SOCIAL IMPACT

SOCIETY & JOBLESSNESS

INTRODUCTION

The power of computer-based technology has been accelerating for over 60 years, and its cost has been reducing. There is a breakeven point when the cost of automating some function is the same as the cost of the human labour that is required to do it. As technology reduces the cost of automation further, business will automate the function – and the value of the human labour involved is reduced to that of the automated cost.

Let’s consider a simple example, where a restaurant employs two dishwashers at $10/hour. If an automatic dishwasher can do the same dishwashing function at a cost of $12/hour, then the value of human dishwashing has dropped to $6/hour. Even ignoring the other costs associated with human labour (overtime, vacations, supervision, benefits) the owner of the restaurant can’t afford to pay more than $6.

As technology continues to reduce the value of human labor, most industrial and commercial jobs will be automated. The term ‘paid-joblessness’ is introduced because, even if there are no paid jobs, most people will want to spend their time productively. (Well, maybe not everyone!) Jobs will still exist, but the implication of being paid for the work will disappear, as most jobs will not involve payment of money. In effect, most workers will be volunteers. So the meaning of ‘a job’ will change.

Technology has been automating work functions for centuries, and yet the size of the workforce has continued to grow. The increase is primarily due to:

  • Greater demand for the product or service because of population growth and the increased wealth of consumers.
  • New technology may eliminate the need for some jobs, but the improved functionality has often resulted in increased employment implementing the new technology, even if it may be in a different geographic area. (For example, jobs lost involved in the manufacturing of tape cassettes in the mid-West of the USA were replaced by more jobs to manufacture CDs in California.)
  • More products and services being offered by entrepreneurial activity.
  • An increase in government involvement in regulating and taxing industries, and regulating the use of human resources.

So, while the demand for specific skills has changed, there has been a continuous increase in the overall number of jobs being offered. The question is ‘is this time different’? Are we moving to a society in which most jobs will have been automated? The content provided in this website suggests that it is. And it is caused by the confluence of factors, including:

 

  • The internet provides immediate communication access (eliminating the need for intermediary jobs), and opening access to a world-wide employee market (which increases the competition for work, and so reduces its cost), while supplying entrepreneurs with software that eliminates the need to hire support staff. (This last benefit started with the arrival of computers, but has accelerated with the functionality of the internet.)
  • Once an area has been automated, the increasing capability of AI and robotics will enable new work functionality (even functionality for new technology) to be automated immediately (eliminating the new technology adoption delay), while robots will be training other robots (as they have already started to do).
  • Workers are working for more years as the expected (healthy) life span increases, which adds to the demand for work.
  • Current consumption and the overall economy are built on the shifting sands of low-cost money and considerable debt. In the U.S., almost 80% of all workers are living paycheck to paycheck, with less than $400 saved to pay an unexpected expense. Corporate credit ratings are being downgraded at an unprecedented rate, with trillions of bonds coming due in the next few years. We are coming to the end of a 60+ year period of overall economic growth, which will result in major job loss. When the economy cycle starts to recover, many of the job lost will be replaced by automation.

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REVIEW THESE INFORMATIVE ARTICLES - AND READ THOSE THAT INTEREST YOU

Why futurist Ray Kurzweil isn’t worried about technology stealing your job (Job Loss - 2017-09 - Fortune)

Kurzweil sees the future as nuanced. He points out that we have already eliminated all jobs several times in human history, and that, for every job we eliminate, we’ve created more jobs at the top of the skill ladder. The issue is that you can’t describe the new jobs, because they’re in industries and concepts that don’t exist yet.

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Toyota's automation ratio today is no higher than it was 15 years ago (Job Loss - 2017-09 - Fast Company)

Toyota’s automation ratio today is no higher than it was 15 years ago, based on the premise that only people can improve their own efficiency or the quality of their work. Toyota consistently generates industry best profit margins, often 8% or more, by focusing on their New Global Architecture in which material usage is improved making the cars lighter and more fuel-efficient, while the manufacturing process is improved.

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Only 14% of American employees fear that machines will take their jobs (Job Loss - 2017-07 - TechRepublic)

The 2017 Randstad Employer Brand Research shows that 76% of US workers do not fear that their job will be replaced by a machine. 51% would be willing to retrain or upskill, in order to work with automation or AI—if their pay isn’t cut. Only 6% of top business leaders say they see automation majorly shifting talent needs at their workplace.

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The last auto mechanic (Job Loss - 2017-07 - Medium.com)

Why the electric engine (18 parts) will replace the Internal Combustion Engine (2,000+ parts), and the implications for the automobile industry (ICE manufacturers and car dealerships, auto parts, car maintenance, gas stations) and related industries (insurance, highway motels and restaurants), and for society in general, and peak oil demand.

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Report: Robots will replace 15 million jobs in UK, widening gap between rich and poor (Robotics - 2017-07 - TechRepublic)

A new report from The Sutton Trust said that, in addition to replacing 15 million jobs, robotics will widen the gap between the rich and poor in the UK. By hollowing out the middle class, it will be more difficult for individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds to move up the social ladder. Other reports argue the validity of automation fully replacing jobs, but fears remain among 74% of business professionals that their job is at risk.

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Talk: Globalization vs technology-enabled disruption (AI - 2017-06 - Big Think)

The CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas argues that globalization is being blamed wrongly for job loss, where the culprit is actually technology-enabled disruption. This error will cause trade negotiations to focus on the wrong set of issues.

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Automation may be destroying jobs faster than it's creating new ones, but all hope isn't lost (AI - 2017-06 - TechRepublic)

Erik Brynjolfsson is an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and co-author of The Second Machine Age, a book that asks what jobs will be left once the software has perfected the art of driving cars, translating speech and other tasks once considered the domain of humans. He believes that, as in the past, new jobs will replace those lost.

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Gallup: Nearly 40% millennials are at high risk of having their job replaced by automation (Job Loss - 2017-06 - Inc)

Frey and Osborne’s study estimated that about 47% of U.S. employment is in the high-risk category of being replaced by automation. Gallup analyzed their data, concluding that Millennials are the generation most vulnerable to the threat of AI and automation, as they are disproportionately more likely to hold positions in the high-risk category.

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Robots aren’t destroying enough jobs (Job Loss - 2017-06 - Wall Street Journal)

From Silicon Valley to Davos, pundits have been warning that millions of individuals will be thrown out of work by the rapid advance of automation and artificial intelligence. As economic forecasts go, this idea of a robot apocalypse is certainly chilling. It’s also baffling and misguided. (Need Subscription for details)

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Two-thirds of office workers think their jobs will never be replaced by AI (Job Loss - 2017-06 - TechRepublic)

Today’s office workers are confident that they will not be replaced by robots, according to Adobe’s The Future of Work report. In a survey of more than 4,000 office workers from the US, the UK, and Germany, two-thirds of professionals said they think that their job requires human abilities that technologies such as AI will never be able to replace.

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More computing power might enhance the role of software developers (Job Loss - 2017-06 - Medium.com)

Devin Fidler of the Institute for the Future predicts that as basic automation and machine learning move toward commodities, it’s the uniquely human skills that become valuable. Now developers work on goals farther down the roadmap — they reach milestones faster. They must continue learning new development skills.

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AI could lead to 4-hour workdays and World War III (Work Week - 2017-06 - TechRepublic)

In a CNBC interview, Alibaba CEO Jack Ma shared his thoughts on AI’s risks and opportunities, including 4-hour workdays in a 4-day workweek, and the possibility of World War 3 if the government does not intervene.

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Millennials are no more robot-proof than older workers (Job Loss - 2017-05 - The Washington Post)

A report from the Indeed Hiring Lab indicates that 51% of millennials looking for work are interested in jobs that carry a risk of automation. The findings indicate the youngest and most educated generation in the American workforce isn’t necessarily more robot-proof than older workers, who tend to be portrayed as the primary victims of automation. The top 5 occupations millennials favored are non-routine jobs, including health-care support roles at hospitals and nursing homes, which are projected to grow 23 percent from 2014 to 2024.

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What happens when everything is automated (AI - 2017-04 - ZDNet)

Bob Reselman researches the impact of automation on jobs. His concern is not that lots of people will be out of work, but how will people spend their time.

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Arguing for shorter work weeks (Work Week - 2017-04 - BigThink)

The question of the proper work-life balance has puzzled thinkers from Moses and Marx to Ford and Friedman. How much work is enough? How much is excessive? Who should do it? Can we work on the Sabbath? It is this question of work-life balance that The Greens Party of Australia seeks to answer, with its recent discussion as to the feasibility of a four-day work week or a six-hour day.

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Silicon Valley Is right — our jobs are already disappearing (Job Loss - 2017-03 - Quartz)

A 2017 White House report concluded that 83% of jobs paying <$20/hour will be lost; 9-47% of jobs are in danger of being lost, especially for the less educated; 2.2-3.1 million driving jobs will be eliminated by self-driving vehicles. Automation has eliminated 4 million manufacturing jobs since 2000, resulting in the U.S. labor force reducing by 10 million, with a labor participation rate now at only 62.7%. There are 95 million American of working age not in the workforce. We will have to rethink the relationship between work and being able to feed ourselves.

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The ideal workweek, according to science (Work Week - 2017-03 - HowWeGetToNext.com)

The idea that many of humanity’s greatest achievements were produced by people who worked no more than four hours a day seems counterintuitive but is supported by a towering body of evidence in support of much shorter workdays that produce greater productivity with significant health benefits.

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Technology may be causing the worst unemployment disaster since the Great Depression (Job Loss - 2017-02 - freeCodeCamp)

Technology in transportation, warehousing, and retail may soon cause the loss of many of 27 million US jobs. Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, and the author provide warnings and possible solutions. Prompt action is essential.

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