excess labor turn next for employment?

– Jay Bookman

472 comments Add your comment

godless heathen

August 21st, 2012
8:59 am

godless heathen

August 21st, 2012
9:00 am

“where does that excess labor turn next for employment?”

Good question. Shuffle papers and charge each other for it?

Welcome to the Occupation

August 21st, 2012
9:00 am

where does that excess labor turn next for employment?

To mass precarity on a scale that’s perhaps never been seen before.

Brosephus™

August 21st, 2012
9:01 am

But if mechanization is in the process of performing a similar transformation in the industrial world — replacing even the millions of low-wage “animals” now doing that work in China and elsewhere — where does that excess labor turn next for employment?

Welcome to the new reality. 20% unemployment will be the norm. Either that, or every other person will be selling stuff on Ebay or in their front yards for income.

godless heathen

August 21st, 2012
9:01 am

Whoops – there won’t even be papers to shuffle. Manipulate data and charge each other for it.

Welcome to the Occupation

August 21st, 2012
9:02 am

For one thing, it leads us to raise the question of the importance of work.

A guaranteed minimum wage and the right NOT to work for a living will be inevitable for us to avoid barbaric clashes between the machine operators and the hungry masses.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

August 21st, 2012
9:03 am

What this gives is a huge pool of people available to wash the cars, mow the lawns, comb the hair, cook the meals, etc. of the 1% who will have all the money.

Sooner than you think

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

August 21st, 2012
9:04 am

I foresee the need of a present-day Robin Hood.

ty webb

August 21st, 2012
9:05 am

Damn you, Eli Whitney!

godless heathen

August 21st, 2012
9:05 am

A goodly number of peeps can be kept busy administering Obama Care and redistributing the wealth confiscated from the wealthy.

In all seriousness, my friend and I discussed this the other day. We both concluded that we didn’t know what people were going to do, especially the 50% of Georgians who don’t bother to finish High School. Burger flipping will soon be automated.

TaxPayer

August 21st, 2012
9:06 am

Who wrote this post. Jay, is that you.

By the way, I heard there are also many opportunities in the field of robot design and manufacture of robots capable of designing and manufacturing robots. But that’s a story for another day.

I’ll be back.

Granny Godzilla - Union Thugette

August 21st, 2012
9:06 am

Is there a DeVry course for car elevator repair?

F. Sinkwich

August 21st, 2012
9:07 am

Gee, I was told that ATMs and kiosks were the problem. Now it’s robotics as well.

It’s called “productivity,” Jay. It’s a good thing. We enjoy the highest standard of living ever because of it.

godless heathen

August 21st, 2012
9:07 am

A guaranteed minimum wage and the right NOT to work for a living will be inevitable for us to avoid barbaric clashes between the machine operators and the hungry masses.

I’ll put my money on the machine operators.

Butch Cassidy (I)

August 21st, 2012
9:07 am

No reason to fear Jay, all we need to do is follow the Romney/Ryan plan of tax cuts and the employers will shun the more efficient robots and begin hiring humans en masse. All that’s standing in the way of un precedented economic growth is Obama, Obamacare, regulations, minimum wage, lack of demand, a shrinking middle class,the EPA, Osha, unions and welfare moms.

Aquagirl

August 21st, 2012
9:09 am

I heard there are also many opportunities in the field of robot design and manufacture of robots capable of designing and manufacturing robots.

So when the robots are sophisticated enough to design themselves and their own factories, EVERYONE will be out of work. That’ll be interesting.

Peadawg

August 21st, 2012
9:09 am

Damn that technology!!!

“There are some structural issues with our economy where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers. You see it when you go to a bank and you use an ATM, you don’t go to a bank teller, or you go to the airport and you’re using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate.” – Obama

Peadawg

August 21st, 2012
9:10 am

Stupid ATMs!!! (Not ATM machines, just ATMs. God that annoys me when people say “ATM machine”)

Stupid airport kiosks!!

Morality?

August 21st, 2012
9:11 am

Robots don’t “evolve”. Robots don’t do croak. Robot for PREZ.

TaxPayer

August 21st, 2012
9:11 am

With the advent of robots to handle the menial tasks, people will be free to utilize their brains. We’ll eventually figure out something for the Akin’s of the world to do. Politics perhaps.

Rightwing Troll

August 21st, 2012
9:12 am

When robots are outlawed, only outlaws will have robots…

FrankLeeDarling

August 21st, 2012
9:13 am

A balance will need to be found or it will be a short lived phenomena.
it will be of no use to be able to produce millions of goods a second if no one has a job to buy them.

the snake eats its tail

Keep Up the Good Fight!

August 21st, 2012
9:13 am

I must watch those Terminator movies again and prepare. ;)

Normal Free...Pro Human Rights Thug...And liking it!

August 21st, 2012
9:14 am

I, Robot?

The Matrix?

Actually I work for a company that specializes in automated warehouse systems. From the time the order gets put in the “system” to the time the order gets to shipping, it’s all automatically picked and packaged. Scary, really…but neat.

AngryRedMarsWoman

August 21st, 2012
9:14 am

“I’ll put my money on the machine operators.”

Maybe you should put your money on the machines…….Terminator.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

August 21st, 2012
9:15 am

Actually, Eli Whitney’s invention made the demand for slave labor increase, not decrease. The amount of cotton that could be processed went through the roof and cotton fields sprang up in places before unseen.

azazel

August 21st, 2012
9:16 am

importance of humans is overstated.

Joe Hussein Mama

August 21st, 2012
9:16 am

Aquagirl — “So when the robots are sophisticated enough to design themselves and their own factories, EVERYONE will be out of work. That’ll be interesting.”

On what date does Skynet become self-aware, again? :D

Terminator

August 21st, 2012
9:16 am

I’ll be back!

St Simons - he-ne-ha

August 21st, 2012
9:17 am

“We don’t know whether it was us or the machines that struck first; but
we do know it was us that turned the sky black.”

–Morpheus Jefferson

Thomas Heyward Jr

August 21st, 2012
9:18 am

Excess labor?
.
Balderdash.
The Soviet Union had an unemployment rate of 0%.
All we have to do is follow their experiment by employing more government workers.

Paul

August 21st, 2012
9:18 am

The industrial revolution hit and workers moved into other jobs not even imagined a few years before. It’ll likely be the same today, even though most ‘what if’ and ‘what will happen’ scenarios are based upon what we know now.

“in China and elsewhere — where does that excess labor turn next for employment?”

And there’s a potential problem. Will China, still in the midst of modernizing its economy, be able to leapfrog? Or will the conservative political leadership try to slow it down, to manage it, exacerbate the tensions within the country, which could lead to even more instability?

It may be more and more of an integrated world economy, but we sure are not any where near an integrated world culture with respect for others’ values.

East Cobb RINO, Inc. (LLC)

August 21st, 2012
9:19 am

They could always start a political blog.

Mick

August 21st, 2012
9:19 am

It’s either a brave new world or a scarier one!!!

azazel

August 21st, 2012
9:21 am

do robots dream of electric sheep?

Goldie

August 21st, 2012
9:21 am

Gosh– looks like we’ll have to school all our kids into being stockbrokers…remember, those guys are our “job creators”, just moving money around from one account to another all day long! But wait, that job can probably be roboticized too… we’re really in a pickle!

:)

Keep Up the Good Fight!

August 21st, 2012
9:23 am

We need a constitutional amendment to be sure that these robots follow the 3 laws of Robotics…….. or is that just too much “regulation” to ask for cons? ;)

Soothsayer

August 21st, 2012
9:23 am

HEADLINE: Businesses report sluggish demand for products produced by robots.

After replacing all of their workers with robots, businesses have discovered that no one remains with any money to purchase their products.

Bernie Schwarzman, president of Ben Dover, Inc. reports that sales have fallen dramatically since replacing all of his workers with robots.

“Just look at all of those beautiful robots,” Bernie said. “And, look at all of that product just piled up with no on to buy them.” “It’s a crying shame,” Bernie was heard to remark.

Check back for updates.

TaxPayer

August 21st, 2012
9:24 am

Free stuff for all humans. After all, robots have no concept of things like money or any motivation to amass more of it. Robots just work and produce. They do not spend even though they may consume.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

August 21st, 2012
9:24 am

According to the Eli Whitney Museum website:
Whitney (who died in 1825) could not have foreseen the ways in which his invention would change society for the worse. The most significant of these was the growth of slavery. While it was true that the cotton gin reduced the labor of removing seeds, it did not reduce the need for slaves to grow and pick the cotton. In fact, the opposite occurred. Cotton growing became so profitable for the planters that it greatly increased their demand for both land and slave labor. In 1790 there were six slave states; in 1860 there were 15. From 1790 until Congress banned the importation of slaves from Africa in 1808, Southerners imported 80,000 Africans. By 1860 approximately one in three Southerners was a slave.

Peadawg

August 21st, 2012
9:25 am

Looks like it’s time for a regulation saying companies can’t use robots. They must use actual people to do the jobs.

azazel

August 21st, 2012
9:25 am

usually, an excess of humans leads to war, but since humans are a planetary disease , then that’s ok

Peadawg

August 21st, 2012
9:25 am

Screw efficiency!!!

And I thought it was Republicans who wanted to take us back to the ’50s….

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

August 21st, 2012
9:26 am

Robots don’t get sick, take vacations? They don’t even have to go to the bathroom?

That’s a capitalists dream!

gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme

Peadawg

August 21st, 2012
9:26 am

A company uses robots? Tax increase.

A company uses people? Tax cut.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

August 21st, 2012
9:28 am

Looks like it’s time for a regulation saying companies can’t use robots. They must use actual people to do the jobs.

which will lead to the rise of a new NRA.

“Robots don’t kill jobs, people kill jobs”
~ Charlton Heston

Brosephus™

August 21st, 2012
9:28 am

I must watch those Terminator movies again and prepare.

You might wanna start stocking up on some 105mm Sabot anti-tank rounds as well. That was the only thing that stopped the Deceptacons in Transformers. People dog Hollywood out, but they have shown the path to victory. One simply has to watch the Terminator, Matrix, and Transformers series and learn the path.

:)

JohnnyReb

August 21st, 2012
9:29 am

Six posts in and we get a prognostication of it becoming a Right not to work.

It’s also a right to starve one’s self to death.

It’s not a right to expect producers to pay for your existence.

Mark in mid-town

August 21st, 2012
9:30 am

There is no shortage of work to be done. There is no shortage of demand as just about everybody wants more than what they have. Real increases in living standards are driven by the ability to produce more for less. But we’re being told that that’s the problem as it means there is less demand for workers which means the 1% have more and everybody else has less. If that was so, then there would be no demand to use robotics to create more since there would be few to buy the stuff ater it was created. So the problem is not doing more with less. The problem is how to transition more people into doing other things. The problem is how to get more people to create more businesses as that is necessary to create jobs. This is where over-bearing government regulation is killing us. It’s too hard to start a new business. It’s too hard for an existing business to deal with the regulatory paper-work burden so as to try and expand.

Doggone/GA

August 21st, 2012
9:31 am

“It’s either a brave new world or a scarier one!!!”

And those are not mutually exclusive

Skip

August 21st, 2012
9:32 am

We always have wars and the need for solders.

independent thinker

August 21st, 2012
9:33 am

Jay – you are all wrong the 1% will hire live workers over robots if they get tax cuts because they are all devotees of the trickle down theory. You just do not understand how human nature works.

stands for decibels (SfBA)

August 21st, 2012
9:33 am

“Where does that excess labor turn for employment,” Jay asks?

Damned if I know.

Felt like copy/pasting this bit of history, from one of the NYT story commenters…

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/19/business/new-wave-of-adept-robots-is-changing-global-industry.html?comments#permid=117

Not only is physical labor being automated, so is intellectual labor. When I started as an electrical engineer in 1965, I worked for a large defense contractor. In those days it took three engineers eighteen months to produce a flight instrument. When I left in 2000 a senior engineer using software tools, designed a complete package in six months doing all the software and hardware design including electrical and mechanical design. The package required no technicians to wire up circuit boards or drafting people to draw up the schematics and the mechanical design. At the peak my division had 13,00 employees at the end about 500. The future is rapidly approaching and many jobs will not be replaced.

sigh.

Hey, considering it’s August, gosh-darned nice weather we’re having this week here in Atlanta, huh?

East Cobb RINO, Inc. (LLC)

August 21st, 2012
9:34 am

“Dey turk err jurbs!” ……………. South Park Redneck

Mary Elizabeth

August 21st, 2012
9:35 am

“Where does that excess labor turn next for employment?”
—————————————————————-

That is an easy answer for me. God works in mysterious ways, indeed!

The world’s consciousness is going to be forced to see that we are not simply what we “do” but who we “are.” That seismic shift of seeing will create a new worldview in which service to others will be valued more than it is presently, and work will center around that service to one’s fellow human beings. There is much labor to be had in this world if we start to perceive with that shift in values.

Third world countries need purified water plants and systems; dire poverty in India, Africa and South America need private companies and all governments to help other governments to address those human needs, globally. The new job markets will involve altruism to one’s fellow human being to make better their lives and to work for a higher quality of life for all throughout the globe, instead of having human beings simply labor to make something tangible for people to use.

I have posed on this blog, previously, whether Americans (and all humanity) will desire to perpetuate into the future the “muscular” values of “winning, wealth, hierarchial dominance, competition, and power” or the more elevated values of “service, collaboration, intellectual and spiritual enlightenment, and egalitarianism.”

It looks as if fate (or God’s hand) will force that choice toward the latter. Some say that economics triggered the Civil War. Yet, even though there is limited truth in that thought, most know that there was a higher spiritual force at work in determining that that war would occur, which forced our nation to reach a higher spiritual level. See the analogy.

Joe Hussein Mama

August 21st, 2012
9:35 am

SfD — “Hey, considering it’s August, gosh-darned nice weather we’re having this week here in Atlanta, huh?”

Indeed! I made the mistake of checking out the weather in Hawaii a couple of weeks ago. I had forgotten that it doesn’t get anywhere near as hot out there as it gets here.

gadem

August 21st, 2012
9:36 am

Education is key…there will be a need for highly skilled workers as well as people with trades.

Keep Up the Good Fight!

August 21st, 2012
9:36 am

Brosephus, actually Hollywood is only a conduit for the actual brains who have raised these concerns for years….. sci fi writers like Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, Vonnegut.

And in all seriousness, the issue should be how do you employ a workforce when they have not been educated and prepared for the jobs once the robots perform manual labor jobs.

Peadawg

August 21st, 2012
9:36 am

I could probably make some more jokes about the topic but I’ll leave it alone for now. See everyone on the next topic.

barking frog

August 21st, 2012
9:37 am

We are there. Unemployment pay must be
made continuous and tied to
Medicaid. A new economic
model must be formulated
and put in place. The alternative is civil strife or
civil war.

St Simons - he-ne-ha

August 21st, 2012
9:37 am

to get all cirrus,

we have reached the logical inevitable End of the industrial revolution
and the exploitation of labor in exchange for access to capital & life’s
necessities. Years from now, this will be known as economic slavery,
looked on by future generations as every bit as insidious as
physical slavery is today.

I’ve been saying this for a while now, but we’re gonna need a new system
soon to go with the new age. sorry – there won’t be any cons.

TaxPayer

August 21st, 2012
9:38 am

Robot job creators. Sounds like a need for another tax cut to me.

JohnnyReb

August 21st, 2012
9:38 am

Most employees are a pain in the ass. Any employer who can cost justify a robot over a human will do so. If you need an example and you are blogging at work, just look in the mirror.

kayaker 71

August 21st, 2012
9:38 am

If these robots look anything like replicant Sean Young in the movie Blade Runner, bring ‘em on.

Brosephus™

August 21st, 2012
9:38 am

From Jay’s NY Times link:

Robot manufacturers in the United States say that in many applications, robots are already more cost-effective than humans.

At an automation trade show last year in Chicago, Ron Potter, the director of robotics technology at an Atlanta consulting firm called Factory Automation Systems, offered attendees a spreadsheet to calculate how quickly robots would pay for themselves.

In one example, a robotic manufacturing system initially cost $250,000 and replaced two machine operators, each earning $50,000 a year. Over the 15-year life of the system, the machines yielded $3.5 million in labor and productivity savings.

You’d better start saving your money for your investment fund. The only way you’re gonna make any serious money once the robot is designed to replace you is by investing in the company and hoping you can earn enough through your investments to live off.

Joe Hussein Mama

August 21st, 2012
9:39 am

K71 — “If these robots look anything like replicant Sean Young in the movie Blade Runner, bring ‘em on.”

Can I interest you in a slightly used Marilyn Monroebot? :D

Keep Up the Good Fight!

August 21st, 2012
9:40 am

If these robots look anything like replicant Sean Young in the movie Blade Runner, bring ‘em on

Hmmm..sounds distinctly like an “I want to marry my dog” proposition. Why its just disgusting. :D

Redneck Convert (R--and proud of it)

August 21st, 2012
9:41 am

Well, I feel sorry for all those plant workers that are going to be tossed out on their rear ends when robots take over the making of beer. But far as I can tell, us haulers are safe for now. That is, till there are so many laid-off workers that no one has the money to buy beer.

And if they ever figure out how to make a robot that does everything women like, us men are up the old creek without a paddle. It’s a scary world out there, and that’s enough to make people drink. And that’s why us beer haulers are safe for now.

Have a good Tuesday everybody.

Two Books

August 21st, 2012
9:43 am

For those of you who want to go beyond the usual vitriol and sound bites, I’d recommend two books. “The Coming Jobs War” and “Tools for Conviviality.”

The first is a very interesting look at demographic and technology trends and how jobs will become scarce. This will profoundly affect local policies, global politics and social norms.

“Tools for Conviviality” is a book from the early seventies which questions the basic idea of progress based on the effect it has on community. I agree with much of Illich’s criticism, but few of his proscriptions, my usual reaction to old-school Marxists.

These do make very interesting reading, however.

Li'l Aynie

August 21st, 2012
9:43 am

So, I guess we shouldn’t be trying to re-create the economy of the 20th Century. Real jobs will be held by those who somehow got a decent education and were instilled with a sense of responsibility.

What can we do with the uneducated, unmotivated masses? Starving them will not educate or motivate them. Prison is far too expensive. Guess we should just tax the privileged to provide a meager allowance for those unable to work. Free drugs might help, as well.

Does anybody have a better solution?

Brosephus™

August 21st, 2012
9:43 am

Keep

True. The writers knew about this long ago. Maybe I should consult with Stephen King to see if he has any ideas. If anybody’s gonna know, it will be him. I still believe he knows people in places that the rest of us don’t even know exists.

I think there will still be jobs available, but there will be much more competition for those jobs. Education will be a necessity, but when we’re still working at gutting education for the sake of making it better, I don’t have much faith in us being able to educate the workforce for the impending change.

Aquagirl

August 21st, 2012
9:44 am

there will be a need for highly skilled workers as well as people with trades.

No matter which way you look at it, the demand for workers overall will drop.

It’s pointless fussing since we’re rapidly approaching the technological singularity—the point where machines will surpass us in intelligence. Nobody knows what’s beyond.

Jobs will probably be the least of our worries. Running from Terminators will have lots of low-paid openings though. :)

Welcome to the Occupation

August 21st, 2012
9:44 am

If these robots look anything like replicant Sean Young in the movie Blade Runner, bring ‘em on

No, as a member of the working plebes you’ll get a sub-replicant version, maybe just hologram with a lump of mass to touch. It’ll be tough though, lying in your 14th floor work dorm room with just 2 more hrs to sleep to grab before your next 14 hr shift. To sleep or pleasure :)

No Artificial Flavors

August 21st, 2012
9:45 am

Ive read several articles on this trend lately. I think More people will land in robotics engineering and the tooling fields. The rest will become service industry employed with a high amount of those wannabes unemployed. The unemployed will then initiate the multigenerational household once again, like those seen in Latin America and southern europe. It will precipitate a cultural shift for sure.

weetamoe

August 21st, 2012
9:46 am

Why do you think conservatives disagree with the 3 laws of robotics? Asimov’s 3 laws would be less harmful than the lawlessness of union thugs. As my students at a university that shall be unnamed would say: *why do you think we chose to pursue this degree?* As for the rest, as one of my kids has predicted, we will all be washing each other’s laundry.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

August 21st, 2012
9:47 am

There will be work in Mexico. The American middle class will jump the border heading south and become….illegal immigrants.

The Mexican middle class will get po’d and call for mass deportations of people named Dakota, Buffy and Chip.

Obama is over

August 21st, 2012
9:48 am

Excellent column. Rich Karlgaard from Forbes has been highlighting this trend for several years now.The key will be education and recognizing that we function in a global economy. Someone has to make the robots. If the U.S. has a competetive advantage in cost of manufacturing, then a good source of job creation will be the distribution of goods to the end user- shipping and logistics. Here in Georgia, the Port of Savannah has created a duty free zone with access to rail and trucking for the distribution of goods as the Panama Canal is expanded. This expansion will allow large ships to easily travel to the East coast versus the West. Therefore, Washington should focus on international trade agreements and not protectionist legislation. Last year Canada did 17 international trade agreements. The U.S. did 4. Fred Smith, the founder of FedX, said last year that global trade will grow three or four times faster than U.S. GDP for the next several years. International tradew ill be where the action is.

skipper

August 21st, 2012
9:50 am

Jay,
Ain’t no easy answers to this one…………………………….

beam me up

August 21st, 2012
9:51 am

This raises an excellent question? How will we economically organize in a post-labor world? Obviously, there are always going to be some things that humans can do better than machines, but improving automation in both manufacturing, information and increasingly service fields are undoubtedly going to substantially cut the number of bodies needed to make business work, and a lot of this is going to happen in well paid areas. The result will be massive unemployment and increased competition for unskilled labor not easily outsourced to machines. There will simply be no need for all these people to do work. If we have an economy entirely based on people getting paychecks for work, clearly there is going to be a problem. There will be no easy answers. However, this is still a democracy,a nd there will come a point that the majority will no longer buy in to the politics pushed by the ruling class, no matter how many super-PAC dollars they spend.

Aquagirl

August 21st, 2012
9:53 am

If these robots look anything like replicant Sean Young in the movie Blade Runner, bring ‘em on

I think you’ll be overruled by the other guys here who would prefer Caprica Six. You might have to settle for her Kayker, I’m sure you’ll get through the pain somehow. :)

oldfart

August 21st, 2012
9:54 am

A fear that has been around as long as the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and the average Chinese factory worker should be concerned. In our service economy not so much. How long can the snake feed off of its own tail?

kayaker 71

August 21st, 2012
9:55 am

The next time you present to your urologist to have your prostate removed, you might be surprised to find that a robot has been inserted into the mix. Most agree that these human controlled robots are more successful in nerve sparing procedures than humans alone which in the long run, preserves getting it up. Hurray for robots.

Joe Hussein Mama

August 21st, 2012
9:57 am

K71 — “The next time you present to your urologist to have your prostate removed, you might be surprised to find that a robot has been inserted into the mix.”

Well, how many prostates does one man need, anyway? :D

Tom Middleton

August 21st, 2012
9:59 am

And who will be the consumers? Will they try to make robots for this, too? When humankind decides to put people first in our system of values, we’ll get this thing in balance, but not until.

It will be suicide to do differently and everyone will know it. Sooooooo religion, anyone? (And I’m not talking about the selfish Ayn Rand.) :)

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

August 21st, 2012
10:00 am

Robots are less likely to take out your wrong prostate than a human doctor….

And have you ever tried filing a malpractice suit against a robot? Good luck with that.

Stonethrower

August 21st, 2012
10:01 am

The simple answer to the employment question is war. Produce more weapons to destroy, cull the herd and then rebuild.

skydog

August 21st, 2012
10:02 am

Robots R Us

That`s what I have been doing for the last 20 years. Installing robots for the big boys, Ge, Northrop, Proctor and Gamble, etc.

Here is the deal. It takes about 5 times more initial expended money and labor hours to install a line run by robots than a line run by peeps.
That`s pipe fitters and electricians, not high tech robot builders. These robots are high maintenance. This requires construction workers, not high tech people.

Robots can be our salvation. We can never compete with cheap foreign labor, but these machines can and do. The trick is to build the plants over here. Then we get to install and maintain the robots and the plants.
Or we can proceed the way we are going and build the plants overseas. The company I work for doesn`t care. They will make money if the plant is built in China or Doraville.

kayaker 71

August 21st, 2012
10:02 am

Now if we could just supply Data with a blue veiner and introduce him to Sean Young……..

Gale

August 21st, 2012
10:03 am

I have read several sci-fi stories about post-labor societies. The titles are long forgotten. Some societies are pleasant, some gritty. The pleasant societies usually feature free energy sources and abundant food. There is little need to supply the necessities, so personal energy is expended in creative work or exploration. The gritty stories feature a lack of resources, food riots, over population, etc.

The challenge is to provide necessities without the need to work for pay. Personal incentive will need to come from a desire for more than just food and shelter. Since some members of society will continue to lack that incentive, there will be a need to keep them content. Yes, in some stories, drugs are the answer.

Wild Eyes

August 21st, 2012
10:04 am

Obama is over: June 2012 exports $185 billion in goods and services overtaking the previous record of $184.4 billion in March 2012

barking frog

August 21st, 2012
10:05 am

A society where you can do
the work you love can come
from technology but much
of the profit motive will
need to be removed.

lovelyliz

August 21st, 2012
10:06 am

where does that excess labor turn next for employment?

Do you really think corporations are capable of caring? Their boards don’t think long term enough to try and solve this issue before they lose customers who no longer afford their products

mm

August 21st, 2012
10:06 am

Can we put robots in Congress?

Brosephus™

August 21st, 2012
10:06 am

The next time you present to your urologist to have your prostate removed

:shock: :shock: :shock:

The next time? If they don’t get it right the first time, there ain’t gonna be a second attempt…

j/k… I understand what you’re saying, just couldn’t resist gettin’ a joke in there.

Oscar

August 21st, 2012
10:07 am

Without jobs, consumers will not be able to buy all these products made by robots. No demand.
The people now used in industry will have to create jobs in service industries, providing services for those who have jobs in manufacturing, agriculture, construction and other sectors that remain.

As production reducded labor requirments in farming, there was mass unemployment until they found jobs in industry. We are now looking at another shift. Will be high unemployement for some time.

Donovan

August 21st, 2012
10:07 am

I wonder how organized labor will deal with the problem? Threaten to bust robot heads? Hmmm…that won’t work. Threaten to strike assembly plants? Oh, yeah…robots can’t be intimidated. Maybe sabotage electrical power sources? Imagine a world where unions become irrelevant?

China without the benefit of slave labor? Imagine a world without communism and out sourcing?

Well, I guess it won’t be so bad after all. Get busy everyone. Capitalism will find a way if Obaminization gets out of the way and it is rejected as a bad hiccup in the annals of history.

Gale

August 21st, 2012
10:10 am

We will need a much more trained and educated workforce to coexist with robotics, at least those who need to work. On the bright side, if we do have a pandemic, we will be better able to recover with robotics to do work that used to require many people.

FrankLeeDarling

August 21st, 2012
10:10 am

No I will take Sean Young over six any day,it may be one of the few things kayaker and I agree on
I wonder who Mr.Scott will get to play the part in the remake

Oscar

August 21st, 2012
10:10 am

Brosephus™

August 21st, 2012
10:06 am

____

For years, I have to have mine whittled down every few years. It kept growing back. New drugs reduce the size without surgery. I am very happy not to be getting it cut back every few years.

Stevie Ray..Clowns to the Left of me Jokers to the Right, here I am...

August 21st, 2012
10:11 am

JAY,

About time we discussed the main reason for dwindling employment in manufacturing , healthcare and the like. There exists a major nurse shortage…physician shortage, which is skilled but the former can be targeted early in the education process. I think we need more technical, vocational high schools so more of our kids leave with a skill to fall back on….

Sadly, the cost of this is an ever expanding welfare safety net where folks have to stake claim as opposed to bouncing back to their feet. It’s nobody’s fault….just “progress” eh???