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Digital Revolution Will Kill Jobs, Inflame Social Unrest, Says Gartner

timothy posted 1 year,12 days | from the why-you-can't-take-analysts-seriously dept.

Robotics 754

dcblogs writes "Gartner says new technologies are decreasing jobs. In the industrial revolution — and revolutions since — there was an invigoration of jobs. For instance, assembly lines for cars led to a vast infrastructure that could support mass production giving rise to everything from car dealers to road building and utility expansion into new suburban areas. But the "digital industrial revolution" is not following the same path. "What we're seeing is a decline in the overall number of people required to do a job," said Daryl Plummer, a Gartner analyst at the research firm's Symposium ITxpo. Plummer points to a company like Kodak, which once employed 130,000, versus Instagram's 13. The analyst believes social unrest movements, similar to Occupy Wall Street, will emerge again by 2014 as the job creation problem deepens." Isn't "decline in the overall number of people required to do a job" precisely what assembly lines effect, even if some job categories as a result require fewer humans? We recently posted a contrary analysis arguing that the Luddites are wrong.

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Umm... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071289)

Jobs is already dead...

Re:Umm... (1)

bessie (212155) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071477)

I thought Jobs is On The Way! So... take off your shoes... FOR INDUSTRY!

Re:Umm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071645)

Shoes for industry, shoes for the dead, comrade.

Re:Umm... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071715)

precisely what assembly lines effect, even if

AFFECT, damned

(grammar nazis ftw)

Re:Umm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071723)

You mean the resurrection hasn't happened yet? Apple fans are still looking for news reports of Steve Jobs being seen on the road to Emmaus.

But Jobs (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071297)

But Jobs is dead already?

Wages as share of GDP dropping since 1972 (5, Insightful)

WillAdams (45638) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071317)

Yet stock market valuations increase, concentrating wealth in a lucky few.

Why can't companies pay better wages?

Wal-Mart increasing their wages to $12/hr. would increase their average item price by 1.1% --- perhaps then their workers could occasionally afford to shop somewhere else, or eat out at somewhere other than McDonald's.

Re:Wages as share of GDP dropping since 1972 (4, Insightful)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071405)

You can afford to pay $12 for a box of cereal. Be honest. You could do it.

Why don't you?

Labor is a market, just like any market. The work that unskilled people do in a non-skill-requiring job is worth a certain amount. That dollar amount is the intersection of [whatever a company is willing to pay] and [whatever those people are willing to work for].

You can start a company, pay people whatever you think is fair. That is your right.

Re:Wages as share of GDP dropping since 1972 (2, Interesting)

P-niiice (1703362) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071751)

Lower profits and CEO pay, unless you feel that there's no limit to how low workers should be paid. Rising prices isn't the only answer.

Re:Wages as share of GDP dropping since 1972 (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071753)

That or the Iron Law of Wages.

Probably one of those things.

Re:Wages as share of GDP dropping since 1972 (4, Insightful)

jareth-0205 (525594) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071805)

You can start a company, pay people whatever you think is fair. That is your right.

For someone with the username containing 'gandhi' you show a surprising lack of concern for civil rights.

The very central premise of capitalism is that in most cases *you can't start a business*. Technically of course you have the freedom to, and if you're in the right place with the right new idea you could do quite well, but capitalism thrives off economies of scale, and economies of scale mean that your little business is at a huge disadvantage to the incumbents. At some point we need a cut-off to prevent people from being abused.

Re:Wages as share of GDP dropping since 1972 (4, Insightful)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071415)

Why can't companies pay better wages?

Because labor is subject to the same fundamental laws of supply and demand as any other resource. The pool of unskilled labor has a whole lot of supply.

Re:Wages as share of GDP dropping since 1972 (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071685)

Why can't companies pay better wages?

Because labor is subject to the same fundamental laws of supply and demand as any other resource. The pool of unskilled labor has a whole lot of supply.

So just redistribute the excess unskilled labor supply to the automated production of Soylent Green. Problem solved. The rich are going to feed off of us one way or another.

Re:Wages as share of GDP dropping since 1972 (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071775)

Why can't companies pay better wages?

Because labor is subject to the same fundamental laws of supply and demand as any other resource. The pool of unskilled labor has a whole lot of supply.

Even more fun, if labor is, in fact, subject to the fundamental laws of supply and demand, it should (in a free market environment) achieve an equilibrium price equal to its marginal cost of production. Good thing that subsistence-level existence isn't horrible or anything.

And, none of this exclusively applies to the unskilled (though, obviously, the marginal cost of production of a college-educated worker is a lot higher, so such workers must earn more in absolute terms in order for their price to be equal to their marginal cost of production). The only people not predicted by 'the fundamental laws of supply and demand' to be reduced to subsistence are those who don't existing in a free market condition (eg. unionized labor, or workers in a category with a certifying association that constrains supply, like doctors and lawyers, or groups like investment bankers whose regulatory capture renders them partially immune to market forces) or who are (by luck or judgement) in possession of skills that face a sudden uptick in demand, allowing them to reap profits during the time it takes to ramp up supply. In gold rushes and oil boomtowns and things, this can even be unskilled labor; but it will more usually be specialists of one sort or another.

So long as labor is a commodity, only deviations from free-market conditions or being on the lucky side of shifts in demand that occur faster than supply can compensate keep anyone ahead of breaking even. Depending on how much it costs to stamp out a given set of skills, the 'break-even' paycheck might be higher or lower; but that'll be a function of educational debt and opportunity cost, not absolute wellbeing.

Re:Wages as share of GDP dropping since 1972 (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071777)

The key to supply and demand is ownership. Owning things is not a particularly unique skill.

Re:Wages as share of GDP dropping since 1972 (4, Interesting)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071505)

Wal-Mart increasing their wages to $12/hr. would increase their average item price by 1.1%

Walmart's profit margin is 3.61% [yahoo.com] . So 1.1% would be about 30% of their earnings. If they could increase earnings by "just raising prices", they would have already done so.

If Walmart increased their wages to $12/hour, that would not help their current workers, because for $12/hour they would hire different people. My local Walmart has two employees in wheelchairs, and another employee that obviously has Down's Syndrome. You won't likely see either in shops that pay higher wages. Walmart hires people on the bottom rung, that would likely otherwise be unemployed.

Re:Wages as share of GDP dropping since 1972 (3, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071651)

Those people are likely not paid a normal wage. One of the scams surrounding the disabled is to calculate what you should pay them vs another employee by having a ringer perform a task then letting them do it. You can then say since your ringer can do X operations in Y time and it takes this worker 5 times as long you can pay them 1/5th as much. Even if they are only really performing half as much work as your normal employee.

Re:Wages as share of GDP dropping since 1972 (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071749)

A couple problems with your logic.

1) The quote is suggesting increasing the cost of goods by 1.1% to offset higher wages. I'm not sure how you think that would translate into a 30% loss of their earnings, but if the cost of goods increase does offset the salery increase, the loss of earnings would be negligable.

2) People with special needs are typically not paid minimum wage, and would likely not see a pay hike to $12 an hour. And no, most of their employees are not special needs...

Re:Wages as share of GDP dropping since 1972 (1)

Zantac69 (1331461) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071595)

I guess the only solution is to decrease GDP, right?

Re:Wages as share of GDP dropping since 1972 (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071649)

Wal-mart has an average wage of over $13/hr. Why would you want them to "increase" it to $12?

Costco OTOH has an average hourly wage of $20, but they pay for this with annual membership fees of $55 for their 75m customers. This means their 174,000 employees effectively get $11.50/hr extra - which is directly paid for by anyone wanting to shop there.
75,000,000 * 55 / 174,000 = $23,706.89

Would you support Wal-Mart raising their wages $10/hr, but requiring all customers pay $55/yr for the privilege to shop? Do you think that $55 might discourage a lot of shoppers and prevent a lot of low income people from even being able to visit WalMart? The poor get the most benefit from Wal-Marts low prices, so why would we want to raise barriers preventing them from getting the best value for the few dollars? Perhaps you think we could just roll that $55 into the prices they pay, but this has the same net effect - the poor pay to raise others standard of living.

Why do so many people have a hard time with economics of artificial price/wage controls... It helps a few, while hurting many more among the poorest. The poverty rate in America was declining steadily until the creation of "great society" programs in the 60's. Since then, it went flat, then started to increase as more and more programs were created. We aren't helping the poor, we are creating more of them.

Kodak vs Instagram? Really? (5, Insightful)

Beardydog (716221) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071335)

I agree with the general thrust of the article, but comparing Kodak to Instagram is straight-up retarded. Instagram is not replacing Kodak. It does not do what Kodak used to do with only 13 people. It does almost nothing, and does nothing worthwhile.

Re:Kodak vs Instagram? Really? (2)

Zouden (232738) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071451)

Indeed. How many employees does Samsung have now? There's new jobs being made when others disappear.

Re:Kodak vs Instagram? Really? (4, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071535)

There's new jobs being made when others disappear.

There're.

Anyway, it matters not how many new jobs are made, when the people whose jobs disappeared don't qualify for them. I highly doubt displaced, former foundry workers, who spent the last 30 years mastering the art of steel production, would give a flying fuck that Samsung opened a new facility where they used to work and is now hiring software engineers.

Re:Kodak vs Instagram? Really? (4, Interesting)

H0p313ss (811249) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071635)

I highly doubt displaced, former foundry workers, who spent the last 30 years mastering the art of steel production, would give a flying fuck that Samsung opened a new facility where they used to work and is now hiring software engineers.

Amusingly, I used to work in a foundry and I'm currently a software developer. (Employer keeps trying to call me an engineer, but I call it alchemy.)

I think you over estimate the time or skill required to master steel production. You could have a high-schooler trained to do it inside a year.

Such a shame that the American people allow the university (and medical) systems to hold them hostage instead of allowing the whole country to move into the 20th century.

Re:Kodak vs Instagram? Really? (1, Interesting)

Willuz (1246698) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071671)

Not only is it an extremely bad comparison but it's absurdly shallow in estimating jobs. Instagram is generating countless jobs by creating a new market niche to be filled.

- New cell phones to make uploading to instagram easier and faster
- New cameras to support communication with cell phones
- New cell phone towers so that photos can be uploaded anywhere

It may take fewer people to do a single job, but that makes the product cheaper and more available. Greater availability increases the need for all related services and products so the jobs just move to new areas. The key lesson is that job mobility is the most important skill to have for the future. All jobs will require computer skills.

Re: Kodak vs Instagram? Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071721)

Jobs are being created/destroyed at a faster pace than before, and it will keep on accelerating.
The only solution to this is to make wages/social securities high enough for people that devoted their lives to learn a trade that will get destroyed eventually can get a decent retirement when the time comes; because let's face it, until we have cleaning robots, we need a lady to clean our houses.

Re:Kodak vs Instagram? Really? (1)

Daemonik (171801) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071691)

Part of the issue is that there are not 'more' jobs being made to replace the ones that disappear now, as the general trend is for fewer employees at all levels of industry. Consider the VCR. Back in the day there were 20 brands, each making their own hardware. Now (if VCRs were still being made) it would be 20 brands that exist only as shell companies, each just repackaging the same hardware from 2-3 Chinese companies.

Face it, when they told us we were entering a service economy everybody expected to be software consultants, nobody believed there would only be McDonald's or WalMart.

Re:Kodak vs Instagram? Really? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071785)

Yea but they're Koreans. They're not really people.

Re:Kodak vs Instagram? Really? (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071655)

100% agreed.

Instagram doesn't make things. (I'm a programmer ... a website is not a 'thing'). And it doesn't do research anywhere near the level that Kodak used to.

Instagram *might* be a replacement for Kodak's 20 year old way of distributing photos [wikipedia.org] , or maybe the online services they killed last year [shutterfly.com] ... but they don't make cameras (as that's been eaten by the smart phone companies), film and paper (now mostly digital) or printers.

Instragram would've been one small department within a larger company ... you might compare it to Ofoto [wikipedia.org] .

Someone kindly post a link to the story. (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071337)

The short science fiction one, in which increasing automation leads to an employment crisis so severe most of the population are forced to live in robotically-constructed slums.

I forget the title.

You know the one.

Re:Someone kindly post a link to the story. (1)

neminem (561346) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071367)

"The" one? I posit that there are likely dozens. It's a pretty common trope. There are a couple on here: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/JobStealingRobot [tvtropes.org]

Re:Someone kindly post a link to the story. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071459)

"The" one? I posit that there are likely dozens.

I posit that you missed the joke.

Re:Someone kindly post a link to the story. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071599)

I posit that I missed it too. Why don't you explain it?

Re:Someone kindly post a link to the story. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071701)

Re:Someone kindly post a link to the story. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071791)

There was no joke, the OP's post was literal.

Re:Someone kindly post a link to the story. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071465)

I think you missed this [urbandictionary.com] trope.

Re:Someone kindly post a link to the story. (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071501)

He's talking about the classic Manna

Re:Someone kindly post a link to the story. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071423)

Manna.

Re:Someone kindly post a link to the story. (1)

Aguazul2 (2591049) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071443)

The one where they move to Australia which has been transformed to a kind of equal-sharing Eden. Racking my brains for some suitable search keywords.

Re:Someone kindly post a link to the story. (3, Informative)

suutar (1860506) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071577)

Manna [marshallbrain.com]

Re:Someone kindly post a link to the story. (2)

compro01 (777531) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071653)

Might it be Manna by Marshall Brain?

Got there by searching post-scarcity Australia, which got me to the wikipedia article on Post-scarcity economy, which mentions the "Australia Project" from that novel.

You can read it on his site [marshallbrain.com] .

Re:Someone kindly post a link to the story. (2)

bhagwad (1426855) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071687)

I think robotically constructed slums are an awesome idea! Should be much better than human constructed ones...

Isn't Jobs dead already? (0)

oo_00 (2595337) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071339)

Leave him alone...

just lower weekly worked hours for same pay ! (nt) (1)

unique_parrot (1964434) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071369)

not more to say.

Re:just lower weekly worked hours for same pay ! ( (1)

unique_parrot (1964434) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071435)

sorry, forgot: but i think it's like linus said: society is moving to a more relaxed way of living (as far as i remember). this should help is not because of some greedy, super rich people.

Hard to say. (5, Insightful)

jythie (914043) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071375)

This is a really difficult thing to predict, and either prediction could be true. With the industrial revolution there was a net increase in demand for jobs since the increased efficiency resulted in higher demand in general thus increased infrastructure requirements. Part of what made this possible was, even if you decrease the cost, manufacturing still required time, energy, materials, etc.

Something that makes tech a little different, esp when it comes to software, is the near zero cost of reproduction. If industrial revolution Ford got double the orders for cars it would not only require more assembly lines but part suppliers would need to ramp up as would production of raw materials. If Microsoft's demand for MSOffice doubles, they might need a bit more bandwidth but there is no real spiderweb of increased jobs. They just allow more downloads or print more copies.

So What? (1)

neoritter (3021561) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071385)

Same kind of people said the same exact things when the Industrial Revolution was underway. History and progress marches on.

unconditional basic income (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071391)

is what we need when the machines rise, pardon, do our work.

Re:unconditional basic income (1)

Alejux (2800513) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071647)

Also know as "minimum guaranteed income".

Global Economy (1)

Kirgin (983046) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071401)

I think the big difference now is that industry that spawn from these improved efficiencies are not local. So Kodak employed 130 000 people and instagram 13, what about the people employed by the hardware manufacturers that make Instagram possible? Companies that make phones, wireless equipment, processors, semiconductors....Imagine if all those jobs/business could be created in the economy that lost 130 000 jobs.

Re:Global Economy (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071699)

Besides kodak is a terrible example.

They invented the digital camera and then decided to shelf it so they could keep selling film. They invented the rope and then decided to hang themselves with it instead of their competitors. Why compare to a company that committed suicide?

Stop looking in the back mirror (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071417)

It's meaningless to predict the future based on historical observations.

THINK. WONDER. DREAM.

Captcha: cycled

Re:Stop looking in the back mirror (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071793)

Also, 'trajectory' is just a conspiracy by the man to keep you down, not a useful computational construct.

One of the worst comparisons... (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071419)

"Plummer points to a company like Kodak, which once employed 130,000, versus Instagram's 13. "

Instagram relies on the fact that every person now has a telephony device on them that is capable of acting as a camera. There were no such devices in the heyday of Kodak. Some other company manufactured that phone, and it took more than 13 people to do so.

That is not to say that "more digital technology = less jobs" is invalid, though, just that the example in the excerpt is a poor one.

This is a good thing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071429)

Seriously. Consider what we got the first that we as a species were able to allow some people to stop working for sustenance: civilization. Then, when conditions were right to allow some wealthy men and women to have so much money they didn't need to work and could devote themselves to the question of "how old is the Earth" we got science.

If we decouple work from basic sustenance, imagine what we'll come up with this time!

Silly people (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071437)

The problem is these silly people are trying to cling onto an economic system that is woefully out of date. Yes many things are automated now and require less human intervention and we're advanced enough that there's no way to keep everybody employed full-time doing something useful. So either half the population is unemployed or they waste resources producing trash just for the sake of "having a job."

So stop demanding that everybody work 160 hours a month. Split the work where possible so 2 people can share a task working 80 hours a month each and still get as much income as they do now.

Newsflash! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071449)

Designing, producing and selling machines that do a job in the physical world take more people to do than a crude simulation of a tiny part of it in the virtual! Fetch your papers here!

Just go train people! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071453)

Just because you're 7 years from retirement and nobody wants to take you on doesn't mean that you shouldn't spend what's left of your life savings after the 2008 crisis to go to college and start anew as a Silverlight monkey!

No?

The Forklift Should Be Banned? (2)

Austrian Anarchy (3010653) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071461)

I suppose Gartner would have a coronary if he was around when the forklift came into being. I wonder if he hires a personal truck to pickup his latest reading material from the publisher, rather than letting the paper see the inside of a jobs killing train car?

There's no way to avoid this (3, Insightful)

Alejux (2800513) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071467)

The same way we no longer need to hunt and gather in today's society, most of us will no longer need to work in the future in order to keep goods and services being produced. The question is, how easy or difficult can we make this transition? To me , the worst thing that can be done is simply ignoring the problem and erroneously pointing fingers to the Luddite movement as a perpetual example why this would never happen.

What? You are kidding right? (1)

Anon-Admin (443764) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071469)

So Gartner keeps increasing the number of servers per admin that they say is "normal" and now they realize it is taking fewer people to do the job???

I can not count the number of companies where I have heard "Gartner says we should only have 1 admin for every XXX servers" Normally they are running old equipment with no underlying infrastructure and in a way where every system is a one off requiring all administration to be a manual process. The last company I worked at was touting 1 admin for every 160 servers with 90% outsourced to India.

Personally I think Gartner needs to hire more intelligent people if they are only now realizing this.

Re:What? You are kidding right? (2)

Virtucon (127420) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071601)

What do you expect from a bunch of analysts who have never run an actual shop? they're only about selling their research and access to their magic quadrant charts so naive CEOs and boards looking for answers can grasp at them for a strategy.

They may be on to something... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071471)

I've been experiencing considerable frustration in a job hunt. I have a couple of hurdles to overcome -- notably age discrimination (I'm 58). Talking with other folks about this, many of them quite a bit younger, has made me realize that there is a significant problem in the digitization of the employment application process. Every one I speak with expresses increasing frustration with not being able to speak to a live human to apply for a job. In the most absurd cases an applicant walks into an establishment with resume and portfolio in hand in response to a Now Hiring sign on the door -- only to be sat at a terminal to complete an application in the office then turned away with no other human contact. Lots of people including recent grads, furloughed workers, and older folks like me have talked about organized protests against companies who engage in online-only hiring practices.

Re:They may be on to something... (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071585)

I've been experiencing considerable frustration in a job hunt. I have a couple of hurdles to overcome -- notably age discrimination (I'm 58). Talking with other folks about this, many of them quite a bit younger, has made me realize that there is a significant problem in the digitization of the employment application process.

With your age and experience, you should seriously look into contracting..specifically govt contracting.

With those jobs, experience counts...

And also, why at this point in your life are you cold calling companies for jobs? In all this time, have you not been networking to know people to help you get in the door with a new job?

Knowing people is generally how you get into jobs past thoughtless HR folks. Only noobs should generally be having to cold call for jobs...experienced folks should have a network of relationships to help get the next job after the next job...etc.

No worries... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071473)

I was concerned. Then, I saw this was some Gartner asshat prediction, and realized it would be wrong as usual. Really, who listens to these idiots?

This has been going on for hundreds of years (5, Insightful)

bmajik (96670) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071475)

The groaning of the economically illiterate, that is.

I hereby sentence everyone to "Economics in One Lesson", by Henry Hazlitt.

New technology and new production efficiencies certainly displace people who were tied to the old technologies and methods. Most people don't think too highly of the folks behind Standard Oil, but an honest assessment would suggest that they did more to save whales than anyone at Greenpeace -- by making whale oil a less cost effective heating mechanism.

This naturally caused a huge job loss for the whaling industry -- which at the time was of course a great social woe.

Whalers, buggy whip manufacturers, and people whos jobs can be trivially replaced by robots are all going to be displaced when technology improves.

What bad economics (and policy makers) repeatedly do, and what is covered in Hazlitt's book, is they focus on what is seen and ignore what is unseen.

What is easy to see when a buggy whip manufacturer loses their job is that Bob lost a job.

What is harder to see is that nearly everyone else in the society is some fractional percent wealthier. The automobile saved people time, which is why it replaced the horse. People who spend less time unproductively can create additional wealth for the rest of society to benefit from.

I think most people agree that a world where we all have handheld supercomputers that can take photos is a better world than one where the instant camera is the only cost-effective consumer device for seeing a photograph within 1 hour of having shot it.

What this analysis fails to "See" is beyond the 13 jobs at instagram. It's easy to see the loss of jobs at Kodak or polaroid. But add up all of the jobs that are tangentially related to digital photography. Flickr? People working on DSLRs? People working on Photoshop? People who write a 99 cent appstore app that is a filter for your iphone's camera?

Cast a wide net to "see" what bad economists aren't seeing.

The thing about these luddite arguments that really shows they don't hold water is that if the old way was really better, we'd go back.

We, in aggregate, like the new way better -- which is why we aren't giving up our smartphones and rushing out to buy film cameras.

Re:This has been going on for hundreds of years (2)

pete-classic (75983) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071583)

"The automobile saved people time, which is why it replaced the horse."

It also saved Manhattan from being -- quite literally -- buried in horse shit.

"Most people don't think too highly of the folks behind Standard Oil, but an honest assessment would suggest that they did more to save whales than anyone at Greenpeace -- by making whale oil a less cost effective heating mechanism."

Strangers with this kind of intellectual honesty make me go a big rubbery one, if you know what I mean.

Re:This has been going on for hundreds of years (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071727)

"The groaning of the economically illiterate, that is."

Not quite, the real issue is human beings are becoming superfluous to the economy. At some point a social wage will become necessary. The automation just hasn't hit the educated classes hard enough just yet, once it hits the smart, society will change. You better believe it. When AI's can replace doctors and nurses, you think they are just going to sit there?

Solution: (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071479)

Make less people. It's just what the Republicans have been saying, make do with less!

Thank you for your insight, Mr. Futurist. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071507)

I also have a few predictions of stuff that will happen in 2014:

- Further improvements in production efficiency and robotics will increase unemployment to sky-high levels.
- The unemployed masses will be sitting on their asses with nothing to do, so they will start inventing new technologies, such as the Flying Car.
- Unemployed masses will be put to work to build factories that produce the Flying Car, and to manufacture the Flying Car.
- Robots will replace production line workers at the Flying Car factory.
- Mass unemployment will follow. The only ones who can afford a Flying Car are the assembly robots from the flying Car Factory.
- Humanity is screwed and robots are buzzing around in Flying Cars.

Anticipating this, I, for one, welcome our Robotic Flying Car Overlords.

For once, I agree with Gartner (5, Insightful)

ErichTheRed (39327) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071509)

Gartner, Forrester, etc. are the bane of my existence in IT, because they promote magical thinking among executives, but this time they're right about something.

No one is prepared to deal with the dirty little secret of the information age -- that there are going to be huge swaths of the population who will be out of work, with no prospects for future employment. The last time around, it was low-skilled factory workers. Now it's the middle class's turn! And when half the country has no money and no work, they're going to get angry.

I don't think the current generation of office workers is really thinking about how much less of them will be needed once companies get around to squeezing every single nickel out of every single business process. It's already happening on a huge scale, even in the IT sector. Anything rules-based is basically fair game for automation. Think back a couple of decades -- how many millions of bookkeepers, accountants, secretaries, low-level report-consolidation managers, etc. did large companies employ and pay a decent middle class salary to? Each one of those went out and bought those large companies' products, bought houses, cars and vacations. Now that strong base of consumers is disappearing, or they need to finance their purchases through debt because their wages don't keep up. Large numbers of corporate jobs can still be summed up as "I look at reports from this location, perform a few calculations and summarize the resulting numbers for my management by emailing them a spreadsheet." No one can tell me that the accountants haven't noticed this...

The vast majority of people in the middle class, in my opinion, are averse to social welfare policies simply because they don't think anything bad is ever going to happen to them. Worse, they think that if they support the richest people and just try really hard, they'll eventually be rich themselves. This thinking is going to backfire hard on them when their nice safe job is automated or no longer needed. For example, the most vocal opinions of the new healthcare law in the US are typically middle class families who get their insurance coverage through work and have never had to worry about not having it. Try explaining to them that there are a significant number of working individuals who can't afford insurance and you get, "But...but...socialism!!" All I can say is the next few years will be very interesting. If you believe the Star Trek TNG writers, it's going to take a massive upheaval to get to a post-scarcity utopia.

Re:For once, I agree with Gartner (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071679)

Large numbers of corporate jobs can still be summed up as "I look at reports from this location, perform a few calculations and summarize the resulting numbers for my management by emailing them a spreadsheet." No one can tell me that the accountants haven't noticed this...

My entire job is to convert these "jobs" into automated processes and reports. I doubt my job-killing job will be in jeopardy soon, but I never count on anything.

And I can speak with experience when I say that existing upper-level management at many companies has not yet realized what could be eliminated through automation. I constantly have to urge them to rid their organizations of ridiculous processes that the users cling to because "it's the way they've always done it". Most of these are replaced by a simple report. Some require additional processing, scheduling, or a "release" mechanism. But that's about it. Much of the day-to-day tasks could be done away with by an ever-expanding automated solution.

Utopia? (2, Insightful)

mspohr (589790) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071519)

I remember a long time ago when I was young that some people were predicting a future where due to technology advances you only had to work a small number of hours to meet your basic needs. People were worried about what we would do with all that leisure time.
Of course, this was naive and while it is true that technology advances have made it possible to produce much more with less labor, all of the productivity gains have been captured by the corporations and the 1%.
We now have a situation where there is a surplus of capital controlled by the rich 1% and corporations and also a surplus of workers due to gains in productivity. Unfortunately, this leads to low wages and not enough jobs. Poverty and social unrest are the result.
One would think that different approach to society would correct these imbalances by first raising the pay for work which would allow people to work fewer hours and create more jobs. Also, the idle capital of the rich and corporations could be harnessed (taxed) to improve infrastructure and social services.
We could have a utopia if the capitalists weren't so firmly in control of our government. Instead we have a dystopia with poverty, disease and social unrest... perhaps that could lead to a better government but it will be messy and the outcome is far from certain.

Kodak: only 130,000 jobs? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071527)

Kodak kept far more than 130,000 in work. There were plenty of side businesses that fed off of kodak: photo labs, professional photographers (yes, they still exist, but now that people can take 300 pictures without spending a huge amount of time and money, they're less likely to hire a pro).

Re:Kodak: only 130,000 jobs? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071603)

Of course, digital photography keeps far more than 13 people employed too.

Luddites are wrong ? (1)

gutnor (872759) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071531)

For once that will be very easy to check. We are not talking about prediction but daily reality: people are losing their job now, so it won't take long to see who is right and who is wrong.

That said both the examples in the article "Luddites are wrong" and the "industrial revolution" were successful technological revolution. However, there is a huge difference. In "Luddite are wrong", there is a smooth transition from old job to new job. Not such much with the industrial one. Although it will prove to be a long term good for humanity, it has been a (long) period of intense misery for the majority of the population.

Considering that is a scenario people look up too, I don't want to imagine the pain society will be in if the luddite are not wrong.

Re:Luddites are wrong ? (3, Funny)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071613)

There has never been a smooth transition. When the farms were mechanized we got major dislocations along with a vast increase in the wealth of America.

cf. "The Guilded Age".

http://www.austincc.edu/lpatrick/his1302/agrarian.html [austincc.edu]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilded_Age [wikipedia.org]

Gartner (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071533)

I'm sorry, I don't understand English unless it is in the form of magical squares or whatever other pseudo "research" products that gartner puts out.

NAFTA already did that ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071541)

That great "sucking sound" after NAFTA was passed was tens of thousands of jobs being sucked away heading to cheap over-seas labor. It continues even now, anytime new technologies create an environment for more jobs for the homeland corporate greed quickly sucks the jobs away to cheapest labor.

Revolution doesn't kill Jobs. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071553)

Pancreatic cancer, however...

Not this shit again (5, Insightful)

Digital Vomit (891734) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071559)

Gartner says new technologies are decreasing jobs. In the industrial revolution â" and revolutions since â" there was an invigoration of jobs.

So, the guy didn't learn from the Industrial Revolution (and revolutions since) that all the fear of 'no more jobs for anyone' ended up being unfounded?

New technologies don't decrease the number of available jobs; wealth sequestration among the super-rich does. With the Middle Class having less and less money to spend, the demand for products -- and the jobs required to create them -- goes down. We've been seeing this over the past thirty years, which just happens to coincide with the rise of the computing industry.

Re:Not this shit again (2)

ErichTheRed (39327) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071617)

Serious question --

Subsistence agriculture --> Organized agriculture --> Mechanized agriculture --> Industrial revolution --> Assembly-line factories --> Corporate paper pushing jobs --> IT and service jobs --> ?

Fill in the blank. What will the millions of people who are not qualified for the handful of knowledge work jobs left do?

That's where the wheels fall off the Luddite argument. We're just out of higher-level tasks to shift the huge displaced workforce to.

Re:Not this shit again (4, Interesting)

suutar (1860506) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071677)

The fear now seems to be that the new jobs are not as people-intensive and won't be able to absorb the unemployed population. (A different fear is that the jobs that do get created will get created somewhere with cheaper labor, because the new jobs created by the internet and web are indifferent to physical location... which is the whole point of the internet and web, after all.) I think there will always be something for people to do, but I think it's quite possible that for a lot of people it's going to wind up being "come up with something that you think other folks will like enough to buy and see if you're right". It seems like a logical progression from both the "you're responsible for all your own issues (retirement, health care) that your employer used to hire folks to handle for you" and from the etsy/kickstarter/indie musician directions. The problem with that, of course, is that most of the folks trying that are going to fail...

Re:Not this shit again (2)

Alain Williams (2972) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071693)

So, the guy didn't learn from the Industrial Revolution (and revolutions since) that all the fear of 'no more jobs for anyone' ended up being unfounded?

This happens every time something new comes in. Yes: it does cause some people to loose their jobs as what they do can be done more cheaply by new tech, but it creates more jobs elsewhere. Remember the Luddites [wikipedia.org] who went around smashing up the new mill machine. They wore clogs as shoes and stuffed them into the machines (which is why we say things are 'clogged up') and gave rise to the word 'sabotage' ('sabot' is the French word for 'clog').

Re:Not this shit again (1)

Alejux (2800513) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071713)

The industrial revolution happened when men overcame the power of their muscles. We still had our brains going for us. Now with AI and automation, we are gradually overcoming the power of our brains. Soon (in a few decades), there will be very few things a human will be better at then an AI. What jobs do you imagine being created, when you can just put a cheap automation to do the job for you?

...And? (1)

swan5566 (1771176) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071569)

Gartner fails to include any sort of actionable response to this phenomena, or even any argument that anything can be done about it. Article seems half-baked.

Yeah, but ... (4, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071575)

Isn't "decline in the overall number of people required to do a job" precisely what assembly lines effect, even if some job categories as a result require fewer humans? We recently posted a contrary analysis arguing that the Luddites are wrong.

So, skilled jobs require fewer people, manufacturing and unskilled jobs get off-shored.

The end result is a big gaping hole in employment, and unless new industries come along, there's nothing else for these people to do.

We're already seeing this, and if there is no new employment sectors, all that's left in your economy is part time jobs and other shit jobs. Unemployment numbers go down more because people give up looking than because jobs are getting created to offset those who get 'right sized'.

Is this the direction you want your country to go in? Because this is where we're heading -- the shareholders are happy (for a while), but you no longer have anybody to buy your product (and then your sales slump and the shareholders are unhappy).

Welcome to the future, where short-term shareholder value will destroy your economy in the long run.

Luddite (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071597)

This is literally the definition of a Luddite. The original Luddites were skilled weavers who objected to the use of a new type of loom which allowed a few unskilled people to do the job of a larger number of skilled weavers. Sure, it put those people out of work, but it was still better for the economy as a whole.

Let me make something clear: jobs are a *result* of the economy, not a cause. Anything that ultimately benefits the economy will result in new jobs, just not always in any obvious direct path. Often, those new jobs are in the entertainment sector. Anything that requires less human labor to produce a greater result will ultimately benefit the economy, and thus result in new jobs. It's unfortunate for the buggy whip manufacturers, but good for everyone else.

Why does anyone listen to him? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071609)

What exactly has this guy ever gotten right?
Why does anyone report what he writes?

Make robots, not jobs (1)

Garridan (597129) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071619)

Forget about making busywork for people. Make robots. Let humans make art, learn, explore, teach, heal... those things humans are good at. Let robots do repetitive tasks. Focus on making people happy and healthy. Leave boredom to the robots. The creation of robots is undergoing a serious democratization, and these utopian ideals have a chance -- if only billionaires profit from the robot uprising, the world will be a terrible place. If we all profit, we can do what we love.

Can basic income fix the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071665)

Give some money to every citizen (basic income) -- just enough to eat and live *outside* downtown areas. If you want to afford a gadget like an iPod, then you go flip some burgers for a while. If you want to live downtown or travel, then you work hard at school and learn a useful skill like digital technologies. Anyone protesting their living conditions will gather no sympathy.

Stupid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071703)

Just as before, fewer people were required to do the work. Whether making autos, planes, trains, what ever and everything. There is no difference there. The difference that is real is that there today we lack innovation and the desire to create new items, new jobs. People are fixed in their mind sets that they are destined to go to college, get a degree in one field, do that job and that job only, and retire/die after that. The enterprising nature of Capitalism is dwindling, being replaced by the laziness and worthless attitude of Socialism. Why should any one work hard and take a chance at life when they might fail, when they can sit on their arses playing video games and drawing a government check? Generation X is really Generation zero.

Chicken Little (4, Insightful)

sjbe (173966) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071719)

Gartner says new technologies are decreasing jobs.

If this were actually true we would have seen a steady increase in the number of unemployed people over time during the past 20 years. Instead we had near record low unemployment until around 2008 when we had a banking (not technology) related financial crisis. Since then unemployment has been slowly but steadily falling back towards what passes for steady state norms. While it is true that people are not employed at the same companies they used to be, technology takes away some jobs and adds others. It also makes people more effective at the jobs they do.

But the "digital industrial revolution" is not following the same path. "What we're seeing is a decline in the overall number of people required to do a job,"

That's the entire point. It means you can get more done with the same number of people. It's called increasing productivity. Rather than having a room full of accountants entering journal entries by hand on a paper ledger we have one accountant keeping the books in some software and everyone else does something more productive. Instead of using switchboard operators we use computers to route calls. There is ZERO evidence that digital technology is eliminating jobs without replacing them with others. The number of jobs hasn't fallen due to technology but the skillsets required to fill them has changed.

Plummer points to a company like Kodak, which once employed 130,000, versus Instagram's 13.

I'm not sure they could come up with a more ridiculous example. Instagram is an add on feature to already existing social networks for sharing pictures. Kodak actually made critical parts of picture taking equipment. If you want to compare Kodak to something modern, compare them with CCD sensor manufacturers and camera makers which I assure you employ far more than 13 people.

Service Economies are the future (5, Interesting)

Ckwop (707653) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071733)

On the Internet, people often moan about how Western countries "don't make anything any more." The idea being that our service economy is built on a house of cards and the only true economic generator is the making and selling of stuff.

My view is that manufacturing is a bad choice of focus for our economies. The direction of travel is clear: it is very clearly a race to an ever descending race to the bottom which will end with completely automated factories. This race started with the industrial revolution and it will accelerate during our life times. The jobs are slowly but surely being eliminated and it might even have happened sooner if China hadn't been able to provide so much cheap labour. Those jobs are simply not safe in the long term.

But even the Chinese are not safe. Eventually, they'll all be replaced by machines and when they are, it won't matter where those machines are located. The machines will re-locate closer to the consumers to shorten supply lines.

The message is stark: any job that is repetitive risks being replaced by a robot.

Perhaps the most interesting of these is automated driving. It promises to completely transform our world. It will transform logistics in much the same way as containerisation did to shipping. It will transform everything but just think of the number of jobs that will be eliminated!

Then there are threats like 3D printers which threaten to completely remake the world as we know it.

The only sensible way to weather the next 100 years is through developing products and service that can not be automated. These are things like law, software development, media etc. etc.

Producing stuff is quickly becoming unprofitable. Service economies are our only hope.

Star Trek was prophecy (1)

kawabago (551139) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071737)

Machines can take over production and distribution so the only thing left for humans to do is, better ourselves. The rise of free online educational material is a sign that this is in fact happening.

Re:Star Trek was prophecy (1)

iggymanz (596061) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071757)

they won't take over power and money grubbing human's role. your future looks very dismal

cognitive dissonance (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45071741)

I love how geeks get defensive when their own jobs are threatened but refer to the rest of the population as Luddites for worrying about theirs.

Global Population goes up, jobs go down... (1, Interesting)

tekrat (242117) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071781)

Even China will eventually replace a half billion workers with robots.

When the global population is 10 billion, 7 billion of those people will have no job and either have to rely on handouts or they still starve (or start to eat each other).

There will not be enough natural resources, and even if there were, all those resources would be retained by the upper echelons, essentially the top 5%.

I predict a global version of the French Revolution, and there will be a lot of head chopping after the authorities have run out of bullets to control the mobs.

Gartner??? (5, Informative)

sribe (304414) | 1 year,12 days | (#45071801)

Who also predicted (in 2011) that Windows Phones would capture 20% of the mobile market in 2015??? Yep. In fact, they are the same outfit that predicted (in 2010) that Symbian would have 30% in 2014. So, I make it a rule not to get worked up about their predictions...

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