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The direction of automation


Remember the Jetson's? Flying cars, robot maids, moving sidewalks, and everything at the press of a button? It is where many of our imaginations go when we think of the future even now. But the darker reality of automation is that, the more it advances, the more it makes human labor obsolete. Well, perhaps not if you're a mechanical engineer or programmer, but eventually robots may well be able to maintain each other or even advance their own design. Programs like Cortana and to some extent Siri and others are raking in colossal amounts of data about how humans communicate and this data is going to be used to create systems that can eventually interact verbally with people in a way that is indistinguishable from human. Many companies around the world are chasing the dream of creating fully human-like androids, and in many cases are investing huge capital in the effort. The cornerstones have already been set for a society where almost any job can be done by a machine. What are the implications of a society without a labor force? A world where everything from surgery to cooking to law enforcement can be done by autonomous robots?

There are of course some who would welcome such a change. I mean, it's the ultimate cost cutting tool. Imagine running a company with no employees to pay? Yes, maybe the utility bill is a little high, but nothing compared to wages and benefits for the number of people needed for the same productivity. Automation will soon no longer be restricted to repetitive tasks like manufacturing. One day, if you challenge a parking ticket, you may be presenting your case to a digital judge and your lawyer might be a talking app on your smartphone. Mind you, how you would pay for a lawyer (even a digital one) or for that matter anything else would be a mystery since you would probably have no job.

... Thoughts?


Registered Member
Change is inevitable. I am okay with relegating tasks machines can handle to machines. There are still plenty of places where skilled craft folk can do things machines can't. Also, the more things are machine made, the more of a status symbol hand made items are.

I don't see any issue with a virtual lawyer, and paying them will be easy. You want the app? You have have to pay for the hours of lawyer time before the app will work. Not sure I would want an app lawyer. Law involves quite a bit of judgement.

AI isn't currently good enough to handle something like the law. There would have to be real lawyers behind the app.

I'm not sure when computers could take over my job, network engineering. The bulk of my job is troubleshooting issues and a lot of troubleshooting comes from not wasting time on dead ends. Computers would almost certainly have to "try everything" which is not always productive. A computer engineer would need to have the experience of good engineers programmed in and the machine would have to be adept in reaching conclusions from incomplete data.


Well-Known Member
AI will never have the same level of intelligence and reasoning that a human does. The movie I, Robot really outlines this reality.

We may be making certain jobs obsolete but these machines will need someone to work on them, create them, and fix them. We aren’t losing jobs so much as changing them over to other types of jobs.

What I’m really looking forward to is filing for taxes being fully automated. I’d like for it to be automated for everyone and you have the option to manually check the numbers to make sure they’re right (which would basically be the current filing process we know and use). Of course, this comes down to trusting the IRS (or a third party program) and that is a hurdle I know a lot of people can’t get over.


Free Spirit
Staff member
At first there will be jobs repairing the robots but eventually they will be repairing each other. They are working on that. There are even robot butchers, which is one of the harder things to get a robot to do especially when it comes to cattle. I doubt very many jobs will be safe from robots. Machines never want the day off, ask for raises, benefits or sue the company. These things are a big incentive to automate.

Could robot butchers replace employees in packing plants?


Registered Member
There will always be people who won't work with machines. I imagine having 'real' help will become a status thing.


If virtually every industry automates, what will you do? We're currently at the cusp of where science fact is catching up to science fiction. The age of robots has begun. Computer processing speed doubles roughly every 18 months and this rate has been accelerating. New space-aged materials are being developed all the time. Common apps, including one built right into Windows 10, are sending important data about human communication to a central servers where it is analyzed by deep learning systems. And companies are investing many millions of dollars each year into AI and Android R&D. When we think of robots, most people think of the big clunky robot arms quickly welding and assembling parts in auto factories, but we're moving way beyond that now. And once android technology is perfected, no job will be safe.

If you decide to watch this video, please keep in mind how quickly computer technology has advanced in just that past 40 years and that the rate of technological development is accelerating rapidly. The video shows that we already have robots that can walk, talk, jump, drive, use a gun, and news anchor. The proficiency with which they can do all of these things and more is under constant development. When the human-like mobility of the earlier robots in the video is able to be incorporated into human looking, talking robots like those that are shown later the result will be androids that will be like those of science fiction.

When android robots first hit the marketplace (likely in less that 20 years) they will initially be very expensive, but not so much so that it wouldn't be worth it for industries to invest in them as a replacement for their human workforce. Androids don't take sick days, require vacations, ask for raises, require benefits, unionize, become tired, unmotivated, or unproductive, and will be capable of doing over 90% of the things people currently make a living doing, from cooking food and taking orders at restaurants to driving taxis to brain surgery (deep learning AI learns from example and can problem solve using the collective recorded knowledge relating to the field). Whether you are comfortable working alongside robots will be irrelevant when 100% of the jobs in your company are automated. And even if there are some jobs for people left, they will be filled with people who need to work. When we get to the point where robots are able to program and repair themselves or each other, human labor will be, to all intensive purposes, completely obsolete. What then?
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