Robot revolution—rise of the intelligent automated workforce

Robot revolution—rise of the intelligent automated workforce
The computers of tomorrow are being taught to learn, reason and recognise emotions. Credit: Tatiana Shepeleva/shutterstock

Losing jobs to technology is nothing new. Since the industrial revolution, roles that were once exclusively performed by humans have been slowly but steadily replaced by some form of automated machinery. Even in cases where the human worker is not completely replaced by a machine, humans have learnt to rely on a battery of machinery to be more efficient and accurate.

A report from the Oxford Martin School's Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology said that 47% of all in the US are likely to be replaced by automated systems. Among the jobs soon to be replaced by machines are real estate brokers, animal breeders, tax advisers, data entry workers, receptionists, and various personal assistants.

But you won't need to pack up your desk and hand over to a computer just yet, and in fact jobs that require a certain level of social intelligence and creativity such as in education, healthcare, the arts and media are likely to remain in demand from humans, because such tasks remain difficult to be computerised.

Like it or not, we now live in an era dominated by artificial intelligence (AI). AI can be seen as a collection of technologies that can be used to imitate or even to outperform tasks performed by humans using machines.

We might not first see it but we cannot avoid running into one or more systems that use some form of an AI algorithm in our day-to-day activities – such as searching for some information using Google, purchasing a recommended product on Amazon, or recognising faces in an image uploaded to Facebook.

Robot revolution—rise of the intelligent automated workforce
Yes, robots will steal our jobs and that’s fine. Credit: Profit_Image/shutterstock

Deep learning

Recent breakthroughs in AI are largely attributable to a technique called . Often known as machine learning or neural networking, deep learning involves "training" a computer model so it can recognise objects from images. The power of deep learning-based AI systems lies in their ability to automatically detect noticeable features and use them to solve hard recognition problems.

Although humans could easily perform such recognition tasks almost unconsciously, it is often difficult for a to explain the exact procedure at a sufficiently detailed level so that it could be programmed into a computer.

With deep learning all this has changed. Now, deep learning-based AI systems can figure out the important features for solving difficult problems that were once thought to be solvable exclusively by humans.

And as a result, humans will have to mentally prepare for the fact that some of our jobs will be lost to AI systems. We might even have to call AI systems our colleagues or bosses in the near future.

But despite the deeper level of knowledge that our computers will soon acquire, losing our jobs to machines doesn't have to be a bad thing. Letting machines do the bulk of the work means that humans will be freed from routine tasks that computers are better at performing with higher accuracy rates, such as driving cars.

This should enable humans to think like humans instead of machines. It will also free up time and energy for humans to engage in more creative and intellectually stimulating activities, possibly assisted by AI.

Emotional intelligence

AI systems have already become far too complicated for the average person to understand, let alone repair, so there will be new roles created which will require people who can act as intermediaries between computers and humans.

Similar to professions such as medicine or law, where professionals with specialised skills are required to interpret technical details for everyday folk, we will need professionals who speak the language of AI. These professionals may vary in their skills and are likely to consist of software developers, computer scientists and data scientists.

But ethical issues arising from human and AI co-working environments is a real concern. It is one thing getting a face incorrectly recognised in an image uploaded to Facebook, but a totally different matter if cancer is misdiagnosed by an AI, which could very easily happen. After all, computers make mistakes, just as people do.

Although AI-based systems are becoming smarter than humans in many fields, these systems are far from perfect and are unlikely to ever be perfect considering the unpredictable learning mechanisms they use.

That said, it is likely to be the social and cultural changes that will be the real challenge, rather than the technical challenge of AI itself. So while robots taking over our jobs can be a good thing, only time will tell if we are ready to accept them as our co-workers.


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May 05, 2016
This is why im learning python. Whatever my job if it could be replaced by a machine or software I want to be able to make that software better for job security

May 05, 2016
"It will also free up time and energy for humans to engage in more creative and intellectually stimulating activities, possibly assisted by AI."
----------------------------------
And what are those menial workers, put out of work, going to do with their time and their anger?

Trump is ready for them, . . . and his dictatorship.

I have an idea: To be able to identify the Trump supporters, let's have them all dress in Brown Shirts!!


May 05, 2016
Oops, looks like I got voted down by the Trumpistas.

Okay, okay, . .. then Black Shirts.

May 05, 2016
I'm still waiting for the computer with the coding as built into the hardware, i.e. each object filtered through a defined set of attributes necessary and sufficient to define it at every state with human language. i.e. the spoken word is the programming. Since my query is only upon some defined association, the processor has access to any superposition based upon the rules, including the rules defined for each object. Finite set of real objects and infinite set of potential objects. Define a condition or query.

May 05, 2016
If the truth value is defined as a member of a necessary and sufficient set of morale values, our Ai may be defined as morale or immorale. Our search for truth should be defined by the declaration of human rights http://www.omnigl...tian.htm

May 06, 2016
The fallacious assumption here is that there is something intrinsically unreplicable in thinking "like a human".


There isn't. The real question is whether the computers -do- replicate that, or merely give the impression of. The modern state of AI research is concentrated on the latter, not the former, because it's easier to fake it than make it when you don't understand what "it" is.

I now get to play in my garden (or where ever it is I choose to play,) but the world keeps turning.


The inretersting question is, how will you have a garden if you don't have a job? What is the organization and rationale for distributing resources after people are no longer responsible for working and contributing to the creation of the resources?

Obviously there still won't be unlimited resources available, so the question of who should get how much needs to be answered in a satisfactory way that doesn't lead to political abuse like in the former socialist states.

May 06, 2016
Technically speaking, it's not optimal to replace human workers with robots because it is cheaper still to have human workers AND robots.

Reason being that you need to feed and clothe and house and entertain the humans anyways, so having them sit idle and do nothing for their own upkeep is going to be more expensive for the overall society than having them work for a living. More hands at work means more resources available for the society and consequently higher living standards, whether or not the society also employs robots.

It may be individually more profitable - at least initially - for some business to employ only robots, but the social cost of unemployment and general boredom in society then takes the profit away, because more resources will be spent on dealing with millions of people with nothing to do but kill time.

In the worst case, the millions will occupy themselves in making millions more, and you get a malthusian trap with population exceeding production.

May 06, 2016
Arguably, it's already the case that "robots" do all the real jobs, and what people do is just make-work on top of that - in the media, entertainment, services etc. that are technically unnecessary.

After all, 80% of the US economy is based on "services", and not all of those services contribute back to the creation of wealth. Most of what we actually do is value-detracting, not value-adding work. It's work for the sake of simply getting paid, which means the creation of "needs" where formerly there wasn't any, or inventing arbitrary requirements and standards which necessitate spending money on people who previously had no purpose.

The effect of such mode of operation is visible in the long term in the growing income disparity where the vanishing minority who owns or works the actual sources of wealth become incredibly rich and powerful relative to the masses who are reduced to beggars and providers of cheap trivialities in fighting for the scraps.

May 06, 2016
The point of Marxism was that dropping the use of money as a metric for value enables the society to separate the value-adding from the value-detracting work - which is a problem if you're trying to measure your success by GDP alone. Money doesn't stink - the value of money is not tainted by its origins, so money from gambling and cheating or trivial waste is just as valid as money from legitimate and useful enterprises, which is a problem for the capitalist mode of society since it enables a form of social parasitism which slowly overtakes it.

Of course Marx didn't recognize that the socialist mode is even more vulnerable to cheating because it relied on the ever-present omniscient vigilence of the public - or in practice a centralized government - to monitor and direct everything in the absence of a clear and politically neutral market signal: money.

So if capitalism is doomed to fail, and socialism couldn't even get off the ground before it failed, what isn't?

May 06, 2016
Perhaps 'faking it' is a part of the process of unraveling what 'it' is.


Certainly. We simply haven't -yet- figured it out, so it's too early to say.

The issue is with people who already say we've got it and this is it, and because of this we're going to have that and that - when nothing of the sort is yet any kind of a certainty.

In terms of AI we're basically at the stage of early 20th century thinkers who thought we'd have flying cars and live in nuclear powered bubble houses by year 2000. We do all that, but it's nothing like what they imagined.

What's wrong with trying to figure that one out?


Nothing. It's absolutely necessary.

May 06, 2016
The most acute trouble I'm seeing is, that if we put robots to do most jobs and leave most people unemployed, and then go around saying, "Right, now that we've got no need for human labor, we're going to start paying everyone money just because they exist.", the end result will be a catastrophe because people aren't fundamentally satisfied - at least not all people - with anything.

If you try to share everything fairly, the obvious cheat is to multiply your family to get a bigger share, which leads to obvious trouble.

And the other way around, if we say we're not going to pay anyone and everyone should make up their own excuse, we'll get to where we are heading now - with masses of people sinking into poverty because they have no purpose, and the few with access to the robots and resources living in plenty because they don't need the masses to work for them.

What the people fundamentally need is a challenge that requires cooperation.

May 07, 2016
and we have moved to more service oriented economies


Which was a bad move, for the abovementioned reasons: the services are often an "excuse" to get paid, rather than a contribution to the wealth of everyone, and the society currently has no effective means to tell the difference to tell people to do otherwise.

A feng-shui expert whose profession is to move furniture around to make some old lady feel happy for a bit due to the placebo effect is not contributing to anything - he's really just a waste of space. A similiar example would be the media and copyrights industry, which occupies about 4% of the US GDP - which is more than the entire agricultural sector - is based solely on the fiction that ideas and thoughts have owners and are countable in copies, and therefore are worth money.

So we're actually paying a small part of our society billions and billions for absolutely nothing - and there are many such "industries" - and wondering why people are getting poor.

May 07, 2016
Or maybe just inevitable. Would you rather we all spend our lives working in factories, or coal mines?


Let me put it this way: I'd rather spend my life building a better tomorrow than tearing it down just to survive.

Even the parasite has to agree to not kill its host, or otherwise it's going down itself.

May 07, 2016
people are pretty able to work together - get things done - and don't always need pieces of paper called money as a motive.


It's not the people who can, but people who can't.

Fundamentally speaking, nobody owes anybody anything for their existence. You didn't ask to get born, so nobody can demand of you to behave or help anyone else in their purpose. Whose purpose is the right one anyways? Of course we would like for everyone to act constructively according to our personal criteria, but we have no fundamental authority to demand it - so we're left to barter for it.

You do this, and I do that. Deal?

In that way societies and humanity muddle along, fitting the conflicting interests of its members together, using all the tricks in the book. That's why there's ultimately not going to be a final utopia where everyone works together to a single end - because it wouldn't be an utopia for all - just a fleeting compromize.

May 07, 2016
Who do you think is 'tearing it down just to survive?'


Well, one example would be a person who becomes cynical and throws himself on welfare, or another who starts a business selling $1000 gold plated speaker cables to fools who don't know better, or a third one who makes his business designing advertising campaigns that basically attempt to hypnotize people into buying products they don't need.

Lawyers suing people not for justice but for money, stock brokers deliberately creating bubbles to extract money out of small time investors, bankers creating false credit and selling the debt before it defaults, government officals funding needless projects for kickbacks, CEOs taking over companies and liquidating their assets just to make a quick buck on gutting a perfectly healthy business, taking the golden parachute out... etc. etc.

And so many of this is done just because there's nothing else to do. You do what you can to live.

May 07, 2016
"And so many of this is done just because there's nothing else to do. You do what you can to live."
----------------------------------------

I think that is insufficient excuse for what you describe. Those kind do not just want to survive, they want to stand on our heads in triumph, . . . then jump up and down with glee.

May 07, 2016
Another great example is online banner ads, which are proven by studies not to work because people have learned to mentally or physically screen the ads out. We simply don't look at them even if they are on the screen.

So businesses are being cheated out of their money for a pointless activity on the point that it -might- do something which they can't adequately measure, while consumers are being inconvenienced with endless clickbait and online spam, and the beneficary is the middle-men companies like Google who make it their business to sell people's privacy to the businesses looking for a bit of visibility to boost their sales - which they aren't getting.

It's all totally pointless, borderline fraudulent and generally harmful, but it's possible and legal and so it is done.

May 07, 2016
I think that is insufficient excuse for what you describe. Those kind do not just want to survive, they want to stand on our heads in triumph, . . . then jump up and down with glee.


There's also those, but the vast majority of people are not directly evil. They just don't know what else to do.

So people even rationalize what they do as not harmful, or even benefical. Like you and your solar panels - with the idea that "you're doing your bit" - when in reality you've been suckered into being a pawn for an industry-wide subsidy scam. You're promised a bit of money in profit, so the people who sold you solar panels get even more money in profit, but ultimately it's you paying all of it twice over through taxes.

May 07, 2016
What's wrong with letters on this one? Is it only on my computer or does everybody get it too?

May 07, 2016
If the monetary system wasn't so driven by things like hype, fear, insecurity, contrived scarcity, and ill-informed consumerism, then no one would make any money.

Maintaining such a system is similar to insisting that clocks be made only with gears, levers, and springs instead of allowing them to be made with solid state semiconductors – except that it's far worse, because there are so many lives in the balance, not to mention the health of the planet and our posterity.

May 07, 2016
What's wrong with letters on this one? Is it only on my computer or does everybody get it too?


The site code has an un-terminated formatting tag somewhere. It's a bug.

If the monetary system wasn't so driven by things like hype, fear, insecurity, contrived scarcity, and ill-informed consumerism, then no one would make any money.


They would, just not as much, or not as unevenly. What you list are technically known as market failures, or deviations from the ideal market economy. They tend to stack the game against the public and for the particular actors who employ the methods.

Of course there are those, neoliberals in particular, who insist that this is exactly how the market should behave.

May 07, 2016
What's wrong with letters on this one? Is it only on my computer or does everybody get it too?

Same here.

testing --
[i]italics[/i]
[b]bold[/b]

edit --
-- aw, nope ... oh, well

May 07, 2016
"with the idea that "you're doing your bit" - when in reality you've been suckered into being a pawn for an industry-wide subsidy scam. You're promised a bit of money in profit, so the people who sold you solar panels get even more money in profit, but ultimately it's you paying all of it twice over through taxes."
-------------------------------------

Wow, you sound like a horsewhip salesman looking at a Model T.

No scam. They said I would get 90% of the power for my house with them. I get 100%, plus almost all of my transportation fuel, which is the biggest savings of all. You do not seem to understand how the systems work. The cost of my PV panels even with the subsidy is much cheaper than any other kind of generation for the utility. And it is exactly where it is needed, next door to the users. Society wins

I expected a payback of 15 years, but will get it in less than five now. That is a 20% immediate return on investment, and it grows every year.

May 07, 2016
Wow, you sound like a horsewhip salesman looking at a Model T.


Not at all. That's just your projection to avoid admitting that you've been had.

I've got nothing against selling solar power - just against how it is being sold and at what prices.

No scam.


Yes scam. It's just not you directly who's being scammed, but the government and the public. We're all being scammed into paying way over the value of the solar energy through endless subsidies and money-shuffling rules that force other power producers into submission and offload all responsibility and cost away from the solar power producers and owners.

You're just being a pawn in the scheme. You get a little profit, they solar energy industry gets a lot profit, and the public overall loses.

May 07, 2016
Eikka, I did not do it for money or payback.

I did it because alternative energy is my field, and it is the right thing to do. The fact I save so much money is a bonus.

Your assertion of less than sterling impetus is indicative of something else, not my decision to install solar systems.

I think you resent our ability to do it, while you are stuck in your system.

May 07, 2016
Eikka, I did not do it for money or payback.

I did it because alternative energy is my field, and it is the right thing to do. The fact I save so much money is a bonus.


Well, yes, and that's the problem. You think you're doing the right thing, but in reality you're doing the wrong thing by playing in to the whole subsidy scam. Good purpose, wrong means.

They've made you into a useful idiot.

I think you resent our ability to do it, while you are stuck in your system.


Again, good purpose, wrong means. The fact that you can install large amounts of solar power by massively overpaying for what it's worth, and having others pay the integration cost, is not in the end achieving the true purpose of building a renewable power system because it is not economically sustainable.

It's just squandering money and resources so that the industry can turn a profit.

May 07, 2016
Now you blame the solar industry


It's not so much blaming the solar industry as just giving yet another case example. You can't blame a scorpion for stinging - that's what scorpions do. The problem is the naivety of people in thinking things like renewable energy subsidies aren't being mis-appropriated and simply abused by opportunists.

The price of solar has dropped like a rock


So why aren't the subsidies dropping? It's not solar power alone either. Wind turbines are being torn down and replaced, not at the technical end of their lives when they've put out the most energy, but because the subsidy term is over and a new one will get new subsidies. As the technical and theoretical cost of renewable energy goes down, the actual cost we pay is just going up and up.


May 07, 2016
@ green-Skippy. Sorry about the letters but it looks like everybody is doing it on this one. I just wanted to ask if you had the chance to read that book about the bomb yet and what you think of him? Did you like him as much I as I do?


May 07, 2016
Eikka - you never explained what your point was wrt machines doing all the grunt work for us - and leaving us free to create


I did. It's the problem of figuring out something to do for everyone, so that they wouldn't just start cheating and wasting stuff out of purposelessness, or creating a malthusian catastrophe by breeding out of control, or both.

Some people might be happy just doing a bit of gardening, but others won't, and you have to figure out a challenge for them to direct their attention away from destroying everything just because they can.


May 07, 2016
g.o.

Go here:

http://ecowatch.c...t-solar/


That's nice, but a little besides the point. And it's in Dubai. It's almost right on the equator, which kinda makes it cheap because it has year-round sun from blue skies 12 hours a day.

So what was your point? How is that relevant for New York, Paris, or Oslo?

If your truly are interested in a better future - surely you support cheap, clean, home grown energy


Precisely I am, and that is precisely what we are not getting with the current investment and subsidy models. We're getting expensive (thanks to subsidies), dirty (pollution issues with manufacture), and imported energy by virtue of having it all made in China.

There's nothing cheap and homegrown about installing a taxpayer paid Chinese solar panel on your rooftop.

May 07, 2016
Eikka, you seem to be so tied to defeating new technologies you cannot change. You are not going to convince me my PV panels are not efficacious and a good investment for the entire society.

I guess I see a different picture than you do, since it is my professional field. What's yours?

May 07, 2016
Eikka, you seem to be so tied to defeating new technologies you cannot change.

I'm not trying to defeat any technology.

You are not going to convince me my PV panels are not efficacious and a good investment for the entire society.


That much is apparent. A true believer is only made stronger in their faith by contradicting it.

I guess I see a different picture than you do, since it is my professional field. What's yours?


That's irrelevant, and furthermore it is not your "professional field" as per your own previous testimony. You've said you're a power quality engineer. Don't start lying your ass off again and fabricating qualifications that are nothing but appeals to authority you don't have.

May 07, 2016
The fundamental point is that people need to pay what they take - provide at least the same value to the society as they get from it. Replacing everyone by robots deprives the people that function, and they become useless - therefore worthless.

If the people are no longer required to return their value, they become prone to over-using common resources and driving everyone into poverty by their individual selfishness - a tragedy of the commons. If they are still required to but no longer needed, they become impoverished just the same.

Therefore we ultimately cannot afford to replace people with robots. There will always be a need for people to do work for their own upkeep, in order to have a fair way to distribute resources without running into political corruption. Don't work, don't eat.

May 07, 2016
It is not irrelevant. It is the basis of credibility. And let's stop the personal stuff, okay?

My (and Society's) investment in this system is very cost-effective and efficacious and a great step forward.

We developed the Power Quality field because of the newer technologies we were incorporating into our systems, which have far different sensitivities and effects than the old linear technologies.

As we integrated these technologies into existing systems, they would expose weaknesses and conditions not bothersome for old equipment, but very troublesome for the newer stuff.

That is how I got from alternative energy and the utility to PQ.

Want some examples?

May 07, 2016
It is not irrelevant. It is the basis of credibility. And let's stop the personal stuff, okay?


Ad-hominems are not a basis of credibility, and you started the personal stuff by making one.

My (and Society's) investment in this system is very cost-effective and efficacious and a great step forward


Says you. The EIA however says we're grossly overpaying for solar power for what energy actually comes out of it. I trust the government on this more.

As we integrated these technologies into existing systems, they would expose weaknesses and conditions not bothersome for old equipment, but very troublesome for the newer stuff


The weaknesses were already known and predicted long before the systems were being built, and nothing is being done about them because the money is not being directed at overcoming them, rather than just building more solar power.

The industry is actually fighting tooth and nail against re-directing subsidies to grid energy storage.

May 07, 2016
The EIA is a generators group which is terrified of alternative energy.

You are free to have your technical opinion, based on who-knows-what, but not to make personal attacks. I am a former utility engineer, with a degree in Energy and the Environment, who has invested in a soar system to power my house and electric vehicle. The payback is less than five years, for both me and the society.

We all win, except for the owners of old technologies, now worried about "stranded assets", which are poor investment decisions of the past.

May 07, 2016
The EIA is a generators group which is terrified of alternative energy.

So you accuse the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) and the U.S. Department of Energy of lying and fabricating numbers?

I think the government is authoritative in saying how much the government is spending on various subsidies.

The payback is less than five years, for both me and the society.


You're just pulling that out of your ass. You haven't actually done any sort of calculations except your personal payback and profit.

I am a former utility engineer, with a degree in Energy and the Environment


Yeah. You were a seminar speaker about power quality measurements, and wrote a paper about biodigesters. That's got nothing to do with solar power. You're just trying to appeal to authority you simply do not have.

May 07, 2016
Also, I can see you're 1-voting all my posts gkam. It's pointless and childish of you.

As far as I'm concerned, this discussion is over. There's nothing further to see here.

May 07, 2016
"
Yeah. You were a seminar speaker about power quality measurements, and wrote a paper about biodigesters. That's got nothing to do with solar power. You're just trying to appeal to authority you simply do not have."

Thank you for the discussion.Meanwhile,if you want to see the results of nonlinear loads in commercial buildings go to:

http://www.kambur...vey.html

Yeah, it's a really old website that I keep, and will replace with my writings. But for now, there are still some things on it for you.

May 07, 2016
Robots have the same sensitivities as most non-linear loads. When the transmission lines in Texas got a lightning strike, the Fanuc robots in the GM plant in Shreveport would stop. Engineering around it turned out to be simple, finally, but the politics of it almost cost the state of Louisiana that assembly plant.


May 07, 2016
"Also, I can see you're 1-voting all my posts gkam. It's pointless and childish of you. "
--------------------------------

Only the ones which are personally offensive. I gave you fives a day or so ago.

But this is about robots, and our experience with them. Let's stay with that topic.

May 07, 2016
My friend is a microbiologist - and loves everything science
@GO
i have some suggestions for you then:
"Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms" by Fortey, Richard
http://www.amazon...et+worms

"In the Blink of an Eye" by Andrew Parker
http://www.amazon...f+an+eye

if he likes sci-fi books, try this
"Gap Cycle" series from Stephen R. Donaldson
http://www.stephe...gap0.php

found on amazon for next to nothing in paperback or hardcover

they're also good books to try yourself, if you've a mind to read them

May 07, 2016
Thanks Captain - good info for everyone.

@Greenonions
you're welcome... i own all the mentioned books, and i've re-read them more than a couple times

i can also suggest some of the older Asimov books i own and re-read, like this one: "the relativity or wrong"
http://www.amazon...of+wrong

(a list of Asimov's stuff http://www.asimov...gue.html )

and if your friend likes a lighthearted look at the world and science in general, check this book out
http://billbryson...ated/#uk

it's rather funny but filled with a lot of good info as well

one more!
"The Matchbox That Ate a Forty-Ton Truck" by Marcus Chown
https://www.scrib...Universe

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