The robot revolution already happened, and we lost

posted at 3:31 pm on March 23, 2014 by Jazz Shaw

Are the robots coming to take over the world from the incompetent, soft hands of mankind? Don’t look now, but it probably already happened and they won the war without firing a shot.

I don’t generally find much ground to argue with Victor Davis Hanson on, but I think he might have been a bit off base this week when he wrote this.

The downside of this complete reliance on computer gadgetry is a fundamental ignorance of what technology is. Smart machines are simply the pumps that deliver the water of knowledge — not knowledge itself.

Of course, Hanson is to be forgiven, as making predictions about technology in general – and robots in particular – can be tricky. It’s even one of the subjects where Isaac Asimov got it wrong fifty years ago.

“Robots will neither be common nor very good in 2014, but they will be in existence.”

Where is all of this robot chatter going? It’s the question being examined by Michael Belfiore in the Guardian this week, as he informs us that robots are coming for your jobs, and they’ll’ probably have about half of them in short order.

Will you be replaced by a machine? There’s nearly a 50-50 chance, according to a recent study by Oxford University researchers who found that 47% of the labor market in the US alone is at risk of being mechanized out of existence. Approximately 702 jobs thus far held by humans are now threatened by non-humans, as we were reminded by a widely shared report on the study this week.

It’s not hard to see why. Advances in robotics and artificial intelligence are bringing robots into more and more workplaces

There’s even a robotic burger flipper in the works. The website of Momentum Machines boasts that its slicing, grinding, frying robot can do “everything employees can do except better”, and that it will “democratize access to high-quality food, making it available to the masses”.

There’s a pretty staggering list of employment areas which may be largely on the way out, given the list of robotic innovations which are already either in production or at least on the drawing board. The author brings up The Baxter Robot which can take over mid-level management and supervisory duties, learning new tasks on the fly, as well as robot surgeons. But at least the bloggers are safe, so the Hot Air staff won’t have to worry. Or will they?

The Quill robotic journalist digests facts from raw data, and spits out fully formed sports and business stories.

I used to laugh off these stories myself… that is, until I was attacked by this robot during a recent tax policy conference in DC.

VGOrobot

Okay… to be fair, “attacked” was probably a tad hyperbolic. The robot actually just bumped into my leg a couple of times while it was trying to navigate its way into the conference center. But it was still unsettling to say the least.

One final thought on this subject relates, yet again, to the minimum wage debate going on today. I take it you noticed the part about the “burger flipping robot” above. The one thing stopping every food joint in the country from automating these tasks is that you can still – at least for now – find somebody to do this work for less than it would cost to try to bring in C3PO and get an apron around its waist. But once you drive up the cost of labor far enough, the steel counter server is going to look a lot more viable. Once in place, the robot will never steal from the register, call in sick, develop an out of control drug problem or take baths in your sink. And once those jobs are gone, they won’t be coming back.

Now if we can find a robot to scare the Jehovah’s Witnesses off my porch at a reasonable cost, the future will be golden indeed.


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I, for one, welcome our robot overlords.

rbj on March 23, 2014 at 3:39 PM

Somebody has to install, repair, calibrate, upgrade / update, and maintain said robots.

I wish they’d hurry up and take over, my unemployment has run out.

Bah, though my background is perfectly suited for such work, nobody wants to hire an old fart like me.

Oxymoron on March 23, 2014 at 3:40 PM

Now if we can find a robot to scare the Jehovah’s Witnesses off my porch at a reasonable cost, the future will be golden indeed.

Where is Bender when you need him? He would do it for beer.

tommytom02 on March 23, 2014 at 3:40 PM

The only work Obama was ever qualified for could be replaced with robots now.

ConstantineXI on March 23, 2014 at 3:41 PM

I feel the same thing about robots as I do with offshore/outsourcing. In my world, software development, the labor cost savings have not made up for poorer quality, too much back and forth and fine tuning, and lack of solid communication.

Maybe robots can change this, but there’s still something to be said for interaction with humans in business. Now the burger flippers…they’re screwed! Keep talking about wanting $20/hr, see where that gets ya!

nextgen_repub on March 23, 2014 at 3:46 PM

Jazz, your screed sounds kinda, er, robotic. As Patoosie sez, being unemployed and receiving robotically generated paychecks will ‘free’ us all from..from…,er, productive work? Since I will have all this ‘free’ time on my hands, I think I’ll invent an Automatic Robot Destroyer, or in layman’s terms, rust…

vnvet on March 23, 2014 at 3:46 PM

Now if we can find a robot to scare the Jehovah’s Witnesses off my porch at a reasonable cost, the future will be golden indeed.

Listen, I am going to save you a lot of money. Just put up a life size picture of Michelle Obama’s mother.

VorDaj on March 23, 2014 at 3:49 PM

It’s even on of the subjects where Isaac Asimov got it wrong fifty years ago.

.
Here’s perfect, pedestrian example. I cannot count the times I have had to re-read the author’s words to gain meaning from them when the author has relied, incorrectly, on automated spell checking. Of course, “on” should be “one”; proofreading is a uniquely human activity, relying on context for meaning and subtle but essential correction.

ExpressoBold on March 23, 2014 at 3:50 PM

ExpressoBold on March 23, 2014 at 3:50 PM

Touché

Oxymoron on March 23, 2014 at 3:55 PM

I think you should define the term “robot” before writing a post like this.

What exactly was Asimov referring to when he made his “robot” prediction?

What differentiates a “robot” from just a programmable machine? And how does “artificial intelligence” figure into this?

I don’t generally find much ground to argue with Victor Davis Hanson on, but I think he might have been a bit off base this week when he wrote this.

The downside of this complete reliance on computer gadgetry is a fundamental ignorance of what technology is. Smart machines are simply the pumps that deliver the water of knowledge — not knowledge itself.

-Jazz Shaw

How is Hanson off-base? You don’t say. Hanson seems spot on here to me.

bluegill on March 23, 2014 at 3:58 PM

It’s even on of the subjects where Isaac Asimov got it wrong fifty years ago.

How do figure that? Do you think cars are assembled mostly by humans these days? The parts are cast or milled using computer controlled machines (robots).
Asimov was/is right.

Shambhala on March 23, 2014 at 3:58 PM

Once in place, the robot will never steal from the register, call in sick, develop an out of control drug problem or take baths in your sink. And once those jobs are gone, they won’t be coming back.

No more EEOC suits, no racial grievance whores on your doorstep, no one measuring the ‘diversity’ of your workforce, no Obamacare fines, no proggie protesters accusing you of ‘labor theft’.

slickwillie2001 on March 23, 2014 at 4:01 PM

Hey, a robot can take my job as long as I get to keep the paycheck.

tdarrington on March 23, 2014 at 4:02 PM

It’s even on of the subjects where Isaac Asimov got it wrong fifty years ago.

How do figure that? Do you think cars are assembled mostly by humans these days? The parts are cast or milled using computer controlled machines (robots).
Asimov was/is right.

Shambhala on March 23, 2014 at 3:58 PM

Modern electronics too; ‘robots’ take parts from the stockroom and load them into machines that place them on circuit boards on a conveyor that carries them into the machine that melts the solder.

Robots in electronics have replaced armies of electronics assemblers, mostly young women at that. Such memories…

slickwillie2001 on March 23, 2014 at 4:05 PM

One final thought on this subject relates, yet again, to the minimum wage debate going on today. I take it you noticed the part about the “burger flipping robot” above. The one thing stopping every food joint in the country from automating these tasks is that you can still – at least for now – find somebody to do this work for less than it would cost to try to bring in C3PO and get an apron around its waist. But once you drive up the cost of labor far enough, the steel counter server is going to look a lot more viable.

So you buried the lede this time. However, robots will do these tasks eventually, wage hike or not. That is because the cost of robots to perform these tasks will keep on falling. Raising the MW will just hurry the process along.

MJBrutus on March 23, 2014 at 4:10 PM

This does raise an interesting question about what humans workers should do as far as earning a paycheck?

Sooner or later AI/robotics will be able to replace the vast majority of workers at most any job. What then?

sharrukin on March 23, 2014 at 4:10 PM

Listen, I am going to save you a lot of money. Just put up a life size picture of Michelle Obama’s mother.

VorDaj on March 23, 2014 at 3:49 PM

Do that and the Codes/Zoning officials will condemn your house immediately and have the place torn down by evening.

Quartermaster on March 23, 2014 at 4:11 PM

sharrukin on March 23, 2014 at 4:10 PM

Someone will need to design, build and maintain the robots.

MJBrutus on March 23, 2014 at 4:12 PM

As an avid Science Fiction reader for more than 60 of my 70 years, one issue that I haven’t seen addressed more than a very few times is what do the jobless humans do when robots have eliminated human work? If memory serves something like 2% of the American population works in agriculture. Not too long ago that was up around 90%.

Are the ghettoes the future of all of us?

Linh_My on March 23, 2014 at 4:14 PM

ExpressoBold on March 23, 2014 at 3:50 PM

Clearly the robot will do a better job. I’ll begin interviewing androids to replace me presently.

Fixed… and thanks. ;-)

Jazz Shaw on March 23, 2014 at 4:17 PM

Someone will need to design, build and maintain the robots.

MJBrutus on March 23, 2014 at 4:12 PM

Robots can already build robots, and maintenance will hardly be that much of a reach either.

Design can also largely be done automatically with some human input. That doesn’t employ any great number of people. The cast majority of workers would simply become excess baggage.

sharrukin on March 23, 2014 at 4:20 PM

Listen, I am going to save you a lot of money. Just put up a life size picture of Michelle Obama’s mother.

VorDaj on March 23, 2014 at 3:49 PM

Saw the pictures from Red China huh?

slickwillie2001 on March 23, 2014 at 4:21 PM

This does raise an interesting question about what humans workers should do as far as earning a paycheck?

sharrukin on March 23, 2014 at 4:10 PM

.
Robot Sales… that is, contacting and selling robot expansion into every industrial and monotonous activity in every country. At least, for few decades, anyway… then, make sure you know a lot about embedded code and embedded OS implementations because those robots are gonna need to be upgraded to new Acme Standard Design.

ExpressoBold on March 23, 2014 at 4:21 PM

Considering that robots started to show up in the auto assembly line back in the ’70s, the worry about robots is a bit… sigh… overblown.

Yes robots will be taking more jobs and they will also be delivering more consistent service in more remote locations, too.

What happens when you couple the robotic surgeon with the drop of blood to analyze everything wrong with you system, plus a very low level cat scan or mri, all run by software to diagnose everything from hangnails to compound fractures? The Autodoc. Predicted by Larry Niven back in the ’60s. We are on the verge of fundamentally transforming our economy via automation in a way that Progressives detest and fear: it will free up people from the high overhead of manual systems while, at the same time, providing better goods and services for lower cost. It’s called capitalism.

Do you have a dishwasher in your house? A washer and drier? A microwave oven? A personal computer? A cellphone?

Do you miss having to manually wash dishes? Wash and wring dry your clothes. Having to drag out the popcorn popper to make popcorn. Or wait for the operator to get your number for you, as that was one of the first fully automated systems to abolish jobs. How about it? Trade all that in for ‘the good old days’ of late 19th century technology and jobs? How about tons of horse manure in the street? Should we pine away for those days, too?

Here’s the thing: no matter how much we automate or mechanize jobs we keep INVENTING NEW THINGS TO DO.

Amazing!

Its like all this stuff is letting us do more.

What a thought.

Maybe the automated sports writer will finally get box scores right which is STILL a problem to this very day. Wouldn’t that be fun? Take out wondering if the guy doing the reporting got the numbers right…

ajacksonian on March 23, 2014 at 4:22 PM

The downside of this complete reliance on computer gadgetry is a fundamental ignorance of what technology is. Smart machines are simply the pumps that deliver the water of knowledge — not knowledge itself.

Jazz, you need to re-read this paragraph, because it seems as if you don’t understand what Hanson wrote.

Unless you believe that Idiocracy is more of a blueprint than a warning.

LoganSix on March 23, 2014 at 4:23 PM

No more EEOC suits, no racial grievance whores on your doorstep, no one measuring the ‘diversity’ of your workforce, no Obamacare fines, no proggie protesters accusing you of ‘labor theft’.

slickwillie2001 on March 23, 2014 at 4:01 PM

No labor contract, no time off for union business and no donations to progressive left politicians. The Dems better regulate this progress stuff or they are going to lose big time.

KW64 on March 23, 2014 at 4:24 PM

“Robots will neither be common nor very good in 2014, but they will be in existence.”

Jazz, that quote is right on the money. We do have some robots today, but nothing like what people think of as robots, and what robots we have like that, are not very good.

You yourself said that the stupid thing was bumping into your leg. In 2014, robots are not common, and by your own admission, they aren’t very good.

HugoDrax on March 23, 2014 at 4:24 PM

The cast majority of workers would simply become excess baggage.

sharrukin on March 23, 2014 at 4:20 PM

Nah, they’ll all become tax accountants :-)

MJBrutus on March 23, 2014 at 4:27 PM

Sooner or later AI/robotics will be able to replace the vast majority of workers at most any job. What then?

sharrukin on March 23, 2014 at 4:10 PM

well, you meet with the committee every 5 to 7 years and explain to them what use you are to society. If you can not prove you put in as much as you take out, perhaps a little more, then you do society a favor and off yourself. It is the only humane thing to do. You must think of society.

tdarrington on March 23, 2014 at 4:32 PM

OT – I know there was a thread on this, that the leftist thugs deride military service when righties run for the senate…see Pryor.

Here is the reverse, hypocritical azzes at the NYT

Senator John Walsh, Democrat of Montana, second from left, at a Senate National Guard Caucus breakfast in Washington. He was appointed last month to the seat vacated by Max Baucus and is running for election in November, hoping that his career in uniform remains an asset.

Rightie in uniform = who do they think they are to run for office?

Leftist in uniform = good

NYSlimes, you are the paper which collects bird droppings.

Schadenfreude on March 23, 2014 at 4:32 PM

If all you are capable of doing is something a robot could do, then you don’t deserve an income.

Producing the same output with less resources, is an increase in efficiency. Increases in efficiency result in increases in wealth. And if some of that increase in wealth goes to support people who have no skills beyond that of the robot that replaced them, then so be it.

HugoDrax on March 23, 2014 at 4:36 PM

Schadenfreude on March 23, 2014 at 4:32 PM

You can’t fight progressives by using logic and pointing out hypocrisy. Their arguments are not based in logic. Their words are only meant to sway the low info voters to meet their ends. Low info voters don’t make connections between events.

tdarrington on March 23, 2014 at 4:36 PM

Considering the Swiss humanists gave animals and plants personhood a few years ago, I wouldn’t put it past them for extending that to robots as well. You will get taken to court by your Roomba.

Murphy9 on March 23, 2014 at 4:37 PM

The right needs to learn the art of speaking to low info voters. You can’t inform a low info voter.

tdarrington on March 23, 2014 at 4:38 PM

I’ve read a few articles recently on driverless (robotic) cars and the future of transportation. Most of us won’t own a car, we will hail one from our smart gadget on demand. Don’t want to leave the house … have the car do some shopping and deliver it to your door.

MJBrutus on March 23, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Robot Sales…

Robots can do that as well just as they can sell boats, houses etc.

then, make sure you know a lot about embedded code and embedded OS implementations because those robots are gonna need to be upgraded to new Acme Standard Design.

ExpressoBold on March 23, 2014 at 4:21 PM

Computer-aided design (CAD) already exists and that will become more and more prevalent. Humans will probably be required for some aspects of design, but most coding will likely be done by computer coding programs.

sharrukin on March 23, 2014 at 4:39 PM

HugoDrax on March 23, 2014 at 4:24 PM

I suppose that’s a fair point, but the robot in the picture is a surgical assistant, and that’s asking a lot of a machine. I was thinking more of the robots that do welding on manufacturing lines and other industrial uses. They really do perform a lot of work and ostensibly more reliably than human workers. And of course there’s the Roomba.

Jazz Shaw on March 23, 2014 at 4:40 PM

well, you meet with the committee every 5 to 7 years and explain to them what use you are to society. If you can not prove you put in as much as you take out, perhaps a little more, then you do society a favor and off yourself. It is the only humane thing to do. You must think of society.

tdarrington on March 23, 2014 at 4:32 PM

Or you become a Runner.

sharrukin on March 23, 2014 at 4:41 PM

Robotic Services Union 113 workers shut down their assembly line today to demand that higher grade machine oils and hydraulic fluids be used in their maintenance cycles.

Oxymoron on March 23, 2014 at 4:43 PM

Jazz Shaw on March 23, 2014 at 4:40 PM

Being a sci-fi writer, we must assume Asimov was, in 1964, referring to walking, talking robots, not automated contraptions for welding.

HugoDrax on March 23, 2014 at 4:43 PM

It’s even one of the subjects where Isaac Asimov got it wrong fifty years ago.

“Robots will neither be common nor very good in 2014, but they will be in existence.”

How’d Asimov get that one wrong? They certainly exist, but take a walk down the street. How many robots do you see? What sort of AI do we have?

Stoic Patriot on March 23, 2014 at 4:44 PM

They certainly exist, but take a walk down the street. How many robots do you see? What sort of AI do we have?

Stoic Patriot on March 23, 2014 at 4:44 PM

I’m not sure. I’ve never tried to rip their synthetic skin faces off. Is there a way to tell by looking at them?

tdarrington on March 23, 2014 at 4:46 PM

Thanks to the automatic washer and dryer we don’t have to be subjected to Left Handed Lesbian Lithuanian-American Laundry Worker Month.

I gotta say, I really like the touch screen ordering system at WaWa. Wish more restaurants had them.

Galtian on March 23, 2014 at 4:47 PM

Considering the Swiss humanists gave animals and plants personhood a few years ago, I wouldn’t put it past them for extending that to robots as well. You will get taken to court by your Roomba.

Murphy9 on March 23, 2014 at 4:37 PM

Human abuse of a robot, of even a malfunctioning robot, will be outlawed first in California. I’d bet a fortune on it, if I had one.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on March 23, 2014 at 4:47 PM

tdarrington, indeed.

Schadenfreude on March 23, 2014 at 4:57 PM

Um … don’t we have a teleprompter for President already?

pendell2 on March 23, 2014 at 5:02 PM

We’ve had 5 years of the democrat collective…Borg to be more precise.
It’ll be nice to deal with pleasant, intelligent, flexible robots, instead of the b!tchy, rigid obnoxious dolts we’re stuck with now.

AppraisHer on March 23, 2014 at 5:04 PM

tdarrington, indeed.

Schadenfreude on March 23, 2014 at 4:57 PM

Well, then, maybe it was Mother Gaia’s sweet, ironic revenge. She took down a carbon-spewing monster for altering the climate and changing her delicate oceanic currents. Now it can’t be found because of the changed currents.

tdarrington on March 23, 2014 at 5:08 PM

indeed.

Schadenfreude on March 23, 2014 at 4:57 PM

.
Mother Jones is insane. Mad Cow Disease, senility and cannabis paranoia, combined, I’m sure.

ExpressoBold on March 23, 2014 at 5:16 PM

Sorry Jazz. I am agreeing with Asimov. Robots are not very common in 2014. Sure, multi-million dollar industrial robots build cars, but how many people wander into a Toyota plant on a daily basis?

Highly specialized tasks.. sure, but the guy who drives me from the airport to my hotel is from Pakistan, not Rockwell Automation.

percysunshine on March 23, 2014 at 5:20 PM

Dumb.
Robots don’t “replace workers”, they change the nature of the work. Instead of doing the manual labor, your job becomes making, servicing, or instructing the robots. The same number of people can then produce much more.

Count to 10 on March 23, 2014 at 5:37 PM

then, make sure you know a lot about embedded code and embedded OS implementations because those robots are gonna need to be upgraded to new Acme Standard Design.

ExpressoBold on March 23, 2014 at 4:21 PM

Actual coding is increasing a specialized thing. Expect higher graphical interfaces to replace more and more jobs that currently require coding.

Count to 10 on March 23, 2014 at 5:44 PM

Considering that robots started to show up in the auto assembly line back in the ’70s, the worry about robots is a bit… sigh… overblown.

Yes robots will be taking more jobs and they will also be delivering more consistent service in more remote locations, too.

What happens when you couple the robotic surgeon with the drop of blood to analyze everything wrong with you system, plus a very low level cat scan or mri, all run by software to diagnose everything from hangnails to compound fractures? The Autodoc. Predicted by Larry Niven back in the ’60s. We are on the verge of fundamentally transforming our economy via automation in a way that Progressives detest and fear: it will free up people from the high overhead of manual systems while, at the same time, providing better goods and services for lower cost. It’s called capitalism.

Do you have a dishwasher in your house? A washer and drier? A microwave oven? A personal computer? A cellphone?

Do you miss having to manually wash dishes? Wash and wring dry your clothes. Having to drag out the popcorn popper to make popcorn. Or wait for the operator to get your number for you, as that was one of the first fully automated systems to abolish jobs. How about it? Trade all that in for ‘the good old days’ of late 19th century technology and jobs? How about tons of horse manure in the street? Should we pine away for those days, too?

Here’s the thing: no matter how much we automate or mechanize jobs we keep INVENTING NEW THINGS TO DO.

Amazing!

Its like all this stuff is letting us do more.

What a thought.

Maybe the automated sports writer will finally get box scores right which is STILL a problem to this very day. Wouldn’t that be fun? Take out wondering if the guy doing the reporting got the numbers right…

ajacksonian on March 23, 2014 at 4:22 PM

This.
Especially the part about inventing new things to do.

Count to 10 on March 23, 2014 at 5:46 PM

percysunshine on March 23, 2014 at 5:20 PM

That will change in the not too distant future. As I noted earlier, driverless cars are coming to a city near you :-)

MJBrutus on March 23, 2014 at 6:06 PM

The downside of this complete reliance on computer gadgetry is a fundamental ignorance of what technology is. Smart machines are simply the pumps that deliver the water of knowledge — not knowledge itself

…and the Dems know how to use it

KOOLAID2 on March 23, 2014 at 6:41 PM

The right needs to learn the art of speaking to low info voters.

tdarrington on March 23, 2014 at 4:38 PM

I disagree. I think we need to abolish the “one man, one vote” idea entirely.

LofoVo’s get one vote.
Maybe people who serve in the military get 2 votes.
Maybe a third vote if your marriage lasts 20 years.

All kinds of ways to reward actual behavior that is good for our country with an extra vote. Then perhaps you’d get people who are mature, stable adults who will vote for what is rational outweighing those who vote only their own gratification, and the politicians who pander to them.

Nevil Shute wrote a novel, In The Wet, about this 50 years ago. Like all of Shute’s stuff, quite good.

Pless1foEngrish on March 23, 2014 at 6:45 PM

I for one believe the robot revolution is overrated. All these awesome new toys only work until they break, and they are too expensive to replace or repair, upon which they will be left to gather dust while people are hired back to do the work.

If you think a robot can replace a doctor or nurse, for example, you don’t know what a doctor or a nurse does. I suspect the same is true for pretty much any other professional. If you know more than one language, you know that no Google Translator can hope to automate translation services. If now, to see what I mean, take something you write in English, translate it to a couple of other languages, then translate it back. You will see how limited automated translation is.

I’ve come to suspect that those who believe in the AI and robot revolution base that belief an understanding of intelligence that comes from evolution and blind chance. But intelligence comes from intelligence, and you can’t program a program to feel, dream, or create. They’re awesome at duplicating, but when did a Xerox machine ever invent something new? Someone still has to program it.

JoseQuinones on March 23, 2014 at 7:10 PM

So you do a robot revolution post? Cool.

But you leave out the recent story on the robot strippers in Germany?

WHY JAZZ, WHY?!

German developer Tobit Software brought along its programmable pole dancing robots to liven up its booth at the CeBIT trade fair in Hanover on Monday.

Designed by British artist, Giles Walker, the robot dancers can be controlled with a smartphone app that allows users to change their position and the colour of their internal lighting.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrBG8kIiMC0

No, I can’t explain, justify, or rationalize robot strippers.

I also can’t get that out of my head… be warned!

gekkobear on March 23, 2014 at 7:17 PM

Here’s the thing: no matter how much we automate or mechanize jobs we keep INVENTING NEW THINGS TO DO.

Amazing!

Its like all this stuff is letting us do more.

ajacksonian on March 23, 2014 at 4:22 PM

But are the new things we are inventing for us to do things for which people can be paid for 40 hours of labor per week? If so, why is the employment rate falling?

My opinion is that the amount of labor in society is falling-which is probably a good thing, but society needs to adjust to this by reducing the work week or something. There probably will also be some type of redistribution of the types of work. Somehow society need to adapt to that also.

talkingpoints on March 23, 2014 at 7:28 PM

But are the new things we are inventing for us to do things for which people can be paid for 40 hours of labor per week? If so, why is the employment rate falling?

My opinion is that the amount of labor in society is falling-which is probably a good thing, but society needs to adjust to this by reducing the work week or something. There probably will also be some type of redistribution of the types of work. Somehow society need to adapt to that also.

talkingpoints on March 23, 2014 at 7:28 PM

We have imposed a high cost of overhead for labor in this Nation.

The burdening cost of regulations, mandatory minimum wage, paying for a few Ponzi Schemes like the M&M’s and SSA, plus all the fun OSHA stuff have put in a high overhead employment cost for labor. Add in Obamacare, which penalizes the 40 hour work week… heck it penalizes the 30 hour work week.

Next add in the insane push to put everyone in college. That has burdened those going to college with a high debt burden that they cannot get rid of easily. This delays the start of a family due to that debt burden going first in line for repayment, and that is a cut in real wages so that there is less net takehome pay due to the cost of debt maintenance. There has also been a push to have individuals live on credit which then has a maintenance cost to it which goes up over time, making the goods which were cheap more expensive than just saving up and paying cash on the barrel head.

Combine these two with the destructive set of mores and morals being pushed by the public school system and you have a multi-pronged attack on the good, old fashioned Protestant Work Ethic. You can now get your life subsidized by productive workers while only making marginal pay. Live on credit, purchase a home you can’t afford, take in all the freebies handed out to the ‘poor’ and what you have is a push to live on borrowed time at the low end of life and being unable to actually get work that would begin to pay down debt. Why pay it down when you can marginally maintain it with the help of Uncle Sam and the hard working people of the country?

For all of that, a 2 year degree or an apprenticeship in a trade craft yields a higher return on investment, leaves a low debt burden and allows entry into jobs that do exist and pay well. Become a welder, electrician, carpenter or any of a number of absolutely necessary job categories just to maintain civilization which have slots open in them, and you get your debt paid off quickly and can start a family in the early to mid 20′s. These jobs are not being automated and they have far too many variables for a robot to handle: an electrician trying to figure out the wiring of a house built in the 1920′s with aluminum, paper wrapped wire has a true headache on his hands and you wouldn’t want ANY robot to try and handle the differences in building codes plus what has been done to the place since it was built.

We have raised the floor of wages to the point where it is hitting the ceiling of debt burden. Employers can’t add on jobs due to the high burden being forced on employers by government, save at the very smallest of firms which tend to have a family name with ‘& Sons’ tacked on.

For the US economy to be competitive its labor must be able to compete with places that have low burdening rates. US labor tends to be very efficient and highly productive per hour worked, but when that is burdened as heavily as our multiple levels of government burden it, it is shackled to the point where it can’t compete any more. Toss in a corroded work ethic and dragging personal debt due to college, which has been inflating grade averages so that what you get as an A grade today might have once been a B- or C+ just two decades ago, and you have a work force in serious trouble.

As Jerry Pounelle says: he doesn’t care how much steel the US produces, the sky is the limit, but do we have a workforce that knows how to MAKE STEEL? The Left and Elites look down on blue collar jobs and push everyone to go to college: net result is we are losing the workforce knowledge on how to make steel.

This is part of the attraction of the Tea Party: smaller government means more jobs and a more productive workforce. Stop taxing us to pay for people to be laid off for years on end. It doesn’t help and only rewards laziness. Hunger makes a great incentive for finding productive work. And there is no such thing as ‘a living wage’ but only the hustle to achieve and stay alive. We do no good with unemployment insurance. If you want insurance against being unemployed then pay for it yourself, don’t ask those trying to build a life to pay for the problems of others. If you want to retire, plan on it and don’t expect SSA and the M&M’s to be there or even to HELP when you need them. They are both lies and paid for with money from the working young. We should not be taxing the young to pay for the old who should be wiser and have prepared for their lives via their experience. These programs are an insult to individuals and affront to common sense and they cost way too much to sustain.

Yet, for all of that, we are on the cusp of the final opening of the floodgates. The Left depends on a closed system and dividing up a pie as their meme. It is how they live. Start production in space industries in LEO and the end of the closed system is upon us. You cannot run a high marginal overhead society when a frontier opens, because the moment it does the entire population starts to shift to get away from the high burdened cost of living. That happened with ancient Greece, ancient Rome and 17th to 18th century Great Britain. Sometimes what you leave behind can do well… other times it begins to collapse in upon itself. The Princeton cost/benefit ratios for space exploration still hold, even today, because they were based on old technology. The first group that does the math and gets the backing will begin a transformation unlike any seen in human history, and Marxism gets the vampire treatment. All we have to do is stop the Elites and the governments they run from pulling that down… because I don’t like the idea of any dark age, and if we get one from this then it is a long, long fall from so lofty a perch as our civilization is on.

ajacksonian on March 23, 2014 at 7:55 PM

Now if we can find a robot to scare the Jehovah’s Witnesses off my porch at a reasonable cost, the future will be golden indeed.

You don’t need a robot for that.

Just tell the Jehovah’s Witnesses that come to your door that you are Mormon. They won’t come back.

Conservative Samizdat on March 23, 2014 at 8:26 PM

Somebody has to install, repair, calibrate, upgrade / update, and maintain said robots.

I wish they’d hurry up and take over, my unemployment has run out.

Bah, though my background is perfectly suited for such work, nobody wants to hire an old fart like me.

Oxymoron on March 23, 2014 at 3:40 PM

The thing I always tell people is this:

“If you’re afraid that a robot will take your job in the future… then maybe you should learn how to speak their language.”

Sounds like you took that advice already though.

Where is Bender when you need him? He would do it for beer.

tommytom02 on March 23, 2014 at 3:40 PM

That sounds like a very expensive proposition. Have you SEEN the costs of beer lately?

Chaz706 on March 23, 2014 at 10:27 PM

Moar techno music. It’s what they like, right? Ugh.

Kenosha Kid on March 23, 2014 at 10:42 PM

Now if we can find a robot to scare the Jehovah’s Witnesses off my porch at a reasonable cost, the future will be golden indeed.

You don’t need a robot for that.

Just tell the Jehovah’s Witnesses that come to your door that you are Mormon. They won’t come back.

Conservative Samizdat on March 23, 2014 at 8:26 PM

But what do you tell the Mormons who come to your door?

There Goes the Neighborhood on March 24, 2014 at 12:15 AM

Some suggested names for ROBOTIC THINGS:

MALE ROBOT ESCORT: Pretty Boy ‘Droid.

ROBOT SHERIFF: Tin star.

ROBOT TWINS: Chip mates.

ROBOT WAITER: Gear Garcon.

ROBOTIC ANTELOPE: Watts Gnu.

ROBOTIC BEER DISPENSER: Billy the keg.

ROBOTIC DOG: Rin Tin Tin.

ROBOTIC MEMORY LOSS: Oilsheimers.

ROBOTIC REPAIR SHOP: Metal health clinic.

ROBOTIC STREET SWEEPER: Herbert, the Hoover.

Dr. Charles G. Waugh on March 24, 2014 at 12:30 AM

This article has about as much point as the movie “Artificial Intelligence” had, i.e: None. I’m in high tech and people have been telling me for 40 years that my job was going to disappear to improved technology. Well it hasn’t happened. Artificial intelligence is still only a dream, and google cars still have to have human drives to enter and exit freeways and make other decisions.

The same people spouting this crap are the ones who think climate models actually work.

earlgrey on March 24, 2014 at 3:30 PM

I remember back in the 80s or 90s the prediction that when the fast food minimum wage hit about $8-9 and hour it would start to become economical to replace many on the back line with automation. We already see some of that with automated drink dispensers. Really, how much more would be needed to automate loading at the front and sandwich assembly at the end of the flame grille chains used at Burger King? The burgers don’t have to be flipped. And there are already automated french fry vending machines. In Japan the rage is restaurants with touch pad ordering at the table or counter. Add a beer delivering monkey and voila! a joint that eliminates about 70% of the minimum wage positions. This is all current technology.

ironked on March 24, 2014 at 4:16 PM

Will the “R” word get past the nanny?

The robot revolution already happened, and we lost

Akzed on March 24, 2014 at 4:20 PM

I win!

Akzed on March 24, 2014 at 4:21 PM