Why the rise of smart machines could terminate jobs

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  • Dr. K Salem, UT
    March 24, 2014 11:42 p.m.

    Google "Luddite" before reading this article. The Industrial Revolution killed a lot of jobs. So did the arrival of the personal computer. Rinse and repeat. This article employs lots of words to say almost nothing. Let me summarize: Technology advances, killing off entire classes of jobs, and replaces them with a more expansive and growth-inducing set of technology-based jobs. Oh yeah, and the economy improves, as does everyone's standard of living.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    March 24, 2014 11:33 p.m.

    I know most of you are not familiar with Karl Marx's projections for capitalism, but for the sake of argument here goes: Capitalism becomes so efficient that the demand for labor gets less and less, leading to mass unemployment. At the same time, since profits only come from labor - labor is not compensated for all of the value it adds, the residual is surplus value. Surplus value is the source of most profits, but since the system needs less and less labor, profits will also collapse. The entire system collapses in a riot of unemployment and vanished profits. You may not believe it, but it is entirely plausible.

  • What in Tucket? Provo, UT
    March 23, 2014 12:00 p.m.

    I am taking my buggy whip to the trash can right now. No need for horses or people either for that matter.

  • Ex-Pat of Zion Lititz, PA
    March 21, 2014 10:49 p.m.

    History repeating itself. See 4 Ne. Technology today is identical to the prosperity of the 0-300 AD described in the BoM. We're currently in the latter stages of that society. I guess cohesive societies only have a 200 year lifespan. We're using "prosperity" to create distance between us rather than uniting us. We are more connected than we've ever been ... a virtual society devoid of virtue and incapable of relating. It's not technology so much as it is human nature. Most who are active in these discussions I'm sure are aware of the esteem held by the "natural" man in the broader scheme of things.

  • CylonesRus sunamn, IN
    March 19, 2014 9:47 a.m.

    To succeed in the ever evolving new brave world, have government compete, starting with the state run schools. Return parenting to the parents, one of the root causes of why there are problematic children.

  • mn_online In, UT
    March 17, 2014 10:25 a.m.

    Bookkeepers and accountants raised the alarm in the 1950s, yet accounting is still one of the hottest and most stable careers today. Office workers raised the alarm in the 1980s, yet hundreds of thousands of software engineering and network administration jobs, well paid professional positions, have been created because of technology. I guess being a Luddite is still a good route too though. Sigh.

  • Bloodhound Provo, UT
    March 17, 2014 9:19 a.m.

    The promoters of "unlimited free markets" should love this. Get rid of those pesky, lazy, stupid people. After all, only the owners and ceos of industry count. They are the only ones that work. "Evolve or die," they say. I strongly suspect one day they too will be replaced by machines. Assuming total chaos doesn't happen first. I saw a couple of techie gurus on 60 minutes last year saying that by the time our grandchildren are adults, what we call work will mostly be a thing of the past. "What will people do," the reporter asked? "Well," they said, "that the $64,000 question."

  • Hank Pym SLC, UT
    March 15, 2014 11:40 a.m.

    to NoBoxScot

    But, seriously... Just go to a call center. There are robots who could do that minus smoke breaks & lunch.

  • Wally West SLC, UT
    March 15, 2014 11:36 a.m.

    Hello, Skynet!?

  • Shaun Sandy, UT
    March 15, 2014 10:27 a.m.

    I wouldn't bother going to a full service restaurant if I had to use an ipad to order food or make request. What's next pay $15 to cook my own steak?

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    March 15, 2014 9:27 a.m.

    I went to Peru a month ago to see Machu Picchu, and the employment contrast was very interesting. All along the way, many Peruvians were employed to assist tourists in their journey, and it was evident they took great pride in their work, were happy people, and had an air of confidence about today...and their prospects for tomorrow.

    If Machu Picchu was in the US, there wouldn't have been dirt roads that bus drivers and tour guides patiently & professionally guide their guests on. There would have been a monorail or some sort of automated tram, and automated recordings to inform tourists about Machu Picchu at each step of the tour, with maybe 1/20th the employment.

    Upper middle class Peruvians have a housekeeper, a driver, and a doorman to their building, all very cheerful and essentially extended parts of their families.

    There's a lot in Peru that is not desirable, certainly, but the connectedness between people who depend on each other was striking. It's what America probably used to be like.

    We go to automated car washes, check ourselves out at the store, get gas without having to deal with people.

    Is this progress?

  • hapticz Passaic, NJ
    March 15, 2014 6:11 a.m.

    this will make marketing people giddy with delight, now they can exploit their target consumers at will. expect sugar related health problems to skyrocket! this reminds me of Homer Simpson, dreaming of donuts, "Mmmmmmmmmmmm, doughnuts!"

  • andyjaggy American Fork, UT
    March 14, 2014 9:03 a.m.

    And all of my programmer and engineer friends have more job opportunities making these machines work and maintaining them. The jobs just shift around, I would say flexibility in the workforce and in your knowledge set is one of the more valuable skills you can have these days.

  • nicholdraper West Jordan, UT
    March 14, 2014 6:13 a.m.

    Seriously? This is the theme of Frankenstein's monster. Jobs are replaced every year by technological advances, and they have been since cavemen found you could dig for roots faster with a rock than with your hands. I've been a computer programmer for decades and every year someone writes that my job will be replaced by a machine. Guess what, I replace my job by getting new tools and writing my own tools every day. And the next day I have a new more interesting job. If you are worried about loosing your job to a machine, you really do not have a job worth doing. If you think a clerk's job at a grocery store is totaling the price of groceries bought and collecting money, you may loose your job. If you recognize that being a clerk at a grocery store is about being pleasant and helping customers and not necessarily standing at a cash register you will always be employed.

  • HistoryPoliticsEconomicsLaw Salt Lake City, UT
    March 13, 2014 7:43 p.m.

    One more cost/benefit:

    Evil? Destroys jobs.
    Good? Creates other jobs.

    Somehow, the money is going to be spent, it just changes the location/person. Instead of hiring/paying servers, we hire/pay engineers on the front end. And, as a company benefits from the decreased cost it either 1) makes more money and spends it on something other than paying servers (making jobs elsewhere) or 2) reduces the cost of its products to reduce their profit (usually only will happen when all companies in the same industry employ the same labor saving devices), in which case, the consumer saves and can spend more money(making jobs elsewhere).

    As Henry Hazlitt, author of Economics in One Lesson would say, we have to look beyond what we immediately see to understand the whole truth, instead of just half of it.

  • HistoryPoliticsEconomicsLaw Salt Lake City, UT
    March 13, 2014 7:32 p.m.

    Read "Economics in One Lesson" (book by Henry Hazlitt).

    The evil of technology argument is mostly crazy. Lower labor costs for a given product, due to improved technology, reduce prices for those goods , thus increasing spending power of consumer, and in practice, increasing their wages. This is THE main driver of the economy and our raising standard of living, especially over the past two centuries.

    Evil? It may increase income inequalities.
    Good? It does increase practical income for all.

    Evil? It may force the labor force to educate themselves.
    Good? It may force the labor force to educate themselves.

  • Seldom Seen Smith Orcutt, CA
    March 13, 2014 12:56 p.m.

    I don't go to a restaurant to play with video screens. Modern society has an unhealthy addiction/dependence with video screens. People need to get a life. I don't own a cell/smart phone, don't subscribe to cable or satellite TV. Lest you think I'm a Luddite, I have 25+ years experience in various I.T. occupations (e.g., software engineer, database engineer, cybersecurity specialist). A majority of people have an almost cult like faith in digital technology, a magical elixir that can solve almost any conceivable problem. A healthy dose of skepticism is in order.

  • kathode_ray Brigham City, UT
    March 13, 2014 12:42 p.m.

    Many would argue with me, but hypothetically as a "prosumer" who handles checkout and ordering additional items in this Chili's scenario, I should be able to reduce my tip by the amount of work I am now doing for the server. Automate ordering (and even seating) altogether, have one or two host/CSRs that handle issues, eliminate tipping, and I will eat out MUCH more often. A tablet would do a better job of taking my order correctly anyway.

  • wazzup Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 13, 2014 10:48 a.m.

    It doesn't help when companies are forced to increase minimum wages. At some point why not use technology instead of humans?

  • SillyRabbit Layton, 00
    March 13, 2014 10:35 a.m.

    No, Dave! We're supposed to get all worked up about technology advances! The new is evil! ;)

    Heaven help us if we start seeing illegal robots crossing the border to take our jobs. I really dislike being forced to learn new skills in order to be marketable.


  • KDave Moab, UT
    March 13, 2014 8:43 a.m.

    There is nothing new here. It started when man invented the wheel.

  • GreatScot Eagle Mountain, UT
    March 13, 2014 8:25 a.m.

    Evolve or perish.

  • NoBoxScot Salt Lake City, Utah
    March 12, 2014 11:15 p.m.

    If anyone loses a job to a computer I know a lot of automated answering machines that need to be replaced by (intelligent) humans.

  • Dr. Thom Long Beach, CA
    March 12, 2014 10:28 p.m.

    Said the man who made buggy whips

  • Razzle2 Bluffdale, UT
    March 12, 2014 7:58 p.m.

    We heard all this before with fast-food restaurants eliminating table service and VCR's eliminating movie theaters.