How The Coming Wave Of Job Automation Will Affect You

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by David Galland via The Passing Parade

One of the more interesting mental exercises related to predicting the future involves trying to fathom the impact the rise of robots will have on humanity.

We can be quite sure that in the proverbial blink, robots will be doing all the war fighting. After that, what’s the point? But does that then lead to the sort of robotic apocalypse so well envisioned in Terminator?

I also suspect it’s only a matter of time before the idea of sex bots goes from being an “eew” sort of thing to a household appliance. Well, at least in some households. After all, we already live in a world where every possible iteration of sexual proclivity is not just accepted but celebrated. So, who’s to deny the unmated a good snogging from the Yabadabdo Sexbot 2000?

In fact, in a recent survey, 1 in 4 adults aged 18 to 34 said they would “date” a robot. But what will the impact of bionic sex partners be on society—or birth rates, for that matter? It’s all but impossible to see through the fog to the answers.

We already have robo news reporters (you didn’t actually think humans write the crap passed off for news these days, did you?) Of course, as the news writing programs become more and more sophisticated, might the algorithms be tweaked to influence the masses to buy an advertiser’s product or, more onerously, to create a desired political outcome? You know, kind of how Google tried to get Hillary elected?

In terms of managing money, we already have robo traders and robo advisors. But what happens when these technologies become self-learning? Will the competing programs become so adept at exploiting kinks in the armor of Mr. Market that they will effectively nullify each other?

It’s also abundantly clear that self-driving cars will become the norm within the next decade. As someone who hates driving, that is a development I eagerly await. But imagine the sweeping changes self-driving cars will have on insurance, road building, car manufacturers, trucking, energy usage, the urban landscape, the taxi industry, government and regulations (will we still need driver’s licenses?), senior mobility, etc. It’s staggering to contemplate, and it’s just over the horizon.

I could continue, but as I am preparing for a trip to Tafí de Valle in the neighboring province of Tucumán here in Argentina tomorrow morning, I’ll shuffle toward the featured article of this week’s musings—a look at the impact of automation on the structure of the workforce by friend and associate Stephen McBride.

This is a particularly interesting topic on many levels. What percentage of the workforce is at risk of being replaced by automation? Where will the displaced find new jobs? What job skills will remain largely immune to automation? How will the US government, which is funded to the tune of 92% by income-related taxes, replace the lost revenue… a robot tax?

It’s a big topic, too big for a single Parade, but we must start somewhere. And with that, I turn the podium over to Stephen.

How the Coming Wave of Job Automation Will Affect You

By Stephen McBride


The 227,000 jobs added to the payroll in January marked the 76th straight month of expansion. The headline number is impressive. But if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find these jobs “aren’t what they used to be.”


Since 2000, the creation of full-time positions has slowed significantly. The private sector used to add full-time jobs at 2–3% per annum. In 2000, that number fell below 2%. Since 2008, it has been below 1%.


The majority of positions created since 2010 have been temporary. Around 20–50% of employees at the likes of Google and Walmart now fall into this category. With the explosion of contract workers, “workforce solution” firms now generate an estimated $1 trillion in revenue every year.


The declining quality of jobs has caused many to stop looking for work. The labor force participation rate is near the lowest level since 1978. Hordes of Baby Boomers retiring skews the data somewhat, but the rate for workers in their prime isn’t pretty either. Almost 12% of men aged 25–64 aren’t in the workforce—a near five-fold increase in 60 years.


So what has caused this shift?


Automation Annihilation

Steven Berkenfeld, a managing director in the investment banking division at Barclays, summed up the thought process of companies hiring today: “Can I automate it? If not, can I outsource it? If not, can I give it to an independent contractor?” Hiring an employee is the last resort.


Over the past four decades, millions of jobs have been lost to automation. The manufacturing sector is a prime example. While productivity has increased, employment has fallen.


We can see this trend when comparing companies across time. The most valuable US firm in 1964 was AT&T. Then, it was worth $267 billion (in 2016 dollars) and employed 758,611 people. Today, Google is worth $370 billion and has only 55,000 employees.


Many workers have already been replaced by machines, but the number is only set to rise.


A 2013 study from the University of Oxford concluded that 47% of jobs in the US will likely be automated over the next two decades. And a 2015 report by McKinsey found that the majority of tasks performed in sectors like manufacturing and food service can be automated with currently demonstrable technology.


Technological advancement has created more jobs than it has destroyed in the past. However, the big problem is the lag time it takes to forge those new careers. Given the high cost of living in the US today, even a small lag could be financially devastating.


Let’s take a look at the implications of job displacement going forward…


The Missing Middle

Due to an inability to secure a full-time job, McKinsey estimates 20–30% of workers now partake in contingency work to supplement their income. Work in the “gig economy” can be fun, but it doesn’t provide a stable, reliable wage. Sure, one can survive on it, but it’s hard to get mortgage approval or support a family with it.


One of the reasons the US became an economic behemoth was its large middle class. With the loss of traditional careers, this trend is now in reverse. Over time, employment will likely become polarized as “Middle America” is hollowed out.




Lower-quality careers ultimately mean lower pay… and when incomes drop, people have less to spend. Given that consumption now accounts for 70% of economic activity, this is a matter of great concern. As the Fed has stated: Recoveries don’t die of old age. It’s usually falling demand that leads to their death.


Many Americans are unable to find full-time employment, but they are spending more trying to attain it. Outstanding student loans now total a whopping $1.4 trillion. This isn’t a problem if individuals have the ability to pay. But with 45% of recent college graduates underemployed and 10% over 90 days late on payments, it’s a big problem.


In 2013, the Department of Labor predicted 65% of school children will be employed in jobs that don’t yet exist. Therefore, many of the skills they are learning today will likely be obsolete in the near future.


And it’s not only job seekers who are affected. With dependency ratios collapsing, who will fund the pensions of the retiring Boomers?


Displacement does not only have economic consequences, it also has profound social consequences. A Gallup study found that having a job was the number one social value. Unemployment is linked to increased drug use and depression. It’s also positively correlated with crime.


While automation will have a major impact on the future of employment, the outlook is not all bad.


Machines may be rendering many skills useless, but creativity is where humans still have an edge. McKinsey listed “managing others” and “applying expertise” as the least susceptible to automation. Likewise, Deloitte identified cognitive skills as the most important to have going forward.


Machines may be advancing, but the future is likely to be one of collaboration, not competition. There will be serious challenges in the near term as many jobs are displaced by technology. But in the end, who would bet against the “ascent of man”?

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knukles's picture

Mrs K says that in retirement I could be replaced by a robot.

archon's picture

The parasites will starve - I don't see what the problem is?

sixsigma cygnusatratus's picture

In the early 70s, the going fear was that computers would take all the jobs away.

knukles's picture

Somebody's gotta oil all those electrical circuit boards.


Escrava Isaura's picture

How The Coming Wave Of Job Automation Will Affect You

That’s nothing compare to when there’s no wave of energy.

Then, we will have a real problem.


J S Bach's picture

Just get our robotic Federal Reserve to print each of us useless plebs $1,000 in paper cash every week, and we'll all live happily ever after in automationville.  

chunga's picture

The financial experts would call that a moral hazard!

Stuck on Zero's picture

Harcourt Fenton Mudd got along just fine with his robot harem. So can we.

LowerSlowerDelaware_LSD's picture
LowerSlowerDelaware_LSD (not verified) knukles Feb 10, 2017 8:36 PM

So we'll go back to one earner families.  No biggie.  That's the way the world had been for thousands of years until women wanted to be men a few decades ago.  The only problem will be figuring out which special snowflake in the marriage will be the "wife" at home.

Expect real estate prices to do a mirror image of the rise that they had as women started working, creating dual earner households.

CRM114's picture

In enlightened societies, like the Vikings or the Celts, women could do men's jobs if they wanted, like shieldmaidens did. They could hold property. They could become Queen if they kicked enough butt hard enough. They could get drunk and fight at parties.

Telling women (or blacks, gays, country music fans..) they are forbidden from doing something is as stupid as telling them they can all do it.


unsafe-space-time's picture

So what happened to your Vikings and Celts? Now all they want is to be raped by muslims. A degenerate patriarchy that finds manly women attractive is also homosexual.

CRM114's picture

Good question.

Knew quite a few Norwegians in the 80's and 90's. 

Didn't see any of this rubbish.

Mind you, those Noggies had a very low opinion of Swedes.

The Finns don't seems to have buckled,nor will they based on the ones I've known, and I understand the Danes are getting pretty firm these days.

I think it's just the Swedes.

Elco the Constitutionalist's picture
Elco the Constitutionalist (not verified) CRM114 Feb 11, 2017 1:52 AM

You must be one of those idiots who thinks TeeVee is depicting the real world. Especially if there is a little logo at the bottom that says "History Channel". Do I have that right?

Or you could just be a Jew pushing the Jew propaganda to destroy white Christians.

Row Well Number 41's picture

"Harcourt Fenton Mudd got along just fine with his robot harem. So can we."


If you heard his wife you would understand his need for a robot harem.

ParkAveFlasher's picture
Well, that explains it. The A/2's were always a bit twitchy.
Son of Loki's picture

The article really means how the coming robots will effect Hispanic immigrants who have taken many if not most of those jobs that a robot can replace.

Orly's picture

"I like you," said Mr. Spock.  "But I don't like you."



zhandax's picture

Wonder how that would work on some of these Soros protestors?

Maynard G. Krebs's picture

Thumbs up for the Star Trek reference

Escrava Isaura's picture

$1 thousand? Heck, get me $10 so I can get out of this depression quicker. At least I will implode with money, when the whole thing implodes.


Winston Churchill's picture

Looks like the Luddites were right all along.Ludd was way  ahead of his times, a visionary.

knukles's picture

God sent the prophets to tell us, but we did not listen

logicalman's picture

Luddite is another example of a word that has had its meaning subverted by those in control, as its true meaning scares the shit out of them.

Rather like the word anarchism.


RyeWhiskey's picture

If you oppose SiliCON Valley cartel and its deceptive creations (fartbook, etc) - you autmatically labeled a Luddite by SiliCON Valley run chat bots and other propaganda tools that use fake fartbook accounts.

logicalman's picture

I have absolutely no 'social media' presence.

What a waste of time, at best.

Anyone who values their privacy would steer clear of all of it.

If that makes me a Luddite, I'm proud to be one.

Good old Ned!


divingengineer's picture

So the elite will replace workers with robots and we will live on a govt stipend.
They will pay nothing for their labor- their wet dream come true.
Who will buy their shit, Asians?
Who will take loans or buy houses? Who will consume on a govt check just large enough to keep you alive?
I think they should think this over.

Orly's picture

The Unknown Comic.  Loves it:

What do you get when you cross an elephant with a rhino?


DocBerg's picture

If most people are automated out of the workforce, they will not be able to purchase any products.  This will put what is left of the economy into a permanent tailspin.  Instead, pressure will mount for a guaranteed annual income for those out of work, and the taxes to support this will smash those who still have jobs and own firms.

divingengineer's picture

GMI will be welfare.
Just enough to keep you alive. Not enough to consume.
They have fucked themselves.

lucitanian's picture

All forms of life are interdependent. The more sophisticated the society the greater is the interdependence. That does not mean parasitic. The most important line in this article is ;"the future is likely to be one of collaboration, not competition". Those that cannot understand that or cannot tell the difference may well be the real parasites that kill their host draining precious resources. It's the individuals who demand more to satisfy greed without a view of this fundamental interdependence who are the real parasites. Unfortunately in our society such parasitism abounds. Not only abounds but it is admired, emulated and encouraged, to the creation of dominant oligarchical monopolies  responsible for the unsustainable imbalances in wealth and economic health. Without a major change in the politics and philosophy in society "ascent of man" is anything but assured. Doomed would be more like it.

BandGap's picture

Technically something running on 2 D batteries isn't a robot, sir.

CRM114's picture

You are irreplaceable.

Dildos don't have credit cards or pensions.

Winston Churchill's picture

Nor mow the lawn.

Bumper sticker back in th 70's said:God invented man her dildo couldn't mow the lawn..

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

I plan to run the grounds that ceates the HW, FW and SW for Sexbot options.

I'd imagine that this would last a while, with QC work being regular. 

jharry's picture

Things are getting very weird.

knukles's picture

Even the good doctor Thompson would be thinking things're way the fuck past just "weird enough yet" and not in a good way at all.

vato poco's picture

embrace the weird, amigo. 

about 20 seconds after the pleasant, cheerful sexbots arrive - the ones that make it past the 'uncanny valley' test - and can also mop, vaccuum, and make sandwiches....about 20 seconds after they arrive, you're going to see about 75% of all the women in the world undergo a *massive* attitude adjustment. Fauxcahontas (ewww) will be replaced quick quick by Donna Reed. fear of obsolescence will do that.

but first, they'll try to get the robots made illegal. pass the popcorn.

knukles's picture

Wasn't Donna Reed the one who waltzed around the house in 6" pumps and seamed stockings, dusting while humming the TidyDong song?  Somebody in her family named her The Beaver?

vato poco's picture

3" heels, homey. the only women who wore 6-inchers back then were dominatrixes and midgets. as for the rest....that's about right. she could suck a golf ball through 50 feet of garden hose while making a wonderful coq au vin. aaaand now we have....rosie o'donnell and lena dunholm. 

hurry up, sexbots

CRM114's picture

A large number of women are already deeply worried, I can assure you.

Especially women of a certain age (say,past 30), who are discovering that all that money they've got from their highly successful career in (insert some f#cking useless job here, like HR or local government) can't buy them love. Not with the terms they are currently offering anyway.

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

One can never purchase Love. It is the highest spiritual State one can attain. Love is the infallible evidence of the presence of God. Everything else is a sad copy. A sumptuous feast visually to stimulate desire but lacking any flavor.

When I come home from work and my husband rushes up to hug me. I can see Eros, Agape and Philia in his eyes. It makes life worth living and I really am sorrowful for those who don't have this. This world is rapidly becoming devoid of Love and empathy. Colder by the day.

But I must admit having a robot for sous chef duties and housework would be oh so damn appealing. I would gladly cook the Coq au Vin.


CRM114's picture


it's the Bomb when it works.

Chuck Walla's picture

Jeepers, how hard is it to clean a small carpet?

logicalman's picture

When all the guys have female sex bots and all the women have male sex bots the world's population will start to approach something sustainable and everyone will be able to relax a bit more!

Bring it on!


83_vf_1100_c's picture

If a muzzie breaks in to your home and has sex with your robot is it rape?

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

No, it is just pathetic and an indication IQ does matter or you enter into the world of Idiocracy.


knukles's picture

Wait wait wait wait ....
So the Muzzie (or any other perpretrator) breaks into my home (as in no invite and no warrant ... naughty naughty naughty) and has sex with my robot is it rape? 
I'm trying to get the mental image of the event straight using my dog as the surrogate robot ..... odd that .....

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

It means they owe you money. You have their Biometrics, to track them down and collect.