I have posted a long series of articles about the inhumanities that humans have been applying to each other. The major thrust of these blog entries is to gain an understanding that as technology progresses people who demonstrate far beyond acceptable behavior may gain power over people who are on the whole good or at least not in to harming other people.
This article returns to another major theme of this blog – technology. As I have been indicating many times – technology is increasing in capabilities. Someday the codops (Computerized Doppelgangers) will become a reality.
In this article, it points out what I’ve been talking about – in terms of employment. As technology increases the cost of the technology goes down while the costs of employment go up. For each industry, for each job type in each industry there is a an intersection of the increasing costs of employment and the decreasing costs of technology. Any of you that have taken economics courses in college will be familiar what this looks like although it is usually a depiction of supply and demand.
This article points out that technology – TODAY (sorry to yell) – the cost of technology has declined to the point that 60,000 workers in China earning $5 a day have lost their jobs to automation. The costs of ownership of the automation must have a ROI in 5 years or less compared to $5 X 5 years or $25 per worker.
Plus the side savings of not having to deal with sick days for 60,000 people, fatalities, complaints, late arrivals for shift, etc. That is, improved performance/productivity and ROI in 5 years or less.
The article goes on to discuss topics like an AI lawyer program (I’m sure it is better and faster at finding laws in the thousands of laws on the books and precedents related to the case faster than lawyers spending hours upon hours of research of case work) means that ‘white collar’ jobs are threatened as well.
The article also discusses the distress caused due to technology – where the richest get richer because they can afford the technology and implement the technology. In addition, the 60,000 workers that were fired and replaced by machines – maybe there needs to be 10 technicians on hand to keep everything working properly, and maybe 300 developers that you can fire after the software is completed (keep a few around for debugging issues).
Some people in articles have been discussing the return of manufacturing to the United States with the advent of automation. However; the firing of the 60,000 workers in China shows this isn’t going to happen. See the costs of moving the facility to the United States far outweigh the costs of shipping the product to the consumers or the middle men. So, even those 10 technicians and a couple of programmers won’t be returning to the United States anytime soon. Maybe if the facilities and the automation need to be replaced they could move to the United States – or if the costs of shipping rose significantly to change the balance of the production equation.
Another side issue is that 3D printing continues to progress. Time and place of manufacture of simple items may move to the home. Jobs already lost to automation may soon find that even the few technicians and programmers that remain are not required. Perhaps when the technology is ‘there’ and Apple makes an i3Printer – people will realize that manufacturing, and the vast majority of manufacturing jobs will not be around forever – or even 20 years from now – or maybe even next year.