# Should machines replace human workers?

by dipungal
Tags: human, machines, replace, workers
PF Patron
P: 467
 Quote by Evo Unless you suggest we get rid of technology and go back to the way things were 100-200 years ago?
I make no such suggestion. That's for neo-Luddites and primitive anarchists. I'm part and parcel of the modern system, and benefit greatly from its pensions, annuities, oil and gas royalties, modern health care, and fabulous entertainments such as go-kart racing and video games. I'm set for life, and laughing all the way down the road to my fishing cabin. I'm also very grateful for things such as PF!

No, it's for you, the working, and the up-coming generation to deal with. I don't even vote anymore. When the career turnover rate goes from 7 to 14, then to 28 and above, you may want to get off the merry-go-round and return to a simpler lifeway. I'm already there.

Respectfully yours,
Steve
Mentor
P: 24,978
 Quote by Dotini I make no such suggestion. That's for neo-Luddites and primitive anarchists. I'm part and parcel of the modern system, and benefit greatly from its pensions, annuities, oil and gas royalties, modern health care, and fabulous entertainments such as go-kart racing and video games. I'm set for life, and laughing all the way down the road to my fishing cabin. I'm also very grateful for things such as PF! No, it's for you, the working, and the up-coming generation to deal with. When the career turnover rate goes from 7 to 14, then to 28 and above, you may want to get off the merry-go-round and return to a simpler lifeway. I'm already there. Respectfully yours, Steve
So am I. And I've been telling my kids for several years to be very careful about choosing their career, do research, make smart choices.

Even entering the workforce when I did in the 70's,working for a bleeding edge tech compnay that invented everything themselves, my jobs would be constantly eliminated and I would be moved to or I'd win new positions or promotions. My company, because there were no schools that could teach the technology as it was being invented, had their own schools, which I attended. There were plenty of people that couldn't adapt to the change, couldn't learn the new technology, and they lost their jobs. That's the way it is.
PF Patron
P: 467
 Quote by dacruick I understand how you can blame the current system for hammering the youth, but I don't understand why.
 Quote by Evo There were plenty of people that couldn't adapt to the change, couldn't learn the new technology, and they lost their jobs. That's the way it is.
I do understand the current system, and why it is the way it is. I have adapted to it well, but I'm concerned about what happens when large numbers of people find themselves unable to adapt, and resort to crime or (yikes!) sabotage or insurrection as a way of life, as in other failed societies around the world. Will they come after me?

I find myself wondering if, for instance the tech-savvy Swiss (who eschew joining the UN, eschew joining in to headlong globalization, and protect their society from too much change) haven't made an ultimately wiser choice.

Respectfully,
Steve
PF Patron
P: 2,949
 Quote by Dotini ...many recent American college graduates find themselves in debt of ~$100,000, more or less, Why is that? Why have higher education costs gone up 4X faster than inflation?  and without the slightest prospect of employment, Again, why is that? PF Patron P: 2,949  Quote by Dotini I find myself wondering if, for instance the tech-savvy Swiss (who eschew joining the UN, eschew joining in to headlong globalization, and protect their society from too much change) haven't made an ultimately wiser choice. Nonsense. The swiss import some 40% of their GDP, or 3X that of the US. They export some 50%, and both figures have steadily increasing.  PF Patron P: 3,949 Machines already are replacing human workers. That's what a competitive software engineer is: an unemployer; your purpose is to cut costs in the company by automating infrastructure processes with computing machines. One example: reduces the size of HR (have employees fill in and turn their time sheets in online through web software, and you have much fewer HR employees to oversee). If you think about it, robots are just the extra baggage of legs to walk off with and an audio dictionary to talk back with? Why not just keep to the silent, obedient computer? P: 10  Quote by dacruick Ah, I understand. Yes, I agree that is a fact. But this has been happening since the industrial revolution. If you count computers as robots, think of all the jobs that has created? Think of how much computers contribute to the globalization of industry and economy. With that increased complexity, jobs are created less in the labour field and more in the management field. IBM is programming their Watson NLP system. http://www.research.ibm.com/deepqa/faq.shtml  Quote by dacruick I'm saying that this is the natural flow of the world right now, and just like you bring an umbrella if you think its going to rain, you should acquire a skill set that can't simply be replaced by lumps of metal. If we know a hurricane is off shore, it's our collective responsibility to plan and afterwards, to ameliorate it's effects.  P: 125 Should machines replace human workers? Sure. But resources should not be witheld from humans, and humans should not overpopulate the globe. If machines make your food and housing, and there are enough resources to go around in the world, what do you need a job for? Survival is no longer an issue, and if you want to contribute to society, you'll find a way. The problems that need to be dealt with are potential overpopulation, abuse of resources and unchecked greed, which cause conflict regardless of employment conditions. Sci Advisor P: 1,132  Quote by Pythagorean Machines already are replacing human workers. That's what a competitive software engineer is: an unemployer; your purpose is to cut costs in the company by automating infrastructure processes with computing machines. One example: reduces the size of HR (have employees fill in and turn their time sheets in online through web software, and you have much fewer HR employees to oversee). If you think about it, robots are just the extra baggage of legs to walk off with and an audio dictionary to talk back with? Why not just keep to the silent, obedient computer? Creativity (and there's all forms of it) is a good way to escape automation. If you settle into a job involving repetitive, manual tasks, where you are not being challenged, then sooner or later your job will be at risk. Data entry, monitoring and reporting are some of the popular examples. Many of these jobs are really tedious and a waste of talent IMO so in the bigger picture it's not all bad, though it's tough to argue for unemployment. PF Patron P: 3,949  Quote by -Job- Creativity (and there's all forms of it) is a good way to escape automation. If you settle into a job involving repetitive, manual tasks, where you are not being challenged, then sooner or later your job will be at risk. Data entry, monitoring and reporting are some of the popular examples. Many of these jobs are really tedious and a waste of talent IMO so in the bigger picture it's not all bad, though it's tough to argue for unemployment. I agree in the bigger picture. Human resources can be better spent than on menial tasks.  P: 674 It's not necessarily a free choice to introduce machines. At some point, it's all that make sense. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedan_chair P: 158  Quote by Pythagorean I agree in the bigger picture. Human resources can be better spent than on menial tasks. My thoughts exactly. Look, you can only replace a persons job if it is something repetitive that can be coded and run by a machine (like a factory). Notice you still need people there to monitor the process in case something unexpected happens. Basically this is just society evolving to fit its current needs. Just like the industrial revolution pulled a large chunk of people away from agriculture/farming. Let's say society wants a new technology called 'A'. But they also want to purchase 'A' for a reasonable price. Then it is the job of the company that makes 'A' to try and figure out a way to produce it at a lower cost so that society will deem it reasonable and worthy of buying. Now how does the company do this. Do they hire on lots of workers to sit at an assembly line and pay each worker x.xx$/hr or do they invest in a robot that after its initial cost is recovered does the same task for essentially free (minus things like the power needed to run it and maintenance...)
As more company's fall into similar molds, remaining others are forced to follow if they want to keep competitive pricing. Basically all this change happens because of what society "wants".
 P: 14 Machines do most of the work already (combine harvesters, electric checkouts etc ad infinitum) and yet governments say "we must create new jobs!" because of the unemployment endemic to the free market capitalist system. As robotics improve, sooner or later there will only be 5,000,000 beneficial, economically viable full time jobs left for humans...if, indeed, there are that many at the moment...then 500,000...then 50,000...at what point will governments have the mandate to aportion benefits and work evenly amongst the population, so that everybody can live well and have some honour/satisfaction at contributing to the system? Such a system would also allow for boundless education and academic research which does not promise profit. Or need we all become marketing executives, cold calling double glazing salespeople, chuggers, trigger happy cogs in the wheels of the military industrial complex or cops/robbers?
P: 1,065
 Quote by Dotini It probably wouldn't hurt to put some modest degree of thought toward what constitutes a happy and sustainable society. Respectfully submitted Steve
Certainly you aren't suggesting that corporations take such things as "happy and sustainable society" into consideration when looking at reducing expenses. In particular those corporations that are "too big to fail".

Oh wow, there is some irony in there isn't there?

EDIT: darn resurrections, get me every time
 P: 21 Many people do not seem to be considering the economics behind these machines. As companies try and solve more and more complicated problems using automated systems, costs increase. Even if long term R & D costs could be offset over time as manufacturing costs for these machines decrease, there are no guarantees. High research and development costs lead to high unit costs which will shrink potential buyers. Not only that but these machines can be incredibly expensive to fix, and have unknown problems or errors which can lead to extended periods of downtime. When I was in South Africa, I happened to noticed that there were around 5 guys with machetes cutting the grass on a football field. Curious, I went over to find out why. The man I assume was in charge came over to me, and I asked him my question. At first he seemed perplexed by my question, so I clarified what I meant by suggesting a lawnmower. I expected him to respond positively to the idea. To my surprise he began to laugh, then he explained it to me. 'A good lawnmower will cost us 1000 rand (around $120), but I can hire all these men for only$2.50 a day.' To better answer the original question 'Should machines replace human workers?' The answer lies in the three D's of automation. Is it dull? Is it dirty? Is it dangerous? If all three come up yes, then it's probably should be automated (or already is ). If it's none of those things, you're probably looking at a very hard task to get a machine to do, and thus a comparably cheap, reliable, self-sustaining human is probably the best bet.
P: 59
 Quote by physicsboard Many people do not seem to be considering the economics behind these machines. As companies try and solve more and more complicated problems using automated systems, costs increase. Even if long term R & D costs could be offset over time as manufacturing costs for these machines decrease, there are no guarantees. High research and development costs lead to high unit costs which will shrink potential buyers. Not only that but these machines can be incredibly expensive to fix, and have unknown problems or errors which can lead to extended periods of downtime. When I was in South Africa, I happened to noticed that there were around 5 guys with machetes cutting the grass on a football field. Curious, I went over to find out why. The man I assume was in charge came over to me, and I asked him my question. At first he seemed perplexed by my question, so I clarified what I meant by suggesting a lawnmower. I expected him to respond positively to the idea. To my surprise he began to laugh, then he explained it to me. 'A good lawnmower will cost us 1000 rand (around $120), but I can hire all these men for only$2.50 a day.' To better answer the original question 'Should machines replace human workers?' The answer lies in the three D's of automation. Is it dull? Is it dirty? Is it dangerous? If all three come up yes, then it's probably should be automated (or already is ). If it's none of those things, you're probably looking at a very hard task to get a machine to do, and thus a comparably cheap, reliable, self-sustaining human is probably the best bet.
There are a few problems with your thinking.
1) It assumes there is a massive portion of the people willing to work for dirt cheap and be poor. Very poor. I don't think that is the goal of any modern society.
2) It assumes that there is some kind of permanent labor shortage that will only grow. This is most definetly not true. As new technology comes out it creates more jobs then it kills, then in the long run it kill more then it creates, but then more technology comes out that again creates jobs.
3) It would kill GDP. Just look at China were there is very little automation. There GDP per person is around 8400 compared the the US of 48k.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...PP)_per_capita
Meaning the average US worker produces 8k as much stuff, and should have about 8X as much stuff (varying dependant on distribution of wealth in each country). Are YOU willing to gives up over 80% of your stuff just so there is no automation? I think the answer is a resounding no.

In certain countries it doesn't make sense to go from no automation (low GDP, low wages) to fully automating everything. So I agree with the example of South Africa (11k GDP per person). Yet, as GDP grows, wages tend to grow, and some sort of automation becomes necessary. Take for example the US. Minimum wage here is $7.50. If the lawnmower costs$120 and it takes 1 person 8 hours to mow this field, your talking $60 a day in wages. Three people would cost$180 a day, literally the lawnmower would pay for itself in a single day.
 P: 21 Would I like to work for that little? Would I like to compete with robots? Would I like to give up my stuff? You are asking me these questions as if there's a choice. As more people lose jobs, more people will be willing to work for less. The cost of automation is only justified as long as people are a more expensive alternative. If people can undercut automation, they will be hired. Your second point is completely valid and I agree. I assumed this was topic was operating under the assumption that everything should be automated, including those newly created jobs.
P: 59
 Quote by physicsboard Would I like to work for that little? Would I like to compete with robots? Would I like to give up my stuff? You are asking me these questions as if there's a choice. As more people lose jobs, more people will be willing to work for less. The cost of automation is only justified as long as people are a more expensive alternative. If people can undercut automation, they will be hired. Your second point is completely valid and I agree. I assumed this was topic was operating under the assumption that everything should be automated, including those newly created jobs.
Sorry, I wasn't even thinking in regards to the original post. In that case I think we can agree,

 Related Discussions General Discussion 6 General Discussion 12 General Discussion 36 General Discussion 14