Posted by: crudbasher | October 25, 2011

The Employment Equation

(cc) striatic


Consider the following equation.

Employment = (Population+Population Growth)-Number of Jobs

Ok so far so good. Right now population is growing but the number of jobs isn’t because of the poor economy. Therefore employment is pretty stagnant but there is another factor in the equation I didn’t list. Technology is replacing human workers at an ever increasing pace. Let’s revise that equation.

Employment = (Population+Population Growth)-(Number of Jobs-Automated Jobs)

That will start to look pretty grim really fast. Even so I think there is some equilibrium built into the system. If people aren’t employed, then they don’t have money, therefore they can’t buy goods, therefore there isn’t a market, therefore you don’t need workers, robotic or otherwise.

There are two possible scenarios I see here.

1. The vast majority of people live in poverty because they have no creative skills. Robots have taken all non creative jobs. Most people don’t care though because the live in a virtual reality world of entertainment and games.

2. People can use robots as work multipliers. Most people are employed but only need to work a handful of hours a week to give direction and creativity to their computer and robots.

I need to ponder this more but one thing is clear: If you aren’t creative in the upcoming decades, you are in danger of being replaced by a machine.

    • When it comes to robots, the threat of being wiped from the face of the earth by a super intelligent android is the last thing humans should be worrying about. Robots pose a greater danger to our jobs thanks to a proliferation of robotic automation, and our culture through a growth in mediocre machines.
    • However, the trimming of such corporate fat, coupled with the rise of robotics technologies that cut costs through automation, is a recipe for job destruction, according to Illah Nourbakhsh, professor of robotics at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.

      “Companies are using robotics technologies to increase their productivity per dollar and productivity per worker.

    • “We’re heading into a world in which the level of productivity of the companies will increase through robotics technologies and there will be no reverse course, which means we’re going to have more people in fewer jobs for the foreseeable future,” he added. “That’s a huge problem – and nobody is trying to address that at the governmental and institutional level.”
    • Alan Winfield, professor at the Bristol Robotics Lab who was also speaking at the event, said the level of societal misunderstanding about…

      …the capabilities of the current generation of robotics is so great it’s akin to “a mass delusion”.

    • “The issue with accountability is that fundamentally robotics technologies broaden the hand of impact that any one individual [human] has,” Nourbakhsh said, citing the long chain of human engineers, designers, technicians and operators involved in producing and operating a single robot.
    • The debate also touched on the question of how long it might take humans to create a super intelligent AI or robot.
    • “Human-level AI will not happen within [a near-term] timeframe – it’s far too far in the future to even make a prediction,” said the Bristol Robotics Lab’s Winfield.

      “Robotics is not covered by Moore’s Law,” added Nourbakhsh, pointing to the rate of progress in areas such as battery, energy and motor technology as linear at best.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.


  1. Check out this robot:

    More of a human robot team, but for how long?

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