The state of work in the future.

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Zombie Acorn, Sep 13, 2012.

  1. Zombie Acorn macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

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    #1
    I am actually curious how everyone feels about the possibilities of basic goods production being self sustaining without human interactions in the future and how this will affect wealth distribution in countries such as the US/Canada.

    The main point of "working" is to trade your services/labor for monetary units to buy other people's services/labor/goods, but if the core of these services are automated and production/development can be ran by artificial intelligence systems, robots, etc there wouldn't really be a need to work anymore in the traditional sense.

    I can see this having one of two affects. One we turn to a more socialistic/communist society where work and production is a shared resource produced by ai/robots, or two there is an elite class of people who control the corporations that own everything and everyone else is kept living at a sustainable level where they do not riot. I don't really foresee any class mobility in this situation.

    I am not saying all private enterprise will be taken over by automated systems, but it is possible that production of food and other needs for human sustenance might be "taken care of", in which case you get to decide whether you want to work or not.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #2
    I doubt we ever see robots fully replace service industries, like lawyers, doctors, masseuses, and people who design and program robots.
     
  3. Liquorpuki macrumors 68020

    Liquorpuki

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    #3
    It's pretty much only manufacturing and agrarian based economies that would be affected. Since most western countries are primarily service economies, it's the poorer and developing countries that would be hit the hardest by this.

    Knowing that, it would definitely cause your elite class scenario based on increasing the wealth gap, both globally and domestically.
     
  4. localoid macrumors 68020

    localoid

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    #4
    Where exactly is the energy and natural resources required to keep a robotic self-sustaining production system of goods and foods running coming from?
     
  5. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

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    #5
    well it would be assumed that power would become renewable (so non issue there)

    It pretty much would hammer manufacturing and agriculture.
    It moves the job to more higher education level.
     
  6. localoid macrumors 68020

    localoid

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    #6
    Yes, it's a "non issue" other than the fact we don't have a sustainable energy system in place.

    Thank goodness the planet's supply of natural resources is unlimited. :rolleyes:
     
  7. Zombie Acorn thread starter macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

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    #7
    The sun is a viable resource, we are talking about the future future, not tomorrow. 50 years from now we could have sun harvesting devices painted, plastered, and covering every viable surface that sees light.

    Limited natural resources will be the same whether it is us harvesting it or robotic guided devices.

    Im more interested in what happens to the people when there is no more work though.

    ----------

    That still leaves a lot of people looking for a job. Does everyone elevate to a higher level of work and continue from there? Does everyone have the aptitude to do so?
     
  8. localoid macrumors 68020

    localoid

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    #8
    Well no duh. Now all we need is for someone to wave a magic wand and we'll all become Captain Kirks living in the future world of Star Trek.

    Escaping reality, for fun and profit...
     
  9. Liquorpuki macrumors 68020

    Liquorpuki

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    #9
    A self-sustaining energy portfolio has nothing to do with whether or not manufacturing and farming can be automated. You're bringing up a totally different topic
     
  10. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

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    #10
    I did see an article a year or so ago that talked about Amazon experimenting with a warehouse which was highly robotized. Machines travel to a certain aisle to find a certain product and then bring it to the conveyor belt for shipment.

    The implication is obvious. If this works, you could see all kinds of warehouses and shipping facilities that use even fewer workers.

    I wish I had retained the article. The whole thing was about what would happen to a society in which even service sector jobs started to go away.
     
  11. localoid macrumors 68020

    localoid

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    #11
    If you want to make believe that self-sustaining robotic production system of goods and food is possible without the infrastructure to support it, then go ahead... don't let reality temper your imagination.
     
  12. killerrobot macrumors 68020

    killerrobot

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  13. Rampant.A.I., Sep 13, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2012

    Rampant.A.I. macrumors 6502a

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    #13
    For fewer people in a smaller workforce. You're talking about removing minimally skilled labor jobs and replacing them with highly skilled jobs. Fewer total jobs for the population, with higher entry requirements.

    The problem becomes: how will people fund their education to be able to even apply for jobs that now have higher requirements?

    Automatic checkout is becoming more and more common. Most big-box stores have a single teller running 6 self-checkout stands. That's 5 jobs potentially replaced by automation with a single employee running it. And they're the kind of jobs people take to work their way through college.

    I'm not looking forward to the day when we replace all the service sector jobs.
     
  14. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    Interesting question. The answer is, the workforce adapts to these changes.

    Centuries ago, far more of the workforce worked on farms. As we became industrialized and farm equipment reduced the need for manual labor in the fields, fewer people worked as farmhands and more went to work in assembly lines.

    Even today, as more and more manufacturing jobs are either shipped overseas or automated, people in the workforce are shifting their skills to more service-related tasks. In your example (which focuses on the short term) yes, some people who are unable or unwilling to make these sorts of changes will be left behind, but over time the workforce as a whole adapts. My point is that this cycle isn't new; it's been going on for centuries.
     
  15. Liquorpuki macrumors 68020

    Liquorpuki

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    #15
    OP was talking about self-sustaining in terms of automated manufacturing/farming (AKA self-sustaining = no people needed)

    This is evident because his question was about the impact of automation on human capital

    You're talking about something else - sustainable energy portfolios. Probably because you saw the word self-sustaining and "energy" was the first thing that popped in your head so you rolled with it. You need to reread
     
  16. localoid macrumors 68020

    localoid

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    #16
    I don't need to reread. You need to consider the limitations of the real world.

    Yes, anything seems possible in the future if you don't think about it very deeply or consider what would be needed to make it all possible.

    Kids in the '50s once dreamed of flying cars...
     
  17. Zombie Acorn thread starter macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

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    #17
    I think it could either be really great or really bad depending on how we handle it. Like Tomorrow suggested, we used to all be farmers to provide enough food for everyone, then machinery was invented and we no longer had to all farm so we went to building machinery and services.

    The thing that is strange (at least to me) about the next step is that it doesn't involve human capital at all, which makes it hard for me to even imagine what the next step looks like. When all of our needs are provided (food/shelter) without the need for human capital, what exactly are we working for and how will "wealth" be distributed?
     
  18. Rampant.A.I. macrumors 6502a

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    #18
    And the last memorable time something like this happened was The Great Depression. Production went way up, prices went down until they could no longer support the cost of production. We're still paying farm subsidies, in part due to all those jobs bottoming out.

    Obviously there were other large factors, and I don't believe we're headed for another Great Depression (immediately) but to say that the cycle continues ignores the tremendous amount of impact it can have across the board without regulation.
     
  19. Zombie Acorn thread starter macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

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    #19
    Automation of jobs has already started, I can go to the Movie theater, order a burger, and check out from Walmart without ever having to interact with an employee.

    This is a far cry from full automation of all service and production systems, but it will happen in the future. As this trends the distribution of wealth is only going to flow one way, and much faster.
     
  20. rrl macrumors 6502

    rrl

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    #20
    Dude (localoid), open your mind a little. Here's a good place to start:

    Abundance
     
  21. Zombie Acorn thread starter macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

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    #21
    Just curious, have you read this book? Would you recommend it? This seems to hit on exactly the topics I am interested in.
     
  22. rrl macrumors 6502

    rrl

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    I'm almost half way through and I'm enjoying it. There is some hand waving going on, but the important thing is there are some smart people thinking deeply about these issues. It's a good jumping off point and it will set your mind in the right direction if it's not already there.
     
  23. localoid macrumors 68020

    localoid

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    #23
    It could happen in the future.But fossil fuels currently powers the bulk of agriculture and production of goods in the U.S. The system is one of ever increasing consumption on a planet of ever dwindling resources. And then there's Global Warming...

    What could possibly go wrong?
     
  24. Zombie Acorn thread starter macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

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    #24
    I think you are focusing on a different aspect, resources are limited on the earth for certain, and I am not saying that switching to robots/ai doing work is going to do anything to change that. All i was pointing to is a supply chain with no human (or minimal) interaction needed. Energy will still be consumed of course (hopefully renewable energy by the time this comes around).

    What I am trying to pin down is what people think a world like this would be like, what would people do with their day without work, etc. Is it Utopia or is it a nightmare? Im really not sure at this point.
     
  25. rbrian macrumors 6502a

    rbrian

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    #25
    "A lot has changed in the past 300 years. People are no longer obsessed with the accumulation of things. We've eliminated hunger, want, the need for possessions. We've grown out of our infancy."
    - Picard to Ralph Offenhouse

    "The challenge, Mr. Offenhouse, is to improve yourself... to enrich yourself. Enjoy it."
    - Picard, describing life on 24th century Earth

    If it goes as it should, we should be able to spend our time doing better things than working. However, people have been saying that for hundreds of years, certainly since the industrial revolution began, if not before - and nothing much has changed, even though everything has changed.

    I'm holding out for a slightly better version of the matrix - I'd happily become a human battery in exchange for super powers in a virtual world!
     

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