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Rice Professor Predicts Humans Out of Work In 30 Years

Unknown Lamer posted about a year and a half ago | from the welcome-to-burger-hut dept.

AI 808

kkleiner writes "Rice University professor Moshe Vardi has been evaluating technological progress in computer science and artificial intelligence and has recently concluded that robots will replace most, if not all, human labor by 2045, putting millions out of work. The issue is whether AI enables humans to do more or less. But perhaps the real question about technological unemployment of labor isn't 'How will people do nothing?' but 'What kind of work will they do instead?'"

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This thought crosses my mind a lot. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43745417)

I can't wait to actually live! come on automation! we're ready for this!

Re:This thought crosses my mind a lot. (5, Funny)

msauve (701917) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745557)

'What kind of work will they do instead?'

I, for one, will be serving my robotic overlords.

Re:This thought crosses my mind a lot. (5, Insightful)

alonsoac (180192) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745749)

I am sure most people are ready for their boss to be replaced by a robot. And not some genius robot, just a competent one would do.

Re:This thought crosses my mind a lot. (3, Insightful)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745699)

Ideally, this professor needs to get to building these robots asap.

And then robots that maintain those robots...
and then...
robots that maintain those robot's robots.

Hopefully the 3rd generator of robots will exhibit more logic than the professor at which point skynet will be born.

maybe not 30 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43745423)

Probably not in 30 years, but that's definitely going to happen, in less than a hundred years.

What? Again? (4, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745425)

This was predicted back in the 1930s, too. How did that work out for them?

Re:What? Again? (4, Interesting)

paulpach (798828) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745593)

This was predicted back in the 1930s, too. How did that work out for them?

Exactly!

People became more productive due to technology. Now you are able to produce enough for you and your family in 40 hours / week. Before this technology advancement, you needed to work 60-80 hours / week in order to produce enough.

What will happen if we are super productive as that professor claims? Have you seen the Jetsons? that is pretty much what will happen: you would work 2 days a week for 5 hours / day. Your job would not be canning tuna, but making sure that the machine that does it gets maintenance. We would spend our time, doing art, music, entertainment, or any other leisure related activity/job.

Consider this: we don't have to work to get air. All that it means, is that we can use the labor to produce something else. If we had to work to get air, we would simply switch some of the labor from their current occupation to air production, but we would not get the benefit from what they are currently doing.

Jobs are not a scarce resource, labor is. There is always enough jobs for everyone that wants one and then some, even if it means being self employed. The only reason there is unemployment at all, is because of bad laws.

Re:What? Again? (4, Interesting)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745769)

I predict we'll get in a lot more trouble, but I for one like to believe I will get some time to do all the fun projects I have to put off now. Maybe things that now seem impractical or prohibitively expensive will get done. The egyptians showed us a large amount of cheap labor can produce wonders that still boggle the mind, what about large amounts of educate, dedicated labor?

Re:What? Again? (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745811)

We would spend our time, doing art, music, entertainment, or any other leisure related activity/job

And who's gonna be paying you to spend your time doing art, music entertainment, or any other leisure activity?

Re:What? Again? (5, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745889)

We would spend our time, doing art, music, entertainment, or any other leisure related activity/job

And who's gonna be paying you to spend your time doing art, music entertainment, or any other leisure activity?

That seems to be the mistake all the pie-in-the-sky thinkers make; they just assume that, with the elimination of work for humans, the elimination of a weighted financial system designed to separate us into differing economic classes will disappear with a magical POOF.

The more likely circumstance is that, as more and more people lose their jobs to robotic workers, endless riots and resource wars will become the new norm.

At least, until a significant portion of the population is killed off.

Re:What? Again? (4, Insightful)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745829)

I'd look at the last 30-40 years for an example of what will happen: Less jobs, stagnant pay, more ludicrous wealth for a select few.

Could stupidity be artificial? (1)

mevets (322601) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745855)

I am sure Moshe was not intentionally channelling Hanna-Barbera, but you raise an interesting point. Has AI prognostication devolved into mining 1960s cartoons in the hope of getting it right?

I would like to add my own prediction: Artificial Stupidity, which will arrive long before Artificial Intelligence, will bring about the unemployment of our soothsayers. Such a singularity will be capable of generating a significant multiple of the inane tripe that humans can.

Re:What? Again? (2)

Alain Williams (2972) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745621)

I remember it in the 1960s. Robots (or machines) have certainly replaced some jobs, or changed them - we no longer have the office typing pool for instance. However for some jobs it is going to be hard to replace humans: hospital nurses, kindergarten teachers for instance.

Re:What? Again? (2)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745693)

If it's getting cheaper for companies to run robot factories in the US than to employ Chinese labourers, I get the feeling the idea is a lot closer to reality than in the 1930s. I find the idea that robots wil be able to replicate imagination or creativity utterly laughable though, in any field.

Re:What? Again? (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745703)

This guy appeared who said that we would all be better off without millions of useless eaters. There were only 2.3 billion humans on the planet then. Today there are 7.1 billion.

In 1965 a United Nations report predicted that the world's population would rise to 5.7 billion by 1995. It did.

And to think, that same UN says this: "Reproductive rights rest on the recognition of the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health. They also include the right of all to make decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence."

Let's set aside for a moment the gargantuan heteronormality and homophobia of this statement ( you know, I've always liked that word, "gargantuan"... so rarely have an opportunity to use it in a sentence) while we acknowledge that when there were 2.3 billion humans on the planet there were a hell of a lot more jobs for them to do. Now that we have 7.1 billion, and climbing, and the jobs for them are falling, what should we do exactly?

Re:What? Again? (1)

NettiWelho (1147351) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745741)

This was predicted back in the 1930s, too. How did that work out for them?

Well, I'd find it much more plausible today than in the 1930's, given the past 70+ years of technological progress.

Re:What? Again? (1)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745865)

Human intelligence or even puppy-level intelligence is easy to underestimate.

Bumblebees are quite sophisticated in their behavior.

In the 1960's, they would have thought we would be living on Pluto by now and would have expected us to be on Mars by 1980.

We overestimate the "processing power" of the computers we have right now and we don't yet have the right "minds" to solve the inner subtleties of AI or learning.

And our programming languages are rather pathetic and unevolved. Watch an Apple Newton video from 1987 and benchmark against 2013 and see what you think.

Re:What? Again? (1)

Jewfro_Macabbi (1000217) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745761)

It would be working much better if progress wasn't artificially limited to keep "jobs".

Re:What? Again? (4, Informative)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745765)

in the US, in 1900 41% of the labour was involved in agriculture, in 1930 it was 21.5%. Today it's between 2 and 3%. Europe is something similar.

And that's to say nothing of the 10's of millions of farm animals that worked in the same period and were replaced as well.

To an extent you're right though, people are still needed to oversee the robots, to replace and repair robots etc. The modern car factory even though it may have thousands of workers is very different than a car factory of thousands of workers before. That doesn't mean an end to work, it just means an end to a lot more manual work.

With opens then next possible revolution in industry. Customization. Rather than 10 different models of cars you can have 10 000 all for the same price and only a tiny marginal cost in deciding which one is best for you. That certainly happens now with cars, the marginal cost is just too high for a lot of it. But that will apply to a lot more goods likely, a lot more 'service' jobs that are are about deciding what you want the robots to do, and telling them how to do it, and fixing them when they fail.

Re:What? Again? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43745795)

It is a very old concept known as the "Luddite fallacy".

Re:What? Again? (1)

houghi (78078) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745857)

This was predicted back in the 1930s, too. How did that work out for them?

Well, of the top of my head, the killing of millions of people. So I would say, not so good.

Pinky and the Brain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43745433)

"The same thing we do every day Think of ways to take over the world".

Dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43745437)

They will be dead, kind of hard to work.

No problem (5, Interesting)

backslashdot (95548) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745439)

The economy functions fine with workers and companies right? Why wouldn't it function with robotic workers and companies?

1. People can own shares in companies that own robots. Those shares will pay dividends (or increase in value etc).

2. The government can tax the profits of the robot run factories. These profits can provide a dividend check to citizens who would hopefully invest wisely in the robot companies.

Rather than work, people's time will be spent trying to figure out which robot companies perform well. You can use a computer program to do it .. which will let you decide if you want to be a risky investor etc. If you want to design robots for extra income, you can do that too.

I didn't say products should be free. People will have to pay for the manufactured goods. Think of it this way -- it's the same as working. Instead of you physically going to work and getting a paycheck. Your robot does it for you.
People who make bad investment choices will be worse off than those who make wiser choices. Hopefully nobody will starve, because government will have enough tax revenue for a welfare scheme that provides the bare essentials.

Re:No problem (1)

backslashdot (95548) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745481)

Also, instead of paying $200,000 for a college education, you can get the education 100% free online (udacity, khan academy etc) and instead buy shares in a robot-using company. People will be able to pursue things they are interested in, they will just have a much greater safety net and more freedom to try out ideas.

Of course this is the utopian vision, but at least you must concede that the reality will not be a dystopia either.

Re:No problem (1)

sconeu (64226) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745553)

but at least you must concede that the reality will not be a dystopia either

And what, over the past 20 years, has provided evidence for that? It looks to me like we're headed for a Gibsonian dystopia.

Re:No problem (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745851)

Not a Headroomian dystopia?

Re:No problem (2)

msauve (701917) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745569)

When they hire you, they don't care if you have an education, only a degree. There's a significant difference.

Re:No problem (1)

backslashdot (95548) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745727)

I am sure there will be companies offering testing/certification services and also companies offering facilities for practical work. It'll be sort of like homeschooling.

Re:No problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43745601)

Of course this is the utopian vision, but at least you must concede that the reality will not be a dystopia either.

Murphy was an optimist.

also need a single payer health care system (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745615)

also need a single payer health care system

Re:No problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43745591)

People can own shares in companies that own robots.

Which they will buy using....?

Here's my dystopian vision: bumfights for everyone! Earn your dinner tonight the brutal way!

Re:No problem (1)

backslashdot (95548) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745705)

Unemployment checks. Savings. Welfare (like how Alaska pays people from their oil revenue). Lots of ways to pay for it. The replacement will be gradual over a decade or two minimum.

Re:No problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43745663)

Think of it this way -- it's the same as working. Instead of you physically going to work and getting a paycheck. Your robot does it for you.
People who make bad investment choices will be worse off than those who make wiser choices.

I would totally invest all my money in the robots that build perpetual motion machines, which will surely exist in this world of yours.

Re:No problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43745793)

Good strategy.

How it will actually work. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43745825)

Workers will be replaced by automation, and left to fend for themselves. Eventually desperation will force them to crime, they will get arrested and put in jail where tax dollars will pay for all their needs until they die.

Eventually this prison population will shrink (since they are not allowed to breed) down to maintainable levels. The wealthy (who were never a part of the prison population) will benefit from their robotic labor forces without having to worry about the poor class which no longer exists.

Re:No problem (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43745837)

And how will all those unemployed people pay for the robotically manufactured goods? We're already seeing the "hourglass economy" draining jobs and wealth from first world nations to developing countries. The ranks of the poor are being swelled by all the middle class laborers who have lost their jobs. Service industry jobs like waiters and cashiers don't pay sustainable wages. They certainly don't pay well enough to risk a profitable amount in the market.

Now stick robots in the mix and the jobs will continue to drain, only instead of the profits ending up overseas, they will terminate at the first world robot factory owners. The only saving grace of the current economic slide is that the developing nations are benefitting from the truckloads of money and are rapidly building up a middle class. Stop sending them money, and they'll revert to being the disaffected poor again; and poor nations are easily overrun by theocracies, warlords, and tyrants.

It's completely unstable. I suspect that in 35 years the poor will include almost all of the 99%, and their next revolt will be a lot more violent and change-making than Occupy Wall Street ever was. If we're lucky, it will end after some forced redistribution of wealth. If not, the violence will be devastating.

Hmm... (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745441)

'What kind of work will they do instead?'

Well, that's a tricky one: If the worker-robots advance faster than the killer robots, it seems likely that the unemployed humans will find exciting new opportunities in either the 'rioting jobless masses' sector or the 'rentacops keeping the rioting jobless masses in their place' sector.

If the killer robots advance as fast or faster than the worker-robots, I predict a surge of new applicants in the organic fertilizer sector.

Re:Hmm... (2)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745503)

I don't know if this is insightful or funny. Actually, I was afraid to choose.

Re:Hmm... (2)

Hrdina (781504) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745521)

Soylent Corporation is always hiring.

Re:Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43745695)

Note to self: learn how to operate a garbarge tru.. err, rioting crowd control dispersal unit.

Smashing the goddam Robots will keep everyone busy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43745545)

Well, that or the organic fertilizer sector.

There aren't really any other alternatives with the profit/power driven societies we have now.

Re:Hmm... (1)

cyachallenge (2521604) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745575)

Perhaps this change will mark the true information age. Instead of physically working we will work through computer languages etc.
Programming and other IT/computer related tasks will be the new labor base. Not to mention installation and maintenance of hardware.

No, the computers will do that better as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43745775)

To get the Robots that good, the computers have to be that good

So, no, you won't be 'playing the stock market' or playing with computers, those areas will already be squeezed out.

Stock market likely is already.

30 years should be good for the GOP to come up wit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43745463)

30 years should be good for the GOP to come up with a plan the fixes that holes in obamacare and if not or it dies get ready for jail / prison care to be the 1# used plan.

obligatory (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43745473)

I for one welcome our robot overlords!

i think we will all be batteries (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43745487)

i mean, where else would the machines get the power they need after we blacken the skys?

Re:i think we will all be batteries (1)

ubersoldat2k7 (1557119) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745815)

I find Black Mirror's view of humans generating energy with bicycles more appealing.

Re:i think we will all be batteries (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745885)

as i understand it the original idea was to have the humans act like processing units but that was thought to be to confusing for the masses so they changed it to people as batteries. I think this make more since, as the human brain is a massively more powerful than any of our current computers is thought to be able to store anywhere frome 1Tb to 2.5 Pb, is much smaller, produce very little in the way of waste heat and requires very little power to run. i mean really why would you use people as batteries we produce very little in the way of electricity and heat and it take much more energy to maintain a human then they would ever generate as a power source.

Professor Moron! (0, Flamebait)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745493)

Dude, you are the reason why tenure is a bad thing. If anyone suggested something as hopelessly stupid as what you just did in my college, I'd not just boot your ass, I'd build a special rocket to fire you into the Sun to rid the planet of your stupidity.

Every 10 years, some pundit comes along and says technology will have us all living the good life and little robots and shit will do all the work for us. But the truth is the same today as it has been throughout human history: It's cheaper to enslave other people to achieve that "good life" than it is to build the technology to elevate us all. And humanity, on the whole, has steadfastly chosen short term gain for some over long-term prosperity all. Hell, this ball of spinning rock you're on is actually starting to cook itself (and us) because of this fact of humanity.

The entire notion ranks right up there with believing that a better understanding of the problem will necessarily lead to better decisions. Lulz. You can lead a horse to water...

Re:Professor Moron! (1)

narcc (412956) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745755)

Every 10 years, some pundit comes along and says technology will have us all living the good life and little robots and shit will do all the work for us.

Over the past few weeks, it seems like some evangelist comes along every 10 minutes to let use know that salvation is right around the corner.

Re:Professor Moron! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43745867)

If they had said starvation instead of salvation they might have been closer to the truth.

Re:Professor Moron! (2)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745767)

Yea because the average lifestyle is exactly the same now as it was 100 years ago or even 1000 years ago. Maybe I'm missing the sarcasm, but I read your post as if you actually believe it.

Did I hear something?
???*Woosh*???

Re:Professor Moron! (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745871)

Yea because the average lifestyle is exactly the same now as it was 100 years ago or even 1000 years ago. Maybe I'm missing the sarcasm, but I read your post as if you actually believe it.

Did I hear something?
???*Woosh*???

Hmm... Let's see.
5000 BC: Iraq, Samarra. About the only thing we know is they did pottery. Beyond this point, there aren't any reliable records.
4000 BC: Mesopotamia. A few wealthy people and a large number of worker-slaves.
3000 BC: Mesopotamia. The Sumerian hegemony. A few wealth people and a large number of worker-slaves.
2000 BC: Egypt. The height of the Old Kingdom. A few wealthy people and a large number of worker-slaves.
1000 BC: China, Zhou Dynasty. A few wealthy people and a large number of worker-slaves.
0 AD: Roman Empire. A few wealthy people and a large number of worker-slaves.
1000 AD: Europe. Middle of the Dark Ages. A few wealthy people and a large number of worker-slaves.
2000 AD: United States. A few wealthy people, and a large number of worker-slaves.

Have I made my point yet?

Re:Professor Moron! (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745783)

Because long term prosperity for all never works. There are finite resources and thus people have them or don't. To think otherwise is just trying to rehash communism in a prettier light, People do not want to be equal they want to be better than each other. This is basic ingrained mating behavior to a large extent.

Re:Professor Moron! (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745817)

I may be giving the professor too much credit; but my impression was that he was predicting a situation where advances in automation made robots more cost-effective than humans for essentially any task... Not that that would necessarily lead to especially pleasant outcomes for the redundant humans.

People who think that the benefits of increased automation will magically accrue to everyone are... questionably balanced... but the notion that an increasing number of tasks will be sufficiently well automated that even literal slave labor can't beat machines on price seems much harder to dispute.

Somewhat self-correcting (2)

transporter_ii (986545) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745495)

One fork in the eye of the Uber Rich is that the process is somewhat self-correcting. Nobody will have money to buy their stuff if nobody has jobs, or there are some jobs but they pay squat.

Money ain't needed ... (1)

evanh (627108) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745671)

... if there is no one that is doing the work.

The question becomes: How do we humans get along without swinging axes at each other?

Well, there's always something to do-- (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43745501)

Reminds me of a line I heard on NPR a few days back-- "Back home, there was only two things to do: Go hunting and get pregnant." ...In retrospect, I'm not entirely sure if those were unrelated thoughts.

The question (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43745507)

No, the real question is "How will we dispose of the excess humans?"

The answer may be one of the following:
-World War
-Genocide
-Starvation
-Plagues

That is all.

Re:The question (1)

hendrikboom (1001110) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745643)

The four horsemen, traditionally, were War, Plague, Pestilence, Famine.

Robo-communism (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43745509)

Each robot works according to its capacity, and the people receive according to their needs. This should be an improvement, since we don't need to work. Technology is suppose to decrease the amount you need to work by increasing efficiency.

We really need to progress toward an economic system where thats what happens, instead of what we are heading for: a concentration of wealth in a smaller and smaller number of individuals (he who owns the most robots, can build the most robot factories etc). The simple fact that the rate of growth of wealth is positively correlated with wealth is very scary.

We'll be left making only one thing ourselves... (1)

MatthiasF (1853064) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745511)

Babies. Ooooh yeah!

Re:We'll be left making only one thing ourselves.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43745653)

Better get out of your mom's basement and start practicing.

Cut full time to 25-30 hours a week and haved forc (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745523)

Cut full time to 25-30 hours a week and have forced overtime pay (no more of this salary BS) and (no comp time only) or maybe have a high level of pay where any on makeing over that on salary does not get overtime maybe starting it 100K+ adjusted for inflation.

what will people get paid for? (5, Insightful)

RichMan (8097) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745531)

The question is not how will people "do nothing", the question is how will people get paid for "doing nothing".

There will be a small percentage of people who do actual physical work. There will be a small percentage of people who do mental work. Those people will be paid well.

What about the rest? McDonalds/Starbucks will be fully robotic.

Re:what will people get paid for? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43745639)

The factory of the future will have only two employees, a man and a dog.

The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the equipment.

Warren G. Bennis

Right (4, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745535)

I've heard that before. These new fangled PC's in everyone's home will make datacenters a thing of the past! Cloud computing will make home computers a thing of the past! New 4GL languages will make developers a thing of the past! New spreadsheets will make business software developers a thing of the past! New point-and-click GUI's will make web developers a thing of the past!

So far, things just seem to be getting more and more complicated, requiring more and more people to run them.

Has someone invented Omnius? (1)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745537)

Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind.

No worries (1)

mvar (1386987) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745543)

taking into consideration the debt crisis that spreads in the western countries and its consequences (unemployment etc), the population will be out of work long before 2045. So no need to worry about those schemy robots taking our jobs!

The Leisure Age (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43745551)

In a perfect world this is what we should all be looking forward to.
With the rabid anti-socialism attitudes prevailing at the moment things don't look good though.
A more likely scenario will be the concentration of wealth into an ever declining few, and the rest of us thrown on the scrapheap.

Listen to me copper top (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43745555)

I wonder how much you could earn as a human battery?

So soon? (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745563)

I didn't think we were due for a repeat of this story for at least another few months.

He's right and wrong...here's why (4, Insightful)

MindPrison (864299) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745589)

He is right when it comes to actual physical hard labor.

He is wrong when it comes to us being out of work, the biggest (and hardest challenge of all times) will be in entertainment. The lazier we become, the more entertainment we need, online series, drawings, animations, films, stories, interactive experiences etc. will be the biggest thing on earth.

We will NEVER be out of work. We'll just work DIFFERENTLY than what we do now.

Re:He's right and wrong...here's why (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43745823)

But given that society's consensus seems to be that music/TV shows/etc have no real value, there's not going to be much money in creating those things.

You are wrong, one really simple word explains why (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43745835)

Sexbot

If movies have taught us anything... (1)

afaiktoit (831835) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745609)

In the future there'll be a high demand for robot hunters and mercenaries to combat skynet.

No problem doing nothing (1)

Quirkz (1206400) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745617)

I have no problem doing nothing. Or rather, given no requirements, I have no problem filling my time with constructive (well, mostly) things to keep myself occupied. I spent half a year unemployed after the dot-com bust, and other than plummeting into debt it was one of the best times of my life.

Naturally, this prediction comes when I'll be 68 and at full retirement age. That practically guarantees it'll come true, and I'll watch all the snotty kids enjoying the good life I had to earn for myself through decades of work.

Time to Retrain People to Ignore the "Work Ethic" (5, Insightful)

srobert (4099) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745633)

An economy so structured, with so little work for humans to do, will be a disaster if humanity continues insisting that there's an intrinsic morality in the "work ethic". For centuries we've tried to convince people that if they didn't work harder, they weren't morally entitled to a share of the aggregate sum of all that was produced through human labor. With almost nothing left that requires human labor, we'll be in bad shape if we don't replace the work ethic with entitlement ethic. (That will no doubt ruffle some conservative sensibilities). Want to see how the economy will have to work? Think "Star Trek Replicators"; that's why the Federation doesn't use money anymore in the 24th century.

Our mission is clear (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43745655)

To build and maintain those robots.

How to live in a post scarcity world? (5, Interesting)

quietwalker (969769) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745661)

Right now, people have jobs; they perform work in exchange for goods, services, and more often some type of currency.
In turn, currency derives it's value increasingly not from the rarity of a linked specie, but from perceived worth. It's not invalid to say that the value of money is determined by how much it's worth - in terms of goods or services - thus you have things like A big mac index [wikipedia.org] .

Here's the interesting thought in all this; what happens when the value of work effectively becomes zero? What happens on the way, when 20, 50, 80 percent unemployment is reached but society suffers no scarcity of services or goods thanks to robotic workers? When the effective value of work and the linked value of money become near zero not through hyperinflation, but out of lack of need? What happens when one country achieves that before others, especially since they're the likely candidate for top world power?

Personally, I think that we'll come up with another arbitrarily determined valuation system to peg individual worth to, like reputation or creative accomplishments; the desire to compare and compete and to have a discrete scale to measure is too ingrained into us to disappear just because the index we used is meaningless. I think that a vacation lifestyle would get boring after a few months, much less a lifetime, but hey, maybe I'm wrong.

What do you folks think?

Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43745675)

I just don't get it...We're totally rocking all this tech and are using it for the most ridiculous things. Plastic BigWheels garbage fucking copies of mindless mind over matter.
Where are the CNC greenhouses?
Automate the the foundation of Maslow's pyramid and provide more opportunity for people to do creative things.
If robots do end up replacing the majority of manual labor in the civilized world, then that should be a perfectly good excuse to REDUCE HUMAN LABOR...People need food, healthcare and a place to live...beyond that, it's all just socialization and self-realization.
Hunter-Gatherers expended about half of the energy we do for day-to-day for survival, look it up...if they got an infection they were totally fucked, but it was a much more laid back lifestyle. And here we are, at the pinnacle of human civilization, working in little cubicles and assembly lines, doing mindlessly repetitive labor instead of using our heads for more divine purposes.

Read this:
http://marshallbrain.com/manna1.htm

The best part about this whole situation, if true, is that if you ask a bunch of really rich people, their majority would probably find some way to vilify the whole concept of REAL COMMUNISM...bringing the rest of the world up to their level would never fly.

Seriously, what a bummer.

So He's Saying the Industrial Revolution is Over (3, Funny)

sehlat (180760) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745679)

I, for one, welcome our new robotic overlords.

Personally... (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745707)

Myself, I'm looking forward to the time when I can leave the rat-race to the machines, and spend my days engaging in 'back-breaking' agrarian labor on my family farm.

Yes, some people actually enjoy such activities.

Combined with population growth... (1)

bhlowe (1803290) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745709)

Exponential population growth will exacerbate the problem of the unemployable. Most large companies have been downsizing for years.. this trend will continue as automation replaces workers in every field. Governments will need to go into the business of full-time welfare state management. Add in a mix of genetically engineered super-humans and the disposable masses, it will be an interesting next century.

End of Work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43745739)

Simpsons^H^H^H^H^H^H^HRifkin did it. Already is a book: Jermey Rifkin's _End of Work_

How will humans do nothing??? (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745787)

I'd be more worried about how will all those jobless people do things like pay for food and shelter? Or are they all expected to simply die off?

New Equal Opportunity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43745799)

...requires 2 of 5 employees to be of the human species.

This guy needs to get out more. (1)

DarkOx (621550) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745841)

It might one day be possible for us to automate the production of everything we need. The thing is that will require incredible amounts of capital; which simply does not exist. A moments look around at all the abject poverty out there and that would be obvious.

Now a bunch of people are going to jump up and say "but but teh wealth gap". I don't think so. Much of the capital out there is on paper only. The total wealth is conceptually highly inflated. Its the wealth gap that enables the uber rich to exist. Political ideology aside, and philosophy aside; what would happen if say we could somehow distribute the wealth equally without impacting productivity?

The marginal costs of providing what most people would probably want to everyone would not be achievable at even if they look like today's dollars would buy them. I am talking basic things like clean living space of modest size say 1800sq feet and good transportation to wherever you need to go. The cost of having the few enjoy their 13000sq places is much less than putting everyone into something decent.

Before you have robots to do everything you go to get lots of infrastructure built to support them. I don't think it can be done in 30 years time. People like to pretend they and their nations are extremely wealthy but I suspect if people really started putting that wealth to work they'd find it does not go nearly so far as their fantasies say it should. Just look at the money we have put into infrastructure projects in Afghanistan and how alliteratively workable utility in terms of roads, factories, schools, electrification, there actually is to show for it.

All these things in 30 years? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43745845)

Natural language parsing becomes a reality (necessary for cops and detectives, doctors and nurses to be replaced)

Self-driving cars rule the road (necessary for shipping, delivery, and home service jobs to be replaced)

Complex cognitive and epistemological concepts are software-expressable (necessary for all teachers and professors to be replaced)

Computers can generate books, television programs, movies, music, games, and other forms of media that satisfy human desires) necessary for the entire entertainment industry to be replaced)

Humans give up the ideal of self-governance (necessary for every level of government and attendant lobbying and representation to be replaced)

And, in those same 30 years, a robot is developed that can write the software, construct, debug, and fix every one of those robots? And themselves, simultaneously?

30 years is extremely questionable for even small-scale growth of robots in even a single one of those fields.

Bored people with no sense of purpose? NOT GOOD. (2)

kheldan (1460303) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745859)

People need a sense of purpose or Bad Things will happen. Some will turn to violence and crime; some more 'enabled' types will start wars.

Of course I don't believe any of this crap in the first place; robots are not going to replace the majority of human labor, not at least in the next 30 years.

Feeling about unemployment today (2)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745863)

As I now am unemployed (but a student at least), should I be worried (like I sometimes am) that I don't have a job, or think more often that the world is just so automated that it's not unethical that we all are not actively participating in the work pool?

What he meant was tenure is being eliminated. (1)

pubwvj (1045960) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745869)

What he meant was tenure is being eliminated so all professors who make silly predictions like this will be out of a job. Pundits are also going to be unemployed.

Two scenarios (1)

MpVpRb (1423381) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745879)

The utopian..everybody is free to pursue their passions without the requirements of work. Art, music and science thrive. The starship Enterprise is built, and people explore the galaxy

The not-so-utopian..The very few rich live in paradise, the rest scrape by in a Mad Max / slums of Calcutta world

Oppressed Welfare Class (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43745883)

Ubiquitous automation always leads to the creation of an oppressed welfare class that scrounges for food and depends entirely on the generosity of those that own the means of production.

People have a right - a God-given human right - to the opportunity to make for ones self - to have gainful, meaningful employment. We have a right to work for a living. Replacing us with robots and throwing us down into the gutter to live on bread crumbs is a crime against humanity.

It's not nonsense. (3, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745891)

There's a list of things humans can do. There's a list of things machines can do. The second list is growing steadily. The first list, not so much. As machines check off more of the items on the list of human capabilities, the need for human workers decreases. As new jobs appear, more of them will be done by machines.

The current "jobless recovery" demonstrates this. US production is back up. The stock market is back up. The number of people working is not back up. Hiring large numbers of people is so last-cen. Even Foxconn in Shenzhen is converting to robots.

We don't need "the singularity" for this. Just routine progress. Computers are so cheap now that they're cheaper than even low-wage people.

Here's a vision of the future. Watch this Kiva Robotics [youtube.com] system fill orders. Those robots already fill about 15% of on-line orders in the US (Gap, Staples, Office.com, Walgreens, drugstore.com, pets.com, etc). Amazon bought Kiva recently. Those big new warehouses Amazon is building for local distribution won't have many employees. They'll kill off even more of retail.

We may not like the society we get from this, but that's where capitalism is taking us.

Machines should work. People should think.

Wrong question. (4, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745893)

The question that actually needs to be asked is, will the people who own the robots let the rest of us have any food?

They will do things we haven't thought of yet (5, Insightful)

Dave Emami (237460) | about a year and a half ago | (#43745899)

Back the late 1800s, agricultural work required about 3/4 of the US's population. Now it's about 3%. If, back then, you'd asked "what would happen if 96% of the farming jobs vanished?", you'd probably have gotten predictions of doom similar to this one. But what actually happened was that those people (or their descendants, rather, since this change didn't happen overnight) got employed doing other things, most of which people in the late 1800s couldn't have anticipated. The same thing will happen here. Human intelligence, creativity, and flexibility are valuable, and valuable stuff tends not to sit idle. People figure out something to do with it. There are temporary displacements and adjustments, but overall, automation doesn't idle people, it frees them up to do new things.

Note that I'm not talking about a situation where the machines are actually creatively intelligent, in contrast with something like Deep Blue being programmed ahead of time to do a highly-specific task. If we get to that point, all bets are off, but then we're venturing into singularity territory at that point, anyway.

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