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Does Automation Really Cost Jobs?

Moderate Right

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I mean for every job lost due to automation isn't there another job created either building the automation or programming it or maintaining it? And these jobs would probably pay more than the jobs that were lost.
 

cpwill

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I mean for every job lost due to automation isn't there another job created either building the automation or programming it or maintaining it? And these jobs would probably pay more than the jobs that were lost.

Back in the early 19th Century, 92% of our workforce was farmers. Then we developed tractors and the like. You'll notice that 92% of our current populace is unemployed - that's what happened. Daggum automation.
 

calamity

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I mean for every job lost due to automation isn't there another job created either building the automation or programming it or maintaining it? And these jobs would probably pay more than the jobs that were lost.

Gut feel here from general observation. Automation creates 5 good jobs and eliminates 100 crappy ones.
 

joG

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I mean for every job lost due to automation isn't there another job created either building the automation or programming it or maintaining it? And these jobs would probably pay more than the jobs that were lost.

So far the number of jobs and level of income or general welfare have always seemed to climb with improved and labor saving technology. I suspect that there might be constellations, where this doesn't happen, but it isn't the norm.
 

chuckiechan

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It puts the "D" students out of a job. And here are many people in this world who don't do all that well, yet do just fine in "Disposable" jobs.

Kind of like Oregon, where there are no self service gas stations. (the last I heard)
 

longview

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I mean for every job lost due to automation isn't there another job created either building the automation or programming it or maintaining it? And these jobs would probably pay more than the jobs that were lost.
I am not sure it is a one for one comparison like that. A few of my coworkers and I were discussing
something like this the other day.
Kroger has had automated checkouts for several years, clearly eliminating some cashier slots.
Now they are introducing a new online ordering service, you submit and pay for your list of groceries,
and the store picks them out, and them and brings them to your car at your scheduled time.
For this service they charge $5.00. This sounds low, except that the person picking out the orders,
likely does several orders at a time, and the software generates a quickest path for pickup for a special cart.
Over the course of an hour, a person could fill, say 10 orders, and generate $50. in additional revenue.
If the person cost the company $14 for that hour, the company still makes $36, and so the employees,
time meets the 3 times the cost ratio. For those times when there are not enough orders, the person can stock,
and improve their knowledge of where everything is, thereby improving their primary job.
 

Critter7r

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Gut feel here from general observation. Automation creates 5 good jobs and eliminates 100 crappy ones.

But that still means 95 people have to go find a replacement for their crappy job. And it's probably really all 100 of them, because it'll likely be 5 different people employed by the needs of automation.
 

calamity

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But that still means 95 people have to go find a replacement for their crappy job.

Especially if you multiply it by a million or so. The worst impact I've seen from "automation" ( I put it in quotes because it includes everything from robots to these units you and I are communicating through), is the elimination of starter jobs.

Gone are the beginner bookkeepers, draftsmen, machinists, etc who used to learn the trade by doing low-end work. Nowadays, the accountant throws the numbers into a program which creates all the various speardsheets; an engineer creates a design on a computer, which spits out the details directly to the CNC machine which then makes the parts, and quite soon a computer will probably read X-rays and analyze lab work without the need of any technicians or specialized assistants except for the guy getting the final readout.
 

eohrnberger

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But that still means 95 people have to go find a replacement for their crappy job. And it's probably really all 100 of them, because it'll likely be 5 different people employed by the needs of automation.

You'd have to blunt the steady forward march of progress somehow, if it's even possible, to change that. Pretty much inevitable.

On the plus side, there isn't a single person on the planet that can't learn something new, do something different, or otherwise find their niche in the ever evolving economy.

As pointed out in previous post(s), at one point in time 92% of available labor was working on the farm. Now it's less than 2% and so productive that it's feeding not only us in the US, but additional nation's populations. If I'm not mistaken this change in tasking of the labor force happened in 100 years or less, so 2/3 generations or less(?).

Something similar is going to happen as automation becomes the better solution for certain jobs.
 

KLATTU

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By far the most profound impact of automation was the invention of the cotton picker. This put millions of black workers out of work and led the Great Migration.
 

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I mean for every job lost due to automation isn't there another job created either building the automation or programming it or maintaining it? And these jobs would probably pay more than the jobs that were lost.

I'm not sure about the overall effect of automation on employment as a whole, but I'm fairly confident there isn't a 1-1 ratio of jobs lost by a single instance of automation and building/maintaining it.
 

Carjosse

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No, all you need to run a factory with thousands of robots is a good server and a small support team. One person can maintain or program thousands of robots. You are right they do get paid substantially more though.
 

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No, all you need to run a factory with thousands of robots is a good server and a small support team. One person can maintain or program thousands of robots. You are right they do get paid substantially more though.

yep

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/25/adidas-to-sell-robot-made-shoes-from-2017

The 4,600-square-metre plant is still being built but Adidas opened it to the press, pledging to automate shoe production – which is currently done mostly by hand in Asia – and enable the shoes to be made more quickly and closer to its sales outlets.

The factory will deliver a first test set of around 500 pairs of shoes from the third quarter of 2016.

Large-scale production will begin in 2017 and Adidas was planning a second “Speed Factory” in the United States in the same year, said Hainer.
 

imagep

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BMW has been expanding it's plant in my home town for years. They just announced an expansion to their expansion, hiring another 800 people and...1700 robots.

I'm pretty sure that if it weren't for the robots, they would have needed more human labor.

BMW's new body shop to double size of facility | The State

During the 20th Century the typical work week droped from 70 hours to 40. That, plus the invention of new goods and services is the way we solved the problem of unemployment during that century.

I dunno what's gunna happen in the 21st Century because my crystal ball is broke, but I have been told that the past is the best predictor of the future. So does that mean our work week will be down to 10 hours a week by the end of the century? I hope so, because the alternative would be massive amount of poverty and/or a huge welfare state. Shorter working hours just seems like a no brainer to me.
 

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I mean for every job lost due to automation isn't there another job created either building the automation or programming it or maintaining it? ...

Absolutely not.

The main reason that companies desire to automate is to reduce costs. If there was just as many human labor hours required to operate the automation, then there would be no cost savings for the company, particularly since engineers and programers and maintenance people make far more per hour than the folks the automation is replacing.

What automation does is it frees up human labor to do other things, such as to have vacations or to operate a hospitality industry business.
 

Manc Skipper

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No, all you need to run a factory with thousands of robots is a good server and a small support team. One person can maintain or program thousands of robots. You are right they do get paid substantially more though.

The obvious problem for the OP's premise is that any jobs that are created are unlikely to be filled by those manual workers who were laid off.

then there's this:

adaptationdemotivator.jpeg
 

mmi

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By far the most profound impact of automation was the invention of the cotton picker. This put millions of black workers out of work and led the Great Migration.

The Great Migration started around 1910 and was initiated largely by a lack of economic opportunities for blacks in the South as well as their ongoing social and political persecution by bigoted whites. Yer referring to what's known as the Second Great Migration that started in the early 1940s as war production led to a large increase in demand for industrial workers in northern factories, and was, yes, further spurred by the invention of the mechanical cotton picker and its widespread introduction at the end of that decade..
 

jaeger19

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I mean for every job lost due to automation isn't there another job created either building the automation or programming it or maintaining it? And these jobs would probably pay more than the jobs that were lost.

Well.. it would seem doubtful. Because the purpose of automation is to reduce labor.. and because of that.. it will well reduce the need for labor.

Secondly the job that's created building it or programming it can be done outside the country. So you might be helping out another countries economy. but there no guarantee that it will translate to jobs in the US.

Lastly.. if jobs are created in the US.. say in maintenance.. it will be less because the cost of maintenance will have to be less than the cost the work force the automation replaced.
 

Moderate Right

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BMW has been expanding it's plant in my home town for years. They just announced an expansion to their expansion, hiring another 800 people and...1700 robots.

I'm pretty sure that if it weren't for the robots, they would have needed more human labor.

BMW's new body shop to double size of facility | The State

During the 20th Century the typical work week droped from 70 hours to 40. That, plus the invention of new goods and services is the way we solved the problem of unemployment during that century.

I dunno what's gunna happen in the 21st Century because my crystal ball is broke, but I have been told that the past is the best predictor of the future. So does that mean our work week will be down to 10 hours a week by the end of the century? I hope so, because the alternative would be massive amount of poverty and/or a huge welfare state. Shorter working hours just seems like a no brainer to me.

But couldn't your argue that the expansion on top of the expansion was possible due to automation helping the bottom line, giving them the capital for that expansion, enabling them to hire another 800 real people? Isn't it possible that without the automation, those 800 jobs would have never been created in the first place? Look at Henry Ford and the invention of the assembly line. Isn't that an example of automation? Would car manufacturers be as large as they are now, hiring as many people as they do now if the assembly line had never been invented? The assembly line is actually responsible for creating millions, if not billions of jobs world wide.
 
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But couldn't your argue that the expansion on top of the expansion was possible due to automation helping the bottom line, giving them the capital for that expansion, enabling them to hire another 800 real people? Isn't it possible that without the automation, those 800 jobs would have never been created in the first place? Look at Henry Ford and the invention of the assembly line. Would car manufacturers be as large as they are now, hiring as many people as they do now if the assembly line had never been invented?

To an extent, sure. Automation helps to increase profits, and big profits are a darned good motivator for the entrepreneur and the investor.

However, acquiring capital is fairly easy. The government issues money and the federal reserve makes sure that our banks are well stocked all the time. As long as a business can prove that it is credit worthy, banks are glad to supply capital.

The hard part about running a business is finding ample customers who are willing to pay a price that the business can make a profit on. This means that customers have to have money in their pockets. So as we transition into automation, we are also transitioning workers out of the market place (shy of welfare or unemployment benenfits), and it becomes harder to find a customer.

All that said, I'm not arguing against technology. It frees up humans to do other things. We just have to make sure that we have an economy where everyone gets a slice of the pie so that everyone can be a consumer and create lots of demand so that the business owners have the potential for profits. We need to be just as concerned with the economic situation of the worker/consumer class as the investor class.
 
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