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Future market restructuring needs to be taken seriously

  1. Jul 27, 2017 #1
    Well, some research shows that a large portion of jobs will not exist in the future. The estimate for the proportion of jobs at risk is 47%. Pdf linked at bottom.

    This really leads to the question? What type of jobs will remain? Just jobs that require higher abstractions? Any opinions?

    Clearly, unskilled jobs are the first to go. Along with any task that can be currently computed, i.e good motor skills, calculations, typing even. So repetitive tasks are out.


    But will this open new jobs that are more creative in nature? Perhaps more jobs for mathematicians and physicists? What about the field of software engineering/data scientist? No matter how intelligent the AI becomes, it still cannot have a Sherlock Holmes style of deduction, which means analyzing data for scientific purposes still should be around.

    Skills that I think will remain are: proving theorems, writing novels, deducing cause and effect, etc. So basically: Creativity and Pattern Recognition.
     

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    Last edited: Jul 27, 2017
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  3. Jul 30, 2017 #2

    Orodruin

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    The point is that humanity is in a situation where a major part of the population is not needed in order for society to sustain itself. This results in a situation where we as a society need to figure out how this should be handled.
     
  4. Jul 30, 2017 #3

    Choppy

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    I can't help but wonder if there is a way to see this as more of an opportunity than as a change toward a dystopian future that will see half of the workforce unemployed.

    A downturn in the need for "repetitive" type jobs may result in an upturn in other types of jobs that just aren't there because no one has the time to do that. Consider service industry jobs. And I don't mean just waitresses and baristas. There was a time in western society when many people were employed as butlers, maids, gardeners, etc. In the near future with the aging population there's going to be an increase in demand for geriatric care, for example, and I'm not sure that's something that robots are going to be able to do effectively. Even if they could effectively feed, toilet and bathe people, there's a simple caring element that needs to be there.

    I remember a character in the movie Demolition Man - "Associate Bob." To the best of my recollection (and it's been over 20 years since I've seen the movie) he was basically a professional friend. In the real world this could manifest into things like increases in counselling, social convening, historical interpretation, debating, personal training, skill training, personal protection, etc.

    A lot of this of course depends on an effectively managed trickle-down. With machines doing more work, the potential is that those who own the machines are going to make the most money and there won't be much for the rest of the population to share. You can't hire a butler or a tennis coach if you don't have an income in the first place.
     
  5. Jul 31, 2017 #4
    I can see how this might ultimately turn out to be a good thing. But I'm worried about the transition period. It could take decades, and during those times, people will be unemployed.
     
  6. Jul 31, 2017 #5

    Evo

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    How is this different from any other time in past history? Please give examples, from say, the industrial revolution, just for one.

    You do realize that every time we progress technologically, we put people out of work. What about the book business? What has the internet done to that business? Now anyone can self publish online for virtually nothing.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2017
  7. Jul 31, 2017 #6

    russ_watters

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    This number is not meaningful unless compared with other times in history.
     
  8. Jul 31, 2017 #7

    russ_watters

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    That has never been true before and I see no reason being presented why this time will be different. People keep saying this time will be different without ever presenting a reason.

    I think this next disruption will usher in a new era of prosperity and standard of living growth - just like all the others did.
     
  9. Jul 31, 2017 #8

    Orodruin

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    I am not saying that people will go unemployed. I think you are misreading my post.
     
  10. Jul 31, 2017 #9

    russ_watters

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    Evidently I am. I can't reconcile it with what you are saying now. Can you clarify?
     
  11. Jul 31, 2017 #10

    Orodruin

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    We are already at a point where the majority is not needed for sustenance of society. I am working as a scientist and getting paid for it although I do not contribute directly to keeping us alive. We also have reduced working hours compared to pre-industrial society - also signifying a lower need for using the population as labour to produce what society needs.

    I think that, as a society, we should be happy about this and make sure to use it to provide sufficient sustenance and health care for everyone. Of course, you can add qualified jobs in other additional sectors (such as research), but since we have the capability to make sure that people have descent lives - why would you not do this?
     
  12. Jul 31, 2017 #11

    russ_watters

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    Ok, fair enough. I was under the impression that the premise of the thread - like similar ones before it - was that this is an impending crisis (people unemployed, leading to increased poverty), not an impending opportunity. Perhaps @FallenApple can clarify.
     
  13. Jul 31, 2017 #12

    StatGuy2000

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    Russ, I believe you have a myopic view of history if technological revolutions necessarily lead directly to a new era of prosperity and standard of living growth. At a certain timescale, yes, I do believe that the technological changes that we are experiencing will lead to that state (as has occurred in the past), but if you look at a cursory look at history in both various European countries as well as the US and Canada, the first Industrial Revolution led to masses of former farmers migrating to the cities (or emigrating to the US and other countries), and many of these people often lived in extreme poverty. Over time, these former farmers did ultimately improve their living standards over several generations, but one could argue that this arose primarily through the direct actions of governments (again, at least initially).
     
  14. Jul 31, 2017 #13
    Well, for jobs like bartenders or waiters/other service jobs, much of it serves a social function. I don't think someone sitting at a bar would want to talk to a mechanical arm. But many jobs would be eliminated outright, like data entry. Hopefully it will result in new jobs that are better. But the new jobs will either have a large social function, or a creative/analytical function. So I think these are the skills that people need to strive for, and quite urgently too.


    How is it the same as the industrial revolution? In the past, repetitive low skill jobs are replaced by new repetitive low skill jobs. Shoe makers were able to move to the factory assembly line, which is arguably even more low skilled! At least with personalized shoemaking, there's elements of arts/ craftsmanship.

    Here for the situation of increasing improvement in machine learning, the same will not happen; people will be forced to climb or fall, which makes the situation rather urgent.

    Jobs get replaced and new ones get built, as always. The issue is will new jobs appear at the same rate as the old jobs that were lost? If not, then how quickly? Then, what types of jobs will surface? That is the more interesting question.
     
  15. Jul 31, 2017 #14

    Evo

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    And you're expecting someone here to know the answer?
     
  16. Jul 31, 2017 #15
    It's just an interesting discussion on what might happen or what is likely to happen. I just want to see what people think of the situation. It's actually quite relevant for people's career path.
     
  17. Jul 31, 2017 #16
    Here is a figure from the report.(page 28)

    ProbComputerization.png
     
  18. Jul 31, 2017 #17

    russ_watters

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    It sounds like you are trying to disagree with me but ultimately not.

    Yes, change is often painful, even change for the better. You didn't really respond to the question posed in my post, so I don't know which angle you are taking, but it doesn't seem to me that either angle (massive, systemic unemployment or not) would necessarily produce a result as "troubled" as the early industrial revolution. Everything about our society is more mature and able to deal with such issues (albeit naive and overconfident...).

    The main reason robots don't scare me is that we've already had two robot revolutions(Three? Five? I guess I've lost count, but that's the point: they're ALL robot revolutions!) and the next one will be slower because this time the robots will be orders of magnitude more expensive, so they'll be much more difficult (slower) to implement.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2017
  19. Jul 31, 2017 #18

    StatGuy2000

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    I was specifically responding to your quote in post # 7:

    "I think this next disruption will usher in a new era of prosperity and standard of living growth - just like all the others did."

    My initial reaction upon reading your quote above (which you provided without further clarification or caveat) was that you were coming across to me as naive, with an unreasonably narrow view of history. Your subsequent, more nuanced reply sounds to me to be more realistic, at least with respect to what we can plausibly expect this next disruption will entail -- a period of disruption leading to initial turmoil in the labour market, followed by potential greater prosperity and higher standards of living (although I should note that I do have concerns of whether prosperity that could potentially be reaped from greater automation will be more equitably shared across populations).
     
  20. Jul 31, 2017 #19

    russ_watters

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    Hmm....I thought this was a discussion, but evidently I'm talking to myself.... but getting reviewed. Looks like I'm up from one star to three, so that's something!
     
  21. Aug 1, 2017 #20
    It is not so much an impending doom thread so much as a new jobs thread. I'm most interested in what would happen once the dust settles.

    However, one thing that is of concern is, what new jobs would those of lower skill move to? Other jobs with low skills? Those won't exist anymore.
     
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