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Engineering Materials

Will Robots Give Jobs or Take Them Away?

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William K.
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Re: Those displaced jobs
William K.   9/22/2014 9:21:27 PM
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Ann, it seems clear to me that in many situations the percieved value of some potential employee was far higher thannthe actual delivered value. I am not quite certain why that was true but it certainly has been true in many cases. Of course exageration of ones skills and value is certainly a common thing, unfortunately.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Those displaced jobs
Ann R. Thryft   9/22/2014 11:28:07 AM
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William, I've heard the same thing about recruiters (and other hiring agents) refusing to consider unemployed people. That's been going on forever it seems in Silicon Valley (just over the hill from me), and the practice apparently spread during the 2008-plus downturn. Regarding pay and costs, that's a moving target. If a job is highly valued, it's highly paid. Once that value changes, so does the pay. That doesn't mean those people were overpaid when their value was high. I think the phrase "whatever the market will bear" applies here.

William K.
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Platinum
Those displaced jobs
William K.   9/19/2014 5:32:09 PM
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My experience is that the support of the robots is a whole lot different than the jobs that the robots are doing, so the displaced workers will either need to learn a whole lot in a hurry or find some other task to do. But the other problem is that there is a definite discrimination against those unemployed for any reason. I finally learned from one headhunter that they had specific instructions to not even submit names of those unemployed for consideration. So those jobs filled by robots are not replaced by anything comparable. 

Of course the bottom line is usually costs, and there is a different concern because many folks have demanded and receive pay much greater than the value that they deliver. Those are the "good" jobs that get automatd away, either by robots or by just plain hard automation. The benefit of the robots being that they are far more flexible, which matters in many applications. But human workers can also be very flexible, although some refuse that mode of working. Those often become a prime target for robotic replacements.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: ROBOTIC SYSTEMS AND JOBS
Ann R. Thryft   8/22/2014 12:31:45 PM
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bobjengr brings up some interesting points about both robotic precision and experienced workers. They are both addressed in at least one of the studies we'll look at in Part Two of this blog.

Debera Harward
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Silver
Re: ROBOTIC SYSTEMS AND JOBS
Debera Harward   8/17/2014 5:34:48 AM
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Bobjengr exactly this is what i meant no matter how muuch we want but it is not always possible to accomodate the experienced employees of the organisation in any department when we are moving our organisation towards Robotization.

bobjengr
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Platinum
ROBOTIC SYSTEMS AND JOBS
bobjengr   8/16/2014 9:02:40 AM
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You are absolutely correct Debera.  When I presented the layout for the work cell and indicated three (3) positions could be eliminated there was push-back from two individuals.  They were really conflicted.  Let me emphasize, this was a fairly small company and most of the employees were long-term.   One within this proposed cell had been with the company the entire life of the company. He was one of the first employees hired.  Another point, the company was and is profitable.  The purpose of the cell was to increase throughput but most importantly, improve quality.  (I might also mention the process was "laying down" a bead of RTV onto a stainless steel substrate.)  The robotic system, with fixturing, could do that with much more precision than a human holding a gun, AND much quicker.  The company did a great service, in my opinion, by holding on to experience and moving them into other positions.  This, as you mention, is not always the case.  

Ed V
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Iron
Gov response to labor dislocation
Ed V   8/14/2014 1:50:17 PM
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My concern is that government policy appropriate for a recession driven by the collapse of a financial bubble is counter-productive during recovery from a recession driven by a step change in the use of software, robots, and AI, instead of we the pesky humans. Tightening of credit and regulations may put Wall Street on firmer footing, but works against business expansion, actually slowing job creation and the eventual recovery. Safety net policies matter, too. For example, shortening the duration of unemployment insurance coverage in a "normal" recovery where demand for workers at a lower wage is still fairly strong, pushes people grudgingly into those lower wage jobs and, at the end of the day, is likely a good thing, hastening the replacement of government relief by earned income. However, when the software, robots, and AI, have replaced most of the those lower wage jobs, then shortening unemployment insurance coverage deepens the recession and forces people to either give up and leave the workforce in large numbers (as we have seen), or flee to other support programs, such as disability coverage (as we have seen). I fully expect the use of automation to continue to increase, thus exacerbating the situation. Oh joy.

Debera Harward
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Silver
Re: ROBOTS AND JOBS
Debera Harward   8/14/2014 3:46:37 AM
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@bobjengr that is really nice that your organisation used the importance of Robots as well and accomodatd the important professinals in some other department . No doubt this is  a very smart approach but the fact is organisations cant accomodate every employee of the organisation . They will have to take some critical decisions .

Mr. Wirtel
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Gold
Re: Large scale labor dislocations?
Mr. Wirtel   8/13/2014 8:21:15 PM
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@Ed V: Of course your analysis is correct. Anyone who thinks automation and robots do not cost jobs has their head in the sand. The unemployment figures are skewed because so many people have dropped out of the labor force and they are no longer considered unemployed. There are also many more people like me who just got tired of running in place financially, checked the calendar and realized that I was an old man and could retire. Fortunately I was vested in a couple small pensions before every business turned the future over to a 401K.

  While working I was in the tooling end of manufacturing so robots only forced us to be more accurate and consistant as the robot could not move its "HAND" to compensate for a discrepancy like Ed could when he was the welder. The robot never needed a bathroom break, could work through lunch and did not slow down as the day went on. Ed did all those things, but he also had a big smile and a hardy laugh and always said hi to me. The robot did not do any of those things.

Ann R. Thryft
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Blogger
Re: Large scale labor dislocations?
Ann R. Thryft   8/12/2014 6:07:39 PM
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Ed V, thanks for tackling a difficult and complex set of subjects in your thoughtful comments. It's tough to say something meaningful about all this in the chat format, but I think you did. I've had similar thoughts about the 2008-2009 "crash" and the profit numbers compared to the employment numbers are revealing. The effect of automated software and artificial intelligence replacing human thought processes is much less visible than big clanking machines in a factory, but writing software, and other types of knowledge worker functions we tend to think of as robot-proof, aren't. You're by no means off the deep end, but right on the money, according to at least two of the (now) three reports we'll look at next time. Stay tuned for Part Two--I'm trying to get it written to post next week.

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