Skip to comments.Will Automation Kill Our Jobs?
Posted on 02/21/2018 12:41:20 PM PST by Kaslin
A recent article in The Guardian dons the foreboding title "Robots will destroy our jobs -- and we're not ready for it." The article claims, "For every job created by robotic automation, several more will be eliminated entirely. ... This disruption will have a devastating impact on our workforce." According to an article in MIT Technology Review, business researchers Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee believe that rapid technological change has been destroying jobs faster than it is creating them, contributing to the stagnation of median income and the growth of inequality in the United States.
If technology is destroying jobs faster than it's creating them, it is the first time in human history that it's done so. Actually, the number of jobs is unlimited, for the simple reason that human wants are unlimited -- or they don't frequently reveal their bounds. People always want more of something that will create a job for someone. To suggest that there are a finite number of jobs commits an error known as the "lump of labor fallacy." That fallacy suggests that when automation or technology eliminates a job, there's nothing that people want that would create employment for the person displaced by the automation. In other words, all human wants have been satisfied.
Let's look at a few examples. In 1790, farmers were 90 percent of the U.S. labor force. By 1900, only about 41 percent of our workers were employed in agriculture. Today less than 3 percent of Americans are employed in agriculture. And it's a good thing. If 90 percent or 41 percent of our labor force were still employed in agriculture, where in the world would we find the workforce to produce all those goods and services that weren't around in 1790 or 1900, such as cars, aircraft, TVs, computers, aircraft carriers, etc.? Indeed, if technology had not destroyed all of those agricultural jobs, we would be a much, much poorer nation.
What about the claim that our manufacturing jobs are going to China -- a claim that's fueling the Trump administration to impose trade barriers? It is true that between 2001 and 2013, 3.2 million jobs were outsourced to China. However, in the same time frame, China lost about 4.5 million manufacturing jobs, compared with the loss of 3.1 million in the U.S. Job loss is the trend among the top 10 manufacturing countries, which produce 75 percent of the world's manufacturing output (the U.S., Japan, Germany, China, Britain, France, Italy, South Korea, Canada and Mexico). Only Italy has managed not to lose factory jobs since 2000. Nonetheless, the U.S. remains a major force in global manufacturing.
Because of automation, the U.S. worker is now three times as productive as in 1980 and twice as productive as in 2000. It's productivity gains, rather than outsourcing and imports, that explain most of our manufacturing job loss.
If our manufacturing sector were its own economy and had its own gross domestic product, it would be the seventh-largest in the world. Total manufacturing value could be as high as $5.5 trillion. In other words, about 17 percent of global manufacturing activity happens in the United States, and America dominates advanced manufacturing. According to the Alliance for American Manufacturing, U.S. manufacturing employs a large percentage of the workers who are trained in fields related to science, technology, engineering and math. It employs 37 percent of architectural and engineering workers and 16 percent of life, physical and social scientists.
Economist Joseph Schumpeter described this process of technological change. He called it "creative destruction." Technology and innovation destroy some jobs while creating many others. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. labor force in 1950 was 62 million. By 2000, it was 79 million, and it's projected to reach 192 million by 2050. Though the "creative destruction" process works hardships on some people who lose their jobs and are forced to take lower-paying jobs, any attempt to impede the process would make all of us worse off.
Only the little people’s jobs.
>> Though the “creative destruction” process works hardships on some people who lose their jobs and are forced to take lower-paying jobs, any attempt to impede the process would make all of us worse off.
Overall, automation is a GOOD thing. Very few people want to spend 8 hours a day doing the same repetitive task.
But from the standpoint of an individual person whose job is lost to automation, it’s a bad thing.
So, do we resist automation out of compassion for that individual who is losing his job? No. If we did that, we’d still be propping up buggy whip factories.
The guy who loses his job has a number of options: Retire. Retrain. Move to a place where his job exists but isn’t automated. Take a different job. Go on welfare. Did I miss some?
I Navigated Navy P-2s and P-3s for 20 years. The P-8 also has a flight navigator/radioman. The civilian equivalent disappeared several decades ago, replaced by automation.
Both large and small businesses have been running lean for the last fifteen years or so.
Why would you employ twenty people when ten employees have proven that they can do the job for the last decade and a half? (or ten people when the technology exists to get the job done with five?)
There are very few jobs that cannot be replaced by machines.
The future does not belong to today’s employee. It belongs to those who design, maintain and program the machines that will come into service in the next five years plus.
(Oddly enough, thinking about this a bit more, even these jobs are not secure. With improving technology. Only about 4000 years until the Butlerian Jihad.)
Personally, I don't think it's ever going to substantially increase again.
You missed one. Become a Wal-Mart greeter and let your wife bring home the bacon.
The idea automation would make our lives easier has been around since at least the 1950s. Yet today two parents work longer hours for less pay to fill houses with crap made in China. Don’t see that changing any time soon.
Nope. Some people will never want robot services.
There will ge tiers of service for all different types and dollar levels of service.
Will big box stores get rid of all other stores? No.
Will internet get rid of all physical stores? No.
There will be some flux and impact but the pie expands.
Automatic ignorance developers don’t care a people. They get theirs and don’t care about others. They have less compassion then the machines they create. I say “People who hate people use the self checkout machines”. So boycott the self checkout lanes and save a cashiers job. They are also working on machine to stock the stores. Managers you are next. Having worked as an electronics tech Doctors your jobs are in danger too.
Yep, that is definitely the attitude when you find out Robby the Robot or Daughter of Alexa stole your job.
No. Lack of automation will kill our jobs. China is adding robots like crazy and their jobs are growing like crazy. They found a way to make stuff cheaply even though their wages are skyrocketing.
Last Saturday, I met a Wal-Mart cashier who was bringing home the bacon and her husband was cleaning the house.
The real question to ask is " Will automation kill us?"
The story about how Boeing convinced the FAA to certify the 767 and 777 cockpit configuration (pilot and copilot only) is an interesting one. On the flight-safety test, Boeing had a 777 take off, fly a prescribed route, and land with *nobody* in the cockpit. That convinced the FAA that a flight navigator was not necessary in the cockpit of those aircraft.
^ Meant to write 757 and 767, although I recall that the 777 has a two-person cockpit configuration as well.
“” “” Because of automation, the U.S. worker is now three times as productive as in 1980 and twice as productive as in 2000. It’s productivity gains, rather than outsourcing and imports, that explain most of our manufacturing job loss.”” “”
That’s a stick with more than two ends. Both outsourcing and automation contributes to a job loss but it does differently.
You shouldn’t listen to new Luddites who are against automation. In 18th century it took a British textile worker three months wage to afford decent shoes. Has weaving machinery Luddites hate so much ruined their industry? The answer is no. It increased productivity and the excess of workers went to other industries which seen similar growth based on the same principles.
In didn’t took months of work for the same worker to afford shoes in 1960s 150 years later not in spite of automation but due to it. Thanks to the automation they could afford homes and automobiles by that time.
Now guess why there is no British textile industry and no related jobs left?
Yes, its gone thanks to outsourcing and it is not automation which is to blame.
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