Monday, March 28, 2011

Are Robots Taking American Jobs? (Video) *Robots: programmed job killers?*

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Robots have been increasingly replacing humans for decades in manufacturing


Are Robots Taking American Jobs?

USA Economic Recovery Threatened by Robots? Are robots taking enough jobs in the USA to keep the human unemployment rate high? One estimate is robots will replace one million American human jobs in the next two years. Marshall Brain, of How Stuff Works, discusses this issue on the MSNBC Dylan Ratigan Show.

Rise of the Robots Marshall Brain says "Watson put us on notice because that was such a leap forward. No one would have expected that a machine could have played Jeopardy that well." He goes so far as to call robots "the second intelligent species on this planet" and adds, "robots get better every year". An example is   Google's machine-driven cars.

Robot Vision "One of the things the second intelligent species is missing right now is vision", Brain notes. "As soon as vision gets dropped in price and made flexible enough to enter the workplace, that's when the real job replacement starts occurring. That's when we have to start worrying about the robotic effects on the economy."

First Manufacturing Jobs, Next Service Jobs, Then Complex Jobs Some of the jobs that could be taken over by robots are first service jobs:
● Baby-sitters
● Drivers
● Store clerks
Eventually, more complex jobs could be performed by robots:
Pharmacists
Lawyers and paralegals
● Astronauts
● Soldiers
● Rescuers
● Writers
Marshall Brain notes that "pharmacy robots have already been deployed and automated drones are being flown over Afghanistan and Pakistan now. We are automating lawyers to some degree now. When you look at a retail establishment, a large Big Box store, there are people in there stocking shelves, sweeping floors, bringing shopping carts in from the parking lot. In the restaurant space, its flipping burgers, cleaning toilets. In construction, it's stacking brick, putting roofs on houses. All those kinds of jobs, once vision systems that are flexible enough become available, those jobs, along with driving and delivery jobs and the remaining factory jobs - they all become targets for robotic replacement."

What Jobs Will Humans Do? Marshall Brain states, "Farming jobs were replaced by manufacturing jobs, which are declining and being replaced by service sector jobs. (Editor: which robots are on the verge of performing) There's not a next big pool of (human) jobs coming down the pipe. So once we replace the entire service sector and manufacturing base with robots, you have to ask: what is the next thing people are going to do? With robots gaining capabilities so quickly and Watson showing us it can really happen on both the intellectual side and the manipulative side, there are really big questions about what is going to make up the pool of (human) replacement jobs once the service sector gets washed out by robots.

Dylan Ratigan Show: "The Robotic Job Threat" According to one estimate, in the next two years alone there could be more than a million robots working jobs that used to belong to humans. Marshall Brain of How Stuff Works discusses.




Twist of Fate: In 2008 & 2009 during the Great Recession, manufacturing robots were idled, especially in Japan, and the robot unemployment rate soared


About Marshall Brain
Founder, HowStuffWorks


Marshall Brain is the founder of HowStuffWorks. He holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a master's degree in computer science from North Carolina State University. Before founding HowStuffWorks, Marshall taught in the computer science department at NCSU and ran a software training and consulting company. He has been host of the TV show "Factory Floor" on the National Geographic Channel and essays at Robotic Nation.

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