AI News, Will robots take our children's jobs?
Will robots take our children's jobs?
A startup called Arterys, to cite just one example, already has a programmeme that can perform an MRI analysis of blood flow through a heart in just 15 seconds, compared with the 45 minutes required by humans.
Last year, a prototype robotic surgeon called Star(Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot) outperformed human surgeons in a test in which both had to repair the severed intestine of a live pig.
Software programmemes are already being used by companies including JPMorgan Chase andCoto scan legal papers and predict what documents are relevant, saving lots of billable hours.
The Associated Press already has used a software programmeme from a company called Automated Insights to churn out passable copy covering Wall Street earnings and some college sports, and last year awarded the bots the minor league baseball beat.
I hardly count that as surprising, given that pilots of commercial Boeing 777s, according to one 2015 survey, only spend seven minutes during an average flight actually flying the thing.
Big banks are using software programmes that can suggest bets, construct hedges and act as robo-economists, using natural language processing to parse central-bank commentary to predict monetary policy, according to Bloomberg.
BlackRock, the biggest fund company in the world, made waves earlier this year when it announced it was replacing some highly paid human stock pickers with computer algorithms.
A much-quoted 2013 study by the University of Oxford Department of Engineering Science –surely the most sober of institutions –estimated that 47 per cent of current jobs, including insurance underwriter, sports referee and loan officer, are at risk of falling victim to automation, perhaps within a decade or two.
the company recently announced plans to buy 24,000 Volvo sport utility vehicles to roll out as a driverless fleet between 2019 and 2021.
Indeed, the world’s armies arein such an arms race developing grunt-bots that one British intelligence expert predicted that USforces will have more robot soldiers than humans by 2025.
That is the term that futurists use to describe a potentially cataclysmic point at which machine intelligence catches up to human intelligence, and likely blows right past it.
But it created millions of jobs to replace them, not just for Detroit assembly line workers, but for suburban homebuilders, Big Mac flippers and actors performing “Greased Lightning” in touring revivals of Grease.That is the process of creative destruction in a nutshell.
And yet a computer was able to prove that it can beat anyone in the world.” Looking for a silver lining, I spent an afternoon watching TED Talks with catchy titles like “Are Droids Taking Our Jobs?” In one, Albert Wenger, an influential tech investor, promoted the basic income guarantee concept.
Also known as universal basic income, this sunny concept holds that a robot-driven economy may someday produce an unlimited bounty of cool stuff while simultaneously releasing us from the drudgery of old-fashioned labour, leaving our government-funded children to enjoy bountiful lives of leisure as interpretive dancers or practitioners of bee-sting therapy, as touted by Gwyneth Paltrow.
The computers simply freed the humans from mind-numbing work like counting out $20 bills to focus on more cognitively demanding tasks like “forging relationships with customers, solving problems and introducing them to new products like credit cards, loans and investments”, he said.
“However, I’m going to be really surprised when there is a digital lyricist out there, somebody who can put words to that music that will actually resonate with people and make them think something about the human condition.” Not everyone, of course, is cut out to be a cyborg-Springsteen.
Welcoming Our New Robot Overlords
As plants have closed, displaced employees have sought work in fast-food restaurants or in big-box retail stores, where the pay and the benefits are substantially less attractive.
a New York-based firm has introduced a laser-guided system that can lay eight hundred to twelve hundred bricks a day, more than twice as many as an average mason.
Workers still do the “picking” in a warehouse, using their dexterous fingers and discerning brains to take soap and coffee and tubes of toothpaste and millions of other products off the shelves and put them into boxes to fulfill the online shopping orders that make up an increasing portion of consumers’ buying patterns.
In 2012, Amazon spent almost eight hundred million dollars to buy a robotics company called Kiva, which makes robots that can zoom around a factory floor and move tall stacks of shelves of up to seven hundred and fifty pounds in weight.
When, in June, it announced plans to buy the Whole Foods supermarket chain, speculation quickly spread that the company intended to automate the grocer’s food-distribution centers as well as its stores.
A privately held company based in an industrial park outside Boston, it sells fully automated warehouse systems to large retail chains, and the new warehouses resemble the old ones about as much as a Tesla resembles a Model T.
The company’s twenty-thousand-square-foot test center is a giant cube of interlocking green, yellow, and white steel shelving, tracks, and cages that extend from the floor almost to the ceiling.
Robotic arms unpack pallets of tomato sauce, salsa, toilet paper, and soda, and place them on a blue conveyor belt, where they are carried deep into the storage cage.
A fleet of little green robots that look like race cars in a Pixar film come to life and zoom inside the cage on dedicated tracks, emitting high-pitched whirring sounds.
The robots don’t need light to operate, so the warehouse could use, Gahagan estimated, thirty-five per cent less energy than a conventional one, while reducing labor costs by eighty per cent.
The most important human job at a Symbotic warehouse is that of the “system operator,” which is akin to a job in flight operations, where you sit all day behind a bank of screens and make sure that everything’s working right.
A couple of human workers were needed—for now—to help unload and load the trucks as they came and went with the inventory, and four or so mechanics were kept on staff to service the bots when they needed it (because “shit happens”).
With the robotic version, one higher-skilled person sits behind a console and types in commands, and is paid almost twice as much per hour as a manual laborer would be.
I’d rather be in the world we’re in today than a world without computers, without cell phones, a world without elevators.” We walked onto a platform where we could see a track on which the mobile robots were lined up, waiting to be called into action.
Rise of the Machines: The Future has Lots of Robots, Few Jobs for Humans
The robots haven’t just landed in the workplace—they’re expanding skills, moving up the corporate ladder, showing awesome productivity and retention rates, and increasingly shoving aside their human counterparts.
A manufacturing device from Universal Robots doesn’t just solder, paint, screw, glue, and grasp—it builds new parts for itself on the fly when they wear out or bust.
As intelligent machines begin their march on labor and become more sophisticated and specialized than first-generation cousins like Roomba or Siri, they have an outspoken champion in their corner: author and entrepreneur Martin Ford.
In Ford’s vision, a full-on worker revolt is on the horizon, followed by a radically new economic state whereby humans will live more productive and entrepreneurial lives, subsisting on guaranteed incomes generated by our amazing machines.
(Don’t laugh — even some conservative influencers believe this may be the ultimate means of solving the wealth-inequality dilemma.) Sound a little nuts?
see the advances happening in technology and it’s becoming evident that computers, machines, robots, and algorithms are going to be able to do most of the routine, repetitive types of jobs.
There are economists who think it’s totally wrong, that problems really stem from things like globalization or the fact that we’ve wiped out unions or haven’t raised the minimum wage.
Food is now really cheap compared to what it was relative to income, and as a result people have money to spend on other things and they’ve transitioned to jobs in other areas.
The problem with these types of businesses you can start online today is it’s hard to put enough together to generate a middle-class income.
If people had an income floor, and if the incentives were such that on top of that they could do other things and still keep that extra money, without having it all taxed away, then I think a lot of people would pursue those opportunities.
Robots will destroy our jobs – and we're not ready for it
While robots have been utilized in several industries, including the automotive and manufacturing sectors, for decades, experts now predict that a tipping point in robotic deployments is imminent – and that much of the developed world simply isn’t prepared for such a radical transition.
However, in a classic example of optimism bias, while approximately two-thirds of Americans believe that robots will inevitably perform most of the work currently done by human beings during the next 50 years, about 80% also believe their current jobs will either “definitely” or “probably” exist in their current form within the same timeframe.
In 2015, San Francisco-based startup Simbe Robotics unveiled Tally, a robot the company describes as “the world’s first fully autonomous shelf auditing and analytics solution” that roams supermarket aisles alongside human shoppers during regular business hours and ensures that goods are adequately stocked, placed and priced.
Another study, conducted by the International Labor Organization, states that as many as 137m workers across Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam – approximately 56% of the total workforce of those countries – are at risk of displacement by robots, particularly workers in the garment manufacturing industry.
That’s just not the case any more.” Meanwhile, developments in motion control, sensor technologies, and artificial intelligence will inevitably give rise to an entirely new class of robots aimed primarily at consumer markets – robots the likes of which we have never seen before.
This, according to Zhang, represents an unparalleled opportunity for companies positioned to take advantage of this shift, yet it also poses significant challenges, such as the necessity of new regulatory frameworks to ensure our safety and privacy – precisely the kind of essential regulation that Trump spoke out against so vociferously on the campaign trail.
DeVos and her husband Dick have spent millions of their vast personal fortune fighting against regulations to make charter schools more accountable, campaigned tirelessly to expand charter school voucher programs, and sought to strip teachers’ unions of their collective bargaining rights – including teachers’ right to strike.
Private schools such as Carnegie Mellon University, for example, may be able to offer state-of-the-art robotics laboratories to students, but the same cannot be said for community colleges and vocational schools that offer the kind of training programs that workers displaced by robots would be forced to rely upon.
He told me of his admiration for the work of libertarian journalist Henry Hazlitt, his ambitions to become a world-renowned roboticist and technologist (“I’m 21 now, so if by the time I’m 45 – Elon Musk’s age – I’ve established myself as a world-class mechatronics engineer, I’ll consider myself pretty successful”) and that he doesn’t believe everyone should go to college.
“There’s a lot of side projects I could work on that might provide more value to my future than some of the classes I take, so it’s hard to justify.” Daniel also told me that his experiences defy conventional wisdom that earning a college degree is the only pathway to success in today’s savagely competitive job market.
“In the age of Udacity, Udemy, MIT’s OpenCourseWare, it’s very possible to do a bunch of small personal projects, display that experience to an employer, and get hired.” This appetite for alternatives to traditional higher education has driven intense interest in private programming schools and self-styled coding “boot camps” in recent years.
Most [coding] schools are expensive, which means they tend not to be serving populations that need a leg up economically “I think programming boot camps have been fairly criticized for the fact that there’s a lot of tension around the idea of economic mobility,” says Adam Enbar, a former venture capitalist and co-founder of Flatiron School, one of the most renowned private programming schools in New York City.
We don’t want four math majors sitting around a table together working on a project – we’d rather have a math major and a poet, a military veteran and a lawyer, because it’s more interesting.” Developing a new iOS app may be more interesting than navigating the comparatively dreary worlds of logistics infrastructure, manufacturing protocols, and supply chain efficiencies, but America doesn’t need any more messaging or food delivery apps – it needs engineers.
The answer is that we’re not trying to create a nation of software engineers – it’s that this is becoming a fundamental skill that is necessary for any job you want to do in the future.” Despite these grave threats, when I asked Daniel where he sees himself in five years, he remained cautiously optimistic.
I’m not sure if I’ll be working at a company or for myself – that largely depends on the opportunities I find once I graduate, and it’s pretty difficult to predict that.” It is indeed difficult to predict how the gradual automation of the American workforce will take shape under Trump’s presidency.
One certainty, however, is that the interests of those Americans at greatest risk of professional obsolescence will continue to be sacrificed in favor of serving, protecting and benefiting wealthy, white conservatives – a trend we are likely to see across virtually every aspect of life in Trump’s America and yet another betrayal of the predominantly working-class voters who believed Trump’s empty promises on the campaign trail.
Better Than Human: Why Robots Will — And Must — Take Our Jobs
Since then, wave upon wave of new occupations have arrived—appliance repairman, offset printer, food chemist, photographer, web designer—each building on previous automation.
This upheaval is being led by a second wave of automation, one that is centered on artificial cognition, cheap sensors, machine learning, and distributed smarts.
Speedy bots able to lift 150 pounds all day long will retrieve boxes, sort them, and load them onto trucks.
Next, the more dexterous chores of cleaning in offices and schools will be taken over by late-night robots, starting with easy-to-do floors and windows and eventually getting to toilets.
Witness one piece of software by Narrative Science (profiled in issue 20.05) that can write newspaper stories about sports games directly from the games'
To demand that artificial intelligence be humanlike is the same flawed logic as demanding that artificial flying be birdlike, with flapping wings.
Designed by Rodney Brooks, the former MIT professor who invented the best-selling Roomba vacuum cleaner and its descendants, Baxter is an early example of a new class of industrial robots created to work alongside humans.
Previous workbots required highly educated engineers and crack programmers to write thousands of lines of code (and then debug them) in order to instruct the robot in the simplest change of task.
Industrial robots cost $100,000-plus to purchase but can require four times that amount over a lifespan to program, train, and maintain.
It's cheap enough that small-time manufacturers can afford one to package up their wares or custom paint their product or run their 3-D printing machine.
Now the capabilities of Baxter and the approaching cascade of superior robot workers spur Brooks to speculate on how these robots will shift manufacturing in a disruption greater than the last revolution.
And once we can cowork with robots right next to us, it's inevitable that our tasks will bleed together, and soon our old work will become theirs—and our new work will become something we can hardly imagine.
To understand how robot replacement will happen, it's useful to break down our relationship with robots into four categories, as summed up in this chart:
The rows indicate whether robots will take over existing jobs or make new ones, and the columns indicate whether these jobs seem (at first) like jobs for humans or for machines.
We no longer value irregularities while traveling 70 miles per hour, though—so the fewer humans who touch our car as it is being made, the better.
A computerized brain known as the autopilot can fly a 787 jet unaided, but irrationally we place human pilots in the cockpit to babysit the autopilot "just in case."
A trivial example: Humans have trouble making a single brass screw unassisted, but automation can produce a thousand exact ones per hour.
Without automation, we could not make a single computer chip—a job that requires degrees of precision, control, and unwavering attention that our animal bodies don't possess.
Likewise no human, indeed no group of humans, no matter their education, can quickly search through all the web pages in the world to uncover the one page revealing the price of eggs in Katmandu yesterday.
While the displacement of formerly human jobs gets all the headlines, the greatest benefits bestowed by robots and automation come from their occupation of jobs we are unable to do.
This is the greatest genius of the robot takeover: With the assistance of robots and computerized intelligence, we already can do things we never imagined doing 150 years ago.
We can remove a tumor in our gut through our navel, make a talking-picture video of our wedding, drive a cart on Mars, print a pattern on fabric that a friend mailed to us through the air.
Before we invented automobiles, air-conditioning, flatscreen video displays, and animated cartoons, no one living in ancient Rome wished they could watch cartoons while riding to Athens in climate-controlled comfort.
Two hundred years ago not a single citizen of Shanghai would have told you that they would buy a tiny slab that allowed them to talk to faraway friends before they would buy indoor plumbing.
Crafty AIs embedded in first-person-shooter games have given millions of teenage boys the urge, the need, to become professional game designers—a dream that no boy in Victorian times ever had.
When robots and automation do our most basic work, making it relatively easy for us to be fed, clothed, and sheltered, then we are free to ask, "What are humans for?"
It led a greater percentage of the population to decide that humans were meant to be ballerinas, full-time musicians, mathematicians, athletes, fashion designers, yoga masters, fan-fiction authors, and folks with one-of-a kind titles on their business cards.
This postindustrial economy will keep expanding, even though most of the work is done by bots, because part of your task tomorrow will be to find, make, and complete new things to do, new things that will later become repetitive jobs for the robots.
this automation will spawn the new human occupation of trip optimizer, a person who tweaks the traffic system for optimal energy and time usage.
When automatic self-tracking of all your activities becomes the normal thing to do, a new breed of professional analysts will arise to help you make sense of the data.
Your fleet of worker bots do all the weeding, pest control, and harvesting of produce, as directed by an overseer bot, embodied by a mesh of probes in the soil.
Right now it seems unthinkable: We can't imagine a bot that can assemble a stack of ingredients into a gift or manufacture spare parts for our lawn mower or fabricate materials for our new kitchen.
We can't imagine our nephews and nieces running a dozen workbots in their garage, churning out inverters for their friend's electric-vehicle startup.
We can't imagine our children becoming appliance designers, making custom batches of liquid-nitrogen dessert machines to sell to the millionaires in China.
Will Robots Take Our Children’s Jobs?
The Associated Press already has used a software program from a company called Automated Insights to churn out passable copy covering Wall Street earnings and some college sports, and last year awarded the bots the minor league baseball beat.
Big banks are using software programs that can suggest bets, construct hedges and act as robo-economists, using natural language processing to parse central bank commentary to predict monetary policy, according to Bloomberg.
A much-quoted 2013 study by the University of Oxford Department of Engineering Science — surely the most sober of institutions — estimated that 47 percent of current jobs, including insurance underwriter, sports referee and loan officer, are at risk of falling victim to automation, perhaps within a decade or two.
- On Monday, February 17, 2020
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