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I've been considering the implications of current trends in technology. I have seen several stories now about factories, usually in China, that are completely automated. No employees are needed.

(Example: [] )

Companies are experimenting with automated stores like Amazon's new grocery store. Again no workers.

( [] )

And we already have self driving cars now being put into use. Additionally machine learning is allowing machines to take over yet more positions, such as call centers, journalism, management, lawyers, etc.

I don't think trying to resist these changes will work, or be a good idea. Even if we didn't accept them here, other countries would, and we would fall behind. But what would result of this. Most jobs would be gone, and most of those who would loose their jobs would have no qualifications for the jobs that would exist.

It seems like these changes are just around the corner now, and it doesn't seem like any nation is prepared to handle it.

Katrik 7 May 8

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Good read: The Singularity Is Near by Ray Kurzweil.


Back in 1983 I toured a "factory of the future." I only saw a total of four people in a large factory. There were two technicians checking on the machines, and two men at the bottom of a chute stacking product boxes. Today, they wouldn't need the two people stacking boxes. My only surprise is that the Automation Revolution has taken so long.

We are now entering a new phase of the Automation Revolution. Recently, a robot was successfully programmed to fold clothes. This may not sound like a big deal, but actually the programming was rather complicated. Most people can't easily fold clothes without leaving some wrinkles in them. From now on, more complicated tasks are going to be replaced by automation. Neural networks are also becoming more sophisticated. IBM's Watson, for example, uses complex neural networks to problem-solve in fields such as medical diagnosis and computer problem analysis. There are times when you might be interfacing with a neural network online and not even know it, which means they pass the Turing Test.


I am a former factory worker. Pasta was what we made. More and more is being automated and it is a good thing. The repetitiveness of factory work, cement floors, the standing is tough on the brain and body. The business has expanded do to automation. Some of the most back breaking labor has been automated. The pasta plant was cronically (sp) short on help. When you retire from from this type of work your body can be quite broken.


Companies may save payroll by replacing people with robots but they should continue to pay the lost income taxes which can be spread in universal health care and income.
That will never happen in the US. Unfortunately, the widening wealth gap will deepened further with unbridled greedy capitalism.
More socialist countries will be able weather this future storm.


I used to be against Marxism and communism outright because it cedes too much power to the state and the history of where that can lead. Though, as automation start taking over we are going to have to figure out a way to deal with the great inequality that this may bring.

Truck driving is a huge employer in the US and it’s a few steps away from being an obsolete profession. There are many, many professions like this, so what are we going to do?

The answer to that is for the masses to take a greater role in governing themselves. We are here, partly, because we've ceded a lot of our rights and duties as citizens. The problems always seem to arise from having a ruling vs ruled class. In a truly Democratic and egalitarian society there would not be those distinctions.

@Blindbird I don’t buy the ruling vs ruled class insofar as something that doesn’t naturally arise in a free society.

We have to strike a balance between freedom and wealth distribution, which is a primary divider between the right & the left. I have no clue how to do this.

@indirect76 I'm going to argue that you don't "buy " it because this hierarchy has been all you've ever known.

@Blindbird I don’t buy it because there is no evidence for it. There are people with more power than me, and there are people with less. Which class does that make me?

@indirect76 most likely not the ruling class . most of us aren't. Call me an idealist but I really believe in a self governed society without proxy of glorified "leaders" who know absolutely nothing about the realities of life for most citizens.

I've had (some) money and been very very poor. Money makes things very easy. The problem is that if you've always had money you simply can't understand how hard being broke makes the simplest things. This is where you get lawmakers judging poor people very harshly. They simply have no idea how easy their privelege makes everything for them. Therefore poor people must be dumb, lazy or unmotivated because after all most problems and hurdles are so easily solved.

In short, eat the rich, or at least make them live a decade as working poor so they can understand the true scope of their privelege.

@Blindbird I agree. Having nothing, or near nothing is hard, and it’s even harder to move upward from that position. This is why I believe to poorest should get help. It takes money to make money. The rich get richer. I believe this is a natural outcome of people being free.

We didn’t have much growing up, but we did alright. I never saw it as a result of a ruling class keeping me down, just how things happened to be.

I do appreciate your point of view on this, and I agree that there are a class of people that have the majority of power. I just think it’s more complicated than that.

@indirect76 its a natural outcome of people having advantages which is why there's so much conversation about privilege. Its not a product of freedom, it's a product of heirarchial societies where those at the "top" reap the benefits of the "lower classes" labor. There's nothing natural about it.

@indirect76 Ironically this is a bigger problem for Capitalism than Marxism. Too much concentration of wealth = reduced markets. Absent government coercion of the masses (a feature of Capitalism from its earliest days) wealth will eventually concentrate until automated production is no longer viable.
The UK is seeing a resurgence of hand car washes after they almost vanished due to automation. Neo-liberal economics has made human car washers cheaper than automated ones. The owners of automated car washes are facing the potential stranding of their assets.


Here is an interesting interview I read that relates to this subject. It's about jobs invented to keep the status quo. []


This is one of many reasons that individuals present and future security should rest in government programs rather than depending on businesses to take care of them. All people should be treated the same and guaranteed some degree of security for as long as they live.


Technology is definitely replacing the jobs that machines can do more efficiently and precisely but there will still be plenty of stuff that require the human touch. I think one of the biggest challenges facing us especially in the U.S. is solving the widening income equality gap. How to use the collective wealth of the country to better serve all of it's citizens. But in a way that doesn't create the short comings of a system like we saw with communism.


One job that looks ideal for automation and AI is that of a soldier. Qualifications required of a soldier, as per my knowledge are: discipline, endurance, unquestioning loyalty and moderate levels of intelligence. Once we get robot soldiers, there is minimal training cost, no retirement, inbuilt institutional memory etc. More importantly, no coups! Imagine what happens to a country's democracy when the ruling class has a powerful, obedient, and cheap to mass produce army.


Even automated factories require human personal to keep it running. The need for highly qualified individual keeps growing. Perhaps my one regret is that before computers were everywhere we used to have beautiful super hot clerks instead !!!!


welcome to our future


Universal basic income is an answer thrown around alot. But governments, especially the US is going to fight against that as long as possible because it too closely resembles Communism.

What'll most likely happen in the US, to stay as fast from Communism as possible while actually making it closer, is voucher systems.

Housing vouchers. Food vouchers, utility vouchers. It's make the income gap between rich and poor 100 times worse.

In the mean time we'll be told all you need to get out of your situation is hard work, and a line capital to buy your very own robot to earn money for you.


Well... I don't think humanity is quite prepared for the drastic changes that we are likely to face. Considering our system of "working hard and you'll be rich" comes from very archaic Christian beliefs, still. The year is 2018 technologically but in some respects humanity is hundreds or thousands of years behind. So, we will either make it work for us or let it kill us. Pesonally I think there are too many that cling to old ideas or accumulation of wealth that won't easilly change or let go of debts and so on. I ere on the side of chaos to ensue.


We seen this coming for a few years now.And if governments are act in the best interest of the people, there are going to be a lot more of chaos. Everywhere.


A lot of countries are already thinking about this and some countries are trying out a system of 'universal basic income'. it seems to me that that will be the way forward. We will have to find new and better ways to deal with more leisure, though.

Our bread and circuses could be sex robots, to keep the men happily at home getting nonstop BJs with robots that can resemble and sound like any woman they choose.

@birdingnut Not my idea of fun, or my friends and family, but it would probably appeal to some men!


Probably not. I really think a guaranteed income is the way to go. We don't need so much human labor, free people up to do what they want and I suspect we'll have a new renaissance.

@rsabbatini work may be neccesary but working to make others rich is not. The nice thing about a basic income is that it frees people to do what they want to do. Pursue their interests rather than slaving away for a paycheck.What basic income experiments have failed? All the ones I've read about worked quite well. Do you have some numbers or are you just making stuff up?

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