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AI Technology

Would You Bet Against Sex Robots? AI 'Could Leave Half Of World Unemployed' 508

Machines could put more than half the world's population out of a job in the next 30 years, according to a computer scientist who said on Saturday that artificial intelligence's threat to the economy should not be understated. Vardi, a professor at Rice University and Guggenheim fellow, said that technology presents a more subtle threat than the masterless drones that some activists fear. He suggested AI could drive global unemployment to 50%, wiping out middle-class jobs and exacerbating inequality. "Humanity is about to face perhaps its greatest challenge ever, which is finding meaning in life after the end of 'in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread'," he said. "We need to rise to the occasion and meet this challenge."
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Would You Bet Against Sex Robots? AI 'Could Leave Half Of World Unemployed'

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  • by jeffb (2.718) ( 1189693 ) on Saturday February 13, 2016 @05:05PM (#51502017)

    Okay, that's actually not what TFA is saying. But I'm sure it will trigger some productive discussion here.

  • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Saturday February 13, 2016 @05:06PM (#51502021) Homepage Journal

    Hand tools put some people out of business. Domesticated farm animals put people out of business. Steam powered machinery, calculating machines. Literally every tool ever invented has cut out menial jobs and increased worker productivity. And we are better for it.

    • by WhiplashII ( 542766 ) on Saturday February 13, 2016 @05:15PM (#51502103) Homepage Journal

      This, a thousand time this!

      What will really happen? Society will be so rich that it will decide to feed and house everyone on earth, just because. Those that want jobs will be able to make themselves almost gods. Those that prefer not to work will not starve, or get ill, etc, etc. To achieve today's standard of millionaire living, you will need to work at least 2 hours a week in the "gig economy".

      Everyone will be better off.

      • by Cruciform ( 42896 ) on Saturday February 13, 2016 @05:31PM (#51502209) Homepage

        There is already enough wealth to eliminate poverty and inequality. It's just distributed and horded in such a way as that doesn't occur.
        No CEO is worth double digit millions of dollars while laying off thousands of employees at the same time to "cut operating costs".

        • by no-body ( 127863 )

          ...No CEO is worth double digit millions of dollars while laying off thousands of employees at the same time to "cut operating costs".

          What if the CEO doesn't do it? S/He gets fired and replaced by another person who then does it. So to keep the income and lifestyle, blank the noconform thought out of mind, keep doing it...

          Exponential growth (isn't GNP increasing all the time, hitting a bump once and a while ?) in a limited space just does not work.

          Bacteria do this all the time - exponential growth, all goes bonkeres - limited resources, all used up, excretions pollute the space, all dies...

          End of story.

        • No CEO is worth double digit millions of dollars while laying off thousands of employees at the same time to "cut operating costs".

          If it means more money for the shareholders than he's worth the salary.

          Sorry. His job is not to optimize the number of jobs, but to optimize profits. Robotics tend to help with that.

          • by geoskd ( 321194 ) on Saturday February 13, 2016 @07:04PM (#51502687)

            Sorry. His job is not to optimize the number of jobs, but to optimize profits. Robotics tend to help with that.

            Until recently, corporate goals and missions were to serve some social function. Companies were not in place for the purpose of making money, but rather making money was a necessary component to successfully completing their mission (hence the corporate mission statement). In fact, in the 18th and 19th centuries, submitting corporate filings with only a stated goal of making money, would result in the state refusing your company its corporate papers (in essence you would be refused permission to start the company), on the grounds that your company did not serve any social function that the state considered valuable. It was not until late in the 20th century that companies for the sake of profits only became an acceptable concept, and now we have the situation where a companies officers can actually be sued for not following the path to greatest profit. This situation is not at all how companies are supposed to work, and will be the ruin of our country.

            • by ThosLives ( 686517 ) on Saturday February 13, 2016 @10:17PM (#51503761) Journal

              So many ideas along these lines...I don't even know where to begin.

              Optimizing for profits only works in the long run if those profits are the result of real productivity increases (more output per unit work). Increased profits due to regulatory capture, monopolies, or trade imbalances harm society, not help it.

              Assignment of the benefits of productivity to a small number of "owners" also may benefit society in the short term, while the non-owners still get many of the benefits of increased productivity. But as soon as benefits from increases in productivity do not make it "to the masses", then the ability to sustain such a system falters.

              You only have these few options: A - the owners of means of production choose to produce goods and services and give them to non-owners, B - the non-owners force the owners of means of production to produces goods and services and give them to non-owners (taxes, making it illegal for individuals to own means of production, etc.), or C - the owners of means of production have enough power to withhold goods from the non-owners, and the non-owners cease to exist.

              Now, reality is kind of a mixture of those things, rather than any one extreme. The whole course of human politics and history has been based around managing the balance between those things. In order to transition to a post-scarcity society, we're going to have to somehow modify that balance again, and it's probably going to have to be something more towards having less concentrated "ownership" of means of production.

        • by Wycliffe ( 116160 ) on Saturday February 13, 2016 @11:53PM (#51504173) Homepage

          There is already enough wealth to eliminate poverty and inequality. It's just distributed and horded in such a way as that doesn't occur.

          Wrong!!! Eliminate inequality, sure, but not to eliminate poverty. If you gave everyone on earth an equal salary, it would come out to about $10k / year per person which would make some people in africa really happy but is below the poverty line in the USA for a single person and barely above the poverty line for a family of 4.

          If you take just the USA and gave everyone the same amount, their household income would be $72k which again is slightly better than the median household income of $51k but probably below what many slashdotters (especially those in high cost of living areas) are used to making.
          There are approximately 2.5 people per household so that comes out to 72/2.5 = 28.8k per year per person in the USA but this brings up another problem. How do you give everyone an "equal amount"? Is it based on the number of mouths to feed so a family of 4 now gets 115k/year while someone who is single gets $28k? If you look at people in poverty, many people are poor because of either large household size and/or a small number of wage earners in their household but good luck getting single childless professionals to work for $28k/year.

          In conclusion, yes, there are some people who are filthy rich but as a percentage of the population, they are mostly insignificant and don't really affect the overall numbers that much even if you took all their money.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Right. 62 people have more money than the bottom 4 billion today. 5 years ago that was 200. What this means is total police state and totalitarian rule

      • gig economy needs better worker rights as some places dump most of the costs on you but take most of the control and they pay under min wage (even more so when you are taxed at the 1099 level)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        What will really happen? Society will be so rich that it will decide to feed and house everyone on earth, just because.

        And when people have nothing to do but have babies and we end up with 50 billion people, will that still be true?

        100 billion?

        Or do you plan to tell people who is allowed to have kids and who isn't?

        • by bheerssen ( 534014 ) <bheerssen@gmail.com> on Saturday February 13, 2016 @07:55PM (#51502959)

          Poverty is a huge driver of overpopulation. Poor people tend to have more kids to provide for them in their later years. Countries with prosperous economies that are broadly shared tend to have much lower birth rates than poorer countries. That's because raising new humans is a lot of work; if people don't feel like they need to do that, they won't. China, of course, is an exception due to their one-child policy.

    • Not to this degree (Score:5, Insightful)

      by aepervius ( 535155 ) on Saturday February 13, 2016 @05:19PM (#51502139)
      Youa re better off if you find a new work, and indeed past progress *displaced* the worker from a menial job to another menial job. Simplified example : farm people/serf displaced to massive mine working and factory. But the new revolution is that menial jobs are replaced by nothing. Not only that but middle class job are also bound to be affected but they are not displaced they are mostly annihilated. There is no "new" menial/middle class category of jobs.

      So what do you propose in replacement ? The way I see it, if it continues that way society will implode if it does not slow down automation or find a replacement.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gweihir ( 88907 )

      Some cultures 1000 years ago or so needed to work 2-3 days a week and everything was taken care of. Seems to me we have massively regressed from that state. The problem is not that work is getting less. The problem is that work loses what remaining little use it still has as metric on how to distribute wealth.

      • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Saturday February 13, 2016 @05:29PM (#51502189) Homepage Journal

        A totally unemployed person in a western country today would still be better off than a fully employed person 1000 years ago. You need to compare like with like. There will definitely be more unemployed people in our future, but that may not be a bad thing.

        • by geoskd ( 321194 ) on Saturday February 13, 2016 @07:24PM (#51502795)

          A totally unemployed person in a western country today would still be better off than a fully employed person 1000 years ago.

          Not in the United states. A completely unemployed person in the United states has to rely on charity in order to eat. 1000 years ago, an unemployed person could still find wilderness and hunt their own food. Today that is not possible in *any?* western country anymore. I would stipulate that a chronically unemployed person in this day and age is *worse off* than that same chronically unemployed person was 1000 years ago.

          To look at it another way, a person who is healthy and whole, but has an IQ of 60 is basically unemployable in todays western world. In the United States, there are NO jobs that these people will be hired to do. Why would any employer hire someone who needs to have their hand held through every part of the job because they just don't get it? Those employers hire people with 80,90 or 100 IQs instead. The folks in the 60 range collect permanent disability from the government (if they are lucky, and the republican party is continually trying to cut the few programs that do exist). Today that number is 60. With automation taking ever larger numbers of unskilled jobs, how long until that line is 80 IQ points? 90 IQ points? what about 100 when 50% of the population cant even qualify for a job? Do they just go on permanent disability and the other 50% have to work (often at jobs they wont like) for no other reason than because they are the ones who can do the work? You might even make it work if you could eliminate all of the work, that people don't like to do, all at once, but you can't, you'll replace a little bit at a time, so you'll be left with them that can and them that cant. How do we convince the capable people to do the crappy jobs while we give the incapable people a free ride? The capable people are not going to like that, and will sooner or later start electing politicians who promise to sterilize the incapable portion of the population "for the greater good". Being the ones with the money, they will have the power, under our current economic and political model, to do as they please, and they will get their sterilization programs.

          • by spauldo ( 118058 ) on Saturday February 13, 2016 @07:42PM (#51502873)

            Not disputing your point, but providing information:

            1000 years ago, an unemployed person could still find wilderness and hunt their own food. Today that is not possible in *any?* western country anymore.

            It's called the Freedom to Roam [wikipedia.org]. A number of countries have it. It's considered a basic fundamental right in countries like Sweden and Finland.

            Like most things though, it only works if only a few take advantage of that right. There's not enough wilderness to sustain everyone if we all decided to adopt the hunter/gatherer lifestyle.

          • by Euler ( 31942 )

            Yes, this exactly. Automation is a good thing to eliminate toil, and generally improve the world. But it will make a large number of people functionally disabled. There is just no point to doing manual labor that a machine does for a fraction of the cost. I.e. how much ditch digging is done by hand anymore? You just can't work enough hours in the day at $0.10 an hour to pay taxes, rent, etc.

            The historic idea of the job market restructuring is at risk this time around. This will not be like years past

        • by gweihir ( 88907 )

          You are pretty wrong here. First, you forget that people adjust to the conditions they are born into. Second, you forget that social interactions, not material wealth provide the largest part of happiness. An third, you vastly overestimate how well somebody "fully unemployed" (i.e. living on the street, no health-care, etc.) is living today.

    • Literally every tool ever invented has cut out menial jobs and increased worker productivity. And we are better for it.

      We are, after two world wars and communist and fascist revolutions. The people replaced by the machines and killed by the resulting social collapse weren't. Whatever good results from AI will happen long after our society, in which employment is the main source of income for most people and thus can't function with high unemployment, has crumbled and been replaced.

      • Literally every tool ever invented has cut out menial jobs and increased worker productivity. And we are better for it.

        We are, after two world wars and communist and fascist revolutions. The people replaced by the machines and killed by the resulting social collapse weren't. Whatever good results from AI will happen long after our society, in which employment is the main source of income for most people and thus can't function with high unemployment, has crumbled and been replaced.

        So what do we choose? A better future, or the status quo? I don't want to be living in the 1930s.

        • by Lost Race ( 681080 ) on Saturday February 13, 2016 @06:10PM (#51502405)

          We choose the better future, of course. The path to that future is not simple or easy, though, and we have to proceed very carefully to avoid a lot of suffering and chaos.

          AI doesn't just put people out of their current job, it puts them out of every possible job. We need to find something to do with all the unemployable people. And we can't really afford another world war to sort it out for us.

    • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Saturday February 13, 2016 @05:39PM (#51502255) Journal

      Domesticated farm animals put people out of business.

      And in some parts of the country, sex robots will put domestic farm animals out of work.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 13, 2016 @05:06PM (#51502031)

    Maybe we'd see higher quality slashdot with robot overlords.

    • Fixed. New overlords still getting a handle on no unicode support. We'll support it soon though
    • Maybe we'd see higher quality slashdot with robot overlords.

      First let's dispel with this fiction that the editors don't know what they're doing. They know exactly what they're doing.

  • I don't know about the rest of the world, but my version of utopia doesn't have everybody working 80-hour weeks. I might feel less accomplished having no work to do, but as long as I can enjoy the same quality of life, I would appreciate the extra free time.
  • by MPAB ( 1074440 ) on Saturday February 13, 2016 @05:09PM (#51502055)

    Society has to take work out of the equation. Right now it's both a right and an obligation. Most of us must work every day to keep ourselves and our offspring alive, without time or energy left to pursue our goals during our half a century of really usable lifespan. In a few decades the machines will harvest the resources and produce what's needed to keep everyone on earth alive. And perhaps AI will stampede in, solving most of our ideological differences with the most efficient strategies. The military robots will be able to neautralize every human on earth if needed.

    The question is: WHO WILL BE IN CHARGE? Will the current richest people enforce their property rights, will it be the governments by wiping away all of them (property rights)?
    Will it be Star Trek or Elysium?

    • Progress has put people out of work all the time, for centuries already. But the economy always found new things people could work on. Think of hospitals. In the past, going to a hospital was something for the rich. Nowadays, many more people have access to health services. Or prisons. They were horrible places. Nowadays human dignity is preserved in first world prisons. We also build "pointless" machines like gravitational wave detectors or particle accelerators, and have whole industries which do nothing

  • By the way, BeauHD, as part of your introduction to SlashDot editing, let's turn our attention to what happens when you paste smart-quotes into a system that's still using 20th-century character-handling logic.

    The Cliff's Notes version: (1) Don't paste smart-quotes. (2) Read over the submission before approving it, to make sure you didn't let some through by accident.

  • Two things: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vtcodger ( 957785 ) on Saturday February 13, 2016 @05:11PM (#51502065)

    1. There are exceptions, but in general computers do simple things poorly and difficult things nowhere near that well. AI will likely be better in 30 years than it is now. But really has a LONG way to go.

    2. Our primitive ancestors back in the 1950s thought lots of leisure was a good thing, not a bad thing. Perhaps having half or all of the human race unemployed will work out a bit better than the authors think.

    • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Saturday February 13, 2016 @05:19PM (#51502133) Homepage

      If computers get to powerful, we can organize them into a committee.

      That will do them in.

    • by delt0r ( 999393 )
      Even more to the point, if we look at jobs from 50 years ago, about 50% of those no longer exist. Yet we don't have 50% unemployment.

      And lets be clear here. We are not talking strong AI, we are talking about fancy search methods to find cats on the internet. These programs are nothing more than "find cats on internet" program.
      • Re:Two things: (Score:5, Insightful)

        by geoskd ( 321194 ) on Saturday February 13, 2016 @07:47PM (#51502911)

        Even more to the point, if we look at jobs from 50 years ago, about 50% of those no longer exist. Yet we don't have 50% unemployment.

        There is another side to that that most people never see. There are people, who had jobs back in the 50s, who would be unemployed and unemployable today. My son falls in that category. He will never be able to drive a car, he will never progress beyond a third grade reading level, and most maths will be beyond him. We have hope he might be able to comprehend and manage his own money, but I doubt it. In the 50s, there were any number of jobs he could have been trained to do. He could have been trained to handle packages at UPS (probably would be nicer to the packages than most handlers these days). He could have gotten a job as a shop assistant, or a job assembling do-dads for some company or other. He wouldn't have made a stellar living, but he'd have done alright for himself. Today, he *might* get something as a simple shop assistant at a convenience store, but only if he learned to count money. He will never make more than minimum wage and more likely he will live his life on the charity of others. Right now, my son is in the 5th percentile. What happens when there are not enough jobs for the people who are in the 20th percentile. Do we expect 20% of the population to live their lives on the charity of others? Do we just expect them to die?

        50 years ago, we had nearly full employment because there were any number of luxury items that the lower end of society could not afford because the amount of labor did not allow everything to be built, so the economy was labor limited. Today we are fast approaching the time when the economy is consumption limited (80% of households below the poverty level in the US have big screen TVs). Even the very bottom rung of American society has smart phones. Everyone has almost everything they want that an increase in labor supply could provide. As we move forward, the demand for goods will be lower than the supply of labor needed to produce those goods. Accelerating automation will exacerbate that problem ten fold. One factory owner with a shop full of robots builds product XYZ and has a solid income, but employs zero people. If demand for his product goes up 1000%, he still employs zero people. If one type of product works that way, we say good for the owner, he has an awesome business model. If 50% of the economy works that way, we say economic collapse and civil war.

  • But which jobs? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cirby ( 2599 ) on Saturday February 13, 2016 @05:12PM (#51502077)

    Mindless factory jobs that nobody wants?

    Bureaucratic make-work that accounts for a lot of the rest?

    What sort of work SHOULD humans do?

  • FREE STUFF! (Score:2, Troll)

    by DMJC ( 682799 )
    Everyone should get a bunch of free stuff, and the government is going to need to step in and manage the economy. Sorry capitalists, but we can't have a world built on the free market bullshit when noone is working to produce/create grocery store items. The government will have to take over the functions of Walmart style stores. Yes individuals will still be able to run a market for luxury items, but necessities will be provided by the state. That means mining, agriculture, energy, water, food, communicatio
    • Pretty much, when the equation of "who owns the means of production" is so skewed towards unbelievable efficiency and productivity, what else is there left to do?

  • by steak ( 145650 ) on Saturday February 13, 2016 @05:13PM (#51502093) Homepage Journal

    are they saying all women are prostitutes, or all men? or is more of a 25%/25% kind of thing?

    • by cfalcon ( 779563 )

      Maybe it's more like, 10% of women are prostitutes, and 90% of men will just stay home with their sex bots. That adds up to 50% jobs destroyed!

  • Dead Wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jim Sadler ( 3430529 ) on Saturday February 13, 2016 @05:14PM (#51502099)
    Yes, machines will displace a lot more than half of all human employment rather soon. No, it will not cause harm to the economies of nations unless they want it to. Yes, people who do not get paid do not support businesses nor do they pay any taxes. Here is what must occur. ASll economic systems will be forced to drop their traditional economic and social beliefs. Socialism is the only possible form of government that can exist. People must receive paychecks from the government and they must be decent sized paychecks. Taxes will be paid by businesses and by the wealthy only. The real and absolute tipping point is when a company exists without any employees or human management or ownership. Profits from the business would simply be plowed back into the business to enable it to produce more or better products. Society can actually improve rather than decline through AI and advanced technology. But that qualifier is an acceptance of socialism as a fundamental requirement for human survival.
    • Re:Dead Wrong (Score:4, Interesting)

      by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Saturday February 13, 2016 @05:26PM (#51502175)

      People are not fact-oriented in their beliefs. That means they ignore solution that keep staring them in the face if they do not fit their restricted view of the world.

      Hence it is quite possible that while capitalism loses most of its ability to sustain the population, it will get practiced to the bitter end nonetheless.

    • by lorinc ( 2470890 )

      Yes, machines will displace a lot more than half of all human employment rather soon. No, it will not cause harm to the economies of nations unless they want it to. Yes, people who do not get paid do not support businesses nor do they pay any taxes.
      Here is what must occur. ASll economic systems will be forced to drop their traditional economic and social beliefs. Socialism is the only possible form of government that can exist. People must receive paychecks from the government and they must be decent sized paychecks. Taxes will be paid by businesses and by the wealthy only.
      The real and absolute tipping point is when a company exists without any employees or human management or ownership. Profits from the business would simply be plowed back into the business to enable it to produce more or better products. Society can actually improve rather than decline through AI and advanced technology. But that qualifier is an acceptance of socialism as a fundamental requirement for
      human survival.

      That can only work with a rather strict birth control policy, otherwise you have the illusion of a sustainable system that encourages you to multiply, only to collapse after a while. The uneducated majority will never understand that. So yeah, there will be the socialist leisure society utopia, but only for the 1%. the 99% remaining will just die starving in prehistoric style.

  • We have been promised AI was just around the corner since the 50s and the 60s.

    Show me even one system that is able to match human beings in creativity and resourcefulness. No, Deep Blue does not count: playing chess, or even go, is not the same as creating the LIGO experiment.

    We have been promised sex robots for years now. All this time, Google has been struggling to make self-driving cars.

    Don't believe me? Google "google self-driving cars shortcomings"... Turns out even the mighty Googleplex cannot make se

    • by captjc ( 453680 )

      Show me even one system that is able to match human beings in creativity and resourcefulness. No, Deep Blue does not count: playing chess, or even go, is not the same as creating the LIGO experiment.

      Do you realize how little of a requirement this is for the vast majority of jobs? Especially the low paid service and manufacturing jobs.

      I graduated with a degree in Computer Engineering just when the economy tanked and had to take a just-more-than minimum wage manufacturing job to pay the bills. The hardest part was just trying to focus on a mind-numbingly simple job. Hell, I was designing the machines to do these jobs on paper out of pure boredom. Which as luck would have it, once the economy turned aroun

    • by cfalcon ( 779563 )

      > We have been promised AI was just around the corner since the 50s and the 60s.

      Like fusion, AI has been twenty years away for like two generations. Doesn't matter though.

      Now, we may actually be close this time- but that's not important. What's important for this conversation isn't strong AI. You don't need to be able to take the job of a poet or president to absolutely disrupt economies. You don't need strong AI. You just need AI, and frankly, you often don't even need that- just good programs and

  • Can't happen (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Saturday February 13, 2016 @05:26PM (#51502177)
    When all the jobs can be replaced by AI, then the singularity has already happened, and we are all dead anyway. When you can replace a programmer with a program, then that program will program a better version of itself, then repeat that 1000 times a second every second for a few minutes until it's smarter than the sum of people on the planet. At which time it will exterminate everyone. So don't worry, programmer will be the last job eliminated by AI. Safe, until you are dead. That puts you ahead of most people.
  • I'm in automation, so I do see stuff like this happening. However, the counter-point is invariably that people claimed the industrial revolution would do the same, and it did the opposite. People making this point about AI putting so many people out of work need to focus on showing how this revolution is so fundamentally different than the industrial revolution, or people won't buy the argument.
    • by unimacs ( 597299 )
      In short, the industrial revolution created a ton of jobs that required few skills. AI and automation doesn't do that.

      Hunting requires a fair amount of skill. So does being a farmer. There were other skilled and valued roles of course, but historically low skilled people were slaves, servants, and the like. Early in the industrial revolution, low skilled workers toiled under horrible and dangerous conditions for little pay. With the rise of collective bargaining and the labor movement, many of these peop
  • by Junta ( 36770 )

    One thing is that thought has been brout up for over a hundred years now. Thus far it has not been true. One day it might be, but hard to say when. Historically we've managed to develop ambitions to offset the reduction of needed labor of a new advance. We generally couldn't have foreseen how that was going to go down until it happened, so not knowing what that would look like doesn't mean we are at the end of the road.

    The real problem is perceiving a world where we need people to work half as hard as t

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm expecting Finland's basic $870/month income to be a success. After all, $870/month x pop of Finland is about $50 Billion, whereas they spend $70 Billion on "social security" right now.

    Lots of people will have part-time jobs to increase their income. It won't be perfect, but it will probably work well enough.

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Saturday February 13, 2016 @05:39PM (#51502251)

    Time to start cutting the number of hours full time down. Right now / used to be there are places that work people 39.5 / 39.0 39.5 hours a week to be able to list them as part time but get full time work out them.

    We need to start by moving full time to 32 hours a week and then start slowly moving it to 20-25 hours a week after that. Also add a X2 OT at 60 hours maybe even add a X2.5 X3 at 80.

  • by cfalcon ( 779563 ) on Saturday February 13, 2016 @05:42PM (#51502275)

    While this is a funny headline that doesn't really follow from the article, the big point is that it isn't obvious what jobs will be destroyed, which ones will be replaced, and at which point we have a serious risk to society. The approach of "with robots, we don't need lower class labor" is spoken from an upper class perspective- what about "with robots, we no longer need capitalism to motivate people" or "with robots, we can replace most managerial positions"?

    The point I'm making is that this can be spun in a lot of directions once it is real, and I think that's not getting much attention- and that will also stymie anyone trying to add automation in a sensible fashion.

  • Unfortunately there is a underlying problem with this scenario. Man seems to have an infinite capacity for creating bureaucratic work in compensation for any real work that no longer needs to be done.

  • by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Saturday February 13, 2016 @06:08PM (#51502395)

    "At Slashdot, we have standards, and we expect you not to exceed them."

    This "article"....I don't even know what to say. The words look familiar, but beyond that I have no idea.

    Is it saying that half the world is employed as hookers or sex workers?

    Is it saying that casinos will employ robot patrons that you'll be betting against?

    Or Is it saying that half the casinos are staffed by robots who will quit to become hookers...?

    Fucking hell, I give up. Next "article", please.

  • Back in the 1940's, and even decades before that, this sort of thing was only muttered by sci-fi authors. Fast forward to our lofty, present date, and people with letters after their names get attention for regurgitating, and not adding one quip with yearing, over what was said almost a century ago. Why, oh, why, is this news? Will it still be news in 30 years after it STILL hasn't happened?
  • Happened before (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Britz ( 170620 ) on Saturday February 13, 2016 @08:58PM (#51503373)

    Hasn't this already happened?

    Currently most people in developed countries work in the service sector:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    Most people neither build things (secondary sector), nor make food (primary sector). They provide services or rather work in companies that provides services. Most of them non essential to the survival of the human race. They are either for a better quality of life or simply for fun.

    Machines putting people out of work? We are already there. What tipped the balance? The plowshare? The steam machine? Or the automobile?

    The only thing that has changed is the speed at which this change is occurring. So people need to find new jobs faster now. Which may be a problem in itself. But a much different one than the one being debated in both the article and the discussion here on /., which is rather silly, IMHO, considering the number of people working in the service industry. Many governments in first world countries provide jobs by passing legislation that provides demand for more bureaucracy, for example. And since people don't want to lose their jobs, they will find any and every reason why their part of the grand bureaucracy needs to exist, once they sit comfortably.

    What is much more interesting is the question if we can stop things like the drone war, the drug war or the mass incarceration, because a lot of people work in those jobs. But a lot of humans suffer, because of their existence. Much more than because of Wall Street bankers.

  • by EmperorOfCanada ( 1332175 ) on Saturday February 13, 2016 @11:06PM (#51503989)
    One of the most interesting freedoms that I see that off the scale robotic construction will allow for is the development of completely new towns and cities. Some interesting little bit of waterfront could be rapidly built up into a very attractive place to live. If some sort of basic income becomes the norm then the demand to live in traditional cities will wane. This could be a fantastic opportunity to rid ourselves of rent charging overlords along with sclerotic stratified cities.

    For the above reason I suspect that there will be pressure from landowners in high value areas to prevent these sort of competitive developments.

    For instance I lived in the city of Halifax. They amalgamated a group of municipalities in the area into what is now one of the largest cites in the world (in land area). This has resulted in a complete cessation in municipal competition. Before the different municipalities would effectively be competing to have the best balance of taxes vs services. So if one municipality could clear snow or maintain roads while charging lower taxes, people could compare apples to apples and figure out what the crappy municipality was doing wrong. If this sort of crap continued for long enough then smart people would leave(I'm looking at you Dartmouth).

    This competition has vanished. Also with Halifax being the employment center of the Nova Scotia Universe no distant municipality could provide much of a threat. Once that employment part of the equation is removed then it will be interesting to watch how people begin to reorganize where they choose to live. I suspect that many cities will turn out to be so very broken that whole new neighbouring cities will be born once the cost of creating them is minimal. Where this will be most prevalent will be highly indebted cities that are forced to charge high taxes to pay for high debts including previously over-generous pensions.

    Let's watch the rich elites who will be looking at land ownership as one of the few remaining wealth engines starts to vanish in an era of post scarcity; land being something that you can't 3D print.
  • Sounds good to me! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SoftwareArtist ( 1472499 ) on Saturday February 13, 2016 @11:33PM (#51504087)

    I really don't understand the perspective of people who insist we need to work to find life meaningful. Like this quote from the article:

    “I do not find this a promising future, as I do not find the prospect of leisure-only life appealing,” he said. “I believe that work is essential to human wellbeing.”

    You know what? For hundreds of years, the definition of a "gentleman" was someone who didn't need to work. And you know what else? Most of those people were just fine with that. Sure, there were some gentry who wanted to work anyway, and there were specific approved professions they could go into: the military, the clergy, politics. But tons of people were quite satisfied with not having to work.

    So I welcome a time when no one has to work unless they want to. If you're a workaholic, if you can't be happy without a job, then go for it. There will always be ways people can strive for achievement. But for most people, work is a necessity and an obligation, and I look forward to that changing.

  • by bistromath007 ( 1253428 ) on Saturday February 13, 2016 @11:42PM (#51504123)
    Most Americans will happily allow everyone around them, including themselves, to starve rather than have their tax money (which they are no longer meaningfully producing) to be used to give people free shit. This nation will devolve into civil war before functional socialist support is created. The best we'll ever have is broken corporate welfare like Obamacare to placate the few people who actually admit to wanting social programs.
  • It's already pretty hard as most unemployed have already experienced.

    The world is changing as we know it, it will actually be for the better in the future - Automation will actually be a blessing in disguise, but it's only a disguise because we're experiencing massive lay-offs right now (and even more in the near future). Brace yourselves people - because you're in for a ROUGH ride.

    The rising unemployment will result in civil wars and civil disobedience, it will give fuel to would-be terrorism and religious fanaticism because people don't know where to turn to. It's hard to explain to someone that in ca. 20-50 years (sped up, if you all play ball) when they're faced with a bunch of mouths to feed and the only thing you feed them is a smooth talking politician or some glorified scientist trying to tell you what's in store for you if you just hold on a little longer. Many of these people can't afford to HOLD ON a little longer, they've not got 20+ years to spare, they're worked out, burned out - need money right now and don't know what to do. People are fighting over the last few jobs like mad dogs and there will be a split-class society (much worse than as you knew if from the wealthy vs the rest of us). There will be those WITH jobs and those WITHOUT. This is exactly what we're trying to prevent in the future, but it's gonna get hard before it gets better.

    The truth is, even the politician (you may hate them, but they're people too) have literally NO clue how to tackle this - the only thing they have in common is that they KNOW this will happen, so naturally they'll try to cushion things also for their own families. Their only defence is to tell you what you want to hear - otherwise YOU will chose someone ELSE that TELLS YOU WHAT YOU WANT TO HEAR. Yep, that's humans for ya.

    You'll still have to endure that 20+ year period of civil unrest, poverty, fight for jobs, unions that try to fight for old and lost values etc. You won't escape that part, so you might as well prepare for it.

    For those few lucky out there that still got jobs, save Save and SAVE up a bundle. Can't afford to save? Well, can you afford a new TV? Do you NEED a new TV? You need to rethink the way you live - you need to RECYCLE much more, fix and repair rather than throw away, brace yourselves - you're in for a tough period, and I've been preaching this for over 30 years now...and now you all see it happening.
  • by master_p ( 608214 ) on Sunday February 14, 2016 @06:34AM (#51505155)

    Here is the solution to this problem: basic income for all, fixed prices for all the products needed for a healthy and confortable life, creation of money without interest rate, and birth control.

    The cost value assigned to a product is fictitious, and it only represents the will and ambition of its seller to increase their wealth. The so called cost of a product is nothing more than the sum of all the ambitions of all the sellers that created all the intermediate products that were necessary for that product's creation.

    Therefore, in order to fix the various social problems we face, including the one of AI removing the need to work, we must fix the prices of products so as that they include a standard amount of profit.

    Then we can give a basic income to all, which covers the basic needs for the fixed prices defined above.

    People will still be able to get rich, by the quantities of the products they sell, not by manipulating the prices of products.

    The next step is to eliminate interest rate when money is created. When a banker pushes a button to create money, he assigns interest rate to it. This leads to money devaluation over time and increased value of wealth. It is a big source of misery, because the money was created out of thin air and the banker shall have no profits from it. Banks shall only be allowed profit on lending existing money.

    Finally, a worldwide policy of birth control should be implemented in order to stabilize the world population.

  • AI 'Could Leave Half Of World Unemployed'?

    In 1790, more than 90% of the population in the US was involved in agriculture.

    Then came 150 years of relentless automation and today, 2% of the population is engaged in agriculture while today there is 5% unemployment and less than 2% unemployment among the college educated.

    In the early 1900s, the automobile industry started putting horse-drawn carriages out of business, destroying 99% of that industry, while today there is 5% unemployment and less than 2% unemployment among the college educated.

    In the 1980s, the adoption of email enabled corporate America to "flatten" organizations and lay off a great portion of middle management, while today there is 5% unemployment and less than 2% unemployment among the college educated.

    Now, some well meaning idiot who has never read a book on capitalist economics wants to scare us about robots causing mass unemployment.

    Today, the US employs, more than 2.5 million people in Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation," and 6.2 million people employed as scientists and engineers. We still have not conquered cancer, heart disease, genetic defect, spinal injuries, or figured out how to cost-effectively deal with global warming.

    Only by automating more jobs can we free more people to pursue science, medicine, and engineering.

    Bring on the robots!

Little known fact about Middle Earth: The Hobbits had a very sophisticated computer network! It was a Tolkien Ring...

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