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Should machines replace human workers?

  1. Oct 31, 2011 #1
    The recession put people out of work, but when the recession weakens, there will be a huge incentive to replace what used to be workers with robots and IT. People who learned skills and worked for decades won't be getting their jobs back since those jobs won't exist.

    What are your thoughts on this perspective?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 31, 2011 #2
    Ironically, this seems to be the natural direction of life. IMO, if a machine can replace you, you should find a skill set that can't be replaced. It's not like there are other options if you're in that position.
     
  4. Oct 31, 2011 #3

    russ_watters

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    If the general concept were true, very few people would have jobs today.
     
  5. Oct 31, 2011 #4

    Dotini

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    - crime
    - arson
    - sabotage
    - insurrection

    Deliberately putting masses of people out of work simply for the sake of profit margins may prove to be self-defeating. It probably wouldn't hurt to put some modest degree of thought toward what constitutes a happy and sustainable society.

    Respectfully submitted
    Steve
     
  6. Oct 31, 2011 #5
    I didn't say that putting masses of people out of work is a good idea. I implied that a business owner has the right to make their business more efficient and more profitable. It is the governing body's responsibility to predict trends and ensure that people are being educated properly to contribute to society in the future.

    I'm curious to know why you think crime violence and anger are the most probable options for these unemployed people to fall back on.
     
  7. Oct 31, 2011 #6

    Dotini

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    Simply because these activities are not done by machines, and the people employed in doing them could not be replaced by machines. Sort of an employment of last resort.

    Respectfully,
    Steve
     
  8. Oct 31, 2011 #7
    Thanks for the responses. I am thinking that if necessity is the mother of invention and employment would be a necessity, then invent something that will create employment. Is this possible to happen?
     
  9. Oct 31, 2011 #8
    But there are millions of jobs that cannot currently be replaced by machines, are there not?

    It happens everyday.

    EDIT: I think that you are evaluating these scenarios in terms of extremes. The notions that a huge amount of people will simultaneously lose their jobs to machines, and that someone will invent a super employment machine to solve unemployment forever seem too far away from reality. (I took some exaggeratory liberties with your comments, sorry:smile:)
     
  10. Oct 31, 2011 #9
    For now we still need a few people but it's decreasing and will continue to do so.
     
  11. Oct 31, 2011 #10
    What do you mean we need a few people? Since when is "hundreds of millions" encapsulated by the word "few"?
     
  12. Oct 31, 2011 #11
    I mean it takes far fewer people to maintain a machine than the number of people whose productivity it replaces.
     
  13. Oct 31, 2011 #12
    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. 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.
     
  14. Oct 31, 2011 #13

    Dotini

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    Over-education has become something of a disaster in South Korea.

    http://www.chinadailyapac.com/article/s-korea-suffers-overeducation
    South Koreans often attribute their economic success to a passion for education. But the country of 48m has overdone it, with 407 colleges and universities churning out an over-abundance of graduates.

    Respectfully submitted,
    Steve
     
  15. Oct 31, 2011 #14
    Yes that may be so, but I don't understand the message you are associating with your posts. You seem to be playing devils advocate with no purpose. If in South Korea overeducation is the problem, then I suggest that they start learning skills that millions of their countrymen and women don't share.

    I'm simply suggesting that there is always a path to success, and it is up to each individual to define success in terms of their life, and to find a way to achieve it. Right now I'd be hesitant to go to teachers college because where I'm from the average amount of children couples are having is declining, and on top of that, the baby boomers are getting pretty old. With advancements in medicine, and the soon-to-come influx in elderly population, I might try my hand at nursing as I believe there is a demand for that. Robots or not, since when is blindly following any path risk free or useful. With todays global economy and markets, and the growing population of indian people, maybe starting up a telemarketing business in North America is a stupid idea. For that same reason, maybe international law and business is an appropriate program to enter at a university. In the past decade the internet has radically changed marketing strategies, as markets a bigger and more competative. Maybe a marketing psychology degree anticipates that trend. With increasing population maybe a minor in statistics would be an asset.

    What I am trying to say is that it is up to an individual to be useful. If no one wants to pay you for a service or skill that you offer, that isn't a machines fault, its yours. If South Korea is overpopulated and there isn't enough jobs for their people, then the government didn't manage the education system properly according to where the markets were trending to. Whose fault it is doesn't matter, its how you(the individual) will succeed in being happy and healthy.
     
  16. Oct 31, 2011 #15
    What is the obsession with work? Once efficiency reaches a certain level surly there is a better way to distribute wealth then creating deliberate inefficiencies, like a large amount of administration and bureaucracies.
     
  17. Oct 31, 2011 #16

    Dotini

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    While Ayn Rand might find your remarks admirable, I'd respectfully suggest they may be slightly out of step with the current reality that many recent American college graduates find themselves in debt of ~$100,000, more or less, and without the slightest prospect of employment, are moving back in with Mom and Dad.

    Once upon a time, we generally went into the same line of work as our fathers, and stayed in it for life. During my working life (I'm retired now), we got used to the idea of changing careers two or three times, and prepared ourselves accordingly. Now it is said that changing career perhaps seven times might be more the norm. If each career change requires years of education, and the career changes seven or more times, and the employment available changes faster than you can acquire education and pay off student debt, you can perhaps appreciate that the situation quickly becomes unsustainable.

    I would politely suggest that in such a systemically dysfunctional pattern of rapid-fire changes to educational and employment requirements, the modern individual faces an increasingly daunting task in being usefully or successfully employed, and is likely to become disillusioned, resentful and bitter at such an absurd system.

    Respectfully submitted,
    Steve
     
  18. Oct 31, 2011 #17

    Evo

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    Adapt or die. There used to be chimney sweeps, blacksmiths, tailors and shoemakers, habidashers, stablekeepers, street lamp lighters. As we progress and gain new technology, jobs become obsolete. If you can't adapt, you fail. as we need fewer and fewer workers it becomes harder and harder to compete for the remaining jobs. You must, as has been said, do research now to find a career field that anticaptes growth. It's not absurd, it's reality. Unless you suggest we get rid of technology and go back to the way things were 100-200 years ago?
     
  19. Oct 31, 2011 #18
    I think you misunderstand me. Speaking as a modern individual (I am 21 pursuing a degree in physics), I realize how competitive job markets are these days, and I am not sitting on my butt complaining about how hard it will be to get a job with a measly BSc in Physics. I enrolled in a co-op program that allows me to alternate between school and work, attaining experience in the industry, as well as paying for school on my own (I live in Canada so school is much cheaper than in the US). As you even mentioned, I have realized the shortcomings of my prospective degree and I anticipate that I will need to go back to school to augment it to be more competitive for the job that I want. It is not up to anybody else to ensure my career. Sometimes times are hard and "**** happens" and blaming anyone else for that is a demotivating and self pitying attitude. Since the 80s everybody has needed a degree to get a job. And my parents, and my friends' parents have always said "Hey Kiddo, get your degree and you'll be okay." That's not true at all, and it is unfortunate that it has been accepted for true for the past decade. As you stated, things are changing, and things are changing quickly. University degrees mean less and less by the day. That's just how supply and demand works. I can empathize with being in debt, having the constant pressure of being unemployed, and being self-deemed unsuccessful. But feeling that way isn't helping anything at all. Go volunteer! Make connections, find your way into an industry. Do something...

    I tried to read Atlas Shrugged once but I got to page 400, shrugged, and never picked it up again. I don't agree with everything Ayn Rand says, but you can't expect every aimless youth to be Reared in the right direction by the "system" (pun intended :biggrin:)

    I am not an idealist, I just don't see a point in being upset about something that I can't change. My parents didn't need an education, how great is that!? Well, my dad has been a landscaper for 30 years, he is now 56 and who knows how much longer he will be able to handle the physical demands. My mother works a few days a week as an assistant to a podiatrist. They don't have a ton of money, or much at all, but that's not anyone's fault but theirs. I understand how you can blame the current system for hammering the youth, but I don't understand why.
     
  20. Oct 31, 2011 #19

    Dotini

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    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
     
  21. Oct 31, 2011 #20

    Evo

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    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.
     
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