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I, For One, Welcome Our New Robot Overlords

 
 
jespah
 
Reply Fri 4 May, 2018 06:50 am
At least when it comes to fast food:
https://www.boston.com/g00/culture/food/2018/05/03/robot-restaurant-spyce-boston

Robots (well, automated machinery is more like it) are coming to fast food. Currently, human labor is cheaper but I imagine that won't be true for too much longer.

There are some things humans need to do, still, such as butcher meats (as there are variables), cut vegetables (food processors can do this already, but I suspect the idea is more to be able to cut away the bad stuff as that's also variable), add garnishes, and do customer service.

This is going to throw a ton of marginalized folks out of work. It'll also take away a first job for a lot of teens and young adults. And it's a management track for people who are smart and dedicated (I dated a guy years ago who was a full manager before he turned 21). What'll happen to those folks once these systems are perfected?
 
maxdancona
 
  2  
Reply Fri 4 May, 2018 07:09 am
@jespah,
How is this different than any other technological innovation? The car put blacksmiths out of work. The invention of radio hurt local entertainers. The printing press hurt traveling bards. Tractors put farm workers out of work. Textile mills displaced weavers.

It started several thousand years with the advent of agriculture. You don't meet many hunter gatherers these days.

My current job has me working on developing AIs that are used for food service customer interaction, the technology I am making will (hopefully) displace food service jobs. However, I think most technology jobs displace workers in one sense or another... that is kind of the point of technology.
maxdancona
 
  2  
Reply Fri 4 May, 2018 07:21 am
@maxdancona,
That video is cool.
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rosborne979
 
  3  
Reply Fri 4 May, 2018 07:47 am
@jespah,
We were on a Cruise Ship recently and they had some robotic arms working as bar-tenders. It was fun to watch as a novelty, but human bar-tenters are much much faster, and they don't break down as much.

They had a full-time computer person there to keep the arms working. She kept having to go the console and clear up errors.

Maybe someday the robotic arms will be able to match a human for making drinks, but these weren't even close. I would estimate an average human bartender at 10 to 50 times faster than the arms. And a pro bar-tender in an organized bar, maybe 100 times faster and with flare.
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Blickers
 
  2  
Reply Fri 4 May, 2018 09:47 am
@jespah,
Quote jespah:
Quote:
This is going to throw a ton of marginalized folks out of work.......What'll happen to those folks once these systems are perfected?

We'll do what we should have done decades ago. Cut the normal work week. Let the robots do most of the physical work and just have human directors running the computers. Instead of 40 hours, make the law so employers pay time-and-a-half after 15 hours. That way someone can work two Full Time jobs if they want without killing themselves.
jespah
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 May, 2018 06:43 pm
@Blickers,
That's an interesting idea. I agree that we're starting to get to a point where the economies of the world (at least the developed world) probably don't support every single person working full-time.

And I also agree that we are going to see more tech jobs because we always seem to after these kinds of changes. This will, though, take away some rather basic jobs for people who maybe don't have the talent or ambition or smarts or money to go further. Of course I don't want those people to starve. Perhaps there's a niche many of them can fill, but what?

I think we'll need to see some overhauling about how care for both children and the elderly happens, at least in the US. If we give people more time to care for both/either, and those people don't get hell for it or lose too much money or opportunities, that'll help us all, I feel. Aging in America kinda stinks. Our systems are pretty lousy. So if universal (or nearly) part-time happened, then the vulnerable could get more care and attention from people they actually know.

Hmm. It's a neat idea.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 May, 2018 08:22 pm
One would hope all that free time might touch off an explosion in the arts, but more likely it will be squandered on video games and social media.
Blickers
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 May, 2018 10:06 pm
@edgarblythe,
True, but I suspect that video games probably will become an art form, if they aren't already. Same for social media or its successors. Today's trolls might be classified as pioneers tomorrow.
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Finn dAbuzz
 
  -1  
Reply Sat 5 May, 2018 12:40 pm
@edgarblythe,
We need to work. Not in horrible conditions and for pennies, but we need to be productive. Not everyone has the talent to produce art, but just about everyone has the ability to work.

Video games and social media chit chat are not productive and if there is any art in either of them, it is not being produced by those who use them. I'm afraid you are right though. People without the desire or means to be productive already immerse themselves in alternate realities where their minds are freed of consideration of their wretched plights. The means used to be pretty well limited to drugs and alcohol, but video games are proving to be just as effective and addictive. The makers of these games and social media platforms know this. They are counting on it for profit.

Technology is not going to usher in a Golden Age in which humans are freed from labor, and if it does in will hardly be golden.

I'm no longer so certain that we shouldn't hope for an end to the advancement of technology, but I remain sure that in the absence of a series of cataclysmic natural or social events, the advancement will not stop or even slow down.

What will happen to the people displaced by technology? They will be thrown into the dustbin, as they always have been.

The idea that we will be able to train or re-train minimum wage laborers who lose their jobs to robots is absurd. If we had the will and means to do so, these people wouldn't be flipping burgers in the first place.

What we probably will do is try to provide these people with subsistence living. As their numbers grow, this will lead to national financial ruin and the dissolution of the Union, or violent social upheaval and the dissolution of the Union. Regardless, it will be a tragic endeavor because human beings need to be productive. It's what gives meaning to life. We can meet everyone's physical needs for food and shelter, but if we eliminate the meaning to their lives they will seek to replace it in alternative realities.

Predictably these circumstances lead people to spout fantasies about some utopian, egalritarian society where no one has to labor, everyone's needs are met and the human spirit soars. Well, the robots aren't going to create this Utopia and should they develop to the point where they can engineer human society, I doubt they will create one that humans consider utopian. So who will create the Golden Age of Tomorrow? Human politicians? Human leaders who spring forth from the people?

No matter how bad conditions have been for people in the past, no matter how much power and will the prophets of the Golden Age have been able to accrue, overwhelmingly, Utopias contructed on ideological principles have quickly turned out to be living Hells. There is no reason to believe advance technology will make future attempts any different.

edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 May, 2018 12:58 pm
In a profit at all cost society, I think the consumers of games will be targeted, as this effectively neutralizes any resistance to what else goes on. Brave New World accomplished, in their case. What other measures our benevolent leaders will take on our behalf, I haven't really thought that much about.
0 Replies
 
jespah
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 May, 2018 04:47 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Finn dAbuzz wrote:

...
What will happen to the people displaced by technology? They will be thrown into the dustbin, as they always have been.

The idea that we will be able to train or re-train minimum wage laborers who lose their jobs to robots is absurd. If we had the will and means to do so, these people wouldn't be flipping burgers in the first place. ...

Well said. I think we're looking at a more radical shift than replacing horses with cars and trains. Certainly it will be a faster one.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 May, 2018 05:36 pm
https://timedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/robot-computer.jpg?quality=85
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maxdancona
 
  3  
Reply Sat 5 May, 2018 05:54 pm
Again, this is nothing new. Our increasing use of robots and AI isn't that radical. It is just another step in our technological progress. Humanity has already been through many technological advances... each of which meant that less work was needed to maintain normal life. We had:

- agriculture
- the discovery of bronze
- the steam engine and the industrial revolution
- electricity
- the information age

Each of these (any many I am skipping) meant that humans had to work less. In each case, human adapted even though the nature of work changed. This is nothing new.

We will adapt, just as we have adapted every other time this has happened in our history.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 May, 2018 09:32 pm
There is a persistent fallacy, first identified by the Engnlish economist David Schloss in 1891, called the lump of labor fallacy. The fallacy holds that there is a fixed amount of labor which can be done in an economy, and that anything which tends to increase the available work force (such as people put out of work by automation) is a bad thing, as the lump of labor cannot be increased. It is fallacious only to the extent that the work force is poorly educated, and that authority does not retrain workers and foster innovation. In the 1960s, there were dire predictions of the destruction of the American economy because of automation. It's BS, of course, and things that keep the American economy healthy despite foreign competition, automation and the Republican Party is that there are worker training programs in every state and in many municipalities, and there is a high degree of innovation in the United States. Even as greedy capitalist move jobs offshore to get a cheaper workforce and to avoid fair labor standards and environmental regulation, new technologies and new service sector enterprises are created in the United States.

I am rather bemused to think of teens unable to get their first jobs in fast food. When I lived in Columbus, Ohio, the kids there would not work in fast food, because those jobs only paid $8 to $10 an hour. Most employees one saw in fast food joints, including management, were Spanish-speaking immigrants. I suspect that entire villages in Latin America were being supported by the money they sent home.

Teapot tempest . . .
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 7 May, 2018 08:49 pm
@Setanta,
The inverse to Parkinsons Law.
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farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Mon 7 May, 2018 08:51 pm
@maxdancona,
CNC and 3-d printing have restarted a need for engineering talent industrial design for lots of "one off" stuff for all kinds of tech and mechanicals
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Blickers
 
  2  
Reply Mon 7 May, 2018 11:06 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Quote Finn:
Quote:
Technology is not going to usher in a Golden Age in which humans are freed from labor, and if it does in will hardly be golden.


And you know this how, exactly?

Look at the overall view. Homo Sapiens have been on earth for 195,000 years, (or longer). For 185,000 of those years, we lived as hunter-gatherers, following the herds of game and supplementing with native berries and vegetables. It's hard to say if hunter-gathering counts as work, since it's pretty much what our species is built for and probably what we enjoy most. That leaves the agricultural revolution to bring in real labor. Labor is something that you do because you have to, not because you want to. Pushing a plow is labor. Getting together with your tribe and felling a mastodon is not labor, it's what comes naturally and it's fun besides.

In short, work has been fun for 185,000/195,000 of the time we've been on earth. Why are you so sure that technology cannot return us to work being fun as it was for our species for so long? Only this time around, we have an uninterrupted food supply, medicines and much longer life to go with our life without labor.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 May, 2018 04:05 am
@Blickers,
Quote:
It's hard to say if hunter-gathering counts as work, since it's pretty much what our species is built for and probably what we enjoy most.


As a human being... based on my own experience... I doubt very much that this is true.

There are lots of things I enjoy far more than hunting and gathering... for example watching football on the television. Speaking only for myself, getting meat wrapped in plastic at the store (that I don't have to kill and gut myself) is a pretty cool innovation.

The hunter gatherer lifestyle was difficult, grueling and short. Most of their time was spent fighting for basic necessities with little time for leisure.
Blickers
 
  3  
Reply Tue 8 May, 2018 07:24 am
@maxdancona,
Quote max:
Quote:
The hunter gatherer lifestyle was difficult, grueling and short. Most of their time was spent fighting for basic necessities with little time for leisure.

It was only difficult because there are a limited amount of resources. Communal hunting and gathering is a blast, the only problem is that there are too many days or periods where you don't bring anything home. In a situation of plenty, humans reproduce until we hit the point where we stretch the available resources. Then we eat a little less than is optimum for us, leading to periods of semistarvation where we become more vulnerable to disease which kills a certain percentage of us off. The difference between us and the rest of the animal kingdom is the fact that our brain allows us to continually invent new methods and devices to extract what we need from the environment, so the limit of our population keeps getting pushed higher. In this hunter gatherer lifestyle, our population and territory grew and grew, overcoming one environmental disaster after another, (called population bottlenecks,) until we peopled the world.

As much fun as the hunter-gatherer lifestyle is, growing crops produces a larger, steadier food supply so we eventually chucked it in most places for the plow. This abandonment of hunting and gathering only began 10,000 years ago, a very tiny percentage of the 195,000 years, (or possibly 320,000 years), that Homo Sapiens have been here. But agriculture is hard work, and the food supply, while much more abundant, is more limited, leading to a population that is larger but not as strong as the hunter-gatherers. Check out the following study-hunter gatherers are actually healthier than agriculturalists-there just aren't as many of them.



Early Farmers Were Sicker and Shorter Than Their Forager Ancestors
By Valerie Ross | June 17, 2011 2:30 pm

What’s the News: As human societies adopted agriculture, their people became shorter and less healthy, according to a new review of studies focused on the health impacts of early farming. Societies around the world—in Britain and Bahrain, Thailand and Tennessee—experienced this trend regardless of when they started farming or what stapled crops they farmed, the researchers found.

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/files/2011/06/farm-425x318.jpg

This finding runs contrary to the idea that a stable source of food makes people grow bigger and healthier. The data suggest, in fact, that poor nutrition, increased disease, and other problems that plagued early farming peoples more than their hunter-gatherer predecessors outweighed any benefits from stability.

How the Heck:

The researchers dug through data from more than 20 studies that collected clues to stature and overall health—everything from dental cavities to bone strength—from ancient skeletons. These studies focused on a wide range of cultures in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas as they transitioned from foragers to farmers.
The team saw that across the board, people’s height decreased and health worsened as they traded hunting and gathering for the garden and the herd.
What accounts for the decline? While we tend to think that growing our food rather than foraging for it must be a good thing, “humans paid a heavy biological cost for agriculture,” anthropologist George Armelagos, one of the researchers, said in a prepared statement.
A diet based on a limited number of crops meant that people weren’t getting as wide a variety of nutrients as when they relied on a range of food sources, leaving them malnourished—and thus, both shorter and more susceptible to disease.
Living in agriculture-based communities likely made infectious diseases more of a problem, as well, the scientists say. Higher population density, disease-carrying domesticated animals, and less-than-ideal sanitation systems all would have helped diseases spread.
This effect was seen over thousands of years, starting at the dawn of agriculture about 10,000 years ago.In more recent times, however, height and health have been increasing, especially in 75 years or so since mechanized agriculture began to spread.

Armelagos and his colleague Mark Nathan Cohen first introduced the idea that agriculture could negatively impact human health in a 1984 book, Paleopathology at the Origins of Agriculture. While many researchers were initially skeptical, the idea now has wide support.
This new review bolsters the theory with data from societies across many millennia and five continents, gathered during the quarter century since the book’s publication.
Reference: Amanda Mummert , Emily Esche, Joshua Robinson, & George J. Armelagos. “Stature and robusticity during the agricultural transition: Evidence from the bioarchaeological record.” Economics and Human Biology, July 2011. DOI:10.1016/j.ehb.2011.03.004
Image: Flickr / mckaysavage

Source

In short, hunting and gathering = communal fun. Agriculture = backbreaking work.

Given these discoveries, it becomes clear that fun is the normal state of Homo Sapiens, limited only by their food supply. There is no reason to believe that technology cannot deliver us back into our normal fun state, at which point the agricultural/hard work stage of Homo Sapiens will be seen as a mere necessary transition stage that did not last very long.
maxdancona
 
  2  
Reply Tue 8 May, 2018 07:38 am
@Blickers,
That is very interesting.... and compelling. I haven't encountered this line of thinking before. That sure complicates the nice story of steady unambiguous progress.

Thanks for posting that. I still like modern supermarkets.
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