Friday, June 19, 2015

Machines Aren't Going to Take Over Everything

I once spent a year in college working on a production line. We folded boxes, made displays out of the boxes, put product in the boxes, and then put them in other bigger boxes. It was boring busywork and paid mininum-wage.

I would have liked for machines to do the job, but years later when I learned about software and computers I realized there are some thing machines cannot do.

Some of these boxes were pretty complicated to fold and the displays even more so. None of the boxes were exactly identical; there was always some minor variation. I wondered what sort of machine could fold these complicated boxes. I just couldn't see it.

Some people, who don't understand software or computers, think machines can do everything. They can't.

Some jobs will never be automaticated. Unfortunately, it appears it's to going to be the real shit jobs that can't be automated, like that production line.

For that matter, the harder the job, the less it can be automated. Logging trees? Working on an oil rig? That's not going to happen.

The spergs who pass for economists, who don't realize economics doesn't stand alone by itself, are clueless. They swoon over McDonalds being automated but they never realized the customers might just go to another restaurant with workers there (what I see at McDonalds are a bunch of old retired guys and women socializing with each other).

It's amazing the number of old people I meet who can't do the simplest thing when it comes to automation. Do you really think they want to order on machines? Some will never figure them out.

When it comes to software, computers and machines, no one can tell the future. Predictions are just fantasy and often have nothing to do with reality.

11 comments:

Mindstorm said...

If people were to pass the McDonald's in favor of some other venue it would be because of its marketing strategy catering to AAs specifically, not because that there is no one in the back.

I can make predictions, you can make them, anyone can. The problem is with making accurate predictions. :) Here's one: people would usually buy the cheaper substitute, as long as they wouldn't notice the drop in quality.

We'll see if coding employing fuzzy logic principles might help with those 'not exactly identical boxes'.

On February 28, 2011, Watson played an untelevised exhibition match of Jeopardy! against members of the United States House of Representatives. In the first round, Rush D. Holt, Jr. (D-NJ, a former Jeopardy! contestant), who was challenging the computer with Bill Cassidy (R-LA), led with Watson in second place. However, combining the scores between all matches, the final score was $40,300 for Watson and $30,000 for the congressional players combined.[69]

IBM's Christopher Padilla said of the match, "The technology behind Watson represents a major advancement in computing. "In the data-intensive environment of government, this type of technology can help organizations make better decisions and improve how government helps its citizens."


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watson_(computer)

Well? :)

Anonymous said...


It may be true that machines may not take over everything. But machines may take over a lot, if not most jobs, but enough to make a big enough impact to cause social disturbance and upheaval. Who knows what the future will be.

I think robots and artificial intelligence will be beneficial to humanity. Robots couple with advanced artificial intelligence could not only do the menial jobs, but also the "smart" jobs, like being robot scientists, doctors, nurses, engineers, inventors, etc. (and including life-like robot hookers - that would be awesome) - Blade-Runner movie-level realistic human-like robots, and serve humanity (I tend to be an optimist in life).

On the other hand, we could perhaps get smart robots that may take control, like Sky-Net, in James Camerons' Terminator movies, that try to lord over or kill humans, or just keep them as pets.

Also, what if robotics and artificial intelligence become integrated with humans - humans become cyborgs, part human and part robotic? Humans could get a replacement robotic eye or robotic, artificial liver implant, perhaps. What if our brains could be improved with computer implants to increase intelligence? Just imagine the possibilities.

Bob Wallace said...

"We'll see if coding employing fuzzy logic principles might help with those 'not exactly identical boxes'."

The base: square box with four folds. Two boxes with four folds each. Tape the two boxes together back to back and insert them into the base. Fold two more boxes and insert them into the base. Secure with six plastic plugs.

I'm waiting for someone to write the software and design the machines that can do these things without mistakes.

Do this with about 20 different box types.

Mindstorm said...

It's enough to design and program machines than can do that with less mistakes than an average employee.

Have you ever wondered why containers/packaging made of plastic-welded thermoplastics or thermosetting polymers have become so widespread lately?

August said...

You can tell where the incentives are. Labor is a high cost, all by itself, and the government increases the cost at every turn. Already there is an attempt to contract everything out- and the government already knows that and institutes all sorts of hoops you have to jump through in order to prove the contractor isn't just another employee.
Obamacare made it worse too. We practically have to go out an build our own businesses if we want a chance to get anywhere- but again, they have to be pretty much one man operations or you get into all this regulatory crap.

So, they'll put the machines where ever they can. I happen to know certain institutions will put machines were it doesn't make sense- i.e. via every measurable metric it is a fail. They will even need people to spend more time on the task with the machine than without it. I don't understand- unless they are paving the way to hire part-time workers from the nursing home.

Rusty Shackleford said...

"Robots couple with advanced artificial intelligence could not only do the menial jobs, but also the "smart" jobs, like being robot scientists, doctors, nurses, engineers, inventors, etc. (and including life-like robot hookers - that would be awesome) - Blade-Runner movie-level realistic human-like robots, and serve humanity (I tend to be an optimist in life)."

That worked out so great in the movie Blade Runner. What could possibly go wrong? Let me tell you something, though, if they ever get a robogirl across the uncanny valley, I will buy one, quit working, move into a van, and spend the rest of my life fishing, hunting and banging my hot robo fembot girlfriend.

Rusty Shackleford said...

"When it comes to software, computers and machines, no one can tell the future. Predictions are just fantasy and often have nothing to do with reality."

Tell that to horses. A car or a grain combine is nothing but a primitive robot. The percentage of the population working in industry and agriculture has steadily plummeted to almost nothing compared to a century ago. We can't know the future, but we have some pretty strong, long term trends to base predictions on. As for boxes, couldn't they could just standardize sizes and eliminate steps to the point where it doesn't matter? New homes don't have a lot of custom fittings or elaborate workmanship, but most people don't seem to care that their fixtures are prefab. Just about everything amazon sends, for instance, comes in the same box with the same packaging. I'm sure that there are some jobs that can't be automated in the future. Are there enough of these jobs to avoid widescale labor displacement and economic upheaval? I guess that's the question.

Bob Wallace said...

"As for boxes, couldn't they could just standardize sizes and eliminate steps to the point where it doesn't matter?"

After working on that production line I realized software and machines will never be able to do everything. It's impossible to make thing perfect.

It's easier for a robot to build a car than fold a complex box assembly with 14 folds in it.

My father was a general contractor and I've built many a house. It's easier to build a house than fold those boxes and assemble them into a display case.

Anonymous said...

"When it comes to software, computers and machines, no one can tell the future. Predictions are just fantasy and often have nothing to do with reality."

The best way to try and understand what the future may be is to analyze those people who have a hand in inventing and creating it - entrepreneurs, inventors, scientists, even artists and writers. It may not be precise, but it can give one an idea of what is coming. There are also unforeseen and unintended consequences that may arise that were unpredictable - good or bad.

"The best way to predict the future is to create it." - Peter Drucker (business man and professor).

Anonymous said...

@Bob:

You have an interesting blog here that I like. Have you considered writing a book? You could self-publish it on Amazon Kindle.

A.B. Prosper said...

Its not about taking over everything but about taking over enough that wages decline and unemployment stays high.

Its already around 25% u6 if shadow stats is to be believed

http://www.shadowstats.com/alternate_data/unemployment-charts

and those stats don't include tons of people working at low wages jobs who would have a few years ago been making as much as twice the pay.

That degradation in the value of labor is the big problem that we seem unable to deal with. Its a shame too because if we don't, the lack of demand will render a 1st world society unsupportable.