How Safe is Your Job?

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Is your job safe?

Yes
17
55%
No
4
13%
Yes, but not everyone with my job is safe.
5
16%
Robots are going to take EVERY job.
1
3%
N/A
4
13%
 
Total votes: 31
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korvys
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Re: How Safe is Your Job?

Postby korvys » 31 Jan 2015, 12:53

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Cybertrash
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Re: How Safe is Your Job?

Postby Cybertrash » 01 Feb 2015, 05:44

Why do we need robots when there's an inexhaustible supply replaceable humans working for minimu wage?
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Dutch guy
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Re: How Safe is Your Job?

Postby Dutch guy » 01 Feb 2015, 05:59



Interesting article. There is however another factor he fails to take into account. Capitalist companies are still run by imperfect humans. So sometimes a company will not make the best decision when it comes to running that company. For instance, where I work I'd say we have about double the amount of managers and maybe 1/4 extra engineers than we stricly need. Some of those might be there because of government regulation (firing them is more hassle than keeping them) but most of them are there because someone made the decision we'd need another engineer, or another manager.
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Re: How Safe is Your Job?

Postby empath » 01 Feb 2015, 06:52

I'm sorry; I know this isn't helping the discussion, but I'm in one of those moods this morning:

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Lord Hosk
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Re: How Safe is Your Job?

Postby Lord Hosk » 01 Feb 2015, 06:57

Im going to escape to the one place not experiencing corrupted capitalism...

DAMNIT!
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Re: How Safe is Your Job?

Postby Darkflame » 01 Feb 2015, 08:01

Cybertrash wrote:Why do we need robots when there's an inexhaustible supply replaceable humans working for minimu wage?


Because robots will be cheaper than them too eventually.

I do think "fast food worker" type jobs are, somewhat ironically, much harder to replace then the management jobs making the choices to replace them though.
Thats not meant at a knock on management as such - merely that replacing a "decision maker" with a algorithm is easier to achieve in almost all cases then trying to come up with a cheap robot that can, say, assemble a burger after listening to human given instructions. To replace fast food workers in that way requires a fair bit of infer-structure in place, not to mention security for the things.

On the other hand, replacing a a lot of management with a bit of software is probably far more achievable.
Not so different from stock market bots really.
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Re: How Safe is Your Job?

Postby Lord Hosk » 01 Feb 2015, 08:15

Fast food workers do a surprising amount and variety of work.

Robots are good for repetitive actions and if you look at what fast food workers do there is "repetitiveness" to it but also quite a bit of variance. McDonalds has 25+ items coming from the grill each require 10-20 "add ons" while a robot could be made to add a tomato, add pickles, squirt ketchup... its much easier and cheaper to have a human do it. You also get into problems with veggies in that they are non-uniform which robots tend to have problems with. 1/4 of a inch difference in diameter in tomatoes seems like nothing to you, but to a robot thats a clogged feed shoot.
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Re: How Safe is Your Job?

Postby empath » 01 Feb 2015, 09:21

Hosk has it. Cooking isn't like assembling a car, with identical parts every time. I just finished completing a request from head office to measure the cooked and uncooked weights of our whole chickens for 'quality control' purposes again (apparently we're getting underweight chickens from the supplier?) took up extra time all of last week.

For a 'two pound' chicken (it says "900g" on the label for the rest of y'all :) ) I saw a variance from maybe a little over 800g to 950g in post-cook weight, and they were almost always over 1kg pre-cooked, but again varying by weight a fair bit (and probably size too, but I didn't measure that.)

Humans are INFINITELY more adaptable than purpose-built machines.

...which brings me to the OTHER point I have to make:

merely that replacing a "decision maker" with a algorithm is easier to achieve in almost all cases


On the other hand, replacing a a lot of management with a bit of software is probably far more achievable.
Not so different from stock market bots really.


I'd probably sooner see my cooking job automated with exactly uniform ingredients going through a machine than the deli manager's position; if you want to talk about 'job exists just to deal with the unexpected and adapt solutions to it' you're NOT going to get even the most insightful and imaginative AI to do that job as well as a human.

It COULD be done, but it'd require much more work to make the sufficiently adaptable and flexible and ready for any contingency algorithm (and get the sufficiently fast and powerful hardware to RUN this massively complex algorithm at a speed remotely matching a human making decisions) than to just hire and train a human for it.

...and there'd still be something completely inconceivable that would happen that no one would have ever expected, and the manager-bot would balk at, and the human would just take in their stride. :?


I love machines, and what they do for us is wonderful and necessary, but I don't for one moment fear them even of cutting in on my hours, let alone taking my job.
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Tycherin
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Re: How Safe is Your Job?

Postby Tycherin » 01 Feb 2015, 19:17

Yeah, fast food is not a great candidate for automation or AI. The problem is that the food has to be produced on location, which limits the throughput you can justify to the number of people who feel like showing up at any given time. If they could produce it all in one place with a huge uber-assembly line, that would be a different story. I dunno how much of a victory that is for the humans doing those jobs, though.

This discussion is really interesting (if a little weird) to me, because my job is literally to write computer programs that eliminate the need for humans. I spend all day looking at the tasks people do and trying to break them down into tasks that computers can do less efficiently but overwhelmingly faster.
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Re: How Safe is Your Job?

Postby Amake » 02 Feb 2015, 02:01

Would a post-scarcity society have fast food though? Or restaurants at all? Maybe they'd be as common as museums are now, for people curious about the artisanal man-made meals of the past, while most of the time you get food from your portable matter generator.
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Re: How Safe is Your Job?

Postby Darkflame » 02 Feb 2015, 02:12

I dont think we will reach a post-scarcity society in terms of food though any time soon. We are getting there in other ways, but food wise we are going the other way.

Either insects, artificial meats, or things grown in giant vertical farms.....we will need a way to feed 10billion people and we dont have longterm plans that will work right now. Meat especially takes far too much water/land to get in the quantity we eat right now.
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empath - acknowledged. Was thinking more the people higher up and not day-to-day running. Sure they occasionally have unexpected stuff too, but its probably less likely the further you are from the unpredictable customers and equipment.
Remember also, you only need to code a Bot so well as to know when something is outside its field of expertise rather then deal with everything. As long as a human isnt physically "out of range" that would then allow a staff reduction even if it doesn't 100% replace them.
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Re: How Safe is Your Job?

Postby Dutch guy » 02 Feb 2015, 05:37

Remember also, you only need to code a Bot so well as to know when something is outside its field of expertise


But therein lies the crux of the matter. It's very easy to code simple algorithms to make a bot do something. It's very hard to make it take the decision something is outside of its normal paramaters. (Or more likely, something is still within normal paramaters but requires intervention anyway to prevent future problems). Humans are just about TOO good at spotting and recognizing patterns (It's what makes us see faces in non-face like structures for instance). Making a bot do the same is about the same level of difficulty as programming a bot to be creative.
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Tycherin
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Re: How Safe is Your Job?

Postby Tycherin » 02 Feb 2015, 07:45

Dutch guy wrote:
Remember also, you only need to code a Bot so well as to know when something is outside its field of expertise


But therein lies the crux of the matter. It's very easy to code simple algorithms to make a bot do something. It's very hard to make it take the decision something is outside of its normal paramaters. (Or more likely, something is still within normal paramaters but requires intervention anyway to prevent future problems). Humans are just about TOO good at spotting and recognizing patterns (It's what makes us see faces in non-face like structures for instance). Making a bot do the same is about the same level of difficulty as programming a bot to be creative.

So I'm not saying you're wrong in this, but there are a couple important clarifications on these points that I want to make.

First, humans are actually pretty bad at figuring out when things are outside our skillsets. If you haven't heard of the Dunning-Kreuger effect, the general idea is that people who don't know much about a given area, like plumbing for example, consistently underestimate how hard those tasks actually are. This results in a phenomenon where people who are better qualified to do a job say that they are relatively less capable at it than the people who don't have a clue what they're doing. We've tried to train people out of this, but with mixed success, and that makes training a computer to do that way harder.

Second, it's true that humans are really good at recognizing patterns, but we do it all by using heuristics (more or less) - shortcuts that help us get close to the answer without finding the actual value. If I tell you to point to the middle of a circle, you can get pretty close, but finding the exact point requires more tools and effort. Recognizing faces is also a special case. The human brain has a lot of built-in specialties, and two of the most focused ones are recognizing the human body (the face in particular) and language. If you've ever seen someone who has lost a limb or something like that, you've felt this in action: your brain sees most of a human form, but not all of it, and it sends you a message that says, "Hey, something is weird here." Incidentally, seeing faces in places where there aren't any is really a failure of the underlying system - a false positive instead of a false negative.

What I'm saying is that humans are really good at these tasks, but we're not as good as we like to think we are. That means programming a computer to do mimic that functionality is more doable than you might think, simply because the bar is lower thank you'd expect.
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Re: How Safe is Your Job?

Postby Trevor » 02 Feb 2015, 08:25

This discussion reminds me of the first chapter of this short story http://marshallbrain.com/manna1.htm
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Re: How Safe is Your Job?

Postby AdmiralMemo » 02 Feb 2015, 10:40

I read that story all the way through and where it ends up... that's the kind of future I want to live in. I'm just scared that we might have to live through the first part. :|
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Re: How Safe is Your Job?

Postby ldurquhart » 02 Feb 2015, 20:32

I am an IT/Helpdesk tech at a College so it is more likely that funding cuts will get my job before the robots.

Considering our user base worst case in the robot scenario is I become some sort of interpreter between the remaining staff and the robots.

(Edit: And entirely missed the second page icon for this thread. Didn't realize it had evolved past these statements)
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Re: How Safe is Your Job?

Postby Ptangmatik » 09 Feb 2015, 04:58

I'm an editor, and given the amount of time I spend arguing with the Microsoft Word green underlining, I think I'm ok.

While its entirely possible that someone might make one, I still think its less cost effective to develop a robust system for what I do than just to keep getting people to do it.

In a similar vein, take Google Translate. It works, but not to the extent that translators should be even slightly worried yet.
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Re: How Safe is Your Job?

Postby empath » 09 Feb 2015, 13:59

And let's not forget that languages are constantly evolving and changing - new idioms and phrases are adopted, and old ones fall into disuse, so a job involving manipulating language (like translators and interpreters, or editors/proofreaders/writers/etc.) are kinda more complex in the long run that you originally expect.
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Re: How Safe is Your Job?

Postby Ptangmatik » 22 Feb 2015, 10:05

Well I may now have to change my answer somewhat, depending on how the next few weeks go
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