back to article Raising minimum wage will raise something else: An army of robots taking away folks' jobs

Raising the minimum wage increases the chance employers will automate low-skill jobs away, according to a paper published this week through National Bureau of Economic Research, a non-profit group of econ wonks. In People Versus Machines: The Impact of Minimum Wages on Automatable Jobs, Grace Lordan, associate professor in …

  1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Coat

    Got to wonder if the Professor has a brother called Robert

    Mine's the one with a copy of "Count Zero" in the side pocket.

    But really.

    Increasing recurring costs encourages employers to invest in machinery with higher initial fixed costs but which runs 24/7/365.

    Who knew?

  2. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Yup

    I now order using the touchpanel at the local McDonald's. I don't have to deal with a person and my order is accurate, and it's faster.

    It's not a "robot" but it's automated, and it's taking a cashier's job away.

    1. AfternoonTea

      Re: Yup

      Eggs 'n toast while I'm in the shower - automated.

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Yup how you like your eggs - soaped up?

        "Eggs 'n toast while I'm in the shower - automated."

        Soggy toast and slippery slimey buttered eggs getting into every fold, crack and orifice?

        Either yeugh!! - or better than tentacle porn (oh so much fun you had last night, situation).

    2. NBCanuck

      Re: Yup

      @ Gene Cash

      "I now order using the touchpanel at the local McDonald's. I don't have to deal with a person and my order is accurate, and it's faster.

      It's not a "robot" but it's automated, and it's taking a cashier's job away."

      I like the touch panels at McDs. My ability to make sure that my order is entered correctly is in my hands. If only they would use the labour savings to actually serve the food in a decent period of time. They used to be the best but have had poor service for years.

      1. Flakk Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Yup

        I like the touch panels at McDs. My ability to make sure that my order is entered correctly is in my hands.

        I'm reminded of a story shared with me about a visit to a Taco Bell. A hapless cashier accidentally added a side of guacamole to a medium diet soda. To the shock of onlookers, the manager went absolutely ballistic on this kid.

        Upon hearing this story, I couldn't help but feel a little sorry for him. It seemed to me that whoever performed Q&A on that POS system should have caught and prevented combinations like that.

        ...

        Please do let us know if, when using the self-service touch panel, you succeed in adding hotcake syrup to your Royale with Cheese.

        1. Teiwaz Silver badge

          Re: Yup

          No but, on the autoteller at KFC, I often get seduced by the offer of bacon for 30p (or at least it used to be) - totally forgetting they neglect to inform you of the cheese they use to glue it on.

          Chicken and cheese?

          To be fair the meat cashier often doesn't give warning of this either...but at least you can customise here and try to get a bespoke order 'without the cheese please' (as the Americans might say (at least in the old ads 'hold the cheese' - although I wouldn't want to hold the horrible synthetic crap)..

    3. The Count
      Stop

      Re: Yup

      I had to stop reading at the part where you said you went to McDonalds. Thats just gross...

      1. ThaumaTechnician

        Re: Yup

        Came here to say roughly the same thing. Why should I care about the opinions of people who think McDonald's offering qualify a food, eh?

        That and: "may have unintended consequences" = "may have zero consequences"

    4. 2+2=5 Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Yup

      I now order using the touchpanel at the local McDonald's. I don't have to deal with a person and my order is accurate, and it's faster.

      It's not a "robot" but it's automated, and it's taking a cashier's job away.

      I think that means you have now become the robot.

    5. Richocet

      McDonalds touch screens

      Touch screen surfaces are remarkably good at keeping viruses alive such as cold, flu and norovirus (gastro). After learning this I avoid using any public touch-screen devices. If I do use one, I wash my hands soon afterwards.

      I also put in place a protocol to disinfect the fleet of testing tablets and phones that my team used. It reduced sick leave by 30%.

      So I prefer to give my order to an employee, who also has a much better chance of spending some money at my business, and thus delay my replacement by automation or redundancy.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: McDonalds touch screens

        "I also put in place a protocol to disinfect the fleet of testing tablets and phones that my team used. It reduced sick leave by 30%."

        Seriously? Are you running a phone shop in Yemen?

        1. TheBBG

          Re: McDonalds touch screens

          Are you a Trump science and medical advisor? It is well established that humans are 'dirty' and spread diseases. The more group touching the more susceptible to pass something along. I suppose you never wash your vegetables and fruits either. I guess all those other peoples germs help your immune system, right? s/not paranoid but scientifically and medically literate

      2. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: McDonalds touch screens

        "So I prefer to give my order to an employee, who also has a much better chance of spending some money at my business,"

        Here is a point I don't understand, if all of the semi-skilled and unskilled workers are pushed out of work by robots/automation, shirley that is a significant proportion of the consumer base that manufacturers depend on.

        How does a consumer economy work well with a diminished number of consumers?

        I suppose the alternative is to redirect the redundant to the Soylent Corporation to make fertiliser, food and with the fat left over, some grease for the robots out of them.

        1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

          Re: McDonalds touch screens

          "How does a consumer economy work well with a diminished number of consumers?"

          Indeed, I once heard a missive from one of our CEOs, and he said 'We're not in the business of employing people'. And it struck me what a tiny mind he must have. Who does he think his customers are, if not employed people, and if everybody took his attitude and offshored jobs, there would be no customers for any service.

          Of course some people think UBI will save us. I think not, I think we already have UBI, and it's called the dole, and it's not much fun.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Who does he think his customers are, if not employed people

            If you're BAe Systems, or US equivalent, who are your direct customers ? It's not the man in the street, it's not even the purchasing directors at Tesco/Walmart?

            If you're not keen on that particular example, there are plenty similar. E.g. Big Pharma. Google. Maybe even Microsoft in the days when PCs were still seen as the answer.

            The idea that ordinary market forces allow Joe Public to routinely exert any significant influence over multinational businesses is laughable.

            1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

              Re: Who does he think his customers are, if not employed people

              I think you are missing the point, that without employment, there are no customers for any business. Wealth is created by moving money around, not siphoning it offshore.

              1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

                Re: Who does he think his customers are, if not employed people

                I think you are missing the point, that without employment, there are no customers for any business. Wealth is created by moving money around, not siphoning it offshore.

                Wealth is not created by moving money around. The only thing that happens when moving wealth (money) around is that, erm, the money is moved around, or "redistributed" in other words. Wealth is only created by the controllers of the financial system creating more money and releasing this into the public domain somehow. This is a simple process because these days almost all money is nothing more than lines in a database somewhere. If the rate of creation of this money is too high then it will trigger the devaluing of the currency however if the rate is too low then the parts of the financial system which accumulate the money will have too much and there will not be enough to go around elsewhere - which for everyone else is a very bad thing. Taxation is a governmental method of slowing down the accumulation (hoarding) of money and to push it back into the public domain through later expenditure.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: money is nothing more than lines in a database

                  "these days almost all money is nothing more than lines in a database somewhere."

                  Sssshhh. If enough people stop believing the emperor has lovely clothes, what on earth do you think will happen to the financiers and their powerful friends?

                  Mind you, Galbraith's "Money: Whence it came, where it went" was based around that idea back in 1975 and the powers that be have so far managed to make sure the idea has not become widespread, and are still trying to do so (e.g. by redefining the meaning of "austerity").

                  https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/John_Kenneth_Galbraith#Money:_Whence_It_Came.2C_Where_It_Went_.281975.29

                  "The study of money, above all other fields in economics, is the one in which complexity is used to disguise truth or to evade truth, not to reveal it.

                  Chapter I, Money, p. 5

                  The process by which banks create money is so simple that the mind is repelled.

                  Chapter III, Banks, p. 18"

                  And many many more.

                  Once upon a time, before the BBC was allegedly taken over by alleged lefties who used to work for the Conservative Party (e.g. Kuenssberg) they broadcast whole series from Galbraith and others similar.

                  Nowadays, "nation shall speak peace unto nation" is a distant memory.

                  Or there's this, from Oliver Postgate (yes, *that* Oliver Postgate):

                  http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/oliver-postgate/2008/02/money-devil-god-bank

                  "[...]

                  The Devil said "High finance isn’t real. It is a vast, on-going confidence trick.”

                  [...] Explain, said God. [...]

                  “Right then,” began the Devil, “Basically it is all about money, which also doesn’t exist, or rather, is, in itself, worthless.”

                  “Eh?”

                  “You can’t eat money,” explained the Devil. “You can’t mend the roof with it. Money is just a token by which the giver undertakes, when requested, to hand over to the receiver material of a certain agreed value . . . OK?”

                  [continues]"

                2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

                  Re: Who does he think his customers are, if not employed people

                  No, wealth is what your money buys you, food in your cupboard, clothes on your back. The money you spend is then spent by somebody else, and they get something, and the revenue from that sale moves on, etc etc. Money moving creates wealth. Money going offshore does not. Maybe you don't remember the closure of the coal mines in the UK. It wasn't just the mines that closed, but a lot of the local service industry, Thriving wealthy communities ground to a halt, because money was no longer moving through them. If you think the financial system creates wealth you are crazy, we profit by what we dig out of the ground, and what shines out of the sky, everything else is derived from that. Gambling of stock prices doesn't actually create anything, that is just data, and you cannot eat it or wear it.

                3. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
                  Facepalm

                  Re: Who does he think his customers are, if not employed people

                  "Wealth is only created by the controllers of the financial system creating more money and releasing this into the public domain somehow."

                  Sounds like a nice trick , why's no one thought of that before? we can all be rich!

          2. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: McDonalds touch screens

            @ GruntyMcPugh

            "'We're not in the business of employing people'. And it struck me what a tiny mind he must have."

            Actually he is right. It is the same problematic thinking that makes people think a large public sector is not a drain because the workers pay tax, or that an employer is good for employing lots of people. The more people you add the more it costs and the fewer people to do other things.

            At one point we would almost all (about 90%?) be working in a field for a lord and literally be working to live with little else in life. I am very grateful not to spend my days out in a bloody field from sparrows fart to pitch black. I feel sorry for those in countries who still do.

            The idea that Henry Ford paid his people more so they could buy his cars is nonsense. If that was his customer base he would have been bankrupt. We all have needs and wants, and the less we need the more wants we find which is where the customer comes from. There are always desires and so always demand for someone who will fulfil the desire.

            Personally I am glad we outsourced a great deal of agriculture and low paid manufacture. If we didnt I expect I would be dead in a field or dead trapped in some machine working for a pittance and with none of the comforts we take for granted.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: glad we outsourced ... low paid manufacture."

              "I am glad we outsourced a great deal of agriculture and low paid manufacture."

              Maybe that's OK while the offshore suppliers are your friends, or are willing to accept your paper money.

              When that changes, then what? E.g. when China no longer wants to be paid in near-worthless USD?

              Short termism is great (for the lucky few), at least until the inevitable happens.

            2. Loud Speaker

              Re: McDonalds touch screens

              The idea that Henry Ford paid his people more so they could buy his cars is nonsense.

              However, his employees effectively became employers of the people whose goods and serviced they were able to purchase, and so on down the line for a very long way. It would go on for ever, but there is a tax that bleeds away the benefits with each layer of interaction. If the tax rate is high, then there are very few layers. This is the legendary "equality" sought by the left, who view "working for others" as degrading.

              I am not aware of their views on working for robots. However, I suspect robots do not engage large numbers of employees to serve them burgers and fries, or clean their windows, and their sexual needs are probably met by sexbots (its a guess). (The robots needs, not the left's ... wait ...)

              The ultimate goal of the Left will result in a completely failed economy (See Venezuela).

              The opposite, is the right's view: "You have the right to be a slave".

              Clearly the most attractive for most people is somewhere in the centre. However, the masses prefer extremes - so long as its the opposite of what we have now! (Bikers may recognise "tank slapper" syndrome.

              The solution to this is partly damping (a political system where no one has much power) - additionally additionally, you need an outside force that favours mediocrity - generally not hard to achieve. This is why the UK system is one of the better ones, and attempts at improvement tend to make it worse.

              The alternatives look like Venezuela or North Korea.

            3. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

              Re: McDonalds touch screens

              I wasn't working in the public sector when the CEO gave his speech. I didn't mention the public sector either, but as you have, do you think it better to have people get paid by the public purse to do something, or do nothing under UBI?

              1. codejunky Silver badge

                Re: McDonalds touch screens

                @ GruntyMcPugh

                "do you think it better to have people get paid by the public purse to do something"

                This reminded me of an interesting story of someone who went to India and saw a load of people digging with shovels to make a canal. He asked why they didnt just use an earth mover which would be much more productive. The answer being the diggers were the unemployed on a government work program. The answer being 'then why not give them spoons instead of shovels'.

                Paid by the public purse assumes something of value paying into the public purse. The public purse has no value nor existence without something of value paying into it. The public system can take but it cannot give. Not a slur on the public system but a realisation that must be accepted to appreciate it correctly.

                "I think you are missing the point, that without employment, there are no customers for any business. Wealth is created by moving money around, not siphoning it offshore."

                No. Wealth is not money. You cannot eat money, sleep under money nor use it for anything but warmth by burning it instead of the many cheaper (in resources) things. The wealth is in producing what people want and keeping up with/defining new wants and desires. As much as we offshored work to China the best they could do was copy what we sent them, they dont create so much because it isnt worth it without intellectual protections, stability and the freedom to pursue desires.

                There are always customers. People will always want to eat, drink and have shelter. In this country we also demand communications, entertainment, etc. Hell people pay over the odds so they can have a cup of coffee made for them. And we trade money in place of labour and we get money by trading our labour.

                1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

                  Re: McDonalds touch screens

                  I didn't say wealth was money. I said wealth was created by moving money around. We get paid, we spend, we get food, heat, clothing, the roof over our head. The person we spend that money with gets the same,... and on, and on.

                  Onto being paid by the public purse, haven't you just dismantled the concept of UBI? I think it's flawed too, but I also think people aren't going to get paid to do nothing. UBI won't be a basic income, it'll be a basic job, because Govts won't want to give tax money away for nothing, and private companies won't want to pay that much tax in the first place.

                  1. codejunky Silver badge

                    Re: McDonalds touch screens

                    @ GruntyMcPugh

                    "Onto being paid by the public purse, haven't you just dismantled the concept of UBI? I think it's flawed too, but I also think people aren't going to get paid to do nothing."

                    When there is nothing to do because all our desires are taken care of then we wont care will we? Before that point there will always be desires which need fulfilling. I am not convinced by a UBI because I am not sure how that could work.

                    1) If we have a minimum amount of income that everyone has why would the prices not rise to account for the new 'zero'? You want shelter? Hey look everyone has at least x amount (the new zero) and the same competition as before.

                    2) It cant work while governments bribe. The concept of a UBI is to provide enough to live on (which is different by region so will it stop migration?) yet people make poor choices. How many people spend all their money on getting blackout drunk and then complain they cannot afford basic bills? These people would have to be allowed their freedom to make poor choices without giving them more. Can you imagine a socialist leaning gov accepting that? Can you imagine a centre left party accepting that? Or even the right wing and pensioners? There is no hope.

                    I am interested to see how the experiment works in other countries first. If it does work and we can change government methods of bribing and not introduce a new zero then cool. But UBI does not create wealth. Any public money distributed out in any way is taken from generated wealth that is taxed. And assuming sustainability- the more public spending we have then surely the more wealth is being created. Otherwise we have an overspending gov who will leave us a big bill as proven almost a decade ago.

            4. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: McDonalds touch screens

              "The idea that Henry Ford paid his people more so they could buy his cars is nonsense. "

              Yes. the actual reason was to cut staff turnover because training was a significant line item on the accounts, even for a production line job. It saved more than it cost.

              That's something that many employers have forgotten in their race to minimum wage (or less).

        2. Loud Speaker

          Re: McDonalds touch screens

          How does a consumer economy work well with a diminished number of consumers?

          It doesn't. You may have noticed there has been a recession going on pretty much since broadband replace dial-up.

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Stop

            Re: McDonalds touch screens

            "How does a consumer economy work well with a diminished number of consumers?"

            Tell THAT to the idiots that keep on raising "minimum wage" and just assume that employers of restaurants, janitorial services, and mom+pop shops that just need "someone to help out" have _INFINITE_ piles of money to throw at hiring people.

            A wage is an exchange of money for work. If the work is not worth the wage, then NOBODY will be hired to do it, and ROBOTS will do it instead. That's the whole point.

            I'm just glad someone at El Reg had the GONADS to write the article, even though it's like "Captain Obvious" to many of us...

            And to answer the question: In many ways, diminishing the number of consumers does NOT help a consumer economy. So _I_ say, allow people at the low end of the wage scale to be paid what they're worth, not what some GUMMINT DWEEBS "*FEEL*".

            And for everyone who disagrees with me, just ask yourself this: why do so many teenagers and young adults have a HARD TIME finding part-time (or even FULL time) work without prior experience? ANSWER: MINIMUM WAGE HIKES.

            (and it's not a "living wage", it's an "entry level wage", for people without experience who do low-skill tasks and if you have a "career" earning only minimum wage, YOU need to do something about it by getting training, education, experience, whatever)

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: McDonalds touch screens

              "A wage is an exchange of money for work. If the work is not worth the wage, then NOBODY will be hired to do it, and ROBOTS will do it instead. That's the whole point."

              A cleaning robot is going to be expensive and will miss spots, requiring a human to followup, all for fuck-all money. Notice that McDs automated the easy part of the job (front of house), but isn't putting robots on burger flipping duty and is unlikely to for a long way to come - employees not cooking are cleaning. Robots don't clean themselves (yet), etc and frankly, given what's already happened in US burger joints that have tried this, I suspect the backlash against not having a human server will kick in eventually as loss of sales once the novelty factor wears off (my first encounter with chez Ronald's house of zombies was irritating and likely to be my last unless they improve the UI. The monarch's offerings taste better anyway)

              The low hanging fruit of the robotics revolution is white collar stuff and has been for the last 50 years. There are already hundreds of thousands of office jobs (mostly tedious administrative stuff like accounts clerks) which no longer exist thanks to advancing technology and the higher-paid decision making or advisory positions are now in the firing line. It's far easier to automate if you _don't_ need to replace a human with a mechanical device.

              On the subject of mechanical devices it's worth noting that when they replace humans for dirty, dangerous or unpleasant jobs, no one complains too much. The classic example of this is robots on car assembly lines - workers didn't mind when they were welding/painting and suchlike, or when line workers got mechanised assistance to make heavy handling much easier, but even japanese factory workers dug their toes in when robots started spreading across the factory floor from those areas.

              That's one of the reasons the standard way of automating these days is to build an entire new assembly line in a different factory in a different town, making everyone in the old factory redundant, rather than using a sinking-lid policy to wind down the workforce as robots expand their roles. Doing it any other way is highly susceptable to industrial unrest and sabotage.

              1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: McDonalds touch screens

                "A cleaning robot is going to be expensive and will miss spots, requiring a human to followup, all for fuck-all money. Notice that McDs automated the easy part of the job (front of house), but isn't putting robots on burger flipping duty and is unlikely to for a long way to come - employees not cooking are cleaning. Robots don't clean themselves …."

                Somewhere on my computer I have a photo of a burger making machine. It's needs humans to load up the ingredients, but flame grills the meat and applies the required accessories. If you input your order for your burger to come without pickles (damnit), it will not put them on unlike the human that recently discovered the joys of legalized pot and now has the attention span of a cocker spaniel.

                I can envision this apparatus as being on wheels and periodically allowed to cool down before it is rolled through a high pressure/temp wash system specifically made for it while unit number 2 takes over burger making duties.

                McDs in the USA have an automated drinks dispenser for the drive thru window. Customers provide the labor in the dining room.

                Read "A Stainless Steel Rat is Born" by Harry Harrison for a description of the ultimate in automated fast food.

      3. Loud Speaker

        Re: McDonalds touch screens

        You might want to wash your brain afterwards too.

      4. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: McDonalds touch screens

        a lot of grocery stores have disposable hand wipes handy for wiping down the cart handle. So a similar 'wipe station' next to the automated order entry screens? And instead of taking Big Mac orders, you can be the guy that delivers the hand wipe refills (until a robot does the deliveries for you).

      5. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: McDonalds touch screens

        "Touch screen surfaces are remarkably good at keeping viruses alive such as cold, flu and norovirus (gastro)."

        A transparent layer of sputtered silver would do wonders for that. The problem is that most oils wouldn't pay for it.

    6. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Yup

      I saw they were rolling that out to the first restaurant in Germany, in I think Frankfurt Airport. The one drawback over here, in Germany, is that most people wouldn't pay with plastic or NFC for such small amounts.

      That said, I haven't been to a McDonalds in about 7 years.

      I work in IT, but I still prefer personal service.

      1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Re: Yup

        "I work in IT, but I still prefer personal service."

        Same here. When I go to my local supermarket, if it's busy, I'll use the self service checkouts, but if it's not, I'll opt for a human cashier, if they sit idle, their jobs will be in danger, so I do my bit to help justify their employment.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Yup

          "When I go to my local supermarket, if it's busy, I'll use the self service checkouts, but if it's not, I'll opt for a human cashier,"

          I go for whichever is faster - that's self service for a couple of items and a human for anything more.

        2. John Smith 19 Gold badge

          "I'll use the self service checkouts, but if it's not, I'll opt for a human cashier, "

          I think that's sort of the idea.

          Y'know, load balancing?

    7. MAF

      Re: Yup

      And you also have the added benefit of sharing bacteria and viruses with the lowest common denominator of hygiene of those who used it before you...

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Yup

        "And you also have the added benefit of sharing bacteria and viruses "

        Prevention is better than cure.

        Don't touch McDonald's touch screens.

        Or their products.

      2. fishman

        Re: Yup

        Bacteria on touch screens? Bacteria on door handles. On railings. On anything you and others may touch. Bacteria in the air. Bacteria everywhere.

    8. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Yup

      I dunno about faster, but yes, what you get is what you ordered.

      it's certainly not intuitive.

  3. vir

    An interesting data point would be the effect of minimum wages on total wages: i.e. does raising the minimum wage lead to more money being paid out to the workforce as a whole or does the increase in automation lead to an overall drop?

    Sadly, my current wages do not permit me the luxury of purchasing the paper to see if that tidbit is in there.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      For a good discussion of the effects of minimum wages I can recommend this recent article in the The Economist which covered the subject quite well. Minimum wages are neither a panacea nor a job killer; they can act to correct perceived market failure: if people cannot live from their wages then some kind of subsidy is usually forthcoming. But if they are pushed too high then they will inhibit economic activity.

      But with regards to automation minimum wages really are a side issue. Capitalism favours rationalised production lines wherever possible with competition encouraging either lower wages or automation of the lowest-skilled, most repetitive jobs.

      1. Random Q Hacker

        Why does no one ever talk about maximum wage? As in, no employees total compensation shall be more than 100 times that of any other employee. Seems fixing the economy's leak at the top would help more than tinkering at the bottom. And it still provides incentive to work harder and earn more, with more incentive to reinvest in business, new employees, and new technology, rather than stockpiling cash.

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          @ Random Q Hacker

          "Why does no one ever talk about maximum wage?"

          What is the point of doing a job if you wont be paid the value of it? Instead when one place caps wages the people earning toward or more will leave because they are obviously not wanted there. As long as it isnt us implementing it then I am all for watching the talent of other countries come here.

          Its almost as funny as the demands for various businesses to pay more tax. I am sure the people demanding this are also the same bunch who expect jobs to be provided for them. Both cases can be responded to by the tag line of this website- 'Biting the hand that feeds IT'.

  4. James 51 Silver badge

    Tax the economic activity of the robot to replace the lost taxes from the worker to help reeducate workers for the new jobs that will come along and help with the increased welfare costs in the short term.

    1. Richocet

      Taxing robots and computers would help to slow the tide of automation. Perhaps other industrial machinery too.

      However it is naive to think that new jobs will come along for people to be retrained for.

      We have been waiting for decades for new jobs to appear for the people freed up from the historically enormously labor intensive industry of farming and agriculture. During this time automation of jobs has been occurring in other industries, and less new jobs have appeared than have gone.

      1. Suburban Inmate
        Black Helicopters

        Tax the firm not the tech.

        If we could make sure $BIG_CORP paid the tax it owed, at a reasonable rate that doesn't permit it to steamroller smaller competition, that would be a good start. Add to that enforcement of environmental responsibility, a living minimum wage (i.e. no need to be topped up by tax credits, etc), and keeping their grubby fingers out of politics.

        The elephant in the room is that even with all the advances in productivity, tech, knowledge, and all the rest... We're backpedalling in living standards and politics. Food banks and homelessness on the rise, house prices an utter piss take. This situation is getting worse and is neither natural nor accidental.

        Where's our 4-day week, Universal Basic Income, and personal jet packs with friggin' laser beams? Call me paranoid if you want, but I get the feeling the world's uber-wealthy just might not be running the economy for the good of all mankind.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Tax the firm not the tech.

          Universal Basic Income is the way forward i think...

          It should be enough to cover the basic needs of

          Food

          Housing

          Utilities

          Clothing

          Of course this has to be limited to British citizens, it wont work if people can come over and claim it from countries with a lower cost and standard of living, this is part of the issue with the EU, costs are not equal over the whole of the EU.

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Stop

            Re: Tax the firm not the tech.

            "Universal Basic Income is the way forward i think."

            NO. this is why:

            a) if the MOST productive EMPLOYEE (I refuse to use communist-speak) _always_ gets paid the same as everybody else, WHAT is the motivation for being MORE PRODUCTIVE?

            b) if the LEAST productive employee gets the same wage as every OTHER employee, what's the motivation for being MORE PRODUCTIVE?

            c) If there's _NO_ upward mobility, _NO_ hope for earning more, _NO_ real hope for advancement of your economic situation by HARD WORK, TRAINING, or CAREER SHIFT, where's the MOTIVATION?

            If you want a STAGNANT MEDIOCRE SOCIETY, then "subsistence wage" is your answer. JUST! LIKE! COMMUNISM!!!

            Or you can do like me, earn as much as you need but charge what you're worth, so you have time to work on what you WANT to work on, besides earning money to live on, but don't go broke or live in squalor in the process. BUT if I were to work HARDER, I'd effectively earn "less per hour" [because, "progressive" tax rates], so why bother if I can't really get ahead by doing it? Why would ANYONE bother slaving themselves out and getting BARELY ANYTHING in return for the extra work?

            THAT is why Communism fails. THAT is why "progressivism" fails. THAT is why tax rates need to be flat, minimum wages need to GO AWAY, and wages need to be driven by MARKET FORCES, and INDIVIDUALS have to take the reins of their OWN lives, and "feel the consequences" for both GOOD behavior (work hard, get trained, get educated) and BAD behavior (lazy, assume you deserve a living wage, don't bother getting training/education, live on the dole).

            And yeah, I expect "good behavior" to get you economic rewards, and "bad behavior" to throw you out into the street. Unfortunately, those NATURAL forces are heavily weakened, and we are now where we are today.

            1. Suburban Inmate

              That's not UBI

              UBI isn't a wage, it's a baseline income for all, just covering the basics. Unlike a means tested benefit there's (virtually) no administrative overhead, since that balance is naturally 'built in', and it doesn't discourage people from seeking work for fear of losing benefits.

              Finland is reporting positive things from a trial.

              Oh and don't forget to take UK employment figures with a pinch of salt.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: take UK employment figures with a pinch of salt.

                Wow. Thanks for the link.

                The stuff in the article is obvious to any numerate person with a clue about the real labour market as distinct from the Westminster-reported spin, but it's the first time I've actually seen it 'in print', as it were.

                That link again:

                http://uk.businessinsider.com/unemployment-in-the-uk-is-now-so-low-its-in-danger-of-exposing-the-lie-used-to-create-the-numbers-2017-7

        2. Random Q Hacker

          Re: Tax the firm not the tech.

          Great point, how many jobs would be created and technology invested in if multinationals actually payed their fair share of taxes? Still need people to fix roads and public works too, if the money is there to do it.

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Tax the firm not the tech.

            The Multi-nationals do pay their fair share of taxes. All that are legally required. The problem lies with the politicians that have created the tax codes with plenty of perfectly legal loopholes that allow large companies to shift money around in a way that minimizes their tax burden. The accountants are earning their salaries. Don't blame Starbucks, Apple or Amazon, blame the elected. If a publicly traded company was found to not be taking advantage of tax loopholes, the stockholders would have the board out on their ear and charged with mis-managing the company to the detriment of those stockholders. In all likelihood, a large stockholder of a company like Apple is a large company themselves and knows all of the dodges too.

      2. codejunky Silver badge

        @ Richocet

        "During this time automation of jobs has been occurring in other industries, and less new jobs have appeared than have gone."

        I would somewhat agree but if that wrong? Disabled people and children used to work from a young age and now they dont, with children particularly freed up for education.

        However since 90% of the population used to work in farming and agriculture and we have <5% unemployment accepting the welfare state as a product of our (countries) success/wealth it would seem the jobs have been replaced. Add the product of immigration and the jobs havnt just been replaced but far more have been created.

  5. Stephen McLaughlin

    This was bound to happen anyway

    I think as with most people, automation (in most cases) in retail stores saves lots of time. For example, I love self-checkout at the grocery store. The wage increase is being blamed for employers using more automation but this was going to happen regardless. True, the wage increase may help expedite automation but this trend has been going on for years now. I'd like to see a higher wage for these employees as well, but let's face it, many of these jobs will gone forever in the near future.

  6. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    So what jobs can't be automated?

    Seems to me that with AI, it would be possible to eliminate all banking jobs, insurance managers and financial positions ... but oddly enough, these people always keep their jobs.

    1. PushF12

      Re: So what jobs can't be automated?

      Most decisions for low value financial products are already fully automated. Insurance, credit cards, ULOCs, etc.

      And in North America, kiosk banking is a big success. Bank branch are closing everywhere.

      The executives at the top are, however, keeping their jobs amidst sweeping RIFs. In this respect, banking is the same as all other sectors.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: So what jobs can't be automated?

      "but oddly enough, these people always keep their jobs."

      Look again and compare with 50 years ago. 3/4 of the job descriptions in such places no longer exist. There are a few new ones, but overall, offices employ less than half the staff they used to sometimes less than 1/4

      A lot of the positions you're thinking of are gone already, concentrated into a few more powerful hands, but even those are facing redundancy in the medium term.

  7. Colin Tree

    corporate conscience

    We have to legislate for companies to have a social conscience and responsibilities to ALL stakeholders - shareholders, workers, customers, government.

    Pay your workers, shareholders and taxes fairly and don't rip off your customers.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: corporate conscience

      Bring back bus conductors and elevator operators.

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      "Pay your workers, shareholders and taxes fairly and don't rip off your customers."

      Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

      That is all.

    3. isogen74

      Re: corporate conscience

      Evidence seems to show that whenever a consumer is given the option to "buy local, but it will cost you 10% extra and take 25% more time to get to the shop and back", or "buy something manufactured in <insert foreign outsource destination here> where there is a lower standard of living than yours, from <insert mass market retailer>", they will nearly always buy the cheaper option.

      They will then proceed to complain bitterly that jobs are going overseas.

      The issue isn't the companies really - capitalism will generally give consumers what they pay for and if they stop paying the companies would fold quickly because few hold any significant cash reserves.

      The underlying issue is that consumers are not really willing to pay the costs of goods produced where workers have the same standard of living that they think they are entitled to. If people actually stopped buying cheap imported goods, the companies would change PDQ.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: corporate conscience

        And the result makes everyone richer.

        Suppose your country/state/city/village had to produce everything it needed locally.

        No buying Mercedes fire trucks for the airport, you need to buy trucks built in Seattle. You can't buy wheat from the mid-west so bread is expensive and you cant afford it because nobody outside your state is buying Boeings.

        If you want to see the standard of living you get with self sufficiency just look at rural Bhutan.

        1. isogen74

          Re: corporate conscience

          I think you took an overly narrow interpretation of the word "local". Given the context of my post "local" = "somewhere with the same standard of living that the buyer has".

        2. Richocet

          Re: corporate conscience

          Aren't Bhutanese the happiest people on earth? Seriously, there was a documentary about it a couple of years back. The leader of the country makes happiness the overarching goal not wealth.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: corporate conscience

        "If people actually stopped buying cheap imported goods, the companies would change PDQ."

        On the other hand those "cheap imported goods" have been a lifeline for 4 billion people to lift themselves out of poverty in the last 35 years. Wages may be lower elsewhere but only for a while (chinese workers cost as much as american ones these days) and as countries collectively upskill, they become valuable bidirectional trading partners in their own right, not just a source of cheap labour.

        What you're close to advocating is protectionist policies and cartels - a characteristic of mercantilism, which fell apart about a century ago. That policy concentrates power and wealth into a few hands even more forcefully than "enlightened" capitalism.

        The enlightened part about capitalism is ensuring that it is restrained and that competition is fair. if companies get too power they will naturally reassert mercantilist policies and that's what we're seeing in the USA and UK. The effects of that cause people to cry for "protection" and that simply makes things worse for most whilst a privileged few make out like bandits.

        Yes, taxing companies means that they charge more to endusers, but it's much easier and simpler, not to mention having far lower overall "cost of collection" issues than taxing millions of low-worth individuals.

        Remember that it's not just how much a government collects in taxes, it's also about how much it pays out to get it. There's not much point in collecting £1 in tax if you spend £1.50 to get it. Simplifying tax structures in 1986 enabled New Zealand to lay off more than 2/3 of its Inland Revenue over the next 15 years and increase net taxation whilst lowering gross taxation - which is a benefit to everyone as it means they have more money in their pockets. The problem is that vested interests will always try to game the system for personal advantage and decades of tax exemptions piled on tax exemptions means that there is horrendous waste in the collection system.

      3. Trilkhai

        Re: isogen74

        “The underlying issue is that consumers are not really willing to pay the costs of goods produced where workers have the same standard of living that they think they are entitled to.”

        Actually, it depends heavily on where those workers are located and whether the consumer can afford the higher price. Most people I've encountered will quite proudly pay slightly-higher prices to support locally-owned stores if they can afford it and all else is equal. They're uninterested in paying prices they can't comfortably afford, however (which is why shops like Wal-Mart are a huge hit with the rural poor), or supporting people that aren't from the same general region.

        1. isogen74

          Re: isogen74

          > "On the other hand those "cheap imported goods" have been a lifeline for 4 billion people to lift themselves out of poverty in the last 35 years."

          Oh yes, I definitely agree. I was really just pointing out the hypocrisy of people who buy goods from overseas where there is a lower standard of living (e.g. no pensions, longer working hours, less holiday, lower pay, less heath and safety law, fewer worker rights), insist on higher pay and better conditions for for their job, and then complain in the Daily Mail that all the jobs are going overseas. As seems to popular in politics these days, they "want to have their cake, and eat it".

          > Most people I've encountered will quite proudly pay slightly-higher prices to support locally-owned stores if they can afford it and all else is equal.

          In my experience it's never equal. Supermarkets and Amazon are easier and faster than treking around 5 smaller indie shops. Most people (including myself) fall into the "I'd love to buy local in principle, but I don't have (or am not willing to make) time" camp. I'll admit I'm lazy - in my case it's a "not willing to make time" rather than a "don't have time".

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: corporate conscience

      "We have to legislate for companies to have a social conscience and responsibilities to ALL stakeholders - shareholders, workers, customers, government."

      The UK already headed down that legistlative road. Section 172 of the 2006 Companies Act (below) specifically says company Directors must consider the interests of employees, suppliers, community, environment etc, and not just in a short term context either.

      Obviously few people are aware of this legislation and even fewer bother about it, maybe because the consequences of ignoring it are nil, but this is The Law as it has been in the UK for a few years.

      So, given that legislative action on this subject has clearly not benefited the general public, what other mechanisms besides legislation might be relevant?

      From e.g. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006/46/section/172

      172 Duty to promote the success of the company

      (1)A director of a company must act in the way he considers, in good faith, would be most likely to promote the success of the company for the benefit of its members as a whole, and in doing so have regard (amongst other matters) to—

      (a)the likely consequences of any decision in the long term,

      (b)the interests of the company's employees,

      (c)the need to foster the company's business relationships with suppliers, customers and others,

      (d)the impact of the company's operations on the community and the environment,

      (e)the desirability of the company maintaining a reputation for high standards of business conduct, and

      (f)the need to act fairly as between members of the company.

      (2)Where or to the extent that the purposes of the company consist of or include purposes other than the benefit of its members, subsection (1) has effect as if the reference to promoting the success of the company for the benefit of its members were to achieving those purposes.

      (3)The duty imposed by this section has effect subject to any enactment or rule of law requiring directors, in certain circumstances, to consider or act in the interests of creditors of the company.

      1. SkippyBing Silver badge

        Re: corporate conscience

        'Section 172 of the 2006 Companies Act (below) specifically says company Directors must consider the interests of employees, suppliers, community, environment etc, and not just in a short term context either.'

        I would have thought the main problem with that well intentioned law is how do you prove they aren't considering the interests of employees etc? After all they may feel it's in the long term interests of the employees that the company is still there in 10 years time which means not giving them a 100% pay rise, cutting the price to consumers, and running the factory solely on solar power.

        1. Chris G Silver badge

          Re: corporate conscience

          "'Section 172 of the 2006 Companies Act (below) specifically says company Directors must consider the interests of employees, suppliers, community, environment etc, and not just in a short term context either.'"

          I think this Act was a result of Tony Bliar's Stakeholder blether before he was elected and was passed so that if up against the wall as a non-practising socialist he could point to the act to show that he was.

          I doubt if the act was ever intended to be enforced.

    5. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: corporate conscience

      "We have to legislate for companies to have a social conscience and responsibilities to ALL stakeholders - shareholders, workers, customers, government."

      HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA *cough*

      Oh, you actually BELIEVE that? You have my pity.

      yeah how are the cops going to be able to tell you have a "social conscience"? how are judges and juries going to decide? so much for 'rule of law', now substituted by 'rule of feelings'. *VOMIT*

      That's just another example of people *FEELING* instead of thinking. Again.

      <FACEPALM> [see icon]

  8. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
    FAIL

    Imagine how bad we had to have fucked up to create a world where robots taking all the jobs is somehow a bad thing.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Coat

      "how bad..fucked up to create a world where robots taking all the jobs is somehow a bad thing."

      Who has to imagine?

      It's happened.

    2. Orv Silver badge

      It's a good thing if you're one of the handful of people who own the robots. Capitalism doesn't care whether you can afford food or not.

      1. ridley

        Whilst that may be true, capitalism also cares if there is no one able to pay for the goods/services.

      2. Loud Speaker

        Actually, you are not totally correct. It is true capitalism is a concept, and not capable of caring.

        However, if a political system fails to enable a significant portion of the population to eat, history teaches us that a lot of people will die - and mostly not of hunger. (See ISIS, French Revolution, etc) Te people that won the robots are top of the list for being lined up and shot when the revolution comes. However, history also teaches us that the collateral damage will be huge.

        Stability requires not just limiting the excesses - a tactic quite popular in Europe, but manipulating the system to achieve a stable state - changing the entire public's understanding of the consequences of their actions. This would probably involve public humiliation of anyone pushing for extremism of any kind (not executions - that makes them martyrs).

        It also requires explaining that paying fortunes to footballers (by paying silly money to watch sport on TV) also, "celebrities" and "pop idols" is the reason why you have no pension and can't afford medical care (including can't afford the NHS in the UK). Yes, Joe Blow - it IS your fault, not Trump's).

        Of course, the age old tradition of putting thieves in the stocks and pelting them with rotten fruit and vegetables would be a good way to handle boards of directors involved in tax dodging too. Think of the satisfaction value!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Capitalism? Corporatism? Kleptocracy? Education?

          What's this capitalism of which you speak? Neither the US nor the UK have had capitalism for a few decades. They've got corporatism with added kleptocracy.

          http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2009/11/explaining-difference-between.html

          If there'd been capitalism, then e.g. the failed US auto industry wouldn't have been rescued by the TARP program, and the UK casino banks would have been allowed to fail (leaving the lower risk retail banks still surviving - if there'd been any).

          "explaining that paying fortunes to footballers (by paying silly money to watch sport on TV) also, "celebrities" and "pop idols" is the reason why you have no pension and can't afford medical care (including can't afford the NHS in the UK)"

          Interesting. Where can people read about that then? Of course, it'd be grand if they already understood it, but an education system that produced people who were readily able to follow concepts like that would probably not produce the readily malleable wage slaves that are required to sustain the wants of the 1%.

          1. Orv Silver badge

            Re: Capitalism? Corporatism? Kleptocracy? Education?

            Neither the US nor the UK have had capitalism for a few decades. They've got corporatism with added kleptocracy.

            That's simply the degenerate case the capitalism converges on, as it concentrates wealth in smaller numbers of hands. An essential part of the game of capitalism is that money helps you win, so those who start winning tend to keep on winning. Above a certain level this is totally unrelated to skill; look at Paris Hilton, or Donald Trump.

            1. An ominous cow heard

              Re: Capitalism? Corporatism? Kleptocracy? Education?

              "They've got corporatism with added kleptocracy.

              That's simply the degenerate case the capitalism converges on, as it concentrates wealth in smaller numbers of hands"

              Yes and no. Concentrating wealth (and *power*) in smaller numbers of hands? Absolutely yes. The recent shorthand for that is "the 1%", and in principle it seems to accurately describe recent history.

              On the other hand, some (many?) clearly capitalist countries are really a long way from being as corporatist or kleptocratic as the US and the UK. A true capitalist state would have let the US auto industry fail, rather than rescuing it with the TARP program.

      3. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Terminator

        Capitalism doesn't care whether you can afford food or not

        certainly not. _I_ don't care either. Quitcherbitchin, git off yer butt, and go earn yourself a living. You have the same opportunities as everyone else in the 21st century. what YOU do with them is YOUR business, and NOBODY ELSE has ANY obligation to bail you out, lift you up, or even feel sorry for you if you do NOT do your best in the pursuit of success.

        The world REALLY needs a giant "ass swift-kicker" instead of bleeding hearts and false "compassion".

        1. Orv Silver badge

          Re: Capitalism doesn't care whether you can afford food or not

          You have the same opportunities as everyone else in the 21st century.

          This is very obviously not true*. But even if it were, the point of this discussion is those opportunities are shrinking as the list of jobs that can be replaced by automation grows. If there's too many people chasing too few jobs, there's a problem even if everyone starts out even and does their best. Not everyone can win the game of musical chairs.

          * I'm pretty sure Donald Trump Jr. had more opportunities than me, and I'm pretty sure I had more opportunities than people I know who grew up poor in abusive families where no one had ever gotten a college degree.

    3. ShadowDragon8685

      The problem isn't automation.

      The problem is outmoded thinking that's a holdover from days when resources were extremely scarce, and people who could not or would not contribute economically or agriculturally were a genuine burden on society.

      Automation should be freeing people up - and it is! The problem is that there just isn't a higher-paying skilled labor/intellectual position that that freed-up laborer is qualified for which is open. They may not be qualified for anything skilled/intellectual, or the positions for those they are don't exist.

      Is there a solution? That depends on how you cast the problem.

      If the problem is "those lazy bums won't work!" then it's hopeless.

      If the problem is "there aren't jobs for people to take," then perhaps it's time we simply accepted that being employed is not and should not be considered the measure of a person's "worth." The simplest solution to this is basic income - the government simply provides to everyone, from the wealthiest of the wealthy to the poorest of the poor, a minimum, livable income. You could finagle it other ways by not "giving them cash they didn't earn" and instead providing them with Government-Issue Housing, Government-Issue Food, Government-Issue Entertainment, etc, but frankly, people are, generally speaking, pretty smart at using cash-in-hand to work out how to get by on their own. It also neatly sidesteps the problem of creating a "welfare class" of people wearing the Government-Issue Clothes and living the Government-Issue Lifestyle, as well as doing what trickle-down economics purported to do but failed to do: keeping cash circulating at the basic level.

      I favor that one, personally. Even people who can't find traditional or nontraditional employment often "contribute" to society in ways which are useful, but are not traditionally-paying; imagine a young person in a family full of pensioners, whom they all call upon to do errands at any random time and day. That young person holding down a traditional job would preclude them being available to, say, run to the shops for nana, or do uncle arthur's laundry, or what-have-you.

  9. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Not all jobs are good jobs

    Please do automate away the crappy jobs so us humans can work on better things. I've worked at a Radio Shack and I've worked at a VHS rental store. I would have gladly accepted a minimum wage job installing robots in those stores. Tump's coal miners would probably rather be maintaining robots too, though at least they don't have to deal with customers trying to rent porn while high on huffing.

    1. Orv Silver badge

      Re: Not all jobs are good jobs

      That was the old theory about what would happen. But we've never found a good way to retrain people for higher-skilled jobs, nor have we figured out how to deal with the inevitable eventual result of not having enough economically-positive work to go around. We decided long ago that someone's worth was measured by their contribution to GDP, and we have a whole moral/religious structure that enforces this. ("He who does not work, neither shall he eat," to paraphrase the Bible.)

      We're in for some really rough times ahead. I fear a lot of us lower on the economic ladder may starve.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Orv - Re: Not all jobs are good jobs

        Before starving people might grab some weapons like they did in Russia a century ago and start a revolution. On long term this will fail of course but on very short term it looks it's a handy way to reboot things and hope for a better outcome.

        What were they saying history is teaching us ?

        1. Orv Silver badge

          Re: @Orv - Not all jobs are good jobs

          Before starving people might grab some weapons like they did in Russia a century ago and start a revolution.

          Yeah, but these days the robots have guns too. The wealthiest among us could be quite well defended if they wanted to be. Some of them are already thinking in that direction, constructing self-sufficient luxury bunkers.

          We're also very divided as a populace, at least in the US; we've been encouraged to blame our problems on immigrants, or "urban" people, or foreign governments that trade with us. I think in a revolution we'd end up shooting each other over the crumbs instead of going after the people who took the biggest slices of pie. And I think that's by design.

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Megaphone

        Re: Not all jobs are good jobs

        "But we've never found a good way to retrain people for higher-skilled jobs"

        lemme tell ya a little secret... closer... closer...

        PEOPLE! MUST! TRAIN! THEMSELVES!!! It's not ANYONE ELSE's responsibility.

        YOU get the education. YOU go to the trade school. YOU take the entry level "trainee" position, work hard, and get promoted to a regular "experienced" position.

        If there is FAIL, it will generally be YOUR fault.

        1. Orv Silver badge

          Re: Not all jobs are good jobs

          Except I'm mostly talking about people who had good jobs, where they'd built up considerable seniority. Then those jobs went away. I'm not talking about people who spent their whole lives working for 7-11, here. These were successful people right up until the rug was yanked out from under them.

          In Michigan displaced auto workers tried going back to school for all kinds of things. Some got help, some dug into their retirement savings to pay for it. Some were successful in starting new careers. But in many cases the jobs they retrained for were next in line to be eliminated. For example, lots of them retrained to be medical transcriptionists, because medical was supposed to be a growing field -- but those jobs were soon outsourced to India.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Not all jobs are good jobs

      "Please do automate away the crappy jobs"

      refreshing!

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Not all jobs are good jobs

      "they don't have to deal with customers trying to rent porn while high on huffing."

      This must be in the past. Why would anybody spend money renting porn these days. There is so much for free online that there is no way to even make a wildly inaccurate estimate of how much. There are even live shows on Ryan Air if you are in the right seats.

  10. mako23

    Get Real

    If this logic is correct then we should bring slavery back because everyone will have a job.

    1. Orv Silver badge

      Re: Get Real

      Don't give them ideas. We already have the unpaid internship...

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Richocet

      Re: Get Real

      The political ideology of outrage about people not being required to do anything, has let to a whole raft of working for free or below the minimum wage: work for the dole, apprenticeships, unpaid internships, new blends of working below minimum wage government subsidised. Conveniently reducing the cost of paying unemployment benefits, and lowering the official stats.

      But how is this ideology different to the mindset of slave owners?

      Did some slave owners think they were doing a good thing by saving the slaves from idleness, giving them work experience, and providing them with 'free' food.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Get Real

        "The political ideology of outrage about people not being required to do anything, has let to a whole raft of working for free or below the minimum wage: "

        That political ideology has direct and deep roots in Calvinist thinking: "The devil makes work for idle hands"

        Or in other words, it's a religious point of view overlaid on politics.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Robots don't pay taxes...

    ...and neither do the 1% who are stashing their profits in offshore tax havens.

    So when there are no jobs and all the cash is funnelled to the top, who is going to have any money to pay for stuff and then where will the rich make their income?

    1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

      Re: Robots don't pay taxes...

      So when there are no jobs and all the cash is funnelled to the top, who is going to have any money to pay for stuff and then where will the rich make their income?

      Thats an easy question that was answered 280 years ago by Jonathon Swift. in his pamphlet "A modest Proposal". If you haven't read it, its here: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1080 and is quite a short and easy read.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Robots don't pay taxes...

        I don't think it would work. The poor have such poor diets you wouldn't get a good price for their kids.

        Who want's to eat high-cholesterol, junk food loaded Irish?

        It would only be profitable to sell vegan fed, free-range, organic children

      2. Dan McIntyre

        Re: Robots don't pay taxes...

        Thats an easy question that was answered 280 years ago by Jonathon Swift. in his pamphlet "A modest Proposal". If you haven't read it, its here: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1080 and is quite a short and easy read.

        Oh my goodness!

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Robots don't pay taxes...

          Oh my goodness!

          Perhaps Swift was being ironic ?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If low skill jobs are open to automation

    Then why do we keep importing lowskilled workers and allowing children to leave school without sufficent education to get high skilled jobs?

    Perhaps there is less satisfaction in bossing a machine around compared with a person.

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: If low skill jobs are open to automation

      'Then why do we keep importing lowskilled workers and allowing children to leave school without sufficent education to get high skilled jobs?'

      The first part at least is because it saves on the initial investment in automation which dwarfs the annual wage bill for a Bulgarian* fruit picker. The latter part is really just a sad indictment on the various education policies of the last 40 years or so.

      *Other nationalities and occupations are available.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: If low skill jobs are open to automation

      "Then why do we keep importing lowskilled workers and allowing children to leave school without sufficent education to get high skilled jobs?"

      The metric used to evaluate the head's performance is based on graduation numbers, not skill level of the students graduating. The ultimate used in Baltimore, MD is to just graduate everybody whether they have shown up to class or not. The staff and school board all get top marks for their achievement and raises all around instead of massive cuts to the annual budget since there are only 5 backsides in seats in any particular classroom and they are there because they are so stoned they can't think of anyplace else to go and the AC is on and they'll get a free lunch.

  13. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    We have to consider the human costs

    Being long-term unemployed or underemployed creates real societal problems. Marriages and romantic relationships are much more likely break up, children do worse physically and mentally, enthusiasm declines, suicide and mental illness increases, substance abuse increases, crime (especially domestic) increases and communities suffer.

    I don't want to go Luddite, but we need to incorporate these costs into getting your shopping done more cheaply. We've already seen where this leads with trump and brexit, and that will be a picnic compared to where we could be in 10-15 years if the more dire job loss projections happen.

    1. D@v3

      Re: We have to consider the human costs

      That is one of the points i was going to make. A lot of people here seem to be focusing on what happens when people on minimum wage, no longer are, and are unable to buy their 'stuff' what happens to the economy?

      What they are not looking at is, people on minimum wage are often not buying much 'stuff' because they are on MINIMUM wage, and what they do have goes on important things, like staying alive. Take that away from them, without giving them an alternative means of income and they stop paying bills, (rent / mortgage) and lose their homes. Cant afford food / clothes, resort to shoplifting.

      All these things pile up making someone who was already in a low paid job (for what ever reason) even less employable.

      Another thing is, the idea of re-training people (which many have already correctly identified as not being viable). You can only train people for the problems you have today, you can't start training people now, for an 'opportunity' that wont present itself for another 10 years, because you don't know what training they will need.

      Even with school kids, we can teach kids today, with the skills that are relevant today, what we can't anticipate is how the world will change in the next 5-10 years before they leave school, and how relevant those skills will be then.

      You can't replace someone's job with a robot then train them to fix that robot. What happens in the mean time (while they are being trained)? You need the people who can fix the robots before the robots take the jobs.

      Also, 1 robot does not equate to 1 robot fixer, so even if you could retrain someone to fix 'their' robot, say you replace 100 minimum wagers, with 100 robots, you retrain and keep maybe 5 fixers. What about the other 95%?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What about the other 95%

        They can be football stars (or their agents) or go on Celebrity Big Talent Island's Brother or go into marketing.

        Sorted, innit.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We have to consider the human costs

        RE: "Another thing is, the idea of re-training people (which many have already correctly identified as not being viable)."

        Rubbish, you do not teach them the skills businesses need now you teach them the subjects you are targetting for the future and how to learn, same technique as employed by the countries that took the lead off the UK.

        Why exactly should current business be any consideration they are the ones who are refusing to even train their existing staff without tax breaks and they are, afterall, mostly service industries trying to compete with countries without western infrastructure costs.

        The fact is that selling services is going to be dead for the UK once we leave Europe, that last advantage of being on the inside of Europe is going and that puts us on an equal footing with the rest of the third world. No more quality immigration as the attractive education and health service is already on it's last legs, not even decent weather. The only immigrants we will get after brexit will be those that have already been rejected by everywhere decent to live.

        1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

          Re: We have to consider the human costs

          Rubbish, you do not teach them the skills businesses need now you teach them the subjects you are targetting for the future and how to learn, same technique as employed by the countries that took the lead off the UK.

          But what about the (hypothetical*) situation where a country has spent years dumbing down it's education because it's all about recording the number of passes and not about the quality of teaching and a person's ability to learn and think for themselves?

          * hahahahahaha.

      3. MAF
        Joke

        Re: We have to consider the human costs

        They could become telephone sanitisers, account executives, hair dressers, tired TV producers, insurance salesmen, personnel officers, security guards, public relations executives and management consultants.

        At least until the mutant star-goat arrives....

      4. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: We have to consider the human costs

        "Even with school kids, we can teach kids today, with the skills that are relevant today, what we can't anticipate is how the world will change in the next 5-10 years before they leave school, and how relevant those skills will be then."

        Math!, language skills, reasoning, logic, library skills (how to find information), basic finance, home economics (if you can do basic cooking, you can feed yourself cheaply).

        Yes, there is no way to train anybody in a detailed way for a job that won't be defined for another 5 years, but if you are taught how to learn, you can adapt. I don't need to go back to school every year for science and engineering. I have learned (really learned) the basics and good engineering practices that mean I can teach myself new things starting from first principles if I have to. The verification of the Higgs Boson was easy to comprehend since I read lots of physics. If Dark Energy is figured out in my lifetime, I'll likely be able to understand the math. Not because I was trained specifically in Dark Energy, but because I learned higher level maths in general.

        You can build things not yet invented if you have a good box of tools. Both literally and figuratively. I like to think I have both. (Although my welder is likely toast at this juncture).

      5. ShadowDragon8685

        Re: We have to consider the human costs

        @D@v3

        See, the thing is, I agree with you. I'm more concerned about the human cost than the economic one, primarily because I know that if Trump and the Republithugs get their way, I will be the one paying the bill should I become sick or get injured somehow. Also now that the first digit in my age is a 3 and not a 2 or a 1 (oh god, I got OLD, when did THAT HAPPEN?!) and yet I'm still the most able-bodied young adult in my family (which is a massive switch from three years ago when I was a morbidly superobese hamplanet,) I'm having to take on more and more of the doing-stuff-for-the-elders routine that was the subject of my earlier post.

        The reason people are making economic arguments is that those upon whom the human cost argument will work are already won. It's those who would, if they could, edit the starving, destitute and ill out of their experience of the world rather than lift a finger to help them, who are the targets of the economic arguments.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    inflation

    let's not forget this has a real effect on inflation....making the min wage rise....none of a rise....and yes the rise flows up through the immediate chain... those on £8 want £9 those on £9 want £10 etc etc

    after a small amount of time stacking shelves for an hour goes back to being = x amount of groceries or y% of your electricity bill...no matter what they change in terms of statutory min wage.

    It does help buy a persons vote though.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: inflation

      One of the things I believe that minimum wages may lead to is wage compression. Though I've not been reading about economics for a while, so this theory may no longer be popular. But the idea is you push wages up at the bottom, but the wages a bit above that don't go up to compensate. So you end up with more people on the minimum wage. Not that anyone's have gone down.

      It's non-controversial that minimum wages cost jobs. There are some things that may be economic at £5 an hour, but not at £7 say. And also there are some robots that may not be economic when you can pay someone £5 an hour, but become cost effective at £7.

      But wages are also a price. They're what companies have to pay to get stuff done. So what drives wages up is when they can't get the staff to do something for the current wage.

      There are still labour shortages in the economy - so we don't need to be worried about robots putting us all out of work just yet.

      I also don't have the faith in AI suddenly becoming magic that many people seem to do.

      One of the problems is that modern economies do pretty much work as advertised, they are self-correcting but they don't do it fast enough. Plus we're not very good at moving between different skillsets. On the other hand, planned economies work even less well, and make even more people miserable and poor than market ones. So I guess we need government to do a better job at tidying up the messes. So better adult education services for a start.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: inflation

        "There are still labour shortages in the economy - so we don't need to be worried about robots putting us all out of work just yet."

        i'd believe that if there weren't over 400 applications for a low-medium skill job we just advertised.

        If there were labour shortages, wages would be rising naturally. They aren't. The figures are effectively made up and the real unemployment figure is somewhere north of 15%, not 4%

    2. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: inflation

      The fatcats said the same when the UK first introduced the minimum wage. I don't recall inflation being a problem.

      1. SkippyBing Silver badge

        Re: inflation

        'The fatcats said the same when the UK first introduced the minimum wage. I don't recall inflation being a problem.'

        Presumably because there were other factors* driving inflation down more than the minimum wage was increasing it. It's very hard to correct for all the confounding factors in an economy.

        *I'd suggest the creation of the Euro which I believe helped the Pound remain relatively over valued holding down prices in the UK.

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: inflation

      "making the min wage rise....none of a rise....and yes the rise flows up through the immediate chain... those on £8 want £9 those on £9 want £10 etc etc"

      They may want that, but what _actually_ happens is that the variation flattens out and more people end up on the minimum wage or only slightly higher as the wages of those below them are lifted.

      The economists call it wage compression and it was theorised a long time ago. Observations seem to show they're right on this one.

      WRT minimum wage costing jobs: "Yes, but not nearly as many as the monied scream it will" - and people being paid extra tend to be slightly more motivated (there's only a tenuous link between pay and motivation overall once you get to middle-income brackets, but at the low end people who aren't financially stressed out are happier and do tend to work better)

  15. the Jim bloke Silver badge

    Cognitive dissonance

    Opening paragraph of the article

    .... non-profit.. econ wonks..

    Are they just not very good at their jobs ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cognitive dissonance

      Economics is not just about money. The decision of whether to get out of bed is an economic decision. You weigh up the long term benefits of getting stuff done against the short term benefits of mmm, warm and comfy...

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Happy

        Re: Cognitive dissonance

        Given a choice I'd take "Mmmm warm and comfy" every time.

        Mr Tickle could reach the biscuit tin from bed. But for some reason, even he chose to get up. My only conclusion is that Mr Tickle was a cruel (and successful) attempt to brainwash my 4 year old self.

        I have bought a teasmade though. So as well as making me get up and go to work, it's also forced me into consumerist behaviour to benefit the wider economy. Damn those Mr Men!

        Although I'm not putting a biscuit tin on my bedside table until someone invents the self-decrumbing duvet. When will plastic surgery be able to give me 20 foot long arms?

  16. Tim99 Silver badge

    It won't be just minimum wage jobs

    Up until the 1980s a number of skilled blue collar jobs were in engineering manufacturing. A workshop might have had 20+ skilled people who were busy driving lathes and milling milling machines etc. Busy businesses ran shifts to keep the equipment running. After the introduction of CNC equipment (Mostly using Data General Nova computers where I was), the same workshop had at most 10 people left on the main shift with perhaps a couple at night. In those days we tried to retrain people or paid for them to retire early - Today market forces drive effected people into the minimum wage jobs discussed. I suspect that we are coming to the end of the economy being based on careers/jobs. Perhaps everyone will become a self employed contractor, with large amounts of "free time" ("unemployment")?

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: It won't be just minimum wage jobs

      "Up until the 1980s a number of skilled blue collar jobs were in engineering manufacturing"

      this has been happening since the industrial revolution.

      a) banks had rooms full of "calculators", people who did hand calculations, then used adding machines, to tally up everyone's bank accounts. banks rarely make errors any more since digital computers, and all of those 'drudgery jobs' adding up numbers all day went byby.

      b) craftsmen who made various complex machinery were replaced by assembly lines back in the 1800's. They became more efficient over the next century or so up until Ford more or less perfected the process for making cars.

      c) The "buggy whip" and "horse carriage" industries virtually disappeared when cars took over.

      d) ice delivery disappeared once everyone had a refrigerator

      e) milk delivery mostly went away [except in certain neighborhoods] once the supermarket had a huge selection of dairy products at relatively low prices. [my mother had milk delivery when I was really small, but when Jordano's market opened up in the early 1960's, the milk delivery was stopped].

      and so on. It's normally called "progress".

      It means that we must either seek out jobs that are likely to be around in 50 years [less likely], _OR_ train ourselves well in "general skills", and be FLEXIBLE, constantly re-train [I do] and try to keep your skills on the edge of marketability. ADAPT and SURVIVE.

      Some people call this attitude "Social Darwinism". Well, if it's good enough for NATURE...

      (pirate icon because after all, I'm like a "privateer")

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: It won't be just minimum wage jobs

      "the same workshop had at most 10 people left on the main shift with perhaps a couple at night. "

      A lot of places that only used to run in the daytime started loading up the CNCs with repetitive jobs for overnight work. One customer of mine branched out into making towballs this way and it became one of his main money earners within a year - enough to pay for a bunch more CNCs

      "In those days we tried to retrain people or paid for them to retire early"

      And this is where the whammy comes along for millennials. In times gone by, employment would be largely driven by the rate of retirement of the existing workforce (which is why after WW2, thanks to "enlightened social planning", the retirement age was made mandatory in many countries, to ensure there were jobs available for Boomers). Nowadays it's common across the board for a retiring body to be replaced with expanded automation rather than a new apprentice.

      There are exceptions of course. Electricians and plumbers aren't going away anytime soon, especially for retrofit jobs but the constant pressure to decrease costs is hard to resist when labour is the predominant item on the invoice these days.

  17. Gordon Pryra

    Howash!!

    Companies are starting to not want to pay for documentation or training of service desk staff.

    No way they will pay for anything that costs more than the low-skilled wage drones.

    And any automated system WILL cost more to buy, implement and support than a few humans

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Howash!!

      "Companies are starting to not want to pay for documentation or training of service desk staff."

      Some companies. Usually those companies which don't exist five years down the track.

  18. Martin Walker

    If the minimum wage was 50 cents, and a robot could do it for 49 cents then a robot would end up doing it. The real issue is neither the minimum wage or automation, but structural.

    Mega profits need taxing, taxes need to pay for the services we all need.

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Depends how much the robot costs to buy in the first place and how long you could expect it to last.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Take away message is ...

    if people want to improve their lot, there need to be fewer of them.

    1. Duffy Moon

      Re: Take away message is ...

      Reducing human population seems to be an obvious priority, but not one to which many governments want to give serious consideration.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Take away message is ...

        "Reducing human population seems to be an obvious priority, but not one to which many governments want to give serious consideration."

        There's only one _reliable_ way to reduce the human population and it isn't famine, pestilence or war - all three of those may give an initial dip in numbers but it's made up (and then some) in the following 2 generations.

        Making people better off (wealthier) results in them having fewer children. That falling birthrate isn't just a "first world problem". Over the last 40 years as more than 100 countries have become advanced economies they've experienced the same phenomenon. Places like Singapore have switched from pushing one-child family policies to actively encouraging people to have children because so many couples decided to have none at all. China's seeing the same thing and it's starting to take effect in India along with moderately developed African countries (despite the stuff you see on TV, the vast majority of families since the late 1980s only have 1 or 2 kids, particularly in urban areas)

        If you want to see where it is likely to lead, look at Japan. They call it the "lost (two) decades" due to deflation triggered by a falling population (Tokyo is shrinking and there are tens of thousands of abandoned houses in most cities) and a marked reluctance to encourage immigration. Those healthcare robots aren't there to put people out of work, they're there because there are so many pensioners need manual handling that carers are getting seriously injured trying to keep up with the workload.

        (FWIW, the best way to stop "economic migration" is to try and improve the economy and governance where the migrants come from, so they don't get encouraged to risk their lives to move to a better life. Those that carp on about "bloody immigrants" are seriously out of touch with the reality on the ground in many countries. The reality is that a large amount of work _is_ going on to do just that across the world via global trading (which has so far lifted 4 billion people out of poverty in the last 40 years) and the migrants we see are mostly from warzones, failed governments or highly protectionist economies which resist change. Africa in particular is not poor, just poorly managed in many parts)

  20. krismach

    Robot automation is coming regardless of the minimum wage. It's been replacing and will continue to replace jobs. It's not because of any minimum wage increases...

  21. Roj Blake Silver badge

    Manna

    Time to roll this one out again - http://marshallbrain.com/manna1.htm

  22. samzeman

    Fully Automated Luxury Space Communism

    There's a popular theory in certain far left spaces I've been in that when enough jobs are automated, we'll reach a critical mass where everything manufacturable and all services are low value enough to be free. Then, we'll enter a golden age of art, culture, and space exploration. Being able to fabricate or order any item, for free.

    The thing is, if the robots self repair (It's possible) or are very easily repaired, and they do every job.... there's no need for money. If enough people are unemployed and earning a universal income, everybody earns the same, everybody can pay the same, and everything begins to get priced the same. Currency, in its current form, ceases to exist, and instead people get what they want, when they want it, because finally humans learn to bend their 30 trillion tons and counting of technology to satisfy everyone's needs instead of just the capitalists.

    I don't advocate communism now. It's not practical. But it is, as far as I can see, inevitable. Eventually we'll have too many resources to limit them to just some people.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Fully Automated Luxury Space Communism

      "we'll enter a golden age of art, culture, and space exploration."

      human nature says otherwise.

      without incentive for GOOD behavior (i.e. a better wage than the next guy, better stuff, nicer house), along with the converse of DIS-incentive for BAD behavior (being lazy, drunk/drugged all the time, creating babies right/left with no concept of proper child rearing, etc.) you'll just get an ABUNDANCE of BAD behavior.

      So instead of a "golden age of art, culture, and space exploration" you'll get a "rotten age of hedonism, sloth, and anti-social behavior".

      [don't say I didn't warn you, and so did the fall of the Roman Empire, I might add]

      1. samzeman

        Re: Fully Automated Luxury Space Communism

        Okay, I'm bracing myself for a bad reaction to this (not just because of the points I make but because I ramble an awful lot), but it's possible that human nature you state isn't all humans, or even most. Or at least it doesn't have to be. The only reason it is, is that since Europeans exceeded their continent and colonised a lot of places, the culture down to a pretty fine level has been about competition.

        Pre-columbus North America is a good example of how a happy, widespread civilisation with always adequate resources can have a pleasant culture. They always had enough because they moved frequently. Of course they had to work, but it's the best I've got. They had trade routes and complex society, and the vikings even possibly traded with them at some point.

        I think personally the mindset that is required to succeed now does lead to the collapse of empires. That doesn't mean everyone has it, and everyone will have it, though. People point to lord of the flies as a demonstration of human nature, when really it's a demonstration of privileged white schoolkids when exposed to a harsh unfamiliar environment. The Roman empire collapsed because of a few reasons.

        Constantine split it into two, east and west. West was the home of actual Rome, which was arguably corrupt and becoming a weaker city, out of a lack of resources. The west half collapsed, the east didn't and it became the Byzantine who survived a lot longer. The Romans failed because they were stretched too thin and didn't, despite their civilization, have enough manpower to protect the lesser side of their empire, which was merely the side that held the name.

        Constantine effectively split the empire, moved the capital, and then didn't exactly let the west collapse, but he gave it its own economic system, which failed quickly as all of the luxury goods came from the east, in a typical east-west country split (think Germany, reversed.) I think it was a lack of resources, not an overabundance, that collapsed that empire.

        Maybe I'm a hopeless idealist optimist. I don't know. I just feel like every individual human is okay, so the sum of them all will be too, when there's nothing to fight over.

        1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Fully Automated Luxury Space Communism

          "To look at people in capitalist society and conclude that human nature is egoism, is like looking at people in a factory where pollution is destroying their lungs and saying that it is human nature to cough."

          BTW, you forgot the "gay" part - it's properly known as FALGSC, Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism (it doesn't mean you have to be gay, just that gender becomes irrelevant)

          1. samzeman

            Re: Fully Automated Luxury Space Communism

            Man, I'm sorry, I don't know what I was thinking leaving that part out. I'm paranoid that it would make people think I'm kidding (capitalist or straight)

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Fully Automated Luxury Space Communism

          "Maybe I'm a hopeless idealist optimist. I don't know. I just feel like every individual human is okay, so the sum of them all will be too, when there's nothing to fight over."

          I agree, you are a hopeless idealist optimist. As long as there are humans, there will be something to fight over. Sans a battle over resources, it will be a battle over whose deity is the one true deity or "were you looking at MY girlfriend/wife/boyfriend/husband? Huh?" or somebody feels dey ben "dissed".

          The current issues in the middle east stem from oil. They got a lot of it and the entire world wants it (and wants to deny it to somebody they don't like). So what do the politicians do? The pose, posture and send in the jet fighters and tanks. What they should be doing is sponsoring research in their own countries to find ways to stop needing so much of the black stuff. Just the cost of one F-35 fighter would sponsor a very nice lab for several years. Reapply the cost of a squadron and a likelihood turns into a near certainty of finding many ways of economically reducing the reliance on crude. The big upside is that sending less money into the current oil producing dictatorships/kingdoms may lead to those countries being less of a problem.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Fully Automated Luxury Space Communism

        "you'll just get an ABUNDANCE of BAD behavior."

        If you look closer at the antisocial behaviour (vs lotus eating), you'll find it comes from those who are economically deprived or stressed. Drug abuse is concentrated in the same groups.(*)

        Rat Universe 25 is a good proxy for human societies and is worth studying.

        It's worth noting that actual levels of violence in societies across the world are constantly declining and tolerance of violent or abusive behaviour has also declined at about the same rate. There are small upticks in decadal terms but measured across centuries it's extremely marked. At the same time and in the same way, society, living condition, health and life expectancies have been constantly improving since civilisations started developing (again, with a few upticks - 1914 to 1945 for instance)

        (*) The famous "rat experiments" showed that rats (highly social creatures) will drug themselves to a stupor when placed in solitary confinment in order to cope without going insane. Rats in a socially interactive environment and given the same free access to narcotics hardly touch the stuff - even when they're the same rats as in the first experiment.

  23. nijam

    > appear to buttress arguments that automation will lead to more unemployment

    or, more realistically, that raising the minimum wage will lead to more unemployment

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What we need is fewer people

    Not to worry, Trump is working out a solution for that with Kim Jong Un.

  25. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    we dont need jobs! isbt this what we've been waiting for?

    Robots to do the work for us?

    Thats what automation is for!

    We all go down to one day per week oiling the robots and spend the rest of the time drinking marqueritas!

    whats wrong with that plan?

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "We all go down to one day per week oiling the robots and spend the rest of the time drinking marqueritas!

      whats wrong with that plan?"

      To start, there would be no faster way for the human race to stagnate. Some dictator will still want to be master of the entire world and with all of the soft and lazy humans everywhere else, he'd have a better chance of taking over.

      There are already plenty of people on the "Margarita Plan". Though some substitute other mood altering substances. To institutionalize the practice might not be a great idea. Idle hands………. better the masses have to earn their daily crust.

  26. Korev Silver badge
    Terminator

    Car washes

    If this is to believed then wages in the UK are so low that it's cheaper to use humans rather than automatic car washes, resulting in a halving of the number of carwashes.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: human vs automated car wash

      "wages in the UK are so low that it's cheaper to use humans rather than automatic car washes, resulting in a halving of the number of carwashes."

      There's a great deal of sense in the referenced article, but one thing it seems to overlook is the apparent unreliability of automated mechanical carwashes, both in terms of service delivery and in waiting time. Back in the days before hand washes (frequently based on undocumented immigrant workers and bosses who care little for any laws) became ubiquitous, it could take ages to find a working car wash and another age to get to the front of the queue. Presumably repairs were tricky or expensive, as the ones close to me used to stay in the "out of service" state for weeks.

      Then along comes the hand car wash. Find a site at a negligible rent, find some immigrants of dubious status who don't want to go to the law if they're housed illegally and employed on illegal conditions, who unlike the machines don't need expensive repairs when they break, an owner who doesn't care about laws (including those re disposal of contaminated wastewater into the public drainage system). PROFIT!

      http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/economy/2015/11/dirty-dealings-how-car-wash-became-hub-human-trafficking

  27. Brian Allan 1

    "Yet Neumark, in a phone interview with The Register, scoffed at the notion of robot-driven mass unemployment. "There's an age old debate about automation and jobs," he said. "If we believed what that debate had to say, then no one would have a job anymore.""

    Another dinosaur ignoring the coming problem! Automation may very well make the majority of humans un (or under) employed, particularly those with little or no serious education.

  28. MachDiamond Silver badge

    It's not personal, it's just business

    When the cost of automating a job is on the close order of the total cost of having a human do it, that job is toast. People are a pain in the bum. They call in sick, they always want a rise and they steal from the company. If the job doesn't require any imagination, why have a person do it? Minimum wage jobs are also notorious for high turnover. Just when you think that it shouldn't take more than 30 seconds to train somebody to do something, you have forgotten that this year's idiot is a vast improvement and the goberment has mandated another several hours of "sensitivity" training so staff will know what to call He/She/It/youmustbejoking properly so not to offend. I'm unemployable for public facing jobs since I have the tendency to just burst out laughing or vomit when encountering the gender/species confused. I don't see my condition as a handicap, thanks.

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