AUTOMATION AND THE FUTURE OF WORK

Section B / TOPIC 4 – TECH & ECONOMY 1:

AUTOMATION AND THE CONTEMPORARY ECONOMY: The Future of Work

 

Group 1: Joseph Frangione, Yongshi Ouyang, Samuel Adjei, Jake Barbiere, Natalie Colucci, Anthony Fiumefreddo, Jesse Flood, Madhavi Maitri

 

 

A History of the Fear of Job Loss

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/01/07/the-future-of-work-a-history-216244

  • The fear of being displaced as a blue-collar worker by technology is not novel, as it has gripped Americans since the 1920s. 
  • In the 1930s Technocrats started a movement to centralize the value of currency to joules and “erg” needed to create things in order to avoid the crisis of overproduction that they purported technology would bear. 
  • Anxieties surrounding fear of automation would rollercoaster from World War 2 onward, the gravest news to luddites being the Ford automated engine block factory that cut 90% of manual labor. 
  • In 1954 George Charles Devol Jr. essentially invented a robot. A box with memory and a movable arm which changed the labor world as by 1961 the entire GM factory in London was being automated by this technology. 
  • Around the same time as the automated GM factory appeared, the Ad Hoc Committee on the Triple Revolution demanded Lyndon B Johnson sign orders for massive infrastructure projects, affordable housing, income redistribution, and unionization in an effort to ward off the “consequences” of advanced cybernetics. 
  • Even today, futurists argue that the aforementioned prevailing argument of the 1960’s is still in motion, albeit slow motion, and that many of the economic turmoils of the 90’s onward, are due to the rapidly increasing technological developments (even though this is correlation, not causation). 

 

The Conventional Position: There Will Be New Jobs

https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/postlive/the-future-of-work-ai-and-automation/2018/03/20/1f9f531a-2c59-11e8-8dc9-3b51e028b845_video.html

  • AI can help knowledge workers in breaking down complex algorithms by making intelligence tools work on tedious jobs hence their stress is going to be taken away from such work and they can focus on complex human expertise on which they are really good at. Basically, it is a combination of AI trained by data and validated by experts.
  • Private sectors should take initiative to invest in learning new technology tools like EdTech to provide retraining on the skills of technology at their own pace (like at home, at work, at school etc.)
  • There might be new job opportunities in the field of data scientist, first use of algorithms, qualify quality of data, help industrialists to deploy it that didn’t exist should make everyone update skills as evolution continues to change.
  • Key challenging factor will be unpacking the AI algorithm. 
  • Many Industries are now pairing up human’s capabilities with robots for more productivity and accuracy.
  • AI can be trained, can be developed, can be casted, much more productive, more emotional intelligence, these tools can make human workforce capable of collaborating to work with other humans using machines of being empathic. 
  • Young startup/entrepreneurs can pick up the tools and create new products and services which could not have been possible otherwise.

 

How Technology is Destroying Jobs

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/515926/how-technology-is-destroying-jobs/  

  • Technology boosts productivity and makes societies wealthier, but that can also have a dark side: technological progress is eliminating the need for many types of jobs and leaving the typical worker worse off than before.
  • Same technologies making many jobs safer, easier, and more productive were also reducing the demand for many types of human workers
  • The website of a Silicon Valley startup called Industrial Perception features a video of the robot it has designed for use in warehouses picking up and throwing boxes like a bored elephant. And such sensations as Google’s driverless car suggest what automation might be able to accomplish someday soon.
  • The proportion of Americans employed in manufacturing has dropped from 30 percent in the post–World War II years to around 10 percent today—partly because of increasing automation, especially during the 1980s. While such changes can be painful for workers whose skills no longer match the needs of employers, Lawrence Katz, a Harvard economist, says that no historical pattern shows these shifts leading to a net decrease in jobs over an extended period. 
  • The big challenge is uncertainty.” In other words, people are still far better at dealing with changes in their environment and reacting to unexpected events.
  • It is easier to see how robots could work with humans than on their own in many applications. People and robots working together can happen much more quickly than robots simply replacing humans. In other words, in the race against the machine, some are likely to win while many others lose.

 

 

Technology and Inequality

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/531726/technology-and-inequality/ 

  • This article begins with discussing the inequality within Northern California at Silicon Valley where there is a high rate of homeless and poverty while the rich seem to continue to prosper in this technology hot spot.
  • The question at hand is whether Silicon Valley is exemplifying the growing inequality or contributing to it?  They are in part producing digital technology that eliminates the need for middle class jobs.
  • Inequality continues to get worse and there is the highest gap between the rich and everyone else in the United States.  “The inequality has only gotten worse since the last recession ended: the top 1 percent captured 95 percent of income growth from 2009 to 2012, if capital gains are included” (Rotman).
  • One main contributing factor Piketty discusses as a cause of this inequality is the “super managers”.  “About 70 percent of the top 0.1 percent of earners are corporate executives, by his calculations.  Above a certain level, it is very hard to find in the data any link between pay and performance” (Rotman).
  • Another main factor is the advancement of technology.  Innovation is accelerating rapidly and as a result of these advancements, GDP and productivity have increased exponentially.  “The biggest factor is that the technology-driven economy greatly favors a small group of successful individuals by amplifying their talent and luck, and dramatically increasing their rewards” (Rotman).

 

Who Will Own the Robots?

https://www.technologyreview.com/2015/06/16/11184/who-will-own-the-robots/

  • The company or organization that owns the most capital will benefit from robots and AI inevitably replacing many jobs. The company with the largest checkbook will get to control technology essentially. However, it does need to be approved by the government. 
  • People are concerned that jobs will disappear from the creation of robots. This would impact workers with a high school education, criminal record, immigrant families with broken English, and anyone below the poverty level. Could cause a decline in the middle class as well.
  • The creation of robots is scaring children from achieving their dreams when in reality it could be replaced by robots in their future. No one has a clear answer. 
  • There are arguments that the creation of robots would be the first step towards technological progress and could create some jobs managing the robots. The progress is not inevitable and could happen sooner rather than later. Businesses and the government would need to discuss where the technology would be used and how it is researched. 

 

 

The Beginnings of a Solution?

https://jacobinmag.com/2017/12/shorter-workweek-full-employment-part-time

  • In Europe, the average work week is one hour lower per week than it was 10 years ago. This is actually a result of the amount of part time employees, but the shorter work week has shown higher productivity and better mental health for those working 
  • The main issues that comes with part time work in Europe is that it comes from the lack of availability of full-time jobs and stalls the process of equality for women in the workplace
  • One alternative to a shorter work week that has been used in several workplaces all over the world was established by Volkswagen. They had their employees work 28.8-hour weeks opposed to 40 to avoid laying off 30,000 employees
  • Another organization offered employees more vacation instead of extra pay. In this analysis 8-10% of employees chose the time instead of the money
  • One of the only ways to make a shorter work week successful is if it is something adopted by all organizations, but could completely throw off the labor force for a long time. If every company reduced the employee work week there would be tons of issues that would need to be resolved
  • An American company that has an interesting hourly scheme for employees is Google. They allow all of their employees the option to work in the office or at home, have tons of perks that come with working for the company like free food at the office, nap pods, and more than 3 gyms at the HQ. They also have a policy where employees work on whatever they want for 20% of their weekly hours which is how ideas like Gmail were actually brought to action

 

 

 

 

OVERALL SUMMARY OF ALL ARTICLES

 

Advances in robotics, machine learning and artificial intelligence are steering in a new age of automation. Machines are now capable of matching and sometimes outperforming humans in a range of work activities, including ones requiring cognitive capabilities. Automation is not a new spectacle. Half a century ago, the United States President, Lyndon B Johnson stated that automation did not have to destroy jobs. Instead, they could become an ally of human prosperity. The same concerns have not resurfaced due to the steady technological advancements in today’s society. Now, more than ever, automation has the ability to change the daily work activities of everyone in the workforce. Ranging from the owners and CEOs to the production line workers. We now live in an age where robots can perform the physical work of humans. Almost every occupation has the potential for increased automation. It is estimated that half of all activity’s workers are paid to do can potentially be automated using technology. Automation can enable a growth in productivity for businesses, individuals and economies as a whole. Businesses will reap benefits of saving money on labor costs in addition to performance benefits of these machines on a microeconomic level. On a macroeconomic level, it is estimated that automation has the potential to increase productivity to 1.4 percent from 0.8 percent on an annual basis.

 

Despite the endless possibilities that come with automation, it has created a level of uncertainty among some of the working class. Automation has eliminated its fair share of manual jobs, while creating new positions in that same industry. It has also drastically changed existing occupations in ways that many people didn’t realize. Accountants now rely on technology to crunch the numbers for them, which gives them more time to build client relationships. The same goes for bank tellers and the introduction of ATMs. Tellers spend less time being cashiers and more time addressing financial issues, loans, and investments. Ultimately, automation and the future of work will boil down to level of education. The demand for highly skilled workers has and will continue to increase as technology evolves, while workers with less education and expertise will ultimately suffer. If these displaced workers cannot adapt to the changing playing field, it could lead to an economic crisis if not addressed at the appropriate time. 

 

 

 

QUESTIONS

 

  1. Automation will create an opportunity for those in work to make use of the innate human skills that machines have the hardest time replicating. What are some of those human skills and why do machines have a hard time replicating them? Or in other words if automation is primarily driven by big data / machine learning what kind of data is missing in what kind of automation that produces imperfect results?
  2. The history of fear of job loss” article and the experts video that followed seem to both conversion diverge. “America would always find ways to put people to work, and technology, ultimately, would always create more (and better) jobs than it eliminated”. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? And on what basis?
  3. America has a wealth problem. And the question is whether technology isn’t part or whole responsible.The MIT Tech Review article series you read suggests a connection between rising wealth/income inequalities in America and automation. How do the authors build this argument and do you agree/disagree? Why?

51 thoughts on “AUTOMATION AND THE FUTURE OF WORK

  1. 1. Computer programmers, physicians, and lawyers. Are automated to some extent “In the old days,” anybody with even routine skills could get a job as a programmer. That isn’t true anymore. The routine functions are increasingly being turned over to machines.” Indeed, a small British company called Appligenics has created software that can write software.
    a. Lawyers – will be automated as there are software which will help filing divorce and just nominal lawyer fees will be charged to get the blessing of the lawyers
    b. Taxations – There are software’s which help file taxes which has replaced manual jobs of tax filings done by CPA’s
    c. Doctor – There are software where you can provide your symptoms and you will be able to medicine subscription.
    The work which requires empathy, emotions and negotiation skills will not be automated.
    These jobs can never be automated:
    Teachers, Creative jobs, Risk assessments, Entertainment and Media
    2. Most factories that have added automation, have also added jobs. Sound too good to be true? Think again. While in contention with the popular narrative that robots, automation, and AI will eventually rid the manufacturing industry of human jobs, study after study has said differently. Robot automation will actually create more jobs. Yes, robots will assume some of the more mundane jobs, but that leaves vast opportunities for people to develop improved skills that will provide a more skilled, different kind of role.
    The surge of automation in manufacturing is prompting humans to move into roles that require more skill, but that doesn’t mean their role on the line is or will be, eliminated. Humans inherently know when a machine or process is not operating correctly. Their instincts, smell, touch, or sound could provide that insight or simply, the experience gained from years of operating the machine can alert them of an issue.
    Whereas, a robot will not be equipped with the knowledge to preemptively know when a process is not running correctly based on those insights. A robot can easily place a book into a box on a line, but if that robot, machine, or process breaks, the machine cannot proceed and a human will need to step in to fix the problem.
    While this is an incredibly basic example, it paints a picture of the roles people need to fill once more and more technology is implemented on the factory floor.
    3. Due to the increase in value of investment assets commonly held by higher income groups, the top 20% of income earners have seen their net worth grow 78% since the recession. Their share of the nation’s wealth grew from 64% to 72% during that period. At the same time, the bottom 20% of income earners have seen their wealth drop by 30%. Federal Reserve data shows that those in higher income brackets possess more wealth. Another one of its breakdowns, separating households by the wealth they already possess, shows that most of the wealth growth since the recession has occurred in higher wealth brackets.
    Automation will take away few jobs from lower wage employees and will reduce their income as more and more educated workers will be required in the market.

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    1. Hi,
      Great post! I agree with you that Although advancements in technology seem to affect the rising income inequalities in America, it also pushes everyone to improve. Such as, more workers are now needed to be more educated to perform those works that can’t be done robotically.
      Thank you,
      Cici

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    2. You make some great points in your posts.

      A point of contention for me is ,the sales function in a futuristic world where robots do a majority of the work and humans serve as caretakers people will still want to deal with people when making deals. My thoughts are that as people we want to deal with a live human when having an issue. its the comfort that interacting with a person who can leverage their knowledge and provide us solution. While a robot who is sufficiently programmed can do something similar, the experience and the sense of empathy and security that interacting with another person gives can never be replaced.

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    3. I enjoyed reading your example about automation in the manufacturing facility. Jobs will certainly be created (or kept) for workers who are familiar with operating or repairing machinery. However, jobs with simpler tasks (such as packing boxes) will be eliminated. Robotic arm technology is able to fold/unfold boxes and place products into those boxes seamlessly. These workers need to expand their skillset or otherwise find themselves displaced in this industry.

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  2. This information was very interesting to read about. While we are aware of how technology and robotics are taking over specific jobs, it is crazy to think about how quickly they are doing so. While automation will certainly continue to expand with specific areas of jobs, such as factories and manufacturing, call centers, and others like these, there are some positions that require a human aspect in order to succeed. These include jobs such as lawyers, doctors, teachers, writers, and business workers, to name a few. Jobs like these require human interaction and experience in order to work. While machines can be implemented into positions in the medical field, such as finding abnormalities or doing scans, there needs to be actual doctors to make diagnoses and perform specific actions. For lawyers, people need to be able to present cases and state facts with the human feelings and interactions, which machines could never do. Positions like teachers could be in jeopardy, due to the ability of machines to learn and provide important information, but the human aspect is still needed when in a group, such as students. Machine learning involves algorithms and prior knowledge, which is still provided by human individuals. The information needs to be perfected and readable in order for the results to match up.

    I feel that this is a difficult question to answer, as there are points to support both sides. On one hand, as technology increases, there will always be individuals needed to manage them. People need to ensure that specific actions do not go wrong when operating technology and machines. These machines need to have specific functions inputted, and to have their results observed and fixed, if needed. On the other hand, although there are people needed to manage these machines, the machines can still eliminate many jobs. While jobs can be created for machine and technology management, it might not be as many or equal to the number of jobs cut and replaced with the technology. I feel that, while many jobs will still be available and needed with real people, like the ones I mentioned above, as machines continue to replace people, the number of people needed to manage them will never be as many as those who were replaced.

    After reading through the article about how technology might be destroying jobs, it is evident that they feel that automation is the reason for slow growth of employment within the last 15 years. The academics at this institution feel that the machines will soon be incorporated into jobs such as lawyers, doctors, teachers, and business owners and workers, which are all positions that I felt were the ones that needed humans most. These experts feel that although jobs are being created around these machines, it is not nearly enough to keep up with the jobs they are destroying, which is what I feared in the previous question. These experts also state that these evident employment trends are thinning out the working middle class. Jobs requiring education and experience are still growing for people, such as software engineers, data administrators, and analysts, to name a few. It seems that those who wrote these articles feel that the machines are targeting lower and middle class jobs, which apparently are able to be performed by technology. There are certainly going to be larger inequalities in income, being that those with higher-paying, people-based jobs will continue to make their salaries and incomes, while those in lower-paying jobs could get replaced. It can also lead to those in higher-end jobs getting paid more, since their skills will be needed more, and since there will be less people in positions below them. I feel that this is an accurate assumption, because we can easily see how people in middle class jobs are being replaced with machines. This prediction will only continue, and could eventually see the technology move into these higher-paying jobs in the future.

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    1. Hi Joe.

      First let me say that I thought you did a great job on this post. Your depth of the topic shows that you really spent the time to understand the nature of this complex problem. I too agree that this information is very interesting to read. We are currently in the midst of an evolution pertaining to the workforce. While this is something that seems to have taken place many years ago, it is still prevalent today. From personal experience, I can describe one way each of how this new use of technology is helping but also hurting the workforce. I am an accounting major, and one recent change in the profession is the use of data analytics when auditing. Auditing is a very tedious and time consuming role, and often times the auditor is unable to evaluate the entire company because it is too time consuming; they were only able to take samples of data. Now, data analytics has allowed the auditor to evaluate the entire data source while actually saving time. The auditor now has the resources to focus deeper into other areas that they would have otherwise skimmed the top. On the contrary, many grocery and convenient stores are opening more self-checkout lanes, eliminating the need for cashiers as the customer can do it themselves. From a business standpoint, it is beneficial to implement this as they are saving money from not paying someone to ring up customers. But again, this is means of eliminating jobs that people other wise need. This area of technology use is very gray – it benefits more people who do not do laborious work. Like you mentioned and I also thought the same, technology is creating new jobs but not enough to replace the ones it is destroying. I don’t think that this will stop and the job loss will continue to grow. I see no solution to replacing these jobs that were taken away from technology, but I hope that this issue is resolved before the technology takes over too much.

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    2. You make some good points Jared,
      I also think that jobs like Lawyers and judges and any job that requires intelligence and decision making. Then there is also the matter of ” is technology creating more jobs then it is displacing?”.

      The report, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, claims that 50% to 70% of changes in U.S. wages, since 1980, can be attributed to wage declines among blue-collar workers who were replaced or degraded by automation. Also as more blue collar jobs are eliminated different type of jobs are created that require more education/retraining to conduct.

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  3. 1. Technologies like the Web, artificial intelligence, big data, and improved analytics—all made possible by the ever increasing availability of cheap computing power and storage capacity—are automating many routine tasks. Watson uses artificial-­intelligence techniques, advanced natural-language processing and analytics, and massive amounts of data drawn from sources specific to a given application (in the case of health care, that means medical journals, textbooks, and information collected from the physicians or hospitals using the system). These innovative techniques and huge amounts of computing power, it can quickly come up with “advice”—for example, the most recent and relevant information to guide a doctor’s diagnosis and treatment decisions and MIT academics foresee dismal prospects for many types of jobs as these powerful new technologies are increasingly adopted not only in manufacturing, clerical, and retail work but in professions such as law, financial services, education, and medicine.

    2. In the past decade, as our economy collapsed, then languished, and as computers and robots reached whole new levels of ability, fears about just what we will all do in the very near future. Futurist Martin Ford argued in his 2015 book, Rise of the Robots, that pretty much everything the Committee on the Triple Revolution argued would happen is in fact coming true, albeit in slow motion. It is clear that, real wages have stagnated, gaps in both income and opportunity have become chasms, more people are unemployed or out of the workforce altogether, and our society is becoming fatally polarized. Many economic analysts still argue that this wave of technology, like all previous ones, will add many more new jobs, by both creating vocations we can’t yet envision and “reallocating” work within existing professions. Recently reported on how truck drivers are being trained to guide numerous, long-distance rigs electronically, from inside the safety and comfort of an office, or to take them from the highway to their final destination. Someone is going to need to go get all those self-driving vehicles when they break down, and someone is going to have to rebuild all of our roads so that the next generation of electric cars can recharge themselves as they drive. Or maybe it just won’t be necessary to work as long and hard as we all seem to do today.

    3. Yes , the advancement of technology is playing key role in part producing digital technology that eliminates the need for middle class jobs. In Silicon Valley where there is a high rate of homeless and poverty while the rich seem to continue to prosper in this technology hot spot. The biggest factor is that the technology-driven economy greatly favors a small group of successful individuals by amplifying their talent and luck, and dramatically increasing their rewards. One main contributing factor Piketty discusses as a cause of this inequality is the “super managers”. “About 70 percent of the top 0.1 percent of earners are corporate executives, by his calculations. Inequality continues to get worse and there is the highest gap between the rich and everyone else in the United States.

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    1. Hi Madhavi,
      I think you make valid arguments based on the authors’ views of income inequality. Ultimately, in my opinion the bigger factor to the income inequality over technology is the role of the super manager. These positions contribute to the top 0.1 percent and therefore leave everyone else in the gap. Along with the technology advancements, the income inequality will continue to get worse until the role of the super manager’s performance is linked to actual pay. If a company as a whole does not perform well, a super manager should not be receiving their typical bonus.

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  4. 1) The type of human skills that would have a hard time being replicated by machine learning or automation are emotion, creativity, communication and collaboration. The introduction of automation or machine learning would not succeed in jobs like lawyers and doctors that require years of experience. Also, it requires too emotionally connect with the client or patient. If technology were to be introduced into these jobs, it would produce imperfect results especially with a human life on the line. Every other position that doesn’t require the ability to emotionally connect with other humans is in jeopardy of being introduced to technology. For example, truck drivers and chefs are types of jobs that could easily be replaced by technology.

    2) I disagree with that statement. The introduction of robots into jobs will destroy jobs. This would impact workers with a high school education or anyone below the poverty level that is not qualified for any middle class job.This would require more people highly educated to handle and manage the robots. The number of jobs robots will eliminate will not be enough for everyone to manage them and that is something to extremely consider when deploying robots in the workforce. This is also concerning for anyone trying to start a future career when you have no idea if that occupation will be replaced by robots or not.

    3) I would have to disagree and say that technology or the race for technology is the problem. There is a wealth problem and it will be even worse when the biggest corporation with the highest capital takes over technology, AI systems, and introduces technology in the workforce or in daily activities. It would replace middle class jobs, low income jobs, and make people more below the poverty level. When this is happening, the corporations involved with the technology would just get richer and richer. The gap would just get even larger and it will keep on increasing when technology is impacting our lives.

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    1. Hi Anthony,
      I agree with your point regarding technology making the rich, richer. Many millionaires and billionaires make a significant amount of their money through investments. I think a key point to look at is the use of technologies, which help improve returns on investments, that are only available to people who have the money to invest in these technologies. One specific example I can think of are the programs that follow particular stocks, and as soon as the price increases (or decreases) by as much as a cent, it will automatically sell (or buy) the stock. When doing this with large quantities of stock, even if the increase or decrease is by a penny, the investors can make hundreds of thousands of dollars. Technologies like these which benefit the wealthy the most only help to increase the wealth gap.

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    2. Hi Anthony, I found your answer to question three very interesting. It seems like the richer will continue getting richer regardless of technology because they are still on top of the “food chain” and reaping the biggest profits. I agree that it will only get worse if the richest companies become fully in charge of technology. Middle-class and low-income jobs are what keep the scale from being too imbalanced. If technology can grow together with education, I believe it will make a big difference. If these lower-skilled employees are being trained in their job to become more comfortable with technology, then they will not be left behind as much.

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  5. 1. When thinking of Automation in the workplace, I agree with everyone above that stated it would be hard for a robot to convey human emotions. As someone who works in HR and recruitment, it would be hard for an AI Machine to catch certain tones of voice and hesitations in a candidate when talking with them or interviewing them. Humans are able to catch tell tale signs of lying or when something is scripted in an interview, an AI Machine cannot do that. AI Machines also could easily be tricked by candidates by hitting certain keywords they think that the machine could be looking for, making it an unauthentic interview.
    2. I disagree with this statement. If movies like Wall-E have taught us anything, it is that technology is not always the answer. Many jobs will be taken from humans, and the jobs that are not taken will not receive the pay that they should since people will continuously be under the impression that machines can do it faster and cheaper.
    3. I would agree that there is a wealth problem in America. We see billionaires trying to race themselves to the moon and to space just for fun instead of dealing with the real life issues that are crippling to most people in America. The space race happened between 1957-1969 where we were racing to the moon, now people are doing it just for fun and to show off their money when they could be creating real change in the world. If more AI machines were to come into this world, it would further that poverty gap to even more extreme levels than it is now and it would truly separate the wealthy from the middle and lower class.

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    1. Hi Jessica, I enjoyed reading your post and found your answer to question two interesting. I agree with you that technology may not always be the complete answer but sometimes it can be part of the answer. If technology is more human-friendly and lower-skilled employees are allowed to learn it, then maybe it can beneficial to everyone involved. It is unfortunate that many jobs are taken from humans and replaced by technology. Cooperations want to cut cost and technology is a way for them to do so.

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  6. 1. In my experience with automated machinery in high-speed bottling operations, one of the biggest issues machines have is with material variation. A machine is capable to run at certain settings which are adjustable to a certain range based on material specifications. If materials are slightly out of specification, it can create a plethora of issues with the machine, making it incapable of running. The more automated a machine is, the less variation is allowable with the material the machine is handling. A great example of this where I used to work was with a fully automated repackaging line vs a partially automated repackaging line. The fully automated accepted 4 pallets of different flavored product at a time, picked up the cases, removed packs from the trays, sorted them, put them back in the trays as a “rainbow pack”, repackaged them and repalletized them. The semi-automated version had people depalletizing, removing the packs, and putting them in the trays, while the packaging and palletizing was done by machine. The efficiency of the semi-automated version was much more successful because the people were managing deviations such as if a pallet was skewed to one side or the other, or if there was a tray that was slightly out of specification. A word I use frequently with automation is the “robustness.” The automated process needs to be able to handle a specification which is a range. It cannot expect perfect product every time, which often times, automated processes require.

    2. I agree with this statement. Historically, as we have seen significant advances in technology, the unemployment rate has stayed close to the same. For one, although automation is removing headcount from a manual process, with automation come certain activities such as maintenance that require headcount to fulfill. Not only will machines require mechanical support, but there will also be a need for IT, electrical, and software support as well. These specialized positions will also pay more than the positions they would be replacing. To support the historical trend, I’ve attached a link to a chart which shows the unemployment rate dating back to 1948.There are peaks and valleys due to certain events in the economy, but the trend does not appear to be significant enough to justify the statement that advances in technology is increasing the unemployment rate.

    https://www.macrotrends.net/1316/us-national-unemployment-rate

    America has a wealth problem. And the question is whether technology isn’t part or whole responsible.The MIT Tech Review article series you read suggests a connection between rising wealth/income inequalities in America and automation. How do the authors build this argument and do you agree/disagree? Why?

    I think there is a wealth and income problem and technology is at least partially responsible. I think a key point that needs to be looked at is that technology is capable of being deployed rapidly by one person or a small number of people. If a software or application meets the needs of the consumer, it can become successful very quickly and generate significant returns. The income received by this small group of people who is developing the application comes in much more quickly and in larger amounts than individuals working part time, blue-collar, or other low paying jobs. Therefore, I believe technology’s capability to be deployed quickly and generate significant returns to the small group of people developing the technology is what creates the wealth inequality when compared to those working typical jobs that are lower-paying.

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    1. Hi David,

      I agree that technology does allow a person to attain wealth quickly, but I do not think technology is the main reason for the growing wage gap within the country. I think the wage gap has slowly becoming larger for a number of years now, and I don’t think it is ridiculous that people with money, or are born in to a position of wealth, have greater opportunities on their end. Where a person from a lower wealth group may need more to go their way, there is a portion of luck associated with the wealthy. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, but technology alone is not why the wage gap has become so substantial.

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  7. I agree that growing technology will always create more jobs. Let’s look at automobiles. I’d imagine the horse and buggy business had lots of fear and spread propaganda regarding the invention of the automobile. However, this technology created a new specialization. Yes, those who were trained to work on carts and breed horses likely fell behind, but education (trade or otherwise) caught up and filled that skill gap. Additionally, the argument that those without specializations and only high school degrees falling behind is irrelevant. If they do not reestablish themselves then they will be lost anyway. With the internet and personal computers being relatively affordable, anyone is able to take courses to survive the expanding digital age.

    Schools will be the answer going forward. Students today are educated in using a computer by leaps and bounds compared to even the early 2000s. It is hard to imagine for those in older generations, but those who are creating relationships with technology now in grade school will be significantly better off than their predecessors. As the older generations fail to keep up and/or retire, the youth who are adequately trained will fill the void. This is the true nature of capitalism. Those who are unwilling or unable to adapt will be left behind, as is the nature of all things. Additionally, technological advancement can create vocations that we can’t envision yet. Further, the terms “better” are difficult to quantify when discussing the type of jobs technology will create. Better in terms of pay? Could be. Better in terms of dignifying? Maybe not. Likely jobs could become safer, less physically demanding, and flexible.

    We are at full employment, even in the midst of this technological revolution where AI and other advanced robotics have supplanted most manual operations. This means everyone who wants a job, has one. According to recent surveys there are even more jobs than there are people to work them. This is more related to average jobs, not specialized ones. Considering the present and past are known to us not to be as grim as luddites would have us believe, why is there any reason for us to believe that the future would be? Note, in many areas, the infrastructure of localities and buildings barely support the current technological advances available. It would be a mammoth undertaking to swiftly put an end to regular jobs in the next 10-20 years.

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    1. Hi Jesse, I enjoyed reading your post, thanks for sharing. I tend to disagree in regards to the loss of jobs due to growing technologies. In my analysis, I looked at it as a pure numbers game. Take for example the implementation of robotics on an assembly line. One machine can probably replicate the work of 10-20 line workers and it wouldn’t fatigue or require breaks for lunch etc. Of course it would require maintenance, creating jobs, but I doubt it would require the equal 10-20 jobs to repair the line equipment that were lost on the line. Where I do agree is how accessible advancements in technology are now widely available for us and the playing field is leveled off in that regard. Technology isn’t as viewed as a “leg up” as it was in the past and anyone who feels they need to find new employment through use of tech should have access to it.

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      1. Your dissent is predicated on the assumption that the advancement that eroded jobs should also be the thing to replace that same number of jobs. Those 10-20 people who lost their line jobs might have to switch their vocation. There are other areas of employment, even & especially now, who require low skilled workers. In parallel there are other advancements occurring at this time which would require workers. So those 10-20 transfer.

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    2. Hey Jesse! I always enjoy ready your responses since they always seems so well thought out. I agree 100% with your assessments of AI and ML and I think we need to start teaching more STEM at a lower level. I even look at my own sons curriculum, he’s 6 and in 1st grade, and the elementary landscape is still very similar (almost identical) to what I remember from that grade back in 1993! Which boggles my mind! Given the leaps and bounds we’ve seen in the tech space I think we need to start seeing more tech and coding type skillsets imbedded in the foundational learning curriculum the schools are teaching today as early as Kindergarten.

      codeSPARK is a great example of an elementary platform that teaches coding to kids as young as 3 years old! And so for the same reasons I am a FIRM believer in how we need to rethink the way we perform certain tasks and jobs to leverage AI and ML, educators also need to be rethinking how they are teaching children’s foundational learning so we can start getting ahead of the curve!

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    3. Hi Jesse,

      Have to agree with Christian here… I enjoy reading your well thought out, logical posts! I agree that certainly in the end, technology will create and eliminate jobs, and will ultimately balance itself out. Education will be the key to helping displaced workers, whether they stay in the same industry or not. The only thing that COULD change this outcome would be if unemployed workers had less incentive to re-join the workforce, due to things like expanded unemployment benefits (which is disrupting our supply chain currently) or programs like Universal Basic Income, a hot topic for some when discussing the future of an automated economy.

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  8. 1. Some human skills that machinery has the hardest time replicating are logical thinking and problem solving, social and emotional capabilities, providing expertise, coaching and developing others, and creativity. These skills will remain at a premium despite the increasing use of automation in the workplace. Machines are made to accomplish more predictable activities. It is very difficult to create a machine that brings creativity the way a human would. I believe this is almost impossible because it is humans who are responsible for creating the machines. Having social and emotional skills is also very unique to human beings at its most efficient level and can prove very difficult to replicate. Tighter integration with technology will free up time for human workers including managers to focus more fully on activities to which they bring skills that machines have yet to master. This could make work more complex, and harder to organize, with managers spending more time on coaching.

    2. Yes, I agree with this statement. As United States President, Lyndon Johnson, stated over half a century ago, automation does not have to destroy jobs. Instead, automation could become an ally of human prosperity. As a dual citizen, one thing I can always attest about America is that there will always be work, for those who want to work. It may not always be the dream job the person always wanted or with their desired compensation, but there will always be work available it seems. Education systems will need to evolve for a changing workplace, with policymakers working with education providers to improve basic skills in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and put a new emphasis on creativity, as well as on critical and systems thinking. For all, developing agility, resilience, and flexibility will be important at a time when everybody’s job is likely to change to some degree. Looking at history, it is safe to say that technology has created better jobs than what existed a century ago. Productivity has increased due to technology and the quality of jobs has increased as well. Overall, this has led to a better economy and better salaries for certain workers with specialized work skills.

    3. I agree that there is a connection between technology/automation and rising income inequalities. Technology coincides with an increase in wages across the labor market. Despite this, an average employee only receives a slight increase in wages whereas an employee in a managerial position receives a more significant increase in wages due to technology. Those in the boardroom receive the biggest profits from new technological advancements. New technology allows productive workers to be even more productive, thus widening the income gap between them. Technology often allows highly skilled employees to focus more on abstract tasks that further set them apart. The routine tasks are the daily activities that the lower-skilled workers do. With technology, they have less responsibility and their prospects are diminished. Digital skills are also unequal amongst employees. In 2016, OECD research showed that over 50% of adults could only do the most basic of digital skills like writing an email. Spreadsheets and word processing were more difficult for the 50%. In summary, automation affects income inequality in two ways. It affects wages and shifts the scales of conditional income distributions. In addition, it increases net capital share and returns to wealth.

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    1. Hi Samuel,

      I agree, current technology is limited by their emotional intelligence and currently being unable to perfectly replicate/understand how humans operate. Emotions, the way people speak, and behaviors are different across the globe and I believe people are influenced by their environments. Machines are limited by their construction, and are obviously not organic, and their technology at the moment limits them from perfectly understanding how people operate.

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  9. 1. Technology and AI, at the moment, have trouble interpreting human factors, such as emotion and actions. Earlier in the semester, we had a discussion board dedicated to gesture recognition, which would have AI try to recognize human movement and create an equal reaction in the real world or a virtual environment. While the technology itself is impressive, it was at times limited by advancement and could struggle picking up certain motions. We also had discussions concerning sentiment analysis and affective computing, which would try to pick up on human emotions and key words to help gather data. Again, while this technology is effective in certain circles, it has trouble picking up on human elements, such as sarcasm or slang. Until machine learning can become “more human”, it will remain limited due to an emotional stunt.

    2. I think the idea that technology will always create more and better jobs is accurate to a point. As technology evolves it will create new industries and companies, who will have a strong demand of workers to help progression. Even with the automobile industry, jobs were lost due to automation, but at the same time there came a new demand for engineers who could maintain and operate the devices. On the same spectrum, automation will cost certain people their jobs and, depending on their skill set, may struggle to find an equal to or better than role. So while technology is obviously great for overall growth and development, it will not benefit everyone in the job market.

    3. The authors do a good job emphasizing the wealth gap in the country, with the group utilizing the following quote and statistic, “The inequality has only gotten worse since the last recession ended: the top 1 percent captured 95 percent of income growth from 2009 to 2012, if capital gains are included”. And utilizing Silicon Valley as an example, they believe technology favors a select group of individuals and then amplifies their skills to help them become outrageously wealthy in their fields. With this technology favoring the few at the top, the authors believe the need for the middle/lower class worker is diminishing, leading to less jobs for these groups and an increasing wage gap. I think the authors do a good job framing how technology has an impact in the wage gap, but I believe the gap is more so caused more by those in power rather than the technology itself. At some point, people are influenced by greed, and care more about their own financial gain than that of their staff or those around them. Whether technology helped get them to this position is debatable, but I don’t think technology alone has caused a wage gap that seems to have been slowly building for decades.

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    1. Hi Joseph,

      I really like your response to the first question and had some similar thoughts myself. It seems that even though technology has become more and more apart of our lives they are still struggling to portray human actions and emotions. I think that it is better kept this way honestly, it creates a balance that we need to have in the system to function efficiently and also continue to grow.

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    2. Hi Joseph,

      I really enjoyed reading your discussion this week. Looking at your second question i agree that technology will always create more and better jobs. Some can argue that there are two sides to this. people say that many have lost jobs do to technology and the internet, However i think that it has created new jobs as well. I think that it is more a shift of jobs then a loss of jobs. Jobs are always going to evolve and change and people need to realize that and adapt to it.

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  10. 1. There are several human skills that I believe will have an impact on automation in the future. My first thought that came to mind was anything that involved using senses. Seeing, feeling, tasting, hearing, and rapid conversation are all things that are tough to replicate from machinery especially when two or more senses are involved. I believe jobs like entertainment and social work where there is more than just data driven put outs are two industries that will continue to stay away from automation moving forward.
    2. I think that there is a fine line with technology and the help it provides in completing jobs and the fact that it does take away jobs from lots of people. On one hand, it definitely makes many jobs easier and allows people to perform more sufficient work and at a much more rapid pace. It is also a necessity to the career of many individuals who would be completely jobless without the use of technology. The counterpart is that technology and its advancements are taking jobs away from people which it is. Where this is very commonly seen is factory work. Technology although more expensive, can be much stronger and faster in completing jobs that a warehouse full of people would have previously been responsible for. Overall, I think that there needs to be a good balance in the workplace with technology and what it is used for but believe it is in a good place right now.
    3. Technology definitely plays a factor in the separation between the upper class and those on the other side. For upper class individuals they are able to invest long term in technology because of their wealth and in turn make more money than they would having actual people performing certain jobs. For the lower and middle class, technology has taken some jobs and opportunities from them but certain organizations wouldn’t be able to function without what they have now. As I mentioned in a previous answer I think that there is an important balance that must be kept but technology is a necessity to keep many business running at the pace they do now.

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    1. Hey Jake,

      I like your points about how sensory technology has not evolved the point where automation can take it over. Like I said in my response, automation is mainly good at doing logical tasks and not doing emotional tasks. The entertainment industry is a perfect example of this as automation can’t replicate the mannerisms of a game-show host like Steve Harvey. Automation is only good for making logical tasks like data collection and analysis more quick and efficient. There needs to be a clear difference in how automation is used in our world as I believe it could be dangerous to apply it to every industry. I would rather we just use automation for logical industries that require large amounts of data inputs like the accounting industry. We shouldn’t try and expand the role of technology too much so we get complacent and too over reliant on it. This would lead to us becoming vulnerable if it were to fail in such a scenario.

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    2. Hi Jake,

      Great insight on the discussion! with the first question you have answered I believe that automation can not take over certain aspects of humans like taste,sight, smell or touch. On the other side there are many advancements happening to contradict this. many companies are creating gloves for vr that you can touch and feel objects. Also Tesla is creating self driving cars which would replicat sight for driving. while we are still very far away from this becoming 100% it is a big step in a new and different direction. it will be interesting to see what the future holds for automation.

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  11. 1. Automation is very useful in completing mundane work seen in farming and mass manufacturing. Its implementation has been beneficial in those fields as organizations can get increased output at a fraction of the time or cost. While beneficial for the company, these implementations can be troublesome for workers who are replaced by such enhancements. That being said, automation and technology cannot completely replace the emotional skills that humans bring into the workforce. Service jobs could not be replicated by automation. Doctors, physical trainers, and counselors (to name a few) are all service jobs that require human interaction that an automated machine cannot support. Technology can support these jobs, but cannot replace the interpersonal interactions that clients need from these service positions.

    2. I would have to disagree with the notion that technological automation would always create more/better jobs than without it. Enhancements in technology and its implementation into the workforce often replaces manual labor. Robotics are often used to replace assembly line workers as they can produce more goods at a higher speed with less mistakes. Farming machinery can plow fields or dig up crops much faster than a group of workers. These machines also do not labor like people do and do not require breaks from work allowing them to consistently produce at a faster rate. Some might argue that these enhancements create new job opportunities for people, such as line mechanic or plow operator, in general the amount of jobs lost outweighs the number of jobs created. As a pure numbers game, an assembly line that used to employ 20 workers would replace those 20 jobs with approximately 2-3 for those who manage the robotics.

    3. I agree that advancements in technology are having an effect on the rising income inequalities in America. The implementation of automation and AI is reducing the need for many middle class jobs. Factory and assembly line workers are being replaced by robotics that can do twice the amount of work in a fraction of the time. Farming machinery can complete the work it takes an entire staff of farming hands to complete. These implementations are also cost effective to organizations as they can reduce the cost of labor at the expense of installing machinery. These changes put an emphasis on people to pursue jobs that require more advanced skills. Such pursuit may require higher education which can often be viewed as a luxury for those above the middle class, creating barriers for some. Technology does create new job opportunities as described above but the amount of jobs is certainly fewer than the jobs reduced by technology.

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    1. Hi Tom,
      I also disagreed with the statement in question 2. I liked how you also linked the role of technology in the agricultural field. I included as well the point where jobs are available to work on these robotics that have replaced the manual labor job. However, the educational level required to fix these advancing technologies usually requires higher than high school level. It is a difficult time for those to find jobs in these areas that have been replaced by robotics.

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  12. Although robotics could replace many manual jobs, robotics does not have creativity. Machines follow all human input code and do not have a processing system that could understand one job entirely by itself.
    I agree with the statement. The more machines mean, the more technical employees need.
    “The rich become richer, and the poor become poorer.” Low-wage income workers needs will lose their job due to automation. However, more jobs will require better education. In my opinion, this will lead to a better world that most people would adopt higher skills.

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    1. Hello Yongshi. Your summary gets right to the point, and I agree with what you provided. The creativity point is just not there for machines, and being that they follow the codes set by people, their processing systems do not have the capability to think on their own, most times. You presented an interesting point, that there will be more jobs with more technology. This can definitely go either way, as these jobs can be more involved and higher-paying, although on the other hand, these jobs could become scarce and filled quickly if most other jobs are filled and replaced by technology.

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    2. Hi Yongshi, in regards to the wealth problem within the world of technology, especially when you say “the rich become richer and the poor become poorer”. Our society heavily rewards those with higher education backgrounds, usually with higher salaries. Sometimes it seems unfair that these business leaders are gaining so much. It can easily be viewed that these companies would not thrive without lower level workers who put in as much work as their bosses. Although there might be room for upward mobility in the workplace, it really is an uphill battle to get to the point where one can be well off finaiciallly.

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  13. I think that the largest thing is that Technology and AI do not have human skills like emotion and actions. A great representation of this right now is Tesla and its Full Self-Driving beta. This is a software that would fully drive a car so that a human would not have to. It would stop at all lights, stop signs, make turns and more. This is only in testing right now but has been having alot of trouble. Tesla wants the car to drive the same as a human would if not better. This is not an easy task or something that seems fisable in the near future. There are things that humans I feel that will do and always do better. In the future technology could pass the humans but for now i think we are limited by the time and technology we have.

    I would definitely agree that “America would always find ways to put people to work, and technology, ultimately, would always create more (and better) jobs than it eliminated”. While technology may take away jobs like computers taking jobs of what people use to do manually, there will always be a migration. It’s not a replacement but more of a transformation. A great example of this is a quote of a man being replaced at his job by a robot but the man ultimately ends up getting a new job fixing the robot that replaced him. We will always need humans in some way. Many people are scared of technology and what it can lead to but technology is made to make our lives easier. While jobs may shift or be different in the future I think that people will always find something to work for.

    It is evident that there is a huge wealth gap in our nation.The article does a great job of explaining this and breaking it down. They use the example of Silicon Valley and the people in it to prove that they have gotten extremely wealthy from technology. I both agree and disagree with what is being said. I agree that there is a huge wealth gap in america with some of the top 1% being in the technology field. On the other hand I do not agree that technology isn’t part or whole responsibility. Technology now is what fossil fuels and steel was back in the early 1900s. Technology is the newest and greatest thing and the ones who have owned and perfected it have made huge amounts of money off of it. I think it is a wheel; before it was fossil fuels, now it is technology and it will change again in the future, which will make other people extremely rich.

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    1. Hey Kyle,

      I liked your post! I definitely agree with your points on the fact that there is a large wealth gap in our nation. However, I respectfully disagree about some of your statements on technology. Although we have large tech companies like Apple and Microsoft providing more tech jobs on the west coast, the main issue with them is the fact that both of their advancements in technology only serve to better the interests of the rich and upper middle class. The poorer Americans aren’t employed by Apple or Microsoft in their factories to produce their technology because they outsource most of the labor overseas to cheaper countries like China. Automation will just make things worse as it serves to put more poorer Americans out of work in the jobs they already have. Though, I do admit technology has served to benefit me in my life with my smartphone and computer; my main issue is the fact that poorer Americans still are being denied access to the same opportunities as the wealthy. There needs to be more reformation of the system so that technology doesn’t serve to make that wealth gap even wider than it already it is. Hopefully, in the future we can pass more federal legislation to solve this growing problem in our country.

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  14. I think there is a common misconception when it comes to artificial intelligence and machine learning replacing human jobs in the work place. This evolution in technology will undoubtedly provide significant opportunity when its comes to automation and process efficiency, the possibility are truly endless. And with the undoubtedly come the elimination of existing jobs into todays workplace servicing a particular niche until something better comes along. Some examples of these Tass including ticking with IT which consumers an immense amount of time and resources due to the shear volume of requests received. I am a firm believer that this transition into a new way to work is progress and will ultimately provide the fruitful foundation of our society for the future. It will be a new way to working and for the same reason some jobs will no longer be needed, new opportunities will arise from the ashes of what once was providing new opportunities for people to grow and learn new things. Sociologists will be compelled to rethink and re-plan their models of human association and organization. Financial specialists will be compelled to reevaluate incentives and agency relationships. Politicians will be compelled to create a new manner of speaking for their platforms when the customary political posturings will get moot. Schools will be compelled to battle with a descaled society. It’s truly this transformation and rethinking existing processes that drives our society forward into a new era.

    Now while there are amazing opportunities for AI and ML within our society and business today, there are some tasks and functions that type of technology likely will not replace entity unless there are MAJOR advancements in robotics. With the milestones and recent major advancements in AI and ML we should be thinking about how long until we have automated all of the repeatable tasks? Simply put, if there is minimal human relation or emotion to a job and a piece of machinery can rather simply do what you do, then what you do is irrelevant. The folks whose jobs are being automated and phased out could choose to learn new tasks and do something more difficult too complex to automate or maybe even learn about programming and automate themselves!

    https://www.analyticsinsight.net/the-fear-of-artificial-intelligence-in-job-loss/

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    1. Hi Christian, great post. Your explanations seem to make a lot of sense from this perspective. It is possible that those who are forced out of jobs due to technology could pursue a new career, although it might be difficult if they are already established in that field. I definitely agree that there is always opportunity to learn something new, even involving technology and automation, but if they are too familiar with something else, it might be difficult to now start learning about this. Technology will certainly continue to take over, and I wonder how those in positions where the human aspect is required will fare.

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  15. 1. Automation will create an opportunity for those in work to make use of the innate human skills that machines have the hardest time replicating. What are some of those human skills and why do machines have a hard time replicating them? Or in other words if automation is primarily driven by big data / machine learning what kind of data is missing in what kind of automation that produces imperfect results?

    There are many quantitative and qualitative jobs that machines can perform much more efficiently then humans however skills such as Empathy, creativity, judgement, planning, physical skills and Technological Management. The way I see it Robots can perform basic human interactions such as customer service via telephone, but no matter how highly developed they are, they will not have this innate ability to connect with and understand other humans on an emotional level. Robots are able to recognize and analyze existing data and matter, and at a certain level computers can produce art, music, food, or writing but they will never achieve the level of human creativity that dreamed them up in the first place.
    Also imagine a robot trying to pass a judgement. The decision would be based on data analysis and it would be black and white because it lacks the ability for Conflict resolution and negotiation, which are skills that cannot be replaced by machines.

    2. The history of fear of job loss” article and the experts video that followed seem to both conversion diverge. “America would always find ways to put people to work, and technology, ultimately, would always create more (and better) jobs than it eliminated”. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? And on what basis?

    The statement holds truth yet misses the reality. Yes, we will always be able to create jobs because as mentioned in a different post robot do break down and need human intervention. However, the type of jobs that will be created will be highly specialized that will require retraining. The majority of the workforce now is unable or unwilling to retrain hence these new jobs will remain unfilled until a new type of worker emerges.

    3. America has a wealth problem. And the question is whether technology isn’t part or whole responsible. The MIT Tech Review article series you read suggests a connection between rising wealth/income inequalities in America and automation. How do the authors build this argument and do you agree/disagree? Why?

    “Artificial intelligence, robotics and new sophisticated technologies have caused a wide chasm in wealth and income inequality”. As new technologies emerge and more functions become automated, blue-collar jobs are being shipped oversee which in turn has resulted in large scale job losses in those industries.
    As I mentioned on the second question new technology require a new set of skills that the current blue-collar worker does not possess. Further education and retraining is needed for the current workers to participate in this new jobs.

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    1. Hello Ervis, great job with your post, I enjoyed what you said about the new jobs being created from machines will be highly specialized jobs which require training. I agree with this statement especially as technology gets more and more advanced, the understanding required to maintain it and develop it will have to taught in order to prevent something from going wrong.

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  16. 1. Fields in which empathy and human connection are required will be harder for machines to replicate. It is that instant reactivity when having a conversation and adapting to the situation is something that machines at this time cannot replicate. Technology does allow for more time to be allocated to problem solving. For example, in supply planning, analysts will rely on the data and the numbers to understand the production plan versus the demand coming in. The role of technology has helped reduce the amount of time it takes to calculate these needs. It allows for more time to focus on the strategies and react to any troubles that may arise (i.e. a delay in raw material availability). Automation cannot yet solve problems that involve working together and having meetings to resolve issues.

    2. I disagree with the statement, “American would always find ways to put people to work, and technology, ultimately, would always create more (and better) jobs than it eliminated.” The use of technology especially in manufacturing has reduce the amount of “blue collar” jobs in America and throughout the world. The combination of the advancements of technology and the reliance of outsourcing has significantly reduced the amount of manufacturing jobs available within America. Now, jobs within the manufacturing field that would require a high school diploma are minimal and hard to find. Manufacturing has been able to prosper with the advancements of technology. Now there seems to be a field to help fix those machines and even help them produce faster. However, this field would typically require an engineering degree. This ultimately still leaves that gap of people without jobs.

    3. The authors presented arguments on what is the cause of the income inequality, technology or the role of super managers? I think the role of technology is not the only source of income inequality. I think it is more based on the income distribution especially in corporations. These super managers that ultimately win and these larger companies then have more income available to invest in advancing technology. It is also harder at this level of management to link productivity and pay. I think it is evident that the rich are getting richer especially in America, and the middle class is almost extinct. The authors also address the role of education and its relationship to income inequality. One argument that I do agree with is that there are limited jobs available for those with little education or high school education level. Manufacturing jobs used to provide those job opportunities for this area of the workforce.

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    1. Hi Natalie, I enjoyed reading your post. I completely agreed with what you said regarding how the jobs that require empathy would be nearly impossible to replace with technology. These kinds of jobs can only be handled by certain types of people who are social and confident, and have a vast knowledge and understanding of the specific topics. While machines will continue to sadly take over human-based jobs, it’s professions like these that I do not think they can touch. Your disagreement with the statement provided also makes a lot of sense, as the jobs are continuously becoming harder to find.

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    2. Hi Natalie, great job with your post, I enjoyed what you said about machines having a hard time to replicate human empathy. Especially because this is an emotion in which human emotions are very complicated even for humans to understand. I would like to add that sympathy is another concept in which machines would have a hard time to replicate. The word sympathy comes from the latin word which means to suffer, so when someone sympathizes with you it means they suffer with you in which i something that cannot be programmed into a machine.

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    3. Hi Natalie,

      I completely agree with your first point. Empathy and other human emotions is quite difficult for machines to replicate. I recently saw a movie called Free Guy in which an AI algorithm achieved self awareness and was able to feel alive and subsequently was able to feel human emotion. Although it was a movie, it is an interesting concept. If this was possible, it would be quite interesting to see how job occupations that require empathy such as therapy could be replaced by technology if we ever reach the pinnacle of AI.

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  17. There has been a great increase in the amount of jobs taken over by machines and artificial intelligence. The internet and computer programs have taken a lot of services to the internet. Companies like Carvana, an online car buying website take the human aspect out of shopping for a car. Other websites like turbotax take the middle-man out of filing taxes. If you go to a grocery store or fast food restaurant, you might be checking out using a self checkout machine. These are all easily programmable jobs that make sense when moved into the hands of artificial intelligence. There are some jobs that AI would likely never replace. Human interaction and emotion are unique qualities that machines could never replicate. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we all have likely experienced and felt a lack of human interaction in our lives. One specific job that I deem the human aspect necessary is a counselor or someone who works in therapy. Dealing with and analyzing human emotion is a difficult skill for machines to have since the array of emotions and circumstances are so complex. Most machines work with a binary code and although those codes can also be complex, it takes a human individual to decipher another human’s past and link it to current feelings or emotion etc.

    In reading the “History of Fear of Job Loss” article and watching the video. I do mostly agree that America will always find a way to put people to work. Although a job might be taken over by a machine or artificial intelligence, it takes man power to design, create and manage that technology. The one counter argument is that a job like creating artificial intelligence is more complex than, say, the task of ringing someone up at a checkout counter. In that regard, access to specific jobs involving technology might not be as accessible, but a job would be there nonetheless. In an increasingly machine driven world, a higher degree of education might be required to have a job. To combat this dilemma, schools can always put more emphasis on science and technology education to prepare students for a future in creating and managing an artificial intelligence driven society.

    There’s an ever increasing wage gap between the super wealthy and the poor. As the article “Technology and Inequality” highlights, Silicon Valley is the prime example for the stark difference in income inequality. The largest technology hub in the country can also be described as a place where poverty is the most prevalent. I had previously mentioned the phenomenon of tech jobs requiring a higher level of education to work in this new technological era. The article states that nearly 70% of the top .1% of earners are what are described as “supermanagers” or corporate executives. Therefore, there is a greater concentration of wealth among this field in particular. It is pointed out that technology mostly benefits this small group of high income earners and leaves very little for anyone else. It is hard to disagree with the facts. A great point that the author made is the role of education in growing inequality. A higher education is already a topic for debate when it comes to access and inequality. Those who can afford to go to college do so, and have access to higher level management jobs. Those who don’t might be destined to work lower lever, lower paying jobs. In this case, the rich literally do get richer.

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  18. 1. Automation will create an opportunity for those in work to make use of the innate human skills that machines have the hardest time replicating. What are some of those human skills and why do machines have a hard time replicating them? Or in other words if automation is primarily driven by big data / machine learning what kind of data is missing in what kind of automation that produces imperfect results?
    One human skill in which machines have a hard time to replicate is the skill to hold a conversation. There are even regular people who have a hard time holding a conversation, let alone a machine in which you have to one has to insert algorithms and statistics for it to understand a sentence and give a basic response back. I cannot speak for everyone but whenever I call a company and get an answering machine trying to help me it never does, and I end up asking for a representative. Another skill in which machines have a hard time to replicate from human behavior is the art of deception. While this skill is not an admirable skill it is still a trait human’s use all the time. Machines have a hard time with the art of deception because to deceive one needs an imagination to form ideas or images of external objects do not present to the senses. This is something in which machines lack and is hard to implicate. Lastly, machines cannot reproduce/make copies of themselves something humans can obviously do in addition to something machines will never acquire. There are many other human traits machines lack in which some will take time to develop to a high level and some (like reproducing) will never be developed.
    2. The history of fear of job loss” article and the experts video that followed seem to both conversion diverge. “America would always find ways to put people to work, and technology, ultimately, would always create more (and better) jobs than it eliminated”. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? And on what basis?
    I think it depends on the situation, each one is different so in some instances a machine which replaces a job may create more jobs whether it be to maintain the machine or to take over a next step in which the machine cannot accomplish. On the other hand, the machine can replace the job entirely and without creating opportunity for more jobs putting many people out of work. I do agree with the statement America and possibly other countries will do their best to create jobs for the people not because they care for them but because unemployment is bad for the economy.
    3. America has a wealth problem. And the question is whether technology isn’t part or whole responsible. The MIT Tech Review article series you read suggests a connection between rising wealth/income inequalities in America and automation. How do the authors build this argument and do you agree/disagree? Why?
    I thought the author’s built up the argument nicely and got their points across very clearly and concisely. I do believe that technology can be responsible for a wealth gap in which lower class people might have a harder time understanding and keeping up with new technology which can keep them in their class. With the wealthy can afford to buy new technology and play around with it, understand it, and possibly develop it to sell to the lower class. It is a system that works to limit people from moving up or down in class unfortunately.

    https://science.howstuffworks.com/10-hardest-things-to-teach-robot.htm

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  19. 1. Automation will create an opportunity for those in work to make use of the innate human skills that machines have the hardest time replicating. What are some of those human skills and why do machines have a hard time replicating them? Or in other words if automation is primarily driven by big data / machine learning what kind of data is missing in what kind of automation that produces imperfect results?

    Human skills such as bookkeeping and recording of data have been largely replaced by AI and other cloud-based systems. Automation with technology is the future of many industries such as: the accounting and financial industry. I disagree that machines have a tough time replicating these logical skills as one can just program a software algorithm to do these tasks for them. For accountants, we’ve seen productivity rates increase in not having to deal with having so much paperwork to organize. Automation has led to a gross oversimplification of these processes in chasing higher efficiency rates.

    For me, the main human skills that automation struggles to replicate mainly boil down to Human Resources and other empathetic roles in which a computer can’t be taught to deal with humans. Computers and automation can only perform logical tasks like entering in data and analyzing patterns and trends in the data to extrapolate from there. In my opinion, automation can’t make this big leap unless they learn to deal with human emotion in a more complex way. At the moment, however, algorithms and automation can’t keep up with the complexity of it because there’s more than one side to a person’s issue.

    For instance, in HR if there’s a workplace harassment complaint than it’s usually handled in/out of the employer’s offices with trained professionals to mitigate the issue. A machine can’t be taught how to automate this process because every person is complex and there’s more than one side to a story. In the end, with automation being driven by big data learning, I’d argue that what computers need to learn now is to see beyond the face value of a task. And for that they need to be more connected with artificial intelligence or AI to understand human emotion better.

    2. The history of fear of job loss” article and the experts video that followed seem to both conversion diverge. “America would always find ways to put people to work, and technology, ultimately, would always create more (and better) jobs than it eliminated”. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? And on what basis?

    I agree with this statement that with the rise of automation there will be a loss of jobs in many industries. Similar to how a rise in outsourcing in the 1990s led to more domestic manufacturing businesses shutting down in the Rust Belt. I’d argue that more and more workers from poorer communities will be put out of work in chasing higher efficiency rates in production and profit. Poorer Americans lacks access to the resources to work in jobs with automated technology because of a lack of funding in social programs for their benefit. If automation is to rise, then we will see more poorer Americans be replaced with technology and be put in unemployment with a lack of jobs to be sorted to them.

    3. America has a wealth problem. And the question is whether technology isn’t part or whole responsible.The MIT Tech Review article series you read suggests a connection between rising wealth/income inequalities in America and automation. How do the authors build this argument and do you agree/disagree? Why?

    The authors mentioned that it is either the role of technology in chasing innovation or the role of corporate managers in chasing profits that could lead to rising wealth inequality in America. I agree with the argument that it is technology that is driving more and more Americans out of the workplace. Automation in many businesses requires more skills than what poorer Americans can do. They have no access to the resources of higher education (unless they want to go into debt from student loans). I say that we need more investment into our poorer communities to jumpstart more progress in technology and decrease wealth inequality rates in America. If there’s no equality in terms of opportunity, then how can technology succeed in driving us more towards the future?

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  20. 1. Some human skills that machines have a difficult time replicating include empathy, creativity, judgment, planning, athletic skills, and technology management. One can argue that empathy is what makes us human and while machines can interact with humans on a basic level, they cannot truly connect with humans on an emotional level. It will be difficult for robots and AI to replicate empathy and other intrapersonal skills because a large part of the human experience is human emotion, which machines do not have. This Forbes article discusses why artificial empathy is different from human empathy. Empathy is cultivated over a set of experiences and in order for machines and AI to learn empathy, they will have to be exposed to human interactions in various scenarios, which will provide imperfect results and thus, can mimic empathy. Additionally, in order for AI to empathize with human emotions, it must have access to a “Data bank” of those emotions and how those emotions are expressed.

    2. I agree with this statement. People will need to work in order to survive and as reliance on technology increases, there will be funding for training programs that show people how to work alongside said technology. This article by Harvard Business Review states that Automation doesn’t create or destroy jobs, but instead transforms them. If technology displaces workers, it destroys jobs and if it creates or reinstates work, jobs are created. According to the World Economic Forum, at least 12 millions more jobs will be created than destroyed by technology. Organizations need to take a good look at their needs and determine what kind of labor they require. Technology can fail and thus, humans will be put to the forefront when inevitably occurs. Additionally, organizations must ask themselves what technology can’t do?, How technology’s limits impact the business?, and lastly, does the cost of overseeing technology impact its proposed value? Thus, technology doesn’t get rid of human labor, but instead changes the type of labor that is needed.
    One stipulation of my response is that although technology may increase overall job opportunities,it will not benefit everyone. Lower wage workers will have fewer opportunities for work since automation will take away jobs from them and there will be an increased demand for tech- skilled workers.

    3. The authors build this argument by providing the real life example of Silicon Valley, where technological innovation resulted in increased income inequalities and essentially the shrinking of the middle class. The authors then discussed the current state of inequality, followed by a discussion of contributing factors. I do agree with this argument. Those who are in the top 1% have seen their net worth balloon in recent years whereas those who are the lowest on the scale have seen their net worth drop significantly. Many of those who were considered middle class are now nearing closer and closer to the poverty line in America. The idea of “skill-biased” technological change has significantly benefited those who are highly skilled rather than those who are not. In certain scenarios (i.e factories), automation essentially displaces workers without providing those same workers opportunities to work alongside technology. This article by MorningBrew mentions how automation can give way to new jobs such as tech-focused roles as well as new personal services like personal training and counseling; however, most of these jobs are “knowledge work” and thus, require a college degree. Only 37% of US adults (25-64) had a college degree as of 2018 and it seems likely that the remaining 63% will often be under-employed in the future under automation and will subsequently have lower incomes than they would have otherwise.

    Links:
    1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jackkelly/2020/10/27/us-lost-over-60-million-jobs-now-robots-tech-and-artificial-intelligence-will-take-millions-more/?sh=5e3758351a52
    2. https://hbr.org/2021/11/automation-doesnt-just-create-or-destroy-jobs-it-transforms-them#:~:text=If%20technology%20creates%20(or%20reinstates)%20work%2C%20jobs%20are%20created.&text=The%20World%20Economic%20Forum%20estimates,a%20net%20positive%20for%20society.
    3. https://www.morningbrew.com/emerging-tech/stories/2021/04/25/myth-automation-eliminates-work

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    1. Hi Charu, great point in the first response. I had mentioned that machines could never replicate human emotion or empathy. There are so man aspects of humanity and society that revolve around feeling out emotion and there are many jobs that rely on this ability. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending how you look at it, AI can’t replicate this skill. You could argue that reasoning is based on human emotion as well and this is certainly the foundation for most skill jobs out there!

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  21. 1. Automation will create an opportunity for those at work to make use of the innate human skills that machines have the hardest time replicating. What are some of those human skills and why do machines have a hard time replicating them? Or in other words, if automation is primarily driven by big data/machine learning what kind of data is missing in what kind of automation produces imperfect results?

    Human ingenuity, in my experience, knows no limitations. Critical planning, insights, dispute resolution and communication, empathy, and humanity are the abilities that machines will never be able to replace.
    Professions such as Psychiatrists, writers, scientists, and senior executives require special social and emotional talents of humans to fulfill a certain set of responsibilities.
    Emerging technologies such as AI and robotics have contributed significantly to making chores easier, yet robots cannot grasp a person’s sentiments or state of mind and cannot replace humans.

    2. The history of fear of job loss” article and the experts video that followed seem to both conversions diverge. “America would always find ways to put people to work, and technology, ultimately, would always create more (and better) jobs than it eliminated”. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? And on what basis?

    I agree with this statement of “America would always find ways to put people to work and technology will ultimately create more jobs than eliminated”.Take an example of one of the most emerging technologies of AI. The jobs affected by AI will vary by industry; I believe that technology always improves people’s jobs. Previously, people manufactured pottery, but now that it has been upgraded to automation, people tend to alter and improve themselves for better work.
    “Many big innovations in the past have been linked with a transition period of temporary job loss, followed by recovery, then business change, and AI will likely follow this course,”-[says Svetlana Sicular, Vc of Gartner].
    In my opinion, we should look on the positive side: with each investment in AI-enabled technology, we should examine what employment will be lost, what occupations will be created, and how it will alter how people work with others, make decisions, and complete tasks. With each AI advancement, humans are required to do all the patching which is required for another innovation to arise.

    3. America has a wealth problem. And the question is whether technology isn’t part or whole responsible. The MIT Tech Review article series you read suggests a connection between rising wealth/income inequalities in America and automation. How do the authors build this argument and do you agree/disagree? Why?

    America clearly has a large wealth disparity. The article does an excellent job of describing and breaking this down. They portray Silicon Valley and its residents as examples of people who have become exceedingly affluent as a result of technology. “Change is inevitable!” and nobody can stop it. Better technology needs better understanding so, without upgrading educational and analytic standards of people there’s no further way to go for better jobs and opportunities.

    https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2017-12-13-gartner-says-by-2020-artificial-intelligence-will-create-more-jobs-than-it-eliminates

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