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-   -   already had mechanical revolutions (http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=72404)

BicycleTree Apr20-05 06:19 PM

already had mechanical revolutions
 
We have already had mechanical revolutions. What happens when AI and software develops to the point where 1 professional program operator can do the work of 10 professional engineers/surveyors/etc.? What happens when buying a robot is cheaper than buying the same amount of human unskilled labor? Say that 50% of all jobs are no longer necessary to do the same real functions (creating goods, building things, and so forth) as are being done today. Where do those unneeded workers go? Do they all starve to death? If they do is that right?

Kenneth Mann Apr27-05 01:23 PM

Quote:

Quote by BicycleTree
We have already had mechanical revolutions. What happens when AI and software develops to the point where 1 professional program operator can do the work of 10 professional engineers/surveyors/etc.? What happens when buying a robot is cheaper than buying the same amount of human unskilled labor? Say that 50% of all jobs are no longer necessary to do the same real functions (creating goods, building things, and so forth) as are being done today. Where do those unneeded workers go? Do they all starve to death? If they do is that right?


Automation doesn't hurt the engineer of scientist or programmer. What hurts this group is uninspired management. You must realize that there is no set number of widgets to be designed, or structures to be built, however the aggregate of these defines the overall wealth of a society. Thus, as we develop robots and software, etc., it simply allows us to generate more wealth at a lower cost and a shorter time. The problem is uninspired management (corporate and governmental) that sees production as filling some arbitrary quota rather than creating greater wealth. They are looking to "save" arbitrary amounts of money rather than to generate greater wealth using the increased productivity. (Others seek wrongly and vainly to save jobs by holding back advancements.)

Automation, which has been with us in some form since the beginning of the industrial revolution, expands the horizons of engineers, scientists, programmers, inventers and builders; it doesn't replace them, the problem is that bad managers and workers don't recognize this. Automation doesn't put those who properly automate out of work - - - it puts those who don't out of work.

Many of us know the story of the European Sabot (wooden shoes) factory workers. They used old established methods of manufacture that had been around for generations, but when the more efficient English-made leather shoes began to appear on the market, the older, less automated and less efficient Sabot makers continually lost market share (The English cleaned up).

The Sabot makers didn't automate and lost jobs. The British automated and gained jobs. In one vain, last-ditch effort at retaliation the Sabot workers marched on their facilities, and threw wooden shoes into the machinery. The only result of this was to destroy their own jobs quicker - - and the origin of a new word "sabotage".

Automation and robots will create jobs for those who embrace it and use to its fullest capacity, and destroy the jobs only for those who don't. (For those who don't it's the formula for re-entry to the third world.)

There is an obvious and unavoidable downside to the developing automated society: those who do not take advantage of the opportunities to learn to become technologically enabled will suffer - - - and those nations that do not use this capacity to its fullest will also.

KM

Pengwuino May1-05 03:38 AM

Quote:

Quote by BicycleTree
We have already had mechanical revolutions. What happens when AI and software develops to the point where 1 professional program operator can do the work of 10 professional engineers/surveyors/etc.? What happens when buying a robot is cheaper than buying the same amount of human unskilled labor? Say that 50% of all jobs are no longer necessary to do the same real functions (creating goods, building things, and so forth) as are being done today. Where do those unneeded workers go? Do they all starve to death? If they do is that right?

Read: Society and Industrial Change by Rudi Volti

It basically says that history has shown us that AI and software can be replaced throughout the century by mechanical weevers or improved blast furnaces or electronic phone switches. New changes always seem like the end of all jobs and no one will have a job and we'll all die but the end result is always that more jobs in different or related fields are created to make up for big production-increasers. Think about it. Who ever heard of a computer technician or a radiologist or a tv-repairman or cable tv technician before the 1930's?

BicycleTree May12-05 04:34 PM

Well, then, what jobs would be left? Once you have an AI that is a better, cheaper _engineer_ than any human, and a robot that is a better, cheaper, _repairman_ than any human, and of course many robots are are already better, cheaper _assembly line workers_ than any human, what's left for humans?

I am talking about _true_ AI. After every revolution, many jobs are gone, but new niches are found for knowledge workers. But after a true AI revolution, no owner needs any human to do anything. The AI is better than the knowledge worker.


Automation so far has mostly pushed people to different areas. There was already plenty of work to be done. With job opportunities like a house filling with water, people could move to the upper floors. But AI is when the water fills the attic.

BicycleTree May12-05 04:40 PM

Take it to an absolute, mythical level to make it easier to think about: if all the rich men in Arabia own genies, what happens to the poor?

Kenneth Mann May21-05 09:32 PM

Quote:

Quote by BicycleTree
Well, then, what jobs would be left? Once you have an AI that is a better, cheaper _engineer_ than any human, and a robot that is a better, cheaper, _repairman_ than any human, and of course many robots are are already better, cheaper _assembly line workers_ than any human, what's left for humans?

I am talking about _true_ AI. After every revolution, many jobs are gone, but new niches are found for knowledge workers. But after a true AI revolution, no owner needs any human to do anything. The AI is better than the knowledge worker.

I don't see that day. Machines/software, don't have motivation, they don't show inspiration, they don't have instinct or intuition, and they don't have "needs" that they must satisfy. Furthermore, the most important part of any new concept or design is the organization of ideas to determine what is wanted, and then how to produce it. At present, I see no sign that machines can handle these highly associative and highly motivational functions - - - I see no way to program subjective inspiration into a totally objective medium.

KM

Pengwuino May21-05 09:58 PM

The thing is though Kenneth, i think in Bicycle's hypothetical situation, they would have such feelings. I suppose if the theory of "self-awareness" that hollywood spews out turns out to be wrong.... maybe we would live in some sort of mythical communist-type society where we all just kinda live out our lives while machiens do everything for us. But then again we fall onto the problems of limited resources and such. I guess communism couldnt come into play even then... I guess it does come down to jobs again... Maybe by then we will be able to travel to other planets to populate there lol.

BicycleTree May25-05 01:52 PM

I am not saying communism would come into play. I am saying that capitalism might cause everyone but the rich to starve to death in the midst of plenty. If you can't get a job because machines are both better and cheaper than you, and you need a job to buy food, what do you do?

Basically, both of you deny that the situation is possible and therefore aren't going to think about it. But I think that AI is a very real possibility. Even current AI, such as neural networks and evolutionary programming, comes up with things that surprise humans and appear creative. Of course they aren't capable yet of making a business plan--but the potential is very there.

selfAdjoint May25-05 01:58 PM

Quote:

Quote by BicycleTree
I am not saying communism would come into play. I am saying that capitalism might cause everyone but the rich to starve to death in the midst of plenty. If you can't get a job because machines are both better and cheaper than you, and you need a job to buy food, what do you do?

Basically, both of you deny that the situation is possible and therefore aren't going to think about it. But I think that AI is a very real possibility. Even current AI, such as neural networks and evolutionary programming, comes up with things that surprise humans and appear "creative." Of course they aren't capable yet of doing much--but the potential is very there.

There's a more immediate threat of the same kind as your worries about automation. This is the export of manufacturing jobs to poor countries where the rural workers have all the human qualities required, and where pennies a day look like a good salary. This makes such jobs go away in advanced countries just as if they had been automated. The US has already lost a great deal of its manufacturing cpacity because of this; manufacturing used to be the biggest component of our economy, but no longer.

Pengwuino May25-05 02:03 PM

I dont think i ever said the situation is impossible. Its just rather hard to imagine based on what we do know about a concept that doesnt even exist yet. The "rich" would also be eradicated soon enough because after 1 generation, whos left to fill the gap of the few hundred or maybe thousand "owners"? Since theres no 'corporate' or 'educational' ladder to climb, no one would be capable of doing all that entitles being an "owner" so there would be no suitable replacements... but then again what would an 'owner' have to do anyhow haha. I think its way too complex to argue what would actually ahppen with any degree of certainty.

selfAdjoint May26-05 01:07 PM

Quote:

Quote by Pengwuino
The "rich" would also be eradicated soon enough because after 1 generation, whos left to fill the gap of the few hundred or maybe thousand "owners"? Since theres no 'corporate' or 'educational' ladder to climb, no one would be capable of doing all that entitles being an "owner" so there would be no suitable replacements... but then again what would an 'owner' have to do anyhow haha.

Why do I not believe the rich will be in any trouble no matter what happens to the rest of us? You see that the economy has switched over from manufacturing to service, just as it had previously switched over from agriculture to manufacturing, and through all of this, through the collapse of the railroads and the depletion of the oil, and the crash of the auto industry, through it all the rich got richer and the upper management class - the CEO pool - got more and more isolated from the everyday people, till today as I like to day, your shadow does not fall upon their path.

If all production goes down the tubes, the rich we will always have with us.

Pengwuino May26-05 01:17 PM

but the entire economy, not just manufactoring, would go under the control of a computer in this case. It could manage itself and make decisions for itself and provide every service the people could ask for.... in this hypothetical situation of course. Where would humans even think of coming in to play? Except of course, being there to pull the plug on it...

Smasherman Jun9-05 10:53 PM

Humans aren't very efficient at mass production compared to machines, since humans evolved based on their environment (hunter-gatherers). Machines will eventually be able to replace humans in all fields of both physical and mental work. The big question I ask is: why bother? The sole purpose of human labor is to help humans. By increasing efficiency to the point where humans are useless, we've defeated ourselves. Something akin to the Asimov's Three Laws will most likely be created (I'm not sure if that's exactly what they're called).

That being said, I think it's likely that the class gap will widen until the poor are all essentally "toys" of the elite. With monitoring, weapon, and AI technology capable of surpressing anyone not on the control end, the poor will be unable to successfully rebel. Eventually some of the the elite youths will rebel against this setup and will begin educating groups of the lower classes. This will lead to a conservative/liberal idealogicaly battle that will ultimately end in a new age of humanity in which humans live in great wealth at the expense of the machines (progess is, historically, impossible to hold back forever).

This is just my take on the situation of course.


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