Manufacturing jobs are finally returning to North America…for robots

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by juanm, Jan 27, 2017.

  1. juanm macrumors 65816

    juanm

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    http://www.canadianbusiness.com/economy/re-shoring-and-robots/

    Manufacturing jobs are finally returning to North America…for robots
    With emerging-market wages catching up fast, the advantage to offshore manufacturing is dwindling. But automation threatens jobs on every continent

    [​IMG]
    Amazon fulfillment centres use robots for a growing number of tasks. (Brandon Bailey/AP)

    Let’s start with the good news: manufacturing is returning to North America. It is called “re-shoring” and is happening for several reasons. Chief among these is that labour costs in Canada and the United States are becoming relatively more competitive as the Chinese economy soared and wages there gradually caught up to more developed economies. But there are other factors at play here, too.



    In North America, corporate tax rates have become more globally competitive, as has the cost of energy. Land is also far cheaper in North America. To find 500 acres for a large manufacturing facility in Alberta, you look out a window. In Guangzhou? Even five acres could be a challenge. When you also consider the additional cost of shipping goods from Asia to North America, the case for simply making it here becomes even stronger.


    But the real driver behind re-shoring is automation. A robot in Mississauga, Ont., costs just as much as a robot in Shenzhen. And that is the bad news. Manufacturers are moving robotic jobs, not human ones, back to North American shores.

    The bad news doesn’t end there. This rise in automation has only just begun and is going to change far more than the manufacturing sector. With the growth of machine learning and artificial intelligence, job losses will not be limited to assembly lines. The service industry, office administration, computer programming, and many other sectors are all on the cusp of automation.

    For centuries, every advance in industrial technology was heralded by prophecies of doom. But the Luddites have only ever been partly right. Automation has often proved disruptive, leading to painful “creative destruction,” unemployment and migration. But progress, on balance, has been positive. The internal combustion engine meant that some buggy manufacturers failed, but in their place came automobile makers, and ultimately more and better jobs. Since these changes took place over periods of decades or even years, industries, companies and individuals had time to adjust. They retooled or, if necessary, relocated. This time it may be different; the changes may come almost literally overnight.

    Consider the transport industry. In the 2011 Canadian census, more than 260,000 people described themselves as truck drivers, making it the second-most common job in the country for men. Now Uber has a self-driving truck startup called Otto, and the state of Nevada has already licensed autonomous transport trucks. A tipping point will soon be reached when the largest transport companies decide they can expand profits, reduce crashes and bypass the union with a simple fleet upgrade.

    I spoke to Henry Siu, a professor at the University of British Columbia who specializes in automation and the decline of middle-class jobs; he predicted that the trucking industry could automate within the span of one to two years. The economic changes this would spark cannot be understated. In the United States, this could mean the loss of eight to nine million jobs, and mostly from lower-income families, further exacerbating economic disparities. Worse yet, according to Siu, this shift would most likely come in the midst of a recession, when the industry is looking for new ways to cut costs.

    The question that should be on the mind of every political leader and policy-maker in the country is: how do we prepare for this evolutionary change to the global economy? Many people are talking about universal basic income—a guaranteed monthly stipend for anyone below the poverty line. There are pilot projects being launched in Canada now, and the concept appears to be a promising alternative to Employment Insurance.

    Governments can delay automation, too, with new regulations, tax disincentives, and licensing constraints. But this has its limits and is only delaying the inevitable. It would be politically and economically impossible for Saskatchewan to ban driverless trucks, for example, if the Trans-Canada Highway is filled with them.

    How do we prepare for the inevitable job losses? Siu has a counterintuitive suggestion: avoid education that focuses on the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and math). This only trains people for jobs that are the next to be automated, like programming. Instead, we need a work force to take on jobs that computers can’t: to think laterally, to make subjective judgment calls an algorithm can’t, and to solve problems. Not game programmers, but game animators; not payroll clerks, but career counsellors.

    The great irony of the robotics revolution may be the unexpected resurgence of the long-derided bachelors of arts degree—you still can’t automate creativity.
    --- Post Merged, Jan 27, 2017 ---
    In other words, stop blaming Mexico and worry about Amazon.
     
  2. aaronvan Suspended

    aaronvan

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    Amazon doesn't have any manufacturing jobs. They sell stuff.
     
  3. oneMadRssn macrumors 68040

    oneMadRssn

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    For a company that allegedly only sells stuff, they sure have a high R&D budget.
     
  4. samcraig macrumors P6

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    They manufacture kindles like Apple manufactures iPhones :)
     
  5. aaronvan Suspended

    aaronvan

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    I'm sure Amazon uses incredibly advanced algorithms in their sales and distribution network. They are also the world's largest provider of cloud computing services.
     
  6. BeefCake 15 macrumors 65816

    BeefCake 15

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  7. aaronvan Suspended

    aaronvan

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    #7
    Cloud computing isn't manufacturing. Read the job description.
     
  8. BeefCake 15 macrumors 65816

    BeefCake 15

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  9. juanm thread starter macrumors 65816

    juanm

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    #9
    Your lack of ability to read the trends and between the lines unless it's in big characters is amazing.

    Capitalism is a "winner takes all" game, and Amazon is the winner. They have already been cutting the middle man and decimating small business for years. They are now in a position of force that whatever they want to implement, can be implemented very fast, be it delivery drones or employee-less stores.
    --- Post Merged, Jan 27, 2017 ---
    For a robot, manufacturing is data.
     
  10. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    Top 10 jobs to be automated includes news reporting. Which I'd say was creative.
     
  11. aaronvan Suspended

    aaronvan

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    All your antipathy to capitalism doesn't make Amazon a manufacturer.

    That is utter nonsense but OK, whatever.
     
  12. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    Ok so if automation takes away 10 million truck driving jobs what exactly is capitalism going to do to replace them?

    Bearing in mind that truck drivers probably need ten years of education to do any in demand jobs.
     
  13. aaronvan Suspended

    aaronvan

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    I have no idea. But you're correct: truck driving jobs will soon disappear, as will Uber and Lyft jobs.
     
  14. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    So what do you think those 10 million unemployed gun owners will do?
     
  15. juanm thread starter macrumors 65816

    juanm

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    #15
    The more data, and the better the data processing, the easier it is to replace a human with a robot.
     
  16. aaronvan Suspended

    aaronvan

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    If that's what you mean, I completely agree.
     
  17. Fancuku macrumors 6502a

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    Easy, move them to the new country, California. Let them deal with those unemployed. :D
     
  18. juanm thread starter macrumors 65816

    juanm

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    "That's their problem"
     
  19. FX120 macrumors 65816

    FX120

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    Domestic manufacturing returning to the US is fantastic news, especially if it's in highly automated plants. The technology for factory automation isn't anything new, it's been evolving since the cotton gin and the wind mill. The only real reason factory automation prevented offshoring in the first place was the initial cost of developing for an annual release cycle exceeded the cost of hiring thousands of low-paid manual laborers overseas. That's no longer the case, and it makes much greater sense to put your highly automated factory in a nation with stable government, utilities, and strong IP protection.

    There is a tremendous amount of work that goes into developing automated production lines, and a ton of jobs that are created as to support that development.
     
  20. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    If the people in the mid-West were happy to move to California for work you wouldn't have a jobs crisis in the flyover states.

    So China has 2.5/3 and the US has 2/3.
     
  21. Brien macrumors 68020

    Brien

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    This article doesn't really say anything new... but it is certainly something we need to plan for as a society. The counter argument is that the displacement via technology will create new and better jobs as it always has, but I think we may be hitting a tipping point where all the low-paying jobs will just straight up be gone.

    The end game (put on your SciFi hats now) is automated everything. Look up post-scarcity economics, that's where we are headed. When nonody has to work, whether it ends up being a utopia or Wall•E is up for debate.
     
  22. Eraserhead macrumors G4

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    If the low paid jobs are gone within even the next half century either taxes and benefits will rise massively or society will collapse.
     
  23. juanm thread starter macrumors 65816

    juanm

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    Wrong. While it does create some jobs, it's nowhere near what it once was. (ie: where you once had 500 operators, you'll now need 100 robots and perhaps 10 people 24/7 to assist those robots. In this example as a whole system, 10 people are doing the work of 500. The implementation of an assembly line does create more jobs than that, but it's basically a one time job that doesn't last more than a few months. In the long term the balance is way off.

    More than ever, profit will be limited to those who have the money to own the means of production, and while in the past they needed human operators, thus redistributing some of the wealth, even that has ceased to be true.
     
  24. Eraserhead macrumors G4

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    Fundamentally low skilled people need something challenging and interesting to do without significant extra education and training.

    And perhaps they will need to move for it, but not thousands of miles.

    And people with an education need to be able to afford to buy a house and other luxuries.
     
  25. Dagless macrumors Core

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    What does this joke answer signal? A realisation perhaps?
     

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