Automation technology

  • Future drone-patrolled, controlled and self-planting/harvesting farms.

Everything is being automated from retail to food preparation, mining, construction, trade jobs, repair, transportation, sewing, waste disposal, recycling, medical diagnostics/procedures and agricultural production.


Awesome! :smiley: Let’s just hope our economic system adapts to this new reality before everyone is out of a job under capitalism 1.0… :wink:


Amazingly, I think that DARPA is about 30 years behind the curve on this one:

Needless to say, HTI seems to be one of the best-kept secrets around.


Reminds me of something Stephen Hawking said in his recent AMA.


Yep, and he’s right. At best, it’ll be a long stretch of the 2nd option before we get to the 1st one. A very long stretch, I imagine.


Maybe RL could use watson to create new soylent formulas? It already is being used to create new recipes.

One think i like to add to the original post, the 7B robotic arm.


The automation myth by Matthew Yglesias

P.S. In 1790, 90% of the U.S. workforce were farmers. Only 2% of the workforce are farmers today and most people have jobs. In the past, when jobs have been automated out of existence, new jobs have replaced them. What’s different this time?


Matthew Yglesias is stating that it’s not happening right now, which is true. He’s not saying it won’t or shouldn’t happen, in fact he thinks it will happen and maybe soon, as computer chips continue to double in power every two years: “The more likely outcome is a world with less work. And that’s a world we should welcome rather than fear. It’s a world in which we can make some policy decisions we want to make, rather than decisions we really don’t want to make.”

Automation is different this time since it’s going to be more versatile because of the power of computers, AI, and internet, so it’ll apply to many more job categories than just farming.


Until we develop human-level AI, there will be things that humans can do that robots, machines, and software can’t do. (Even when we develop human-level AI, we can’t ethically use those AIs for unpaid labour anyway — that’s slavery!) So, jobs will still exist. New industries will develop and new kinds of jobs will be created. This much is certain.

Will unemployment be significantly higher than it is today? If the past is any guide, then no. But the past might not be a guide. So how can we come up with an evidence-based answer to this question? Some people have the gut feeling that few new jobs will be created to replace the old, automated jobs. As such, unemployment will be very high. Some people have the gut feeling that feeling that many new jobs will be created to replace the old, automated jobs. As such, unemployment will be low — at basically the same level it is today. How do we decide, in a rational, non-arbitrary way, between these two positions?


I don’t think human-level AI is necessary to take over most jobs, as most jobs don’t require abstract thinking.

“New industries” isn’t a source for new jobs though, virtually all of our current jobs are things like service, manufacturing, transportation, etc which have existed for a very long time. Those industries ballooned when farming crashed. If those industries are also filled by automation and new industries don’t have the capacity to replace them, where do the jobs go? The only other industries left are creative and entertainment types, and those are only capable of providing a very limited number of jobs so they can’t balloon much. Then, most of the jobs taken must disappear when there’s no place left for them to transfer.

There’s no law saying the number of available jobs must always meet the number of working age people, people have historically been employed because they’ve been profitable to employ. It’s inevitable that robots and machines reduce the number of available jobs by being more profitable, the question is when it’s going to happen. As our programming continues to improve and our computer power continues to improve, the reach of automation extends over more job categories. Humans have been able to keep finding employment because companies keep finding uses for us that are worth our cost, that cost-benefit analysis will inevitably be tilted far enough for enough companies in enough industries that the number of available jobs dips below the number of available humans.


Just program the computers to enjoy the work, then we avoid the ethics issue.

The way I answer the question is by asking myself what I would be willing to pay a human for in a world where computers were smarter, faster, stronger, more reliable, more motivated and, for the most part, cheaper. Maybe if I were lonely enough I could be persuaded to pay for a prostitute, but I really can’t think of anything besides that.


By the same token, people could biologically engineer humans to enjoy work, but that wouldn’t make slavery ethical.

As I said, there are things humans can do that robots, machines, and software can’t do. Moreover, they might never be able to do these things without acquiring sentience and hence rights. At that point, you either have to obtain their consent and pay them for their work or resort to slavery. So, there are some jobs that mindless machines may never take over from humans.

Jobs involving research are one example. There are robots that can be used to automate low-level research tasks, but the high-level tasks like thinking about a complex scientific problem or developing a new scientific theory will almost certainly never be taken over by mindless machines (although machines with minds will of course be capable of those tasks).

Just like they do today, companies will need research as one of the raw materials that go into innovation. Today, it isn’t feasible for a large part of the workforce to do research because most of the workforce is needed to run the day-to-day economy. If people stopped showing up to drive buses, sell furniture, and make Mac Pros so they could focus on long-term problems, the economy would collapse. However, if most of the day-to-day economy can be taken care of by robots, that will free people up to work on research. It will no longer be economically unviable.

In the future, most companies might look like Alphabet, which spends 15% of its revenue on research and development and funds forward-looking projects like Calico that will take at least 10 years to come up with its first product. Fundamental and long-term research and development may become one of the biggest sectors in the economy, on par with the service sector today.

This is just one example. If you use your imagination a little, it’s not hard to think of many more. It is far from a foregone conclusion that there will be fewer jobs in the future than today.


A “job”, to me personally, is a task that someone does not want to do or something that poses a threat to the human. Under my definition, there are way less jobs today. People physically work less while simultaneously producing more. Of course there will always be some sort of economy, even in an anarchist paradise people will have various currencies just for fun and games. But menial labor is not going to last much longer. People are too smart, too weak and too expensive to keep using for such things.


[quote=“deepriverfish, post:12, topic:24139”]
It is far from a foregone conclusion that there will be fewer jobs in the future than today.
[/quote]It’s absolutely a foregone conclusion. All you have to do is realize that the reason there are jobs is because people’s work can be profitable. When machinery, robots, and software become more profitable than people, those jobs disappear like the farming jobs did. Scientific research, teaching, designing, and creative work may be irreplaceable in the short term, but all of those together make up a tiny percentage of the total job count. What you’re saying is that 7 billion people are going to be profitably employed as researchers or teachers or artists, you’re dreaming.

When early technology hit farming and we got better yields with fewer workers, people found other employment because there was still profitable work that could be gotten from them. When this new wave of technology hits almost everything else, what profitable work will there be that companies can’t do with robots for a tenth the cost? Some, yes, but not enough to provide jobs for the population.


Why couldn’t a computer do everything a scientist, teacher, or artist does? We’re just biological computers ourselves, after all. As for the slavery thing, I think it would be ethical. It’s not really slavery if they enjoy their work more than any other activities. If people were engineered to enjoyed work more than play, I wouldn’t see anything wrong with them spending their lives working. They could be just as happy as the rest of us, if not more happy


All the non-agriculture sectors of the economy used to make up 10% of jobs. Now they make up 98% of jobs. So, there is no reason sectors that once accounted for only a tiny fraction of total jobs can’t come to dominate the job market.

The example I used was research. Research is very profitable. Out of the top 5 most valuable companies in the world, 3 are technology companies: Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Apple is the most profitable company in the world. In the 21st century economy, innovation is the name of the game, and innovation requires research and development. It makes sense to think that R&D could become a sector with as many jobs as service or manufacturing around the same time robots start fighting fires, performing surgeries, and delivering pizzas.


I guess the thing to do then is to biologically engineer yourself to love your job, rather than biologically engineer someone else to love your job and do it for you.


The past isn’t always representative of the future but it is a good teacher. For example, look at the average hours worked over time. It’s fallen - and probably things like Henry Ford’s assembly line and increased productivity were a part of that. People found jobs for the ones that were eliminated but they also worked less hours. Perhaps we should reduce the hours in a work week. Another thing to look at - what Stephen Hawking suggested is automated processes could result in greater inequality. Have we seen a rise in that area? Where will it lead? Again, there’s some good stuff in history that could be an indicator.

Or perhaps the speed of the technological advances today are such that we can’t rely on history to tell us exactly what will happen. I don’t know.


I think you might reconsider this argument.

Based on market cap lists that are accepted by most financial institutions. If you were to go by raw numbers, Aramco is WAY bigger than Apple. None of those companies would even be in the top 10 if every company on Earth were actually being ranked.

And what about conglomerates and monopolies? There are entire webs of companies that don’t research or develop anything except new pizza topping combinations, but they have assets in the trillions… America has assets in the quadrillions and yet they barely make the cut for various lists of “innovative” countries. If America is behind the Crouching Yeti virus, we know they steal half their ideas from other countries anyway.

Frankly I think its unfair to say that the market is smart enough to decide who’s being the most innovative. There are plenty of innovative companies that get sued for bunk patent violations, get bought out and buried, or simply get buried like Lavabit. In an ideal world where everyone played by the rules maybe the market would dole out the rightful winners.

This is assuming R&D isn’t automated for some reason. There isn’t anything that makes drug discovery or turbomachinery any “harder” than jobs you listed. The point of my post was to show that literally any task a human could do, regardless of how one chooses to categorize it, technology is being developed to do just as well. And technology is being developed to research and develop itself too. Software already does and hardware will be capable of doing so within a few years. Ever seen Eagle Eye? Instead of sending a guy in to hotswap servers, they just have a robotic arm do all the manual servicing. That’s a simplified example of self-correcting hardware.


So, I have a gut feeling that new jobs replace most of the old jobs, and some of you have a gut feeling that very few new jobs will be created so most people will be unemployed. I don’t know what rigorous, evidence-based way there is to decide between those two predictions. Barring that, there is no way to advance the discussion.