‘Stop the whining!’ – said the robot

One doesn’t have to wait long until a new story comes up showing how humans are already obsolete.  Robots are taking our jobs and there’s no scape from it.

Recent examples can be found in Will Knight’s  two recent articles at MIT Tech review “New Boss on Construction Sites Is a Drone”  and “Robots Learn to Make Pancakes from WikiHow Articles“.

Less often we find stories such as “Technology has created more jobs than it has destroyed, says 140 years of data” and suddenly we feel lighter.  Technology will provide us new jobs.  Of course this is not played well for typists, lamplighter, ice cutters, etc, but at least there’s hope.

Richard Newton’s “Visions of a future beyond abundance and lolling” tries a calmer, optimistic if not skeptical approach.

Below some excerpts; pick the one in harmony with your mood (or profession)

New Boss on Construction Sites Is a Drone:

… workers building a lavish new downtown stadium for the Sacramento Kings in California are being monitored by drones and software that can automatically flag slow progress.

Once per day, several drones automatically patrol the Sacramento work site, collecting video footage. That footage is then converted into a three-dimensional picture of the site, which is fed into software that compares it to computerized architectural plans as well as a the construction work plan showing when each element should be finished. The software can show managers how the project is progressing, and can automatically highlight parts that may be falling behind schedule….” read full story

Robots Learn to Make Pancakes from WikiHow Articles:

…A robot called PR2 in Germany is learning to prepare pancakes and pizzas by carefully reading through WikiHow’s written directions….

Once a robot has learned how a particular set of instructions relates to a task, its knowledge is added to an online database called Open Ease, so that other robots can access that understanding. …” read full story

Technology has created more jobs than it has destroyed, says 140 years of data:

…The battle between man and machines goes back centuries. Are they taking our jobs? Or are they merely easing our workload?

A study by economists at the consultancy Deloitte seeks to shed new light on the relationship between jobs and the rise of technology by trawling through census data for England and Wales going back to 1871.

Their conclusion is unremittingly cheerful: rather than destroying jobs, technology has been a “great job-creating machine”…

Hard, dangerous and dull jobs have declined…
The census data also provide an insight into the impact on jobs in a once-large, but now almost forgotten, sector. In 1901, in a population in England and Wales of 32.5 million, 200,000 people were engaged in washing clothes. By 2011, with a population of 56.1 million just 35,000 people worked in the sector.

t…” read full story

Visions of a future beyond abundance and lolling


…As human labour falls while productivity soars this might become a very pleasant problem of abundance: Sun loungers all round. But a few wrong turns and the alternative is a deeply riven world of inequality, robot soldiers and malign Artificial Intelligence.

Dramatic changes to society will arise before either future comes to pass (and perhaps Piketty may have something to say about it).

…Opportunity lies here.

When the startups shift their focus to life after automation then, in their early prototypes, we’ll get a glimpse into the future. And this will happen sooner than most of us expect….” read full story