Why President Trump Does Not Tweet About Automation

Tyler Durden's picture

Via 13D Research (13D.com),

"Fully automated trucks could put half of America’s truckers out of a job within a decade..."

A widely circulated NPR graphic shows “truck driver” was the most common job in more than half of the U.S. states in 2014?—?in part because how the Bureau of Labor Statistics sorts common jobs, such as educators, into small groups. Indeed, truck driving is one of the last jobs standing that affords good pay (median salary for tractor-trailer drivers, $40,206) and does not require a college degree. According to the American Trucking Association, there are 3.5 million professional truck drivers in the U.S. Entire businesses (think restaurants and motels) and hundreds of small communities, supporting an additional 5.2 million people, have been built around serving truckers crisscrossing the nation. That’s 8.7 million trucking-related jobs. It also represents one of Trump’s most important voting blocs?—?working-class men.

But like many of the blue-collar jobs the President promised to save during his campaign, the future of these 3.5 million trucking jobs is less than certain. Fully automated trucks could put half of America’s truckers out of a job within a decade, The Los Angeles Times reported last year. This isn’t an imagined future. It’s already happening. Otto, an automated trucking company acquired by Uber, made a delivery of beer last year and has been approved to travel two routes in Ohio.

Last year, Noel Perry, an analyst at industry research firm FTR Transportation Intelligence, told The International Business Times: “Despite a shortage in high-quality drivers, pay hasn’t gone up in five years. Trucks are easier to drive.” So-called “soft-automation” features, like automatic braking and lane assist, mean the trucks can already be driven by less experienced operators commanding smaller salaries. Even ahead of automation, the profession is losing traction. Perry’s final remark to IBT strikes to the heart of the matter?—?“The free market produces jobs, the government doesn’t.”

Drivers reportedly account for about one third of the cost in the trucking industry. Ostensibly, there isn’t much a president?—?even one as untraditional as Trump?—?can do to stop a company from making more money. Or is there? Which begs the question: How will automation, employment, productivity and Trump co-exist?

A few days after Trump “saved” 750 jobs at Carrier, Greg Hayes, CEO of Carrier’s parent firm, United Technologies, admitted that automation would eventually win out. During a CNBC interview with Jim Cramer, Hayes revealed: “We’re going to make a $16 million investment in the factory in Indianapolis to automate to drive down costs so that we can continue to be competitive. . .But what that ultimately means is there will be fewer jobs.

Thomas H. Davenport, professor in management and information technology at Babson College, opined recently for The Harvard Business Review:

“Trump knows virtually nothing about technology?—?other than a smartphone, he doesn’t use it much. And the industries he’s worked in?—?construction, real estate, hotels, and resorts?—?are among the least sophisticated in their use of information technology. So he’s not well equipped to understand the dynamics of automation-driven job loss.


“. . .The Art of the Deal’s author clearly has a penchant for sparring with opponents in highly visible negotiations. But automation-related job loss is difficult to negotiate about. It’s the silent killer of human labor, eliminating job after job over a period of time. Jobs often disappear through attrition. There are no visible plant closings to respond to, no press releases by foreign rivals to counter. It’s a complex subject that doesn’t lend itself to TV sound bites or tweets.


To be fair, it’s not just Trump who finds this a difficult enemy to battle; other politicians don’t engage with that much either. And there are several good reasons. . . One is that automation usually comes with corporate investment rather than cutbacks. Note that United Technologies announced a $16 million investment in the Indiana Carrier plant. Who wants to criticize that?”

As we have written, Trump’s number one priority is to get re-elected. To do so, he will have to keep the 8.7 million men and women in the trucking sector employed. At the same time, he has pledged to encourage foreign investment in the U.S. and to attract U.S. companies back to American soil, all with an eye to creating more jobs for Americans. To remain competitive, these companies will have to improve productivity, and the shortest path to increased productivity, is automation. But, even with vigorous training, the vast majority of America’s working middle-class, like the 3.5 million truckers who voted largely for Trump, cannot transition easily into the types of job created by automation?—?engineering, integration, IT.

Therein lies the dilemma facing America, and much of the developed and the developing world. The economy needs more productivity growth, not less. But it also needs to create jobs. Any politician who wants to appeal to the business community will be reluctant to provoke a war against automation. But, he cannot afford to see his key voter bloc displaced.

All of which begs the question: How can Trump insulate the status quo from the disruptive forces of automation and technology? Will he tweet to the perception or the underlying reality?

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AlexCharting's picture

Automation and robotics revolution is inevitable. Trying to fight it makes you like those "geniuses" that went to war against the internet. 

Beam Me Up Scotty's picture

Make the robots pay all of the taxes.  All you have to do is tax the robots and not the humans.  And you will have human workers doing the work again.  Want less of something?  Tax it.  Want more of something?? Tax it less.  Problem today is, human workers cost too much.  Not necessarily because of productivity.  Its a taxation issue.  Of course healthcare factors in as well.  Do robots get sick??

Stuck on Zero's picture

Fully automated random number generators could put half of America's government workers out of a job today.

Beam Me Up Scotty's picture

Oh hell, 90% of goverment jobs are nothing but "make work" jobs.  Turd counters who collect a paycheck.  Thats all they are.  They produce NOTHING, absolutely NOTHING.

dasein211's picture

Most people won't be producing ANYTHINg! That's the point. With things like Watson analyzing medical treatments and research to develop the best path of care we won't need doctors like we do soon either. A majority of the things we've worked on physically will be handed to robots who will be able to drive, do math, statistics, build, and work. We will be on perpetual vacation or unemployment.

tmosley's picture

Most people already produce nothing. Maybe 10% of the population produces real goods, and maybe another 30% support them with services. The remainder are all part of the government circlejerk. Imagine if instead of having this huge regulatory enforcement/compliance circlejerk we instead had 60-70% of the population back to work making real things, and leveraging that amount of labor with robotics?

Productivity would absolutely explode. Good would become so cheap, many people would opt for early retirement, able to afford a lifestyle greater than they ever had under the old system.

Money is a claim on human labor. HUMAN labor. The less labor that is involved in the production of a product, the less the cost of the product. Eventually things get so cheap its not worth the effort to charge for them. The internet is a good example of that. 99% automated content distribution means you don't have to pay to shitpost, or even to stream HD video. Some things cost money, but they generally involve more human labor. Things like streaming Hollywood movies. Lots of work go into those, compared to a youtube video. But even that is much cheaper than it used to be. It will become cheaper still in the future, especially when all those animatiors are replaced by a deep dreaming AI. Then you will be able to have an AI make any movie you want just by describing the plot in great detail at first, and lesser detail as it gets smarter.

It's a bright future.

MarkD's picture

Soooooo glad Trump is reviving the coal industry.

Hopefully someone will remind him how important cassette and VHS players are so he can MAGA

Harlequin001's picture

And just who is going to buy all these super cheap goods these robots produce when they've got no money 'cos they've got no jobs?

Gold backing would fix it.

Mr. Universe's picture

I sent a text to King Ludd about this whole mess, he has yet to get back to me.

mind reset's picture
mind reset (not verified) Mr. Universe Feb 18, 2017 5:05 PM

I'm making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. This is what I do... http://bit.ly/2jdTzrM

KKAOSS's picture
Sanity Bear's picture

As long as we destroy all the cotton gins, we can avoid that horrible fate of a future without jobs.

divingengineer's picture

You touch my gin and I'll bust your mouth so it won't hold soup.

mind reset's picture
mind reset (not verified) divingengineer Feb 18, 2017 5:25 AM

I'm making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. This is what I do... http://bit.ly/2jdTzrM

KKAOSS's picture
not dead yet's picture

Some things get cheaper others don't. Some idiots use Moore's Law to claim cars should be cheaper and cost next to nothing like computers. Cars are continually being redesigned and engineered to meet safety and enviromental standards. Computers got cheaper by making a chip that eliminated most of the other chips. Try doing that with a car. Years ago cars had no computers now they could have as many as 20. Cars are so squeaky clean pollution wise and further reductions always being mandated which are more expensive to design and implement. We went from carbs to port injectors to direct injection, which requires super heavy duty injectors and super high pressure fuel pumps, and now port and fuel injection together on the same vehicle all controlled by a bunch of computers. Traction control, stability control, ABS, back up cameras are now required. The manufacturers thought they had the crash stuff down pat then the government does a new test that hits the vehicle at an angle that rarely happens so a whole new redesign is required.

There are lots of humans in auto plants because they do work robots can't and won't be able to do until they have the size and dexterity of a human hand and arm. A human can do a multitude of different jobs throughout the day and stay busy that would require a multitude of robots which would be idle most of the time. Like Amazons robots that deliver bins loaded and scanned in by humans to a human that picks, packs, labels, scans, and sends on to other humans to ship. Then the robot sits until that bin is needed. Robots are not cheap nor are we set up to mass produce hundreds of millions per year to put Kenny the garbage pick up guy out of work. Robots will take over eventually, like after they start WW3 and most of us are dead.

The real experts, not some professor of bullshit who never got closer than 20 feet from a truck, who are making the self driving trucks claim they will eliminate team drivers and one guy could spend 24 hours in the cab. Once that trailer is loaded the trucking company is totally responsible for that freight until it's delivered. Driverless trucks would be a bonanza for thieves. The vast majority of trucks are sticks but will require automatics for self drive. If every truck were driverless every square inch of the US would need to be mapped as companies are not going have people on staff sitting around to open the trailer doors, the vast majority are swing open, and back it in. It would necessitate all new trailers with rollup doors. Another production problem and expense. Same goes for fueling up. Are the stations going to have their people pull those rigs to the pump and will they overcharge because no one is looking. Pick up and delivery of small shipments require a driver to certify the count and condition. Unless you put cameras in every trailer and hire people to monitor them how do you know who stole your freight and where.

Yep it all looks good on paper. Trillions of dollars will need to be invested to make robots, rigs, trailers, auto transmissions, etc in new factories that will take years to get built and supply lines set up to eliminate all those workers the "experts" claim. It will happen eventually but over decades not years. Plus it will stretch out as people trade in great shape rigs and trailers that will crash the resale market that will allow new truckers to buy cheap and afford to pay drivers. They could refit current tractors but it would be cost prohibitive. As it is those new rigs cost double the current ones so companies are not chomping at the bit to fire drivers. Decades ago there were plenty of familiar truck lines on the road. Most are gone, they went bust or consolidated. Lot's of nice paying union jobs long gone as most carriers are now non union small or large non union. In the decades since deregulation shipping costs have gone down and profit margins went from fat to almost nothing. You pass so many rigs on the interstate because they are governed down to save as many pennies as possible. Not much left in the kitty to buy a whole new fleet of ultra expensive rigs.


NoPension's picture

Welfare must come with mandatory birth control.

We have to start getting away from the unlimited growth models, and move to sustainable populations.
The issue will be....who gets to procreate?

But then....that's always been the issue, hasn't it?

dasein211's picture

Most people won't be producing ANYTHINg! That's the point. With things like Watson analyzing medical treatments and research to develop the best path of care we won't need doctors like we do soon either. A majority of the things we've worked on physically will be handed to robots who will be able to drive, do math, statistics, build, and work. We will be on perpetual vacation or unemployment.

divingengineer's picture

If you call a FEMA camp with razor wire a perpetual vacation, then I agree.
How will these earthly delights you speak of be attained by persons without employment?

guardyernuts's picture

Here's a real example of a government make-work job. A couple years ago the wife applied online for Medicare. Dot gov responded with a letter, but our address was wrong (a digit was off - good thing we have a good mailman). The address was correct in the online application - couldn't figure out how dot gov had it wrong. Wife visited the local SS office to correct the bad address and they told her it happened all the time because SS has a whole building full of data entry clerks manually re-entering the web-submitted info into a 1970's-era mainframe, and typing mistakes are common. Only dot gov could do something like this and not instantly go belly-up. I swear this is a true story.

NoPension's picture

Key-punch operators? My mom was a "keypunch operator" in the early 70's. Or maybe they upgraded to floppy discs.

Cheapsob's picture

I have read posts on city data where gov workers were discussig whether or not to quit their job and move. They were torn between having a gov job where they didnt have to do anything, could be gone home or shoppig whenever they want and making the choice of moving and have to work a real job. Such a terrible situation to be in. ;)

Dave Thomas's picture

Program the robots to take out loans, voillia human misery and suffering is gone poof, we can all sit around eating bon bons and plucking at lyres all day while the robotic economists worry about the health of the "economy".

Just shirk the nature destroying concept of debt money onto our robotic overlords, problem solved!

Scotty I see a Nobel Prize in your future sir!



not dead yet's picture

Gates ain't wrong. The rich and connected are not going to commit slow suicide by starting a nuclear war if they can help it. The government spends millions every year on vaccine research so who says they aren't making it to make the chosen immune to a bug that will kill off the rest of us and get down to their 500 million threshold. Are those nukes on top of those rockets or are they filled with bugs? Yep, go down in your bunker, release the bugs, and come out 6 months later after the diseased rotting bodies have been turned into fertilizer.

Oldwood's picture

The whole notion of this is maddening. Sure, it's most definitely happening, but it is NOT inevitable.

Automation is a market response to labor costs. Automation is not an act of God or weather disaster that wipes out manufacturing facilities and consumers. Automation is THE market and it is IMPOSSIBLE for automation to displace workers unless someone or something else is subsidizing those displaced workers.

What we have is a banking and financial system that finances our job eliminations. They loan people money to build automation. They fund IPOs that pump billions into automation technologies, ALL used to displace workers who, in a free and un-manipulated market, would instantly be on the street demanding sustenance and would not be BUYING ANYTHING. Businesses CANNOT destroy their customer base, but is IS happening because the financial system is allowing it, enabling it, MAKING IT HAPPEN.

And our government is absolutely instrumental in this as they are using debt and redistribution to pay nonworking people to consume and NOT be in the street demanding work. Those that DO protest are NOT demanding jobs, are NOT protesting automation eliminating their jobs, they are instead DEMANDING MOAR ENTITLEMENTS.

Beam Me Up Scotty's picture

Thats why I said, the easy answer to keeping humans employed, is to make automation cost MORE than humans, not less.  Its just that simple.  Maybe, no matter what you do, humans will cost more than automation.  But machines need healthcare too, and wear out and die, just like humans do.  Someone has to fix them---even if its other machines, they still cost something to build.  Humans consume.  If you kill all of the consumers, who even needs the machines?

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

I will definitely lose my job to automation. The question is simply the time. I'm hoping for 10 years but that is probably optimistic. To be honest, I'm not too sad about it. My entire salary goes to state and federal taxes ( we live on Mr's salary) so the idea they will no longer take away the fruits of my labor makes me smile.


Oldwood's picture

As current trends continue many of us will be "retired out" of the system, but just as we understand the incredible burden that SSI and medicare will put on younger age workers, the redistribution costs of supporting those being pushed onto entitlement rles even before traditional retirement, will crush or economy. There is simply no way that we can tax our producers enough to fund our consumption. Why would any prioducer (you or me) work to earn "money" that is taxed completely away, which we are well on our way already. Any profits from production are getting funneled into larger and larger corporations who will ultimately own ALL of our productive capacity. Even now, while many of us use technology in our work, and BELIEVE we own that technology, we find corporations that provide the software that allows our automation to work, are no longer selling it, but instead renting it, leasing it such that you have no choice but to renew your service contract (regardless of cost) or your automation simply stops working. Think about how so many large corporations, those most highly valued, do not MAKE anything, They simply provide "systems" and software technology that "enables" other corporations to operate.

We are slowly being OWNED by these corporations while government merges with them to become one. When relatively few own all of the productive capacity, we all end up as dependent slaves. And do not think that slavery is enabled by physical chains. The Black slavery of our past came to be because that race/culture allowed itself to be dominated and were dependent and that dependency was reinforced by limiting their education and convincing them that there was no other means of survival. Plantation owners tried hiring and enslaving other people, most notably native Americans, but they would not tolerate it and simply ran off....they KNEW they didn't have to be dependent upon plantation owners.

Watching technology working in union with progressive indoctrination we see how an entire swath of our society is increasingly dependent AND demanding more. We see many readily embracing the promise of technology providing "something for nothing", just like all other entitlements. People are not protesting to preserve their freedoms and liberties, they are protesting to preserve their "something for nothing" as provided by The State.

Gilnut's picture

No Shit Sherlock.  This article explains exactly why wages are not growing.  Automation makes many jobs obsolete and companies keep the profits rather than pass them on to the remaining productive work force.  Same as it always was.

Mareka's picture

I work with automation in industry every day.

The idea of fully autonomous self driving vehicles is over sold. There are too many variables and the failure mode is too costly for it to be a reality as long as they are sharing roads with human drivers.

adanata's picture


So.... self driving trucks to carry what? Products? To be delivered to whom? If no one is employed [and we're already in the neighborhood of 25% unemployment and most everyone else is broke] where will they get the money to buy those products? Speaking of which, what about those high speed trains Japan is so excited about building in the US? High speed trains put most trucking out of business as well. Inflation/poverty makes consumers cut back to basic necessities. De-population has been underway for many years and life expectancies [along with physically shrinking brains] have dropped for both men and women. Many/most factories are working at 50% production. Does anyone else see cognitive dissonance here? We can't stop technology? Of course we can and have. There are thousands of patents for cheaper than dirt energy, and more, that are held back and hidden by the government to protect entrenched corporations. Multinationals are loosing money overseas and actually want to come back to .... what? A collapsed economy/dollar? Talk about "not ending well"...... 

NoPension's picture

And that is compounded by "legal" and illegal immigration.

Think about this. "Hard working" immigrants come. They survive by willing to live multiples to a house. The tend to have a lot of children. How does the infrastructure handle that " load", when the cost is setup to be borne by taxes...especially property taxes.
Does that old 3 bedroom, 2 bath house...with ten or twelve living in it...produce the property taxes that allow for the adequate operation of schools, water, wastewater, police and fire services? And that's a modest, off the top of the head list.
Then, add in they are not "properly " paying into the tax structure...and tend to overuse free government shit.

And we wonder why things are going south.

P/s... take a fellow like me. I look around and see this. I have to decide, for survival, do I play the system's games...or do I go "Galt"? So that adds to the whole thing.

Our government...by setting up and fostering a lawless system...has made it easy to morally justify going Galt. It's a moral hazard they set up.
This also, needs to be fixed.

DaBard51's picture

Railroads, again...

At the time, railroads put canalmen, wagon drivers and stage coach drivers mostly out of business.



When nine hundred years old you become, look this good you will not.

Jay's picture

Automation doesn't kill jobs. The savings from automation makes consumers richer and they are thus able to spend more on other things. The printing press, the tractor and combine, the weaving machine all created more jobs than were lost by making people wealthier. Machines make humans more productive, including autonomous driving machines, which raises everyone's standard of living. 

Oldwood's picture

Automation doesn't kill jobs...UNLESS, automation occurs at such a rate as the population cannot absorb the displaced labor and have time to train and acquire skills that allow them to move into new markets.

What we have now is exactly the opposite. Automation is eliminating jobs at a rate that does not allow for rebalancing, resulting in more and more unemployed and underemployed that are subsidized through rapidly increasing debt and redistribution that all becomes burden for those remaining workers.

Further, automation and technology are increasingly becoming owned by fewer and fewer massive corporations, many that are so entrenched in information technology that they exert massive control over media and government policy that SHOULD be designed to preserve our liberties. If people actually owned the technology that was replacing their jobs, they MIGHT have a chance, but as is, we are increasingly becoming dependent upon the owners of our production, and these owners are no longer distinguishable from our government, so the notion that somehow the government will tax our producers to provide the funding through entitlements to remain the customers of those same producers is a madness on par with money from heaven or the perpetual motion machine.

Something for nothing has the same power over it as it always has, and automation is simply the next big thing. Robots who will produce things for us for free.....SLAVES....AGAIN. Sure, everything will be FINE.

CrankyCurmudgeon's picture

Trump doesn't tweet about automation because he is completely clueless.

His iexpertise is limited to stiffing contractors on work that is the same technology as 50 years ago.

"Them as didn't have his custom will lose the least by him." 

CrankyCurmudgeon's picture

Asshole, I've been here since 2008. I just have a bad habit of calling bullshit on the Tylers, which gets you banned in about 15 minute.

Even money this message gets my ass banned.

SgtShaftoe's picture

Self driving trucks have a long way to go to eliminate the driver. The computer vision isn't so much of a problem. Computer security around the truck, computer systems and cloud coordination systems and the logic is a problem. The fact that the truck is driverless makes it attractive for a number of attacks especially proxy attacks. When you take over the truck, you can drive it at a target remotely with a pretty tidy amount of opsec.

The human mind is much smarter in incredibly complicated ways than people give credit for. Computers are also much dumber than people think.

pitz's picture

Actually the computer vision is a giant problem.  None of the current implementations under "test" work with any rain, snow, or dust.  They don't work with any mechanical or electrical degradation.  They must be coddled by very high priced engineers, not the slack-jawed yokels that typically maintain the current vehicle fleets.  And they still cost millions of dollars per unit, with limited scope to reduce costs.  Not even incorporating the costs associated with amortized liability.

Any system that relies upon 'cloud' connectivity or even GPS, is basically a non-starter as both are fairly easily denied. 

The trillion $$ or more required to upgrade the roads themselves to support self-driving will make self-driving cars a non-starter.  Passenger rail will make a comeback before self-driving cars are a reality.

SgtShaftoe's picture

Agreed. Now that you mention it, I was assuming clear skies and perfect conditions when I wrote my post. I also didn't expand on the logic issue: Many of the issues with AI, and computer video analysis I've seen can freak the system out by very ordinary but odd things to the computer algorithm e.g. debris flying in the wind. The computer has no context that a flying black trash bag has virtually zero mass and poses very little danger. To the computer, it might as well be a 10 ton boulder and will take evasive action, potentially in a very dangerous direction.

Computers are very good at completing mundane tasks in very controlled conditions and environments. They are terrible at winging it. There are just too many variables and interactions to consider.

CRM114's picture

I recall discussing just this point with the guys who designed the automatic Docklands Light Railway system in London. They were explaining to some students of mine that the chips controlling the trains were basically $2 1980's vintage, and they had to be, because every possible failure or combination of failures needed to be accounted for. Dumb computer chips are predictable, clever ones ain't.


Most people don't realise that a large proportion of the Apollo rocket logic was hard-wired. There was very little actual processing. It's more reliable that way. The average modern  toaster has more programmable computing power than the Apollo rocket

Twee Surgeon's picture

Fantasy Wank Sex Robots Inc are making a very nice robot now, I have put down $100 on the Christmas club plan, I have ordered the Debby Model 700 with pointy Tits and Bubble Butt upgrade package, Delivery is expected in 2018. It can make Breakfast too but not lunch, that's all I can afford right now.

There is no Robot Army coming, take a few Physics lessons or something, the Cotton Gin is what is happening. The BORG desire the Sex Robot and the Sheetrock hanging Robot and the Janitor Robot......and so on. It is Mythological fear.

The wife is going to be pissed off when Debby arrives.

NoPension's picture


I see a giant network of underground tubes, pneumaticly sending shuttles full of whatever from place to place.

We can use American Steel.

Countrybunkererd's picture

I call BS.  Tesla can't get their autocrap to work on a car add a 53' trailer and 85K pounds?  I wouldn't leave the damn house!!!  at some point, but NOT 10 years.

SgtShaftoe's picture

Hey, I'm not getting in a self driving car either. I live in the middle of nowhere for a reason.

PacOps's picture

GIGO! You are right on.