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How do you feel about robots in general?


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(I thought since the founder of NovaQuark and Dual Universe specializes in robotics and AI, I thought it would be fitting to put this topic here....)

 

I think they will be a useful way to assist people in doing jobs. I don't think they will be a cause of unemployment - rather, the jobs that humans will do will shift from stuff like manual labor to robot maintenance or whatever.

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As a nerd and software programmer I think they are cool.

 

But there is a problem with how the world is changing in a way that does not scale.

 

By that I mean that production in always increasing, creating more and more products for consumption. But at the same time demand for manual labor is decreasing since most factories are automated to increase efficiency. 

 

Same for more traditional jobs like expedition etc. The small "mom and dad" shops are becomes less and less relevant and taken over by the large corporations and internet sales. And those large chains are constantly trying to automate away as much manual labor as possible to save money. I.e. less jobs in general in that sector also.

 

And in the next 10 years time or so when we get actual proper autopilots for driving, the need for taxi and truck drivers will also largely go away. This is already starting to happen right now for cargo transport, and other large ships that travel predetermined routes at sea. Next up will be airplane pilots.

 

And all this automation will only require a small but highly skilled workforce to be maintained, since that is kinda the whole point of automation.

 

The last to go (if ever) will be specific manual labor like carpenters (but we are already seeing 3D printed houses being demonstrated), hairdressers, plumbers, electricians etc. And someone has to build the large factories in the first place. But that is only a small workforce compared to what will be made obsolete by the factory when it is complete. And eventually we will get good enough automation and robotics so that factories can build themself, but that will be in the not so near future.

 

So liking robots or not, everything points to that there will be less jobs in the future. And the jobs that remain, will require more specialized skill-sets.

 

So pretty much the only type of work that I can guarantee will be in demand for a long time to come, is the devs needed to create all this automation. And that is what I do for a living. But even that is only one or two AI revolutions away from being made obsolete (a 20+ years time-frame would be my guess).

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Robots will be better workers than humans are. More effective, faster, cheaper and neutral.

Humans are too vulnerable to many factors. The problem will be, what do you want to do with so many people when they are no longer needed or have no use?

I cannot think of any work that could not be replaced by a robot. (Of course, it depends on the state of the art, currently many things are not generally due to the implementation, but to horrendous prices).

 

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The longer you try and see into the future the more certain UBI becomes.

 

But...  Global UBI would also requires a colossal mental and economical shift, since profit driven production would no longer be sustainable.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm not so certain that this will be true...that robots will replace the bulk of human workers because they are cheaper and more effective. 

 

Sadly, humans are cheap. If robots were to start replacing so many humans that it created social upheaval, the price of labor would likely drop, too...to the point where robots aren't as cost-effective. If the social upheaval from robots became especially extreme, governments would be keen on regulation -- unemployment and decreasing income taxes wouldn't go unanswered. 

 

Robots aren't always the cheapest option. They require maintenance, initial investment and R&D, software, retooling, and usually humans cleaning up after their mistakes or doing QA.

 

Apple looked into fully automated its iPhone production line, for example, and found that humans were better because robots suck at screws. Of course they wouldn't invest too much to solve this problem...but why should they when Apple's workers are paid so poorly that a machine isn't worth the R&D...?

 

I don't really see a future where robots have replaced humans, because I don't see a future where global human labor is valued enough to make robots the obvious economical choice. There's already 7.7 billion of us and by 2050 it'll likely be closer to 10 billion. 

 

I see the value of human life becoming less and less into the future and the gulf between haves and have-nots increasing...in that context, conditions will favor human workers in most industries because humans are cheaper, more flexible, and more disposable than robots.

 

Which is more risky...hiring 1,000 cheap workers that you can lay off tomorrow or investing millions in a purely automated system that isn't proven to work...? Which is faster to scale? Which is more flexible if a process on the line changes? Which is easier to fix if a flaw in the process is discovered? Human labor still has many advantages compared to robots. 

 

Automation will keep moving forward, but I don't think it will be economical for robots to replace the bulk of human workers. 

Edited by blundertwink
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