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How Many Jobs Will Be Replaced By Software Bots and droids? 

Bill Gates: People Don’t Realize How Many Jobs Will Soon Be Replaced By Software Bots

“Robots and algorithms are getting good at jobs like building cars, writing articles, translating.
Jobs that once required a human. So what will we humans do for work?” Andrew McAfee

As it turns out, when tens of millions of people are unemployed or underemployed, there’s a fair amount of interest in what technology might be doing to the labor force.

And as I look at the conversation, it strikes me that it’s focused on exactly the right topic, and at the same time, it’s missing the point entirely.

The topic that it’s focused on, the question is whether or not all these digital technologies are affecting people’s ability to earn a living, or are the droids taking our jobs? And there’s some evidence that they are.

0:43 The Great Recession ended when American GDP resumed its kind of slow, steady march upward, and some other economic indicators also started to rebound, and they got kind of healthy kind of quickly.

Corporate profits are quite high.

In fact, if you include bank profits, they’re higher than they’ve ever been. And business investment in gear, in equipment and hardware and software is at an all-time high. So the businesses are getting out their checkbooks.

What they’re not really doing is hiring.

So this red line is the employment-to-population ratio, the percentage of working age people in America who have work. And we see that it cratered during the Great Recession, and it hasn’t started to bounce back at all.

1:29 But the story is not just a recession story. The decade that we’ve just been through had relatively anemic job growth all throughout, especially when we compare it to other decades, and the 2000s are the only time we have on record where there were fewer people working at the end of the decade than at the beginning.

This is not what you want to see. When you graph the number of potential employees versus the number of jobs in the country, you see the gap gets bigger and bigger over time, and then, during the Great Recession, it opened up in a huge way. I did some quick calculations.

I took the last 20 years of GDP growth and the last 20 years of labor productivity growth and used those in a fairly straightforward way to try to project how many jobs the economy was going to need to keep growing, and this is the line that I came up with. Is that good or bad?

This is the government’s projection for the working age population going forward. So if these predictions are accurate, that gap is not going to close.

2:32 The problem is, I don’t think these projections are accurate. In particular, I think my projection is way too optimistic, because when I did it, I was assuming that the future was kind of going to look like the past with labor productivity growth, and that’s actually not what I believe.

When I look around, I think that we ain’t seen nothing yet when it comes to technology’s impact on the labor force. Just in the past couple years, we’ve seen digital tools display skills and abilities that they never, ever had before, and that, kind of, eat deeply into what we human beings do for a living. Let me give you a couple examples.

3:10 Throughout all of history, if you wanted something translated from one language into another, you had to involve a human being. Now we have multi-language, instantaneous, automatic translation services available for free via many of our devices all the way down to smartphones. And if any of us have used these, we know that they’re not perfect, but they’re decent.

3:34 Throughout all of history, if you wanted something written, a report or an article, you had to involve a person. Not anymore. This is an article that appeared in Forbes online a while back about Apple’s earnings. It was written by an algorithm. And it’s not decent, it’s perfect.

3:51 A lot of people look at this and they say, “Okay, but those are very specific, narrow tasks, and most knowledge workers are actually generalists, and what they do is sit on top of a very large body of expertise and knowledge and they use that to react on the fly to kind of unpredictable demands, and that’s very, very hard to automate.”

One of the most impressive knowledge workers in recent memory is a guy named Ken Jennings. He won the quiz show “Jeopardy!” 74 times in a row, took home three million dollars. That’s Ken on the right getting beat three to one by Watson, the “Jeopardy!”-playing supercomputer from IBM.

When we look at what technology can do to general knowledge workers, I start to think there might not be something so special about this idea of a generalist, particularly when we start doing things like hooking Siri up to Watson and having technologies that can understand what we’re saying and repeat speech back to us.

Now, Siri is far from perfect, and we can make fun of her flaws, but we should also keep in mind that if technologies like Siri and Watson improve along a Moore’s Law trajectory, which they will, in six years, they’re not going to be two times better or four times better, they’ll be 16 times better than they are right now. So I start to think that a lot of knowledge work is going to be affected by this.

5:12 And digital technologies are not just impacting knowledge work.

They’re starting to flex their muscles in the physical world as well. I had the chance a little while back to ride in the Google autonomous car, which is as cool as it sounds. (Laughter) And I will vouch that it handled the stop-and-go traffic on U.S. 101 very smoothly.

There are about three and a half million people who drive trucks for a living in the United States. I think some of them are going to be affected by this technology. And right now, humanoid robots are still incredibly primitive. They can’t do very much. But they’re getting better quite quickly, and DARPA, which is the investment arm of the Defense Department, is trying to accelerate their trajectory.

5:54 The droids are coming for our jobs.

In the short term, we can stimulate job growth by encouraging entrepreneurship and by investing in infrastructure, because the robots today still aren’t very good at fixing bridges. But in the not-too-long-term, I think within the lifetimes of most of the people in this room, we’re going to transition into an economy that is very productive but that just doesn’t need a lot of human workers, and managing that transition is going to be the greatest challenge that our society faces. Voltaire summarized why. He said, “Work saves us from three great evils: boredom, vice and need.”

6:36 But despite this challenge, I’m personally, I’m still a huge digital optimist, and I am supremely confident that the digital technologies that we’re developing now are going to take us into a utopian future, not a dystopian future. And to explain why, I want to pose kind of a ridiculously broad question. I want to ask what have been the most important developments in human history?

6:58 Now, I want to share some of the answers that I’ve gotten in response to this question. It’s a wonderful question to ask and to start an endless debate about, because some people are going to bring up systems of philosophy in both the West and the East that have changed how a lot of people think about the world.

And then other people will say, “No, actually, the big stories, the big developments are the founding of the world’s major religions, which have changed civilizations and have changed and influenced how countless people are living their lives.”

And then some other folk will say, “Actually, what changes civilizations, what modifies them and what changes people’s lives are empires, so the great developments in human history are stories of conquest and of war.”

And then some cheery soul usually always pipes up and says, “Hey, don’t forget about plagues.” 

There are some optimistic answers to this question, so some people will bring up the Age of Exploration and the opening up of the world.

Others will talk about intellectual achievements in disciplines like math that have helped us get a better handle on the world, and other folk will talk about periods when there was a deep flourishing of the arts and sciences.

So this debate will go on and on. It’s an endless debate, and there’s no conclusive, no single answer to it.

But if you’re a geek like me, you say, “Well, what do the data say?”

And you start to do things like graph things that we might be interested in, the total worldwide population, for example, or some measure of social development, or the state of advancement of a society, and you start to plot the data, because, by this approach, the big stories, the big developments in human history, are the ones that will bend these curves a lot.

8:39 So when you do this, and when you plot the data, you pretty quickly come to some weird conclusions.

You conclude that none of these things have mattered very much.

They haven’t done a darn thing to the curves. There has been one story, one development in human history that bent the curve, bent it just about 90 degrees, and it is a technology story.

9:06 The steam engine, and the other associated technologies of the Industrial Revolution changed the world and influenced human history so much, that in the words of the historian Ian Morris, they made mockery out of all that had come before. (Anything that increase power?)

And they did this by infinitely multiplying the power of our muscles, overcoming the limitations of our muscles. Now, what we’re in the middle of now is overcoming the limitations of our individual brains and infinitely multiplying our mental power. (Our individual mental power or the multinational knowledge power?)

How can this not be as big a deal as overcoming the limitations of our muscles?

So at the risk of repeating myself a little bit, when I look at what’s going on with digital technology these days, we are not anywhere near through with this journey, and when I look at what is happening to our economies and our societies, my single conclusion is that we ain’t seen nothing yet. The best days are really ahead. (Increased unemployment is that good?)

9:59 Let me give you a couple examples. Economies don’t run on energy. They don’t run on capital, they don’t run on labor. Economies run on ideas. (Then why economy is still reliant on cheap oil and gas?)

So the work of innovation, the work of coming up with new ideas, is some of the most powerful, some of the most fundamental work that we can do in an economy.

And this is kind of how we used to do innovation. We’d find a bunch of fairly similar-looking people we’d take them out of elite institutions, we’d put them into other elite institutions, and we’d wait for the innovation.

As a white guy who spent his whole career at MIT and Harvard, I got no problem with this.

But some other people do, and they’ve kind of crashed the party and loosened up the dress code of innovation. 

So here are the winners of a Top Coder programming challenge, and I assure you that nobody cares where these kids grew up, where they went to school, or what they look like. All anyone cares about is the quality of the work, the quality of the ideas.

11:07 And over and over again, we see this happening in the technology-facilitated world.

The work of innovation is becoming more open, more inclusive, more transparent, and more merit-based, and that’s going to continue no matter what MIT and Harvard think of it, and I couldn’t be happier about that development.

11:25 I hear once in a while, “Okay, I’ll grant you that, but technology is still a tool for the rich world, and what’s not happening, these digital tools are not improving the lives of people at the bottom of the pyramid.”

And I want to say to that very clearly: nonsense. The bottom of the pyramid is benefiting hugely from technology. The economist Robert Jensen did this wonderful study a while back where he watched, in great detail, what happened to the fishing villages of Kerala, India, when they got mobile phones for the very first time, and when you write for the Quarterly Journal of Economics, you have to use very dry and very circumspect language, but when I read his paper, I kind of feel Jensen is trying to scream at us, and say, look, this was a big deal.

Prices stabilized, so people could plan their economic lives. Waste was not reduced; it was eliminated. And the lives of both the buyers and the sellers in these villages measurably improved.

Now, what I don’t think is that Jensen got extremely lucky and happened to land in the one set of villages where technology made things better. What happened instead is he very carefully documented what happens over and over again when technology comes for the first time to an environment and a community.

The lives of people, the welfares of people, improve dramatically.

12:40 So as I look around at all the evidence, and I think about the room that we have ahead of us, I become a huge digital optimist, and I start to think that this wonderful statement from the physicist Freeman Dyson is actually not hyperbole.

This is an accurate assessment of what’s going on. Our digital — our technologies are great gifts, and we, right now, have the great good fortune to be living at a time when digital technology is flourishing, when it is broadening and deepening and becoming more profound all around the world.

13:10 The droids are taking our jobs, but focusing on that fact misses the point entirely.

The point is that then we are freed up to do other things, and what we are going to do, I am very confident, what we’re going to do is reduce poverty and drudgery and misery around the world. (If these were to happen, they would have been proven in the data and the world would not be in such a dismal condition. And I’m not talking rates and ratio, but actual numbers)

I’m very confident we’re going to learn to live more lightly on the planet, and I am extremely confident that what we’re going to do with our new digital tools is going to be so profound and so beneficial that it’s going to make a mockery out of everything that came before.

I’m going to leave the last word to a guy who had a front row seat for digital progress, our old friend Ken Jennings. I’m with him. I’m going to echo his words: “I, for one, welcome our new computer overlords.”

Patsy Z and TEDxSKE shared this link on FB.
Robots and algorithms are getting good at jobs like building cars, writing articles, translating.
Jobs that once required a human. So what will we humans do for work?
Andrew McAfee walks through recent labor data to say: We ain’t seen nothing yet. But then he steps back to look at big history, and…
ted.com|By Andrew McAfee

Jobs decoded in Info-graphic forms

By Merci Alfred

  • Entrepreneur
  • Consultant
  • Graphiste
  • Prof
  • Chef-de-projet
  • Developpeur-web
  • Community-manager
  • Responsable-developpement-durable
  • Avocat
  • Banquier-daffaire
  • Crea
  • Chef-de-pub
  • Journaliste-pigiste
  • Ingenieur
  • Trader
  • Espion

Revised economic fundamentals for enterprises (November 29, 2008)

Revisiting the essential criteria in financial sheets for stock evaluation

Within a month of the Wall Street financial crash, major EU industries (excluding the financial, real estates, and insurance institutions) have laid off over 62, 000 jobs and the USA over 77, 000 jobs.

There is no end in the forthcoming months and the jobless rate has broken all record high.  The communication, auto, computer hardware, retail stores, airline, and chemical companies are the hardest hit so far.

As the jobless rate increases then society would drift into unstable climate of insecurity in individual health and safety and retention of their properties.

Without a climate of security no influx of investment can repair the long-term malaise in the slow moving society to recovery. It is a definite pattern that in any downturn the workers, elderly and new employees, are the first to be laid off. 

As if it is the manpower was the culprit and not the management.  Consequently, a revised understanding of what constitute the worst case impact on a society should be evaluated.

Economical models for the productivity of enterprises need to be revised to include the sustainability of enterprises under fluctuating and cyclical financial crisis that is fast becoming the norm.

The working capital should be able to remain intact for the demand cycle and the value added in manpower quality of the main industry units unaffected by the flux of capitals.  Consequently, I suggest tackling two fundamental concepts.

First, the working capital should be managed differently from the general acceptable accounting procedures to resist fluctuation in central rate and money devaluation.

It is very reasonable that the retirement funds of the manpower and the stocks purchased in the company by the manpower be within the working capital management.  The manpower should then feel highly active to evaluating and discussing how the working capital is allocated and invested.

Second, we need to start a new field for defining added-values and how to measure it concretely instead of rationalizing it as a proxy ratio.

Added values should be measured accurately because it is intrinsically related to the quality of manpower.

Added-value is what makes an industry viable economically to the workers, stakeholders, and society in general.  It would not be a piece of cake to operation value-adding parameters; otherwise I would not be suggesting a new economic field for the characterization of what we mean by value-adding economy.

Every industry would have to define its value adding element such as in the service industry, hardware products, software products, chemical, car, heavy duty machineries, tourism industry, commercial banking, and financial investment banking, and so on.

Every industry has it proper cyclical market demands and its competitors, localized or multinational, dependent or not on cyclical supplies of raw materials or manpower.

I am afraid that the first criterion that would jump to mind is for the concept of value-added economy to be represented in monetary terms, which is not the proper criterion.

Value-added economy is the investment in the manpower; for example, programs in continuing education, acquiring new skills, versatility and flexibility to fill vacancies, knowledge of the competition, the products, the tools, and the equipment.

Value-added economy is raising the quality of the manpower so that a large company would aid in subsidizing private complementary companies, from among its qualified personnel, when the tough gets going.

Value-added economy is elevating the knowledge of the personnel and assisting them to find new jobs during harsh downturns.  The only monetary value or ratio associated with added value would be the expense (value added capital) invested for manpower quality relative to working capital (VAC/ WC) for raising the quality and professionalism of the manpower.

When this ratio diminishes then a company has gotten lax and is turning away from the new fundamentals.  Obviously, an independent team should be hired to prepare, control, manage, and evaluate the effective progress in manpower quality at all levels of skills.

Quantifying the quality of workers and employees is the main task in measuring value-added industries; it is feasible and its time has finally come and it should be the optimizing factor in equations instead of rates in profit, shareholders equity, return on capital and so forth.

Inevitably most of the variables used in current optimizing model of financial and economic problems would still be effective, many with significant re-definitions, but when the re-orientation is based on the added value of manpower then a new picture would emerge and standard financial analysis re-discovered. 

The quality level of the manpower can be defined as the potential added value (PAV) in time of crisis and the working added value (WAV) in normal business cycles.

WAV is the criterion that stocks in the market are valuated in addition to other financial criteria; PAV would have critical significance in times of hardships, especially, if the company recorded the events when this potential was managed and directed in previous situations to overcome serious market or natural conditions.

As armies conduct maneuvers to test the readiness of its effective so companies have the duty to conduct maneuvering re-organizations of potentials to test and evaluate its field readiness and re-evaluate its programs for value adding quality in manpower. 

I think that the more credible and frequent the organizational maneuverings the higher the market value of the company.  The more frequent the maneuverings the more evident would be the needs for downsizing and decentralizing and retaining coherent and manageable number in work force.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

October 2020
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