Robots are Taking Our Jobs, and That is a Good Thing

TDB's picture

Via The Daily Bell

Robots are going to take all our jobs, and it doesn’t matter. We should actually be thrilled about the prospects of automation, because it means freeing up economic resources, including arguably the most valuable resource, time.

One analysis says as many as 38% of U.S. jobs could be automated by the 2030’s, and another puts the number at 47% by 2033. As always, many worry about what effect the loss of jobs will have on the economy.

But lately, as technology has become more sophisticated, the drumbeat of worry has intensified. “What’s different now?” asked Leigh Watson Healy, chief analyst at market research firm Outsell. “The pace of technology advancements plus the big data phenomenon lead to a whole new level of machines to perform higher level cognitive tasks.” Translated: the old formula of creating more demanding jobs that need advanced training may no longer hold true. The number of people needed to oversee the machines, and to create them, is limited. Where do the many whose occupations have become obsolete go?

“I don’t think we have a good handle on this,” said MIT researcher Matt Beane. “The end game scenarios seem kind of severe. From here on in, it’s really, really, really going to change and it’s going to change faster than we can handle.”

But economics hasn’t changed because technology has advanced. Labor won’t go away, it will just move around. There is of course a human element to this; for certain individuals it may be difficult to find a new job, or learn different skills required for employment.

But why would you want to work in a redundant industry anyway? Should candle makers have boycotted light bulbs because they lost their jobs?

As Henry Ford (might have) said: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

I think people should take pride in their work, and always be striving to maximize the use of their time. Think of the possibilities of a Modern Renaissance.

More Free Time for Humans

If you could buy a robot for a thousand dollars that did all your household chores, would you be disappointed that you were saving 10 hours a week on cooking and cleaning?

No! You would either find something productive to do with that time, which is essentially creating more wealth, or you would use that time for leisure, basically increasing the standard of living (though I have plenty of criticisms for how some people spend their free time, but that is neither here nor there).

Obviously when it comes to a job, you wouldn’t directly benefit from being replaced by a robot, as you would when it comes to household chores. But the same principle applies: now your time is free to do something literally more productive.

So in a sense you benefit personally by being forced to find a way to create value with your time. As an effect on the overall economy, this means more people trying to solve problems, more inventions, and innovative new products and services.

There could be a Modern Renaissance on the horizon when automation accelerates, with advances in health, travel, comfort, production, even entertainment and art.

And it’s not just low level unskilled jobs being replaced by machines. Should a doctor keep wasting hundreds of hours doing work that could be accomplished better by a machine?

IBM’s Watson, well known for its stellar performance in the TV game show Jeopardy!, has already demonstrated a far more accurate diagnosis rate for lung cancers than humans — 90 percent versus 50 percent in some tests. The reason is data. Keeping pace with the release of medical data could take doctors 160 hours a week, so doctors can’t possibly review the amount of new insights or even bodies of clinical evidence that can give an edge in making a diagnosis.

This increases the standard of living by helping diagnose disease more accurately, which means earlier and more targeted treatment. And it’s not like the doctor won’t be able to find something productive to do with his time. Doctors with free time mean more advancements in medicine, maybe a more one on one experience with a family doctor, or more resources for preventative care.

There is a guy who was unemployed, and now makes money as a paid walking partner for people who like to get out for walks, but don’t have anyone to go with, or just need someone to talk to. I don’t know what he was doing before, but it probably wasn’t as enjoyable as walking around outside all day offering companionship. He found a unique niche market to fill, and created a valuable service.

A robot can now build a house in two days, which eliminates the backbreaking work of brick laying, and also means homes can be built for ridiculously low prices.

 

 

Lower Cost and/ or Higher Quality Goods and Services

Because of automation, goods and services in the sectors served by robots will become less expensive. Labor is not cheap, and as a result of lower manufacturing costs, prices will fall.

This means it takes less income to afford the same lifestyle. So the displaced workers may not have to spend as much money to live, and there will also be extra wealth floating around. The people whose jobs have not been replaced will have extra money that can be invested, or spent on different and new goods and services.

It is likely that as time goes on, people will have the option of working fewer hours for the same standard of living (or the same number of hours for a higher standard of living). A job that one person does currently for 40 hours a week could be split between two people working 20 hours a week, because automation has made the cost of living dramatically lower.

What will people do with their free time? Some will seek out more entertainment and luxury, which means more opportunities to provide entertainment and luxury.

Many people will pursue productive activities that they enjoy, but didn’t have time for previously. Vegetable gardening, volunteering for charities, educating others about a cause they believe in, building a website or app, and creating their own products are all activities that would increase with the more free time people have.

And these would further lower the expense of living, if for instance, furniture was produced at home.

This could also expand trade economies at a community level. People would still be specializing in their respective fields, but it wouldn’t be for survival, it would be for luxury. The fear of poverty would be removed from the equation, which would mean it is harder to gain an exploitative advantage in economic transactions.

Instead of having to labor eight to ten hours a day to make ends meet, you could build a beautiful oak table and chairs you are proud of, and trade it to your neighbor in exchange for a rock pond built as the centerpiece of your herb garden.

These are each things that would require a week worth of labor in a typical job to afford. But now you won’t have to waste money paying taxes on that income before you can spend it, or driving to work and paying taxes on the gas, or being forced to eat fast food because you lack the time to plan your lunches.

The quality of goods and services in this scenario would also increase, as people choose to use their extra economic resources, whether that be time or money, to acquire healthier food, sturdier furniture, custom clothing, and artistically designed everyday tools.

So ironically, automation could inadvertently bolster the local trading economy for artisan goods and services.

Higher Standard of Living, More Luxury, More Innovation, Unless…

Of course all my bright predictions could be destroyed by government. They have a history of keeping people in unproductive forms of labor by bailing out industries which are failing, forcing society to waste money on things which would otherwise have been replaced with something better, or cut out due to lack of demand.

Government jobs will surely be the last to be automated, despite the clear advantages in, say, police work being done by computers. Already the police are solving a smaller percentage of murders, and the industry would be a perfect fit for automation, if the government didn’t stand in the way.

America’s homicide clearance rate—the percentage of solved crimes that lead to arrest—has fallen considerably in the past 50 years, from around 90% in 1965 to around 64% in 2012, according to federal statistics. This means more than 211,000 homicides committed since 1980 remain unsolved…

Charles Wellford, a criminologist at the University of Maryland, also notes that murders of police officers are nearly always solved, anywhere. Perhaps, he suggests, “any homicide can be solved if you put the time into it.”

The Affordable Care Act was another way the government attempted to force people to keep working in old world style labor systems. If you get a full time job, you get health insurance. If you make money in a freelance style, or only require a part time job to live, you then have to go out and spend all this money on health insurance, or be fined.

Then there are property taxes which require income just to subsist on a piece of land.

So the only thing that could derail the bright future of automation is government intervention.

But likely even government services will eventually be out-competed by better alternatives.

Tell us if you agree that automation will only improve the economy, or if you think there are societal upsets to fear from robots replacing humans.

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yngso's picture

Just seeing the reactions here, it's clear that people are stuck mentally. So it's not tech the changes that's the problem, but our ability to adapt.

Since the production of everything will be much more effcient, the profits will be higher, and there will be enough money to also support the many millions of unemployables in the transition period while the population shrinks. Poverty will be eliminated too. On the other side of this great transition, our ancestors will discover how true the positive vision of this article was.

 

strickler's picture

I find the argument that standards of living will go up as cost go down and people work less rather unconvincing given that it is government policy to cause inflation via monetary policy and regulations; and to enable monopolistic crony capitalism? via barriers to entry and more regulation.

The "robots are going to take our jobs" argument is equally unconvincing given that a robot is just a more modern form of automation.  We've been automating for more than a century.  If it weren't for complete over supply of immigrant labor, we'd have low unemployment.

There's no crisis here.

strickler's picture

I find the argument that standards of living will go up as cost go down and people work less rather unconvincing given that it is government policy to cause inflation via monetary policy and regulations; and to enable monopolistic crony capitalism via barriers to entry and more regulation.

The "robots are going to take our jobs" argument is equally unconvincing given that a robot is just a more modern form of automation.  We've been automating for more than a century.  If it weren't for complete over supply of immigrant labor, we'd have low unemployment.

There's no crisis here.

strickler's picture

I find the argument that standards of living will go up as cost go down and people work less rather unconvincing given that it is government policy to cause inflation via monetary policy and regulations; and to enable monopolistic crony capitalism? via barriers to entry and more regulation.

The "robots are going to take our jobs" argument is equally unconvincing given that a robot is just a more modern form of automation.  We've been automating for more than a century.  If it weren't for complete over supply of immigrant labor, we'd have low unemployment.

There's no crisis here.

Duc888's picture

 

 

Fuck you.  No one can take my "job".  It is a skill that a robot will not be able to do for at least 50 years.... 

 

I'll be dead by then.

Andre's picture

Billions of people bored to the point of batshit-crazy.

This does not end well. The human race has seen this before (well, maybe not billions, but enough).

J Mahoney's picture

Robots...NOT so much    China online sellers... so much

Just the headlines in the past year about retail store closings tell us about jobs being lost and commercial real estate getting ready to tank, (Store closings—Penny’s 130-140 stores, Sears/Kmart 150, Macy’s 100, Foot Locker 100, Kohls 16, Office Depot 200, Abercrombie 114, BCBG 118, HH Gregg 88, Pier One 100).

We ONLY NEED TO IMMEDIATELY DO AWAY WITH  a little known Asian subsidy which is KILLING us. Did you know a small package sent by an Asian online seller only cost them about $1.00 vs the $20.00 we would have to pay to send a package to Asia. We even provide tracking services on that freaking package. This was pushed down our throats thru the “heavy lobbying” by Ebay and Amazon.

Problems with this is:

1) Post Office loosing hundreds of millions delivering these cheap packages (taxpayers left holding the bag making up for their losses and eventual USPS pension shortfalls)

2) Uninspected goods come in, many of which are in violation of intellectual property laws and safety regulations.

3) USA stores can’t compete- thus many previous full time jobs in retail have disappeared altogether or with lower paying and reduced benefit part-time jobs.

4) Foreign online sellers are not paying any sales tax, income tax, or tariffs like the importers in the USA.

My advice to TRUMP—do away with only this one unfair trade deal and positive results will be felt FAST, no need for a “tit for tat” trade war.

Honest Sam's picture

I think maybe Kilgore Trout, and Mr. Rosewater have already pierced the curtain to peep at the future, and predicted what is going to happen when there is no work for the majority people to do, which is now done by robots or other technology. 

 

stant's picture

How does one make money to buy what the robots make

Honest Sam's picture

Go to the front of the class and wear a crown.  

This is akin to the real damage Roe vs Wade did, not just aborting multicelled beings.  Hold your horses, i'm getting there.

Because of abortion, women, WHITE women, chose to exercise their choice by not having enough children to replace the white dying population and now we are heading for extinction, with no reversal of White child reproduction to at least replace ourselves, let alone grow our voting base----as blacks, hispanics, refugees, MUSLIMS, illegal aliens, and other minorities have done for 4 decades, and counting.

Same deal with the advent of roobotics. Eventually you producers of robots not only eliminiate our jobs but eventually the, the robots, will say, what the hell they need you for?? 

The only logical answer is:  the robots will buy them. 

 

 

Rhal's picture

It's the continuation of the industiral revolution. That is what really freed the slaves.

This is the way forward. If we fail to reach this we probably go back to horse and buggy. That lifestyle did have its virtues, but automation should give us more freedom.

When unemployment becomes the norm, we need to push for a 20 hr work week, employing twice as many humans for the same labor.

All debts must be wiped out to get there.

Keep your eyes on personal rights and liberties! We won't evolve if our freedoms are gone. So far we're winning, but the slavers still hope to keep us down.

 

 

unsafe-space-time's picture

Freedom is when you are able to survive without depending on society or technology. The future is Idiocracy.

SweetDougisaTwat's picture

Ah, look what has happened with masses of Negros with "freed up" time.

The Gun Is Good's picture

None of this will result in moar free time for the serfs; free time = bad, because it gives them time to question the policies of their Overloards!!!!

Honest Sam's picture

That's because in the last 50 years the bar for law enforcement has been set so high, with procedures that--- while maybe well-meaning or just liberals run amok in government, has made it nearly impossible to get perps arrested and questioned without a blizzard of paperwork with Criminal defense lawyers permitted to file briefs about everything under the sun.  Police know many of the killers but getting D.A.s to file charges, without having a video, audio, ----and a Certified Financial Planner--- of the crime, they can't be 'solved'.

 

"America’s homicide clearance rate—the percentage of solved crimes that lead to arrest—has fallen considerably in the past 50 years, from around 90% in 1965 to around 64% in 2012, according to federal statistics. This means more than 211,000 homicides committed since 1980 remain unsolved…"

 

That was then.  This is now. 

unsafe-space-time's picture

Fuck police. Everyone has the authority to execute justice. An eye for an eye. If a holy fucking cop get shot they become judge jury and executioner. You hurt me or my family you die. Now that's a just system

Rhal's picture

Police paperwork needs to be automated, very doable, and only the beuraocrats will complain- proof of a good thing.

PoasterToaster's picture
PoasterToaster (not verified) Honest Sam Mar 27, 2017 5:07 PM

Do you really think the Police State doesn't have enough power?

koan's picture

Labor will go away, you are underestimating technology.
More free time for whom? Do we really want more free time for the mouth breathers out there? To do what with? Give a stupid person free time and trouble begins.

The only reasonable ending I can come up with is that population needs to be drastically reduced, as tech takes over.
This will involve some form of eugenics.

Soft eugenics meaning child birth limit and genetic screening, hard eugenics means mandatory sterilization for "undesirables", and of course there's the violent eugenics of war.

You simply can’t have 7.3 billion humans with nothing to do, and not everyone can be an artist or scientist.

Lurk Skywatcher's picture

And then there will be these benevelent corporations who will magically forgo price gouging for profit simply because people no longer have jobs. Things will get cheaper? Bullshit. The robot owners will just be able to own more of everything.

What will humans do with all the free time? They will starve, thats what.

The entire economic paradigm needs to change for anything other than a dystopian nightmare to result from this 4th great industrial revolution we have already entered...

And the top of the economic food chain doesn't want it to change. They have virtually enslaved the entire world with debt, and suddenly they will be pleased you can make furniture to trade with your neighbor!?

rf80412's picture

The economic paradigm can't change until someone builds a Star Trek replicator.

As it stands, we're headed for a world where everything still costs money but the only jobs not taken over by robots are either at the very bottom or the very top of the pay scale: Mexicans and executives. The high value added manufacturing jobs started to be roboticized decades ago, and next are the information processing jobs, where a service rendered by a human gets turned into a product sold by a software company. Between them, that's almost the entire middle class.

Common_Law's picture

Since when did we start expecting the best case scenario? Everyone knows the it could be utopia, hell anything "could" be a utopia communism, socialism, capitalism, Constitutional republics if people didn't fuck them up! Sometimes it takes more or less people/time to fuck them up, but it never ends with the best case scenario.

ShorTed's picture

the writer fails to consider that the 38 to 47% of people made redundant by robots/automation are already at the peak of their productivity.  If the guy is driving a postal van, chances are good it's because he isn't a software programmer or a brain surgeon.