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Machines taking our jobs and possible solutions

  1. Oct 18, 2016 #1
    In an attempt to try and decide my future career in computers I have come across the topic of machines taking our jobs.

    What will happen when society reaches the point at which a machine can do even highly skilled jobs that require years of college education and creativity?

    The typical answer I got was that everyone would be guaranteed an income, but is this really feasible?

    This is a large open ended topic, but I'm really curious to see your view on it and what might happen to us in the future.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 18, 2016 #2


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    New wave of Luddites will come.
  4. Oct 18, 2016 #3


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    Let me get this straight. You envision a future where machines can do most of the work, so that we don't have to work all of the time and will be able to choose how we spend our time. And this is a problem because...
  5. Oct 18, 2016 #4
    The problem is no one will have anything the other wants. What if I wanted a rare antique? How would I earn it?
  6. Oct 18, 2016 #5


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    The problem that some futurists point out is that the benefits of automation as pointed out will not be shared equally across all citizens, but instead will accrue to only a select elite members of various societies, leaving many of those displaced from jobs unable to work and joining the hordes of the unemployed and unemployable.

    Of course, a future where machines can do most of the work is still not upon us. And it may very well be the case that new jobs will emerge which we have not even considered due to greater automation.
  7. Oct 18, 2016 #6


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    It is very difficult to predict how the world would function if we had total human replacement robots, but fortunately such a future is almost certainly so far away that there is no pressing need to plan for it.

    So since you are asking this question in part due to the issue's potential impact on your career plans, the simple answer is: ignore it.
  8. Oct 18, 2016 #7
    The last machine shop I worked in had about half CNC (Computer Numerical Control) mills, which are basically robots.

    Each one required constant supervision by an operator. The advantage of the CNC was not that it did away with having to pay a human worker, but that the work it did was much more reliably consistent: it could repeat actions much more accurately than a person, eliminating physiological and mental causes of errors during repetitive actions. At the same time, though, an operator was needed to load and unload parts, and to keep constant check on tolerances, to change cutters when they got dull, and, most importantly, to adjust the program running the machine when necessary.

    So, it was my impression from that experience that robots won't actually cut jobs, they will actually only change jobs; that is: instead of humans making parts, humans will be servicing and supervising and programming the robots that make the parts. When you see footage of a roomful of robots putting things together, you have to be aware of all the engineers and technicians that aren't shown but which must be at work off camera keeping those robots running and checking their work.
  9. Oct 21, 2016 #8


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    My understanding is that with each new generation of robots they need less and less supervision. Sure, there still is a team of people behind, but this team gets smaller and smaller.
  10. Oct 21, 2016 #9
    I'm sure that's the goal, but I actually think there's an upper limit to how far that can go, and it's not as far as people think because it's dependent on simple mechanical considerations and not the processing power of the brains of the robot. For example, the cutters and drills on a CNC mill wear out after so many hours and the parts start to creep out of tolerance. The CNC operator is always sampling every fifth part checking for that sort of thing. Of course you can engineer a CNC tolerance checker, and a CNC cutter changer, but those additional functions would probably double the cost of the machine, and then you'd have to engineer a tolerance checker checker, and a cutter changer checker, and so forth. There a point beyond which it is much cheaper and easier to just have a person do it.
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