37 responses

  1. k.
    June 19, 2010

    Where to stop automation , and robotic ?

    Where ?

    If you automatize the process of creating, and repairing automation : what do you do ?

    THERE IS NO MORE ECONOMY : THERE IS NO MORE JOBS, AND THERE IS NO MORE CONSUMER.

    THis is an economical singularity : an economical black hole :

    YOU should really consider talking about new kind of economy, or new deal for the people.

    • k.
      June 19, 2010

      And don’t forget china will also automatise its power … and what ? This is a joke or one more stupid point of view from an economist ?

      Every Economist should shut up : they don’t know how the world work, at all.

  2. k.
    June 19, 2010

    Where to stop automation , and robotic ?

    Where ?

    If you automatize the process of creating, and repairing automation : what do you do ?

    THERE IS NO MORE ECONOMY : THERE IS NO MORE JOBS, AND THERE IS NO MORE CONSUMER.

    THis is an economical singularity : an economical black hole :

    YOU should really consider talking about new kind of economy, or new deal for the people.

    • k.
      June 19, 2010

      And don’t forget china will also automatise its power … and what ? This is a joke or one more stupid point of view from an economist ?

      Every Economist should shut up : they don’t know how the world work, at all.

  3. Jeremy
    June 20, 2010

    The question is, as robots become more commonplace, will “work” be as important?

    For instance, the moment we have an affordable robot gardener, everybody with property is a subsistence farmer. And for those without property, there is the community garden. Actually, the community gardener approach might be better for everyone as efficient robots can grow for more than a family of four, and it raises the threshold for the robot to be “affordable” .

    And then once we find more cost effective home-produced energy, and more efficient ways to recycle grey water and eventually sewage at home, and 3D printing allowing increasingly complex home manufacturing, the fact is we really won’t need as much work. Sure, there will still need to be things to be bought, but we can start having people cut back on their hours (and thus allowing more people to work). It should be noted though that cutting-edge technology will not be produced at home, and so there will still incentive to compete economically.

    The other thing I think is going to happen is as autonomous manufacturing become cheaper, we are going to start seeing “factory co-ops”. You pay a due or work one of the skeleton crews and then you can starting purchasing the product at production cost (which, lacking labor, is mainly raw materials and energy and shipping- that is, until you have autonomous mining, etc.) As more people join you can start saving to buy more factories, increasing the benefit of joining and creating a feedback loop.

    Also- yes, entrepreneurship. Now that we are developing crowd funding, social web-based word of mouth, better rapid prototyping, etc. its slowly becoming easier to start up a business.

  4. Jeremy
    June 19, 2010

    The question is, as robots become more commonplace, will “work” be as important?

    For instance, the moment we have an affordable robot gardener, everybody with property is a subsistence farmer. And for those without property, there is the community garden. Actually, the community gardener approach might be better for everyone as efficient robots can grow for more than a family of four, and it raises the threshold for the robot to be “affordable” .

    And then once we find more cost effective home-produced energy, and more efficient ways to recycle grey water and eventually sewage at home, and 3D printing allowing increasingly complex home manufacturing, the fact is we really won’t need as much work. Sure, there will still need to be things to be bought, but we can start having people cut back on their hours (and thus allowing more people to work). It should be noted though that cutting-edge technology will not be produced at home, and so there will still incentive to compete economically.

    The other thing I think is going to happen is as autonomous manufacturing become cheaper, we are going to start seeing “factory co-ops”. You pay a due or work one of the skeleton crews and then you can starting purchasing the product at production cost (which, lacking labor, is mainly raw materials and energy and shipping- that is, until you have autonomous mining, etc.) As more people join you can start saving to buy more factories, increasing the benefit of joining and creating a feedback loop.

    Also- yes, entrepreneurship. Now that we are developing crowd funding, social web-based word of mouth, better rapid prototyping, etc. its slowly becoming easier to start up a business.

  5. Daryl
    June 20, 2010

    Jeremy, you make some excellent points. Too often, when the discussion of automation comes up, people express their concern that it will lead to unemployment, and don’t consider how it will revolutionize the entire economy.

    The fact is, once automation is effective and widespread, the cost of food, materials, transportation, and even energy will drop drastically. Remember that the largest component of the cost of most items is the human labor that goes into their production.

    We’re on the verge of a tremendous change in the world economy, due to the advent of widespread automation. The traditional jobs, especially menial labor, will be gone. But we’ll also have a corresponding drop in the costs of goods and services. And a rise in our standard of living.

    As a simple example, I don’t vacuum the carpet in my house every day, because I don’t have the time. Nor can I afford to pay someone to do it. But if I had a robotic maid (something as effective as a human, not a Roomba), then I would set it to clean every day. The same is true of the cooking and gardening and repair work. In effect, I’d be living the life of a much richer man, simply because those regular jobs have become automated and therefore virtually wage free. My standard of living, and that of everyone else, would be increased substantially.

    In the limit, as we approach the state of virtually every job being performed by machines (total automation), human labor will become unnecessary. If we’re smart about how we achieve this AI scenario, then all of humanity can take a permanent vacation (retirement?), and enjoy the fruits of robotic labor. On the other hand, if we don’t create human-friendly AI, then unemployment will be the least of our concerns…

    We’re approaching the crossroads rapidly.

    • Jacob
      June 20, 2010

      This is a well written and thoughtful article, and I think that naysaying the idea just because it’s well known what automation does now is shortsighted.

      Look at what happened with the invention of the shipping container:
      Entire communities of longshoreman all around the world disappeared, all those men who used hooks and poles to unload hand packed barges became unemployed. On the flipside, we can now see that the price of shipping has plummeted. The cost of shipping within the price of any product was as high as 40% before the shipping container was invented, it currently stands at 2%. As a result of global trade, the entire world is now more prosperous than ever before, we can eat fruit grown out of season at any time of year, and we can get cheap goods of any description from anywhere in the world.

      The shipping container is automation, but I dare anyone to claim that we’d be better off spending three months carefully packing a ship before it leaves port just so that we can retain the employment.

      Looking forward, if a government could simply give people a robotic gardener and pay their rent, then there would be no need for social security payments or the dole, you could simply provide all the basics for a person without giving them money.

  6. Daryl
    June 20, 2010

    Jeremy, you make some excellent points. Too often, when the discussion of automation comes up, people express their concern that it will lead to unemployment, and don’t consider how it will revolutionize the entire economy.

    The fact is, once automation is effective and widespread, the cost of food, materials, transportation, and even energy will drop drastically. Remember that the largest component of the cost of most items is the human labor that goes into their production.

    We’re on the verge of a tremendous change in the world economy, due to the advent of widespread automation. The traditional jobs, especially menial labor, will be gone. But we’ll also have a corresponding drop in the costs of goods and services. And a rise in our standard of living.

    As a simple example, I don’t vacuum the carpet in my house every day, because I don’t have the time. Nor can I afford to pay someone to do it. But if I had a robotic maid (something as effective as a human, not a Roomba), then I would set it to clean every day. The same is true of the cooking and gardening and repair work. In effect, I’d be living the life of a much richer man, simply because those regular jobs have become automated and therefore virtually wage free. My standard of living, and that of everyone else, would be increased substantially.

    In the limit, as we approach the state of virtually every job being performed by machines (total automation), human labor will become unnecessary. If we’re smart about how we achieve this AI scenario, then all of humanity can take a permanent vacation (retirement?), and enjoy the fruits of robotic labor. On the other hand, if we don’t create human-friendly AI, then unemployment will be the least of our concerns…

    We’re approaching the crossroads rapidly.

    • Jacob
      June 20, 2010

      This is a well written and thoughtful article, and I think that naysaying the idea just because it’s well known what automation does now is shortsighted.

      Look at what happened with the invention of the shipping container:
      Entire communities of longshoreman all around the world disappeared, all those men who used hooks and poles to unload hand packed barges became unemployed. On the flipside, we can now see that the price of shipping has plummeted. The cost of shipping within the price of any product was as high as 40% before the shipping container was invented, it currently stands at 2%. As a result of global trade, the entire world is now more prosperous than ever before, we can eat fruit grown out of season at any time of year, and we can get cheap goods of any description from anywhere in the world.

      The shipping container is automation, but I dare anyone to claim that we’d be better off spending three months carefully packing a ship before it leaves port just so that we can retain the employment.

      Looking forward, if a government could simply give people a robotic gardener and pay their rent, then there would be no need for social security payments or the dole, you could simply provide all the basics for a person without giving them money.

  7. Afterthought
    June 20, 2010

    The trend of human life has been to maximize efficiency at a particular level of technology, sit idle, then channel that idleness into war, revolution, or yet higher technology.

    The robotics people, as part of option three, are the good guys.

    But let’s not kid ourselves about the net effect of robotics: it replaces human labor, especially unskilled and semi-skilled labor.

    • k.
      June 20, 2010

      Not only unskilled : automation ( and basic ia ) could replace ANY JOB.

      Even if you are the big boss, software does a better analysys than you : this is what is done at wallstreet : 70% of exchange is DECIDED through IA.

      Even if you are an artist… creativity is done faster with software and IA. Imagine you compute every possible thing that human should consider as “art” and original. THeN ?

      I REPEAT : Do you want to suicide humanity ?

      Consider a new deal with the new technology : this has to be done : the process should stop : for human sake !

      RESISTANCE IS NOT FUTILE.

      DEFINE THE NEW HUMANITY, or die.

      The process should stop : we have to accept that some task must be done with human ( i don’t know which one … ).

      • k.
        June 20, 2010

        At least decision and freedom should be human.

  8. Afterthought
    June 20, 2010

    The trend of human life has been to maximize efficiency at a particular level of technology, sit idle, then channel that idleness into war, revolution, or yet higher technology.

    The robotics people, as part of option three, are the good guys.

    But let’s not kid ourselves about the net effect of robotics: it replaces human labor, especially unskilled and semi-skilled labor.

    • k.
      June 20, 2010

      Not only unskilled : automation ( and basic ia ) could replace ANY JOB.

      Even if you are the big boss, software does a better analysys than you : this is what is done at wallstreet : 70% of exchange is DECIDED through IA.

      Even if you are an artist… creativity is done faster with software and IA. Imagine you compute every possible thing that human should consider as “art” and original. THeN ?

      I REPEAT : Do you want to suicide humanity ?

      Consider a new deal with the new technology : this has to be done : the process should stop : for human sake !

      RESISTANCE IS NOT FUTILE.

      DEFINE THE NEW HUMANITY, or die.

      The process should stop : we have to accept that some task must be done with human ( i don’t know which one … ).

      • k.
        June 20, 2010

        At least decision and freedom should be human.

  9. Joe
    June 20, 2010

    I’m new to this site, and since it’s so tech friendly I didn’t expect a piece critical of RIA’s claims, and have been pleasantly surprised with the quality and thoughtfulness of these articles. Aaron is right in noting that what automation will do in the future is uncertain. It also depends on humanity’s approach toward merging with machines — this article treats robots as the “other” but the lines between machines and humans will be blurred. If humanity keeps a unique and separate identity from machines, like in Star Trek: TNG, hopefully a new economy will emerge not based on money or survival, but talents, passion and spirit. There are lots of people today lucky enough to be working not for money but for passion, having their basic material met (I’m one of them). In the long term, little can be predicted. In the short term, though, I hope automation will lower the cost of material goods and alleviate poverty. Unemployment wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the economic consequences — if the standard of living for all people are being raised by automation, even if that automation leads to unemployment it is still a good thing.

  10. Joe
    June 20, 2010

    I’m new to this site, and since it’s so tech friendly I didn’t expect a piece critical of RIA’s claims, and have been pleasantly surprised with the quality and thoughtfulness of these articles. Aaron is right in noting that what automation will do in the future is uncertain. It also depends on humanity’s approach toward merging with machines — this article treats robots as the “other” but the lines between machines and humans will be blurred. If humanity keeps a unique and separate identity from machines, like in Star Trek: TNG, hopefully a new economy will emerge not based on money or survival, but talents, passion and spirit. There are lots of people today lucky enough to be working not for money but for passion, having their basic material met (I’m one of them). In the long term, little can be predicted. In the short term, though, I hope automation will lower the cost of material goods and alleviate poverty. Unemployment wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the economic consequences — if the standard of living for all people are being raised by automation, even if that automation leads to unemployment it is still a good thing.

  11. Septeus7
    June 21, 2010

    Everyone seems to be forgetting how the benefits of these robots are for now concentrated in the advanced economies and that majority of the world still doesn’t have clean water and electricity.

    The amount of work needed to bring most up to our level is staggering and while menial labor might be replaced the task of human relations and organization will never cease.

    Robots as “smart” as they will become will never understand or think like we think so the responsibility of organizing the human economy for human beings is ours.

    We merely need to think of news things to do with ourselves.

    We are the creators and by definition are of a higher order than that which we create even if so-called “AI” and rely on them will in reality will simply be relying on the system that created them and thus imprisoning ourselves within a system of own creation and that is greatest danger.

    What we should be learning from AI is how we think now and how we improve our thinking in combination with so-called AI tools rather than this stupid tendency to think that in the future machines will do all the thinking. Think enhancement not replacement. By failing to envision a future for human creativity you kill creativity in the present and in the foreseeable future.

  12. Septeus7
    June 21, 2010

    Everyone seems to be forgetting how the benefits of these robots are for now concentrated in the advanced economies and that majority of the world still doesn’t have clean water and electricity.

    The amount of work needed to bring most up to our level is staggering and while menial labor might be replaced the task of human relations and organization will never cease.

    Robots as “smart” as they will become will never understand or think like we think so the responsibility of organizing the human economy for human beings is ours.

    We merely need to think of news things to do with ourselves.

    We are the creators and by definition are of a higher order than that which we create even if so-called “AI” and rely on them will in reality will simply be relying on the system that created them and thus imprisoning ourselves within a system of own creation and that is greatest danger.

    What we should be learning from AI is how we think now and how we improve our thinking in combination with so-called AI tools rather than this stupid tendency to think that in the future machines will do all the thinking. Think enhancement not replacement. By failing to envision a future for human creativity you kill creativity in the present and in the foreseeable future.

  13. hakenema
    June 21, 2010
  14. hakenema
    June 21, 2010
  15. Summerspeaker
    June 22, 2010

    Automation holds the potential to revolutionize the world economy and free the species from toil. Under the current system, however, prospect look bleak. Eventually governments will likely have to implement something Marshall Brain’s plan for universal minimum income or face revolution.

  16. Summerspeaker
    June 22, 2010

    Automation holds the potential to revolutionize the world economy and free the species from toil. Under the current system, however, prospect look bleak. Eventually governments will likely have to implement something Marshall Brain’s plan for universal minimum income or face revolution.

  17. redd
    June 22, 2010

    honestly, watching hundreds of robotics videos on Frequency, including robot olympics, i’m astonished, this already feels light years ahead of what seemed likely to happen in my lifetime – http://www.frequency.com/video/robot-olympics/124872

  18. redd
    June 22, 2010

    honestly, watching hundreds of robotics videos on Frequency, including robot olympics, i’m astonished, this already feels light years ahead of what seemed likely to happen in my lifetime – http://www.frequency.com/video/robot-olympics/124872

  19. DG
    June 23, 2010

    I was recently reading an article on Managing Automation’s website. They were talking about [Robotics] and it’s use in various fields.

  20. DG
    June 23, 2010

    I was recently reading an article on Managing Automation’s website. They were talking about [Robotics] and it’s use in various fields.

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