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%.

(Continues)

Video: How Many Jobs Will Robots Actually Take?

After a wacky sped-up history of artificial intelligence to the present time, the Axios report gets to the question many people are asking — will robots wipe out human employment, and if so, how soon?

This two-and-a-half minute video packs in a lot — importantly how large-scale automation affects people’s live and society as a whole. Larry Summers inquires, “People ask why there is a sense of estrangement, disillusionment, anger. Why is there an opioid epidemic? That is not unrelated to the absence of work.”

Chris Arnade (@Chris_arnade) is a traveling photographer who has been chronicling the American working class and the suffering from widespread job loss. The narrator says, “He asks everyone he meets — ‘What happened to your job?’ They all say automation. Not outsourcing, not the death of industry. Automation. The automation revolution has already begun. Real Americans are already losing jobs.”

The piece cites the PWC study about automation: “It said that 38 percent of U.S. jobs are at high risk by 2030. Yeah, 38 percent of jobs, 15 years, that’s crazy.”

Crazy is right. The only thing crazier is that nobody in Washington is talking about the automation future or that immigration continues on auto-pilot when the need for imported workers will be Zero very soon, like yesterday. Remember:

Automation Make Immigration Obsolete

Future Automation Plans Include Ocean Shipping

The death by a thousand cuts continues to shrink the employment universe even in the rather obscure maritime sector, where few people seek jobs at sea any more. A recent report noted that Japanese firms are planning an automation remodel for ocean-going cargo ships, just like the self-driving cars nobody asked for. Japanese shipbuilders intend to construct remote-controlled ships for the near-future with fully automated on the to-do list for later.

As usual, the job-slashers claim automation will “reduce accidents” — when the clear motive is to cut costs by replacing humans with machines. It must be said that ships are still lost at sea at great cost in lives and property. Using appropriate technology to lessen the inherent danger is positive, unlike the wholesale dumping of humans.

The Guardian reported on the Japanese consortium:

Japanese firms plan to launch self-driving cargo ships within decade, Guardian, June 8, 2017

Shipbuilders and shipping firms believe autonomous ships will reduce accidents by removing potential for human error

Commercial drones and self-driving cars will soon be joined by fleets of autonomous cargo ships that navigate the world’s oceans using artificial intelligence.

Several shipbuilders and shipping firms in Japan have joined forces to develop remote-controlled cargo vessels that could be launched by 2025, according to the country’s Nikkei business newspaper…

Below, some representations of the future automated container ship look similar to human-run versions, at least on the outside.

In addition, the ports are becoming more automated, so robot ships will fit into a friendly existing infrastructure.

Automated straddle-carriers, the modern version of the basic forklift, stack uniformly sized containers of goods after being unloaded by computerized cargo cranes from enormous purpose-built ships for temporary storage at the port and then transfer to trucks and railways for delivery to final destinations.

Automation is a world techno-phenomenon, including the ocean shipping sector, and the pain will be felt everywhere. (See my Social Contract article, How Automation Threatens Third World Stability.) Automation is happening now, but will really heat up in the next 5 to 10 years as many more labor-saving machines appear in the workplace.

The big picture of employment is indeed sobering. 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. The recent PwC forecast was only slightly less severe than the Oxford numbers.

So America won’t need any more immigrants for non-existent jobs, right? In fact,

Automation makes immigration obsolete.

The big robot plans for the maritime industry around the world are outlined in the MIT tech publication:

Shipping Giants Are Looking to Self-Piloting Boats to Shift Cargo, MIT Technology Review, June 9, 2017

Millions of containers could be hauled by robotic ships within the next decade.

Forget Uber’s autonomous 18-wheelers: if you want a robot to haul a heavy load in the future, it might be worth considering a self-piloting container ship instead.

Plenty of people have been building modest autonomous boats in recent years, but the real payoff is in something much larger. As the Economist has pointed out in the past, fully robotic cargo ships could be faster, safer, and ultimately cheaper to run than their crewed counterparts. And that promise obviously hasn’t escaped the attention of some of the world’s largest users of maritime freight. Continue reading this article

California Pol Gavin Newsom Seeks Governorship, Frets over Automation

Gavin Newsom is the sort of serial politician that many citizens wish would give it a rest, because he was mayor of San Francisco for eight years and since 2010 has occupied the post of California lieutenant governor. Playing second banana to Governor Jerry Brown has been a rather low-visibility gig, so he may be looking for a hot new issue to make him seem fresh to voters in his effort to move on up. Newsom has glommed on to the threat to jobs from automation as a campaign topic, although his knowledge of the issue seems sketchy at best. He admitted in an interview with The Guardian (linked below) that he is “part of the problem” by using an automated grape sorter in one of his Napa vineyards.

Mayor Newsom certainly didn’t seemed concerned with American job loss when the cause was illegal immigration — in fact, he actively promoted it. In 2008, he spent $83,000 for an ad campaign to inform illegal alien job thieves that they would have safe access to city services in San Francisco and would not be arrested by the SFPD for any crime this side of murder. Of course, advertising a generous sanctuary policy functions as a magnet to unlawful foreigners who come to rip off jobs that belong to citizens according to law.

Below, in 2008, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom held a press conference to announce new anti-gun initiatives. The Chief of Police Heather Fong is also pictured.

The automation threat to employment needs to be discussed by the political class, which isn’t happening in Washington. Newsom is not the brightest light in the liberal galaxy, but his gubernatorial candidacy and issues will get media coverage just because it’s California. Also, the idea of a universal basic income as proposed by some techies is a better fit for Democrats, since dispensing free stuff is what they like to do.

Republicans just seem flummoxed about how to cope with automation generally and avoid it if they have a clue. Hint: ending immigration as an obsolete government policy for the jobless automated future would be a good place to start.

California’s would-be governor prepares for battle against job-killing robots, Guardian, June 5, 2017

Gavin Newsom has been waiting in the wings for years as lieutenant governor. Now his campaign to lead the state is taking on its golden industry: tech

The graduating computer science students at the University of California at Berkeley had just finished chuckling at a joke about fleets of “Google buses, Facebook shuttles and Uber-copters” lining up to whisk them them to elite jobs in Silicon Valley. The commencement ceremony for a cohort of students who, one professor confided, were worth around $25bn was a feel-good affair.

Until, that is, Gavin Newsom took to the lectern and burst the bubble.

The smooth-talking Democrat, and frontrunner to win California’s gubernatorial race next year, warned the students that the “plumbing of the world is radically changing”. The tech industry that would make them rich, Newsom declared, was also rendering millions of other people’s jobs obsolete and fueling enormous disparities in wealth. “Your job is to exercise your moral authority,” he said. “It is to do the kinds of things in life that can’t be downloaded.”

That is not the kind of message computer engineers tend to hear. But Newsom, who has been waiting in the wings as California’s lieutenant governor for the past seven years, has put the consequences of automation and the center of his campaign.

“This is code red, a firehose, a tsunami that’s coming our way,” he told the Guardian a few days after his commencement address at Berkeley. “We’re going to get rolled over unless we get ahead of this.” California, a crucible of technological transformation that is reshaping the world, could be on the cusp of the first major election to be dominated by a debate over what to do about robots.

It is a conversation that already feels overdue. San Francisco, the city where Newsom, 49, came to prominence as a two-term mayor, is a petri dish for technological advances and their social consequences. The novelty of seeing driverless cars on the roads wore off months ago, while delivery robots recently began patrolling the sidewalks.

San Francisco office workers can now grab lunch at a branch of Eatsa, a restaurant that boasts no waiters or cashiers, followed by a quick artisanal espresso at Cafe X, a coffee shop composed of a single robotic arm. Newsom has been concerned about the numerous startups seeking to disrupt the fast-food industry.

He frequently complains about Momentum Machines, a secretive San Francisco startup promising to transform the fast-food industry with robotic technology. The ambition, according to the company’s founder, is to “completely obviate” human workers.

“There’s an empathy gap,” Newsom said. “I really feel intensely that the tech community needs to begin not just to solve these business problems but to begin to solve societal problems with the same kind of disruptive energy that they put behind developing the latest app.”

But Newsom’s critics question whether he’s the politician to take on the tech industry. Caricatured by opponents as a business-friendly “Davos Democrat”, Newsom has a long record of support for gig-economy companies such as Uber and Lyft. One of his biggest sources of donations is Airbnb employees.

Newsom does not dispute that he has deep political connections in Silicon Valley, and refers to both Elon Musk and Mark Zuckeberg as friends. “I’ve grown up in and around this world. I could tell you 10 founders who I did their weddings, quite literally married them. Very, very close; a number of them are godparents to my kids.”

Newsom argues his close relationship with the titans of technology, and his dependence on their donations, makes him better placed than his rivals to challenge the industry. “I am probably the one person that can have that conversation,” he said. “Because I have the relationship.”

He says that while he respects technology, “I’m starting to appreciate the downsides more and more”. But in his own business, a conglomerate of restaurants, bars, hotels and wineries, Newsom said he is increasingly aware of the upsides of labor-saving technology.

His interview with the Guardian took place in Balboa Cafe, a Newsom-owned restaurant in the Marina district. One of his waitresses was within earshot when he remarked: “I think we’ll have some bartenders for a while, although I know for a fact they have robotic bar tending technology.”

One of his Napa vineyards, he added, recently started using a $50,000 German-made machine that utilizes sophisticated optical scanning technology to pick and sort grapes. He conceded that the machine was replacing human grape-pickers, who might not be able to find work elsewhere. “It’s their lives,” he said. “And that’s my point. I’m part of the problem.”
 Continue reading this article

NBC: Automation May Destroy Half of Truck Driver Jobs

I rarely watch NBC, but was clicking around a couple days ago and saw a rather decent piece on self-driving trucks that included important facts about how the technology will affect jobs in an important American industry. Interestingly, Fox News is AWOL on the subject, while the liberal media does better, in particular PBS and The Guardian (UK). The coming destruction of the economic order by the disappearance of the wage-earner component needs to be discussed in media and public forums across the spectrum.

NBC reports that half of America’s truck drivers may lose their jobs because of technology within 10 years. The disemployment is occurring in many fields but there’s little public understanding or debate about the big picture.

Could U.S. Trucking Jobs Go Extinct Due to Automation?, NBC Nightly News, March 11, 2017

Some 3.5 million Americans drive big rigs and delivery trucks, but revolutionary driverless technology means two million jobs, or more than half of the country’s truck drivers, could lose their jobs to automation in the next decade.

REPORTER STEPHANIE RUHLE: Trucks move America.

DRIVING INSTRUCTOR: Hands on the wheel.

RUHLE: It’s more than a slogan. Some three-and-a-half million Americans drive big rigs and delivery trucks. Long-haul truck drivers earn an average $40 thousand a year for the hard work and long hours and it doesn’t require a college degree.

TRUCK DRIVER STUDENT: I always wanted to be a truck driver so. . .

DRIVING INSTRUCTOR: When you pull up . . .

RUHLE: Students like these are learning the trade at a moment of change in the industry. Revolutionary driverless technology means more than half of the country’s truck drivers could lose their jobs to automation.

RAVI SHANKER, MORGAN STANLEY: We think the first fully autonomous trucks go on sale by 2020. I’ll be surprised if in 10 years a lot of the largest trucking carriers in the country aren’t significantly autonomous.

RUHLE: Daimler showed off the technology in Las Vegas in 2015. Their goal is to assist drivers as they plan to keep them at the helm. Other companies are rolling out programs that could put technology in the driver’s seat.

Then is technology the future, the partner or the enemy to the trucker?

JERRY CORVELLI, JERSEY TRACTOR TRAILER TRAINING: I mean certainly the future, you know you’re not going to stop the technology.

RUHLE: What was once a low-skilled trade becoming a profession driven by code and computers.

SHANKER: The truck driver will also be kind of be a technical engineer and if there’s a problem with the hardware, the software, they’re going to have to figure it out.

CORVELLI: Jobs for everyone in society — the highly skilled, the highly educated — but the ones, the individuals that are not so educated and skilled, where are the jobs for them? So that would be the downside.

RUHLE: For some, there’s no substitute for a human driver.

DRIVING INSTRUCTOR JASON MOODY: There may be a computer that can drive a truck from A to B on a straight line. But there will never be a computer that will be able to navigate a truck in the heart of Manhattan, never.

RUHLE: But those who want to stay in trucking for the long haul should expect a changing industry. Stephanie Rule, NBC News, New York.

As reported in the NBC story, Daimler tested a big-rig self-driving truck in 2015 in Nevada, a state where automated vehicles are permitted if a driver is present for emergencies.

In addition, driving big rig trucks may seem like the quintessential blue-collar American job, but theoccupation has become more diverse in recent years, just like everything else. But America does not need immigrant truck drivers now or later, if it ever did.

Automated Trucks Threaten Millions of US Jobs

Self-driving vehicles are coming on strong, faster than anyone knowledgeable thought a few years ago. Self-driving vehicles are being tested for real world use, and highway laws are being rejiggered to accommodate the new tech future.

But driving is a major jobs category, as shown by the map below, taken from an interactive NPR graphic in the 2015 article Map: The Most Common Job In Every State.

Millions of driving jobs still exist in the US because it’s one gig that could not be outsourced to China, but self-driving technology now threatens that employment. Indeed, as a San Francisco writer asks, Self-driving trucks: what’s the future for America’s 3.5 million truckers?

Of course, it goes without saying that America no longer needs to import immigrants to drive our trucks given the coming technology. There is supposedly a shortage of drivers now, leading to a push for immigrants, but that won’t last long. The future is automated, including on the highways.

It was news last October when a self-driving truck from the Otto company traveled 120 highway miles to deliver a load of beer:

The following article was written by Martin Ford, author of the book Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future. His knowledge on the subject adds to the big picture of how our society is on the edge of a foundational transformation to work and the economy.

Driverless trucks: economic tsunami may swallow one of most common US jobs, By Martin Ford, The Guardian, February 16, 2017

America is producing more than ever before, but it is doing so with fewer and fewer workers. Once trucks become automated, where will these jobs go?

In April 2016, Uber announced the acquisition of Otto, a San Francisco-based startup that has developed a kit that can turn any big rig into a self-driving truck.

The Otto technology enables complete autonomy on highways: trucks can navigate, stay in their lane, and slow or stop in response to traffic conditions completely without human intervention. Otto’s equipment currently costs about $30,000, but that is certain to fall significantly in the coming years.

Otto is by no means alone. Massive automated vehicles are already commonly used to move materials for the Australian mining industry. Daimler, the German multinational company, has likewise demonstrated its own model, a giant 18-wheeler with a “highway pilot” mode available (meaning a driver has to remain present, prompting the head of the US branch to say that “tomorrow’s driver will be a logistics manager”). Another approach is to use automated convoys, in which self-driving trucks follow a lead vehicle.

It seems highly likely that competition between the various companies developing these technologies will produce practical, self-driving trucks within the next five to 10 years. And once the technology is proven, the incentive to adopt it will be powerful: in the US alone, large trucks are involved in about 350,000 crashes a year, resulting in nearly 4,000 fatalities. Virtually all of these incidents can be traced to human error. The potential savings in lives, property damage and exposure to liability will eventually become irresistible.

There’s only one problem: truck driving is one of the most common occupations in the US.

Once replaced by automation, where will these jobs go?

As of 2015, a typical production worker in the US earned about 9% less than a comparable worker in 1973. Over the same 42 years, the American economy grew by more than 200%, or a staggering $11tn.

For millions of average Americans, the reasonable expectations of their youth – a steady job, home ownership, college education for their children – have degraded into decades of stagnation, even as they have been continuously bombarded by news of the overall growth and prosperity of the US economy.

The driving force behind this transition has been technology. It is widely recognized among economists that while the impact of globalization has been significant, especially in specific regions of the country, robots and factory automation have been a far more powerful force. Indeed, even those jobs that did migrate to China are now evaporating as factories there aggressively automate. Continue reading this article

Trump Election Prompts Surge of Robot Purchases

Elections have consequences, so they say. The Associated Press reports that farmers in California fear that Trump’s promise of mass deportations means they won’t have enough cheapie Mexicans to pick the crops and are therefore investing in agricultural automation.

Actually, the narrative makes for a swell liberal sob story, but labor-saving farm technology has been improving for years: in 2004 the New York Times reported on increased mechanical harvesting of citrus (In Florida Groves, Cheap Labor Means Machines). Plus, the machines are becoming much cheaper so that even small operations can afford them. Naturally, when farmbots are less costly than illegal alien pickers, farmers choose the machines.

Below, a robot hand picks a pepper.

The upshot is that farming is rapidly becoming automated, with or without Trump’s election. In short. . .

Automation makes immigration obsolete, both on the farm and in the office.

Remember when open-borders flacks routinely asked, “But who will pick the strawberries?”

Robots will pick them!


Continue reading this article

Google Self-Driving Cars Face Competition in Concept

The front page of Saturday’s San Jose Mercury News had a headline: “For Google, race is on with self-driving cars.”

The game has changed with so many players on the field, as various companies have made their intentions known to build a self-driving car. Google self-driving vehicles have been designed as being totally driver-free, as can be seen by the lack of a steering wheel. Meanwhile, some companies have marketed their advanced cruise control as “self-driving” as one did with deadly results: Tesla advertised its system as “Autopilot” which led to the death of a Florida man who thought the technology functioned as described.

Google’s little cars are being tested on the streets of Silicon Valley.

Interestingly, a Rasmussen poll from a couple months ago found that 52 percent of voters think robot cars will make the roads less safe, but business sees an automated future and believes public opinion can be readjusted.

As the Mercury reports, the pressure of suddenly facing so many competitors has forced the Google car company to step up its game.

As usual, there is no mention of the effect to society of gutting a major sector of the jobs economy, namely driving. More than three million Americans make their living by driving delivery vans, taxis, buses and 18-wheelers, but they are little discussed by the press when presenting its techno-news about automation.

And given the shrinking employment universe caused by technology, it makes no sense for the government to continue importing foreign workers under its anti-American immigration policies to fill jobs that no longer exist:

Automation makes immigration obsolete.

San Jose, of course, is at the heart of Silicon Valley and the major newspaper essentially serves the industry.

Google’s rivals in self-driving cars may force it into hard choice, San Jose Mercury News, August 26, 2016

MOUNTAIN VIEW — The sudden acceleration in deployment of self-driving technology could confront Google with a choice: stick to its fundamental plan to develop fully autonomous vehicles or downshift to join rivals who are poised to put less-advanced semi-autonomous cars on the road first.

Amid a blitz of progress announcements this month from robot-car firms that could beat Google to commercial success, the Mountain View tech titan on Friday confirmed it has hired a new head of its self-driving program who is known for steering the successful expansion of Airbnb into a new market.

“At some point the rubber has to hit the road,” said Carnegie Mellon University engineering professor Raj Rajkumar, whose work is focused on self-driving cars. “My understanding is they’ve spent several hundreds of millions of dollars on this project, and that they’re still spending $100 million a year. As far as I know there’s not a single penny of revenue. With the new Airbnb executive, they have to look at what are the opportunities for monetizing.”

But while Google has adhered to a belief that self-driving cars should only go to market when the need for human intervention has been eliminated — a step many experts believe is years away — the firm’s rivals are already putting out self-driving systems that stop short of full autonomy but take much of the work out of driving. Continue reading this article

Amazon’s Picking Challenge Spotlights Robotic Advances

Tuesday was the Amazon Prime day, where super deals were offered to shoppers of the online store who pay a fee for extra services. Last year’s Prime Day broke records with its total of 34.4 million items ordered in eligible countries worldwide. That task requires mega processing capability that depends on computers and automation, particularly the company’s Kiva robots that move the orders from storage to packaging to shipping in enormous warehouses.

Jeff Bezos’ vision of automated retail extends beyond the Kiva robots however, as shown by the Amazon Picking Challenge, an annual contest to encourage the creation of robots that have human-like manual dexterity. When machines can pick individual items from a shelf and put them into a box, then quite a few human workers will lose their jobs. Amazon paid $775 million for Kiva Systems, and the people who build the chosen robot picker will pocket quite a tidy sum.

Amazon’s video of the 2015 contest was explanatory without being too wonky:

The rapid progress of technology as highlighted by this competition should remind us all how the very basics of the economy — namely workers earning money to buy the products they and others produce — are being undermined. Yet none of our political leaders are discussing how the revolutionary changes to society will be addressed.

The politicians could start by ending immigration, since citizens will need all the remaining jobs. Oxford researchers estimated in 2013 that nearly half of US jobs were vulnerable to automation within 20 years, and the progress of the intervening years has done nothing to refute that idea.

Below, Kiva robots move racks of merchandise in Amazon’s Tracy CA warehouse.

KivaRobotsTransportItemsTracyCAwarehouse

Amazon moves one step closer toward army of warehouse robots, Guardian, July 4, 2016

Robotics competition prize for best warehouse-working ‘picker’ machine awarded to robot designed by Dutch team

Amazon’s progress toward an army of helpful robots is one step closer: a prize for the best warehouse-working “picker” machine has gone to a robot designed by a team from TU Delft Robotics Institute and Delft Robotics, both based in the Netherlands.

The competition was held in conjunction with Germany’s Robocup in Leipzig. Announced on Monday, the winners took home $25,000, while the university of Bonn’s NimbRo won $10,000 for second place and Japanese firm PFN was awarded $5,000 for third.

The contest, in Amazon’s words, “aimed to strengthen the ties between the industrial and academic robotic communities,” and ended with slightly fewer than half of the entrants scoring more than 20 out of 40 possible points, according to a report in TechRepublic. The technology is advancing quickly: all of those contestants would have surpassed the highest scorer in the previous Picking Challenge, held just three years ago. Continue reading this article

America's Truckers Face Self-Driving Technology

Many jobs that are being replaced by automation are somewhat small in terms of the number of workers in each employment category, so the overall cumulative effect has not been adequately noticed. However drivers are a huge group with millions of workers, plus the collateral businesses that are built around track drivers in particular, like roadside restaurants, so the disruption of the trucking industry will have large injurious effects.

Nevertheless, the businesses that build cars, trucks and buses are moving full steam ahead with self-driving technology because they don’t want to be left in the dust by Silicon Valley developing the industry.

In January, Obama announced he would throw $4 billion of taxpayers’ money at the self-driving project (if Congress appropriates it), so a big pile of free-to-them cash is another incentive for business to disemploy millions of American drivers.

The report below from the Guardian suggests that self-driving trucks might come into common usage more quickly than we think. But however attractive the idea of far cheaper hauling might be to transportation companies, it’s hard to imagine the driving public will readily accept ginormous big rigs speeding down the highway with no driver. Business may compromise by using the platooning strategy, where a designated lead truck has a driver and several vehicles follow along by being networked wirelessly.

Below, the German company Daimler introduced a self-driving big-rig truck at Hoover Dam in May 2015. Nevada allows self-driving vehicles if a driver is present to take charge.

Powerful interests now believe there is money to be made by creating an automated future, although making many millions of people unemployed seems a poorly considered way to run an economy. Robots don’t shop.

Still, the automation future is coming coming our way, as we see in the machines and software already here as the vanguard of the revolution.

One thing that should be done is to zero out immigration, because America won’t need millions of additional unemployable workers in a vastly reduced employment universe.

Self-driving trucks: what’s the future for America’s 3.5 million truckers?, Guardian, June 17, 2016

The race is on to get driverless trucks on the roads, and experts say the impact on professional drivers ‘is going to be huge’

Driverless trucks will be safer and cheaper than their human-controlled counterparts, but that doesn’t mean America’s 3.5 million professional truck drivers are giving up to the machines without a fight.

Across the US, truckers collectively haul more than 10bn tons of freight each year, but it’s a tough job – the hours are long and lonely, the pay is low and the lifestyle is sedentary. In many ways it’s a job ripe for disruption; robots v truckers.

“Picture the taxi drivers around the world acting in response to Uber,” says Andy Stern, the former former president of the Service Employees International Union, referring to protests and violence that erupted in many cities as the $62.5bn Silicon Valley on-demand ride-hailing firm challenged conventional, regulated taxis.

“Truck drivers will follow a similar pattern,” says Stern. “There will be disruption in different places. You can imagine people ringing state capitals with their trucks.”

Much has been written about the advent of the driverless car, with rival versions being developed by Google, Uber and Tesla, yet driverless trucks are likely to roll out at scale much sooner. “Individuals can make their own choices about whether they want to get into a driverless car or taxi, but labour-saving technology will be deployed by businesses much quicker,” explains Stern, whose book Raising the Floor explores the need for a universal basic income as technology replaces jobs. Continue reading this article

Computer Scientist Warns Automation Is Humanity’s “Greatest Challenge Ever”

Rice University Professor Moshe Vardi not only thinks that smart machines are rapidly making human workers obsolete, but he also believes a future society where work is obsolete won’t be beneficial for human beings.

Automobile production once provided decent jobs for many Americans, but now factories are nearly human-free zones since 80 percent of car manufacturing is done by robots.

“I do not find this a promising future, as I do not find the prospect of leisure-only life appealing. That seems to me a dystopia. I believe that work is essential to human well-being,” he remarked at a recent presentation at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington.

Destroying the entire basis of the economy — jobs paying people to work, who in turn buy products — will be hard enough to sort out. But the adjustment required when billions of lives become unstructured seems a recipe for social disaster. Work has long been a basis of self-worth, and unemployment often leads to a feeling of emptiness which can prompt unhealthy use of drugs and alcohol.

The one-minute video below sums up the situation rather succinctly.

Human labor could be obsolete by 2045, according to a computer scientist at Rice University. Moshe Vardi believes that within the next 30 years, machines will be able to perform almost any task presently performed by humans. Thus, Vardi is posing questions to his colleagues about the necessary response in the event of widespread unemployment. According to Vardi, technological advancement in the field of artificial intelligence and robotics are displacing the need for human labor leading to worldwide unemployment as high as 50 percent within the next 30 years, reports the Guardian. He said, “We are approaching a time when machines will be able to outperform humans at almost any task. I believe that society needs to confront this question before it is upon us. If machines are capable of doing almost any work humans can do, what will humans do? The question I want to put forward is does the technology we are developing ultimately benefit mankind?”

Vardi is calling for a public discussion about how society should prepare for this fundamental change, but the usual suspects in Washington and the media continue to remain clueless about the shrinking jobs economy. The workplace revolution is well underway and the self-appointed leaders haven’t noticed. Millions of jobs have disappeared forever from the effects of advancing machine technology, but the same old prescriptions are being dragged out — lower regulation from Republicans and more welfare from Democrats — none of which grapple with the real problem.

Plus, top political figures are shockingly silent: see my recent Social Contract article, Presidential Candidates: Why Is Automation’s Job Destruction Not Being Debated?

Finally, America won’t be needing any more immigrants since machines will be doing all the jobs. Automation makes immigration obsolete, like homesteading.

When machines can do any job, what will humans do?, Rice University News, February 14, 2016

Rice computer scientist Moshe Vardi: Human labor may be obsolete by 2045

HOUSTON — (Feb. 14, 2016) — Rice University computer scientist Moshe Vardi expects that within 30 years, machines will be capable of doing almost any job that a human can. In anticipation, he is asking his colleagues to consider the societal implications. Can the global economy adapt to greater than 50 percent unemployment? Will those out of work be content to live a life of leisure?

“We are approaching a time when machines will be able to outperform humans at almost any task,” Vardi said. “I believe that society needs to confront this question before it is upon us: If machines are capable of doing almost any work humans can do, what will humans do?”

Vardi addressed this issue Sunday in a presentation titled “Smart Robots and Their Impact on Society” at one of the world’s largest and most prestigious scientific meetings — the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C.

“The question I want to put forward is, Does the technology we are developing ultimately benefit mankind?” Vardi said. He asked the question after presenting a body of evidence suggesting that the pace of advancement in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) is increasing, even as existing robotic and AI technologies are eliminating a growing number of middle-class jobs and thereby driving up income inequality. Continue reading this article

Amazon Rolls Out New Model Delivery Drone for the Near Future

Along with the many business stories about the Amazon retailer on Cyber Monday, the company used the occasion to release a video about Jeff Bezos’ favorite hobby, a drone delivery robot, a project he announced on Sixty Minutes in 2013.

Jeremy Clarkson, formerly of the British car show Top Gear, told a story about a girl whose soccer shoe is eaten by the dog — but Amazon Prime save the day by same-day delivery of a new pair!

Interestingly, the new model of Amazon drone looks like a flying shelf that poops out its cargo. It doesn’t appear to have unshielded whirling blades to bonk unhelmeted pedestrians, as has already happened with other drones.

AmazonPrimeDroneFlyingShelf

A sky full whirring drones is not my idea of a pleasant future. Plus, if the drones really become a major delivery vehicle, that would mean fewer jobs for human truck drivers. Automation has killed millions of jobs, to the point where it is crazy for Washington to continue importing immigrant workers, as if nothing had changed in the workplace universe.

Here’s more background on the Jeremy Clarkson connection:

Jeremy Clarkson drones on as Amazon ad aims to get sales flying, Guardian (UK), November 30, 2015

Retailer seems determined to get its money’s worth out of the former Top Gear host as he fronts YouTube campaign showing how it may deliver in the future

Amazon is seeking to get as much mileage as possible out of new star-signing Jeremy Clarkson, with the former Top Gear presenter fronting an ad unveiling anew hybrid drone that could see deliveries made to customers’ backyards. Continue reading this article

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