Automating The Workforce, Part 2: Meet The Machines
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

Automating The Workforce, Part 2: Meet The Machines

Check out some of the technology that might push you out of the workforce!

22
Automating The Workforce, Part 2: Meet The Machines
DailyNews Egypt

Most of those who actually work in computing think the IT revolution has barely begun. The potential productivity gains from smart machines driven by artificial intelligence – or to use the more emotive term, robots – are at least as great as any of the other revolutions...it is probably a mistake to think of these transformational technologies as separate events. A better way to view the march of technology is as a seamless progression of mechanical developments."

- Jeremy Warner, “Our robotic revolution is only just beginning to gather steam”

Pictured above is an IBM supercomputer named Watson. It won a game of Jeopardy! against two world champions in 2011, receiving a prize of $1 million (all of which was donated to charity). Despite that it has not appeared on "Jeopardy!" since 2011, Watson has been staying very busy. It reads all of the world's published medical literature at a rate of 60 million pages per second and uses that knowledge to diagnose patients and suggest treatment options. It is already better at diagnosing cancer than human doctors.

Since approximately 12 million people are misdiagnosed every year in the United States, significantly harming 6 million of them, Watson is in a good position to start saving lives by pushing people out of their jobs. It is partially because of supercomputers like Watson that technology will replace 80 percent of what doctors do.

Watson is only one example of the applications of modern technology and how it can improve human lives by replacing human workers. As I described in part one of this article series, automation will remove jobs from the workforce at an increasing rate over the next few decades. While this will eventually spread into most areas of the economy, it can be easily seen right now in several specific areas such as manufacturing, transportation, medicine, law and writing.

Automation of the manufacturing industry is unlikely to come as a surprise to many people. After all, machines have been replacing factory workers since the Industrial Revolution. But the automation of factory work and subsequent displacement of jobs will speed up over the next decade. According to the Boston Consulting Group, only 10 percent of jobs that can be automated have already been automated, and that number will rise to 23 percent by 2025. This effect is largely due to cheaper and more efficient robots, such as Baxter from Rethink Robotics (pictured below).

Up until this point, most robotic machines used in factories have been very expensive and highly specialized. Just like the first computers, those machines were massive and could only be used for a very specific job by trained experts. However, Baxter is one of the first general-purpose robots. It can be trained to perform a variety of simple tasks, just as the first personal computers could run simple programs that allowed for mathematical calculations and word processing. And, over time, the computers became less expensive and more powerful until any personal computer could perform countless tasks on its own. In the same way, it is likely that general purpose robots will be able to take over the overwhelming majority of factory and manufacturing jobs.

While many people would easily accept that jobs in the manufacturing industry are likely to be automated, they might be more skeptical about the same effect happening in the transportation industry. Still, as human drivers become more expensive over time due to the increasing minimum wage, self-driving cars will become cheaper since technology decreases in price as it is mass-produced. Self-driving cars also become safer over time as their technology advances, unlike human drivers. For example, Google’s self-driving cars are already safer than most human drivers are. They brake and accelerate more smoothly, and they maintain a safer distance from vehicles ahead of them. In the 1.7 million miles that they already traveled, 11 accidents occurred -- none of which was caused by the self-driving car. By comparison, human drivers in the U.S. cause about 111 deaths per 1 million miles traveled, which adds up to over 32,000 deaths per year.

Our human drivers not only cost tens of thousands of lives per year but also a huge amount of money. Traffic accidents cost the U.S. $242 billion in 2010, equal to $784 per person and 1.6 percent of our GDP. That places huge economic incentives on any hiring manager of the near future to invest in self-driving cars instead of human drivers, especially since 94 percent of car crashes are caused by human error and self-driving cars are never distracted by anything.

While the driverless trucks that could put the 3 million U.S. bus and truck drivers out of a job have yet to become popular, they do already exist. The Mercedes-Benz Daimler, for example, has driven on German highways since 2014 and is projected to become publicly available around 2025. Driverless trucks are already being used in Florida construction zones. Rio Tinto, a British-Australian mining company, has been using 150 driverless trucks since 2011 when it bought them due to worker shortages.

In some ways, the automation of jobs in the medical industry is more visible than that of the transportation industry -- and not just because of Watson. For example, the FDA approved the use of a robot called the RP-VITA in 2013. The RP-VITA is the first autonomous robot to be used in hospitals -- doctors can tell the robot where to go and then use its screen for virtual communication with patients. Not all medical automation advancements take place in hospitals, though. In 2012, Remedi SeniorCare opened a fully automated pharmacy to distribute medication for the residents of almost 120 long-term care facilities. A similar system is available right now from RxMedic, and it can automate the sale of up to 256 of the most commonly purchased medications.

Another type of white-collar job that could be surprisingly vulnerable to automation is legal work. Despite how lawyers are portrayed by the media, the vast majority of a lawyer's job does not involve speaking in a courtroom. Most of it is spent either predicting the likelihood of certain cases going to court, advising companies and organizations in legal matters or doing discovery. Discovery is the process of sorting through large amounts of data to find irregularities -- and "e-discovery" software easily outstrips human lawyers in price and speed. Likewise, online legal services can provide advice and consulting for a small and decreasing amount of money compared to its human counterparts.

Finally, one of the areas that is sometimes considered to be "too creative" to be automated is writing. However, algorithms have already written articles in Forbes magazine. Narrative Science uses its natural language generation (NLG) program called "Quill" to write a news story every 30 seconds about all kinds of subjects. Quill has written over 400,000 news stories about Little League games, and here is a list of Forbes articles written by Quill. While the algorithms used by Narrative Science may not be able to write emotionally moving prose -- yet -- they are already able to write at the level required by most jobs in journalism for a lower price.

These were only a few examples of technologies that exist right now that have the potential to replace large segments of the American workforce. But when they do, if we prepare appropriately, we could arrive at a post-scarcity economy, where we can reasonably assume that resources are abundant rather than scarce. I will expand on this idea and how it could come about next week in my concluding article in this series: "The Future Of Humanity."

For more examples of automation in unexpected areas, check out some of the following resources:

Music: The New York Post, "One of the world's biggest pop stars is a Japanese hologram," Experiments in Musical Intelligence

Visual Art: The New York Times, "The Artist's Angst Is All in Your Head"

Education: CGP Grey, "Digital Aristotle: Thoughts On The Future of Education," and Inside Higher Ed, "Score One for the Robo-Tutors"

Emotional Communication: CNN, "Meet Pepper, the emotional robot" and "'Emotional' robot sells out in a minute"

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Entertainment

Breaking Down The Beginning, Middle, And End of Netflix's Newest 'To All The Boys' Movie

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor are back with the third and final installment of the "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" series

260007
Netflix

Were all teenagers and twenty-somethings bingeing the latest "To All The Boys: Always and Forever" last night with all of their friends on their basement TV? Nope? Just me? Oh, how I doubt that.

I have been excited for this movie ever since I saw the NYC skyline in the trailer that was released earlier this year. I'm a sucker for any movie or TV show that takes place in the Big Apple.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

4 Ways To Own Your Story, Because Every Bit Of It Is Worth Celebrating

I hope that you don't let your current chapter stop you from pursuing the rest of your story.

166796
Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash

Every single one of us has a story.

I don't say that to be cliché. I don't say that to give you a false sense of encouragement. I say that to be honest. I say that to be real.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

How Young Feminists Can Understand And Subvert The Internalized Male Gaze

Women's self-commodification, applied through oppression and permission, is an elusive yet sexist characteristic of a laissez-faire society, where women solely exist to be consumed. (P.S. justice for Megan Fox)

77849
Paramount Pictures

Within various theories of social science and visual media, academics present the male gaze as a nebulous idea during their headache-inducing meta-discussions. However, the internalized male gaze is a reality, which is present to most people who identify as women. As we mature, we experience realizations of the perpetual male gaze.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

It's Important To Remind Yourself To Be Open-Minded And Embrace All Life Has To Offer

Why should you be open-minded when it is so easy to be close-minded?

275034

Open-mindedness. It is something we all need a reminder of some days. Whether it's in regards to politics, religion, everyday life, or rarities in life, it is crucial to be open-minded. I want to encourage everyone to look at something with an unbiased and unfazed point of view. I oftentimes struggle with this myself.

Keep Reading... Show less
Swoon

14 Last Minute Valentine's Day Gifts Your S.O. Will Love

If they love you, they're not going to care if you didn't get them some expensive diamond necklace or Rolex watch; they just want you.

164229

Let me preface this by saying I am not a bad girlfriend.

I am simply a forgetful one.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

10 Helpful Tips For College Students Taking Online Courses This Semester

Here are several ways to easily pass an online course.

108737
Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels

With spring semester starting, many college students are looking to take courses for the semester. With the pandemic still ongoing, many students are likely looking for the option to take online courses.

Online courses at one time may have seemed like a last minute option for many students, but with the pandemic, they have become more necessary. Online courses can be very different from taking an on-campus course. You may be wondering what the best way to successfully complete an online course is. So, here are 10 helpful tips for any student who is planning on taking online courses this semester!

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

Take A Look At The Extravagant Lane Woods Jewelry Collection For Valentine's Gift Ideas

So if you are currently looking to purchase jewelry for yourself or as a romantic gift for your S.O., you should definitely look at the marvelous and ornately designed Lane Woods Jewelry collection

330640

Just like diamonds are a girl's best friend, so are pearls, rubies, gold, emeralds, and any type of luxurious jewelry you can get your hands on! A woman is incomplete without a piece of jewelry on her and it is a gorgeous accessory required for all occasions. So if you are currently looking to purchase jewelry for yourself or as a romantic gift for your S.O., you should definitely look at the marvelous and ornately designed Lane Woods Jewelry collection.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

50 Iconic Quotes From 'The Golden Girls' That Will Always Make You Laugh

"People waste their time pondering whether a glass is half empty or half full. Me, I just drink whatever's in the glass."

440662

"The Golden Girls" created history when it first premiered in 1985 setting the stage of strong-willed female characters who are aging gracefully with dignity. It is a treasure trove filled with humorous scenes and situations that will always be relevant to watch. I still rejoice in watching these spectacular women embrace life with full stride and the way they always strive to focus on the brighter side of life.

These 4 dynamic and awe-inspiring women taught us that age is indeed nothing more than a number and that we can set out to accomplish anything our heart desires at any time.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments