Category Archives: Automation

International Labor Organization says only one-fourth of the world’s workers have solid jobs

Not a chance that this man would be able to afford to live in London.

The International Labor Organization report revealed a clear shift away from reliable full-time jobs, as short-term contracts and irregular hours become more widespread.

ILO chief Guy Ryder said the shift was contributing to the “widespread insecurity” affecting many workers worldwide.

The dwindling share of steady jobs comes against the backdrop of soaring global unemployment, with 201 million people jobless last year, 30 million more than before the 2008 financial crisis, ILO said.

The organization’s main annual report, covering more than 180 countries and 84 percent of the global workforce, said a full three-quarters of workers have temporary or short-term contracts, held informal jobs or were in unpaid family work.

Among workers who earn salaries, only 42% have permanent contracts, said the ILO’s 2015 World Employment Social Outlook Report titled The Changing Nature of Jobs.

In such conditions, working is no guarantee of prosperity…

Even in the countries where work has been ‘offshored’ it seems that finding a steady, reasonably well-paid job is a problem.  

In the West, mass immigration and automation have also contributed to this dismal situation.


Book review: ‘Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future’

Martin Ford has seen the future, and it doesn’t work. To be more precise, it generates wealth while obliterating demand for work. “Go West, young man”, was the career advice of the 19th century. Today’s equivalent is “get an engineering degree”. Alas, the latter is not as rewarding as the former.

A third of Americans who graduated in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) are in jobs that do not require any such degree. Up and down the US there are programmers working as fast-food servers. In the age of artificial intelligence, they will only drift further into obsolescence, says Ford.

Though Ford is a software entre­preneur, it is easy to dismiss his prognosis as the rantings of a latter-day Luddite. That is how many responded to his last book The Lights in the Tunnel (2009), which warned of a future in which even highly skilled occupations were vulnerable.

Rise of the Robots is Ford’s answer to those critics. Unlike his first book, which was based on a thought experiment about tomorrow’s world, this one is grounded in today’s economy. It is well researched and disturbingly persuasive.

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Derbyshire: The Case for Natural Stupidity

All of us by now, with the possible exception of some Sentinelese Islanders, are acquainted with the notion of Artifical Intelligence (AI). Most of us have read the news stories about how some alarming proportion of jobs—including middle-class careers like doctoring, lawyering, and accountancy—will soon yield to automation.

It’s scary. How will our kids make a living?

Allow me to reassure you. After pondering the matter in depth while flossing my teeth this morning, I have the solution. Pay attention, please!

Plainly the opposite of Artificial Intelligence is Natural Stupidity (NS). Therein lies our salvation. While robots take over all the work requiring intelligence, we humans must retreat behind the ramparts of NS, where the smart machines will not venture.

To help my own kids with their career planning, I have drawn up a list of ten occupations for which, on the evidence, the principal cognitive requirement is NS. Today I shall share that list with you, for the enlightenment of your own offspring. You’re welcome!

(1) Harvard Professor of Economics. Steve Sailer has been having great sport tossing and goring Prof. Raj Chetty’s absurd theories about social mobility, which Hillary Clinton is incorporating into her campaign speeches.

Prof. Chetty’s prize exhibit is a map of the U.S.A. with districts colored to show the most and least socially mobile. It looks uncannily like a map showing local proportions of blacks….


Software Is Replacing Financial Workers in Large Corporations

This website has examined the expanded use of technology to deprive Americans of their jobs, and physical robots illustrate that workplace revolution very clearly.

However, clever software also eliminates many workers, though not as visually. For example, tax software now performs the calculations that were earlier done by human tax preparation experts.

That transformation is occurring at the financial departments of large corporations as well, where offices full of human number crunchers have been pruned back considerably…



The self-driving truck that could put Teamsters out of business: Nevada licenses new big rig that could one day see the end of professional truckers

The world’s first self-driving truck has been licensed for use on American roads – potentially heralding the beginning of the end for professional truck drivers.

The Freightliner Inspiration Truck received its official ‘autonomous vehicle’ license plate in Nevada Tuesday and rolled out to a test event on Hoover Dam.

The big rig uses camera and radar to scan the road in front for other vehicles, and can read and process road signs in real time.

On-board computers and wireless technology can also allow the trucks to ‘platoon’ in a long convoy where a long row of vehicles all follow the same instructions in lock-step…


More Jobs Are Being Lost as Robots Become Affordable for Small Business

Baxter excels at simple tasks like loading boxes, as shown.

We have become accustomed to seeing robots in the workplace in big industries like auto manufacturing, but most Americans work in smaller companies, so the threat of smart machine replacement for those jobs is not so great, right? Wrong.

Baxter the robot, a machine introduced a couple of years ago, costs around $22,000 to purchase and $3/hour to run. So small manufacturers are beginning to take advantage of the machines to increase efficiency and reduce costs.

It’s disconcerting that Washington is snoozing through this fundamental transformation of the employment universe where the human worker is becoming obsolete in the production of goods and services. The CEO of the Gallup pollsters remarked a few months back that “At the recession, we lost 13 million jobs, only three million have come back,” which is sounds like a good snapshot of the American economy: jobs are not being created and the cause is partially smart machines…


Robots Can Mix You a Drink. But Will They Listen to Your Problems?

The Makr Shakr, a bartending robot, is the creation of an Italian company and consists of robotic arms that mix cocktails, then place them on a conveyor belt to be carried across the bar to the waiting customer or a server. Nicholas Marchesi/Makr Shakr

Robots aren’t about to elbow bartenders out of a job.

But versions of them could start showing up at your favorite watering holes. Indeed, some are already out there.

The Makr Shakr is the creation of an Italian company and consists of robotic arms that mix cocktails, and then place them on a conveyor belt to be carried across the bar to the waiting customer or a server. The first two installations are on Royal Caribbean cruise ships, where they’re the centerpieces of “Bionic Bars.”

The goal isn’t to do away with bartenders, who are still needed to tend the machines and, when necessary, deliver the drinks. Carlo Ratti, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and cofounder of Makr Shakr, says the project began when he was asked to design a machine that would allow people to interact with robots in an unexpected setting. “It started as something to shock people in a tangible way,” he says, to show them “what the third industrial revolution is all about.”

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America’s Senator Jeff Sessions Connects Smart Machines and Immigration

There are no humans present on the automobile manufacturing floor because robots are building the cars, a growing practice.

Senator Sessions wrote an op-ed published on Friday in the Washington Post where he called for a sane approach regarding the number of immigrants America admits.

He correctly noted that the changing workplace must be taken into account.

When human employees are increasingly being replaced by robots, automation and computers, then the wrong idea of a future worker shortage argued by Paul Ryan and others must be rejected…


Is Your Job ‘Routine’? If So, It’s Probably Disappearing

Employees work at an assembly line in the Toyota manufacturing plant located in Chachoengsao province, east of Bangkok. Mr. Siu thinks jobs have been taken away by automation, more than by outsourcing. While some manufacturing jobs have clearly gone overseas, “it’s hard to offshore a secretary.” CHAIWAT SUBPRASOM/REUTERS

The American labor market and middle class was once built on the routine job–workers showed up at factories and offices, took their places on the assembly line or the paper-pushing chain, did the same task over and over, and then went home.

New research from Henry Siu at the University of British Columbia and Nir Jaimovich from Duke University shows just how much the world of routine work has collapsed. The economists released a paper today, published by the centrist Democratic think tank Third Way, showing that over the course of the last two recessions and recoveries, a period beginning in 2001, the economy’s job growth has come entirely from nonroutine work…




More jobs lost to automation: Century-old NYC matzo factory closes its Lower East Side doors as it faces a high-tech future

The bakery first opened during World War I, serving struggling Jewish immigrants.

Passover matzos have rolled out of a century-old bakery on Manhattan’s Lower East Side for the last time.

The Streit’s factory is the oldest in the nation still churning out the unleavened flatbread that’s essential for Jewish holidays – about 2.5 million pounds of matzos were baked for April’s Passover holiday and distributed worldwide.

But Streit’s is planning to shut down its nine-decade-old ovens by the year’s end to move into a 21st-century computerized plant located in a different part of the New York area. The contract has yet to be signed…

…Some of the nearly 60 workers represent a wave of immigrants from former Soviet republics, like machine operator Michael Abramov, who was born in Uzbekistan.

He has been at Streit’s for 25 years — the only job he has ever had in America.

‘I’m not bored. I love this work. This is important. It’s our religion, it’s the history of the Jews,’ said the 61-year-old Queens resident.

Operations on Rivington Street will proceed until the new plant is running with state-of-the-art equipment that will speed up production…


Amazon Explores Next Step in Automated Warehouses — Bye Bye Human Workers!

Given the expanded used of computers, robots and automation, America’s future need for immigrant workers is ZERO.

In February, I wrote about Amazon’s new “fulfillment centers” that featured increased use of robots: “North Texas: Promotes Its Semi-Automated Warehouses.” Managers assured the public and new local employees that the smart machines “help” humans do the heavy lifting and boring stuff that the workers don’t want to do.

We’ve heard that kind of language before, particularly regarding a dubious “need” for immigrant workers — that they do jobs Americans don’t want to do. It was once the case that workers were paid more for difficult, dangerous or unpleasant jobs, like meatpacking (which once provided middle class jobs for citizens), but no longer. That social contract has been ripped to shreds because of the globalized forces of outsourcing and mass immigration, and smart machines are coming on strong.

These days the Amazon company depends on its amazing Kiva system of warehouse robots to locate and move goods to humans who do the picking and packing…