Friday, November 07, 2014

Robots Replacing Humans (If just half of this is true, it will change everything)

The rise of the robots is happening.  The robotic age will reshape human development at least as much as the computer age that we are in now and the industrial age that preceded us.

I searched the topic of “robots replacing humans” on Google and I found a diverse set of experts saying that we are just two or three decades away from totally transforming the job market of the world with anywhere from half conservatively to nearly all of human jobs replaced by robots.  I have compiled below some insights from these sources including links.

Best regards, Tate


Diverse insights condensed from a few Google searches:

a.      Robots work harder and don’t ask for overtime - “The robot can work 24 hours a day, which is at least three times a human shift. This actually implies they could be doing seven or eight jobs.” - Software Robots’ Hidden Benefit: Scale - Wired, Sep, 2014
b.      Unexpected seismic change coming - “Technology over time will reduce demand for jobs, particularly at the lower end of skill set. … 20 years from now, labour demand for lots of skill sets will be substantially lower. I don’t think people have that in their mental model.” - Bill Gates: People Don't Realise How Many Jobs Will Soon Be Replaced By Software Bots, Business Insider, March 14, 2014
c.      Nobody is prepared for this - “Even if new jobs and wonderful products emerge, in the short term income gaps will widen, causing huge social dislocation and perhaps even changing politics. Technology’s impact will feel like a tornado, hitting the rich world first, but eventually sweeping through poorer countries too. No government is prepared for it.” Coming to an office near you - The Economist, Jan 18th, 2014
d.      Nearly every job can be automated to some degree - “The Terminator franchise imagines a future where robots are out to kill humans, but in reality, they’re just out to make us feel professionally useless. The more advanced we get as a society, the less we actually need people to do stuff. And it’s not just menial jobs — nobody is safe from android-induced early retirement. Here are 17 jobs that may never be performed by a human again.” - 17 Robots That Are Here To Take Your Job, MTV News, August 12, 2014
e.      Drones, drones, everywhere drones - “In five years, drones will be a standard part of operations in many industries, used in agriculture, geographical surveys and oil and gas pipeline inspections.  Drones are just one of many kinds of emerging technologies that extend well beyond the traditional information technology world.” One in three jobs will be taken by software or robots by 2025, Computer World, October 6, 2014
f.       Robots will replace 47% of American workers - “Abstract - We examine how susceptible jobs are to computerisation. To assess this, we begin by implementing a novel methodology to estimate the probability of computerisation for 702 detailed occupations, using a Gaussian process classifier. Based on these estimates, we examine expected impacts of future computerisation on US labour market outcomes, with the primary objective of analysing the number of jobs at risk and the relationship between an occupation’s probability of computerisation, wages and educational attainment. According to our estimates, about 47 percent of total US employment is at risk. We further provide evidence that wages and educational attainment exhibit a strong negative relationship with an occupation’s probability of computerisation.” - THE FUTURE OF EMPLOYMENT: HOW SUSCEPTIBLE ARE JOBS TO COMPUTERISATION? Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX1 3PJ, United Kingdom, September 17, 2013
g.      Robots will replace up to 70% of global jobs - “As much as seventy percent of the human race will become obsolete within just three generations. Why? Because robotics technology is advancing at such a rapid pace that highly-capable humanoid robots with advanced vision recognition and motor coordination systems are going to take over most menial labor jobs.” Robotics revolution to replace most human workers in three generations; labor class to be systematically eliminated – Natural News, September 29, 2013
h.      Robots could replace 80% of current jobs - “In a few decades, robots and their associated technology will be as ubiquitous as mobile phones are today… could replace ‘workers for 80 percent of current jobs.’ Study indicates Robots could replace 80% of Jobs – RobotEnomics, April 16, 2014
i.       Routine and repetitive tasks will be first to go - “And, for the nitty-gritty breakdown, here's a chart of the ten jobs with a 99-percent likelihood of being replaced by machines and software. They are mostly routine-based jobs (telemarketing, sewing) and work that can be solved by smart algorithms (tax preparation, data entry keyers, and insurance underwriters). At the bottom, I've also listed the dozen jobs they consider least likely to be automated. Health care workers, people entrusted with our safety, and management positions dominate the list.” - What Jobs Will the Robots Take? The Atlantic, January 2014
j.       How many robots are now working out there in industry? 742,500 worldwide - Japan 402,200; United States 92,900; Germany 81,200; Italy 35,000; Rep. of Korea 33,700; France 18,200; United Kingdom 11,500; Spain 10,500; Russian Federation 10,000. - The Boom in Robot Investment Continues, United Nations Economic Conditions for Europe, 17 October 2000 (quite an old link)

  1. Fast Food Worker – “Momentum Machines just unveiled a robot capable of flipping burgers and slicing veggies at a rate of one burger every 10 seconds.”
  2. Drivers – “Google announced last fall that it was working on automated cars as a way to increase safety and help humans reduce the time spent commuting to work. With human supervisors in the passenger seat, seven test cars have driven 1,000 miles without human intervention and more than 140,000 miles with only occasional human control.”
  3. Pilots – “now that drones can fly over land in the U.S., commercial flight pilots might be similarly replaced.”
  4. Astronauts - Equipped with a wide array of sensors and dexterous five fingered hands, it will initially handle menial jobs such as cleaning the spacestation and assisting humans in space operations.”
  5. Telemarketers – Search “robot telemarker” on YouTube for a demonstration.
  6. Store clerks – “ATM machines reduce the need for bank tellers, virtual assistants can answer the phone 24 hours a day, and self-service machines are reducing the need for checkout clerks.”
  7. Reporters – “AP now plans to generate and sell thousands of automated business articles a year. The robot-written stories will bring up the AP's story count in this area by an order of magnitude, Poynter reports. Over the past few years, several news organizations have used robot writers for some of their stories. Forbes uses algorithms from the startup Narrative Science to find and write short stories about companies whose stocks are doing well. The Los Angeles Times uses bots, developed by one of its own journalists, to publish immediate reports about area earthquakes and homicides. The AP will use business reports generated by a company called Automated Insights, Poynter reports.
  8. Sportswriters – “After a game, scorekeepers e-mail game data to Narrative Science, which feeds it into a computer and spits out a story in minutes.”
  9. Lawyers and paralegals – “Blackstone Discovery of Palo Alto, CA provided software that helped analyze 1.5 million documents for less than $100,000. “People get bored, people get headaches. Computers don’t.
  10. Doctors – “a combo of medical record clouds and robotic surgeons could eliminate the need for human medics”
  11. Pharmacists – “Machines assemble doses onto a thin plastic ring that contains all the medications for a patient for a 12-hour period, which is bar-coded.”
  12. Recruiters – “The use of people analytics continues post hire to further develop, nurture and retain talent.”
  13. Soldiers – “the robot is equipped with a GPS monitor; it can be programmed to differentiate between fire and no-fire zones, to open doors, and even to drag out injured bodies.”
  14. Farm workers – “Now engineers are developing intelligent machines to do farm work and help ease a worsening labor shortage on American farms.
  15. Babysitters – “perfect for "whoever does not have a lot time to stay with child," according to a vendor and NEC’s PaPeRo robot, which tells jokes, gives quizzes, and can track kids using a radio-frequency identification chip.”
  16. Teachers – “Computers hold all of our knowledge anyway, so this is pretty much inevitable. A robot teacher could simply recite Wikipedia articles, break up fights, send kids to the robo-principal — all without a teacher’s union.”
  17. Artists – “Robots can fly a plane and perform surgery better than humans, but only we can create beautiful works of art, right? Nope, robots are already there.”
  18. Rescuers – “the most useful robots could be aerial drones that can provide aerial inspections or ROV’s, which can help locate underwater objects and determine the condition of bridges and pipelines, according to the Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue at Texas A&M University.”
  19. Prostitutes – “The movie “A.I.” predicted android gigolos in 2001, and now a sex robot actually exists.”
  20. Singers – “Auto-Tune was the beginning, but robotic opera singers and pop music automation are already here. Soon, computers will be able to write, perform and predict the formula of hit songs. If you think some pop stars are manufactured now, what if they were literally built in a factory?”
  21. Robot Engineers – “The ultimate science-fiction nightmare: Robots that can build themselves. It’s already happening.”

Industrial robots are defined as automatically controlled, reprogrammable, multipurpose manipulator programmable in three or more axes, which may be either fixed or mobile for use in industrial automation applications. 

Service robotics are all other robots and robotic applications and systems than industrial robots.

Most remaining factory jobs are "likely to diminish over the next decades," they write. Cashiers, counter clerks, and telemarketers are similarly endangered. On the far right side of this graph, you can see the industry breakdown of the 47 percent of jobs they consider at "high risk."



The darker side of robotics:

To the typical naive citizen, all this talk about robots taking over menial labor jobs sounds futuristic and exciting. "We can all sit back and relax!" they'll say. "The robots will do all the work for us!"

Except for just one thing: the only real reason laborer populations are tolerated by the rich and powerful who really control the world is because laborers are needed to run the economy. Someone needs to pick the crops, sweep the floors and do the dry cleaning, in other words. Once capable humanoid robots transition into all the jobs currently carried out by flesh-and-blood humans, there will be no further need for a large segment of the human population.

On a brighter note:

Roy Jenkins, a once prominent British union leader once said, "Someone invented work and it's time we abolished it." I believe that one day the work will be done by people who want to work, doing only the interesting tasks while robots turn out the goods we need. 

"The fact is, that civilization requires slaves. The Greeks were quite right there. Unless there are slaves to do the ugly, horrible, uninteresting work, culture, and contemplation become almost impossible. Human slavery is wrong, insecure, and demoralizing. On mechanical slavery, on the slavery of the machine, the future of the world depends." -- Oscar Wilde 


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