Tag: Automation

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Robot Cops Menace the Malls of Silicon Valley



My big problem with public spaces is that there aren’t enough cameras watching Every Single Move I Make. Thankfully, a Silicon Valley startup is correcting this Orwellian oversight by creating a fleet of robot cops that are not at all menacing. (Seriously, guys, couldn’t you have made the eyes glow red?) One look at these real-life Daleks and all I hear is Exterminate! Exterminate!


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Two Charts: Job Automation in Action


“Job polarization” is a wonky term that simply means the US labor market is seeing a decline of middle-skill occupations and growth in high- and low-skill occupations. Jobs are moving toward the extremes of worker skill levels.

Both automation and offshoring seem to be the driving factors. Particularly at risk are jobs that mostly require routine or repetitive tasks. A new St. Louis Fed analysis breaks it down this way: “a) nonroutine cognitive occupations, which include management and professional occupations; b) nonroutine manual occupations, which include service occupations related to assisting or caring for others; c) routine cognitive, which include sales and office occupations; and d) routine manual, which include construction, transportation, production and repair occupations.”


Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Driverless Trucks in Australian Mining. Now What?


013505-robot-trucks-pilbaraThe Financial Times reports that the world’s second-largest mining company, Rio Tinto, has begun incorporating driverless trucks into its fleet. The anointed expert for this article says not to worry:

Dr Boehl said embracing technology could create more interesting jobs while making lower-skilled positions obsolete.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Conservatives Are too Quick to Dismiss the Rise of the Robots


shutterstock_177607106-e1437573570674Much like the suits at Cyberdyne Systems, James Sherk and Lindsey Burke of Heritage do not fear the rise of the robots. From their new paper “Automation and Technology Increase Living Standards”:

Automation reduces both labor costs and prices. Lower prices leave customers with more money to spend elsewhere, increasing the demand for labor elsewhere in the economy. Automation changes where and how people work, but it has not historically reduced the overall need for human employees. Little empirical evidence suggests this time is different. … Businesses do not appear to be automating human tasks at a faster rate than before. If they were, this would increase measured labor productivity growth. This has not happened.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Robopocalypse, Not Yet?


shutterstock_187027727You can believe there’s a Lieutenant Commander Data in our future without also believing he’ll be visiting soon. Economist Robin Hanson agrees with the former speculation, not so much the latter. Hanson thinks “super-robots are likely to arrive eventually” and will “eventually get good enough to take pretty much all jobs.”

Eventually, eventually. But what about right now or pretty soon? What about IBM’s Jeopardy champ WatsonBaxter the flexibly programmable robot, and the Google driverless car? And what about that scary Oxford paper that predicts 47% of US jobs are just a decade or two from being automated away?


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Member Post


I posted last week about automation, and how it won’t take everyone’s job away At least not quickly. But people still lose jobs to robots. More and more low-skill jobs are disappearing because they’re just cheaper to do with a robot. So what do you do if your job is getting replaced by a robot? […]

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Why the Robot Apocalypse Won’t Happen


There has been much discussion on Ricochet and elsewhere about the impending collapse of middle class jobs due to an invasion of robots into the workforce. And to be sure, robots and automation have certainly obsoleted some industries. Telephone operators were laid off by the hundreds of thousands when automated switching equipment became available. Typesetters and rote assembly line workers were handed pink slips, probably printed by a robot.

However, this trend does not scale to the workforce in general. One of the easiest (and usually most incorrect) methods of predicting the future is to play ‘If this goes on…” and extrapolate current trends into the future. If robots have invaded assembly lines and telephone switchboards it’s only a matter of time before they come for all of us, says the conventional wisdom.

Toyota Plant

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Robot Revolution Will Be Delayed


Every so often on Ricochet, I read another thread about automation, the decreasing demand for factory workers and what this bodes for the future. Or about education and training our workforce for tomorrow. Someone on these threads always asks the titular question, although I’ve never seen it put so indelicately: “Your robot factory of the future will need scientists and engineers, but not guys turning wrenches on the assembly line. What about the people who just aren’t that smart? What will they do when their jobs get automated away?”

Well, I walk the concrete for a living and I’m writing this just after my night shift support tech job let out. I’ve got a couple points to make, which the pundits don’t usually cover.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. About ‘The Republican Case Against Republican Economics’


New York Times’ columnist Thomas Edsall uses my recent The Week column, “What Conservatives Don’t Understand About the Modern U.S. Economy,” as a prompt for analysis on how Republican “reformers” are, in his view, “questioning … free-market orthodoxy.”

The subject of my critique was a recent manifesto put forward by top conservative groups after a big meeting in Washington. To me, their agenda reflected little recognition of the major challenges facing today’s economy. As I wrote: