Google Announces $1 Billion Initiative to Prepare Workers for Automation

Tucker Carlson has opined, “Google is the most powerful company in the history of the world” which sounds about right, yet the company’s leftist slant is noticeable in the speech it chooses to censor.

So it is a welcome change from the parade of bad behavior for Google to dip its corporate toe into the do-gooder field — or perhaps it is looking for some positive publicity for a change since America has fallen out of love with tech companies.

Whatever the reason, a major project to prepare people for the digitized automated workplace of the near-future is a very important thing to do, particularly when Washington remains asleep at the switch about the revolutionary changes to work.

The forecast of tech experts is rather dire: they have warned that the automated future will include massive job loss — why isn’t that a concern of the nation’s leaders? Oxford researchers forecast in 2013 that nearly half of American jobs were vulnerable to machine or software replacement within 20 years. Rice University computer scientist Moshe Vardi believes that in 30 years humans will become largely obsolete, and world joblessness will reach 50 percent. The Gartner tech advising company believes that one-third of jobs will be done by machines by 2025. The consultancy firm PwC published a report earlier this year that forecast robots could take 38 percent of US jobs by 2030. Forrester Research Inc. has a more optimistic view, that there will be a net job loss of 7 percent by 2025 from automation.

Bye bye, barista! Your next cappuccino may not be served by a human.

America certainly needs a tech-trained workforce. But there will be fewer jobs overall which indicates that Washington’s current policy of importing over a million legal immigrants annually needs to be retired as outdated. In fact,

Automation makes immigration obsolete.

For more info on the jobs program, check out Google’s thorough explanatory page Grow with Google.

Google to give $1 billion to nonprofits and help Americans get jobs in the new economy, USA Today, October 12, 2017

Woz U and Grow with Google both hope to make tech education more accessible. Video provided by Newsy Newslook

SAN FRANCISCO — Google will invest $1 billion over the next five years in nonprofit organizations helping people adjust to the changing nature of work, the largest philanthropic pledge to date from the Internet giant.

The announcement of the national digital skills initiative, made by Google CEO Sundar Pichai in Pittsburgh, Pa. Thursday, is a tacit acknowledgment from one of the world’s most valuable companies that it bears some responsibility for rapid advances in technology that are radically reshaping industries and eliminating jobs in the U.S. and around the world.

Pichai’s pitstop in an old industrial hub that has reinvented itself as a technology and robotics center is the first on a “Grow with Google Tour.” The tour that will crisscross the country will work with libraries and community organizations to provide career advice and training. It heads next to Indianapolis in November.

“The nature of work is fundamentally changing. And that is shifting the link between education, training and opportunity,” Pichai said in prepared remarks at Google’s offices in Pittsburgh. “One-third of jobs in 2020 will require skills that aren’t common today. It’s a big problem.”

Google will make grants in its three core areas: education, economic opportunity and inclusion. Already in the last few months, it has handed out $100 million of the $1 billion to nonprofits, according to Pichai.

The largest single grant — $10 million, the largest Google’s ever made — is going to Goodwill, which is creating the Goodwill Digital Career Accelerator. Over the next three years Goodwill, a major player in workforce development, aims to provide 1 million people with access to digital skills and career opportunities. Pichai says 1,000 Google employees will be available for career coaching.

In all, Google employees will donate 1 million volunteer hours to assist organizations like Goodwill trying to close the gap between the education and skills of the American workforce and the new demands of the 21st century workplace, Pichai said.

The announcements, which drew praise from state and local politicians including Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf, come as Google scrambles to respond to revelations that accounts linked to the Russian government used its advertising system to interfere with the presidential election.


Tucker Carlson Considers Trump’s 70-Point List of Immigration Enforcement

On Monday, Tucker Carlson examined the latest from the White House about enforcing law and sovereignty, noting, “The administration has now put forward a 70-point immigration plan which calls for easier deportations of people here illegally, a border wall or a partial border wall anyway and new limits on chain migration, which is the idea that once you get here all of your relatives can come. Those are all preconditions for any future amnesty of DACA beneficiaries. Could this be the beginning of real immigration reform?”

Tucker chatted up a liberal radio host from Los Angeles, Ethan Bearman, who was quite chipper about continuing the import of foreign workers. Interestingly, automation came up and Tucker connected the dots. He didn’t say “Automation makes immigration obsolete” but pretty close!

ETHAN BEARMAN: I want people out of the shadows, so they’re not abused and they’re not subjugated by unscrupulous people who take advantage of them while they’re here working. By the way, one of the advantages of a long term change here with increased minimum wages is you’re gonna see Silicon Valley fill that void. John Deere just bought a huge company — it was over three hundred million dollars, to buy a company that makes the lettuce bot to automate some of that so there are long term trends that are happening here as well, but why are why do we want to be as mean as possible?

TUCKER CARLSON: I like immigrants, I actually really do. I grew up in California. I like them. But I think our primary responsibility is to Americans, but I wonder as a macro question, if we’re automating a lot of these jobs — and you just said we’re going to — why do we need 1.1. million legal low-skilled workers every year and an unknown but high number of illegal ones? What’s the point, what are they gonna do exactly? If jobs are going away, why are we importing all these people? Has anyone ever stopped to ask that question?

In fact, smart farm machines have been coming on strong for a long time, and the advances in ag technology are making human farm laborers a thing of the past. When a farmer can rent a robot weeding machine for $300/month, why would he bother with a crew of Mexicans? The future of farming is automated — along with many other industries.

Now, back to the larger subject of Trump’s List. NumbersUSA has a simplified enumeration, excerpted immediately below. The voluminous entire list follows that.

WH Immigration Principles Call for Ending Chain Migration & Mandatory E-Verify, October 8, 2017

BORDER SECURITY: Build a southern border wall and close legal loopholes that enable illegal immigration and swell the court backlog.

• Fund and complete construction of the southern border wall.

• Authorize the Department of Homeland Security to raise and collect fees from visa services and border-crossings

• Fund border security and enforcement activities.

• Ensure the safe and expeditious return of Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) and family units.

• End abuse of our asylum system by tightening standards, imposing penalties for fraud, and ensuring detention while claims are verified.

• Remove illegal border crossers quickly by hiring an additional 370 Immigration Judges and 1,000 ICE attorneys.

• Discourage illegal re-entry by enhancing penalties and expanding categories of inadmissibility.

• Improve expedited removal.

• Increase northern border security.

INTERIOR ENFORCEMENT: Enforce our immigration laws and return visa overstays.

• Protect innocent people in sanctuary cities.

• Authorize and incentivize States and localities to help enforce Federal immigration laws.

• Strengthen law enforcement by hiring 10,000 more ICE officers and 300 Federal prosecutors.

• End visa overstays by establishing reforms to ensure their swift removal.

• Stop catch-and-release by correcting judicial actions that prevent ICE from keeping dangerous aliens in custody pending removal and expanding the criteria for expedited removal.

• Prevent gang members from receiving immigration benefits.

• Protect U.S. workers by requiring E-Verify and strengthening laws to stop employment discrimination against U.S. workers.

• Improve visa security by expanding State Department’s authority to combat visa fraud, ensuring funding of the Visa Security Program, and expanding it to high-risk posts.

MERIT-BASED IMMIGRATION SYSTEM: Establish reforms that protect American workers and promote financial success.

• End extended-family chain migration by limiting family-based green cards to include spouses and minor children.

• Establish a points-based system for green cards to protect U.S. workers and taxpayers.

Here in the Scribd format is the whole 70-item thing.

Administration Immigration Principles by Alex Pfeiffer on Scribd

Taiwan Tests Its First Self-Driving Bus

The race is on among tech and automative companies building self-driving vehicles to get their creations on the road. In Asia, a boxy little bus unit has been successfully transporting people around on the National Taiwan University campus since May.

The bus putters along at six miles per hour with a dozen passengers, which developers think is a good start, and Tapei hopes to have autonomous public transportation running in the city within a year.

Not to worry that the US isn’t getting in on the automation action — in March I reported on a similar sort of shuttle bus being tested near San Francisco. And Washington is helping on the legislative front: in September, the House passed a bill to speed the introduction of self-driving vehicles, and the Senate held a friendly hearing examining the special issues of self-driving trucks. However, there was little discussion about the job loss that will arrive with autonomous vehicles, although the testimony of one trucking professional noted that 3.5 million Americans employed as commercial drivers.

Driving is a top job in many states.

Technology experts have warned that the automated future will include massive job loss — why isn’t that a concern of the nation’s legislators? Oxford researchers forecast in 2013 that nearly half of American jobs were vulnerable to machine or software replacement within 20 years. Rice University computer scientist Moshe Vardi believes that in 30 years humans will become largely obsolete, and world joblessness will reach 50 percent. The Gartner tech advising company believes that one-third of jobs will be done by machines by 2025. The consultancy firm PwC published a report earlier this year that forecast robots could take 38 percent of US jobs by 2030. Forrester Research Inc. has a more optimistic view, that there will be a net job loss of 7 percent by 2025 from automation.

One thing is certain: the automated future means that America doesn’t need to import any immigrant workers at all. In fact:

Automation Makes Immigration Obsolete.

The New York Times recently took notice of the self-driving buses in Asia:

In Taiwan, Modest Test of Driverless Bus May Hint at Big Things to Come, New York Times, September 28, 2017

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Rolling with a barely audible hum beneath banyan trees, a brightly painted shuttle bus cruised through a university campus here.

The electric vehicle crawled along at a speed of no more than six miles per hour. And only 12 passengers could fit inside. But the bus also drove itself, raising hopes in Taipei that autonomous public transportation would be up and running here within a year.

“The idea of one day being able to ride around this city in driverless vehicles is quite exciting,” said Amber Chen, who was riding with her son Ruey-She, 8.

The bus tests are partly to prove that the autonomous-driving technology is safe to deploy on the city’s busy streets, and partly to gather the data needed to improve the artificial intelligence that steer such vehicles. The effort, one of the earliest in Asia, could help position Taiwan as both a pioneer in autonomous public transportation and, if things go according to plan, a producer of driverless buses.

So far, the bus being tested, the EZ10, has breezed through its trials on the campus of National Taiwan University, which have been in progress since May.

But successful testing on a closed course at low speeds can only reveal so much about how the buses would fare in traffic. Getting them on the road at busy times is the next step, and the program’s backers are eager to see that happen quickly.


Senate Hearing Paves Way for Self-Driving Trucks

Anyone who cares about automation’s threat to jobs should know that industry is moving ahead rapidly to develop and market self-driving vehicles which endanger the employment of 3.5 million Americans. As noted here, the House passed a self-driving car bill earlier this month despite its busy schedule.

Some non-automotive companies are investing the big bucks, like Google putting over $1.1 billion into the technology. But that amount pales in comparison to Intel’s purchase of Mobileye, an Israeli-based company developing vision-based advanced driver-assistance technology, for $15 billion. Automotive and tech businesses have decided that the future is automated, and nobody wants to be left out.

Look closely to see there is no driver in the Otto truck shown below.

The Senate page for the hearing with video and text of testimonies is here: Transportation Innovation: Automated Trucks and Our Nation’s Highways, September 13, 2017

I watched the hearing on C-SPAN and would rate it as watchable, only moderately wonky.

The issues around self-driving trucks are somewhat different from cars, particularly because of the size and use. A self-driving car will always have a human in it — unless “Come and get me” is planned as a future function. A platooning strategy will probably be the norm for a while, where a driver will be present in the lead vehicle.

Of course, nobody in the hearing was so unPC as to mention that:

Automation makes immigration obsolete.

America won’t need to import foreign workers to drive its taxis or trucks — or do anything else in the roboticized future.

Experts in the field see automation as a job shrinker. Oxford researchers forecast in 2013 that nearly half of American jobs were vulnerable to machine or software replacement within 20 years. Rice University computer scientist Moshe Vardi believes that in 30 years humans will become largely obsolete, and world joblessness will reach 50 percent. The Gartner tech advising company believes that one-third of jobs will be done by machines by 2025. The consultancy firm PwC published a report earlier this year that forecast robots could take 38 percent of US jobs by 2030. Forrester Research Inc. has a more optimistic view, that there will be a net job loss of 7 percent by 2025 from automation.

Self-driving trucks could hurt drivers, Teamsters tell U.S. senators, USA Today, September 13, 2017

WASHINGTON —- A U.S. Senate committee is considering whether legislation dealing with the future of self-driving cars should also pave the way to self-driving trucks, considering the impact such technology could have on millions of workers.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee held a hearing Wednesday on automated vehicles focusing on the future of self-driving commercial trucks and 3.5 million commercial truck drivers nationwide.

“Self-driving vehicles have the potential to change the transportation industry as we know it. That can be for the better or for the worse depending on the actions that this committee, workers and others take,” said Ken Hall, general secretary treasurer of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. “It is incumbent upon the members of this committee that workers are not left behind in this process.”

Even as Hall and others — including U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich. — suggested that it may be too early to allow for widespread testing of autonomous commercial trucks across the nation, others said that the future of autonomous trucks could greatly help reduce traffic fatalities and improve safety.

Legislation passed by the U.S. House last week paved the way toward more testing of autonomous cars across the nation — allowing for as many as 100,000 cars to be exempted from safety standards while  they are being tested — but did not address the future of autonomous trucks.


Despite Busy Calendar, House Passes Self-Driving Car Bill

It’s funny how with all the vitally important legislation that needs doing, such as Houston hurricane relief, raising the debt ceiling and funding the government, the House still had time to squeeze in a bill to facilitate the self-driving industry’s movement to the next stage. Who knew it was such a priority?

Certainly the automotive industry regards the self-driving technology as a priority because American companies don’t want to miss out when some foreign businesses are quite keen on it.

Many of the news stories emphasize the safety aspect of vehicles not being driven by imperfect humans, so we will likely hear about those benefits during next Wednesday’s Senate Hearing: Transportation Innovation: Automated Trucks and Our Nation’s Highways.

Below, Daimler tested a big-rig self-driving truck in May 2015 over Hoover Dam in Nevada where automated vehicles are permitted if a driver is present for emergencies.

Not all self-driving news is upbeat however. It was recently reported that some self-driving vehicles could become confused by street signs with graffiti (Autonomous car brains fooled by graffiti on street signs, Fox News, August 7). The automotive computer might interpret a redecorated stop sign as signifying a speed limit of 45 mph. So the guarantee of safety is not quite there yet.

The big picture is that America faces enormous job loss from automation, and blue-collar jobs will likely be among the first to go, but they won’t be the only ones. Oxford University researchers forecast in 2013 that nearly half of American jobs were susceptible to being automated within 20 years.

The Los Angeles Times reported a year ago: “There are 1.7 million truckers in America, and another 1.7 million drivers of taxis, buses and delivery vehicles.” Many of those jobs are threatened, and Washington apparently has no Plan B for what millions of unemployed citizens should do to support themselves in the not-too-distant future.

The least the government could do is cut back severely on immigration, because the automated future won’t require imported human workers.

Remember: Automation makes immigration obsolete.

House Passes Bill to Speed Introduction of Self-Driving Cars, Bloomberg, September 6, 2017

U.S. House lawmakers passed a wide-ranging bill to speed the introduction of self-driving vehicles championed by tech and auto companies racing to develop and deploy the technology.

“With this legislation, innovation can flourish without the heavy hand of government,” Ohio Republican Bob Latta said on the House floor ahead of the voice vote in the chamber Wednesday. Latta is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee that developed the legislation.

The action now moves to the Senate, where Republican John Thune of South Dakota and Democrats Bill Nelson of Florida and Gary Peters of Michigan are leading work on legislation of their own. The trio serve on the Senate commerce committee, which on Wednesday announced a Sept. 13 hearing to examine autonomous commercial vehicles and how they may fit into the Senate’s self-driving vehicle legislation. The House bill only applies to passenger cars and light trucks.

The House bill would put the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in charge of regulating self-driving car safety and preempt competing rules at the state level. Manufacturers would eventually be able to introduce as many as 100,000 self-driving cars per year that don’t comply with current safety rules that assume the presence of a human driver. It also instructs NHTSA to develop new standards for self-driving cars. Companies must draft security and privacy plans for autonomous vehicles and document their approach for ensuring self-driving car safety.


Africa: Robot Imports Threaten Jobs

We tend to think of automation-caused job loss to be a first world problem, but as the smart machines get cheaper, they are appearing in poor countries as well. Places like Africa, with its host of difficulties, do not have the resources to cope with worsening unemployment and angry residents. Results may range from social disruption and political revolutions to even more illegal immigration to submissive Europe.

Enormous population growth is forecast for Africa, where problems like soil depletion are already being exacerbated by too many people needing food resources.

Europe needs to understand that the surge of illegal immigration is not a temporary thing and will continue as long as Europeans allow it — to their great detriment.

CNN did a good job in recognizing the social downside to automation in the Third world and presenting it factually.

African countries are importing robots and young people’s jobs are at risk, By Torera Idowu, CNN, August 22, 2017

Although still in its infancy, with under 60,000 imports a year, the robotics industry in Africa is developing rapidly.

In some parts of the continent, robots are mining, controlling traffic and even fighting deadly diseases.

Five years ago, The African Robotics Network launched a ’10 dollar robot’ challenge to encourage students to produce their own robots. There are also over 20 African organizations encouraging participation in robotics.

While this might offer the continent more affordable production costs, it has far-reaching consequences for Africa’s 1.2 billion people.

’Half of Africa’s jobs at risk’

A policy brief by the United Nations conference on trade and development reveals that robots will take away two-thirds of jobs in developing countries.

“The increased use of robots in developed countries risks eroding the traditional labor cost advantage of developing countries,” it states.

A 2016 study which stems from World Bank research, states that more than half of jobs in parts of Africa are at risk of automation with Ethiopia leading the highest proportion globally at 85%.


San Francisco Supervisor Proposes Robot Tax

It’s interesting how Democrats on average seem more aware of how automation threatens the economic system of most of the world, and the resulting mass unemployment must be faced with planning. Perhaps it’s because the Ds are more comfortable with handing out cash (one suggested solution, namely Universal Basic Income), while Republicans see smart machines are just another way to make money.

Why haven’t the big brains in Washington noticed how whole industries — like automotive manufacturing — are now largely operated by robots, and that’s only the beginning?

For example, the current Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin was noticed by the tech community in a bad way when he said about robots taking many American jobs that “It’s not even on our radar screen … 50-100 more years.” But he’s not unusual.

Experts in the subject see automation differently. Oxford researchers forecast in 2013 that nearly half of American jobs were vulnerable to machine or software replacement within 20 years. Rice University computer scientist Moshe Vardi believes that in 30 years humans will become largely obsolete, and world joblessness will reach 50 percent. The Gartner tech advising company believes that one-third of jobs will be done by machines by 2025. The consultancy firm PwC published a report earlier this year that forecast robots could take 38 percent of US jobs by 2030. Forrester Research Inc. has a more optimistic view, that there will be a net job loss of 7 percent by 2025 from automation.

Below, a highly automated BMW factory in 2014, where a few human workers can be seen:

It’s nice that Supervisor Kim is looking ahead to deal with more automation-caused job loss, but I’m guessing she won’t mention that. . .

Automation Makes Immigration Obsolete

When a third or a half of Americans are unemployed because of machines doing the jobs, we certainly won’t need to import foreign workers.

Automation could kill 2x more jobs than the Great Depression—so San Francisco lawmaker pushes for Bill Gates’ ‘robot tax’, CNBC, August 24, 2017

Robots are going to replace human workers and when they do, the companies that employ them should be taxed.

So says billionaire Bill Gates. And now, San Francisco lawmaker Jane Kim thinks so too.

In February, in an interview with Quartz, the Microsoft co-founder broached the idea of a “robot tax.”

“Right now, the human worker who does, say, $50,000 worth of work in a factory, that income is taxed and you get income tax, social security tax, all those things. If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think that we’d tax the robot at a similar level,” he says.

City Supervisor Kim, who is also running for the State Senate, is a proponent of the “robot tax” and is working on an upcoming ballot measure.

Wednesday she launched the Jobs of the Future Fund, an initiative to drive conversation among state business leaders, politicians and local civic organizations about how to prepare for an increasingly automated workforce. Continue reading this article

Fast Food Expert Warns That Machines Are Coming for Jobs

Former McDonald’s CEO Ed Rensi appeared Friday on Fox Business and voiced opinions about the automation threat to employment.

Fmr. McDonald’s CEO: Human workers can’t compete with robot replacements, Fox Business, August 11, 2017

Former McDonald’s USA CEO Ed Rensi said regulation will force restaurants to turn to technology to make a profit.

“Not only is the minimum wage an issue but health care, rights to work, overtime hours, government regulation—if you look at the mounds and mounds and mounds of regulation that comes from the local, federal level it’s almost impossible to do business and make a profit,” Rensi told Stuart Varney on Varney & Co. Friday.

Rensi pointed out how Amazon has begun to use robots in its fulfilment centers.

“Look at what’s happening in retail with Amazon. Automation and robotics are going to start replacing people and they’ve got to become more efficient to make a profit,” he said. “There’s too much invested in quick service restaurants around the world across the United States. Too many dollars invested in fixed properties—[they have to] do something and that something they are going to do is automate and try to reduce the amount of labor and labor content.”


Being a former CEO does give Ed Rensi greater freedom to speak about automation-fueled job loss. I reported a year ago about his similar remarks: Former Restaurant Executive Declares a Robot Arm Is Cheaper Than $15/hour Humans.

A one-time CEO of McDonald’s, Ed Rensi, recently appeared on a Fox Business show and explained the financial facts about automation in the fast-food industry: “If the $15 minimum wage goes across the country, you’re going to see job loss like you can’t believe. I was at the National Restaurant Show yesterday and if you look at the robotic devices that are coming into the restaurant industry — it’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who’s inefficient making $15 an hour bagging French fries . . . it’s going to cause a job loss across this country like you’re not going to believe.”

Amazing robot arm.

Continue reading this article

Hotels and Restaurants Expand Use of Automation

Robot bellhops were introduced to the public as a coming thing in 2014 when trials began. Now they and other automated technology are becoming normalized, as reported in a CBS Los Angeles TV segment.

As is often the case, the media doesn’t know how to handle the automation issue and the CBS pirce wanders all over the place. It begins thoughtfully by asking whether smart machines threaten human jobs in the future but then veers into a Jetsons clip and from there to existing businesses with robots in use. Questions of whether humans are being displaced are laughed off as managers emphasize the appealing novelty aspect of the bots. Finally, serious person Martin Ford, author of Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future, appears with a warning, “The way these technologies always begin is they begin as tools helping people do their jobs, but they eventually do evolve.”

A purpose-built hotel robot acts as a bellhop when it delivers desired items to the rooms of customers.

Service jobs in hotels and restaurants are popular among immigrants, particular in diverse locales, so the government should get serious about passing the RAISE Act to decrease immigration substantially, because many unskilled jobs will be disappearing under the automation onslaught.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics counts bellhops and baggage porters together, and the May 2016 number of persons employed in the category was put at 44,750. It’s not a huge number as jobs cohorts go, but alternative choices are shrinking for unskilled people because of immigration and automation.

Experts have described he automated future as they believe it will play out. Oxford researchers forecast in 2013 that nearly half of American jobs were vulnerable to machine or software replacement within 20 years. Rice University computer scientist Moshe Vardi believes that in 30 years humans will become largely obsolete, and world joblessness will reach 50 percent. The Gartner tech advising company believes that one-third of jobs will be done by machines by 2025. Forrester Research Inc. has a more optimistic view, that there will be a net job loss of 7 percent by 2025 from automation.

Does it make sense for Washington to continue importing immigrant workers when the workplace is changing fundamentally from automation? It makes no sense at all, but the government is pretending the problem doesn’t exist.

As Hotels, Restaurants Expand Use Of Service Robots, Are Jobs At Risk?, CBS Los Angeles, August 9, 2017

He’s a robot butler at the Residence Inn LAX on Century Boulevard, and his name is Wally.

“In this particular brand of Residence Inn, if you called down and you wanted something, you’d really have to come down and get it yourself,” Residence Inn LAX General Manager Tom Beedon told CBS2.

But employees can program the butler to deliver anything to a room that fits in Wally’s compartment, even fresh towels from housekeeping.

“You’re going to hear somebody check in that says, ‘Oh, this is the hotel with Wally the Robot, right?’ ” says Beedon.

And if you think a robot delivering hand towels to your hotel room seems cool, you should check out the Gen Korean BBQ restaurant in Montclair.

It’s here where a human server takes your order with a tablet, another human loads your food in the kitchen, and a robotic system of trays and tunnels delivers it all to your table.

“I don’t think anybody 10 or 15 years ago would have thought, ‘Hey I’ll be at a Korean barbecue house with a robot bringing food out to me,’ ” says Gen Korean BBQ VP David Ghim. . .


Robot T-shirt Factory Is Planned for Arkansas

Here’s a snapshot of the automated, globalized future: a Chinese company has acquired a factory in Arkansas to produce t-shirts for the German company Adidas using robot sewing machines from Atlanta business SoftWear Automation.

Clothing manufacture is big business and is important to small, poor countries like Honduras where the income from sewing jobs helps keep many people afloat. So the automation of the industry over the next decade or two could be hard on that and other countries’ economies and may potentially inspire another large surge of illegal immigration.

Interestingly, a recent poll in Guatemala (another apparel producer) found that 90 percent of illegal aliens came for economic reasons rather than to escape violence, the reason frequently given by the liberal media as an excuse. So if the clothing manufacturing jobs were to disappear, low-paid though they are, it makes sense that even more Central Americans would head for the US. In general, the automation discussion has concerned what will happen in our own country, but it will have worldwide effects.

I reported earlier about a sewing robot that developed a technique for stiffening the material to deal with the difficulty of various fabrics from dense denim to stretchy knits. It looks like SoftWear Automation system uses overall pressure on the fabric to keep it from wiggling around, although the company’s solution is not completely clear.

Below, a Sewbot demonstrates a couple of sewing tasks.

Automated Sewbot to make 800,000 adidas T-shirts daily, Innovation in Textiles, August 3, 2017

Technology developed in the USA will be used by a Chinese company to supply European sports brand Adidas with T-shirts made in the US by robots. This is a major breakthrough in the automation of garment assembly by the global partnership.

Leading sportswear brand Adidas is planning to produce 800,000 T-shirts per day using fully automated Sewbot Workline’s supplied by SoftWear Automation, of Atlanta, GA. Tianyuan Garments Company, of Suzhou, China, the largest producer of apparel for Adidas worldwide, has partnered with SoftWear Automation to produce the T-shirts at Tianyuan’s newly acquired plant in Little Rock, AR, China Daily reports.

Using cameras to map the fabric and robots to steer it through the sewing needles, the system will handle soft fabrics and make the T-shirts for Adidas on the system which is scheduled to be fully operational by the end of next year.

“From fabric cutting and sewing to finished product, it takes roughly four minutes,” said Tang Xinhong, chairman of Tianyuan Garments. “We will install 21 production lines. When fully operational, the system will make one T-shirt every 22 seconds. We will produce 800,000 T-shirts a day for Adidas.”

This is a big achievement for Atlanta based brand SoftWear Automation, which launched in 2012. The company’s Sewbots use a combination of patented high-speed computer vision and lightweight robotics to steer fabric to and through the needle with greater speed and accuracy than a human. The technology was developed by and is patented by Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center.

Tang said that with complete automation, the personnel cost for each T-shirt is roughly 33 cents. “Around the world, even the cheapest labour market can’t compete with us. I am really excited about this,” he said.

Tianyuan announced last October that it would invest $20 million in the 100,000-square-foot defunct Little Rock plant it had acquired. In time, it will bring 400 new jobs to Arkansas. The signing ceremony was witnessed by a Chinese textile delegation led by Xu Yingxin, vice-president of the China National Textile and Apparel Council.

(Article continues)


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Washington Post Notes Rise of Smart Machines (Incompletely)

The Washington Post included a front-page story about automation on Sunday, and it admitted “the surrender of the industrial age to the age of automation continues at a record pace.”

But the cause was mostly laid at the feet of the workers themselves rather than complex forces of globalization that have been accumulating for decades. The workers are blamed for being late, drunk, stoned and having bad work attitudes which may certainly be true in some cases. But the pay is poor and there is no opportunity for advancement. No mention is made of retraining for more technical jobs that could provide a step up. Wages start at $10.50/hour for day work and $13 for night shifts.

But the article further admits that “even the lowest-paid worker was more expensive than the robots,” yet blaming the victims is a theme that runs throughout.

Hopefully a future Post article will examine the bad attitudes of newspaper workers facing new technology that automates news story writing to cut costs in newsrooms with far fewer humans.

Rather than blame the dispirited workforce, there are many more issues about automation that the Post could have examined for the benefit of readers. One is how is society supposed to function when a third to a half of the workforce is unemployed in less than 20 years or more in decades beyond, as forecast by tech experts? That topic would fill lots of column inches and could be composed by a software robot.

Another subject: why should America continue to import immigrant workers at all when most will be redundant in the near future? Automation makes immigration obsolete, just like homesteading.

Rise of the machines, Washington Post, August 5, 2017

How a couple of robots came to be the newest hires at a Wisconsin factory in search of reliable workers

By Chico Harlan in Dresser, Wisconsin

The workers of the first shift had just finished their morning cigarettes and settled into place when one last car pulled into the factory parking lot, driving past an American flag and a “now hiring” sign. Out came two men, who opened up the trunk, and then out came four cardboard boxes labeled “fragile.”

“We’ve got the robots,” one of the men said.

They watched as a forklift hoisted the boxes into the air and followed the forklift into a building where a row of old mechanical presses shook the concrete floor. The forklift honked and carried the boxes past workers in steel-toed boots and earplugs. It rounded a bend and arrived at the other corner of the building, at the end of an assembly line.

The line was intended for 12 workers, but two were no-shows. One had just been jailed for drug possession and violating probation. Three other spots were empty because the company hadn’t found anybody to do the work. That left six people on the line jumping from spot to spot, snapping parts into place and building metal containers by hand, too busy to look up as the forklift now came to a stop beside them.

In factory after American factory, the surrender of the industrial age to the age of automation continues at a record pace. The transformation is decades along, its primary reasons well-established: a search for cost-cutting and efficiency.

But as one factory in Wisconsin is showing, the forces driving automation can evolve — for reasons having to do with the condition of the American workforce. The robots were coming in not to replace humans, and not just as a way to modernize, but also because reliable humans had become so hard to find. It was part of a labor shortage spreading across America, one that economists said is stemming from so many things at once. A low unemployment rate. The retirement of baby boomers. A younger generation that doesn’t want factory jobs. And, more and more, a workforce in declining health: because of alcohol, because of despair and depression, because of a spike in the use of opioids and other drugs.


Senators Cotton and Perdue Discuss RAISE Act with Tucker Carlson

There is plenty of chatter about immigration flying around the ethers on a daily basis, but very little concerns the big policy basics of Who and How Many. Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA) have done the nation a service by developing and submitting a bill that recognizes the reduced need for foreign workers (assuming there is any need to import labor — doubtful because automation).

The RAISE legislation as submitted begins:

A BILL — To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to establish a skills-based immigration points system, to focus family sponsored immigration on spouses and minor children, to eliminate the Diversity Visa Program, to set a limit on the number of refugees admitted annually to the United States, and for other purposes.

I am impressed that the senators included the vile Diversity Visa for the dumpster along with the bigger stuff. The program is often overlooked but shouldn’t be, because choosing immigrants from a random drawing based on diversity is double bad. A visa to increase diversity is simply insane at this point.

The most appealing aspect of the bill is of course the reduction of legal immigration by half. A larger decrease would be better because of the automated future workplace, but half is a good start.

Below, Bloomberg reported in May that the number of foreign-born workers in the U.S. rose to nearly 27 million in 2016, up about 700,000 from the previous year and a new high (America’s Labor Force Is Made Up of More Immigrants Than Ever).

The senators appeared with President Trump on Wednesday in the White House to present the bill to the public (transcript here).

Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue discussed the legislation with Tucker Carlson later in the day:


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The RAISE Act ends chain migration and replaces our low-skilled system with a new points-based system for receiving a green card. This competitive application process will favor applicants who can speak English, financially support themselves and their families and demonstrate skills that will contribute to our economy.

TUCKER CARLSON: Senators Cotton and Perdue join us now; thanks to you both. Senator Purdue to you first. When you hear that, the precepts, the principles behind it sound non-controversial; they sound pretty basic. You guys work in politics. I know you’ve polled this. What’s the public opinion of those ideas?

SENATOR DAVID PERDUE: Well this is the the big learning here in Washington; the people out there and the rest of the country get this. Seventy-two percent believe it should be the primary worker plus their nuclear family or less. Eighteen percent, it ought to be just the the worker. So people out there in the real world get this: it’s pro-worker, it’s pro-growth, and it’s been proven to work in Canada and Australia.

CARLSON: What’s interesting, Senator Cotton, when you say this this bill is pro-worker — our current arrangement seems anti-worker. If you look at the effect on wages, working-class people in the country when the Kennedy Act became law, they’ve gone down and remained stagnant. Do you think there’s a direct connection between mass immigration and low wages?

SENATOR TOM COTTON: No doubt, Tucker. I mean the law of supply and demand applies to labor market just like it does to every other market hasn’t been repealed, even though some Republicans feel like it doesn’t apply there. Look, over the last 40 years, my lifetime, you’ve seen a quadrupling of the number of foreign-born residents in our country. The vast majority of those — 14 out of 15 — today come here not based on their skills or their education or their English language ability on some other category. They’re by definition unskilled and low-skilled.

In that 40-year window, if you have high school degree or less, your wages have fallen. If you have more than that, so if you’re not competing with those very same immigrants, your wages have increased. So there’s a direct correlation between the mass unskilled low-skilled migration we’ve seen over the last few decades and stagnant wages and standards of living for working Americans.

CARLSON: Wouldn’t it be clarifying to import — I don’t know — lobbyists for example from abroad who would work for less than our lobbyists? Maybe that. Or United States senators? I think that might change some ideas.  [EDITOR: Or how about journalists? Why is there no journalist work visa?] Continue reading this article

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