General Automation Thread

N&P: Discuss governments, nations, politics and recent related news here.

Moderators: Alyrium Denryle, SCRawl, Thanas, Edi, K. A. Pital

Post Reply
User avatar
The Romulan Republic
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 14559
Joined: 2008-10-15 01:37am

Re: General Automation Thread

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2017-12-19 05:48pm

True enough. I'm not saying robot cops are a good thing- just not necessarily worse than cops in general.

Which in America at least, is a pretty fucking low bar.
"Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created equal, except negroes" When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty -- to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy." - Lincoln.

User avatar
FaxModem1
Sith Acolyte
Posts: 6496
Joined: 2002-10-30 06:40pm
Location: In a dark reflection of a better world

Re: General Automation Thread

Post by FaxModem1 » 2017-12-21 03:49am

Update: Apparently people didn't take too well to the idea of a patrol bot, and it was recalled due to lack of permit:

Dezeen
Security robot bullied and forced off the street in San Francisco
Eleanor Gibson | 13 December 2017
65 comments
A robot patrolling a street in San Francisco to ward off homeless people has been removed after complaints from locals, who also knocked it over and smeared it with feces.

The Knightscope K5 security robot was deployed by the San Francisco branch of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) to deter homeless people from sleeping and loitering near its building.

But it was forced to take away the 400-pound machine as it was operating in the public realm without a permit, and threatened with a $1,000-a-day (£745) fine.

The K5's presence also angered the local community, who took to social media to complain.


I can’t help but feel bad for the SPCA robot outside that someone smeared their poo on. Is this a conspiracy to make me (us) a sympathizer to our new robot overlords... will they be plastered in cute dog decals??

— Tyson Kallberg (@TysonKallberg) November 9, 2017

Reports claimed that a group doused its sensors with barbecue sauce, knocked it over and veiled it with a tarp. One Twitter user claimed they saw feces smeared on its shell, while another described the robot's use as "shameful".

"The money that was spent on these robots could have gone towards homeless shelters," said another tweet.

The shelter said it released the robot, nicknamed K9, to patrol the pavements around its centre in the Mission District, which had become a camp for the city's homeless population.

"We weren't able to use the sidewalks at all when there's needles and tents, and bikes, so from a walking standpoint I find the robot much easier to navigate than an encampment," the SPCA's president Jennifer Scarlett told the Business Times.

Responding to Dezeen, the shelter said that it only hoped to improve the safety of its employees, following an influx of crime in the surrounding area, and that it is "extremely sensitive" to the issue of homelessness.

"In the last year we've experienced a great deal of car break-ins, theft, and vandalism that has made us concerned about the security and safety of the people on our campus," the SPCA's media relations manager Krista Maloney told Dezeen.

"The security robot that we've been using on a pilot basis has been very effective at deterring these criminal incidents. The device helps us prevent crime; it doesn't attempt to remove homeless people from the sidewalk."

The K5 is equipped with four cameras that monitor its surroundings, and moves on wheels at speeds of up to three miles per hour. It measures 1.5 metres tall and nearly one metre wide at its base, creating a sizeable obstacle on the pavement.

San Francisco is tightening restrictions on autonomous machines on the streets – particularly delivery robots – with growing concerns over public safety.

Knightscope's K5 model has already been embroiled in other controversies elsewhere, including knocking a toddler over in Silicon Valley, and falling into a pond in Washington DC after missing a set of stairs.
Image

User avatar
Zaune
Sith Acolyte
Posts: 6068
Joined: 2010-06-21 11:05am
Location: In Transit
Contact:

Re: General Automation Thread

Post by Zaune » 2017-12-21 01:12pm

Well, that's something.

And is it just me, or did that thing look like what would happen if Apple brought out a line of buttplugs?
There are hardly any excesses of the most crazed psychopath that cannot easily be duplicated by a normal kindly family man who just comes in to work every day and has a job to do.
-- (Terry Pratchett, Small Gods)


Replace "ginger" with "n*gger," and suddenly it become a lot less funny, doesn't it?
-- fgalkin


Like my writing? Tip me on Patreon

I Have A Blog

User avatar
FaxModem1
Sith Acolyte
Posts: 6496
Joined: 2002-10-30 06:40pm
Location: In a dark reflection of a better world

Re: General Automation Thread

Post by FaxModem1 » 2017-12-23 11:36pm

The Atlantic
Robots Will Transform Fast Food
That might not be a bad thing.
Steve Scott

Visitors to henn-na, a restaurant outside Nagasaki, Japan, are greeted by a peculiar sight: their food being prepared by a row of humanoid robots that bear a passing resemblance to the Terminator. The “head chef,” incongruously named Andrew, specializes in okonomiyaki, a Japanese pancake. Using his two long arms, he stirs batter in a metal bowl, then pours it onto a hot grill. While he waits for the batter to cook, he talks cheerily in Japanese about how much he enjoys his job. His robot colleagues, meanwhile, fry donuts, layer soft-serve ice cream into cones, and mix drinks. One made me a gin and tonic.

H.I.S., the company that runs the restaurant, as well as a nearby hotel where robots check guests into their rooms and help with their luggage, turned to automation partly out of necessity. Japan’s population is shrinking, and its economy is booming; the unemployment rate is currently an unprecedented 2.8 percent. “Using robots makes a lot of sense in a country like Japan, where it’s hard to find employees,” CEO Hideo Sawada told me.

Sawada speculates that 70 percent of the jobs at Japan’s hotels will be automated in the next five years. “It takes about a year to two years to get your money back,” he said. “But since you can work them 24 hours a day, and they don’t need vacation, eventually it’s more cost-efficient to use the robot.”

This may seem like a vision of the future best suited—perhaps only suited—to Japan. But according to Michael Chui, a partner at the McKinsey Global Institute, many tasks in the food-service and accommodation industry are exactly the kind that are easily automated. Chui’s latest research estimates that 54 percent of the tasks workers perform in American restaurants and hotels could be automated using currently available technologies—making it the fourth-most-automatable sector in the U.S.

The robots, in fact, are already here. Chowbotics, a company in Redwood City, California, manufactures Sally, a boxy robot that prepares salads ordered on a touch screen. At a Palo Alto café, I watched as she deposited lettuce, corn, barley, and a few inadvertently crushed cherry tomatoes into a bowl. Botlr, a robot butler, now brings guests extra towels and toiletries in dozens of hotels around the country. I saw one at the Aloft Cupertino.

One robot, Flippy, can flip 150 burgers an hour.
Ostensibly, this is worrying. America’s economy isn’t humming along nearly as smoothly as Japan’s, and one of the few bright spots in recent years has been employment in restaurants and hotels, which have added more jobs than almost any other sector. That growth, in fact, has helped dull the blow that automation has delivered to other industries. The food-service and accommodation sector now employs 13.7 million Americans, up 38 percent since 2000. Since 2013, it has accounted for more jobs than manufacturing.

These new positions once seemed safe from the robot hordes because they required a human touch in a way that manufacturing or mining jobs did not. When ordering a coffee or checking into a hotel, human beings want to interact with other human beings—or so we thought. The companies bringing robots into the service sector are betting that we’ll be happy to trade our relationship with the chipper barista or knowledgeable front-desk clerk for greater efficiency. They’re also confident that adding robots won’t necessarily mean cutting human jobs.

Robots have arrived in American restaurants and hotels for the same reasons they first arrived on factory floors. The cost of machines, even sophisticated ones, has fallen significantly in recent years, dropping 40 percent since 2005, according to the Boston Consulting Group. Labor, meanwhile, is getting expensive, as some cities and states pass laws raising the minimum wage.

“We think we’ve hit the point where labor-wage rates are now making automation of those tasks make a lot more sense,” Bob Wright, the chief operations officer of Wendy’s, said in a conference call with investors last February, referring to jobs that feature “repetitive production tasks.” Wendy’s, McDonald’s, and Panera are in the process of installing self-service kiosks in locations across the country, allowing customers to order without ever talking to an employee. Starbucks encourages customers to order on its mobile app; such transactions now account for 10 percent of sales.

Business owners insist that robots will take over work that is dirty, dangerous, or just dull, enabling humans to focus on other tasks. The international chain CaliBurger, for example, will soon install Flippy, a robot that can flip 150 burgers an hour. John Miller, the CEO of Cali Group, which owns the chain, says employees don’t like manning the hot, greasy grill. Once the robots are sweating in the kitchen, human employees will be free to interact with customers in more-targeted ways, bringing them extra napkins and asking them how they’re enjoying their burgers. Blaine Hurst, the CEO and president of Panera, told me that his no-longer-needed cashiers have been tasked with keeping tabs on the customer experience. Panera customers typically retrieve their food from the counter themselves. But at restaurants where they place their orders at kiosks, employees now bring food from the kitchen to their tables. “That labor has been redeployed back into the café to provide a differentiated guest experience,” Hurst said.

How many employees, though, do you need milling about in the café? The early success of the kiosks suggests that, at least when ordering fast food, patrons prize speed over high-touch customer service. Will companies like CaliBurger and Panera see sufficient value in employing human greeters and soup-and-sandwich deliverers to keep those positions around long-term?

The experience of Eatsa may be instructive. The start-up restaurant, based in San Francisco, allows customers to order its quinoa bowls and salads on their smartphone or an in-store tablet and then pick up their order from an eerie white wall of cubbies—an Automat for the app age. Initially, two greeters were stationed alongside the cubbies to welcome and direct customers. But over time, customers relied less frequently on the greeters, co-founder and CEO Tim Young told me, and the company now employs a single greeter in its restaurants.

The type of person who orders a grain bowl on an iPhone is perhaps content to forgo a welcoming human face. There may not be enough such people to sustain a business, however, at least not yet. Eatsa announced in October that it was closing its locations in New York City; Washington, D.C.; and Berkeley. Young told me that the problem was the food, not the technology, and that other restaurant chains are interested in deploying Eatsa’s model. The taco salad I ordered was pretty good, though, and, at $8, cheaper than the fare at many other salad chains. I wondered whether the problem wasn’t that Eatsa had crossed the fine line separating efficiency from something out of Blade Runner.

Less dystopian was the scene at Zume Pizza, in Mountain View, California, where I watched an assembly line of robots spread sauce on dough and lift pies into the oven. Thanks to its early investment in automation, Zume spends only 10 percent of its budget on labor, compared with 25 percent at a typical restaurant operation. The humans it does employ are given above-average wages and perks: Pay starts at $15 an hour and comes with full benefits; Zume also offers tuition reimbursement and tutoring in coding and data science. I talked with a worker named Freedom Carlson, who doesn’t have a college degree. She started in the kitchen, where she toiled alongside the robots. She has since been promoted to culinary-program administrator, and is learning to navigate the software that calculates nutritional facts for Zume pizzas.

This has typically been the story of automation: Technology obviates old jobs, but it also creates new ones—the job title radiology technician, for example, has been included in census data only since 1990. Transitioning to a new type of work is never easy, however, and it might be particularly difficult for many in the service sector. New jobs that arise after a technological upheaval tend to require skills that laid-off workers don’t have, and not all employers will be nearly as progressive as Zume. A college education helps insulate workers from automation, enabling them to develop the kind of expertise, judgment, and problem-solving abilities that robots can’t match. Yet nearly 80 percent of workers in food preparation and service-related occupations have a high-school diploma or less, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The better hope for workers might be that automation helps the food-service and accommodation sector continue to thrive. Panera’s Hurst told me that because of its new kiosks, and an app that allows online ordering, the chain is now processing more orders overall, which means it needs more total workers to fulfill customer demand. Starbucks patrons who use the chain’s app return more frequently than those who don’t, the company has said, and the greater efficiency that online ordering allows has boosted sales at busy stores during peak hours. Starbucks employed 8 percent more people in the U.S. in 2016 than it did in 2015, the year it launched the app.

Of course, whether automation is a net positive for workers in restaurants and hotels, and not just a competitive advantage for one chain over another (more business for machine-enabled Panera, less for the Luddites at the local deli), will depend on whether an improved customer experience makes Americans more likely to dine out and stay at hotels, rather than brown-bagging it or finding an Airbnb.

That could be the case. James Bessen, an economist at Boston University School of Law, found that as the number of ATMs in America increased fivefold from 1990 to 2010, the number of bank tellers also grew. Bessen believes that ATMs drove demand for consumer banking: No longer constrained by a branch’s limited hours, consumers used banking services more frequently, and people who were unbanked opened accounts to take advantage of the new technology. Although each branch employed fewer tellers, banks added more branches, so the number of tellers grew overall. And as machines took over many basic cash-handling tasks, the nature of the tellers’ job changed. They were now tasked with talking to customers about products—a certificate of deposit, an auto loan—which in turn made them more valuable to their employers. “It’s not clear that automation in the restaurant industry will lead to job losses,” Bessen told me.

My experience with service bots was mixed. The day I visited the Aloft Cupertino, its robot butler was on the fritz. And when I asked Marriott’s new artificial-intelligence-powered chat system to look up my rewards number, it said it would get a human to help me with that. Neither interaction left me anticipating more-frequent hotel stays. As I wrote this column, however, Starbucks went from being a weekly splurge to a daily routine. The convenience of the app was difficult to pass up: I could place my order while on the bus and find my drink waiting for me when I got to the counter.

One day, I arrived at my local store to find that it had instituted a new policy requiring customers to retrieve mobile orders from a barista. (Apparently things can get a little hairy at the mobile-pickup station during rush hour at some stores.) I didn’t like the change; I’d grown accustomed to frictionless transactions. I started going to a different Starbucks location nearby, where I could pick up my coffee without the interference of a fellow human being.

This article appears in the January/February 2018 print edition with the headline “Iron Chefs.”
Bolding mine.
Image

User avatar
FaxModem1
Sith Acolyte
Posts: 6496
Joined: 2002-10-30 06:40pm
Location: In a dark reflection of a better world

Re: General Automation Thread

Post by FaxModem1 » 2017-12-25 06:56pm

NBC news
TECHNOLOGY
Robots are replacing humans in the world's mines. Here's why.
One day the world's mines may be operated almost entirely by machines.
by Kate Baggaley / Dec.21.2017 / 3:09 AM ET

How might robots play a role in the mining industry?Courtesy Caterpillar /
Even in our digital age, some jobs remain almost as dirty and dangerous as ever. Mining is a prime example — with miners facing risks ranging from fire to falling rock and entrapment — but this industry is beginning to change.

From robotic drills to self-driving ore trucks, automation is bringing a new measure of safety to mines — and boosting the efficiency with which we obtain the precious minerals used to make the trappings of the modern world, from cars and buildings to our electronic devices.

Ultimately, we may see “fully automated ‘man-less’ mines that are completely operated by machines,” Dr. Bernhard Jung, a professor of computer science at Freiberg University of Mining and Technology in Germany, told NBC News MACH in an email. Automation means mines of the future could exist on the ocean floor and even in space. “Making use of robots may be our only chance to ever extract minerals in such areas,” Jung says.


And just as aerial drones can be flown by pilots thousands of miles away, automated mining operations can be supervised from a distance. “You can operate these robots remotely from halfway across the world,” says Dr. Herman Herman, director of the National Robotics Engineering Center at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. For example, he said, “That will allow people in the Midwest to work and operate mining equipment in Australia.”

SELF-DRIVING ORE CARRIERS
Mining automation is already appearing in the form of self-driving ore-carrying vehicles. These monstrous trucks, which use the same suite of technologies seen in other autonomous vehicles, stay on the job virtually 24/7 — with no need for driver breaks or shift changes.


Robotics in Mining Courtesy Boliden
Rio Tinto, one of the world’s largest mining firms, uses more than 80 of these three-story-high trucks at its iron ore mines in Western Australia. The company is also developing driverless trains that will carry ore over hundreds of miles of track.

Autonomous vehicles are also venturing underground. With their laser scanners and radar, Jung says, they can move about safely and quickly in narrow, dusty tunnels that humans have trouble navigating. In Sweden, Volvo is testing self-driving trucks deep within mines operated by the Boliden mining firm.

ROBOTIC DRILLS
Automation isn’t just moving ore but also carving it from the ground. To break up rock for excavation, miners drill holes in the rock and fill them with explosives; automated drill rigs can make these holes more quickly and with greater accuracy than conventional human-operated equipment, Gary Goldberg, CEO of Newmont Mining, told FoxBusiness.com recently.

Robots may also make it possible to reopen old mines that were abandoned after becoming unproductive or flooded with water. In the United Kingdom, engineers with the ¡VAMOS! (Viable Alternative Mine Operating System) program are testing robots that can extract ore underwater. The robots will resemble the "road header" machines used to cut rock in today's mines. They will use their spiked heads to pulverize the ore, with the resulting slurry pumped to the surface, New Scientist recently reported.

ROBOT ASSISTANTS
In addition to autonomous mining equipment that displaces humans, engineers are working to develop robots to work alongside humans. For example, a team led by Jung has designed a robotic mining assistant they call “Julius.”


Julius 1.0 Courtesy Mining Rox
About the size of a shopping cart, this wheeled robot features a robotic arm tipped with a three-fingered hand capable of holding scanning devices very still to analyze the quality of ore samples. This “can be difficult for humans, especially after a long day in the mine,” Jung says. “The idea is to have ‘symbiotic’ human-robot teams, where the robotic assistant contributes its physical strength and precision while the human is in charge of decision-making.”

Finally, robots of various sorts will be used to monitor mining operations to make sure everything is running smoothly. Some will move through underground mines, collecting data on temperature, rock stability, and other conditions that might affect worker safety. In open-pit mines, drones soaring overhead will photograph the landscape to generate 3D maps used to position equipment and watch out for potential rockslides.

© 2017 NBC UNIVERSAL
Mining is another field that will be filling with robots soon.
Image

Simon_Jester
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 30092
Joined: 2009-05-23 07:29pm

Re: General Automation Thread

Post by Simon_Jester » 2017-12-25 07:45pm

The actual operation of machinery far underground has been largely automated for a very long time; it hasn't been a matter of individuals with picks and shovels doing the work in many decades. Drones just add one more layer.
This space dedicated to Vasily Arkhipov

User avatar
FaxModem1
Sith Acolyte
Posts: 6496
Joined: 2002-10-30 06:40pm
Location: In a dark reflection of a better world

Re: General Automation Thread

Post by FaxModem1 » 2017-12-25 08:35pm

Simon_Jester wrote:
2017-12-25 07:45pm
The actual operation of machinery far underground has been largely automated for a very long time; it hasn't been a matter of individuals with picks and shovels doing the work in many decades. Drones just add one more layer.
Probably for the best, as mining has always been dangerous and unpleasant work.
Image

User avatar
The Romulan Republic
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 14559
Joined: 2008-10-15 01:37am

Re: General Automation Thread

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2017-12-27 10:19pm

Yeah, I don't mind robots replacing humans in a lot of the shit jobs so much, as long as there's a decent safety net in place to keep those people from freezing/starving/dying of lack of health care/rioting/backing strong men out of desperation. And so that they have the means to try to find a fulfilling life outside of traditional employment.

I do think that in the next couple centuries, we're probably going to see the greatest shift in how human societies and economies function since the industrial revolution, perhaps since agriculture.

Weather the end result is something wonderful, or something horrifying, will depend largely on our ability to get ahead of the negative consequences of such a shift, anticipating them and mitigating them with measures such as basic income, job retraining, and stronger protections for workers' jobs as a stop-gap measure.
"Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created equal, except negroes" When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty -- to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy." - Lincoln.

Simon_Jester
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 30092
Joined: 2009-05-23 07:29pm

Re: General Automation Thread

Post by Simon_Jester » 2017-12-27 11:35pm

I for one would be absolutely fascinated to learn what a human society looks like when what people decide to do with their lives is no longer dominated by the tyranny of "who does not work, at something someone is willing to pay them for, shall not eat." That was a necessary tyranny... but becomes far less necessary as automation expands.

On the other hand, there's the very distinct prospect that machine intelligence will take the reins of the system out of human hands even as machine labor makes it possible for everyone to relax.
This space dedicated to Vasily Arkhipov

User avatar
K. A. Pital
Glamorous Commie
Posts: 20224
Joined: 2003-02-26 11:39am
Location: Elysium

Re: General Automation Thread

Post by K. A. Pital » 2017-12-28 02:08am

I think it would look a lot like Calhoun’s Universe 25, and meet a similar end.
Lì ci sono chiese, macerie, moschee e questure, lì frontiere, prezzi inaccessibile e freddure
Lì paludi, minacce, cecchini coi fucili, documenti, file notturne e clandestini
Qui incontri, lotte, passi sincronizzati, colori, capannelli non autorizzati,
Uccelli migratori, reti, informazioni, piazze di Tutti i like pazze di passioni...

...La tranquillità è importante ma la libertà è tutto!
Assalti Frontali

User avatar
His Divine Shadow
Commence Primary Ignition
Posts: 11840
Joined: 2002-07-03 07:22am
Location: Vasa, Finland

Re: General Automation Thread

Post by His Divine Shadow » 2017-12-28 02:40am

Personally I have been wondering, if you didn't have to work, why would you move into a city?

Most people today move into these areas for the jobs, some people like the hedonistic pleasures it can offer (bars, movies, restaurants, shopping etc), but studies in the US said most young people in family age don't actually want to be living in a city but a small town (though they also want services). A recent poll in Helsinki showed 30% of responders didn't like living there, but had to because of jobs.

I already today value a slower, small scale life over what the city can offer and think it's more important to live close to relatives and family, especially for my children who deserves to live close to their grandparents, but I am lucky enough to have a job locally. In a massively automated future a lot of the basic assumptions of what motivates people will cause changes that are hard to predict.
Those who beat their swords into plowshares will plow for those who did not.

User avatar
Gandalf
SD.net White Wizard
Posts: 14402
Joined: 2002-09-16 11:13pm
Location: A video store in Sydney, Australia

Re: General Automation Thread

Post by Gandalf » 2017-12-28 02:48am

His Divine Shadow wrote:
2017-12-28 02:40am
Personally I have been wondering, if you didn't have to work, why would you move into a city?

Most people today move into these areas for the jobs, some people like the hedonistic pleasures it can offer (bars, movies, restaurants, shopping etc), but studies in the US said most young people in family age don't actually want to be living in a city but a small town (though they also want services). A recent poll in Helsinki showed 30% of responders didn't like living there, but had to because of jobs.

I already today value a slower, small scale life over what the city can offer and think it's more important to live close to relatives and family, especially for my children who deserves to live close to their grandparents, but I am lucky enough to have a job locally. In a massively automated future a lot of the basic assumptions of what motivates people will cause changes that are hard to predict.
I think it depends on the city. For example, Hamburg is nice and I could see living there. Sydney is an horrific hellscape plagued by overgrowth and poor planning.
"Oh no, oh yeah, tell me how can it be so fair
That we dying younger hiding from the police man over there
Just for breathing in the air they wanna leave me in the chair
Electric shocking body rocking beat streeting me to death"

- A.B. Original, Report to the Mist

"I think it’s the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately."
- George Carlin

User avatar
Elheru Aran
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 12116
Joined: 2004-03-04 01:15am
Location: Georgia

Re: General Automation Thread

Post by Elheru Aran » 2017-12-28 03:03am

Also some people simply prefer to live in a more densely populated area due to the greater convenience of having more goods and services in close proximity, including better access to mass transit. My wife is one such, while I'm more like HDS and prefer the rural lifestyle. Our compromise was to buy a house in a fairly country suburb, still close enough to town that it's not a long drive to get our groceries and see friends. Of course, we were able to afford the move...
It's a strange world. Let's keep it that way.

User avatar
K. A. Pital
Glamorous Commie
Posts: 20224
Joined: 2003-02-26 11:39am
Location: Elysium

Re: General Automation Thread

Post by K. A. Pital » 2017-12-28 05:05am

But why is mass transit valuable on its own? It makes sense if you have to move around the city to get things or get to work. Otherwise it is not that necessary.
Lì ci sono chiese, macerie, moschee e questure, lì frontiere, prezzi inaccessibile e freddure
Lì paludi, minacce, cecchini coi fucili, documenti, file notturne e clandestini
Qui incontri, lotte, passi sincronizzati, colori, capannelli non autorizzati,
Uccelli migratori, reti, informazioni, piazze di Tutti i like pazze di passioni...

...La tranquillità è importante ma la libertà è tutto!
Assalti Frontali

User avatar
Zaune
Sith Acolyte
Posts: 6068
Joined: 2010-06-21 11:05am
Location: In Transit
Contact:

Re: General Automation Thread

Post by Zaune » 2017-12-28 08:58am

K. A. Pital wrote:
2017-12-28 05:05am
But why is mass transit valuable on its own? It makes sense if you have to move around the city to get things or get to work. Otherwise it is not that necessary.
Until we get to the point where every house has its own transporter and replicator, even people living in a futurist utopia with UBI and extensive automation will still need mass transit in order buy food and clothing, visit friends and family or see their doctor. Many people will presumably also want mass transit in order to go to church, visit art galleries and museums or just get a change of scenery.
There are hardly any excesses of the most crazed psychopath that cannot easily be duplicated by a normal kindly family man who just comes in to work every day and has a job to do.
-- (Terry Pratchett, Small Gods)


Replace "ginger" with "n*gger," and suddenly it become a lot less funny, doesn't it?
-- fgalkin


Like my writing? Tip me on Patreon

I Have A Blog

User avatar
Gandalf
SD.net White Wizard
Posts: 14402
Joined: 2002-09-16 11:13pm
Location: A video store in Sydney, Australia

Re: General Automation Thread

Post by Gandalf » 2017-12-28 10:00am

Good mass transit also keeps cars off roads, which makes everyone's life a little easier.
"Oh no, oh yeah, tell me how can it be so fair
That we dying younger hiding from the police man over there
Just for breathing in the air they wanna leave me in the chair
Electric shocking body rocking beat streeting me to death"

- A.B. Original, Report to the Mist

"I think it’s the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately."
- George Carlin

User avatar
Elheru Aran
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 12116
Joined: 2004-03-04 01:15am
Location: Georgia

Re: General Automation Thread

Post by Elheru Aran » 2017-12-28 04:34pm

Gandalf wrote:
2017-12-28 10:00am
Good mass transit also keeps cars off roads, which makes everyone's life a little easier.
Particularly in terms of reducing environmental impact. Taking a few buses versus a few hundred cars on the road? Yeah, I think that's better for the world, probably.

Bear in mind that compared to most European cities, American cities tend to be BIG and sprawl all over the place. You have your old downtown business area surrounded by old residential areas that are either gentrified, slums, or built over into more modern business areas, surrounded by suburbs that might amount to cities in their own right, surrounded by smaller towns that are currently popular as living areas for commuters because fuck living in the city I want my kids to grow up with trees... so yeah. You might live in the middle of the city and be able to walk to anything you need... but more likely you'll live either in one of the gentrified residential areas (or one of the slum areas, who knows, it's just a matter of what you can afford), or in the suburbs, and how do you get into town when you want to, when that might be twenty miles away over massive, busy highways?

Additionally: Having more readily available mass transit helps reduce the burden of owning a vehicle, if you even choose to have one. If the costs of taking the bus every day to get into town are about the same as owning a vehicle, that's one thing, but if it's cheaper and you can do everything you need to without owning a vehicle... why bother? And for people without much money to spare in the first place, that could be a considerable savings.
It's a strange world. Let's keep it that way.

User avatar
Zaune
Sith Acolyte
Posts: 6068
Joined: 2010-06-21 11:05am
Location: In Transit
Contact:

Re: General Automation Thread

Post by Zaune » 2017-12-28 05:03pm

Those suburbs are probably on their way out, incidentally. They were always a bit of an unhappy compromise; low-density enough to make life unpleasant if you're unable or unwilling to be totally dependent on your car but not low enough that you have any proper countryside nearby. Between automation, improved telecoms tech and the fact that Universal Basic Income is starting to get some mainstream political attention there's not going to be much point in them in a hundred years, because money will be less of a factor when one's weighing up the choice between small-town life and the big city. Or going off-grid and back to the land, for that matter.
There are hardly any excesses of the most crazed psychopath that cannot easily be duplicated by a normal kindly family man who just comes in to work every day and has a job to do.
-- (Terry Pratchett, Small Gods)


Replace "ginger" with "n*gger," and suddenly it become a lot less funny, doesn't it?
-- fgalkin


Like my writing? Tip me on Patreon

I Have A Blog

User avatar
Elheru Aran
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 12116
Joined: 2004-03-04 01:15am
Location: Georgia

Re: General Automation Thread

Post by Elheru Aran » 2017-12-28 05:27pm

The main reason for suburbs these days is to serve as living space for people who aren't interested, for one reason or other, in living in the city, AND can afford to live outside the city and commute there. That's probably not going to go away anytime soon, and they will make increasing mass transit problematic because either people won't be interested in paying taxes for mass transit that they don't use (a major problem in my metropolitan area), the suburban area is spread out enough that transit has to either go a longer distance or increase service to meet the needs of a lower population (increasing costs), or quite simply there'll be a deal of NIMBY-ism. Mass transit can be pretty unpopular among people who see it as essentially a form of welfare for the lower classes. How dare the government provide lower cost transportation for people with their own tax dollars, etc.

And I'm afraid it's going to be a LONG time before we see UBI in the US. In some areas, sure; Hawaii is considering it, IIRC, which kinda was to be expected given the ruinious costs of living there. Wouldn't be surprised to see it happening on the West Coast and Northeast. The rest of the country... not so much, probably.
It's a strange world. Let's keep it that way.

User avatar
The Romulan Republic
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 14559
Joined: 2008-10-15 01:37am

Re: General Automation Thread

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2017-12-28 06:08pm

Simon_Jester wrote:
2017-12-27 11:35pm
I for one would be absolutely fascinated to learn what a human society looks like when what people decide to do with their lives is no longer dominated by the tyranny of "who does not work, at something someone is willing to pay them for, shall not eat." That was a necessary tyranny... but becomes far less necessary as automation expands.
Agreed. I don't really know what such a society would look like, and I daresay nobody does. But it wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, if we can mitigate the upheavals caused by the transition.

Most people want to be doing something, I think. Sitting around on your arse is not a fulfilling life. Believe me, I've tried it- when out of work, I volunteer frequently, in part because I'd go completely insane otherwise (as do a lot of retired people I know, probably for the same reason). So I'm firmly convinced, based on my own experiences, that the Right wing line of "If people don't have to work, they'll just sit around being parasites" is bull shit. Oh, some people will do that, but not everyone. Probably not even most people. Generally, I expect the ones who do will be either among the not very bright, or those who are in some way not able to fully function in society due to disability.

Not having to take the first crappy job you can and then work yourself to exhaustion in order to "earn" the right to live, however, will free up a lot more people to experiment, to innovate, to pursue their own passions. Oh, sure, some will face plant pathetically, but others will be able to contribute to society in ways they previously couldn't afford to, what with working for their corporate masters so their children could eat or see a doctor.

I mean, there are a frightening number of things which benefit our society greatly, but which society collectively does not deem worth paying a living wage for doing.
On the other hand, there's the very distinct prospect that machine intelligence will take the reins of the system out of human hands even as machine labor makes it possible for everyone to relax.
I think that's one of the great questions and challenges for our society going forward- can democracy coexist with advanced technology? For more than one reason. Can we preserve liberty, or will a world of the internet (with its capacity for global surveillance and precisely targeted propaganda), advanced AIs (with their ability to outthink human minds), robotics/cybernetics (body parts you can hack?), and genetics (the possibility of creating a biologically "superior" upper class) finally make it possible to complete control the human population, and render individual liberty an obsolete concept?
"Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created equal, except negroes" When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty -- to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy." - Lincoln.

User avatar
FaxModem1
Sith Acolyte
Posts: 6496
Joined: 2002-10-30 06:40pm
Location: In a dark reflection of a better world

Re: General Automation Thread

Post by FaxModem1 » 2017-12-28 07:40pm

Now for competing headlines

The Telegraph
Don't fear the rise of the robots: automation will be good for your wages, think-tank says
20

Embracing automation is vital in order to drag UK productivity out of the doldrums CREDIT: REUTERS
Anna Isaac, economics correspondent
28 DECEMBER 2017 • 12:01AM
Embracing greater automation is vital to reap the full productivity benefits offered by technology and offer much-needed wage rises, the IPPR think tank has said.

An “accelerated trajectory” of automation could raise productivity growth by as much as 1.4pc each year, boosting GDP by 10pc by 2030.

This comes as UK GDP growth was downgraded by the Office for Budget Responsibility following seven years of productivity levels failing to meet expectations.

“It is the relative absence of robots in the UK economy, not their imminent rise, which is the biggest challenge,” the think-tank said.

Matthew Lawrence, co-author of the report said: “Despite the rhetoric of the rise of the robots, machines aren’t about to take all our jobs. While technological change will reshape how we work and what we do, it won’t eliminate employment.”

However, if poorly managed, automation could bring challenges by exacerbating economic inequality, Mr Lawrence added. The benefits of automation could be “narrowly concentrated” he warned, as low-skilled workers unprepared for new technology would be left behind.

This would result in a “paradox of plenty”: a richer society but one that sees regions and communities left behind by localised technological revolution.

Jobs would be largely reimagined rather than lost, the report said. Rather than being on the cusp of a ‘post-human’ economy, jobs would be reallocated and economic output increased.

The think-tank proposed a radical redistribution of the means of production in order to combat automation-related inequality.

“To avoid inequality rising, the Government should look at ways to spread capital ownership, and make sure everyone benefits from increased automation,” Carys Robert, another author of the report, said.

Methods laid out by the IPPR to address inequality include a Citizens’ Wealth Fund that could own a broad portfolio of assets on behalf of the public, and which would pay a universal capital dividend, as well as greater adoption of employee ownership trusts.
Essentially, wages could increase, but only if properly implemented. Now for the Guardian

The Guardian
UK’s poorest to fare worst in age of automation, thinktank warns
Machines threaten jobs generating £290bn in wages and could widen inequality gap, according to IPPR

The IPPR suggests factory workers are likely to be among those losing their jobs or facing fewer hours due to automation.
The IPPR suggests factory workers are likely to be among those losing their jobs or facing fewer hours due to automation. Photograph: Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/Getty Images
Richard Partington Economics correspondent

Wed 27 Dec ‘17 19.01 EST Last modified on Thu 28 Dec ‘17 04.21 EST

The rise of the machine economy risks social disruption by widening the gap between rich and poor in Britain, as automation threatens jobs generating £290bn in wages.

Jobs accounting for a third of annual pay in the UK risk being automated, according to the study by the IPPR thinktank. Warning that low-paid roles are in the greatest danger, it urged ministers to head off the prospect of rising inequality by helping people retrain and share in the benefits from advances in technology.


Meet your new cobot: is a machine coming for your job?
Read more
The study for the IPPR’s commission on economic justice, which features senior business and public figures including the archbishop of Canterbury, called on the government to take a greater role in managing the adoption of robotics, artificial intelligence and other methods of job automation in the workforce.

Mathew Lawrence, a senior research fellow at the IPPR, said: “Managed badly, the benefits of automation could be narrowly concentrated, benefiting those who own capital and highly skilled workers. Inequality would spiral.”

The IPPR estimates that 44% of jobs in the UK economy could feasibly be automated, equating to more than 13.7 million people who together earn about £290bn. Although it doesn’t give a forecast for how long this would take, it cited US research which estimates the changes could occur over the next 10 or 20 years. From the collective pay pool worth £290bn, middle-income jobs such as call-centre workers, secretaries and factory workers are likely to be hollowed out. Low-skilled workers could also lose their jobs or face fewer hours from greater levels of automation. At the same time the highest earners and workers able to retrain will gain higher pay thanks to rising productivity – which means more output being generated per hour worked.

The research follows similar studies warning of the risks arising from the current rapid advances in technology, which have enabled machines to take on work that was once the preserve of humans. The Bank of England has said as many as 15m jobs in Britain are under threat.

Measures called for in the IPPR report include a UK skills system to help retrain those affected by the introduction of machines into the workforce, as well as an ethics watchdog to oversee the use of automating technologies modelled on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, which regulates embryo research.

Ministers are also being urged to consider new models of company ownership in the face of increasing returns to asset owners, because rising automation could result in higher profits for those who own companies - at the expense of workers’ salaries.


Carys Roberts, a research fellow at the IPPR, said: “Some people will get a pay rise while others are trapped in low-pay, low-productivity sectors. To avoid inequality rising, the government should look at ways to spread capital ownership, and make sure everyone benefits from increased automation.”

Proposals in the report to tackle the threat of greater inequality posed by automation include:

Greater use of employee ownership trusts.
Forcing businesses above a certain size to share their profits with workers.
The creation of a sovereign wealth fund for investing in company shares.
A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said the government was “committed to ensuring that the UK is to able to seize the opportunities and overcome the obstacles” from automation.

“Government is working closely with industry to ensure the benefits of new technologies are felt across different sectors of the economy up and down the country, while creating new high-skill, well-paid jobs,” the BEIS said.

Labour seized on the report to attack the Conservatives’ track record on handling the economy, saying the time was right for widespread adoption of democratic models of company ownership.

The shadow Treasury minister Jonathan Reynolds said: “After seven years of the Conservatives running down our economy, it is clear Britain needs a government that plays a role in driving and managing the change needed to solve Britain’s investment and productivity problems.”

The machine age is upon us. We must not let it grind society to pieces
Chuka Umunna
Read more
Warnings about technology replacing jobs are a common feature of industrial history, exemplified by the Luddites of the 19th century who smashed up machines used in textile manufacturing. But despite the ability of automation to lift people from menial work into higher-paid jobs, there are fears that advances appear to be resulting in faster, wider and deeper degrees of change than in the past.

An analysis of the potential winners and losers in the IPPR report shows that jobs in the north-east of England and Northern Ireland are most at risk, while London and the south are the most insulated, which could lead to wider geographical inequalities. As many as 48% of jobs in the north-east have high technical potential for automation versus 39% in the capital.

Advances in technology could help to improve productivity – a measure of the economic output per hour worked – after years of sluggish growth in efficiency levels since the financial crisis, which has held back both GDP growth and also higher wages across Britain. An accelerated trajectory of automation could raise productivity growth by between 0.8% and 1.4% annually, according to the report, boosting GDP by 10% by 2030.

Without a return to the pre-crisis growth rate for efficiency gains, the country is on course for two decades of lost earnings growth, according to analysis from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which has said it expects average wages to stay below their 2008 levels, when adjusted for inflation, for years to come.

Although the rate of unemployment stands at its lowest level since the mid-1970s, earnings growth has been held back amid a proliferation of low-skilled and low-paid work created in recent years, while there has been a boom in the number of self-employed and those working in the gig economy.

The report said increased automation of activities would help to lift productivity levels and therefore could be used to pay for higher wages, acting to offset some of the £290bn in wages lost to machines. But if automation is managed poorly, it could lead to greater concentration of wealth for those at the top and a wider gap with the poorest in society.

The government has taken some steps to address the challenges ahead, including a partnership with the TUC and the CBI to develop a national training scheme for workers, as well as launching an industrial strategy to drive up productivity.
Again, automation could lead to higher wages, but could cost the poor jobs. Different lenses on the same issue.
Image

Simon_Jester
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 30092
Joined: 2009-05-23 07:29pm

Re: General Automation Thread

Post by Simon_Jester » 2017-12-30 12:37am

This is kind of predictable. On the one hand, IF all else is held constant, introducing automation means fewer jobs, which means employers can be more choosy about who they hire. People who are currently working at well-paying jobs are likely to have skills that make them employable in other remaining jobs, so they tend to win the game of musical chairs.

Conversely, people currently working in low-wage jobs are mostly there because it's all they can find, due to lack of credentials, disabilities that make it hard for them to work regular jobs, just plain not interviewing well, or other factors. If you force them to play round after round of musical chairs, they're eventually going to lose out to someone quicker to snap up the jobs that remain.

Meanwhile, automation is going to predictably cause the total economic output of the world (or any given country) to rise or remain constant. If fewer people are getting paid, the odds are that the purchasing power of wages from the remaining jobs will likewise increase; insofar as it does not, it's going to be because of the rich pocketing the difference.

In the extreme limiting case you have a handful of elites (including many who work for a salary) who still have jobs that earn them what is by our standards magnificent wealth from a massively productive economy... and a mass of people who simply cannot contribute anything this economy deems to be worth spending money on.

Hopefully, some combination of factors prevents this outcome, with universal basic income being one of the 'killer app' solutions, but that's where the trend is likely to point, at least until human-level AI is developed and throws King Kong-sized monkey wrenches into the works.
This space dedicated to Vasily Arkhipov

User avatar
FaxModem1
Sith Acolyte
Posts: 6496
Joined: 2002-10-30 06:40pm
Location: In a dark reflection of a better world

Re: General Automation Thread

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-01-10 01:25am

Time to add Jack in the Box to the list of companies automating their restaurants: Business Insider
Fast-food CEO says 'it just makes sense' to consider replacing cashiers with machines as minimum wages rise
Kate Taylor Jan 9, 2018, 12:38 PM ET
Jack in the Box

Jack in the Box says it's considering swapping some cashiers with self-ordering kiosks and other tech as minimum wages increase.
"As we see the rising costs of labor, it just makes sense," Jack in the Box's CEO said.
Kiosks and other forms of automation are sweeping the fast-food industry.

ORLANDO, Florida - Jack in the Box says it is considering swapping some cashiers with robots as the minimum wage rises in California.

"As we see the rising costs of labor, it just makes sense" to consider adding new automated technology, CEO Leonard Comma said Tuesday at the ICR Conference.

Jack in the Box previously tested technology such as kiosks. According to Comma, the kiosks resulted in a higher average check and helped with efficiency. But at the time Comma said the cost of installing the kiosks wasn't worth it.

But with minimum wages increasing, Jack in the Box is reconsidering the use of kiosks and other technology, Comma said.

Minimum wages areincreasing in 18 states in 2018, including California, where the West Coast-centric Jack in the Box is based. California is on track to become the first state with a $15 minimum wage.

Jack in the Box isn't the only fast-food chain that has considered using automation to reduce labor costs and modernize.

Wendy's announced plans to install self-ordering kiosks within a year. McDonald's is adding kiosks to 2,500 stores, though it pledged not to replace cashiers with kiosks.

Smaller chains such as Eatsa and CaliBurger have been working on automating the entire restaurant experience.

"With government driving up the cost of labor, it's driving down the number of jobs," then Carl's Jr. and Hardee's CEO Andy Puzder told Business Insider in 2016. "You're going to see automation not just in airports and grocery stores, but in restaurants."
So, let's deal with this issue. Cost of labor and raising the minimum wage are usually used as the chief excuse as to why companies automate. Is this valid reasoning, and governments are the bad guy for forcing a company to pay a living wage? Or merely a talking point for companies saving money?

Discuss.
Image

Simon_Jester
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 30092
Joined: 2009-05-23 07:29pm

Re: General Automation Thread

Post by Simon_Jester » 2018-01-10 08:39am

I'm going to go with "no, it is not one or the other."

A high cost of labor is totally a reason for why companies automate. Yes, it is to save money, but frankly, not very many corporations have such a huge profit margin that they can just eat the increased cost of labor without consequence.

For example, Jack in the Box has a profit margin of about 7.4%, based on a bit of Googling. I don't know off the top of my head what fraction of their business costs involve paying their employees, but it's easy to see how a rise in employee wages of, say, 20% could make that profit margin go 'poof.' Realistically, if they have to pay their workers more, they WILL either have to charge more for the food they sell, automate, or both. This isn't just a situation where the fat cats are pocketing gazillions of dollars that we can somehow recover For The People by putting the squeeze on the company. This isn't "merely a talking point," it's the reality. They have to make the balance sheet add up somehow.

So when Jack in the Box says "right now we pay our workers eight dollars an hour, if you tell us we have to pay ten dollars an hour we're going to replace a thousand cashiers with automated order kiosks," they're not bluffing and they're not making excuses. They genuinely sat down and did the math that said "you know, keeping these cashiers around at $16,000 a year makes sense, but if we're paying an extra four thousand annually it just doesn't make sense anymore."

They're not a charity. If we want charity for people that corporations aren't willing to pay a living wage to, we should get it by taxing the profitable sectors of the economy and setting up something that is a charity (e.g. guaranteed minimum income). We should not do it by expecting corporations to hire people they can't make money by hiring at the legally possible wage.
This space dedicated to Vasily Arkhipov

User avatar
K. A. Pital
Glamorous Commie
Posts: 20224
Joined: 2003-02-26 11:39am
Location: Elysium

Re: General Automation Thread

Post by K. A. Pital » 2018-01-10 12:00pm

Wrong assumptions lead to wrong conclusions.

First of all, the share of labour in income - both national and corporate - has been, is and will be steadily declining. Therefore the labour costs are only a small share of the total expenditures of a successful corporation, and if exists using wage slaves, maybe something's wrong with the business model?

Secondly, corporations engage in creative accounting. The cash flow must be there and so must the profits to support insane valuations. Problem is, investors know the dirty schemes and the corporation leaders know. The rest seem to be misled by the "poor cowmpanys" play.

Thirdly, there had been a massive decoupling of the minimum wage from everything - GDP indicators, profit indicators, etc. For years. In terms of purchasing power, the minimum wage American worker is now poorer than in the past.
Image
If under these conditions corporations can't pay a decent wage, well, they should really die.
Image
Lì ci sono chiese, macerie, moschee e questure, lì frontiere, prezzi inaccessibile e freddure
Lì paludi, minacce, cecchini coi fucili, documenti, file notturne e clandestini
Qui incontri, lotte, passi sincronizzati, colori, capannelli non autorizzati,
Uccelli migratori, reti, informazioni, piazze di Tutti i like pazze di passioni...

...La tranquillità è importante ma la libertà è tutto!
Assalti Frontali

Post Reply