back to article Stop worrying and let the machines take our jobs – report

So, robots are coming to take your jobs after all* but techies shouldn't be scared, not in the slightest. This is the opinion of the Centre for Policy Studies, which today released the paper Why Britain Needs More Robots, a report that claims Britain doesn't have enough automatons in its workplaces yet – at least not of the …

  1. Daniel von Asmuth
    Childcatcher

    Job title: Personal Assistant to Mn. Rob Ott

    Middle-class jobs are endangered, but robots are simply too expensive to replace the low-class worker. There will be work for techies who keep the machines running - until that too, is taken over and our species becomes obsolete.

  2. Pete 2

    No chance I'll be replaced

    > techies shouldn't be scared, not in the slightest.

    Not until someone invents a machine that does absolutely nothing.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: No chance I'll be replaced

      A perpetual immotion machine?

    2. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: No chance I'll be replaced

      > a machine that does absolutely nothing

      Like this, you mean?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqAUmgE3WyM

  3. Rebel Science

    The Centre for Policy Studies is, of course, a Big Brother, plutocrat-funded organization whose job is to BS the masses. In any just society, the people would be delighted to have robots do all their work for them. The fact that we are afraid that automation will take our jobs leaving us without a way to make a living should be a wake up call to the fact that we are slaves in a slave system.

    True capitalism is where the people own the corporations because the corporation are funded with capital which represents the wealth of the earth. The wealth of the earth belongs to all. We are being ripped off. Give us what belongs to us.

    The Biggest Crime of the Plutocracy Is That They Stole the Capital From the People

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      True capitalism is where the people own the corporations

      You're a century or two too late, sunshine. Marx put this idea forward, its been trialled and failed in Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, Cambodia, Vietnam, North Korea, and imposed on much of Eastern Europe where it also failed. We're lacking much evidence of success, but we can say around 40 million people died trying out this shit-head theory.

      1. Rebel Science

        Give us what is ours

        You're a century or two too late, sunshine. Marx put this idea forward,

        Man, give me a break. Marx was a friggin' moron, a mediocre mind. I don't believe in socialism. Socialism/communism is about government programs: free healthcare, free housing, free education, etc. I don't believe in any of that crap. I believe in a purely free market system. Just give us what is ours by right.

        1. RichardEM

          Re: Give us what is ours

          There is NO TRULY FREE MARKET!

          One has never existed and never will someone or sone group will try and manipulate any and all markets to gain an advantage for themselves. US markets were at there freest in the late 1800's and all I need to direct you to see how FREE they were is give you two names Fisk and Gould. Look them up and see how Free those Markets really were.

          Both the right and the left always forget Human Nature and come up with theories that sound good but don't work for long if at all.

          1. Rebel Science

            Re: Give us what is ours

            US markets were never free. It was never based on inheritance. Only an inheritance-based, free market system whereby the land and its wealth belongs to all is viable. In such a system, all corporations try to make a profit for the people who invest their share of the inheritance (the wealth of the land) into the system. Everybody should receive profits from the corporations in addition to their wages if they work. Socialism and communism (government controlled programs) will never work because there is no incentive for profits and hard work. They also destroy the free market, the only way that goods and services can be properly valued.

            In an inheritance-based system, artificial intelligence can simply be used by corporations to make more profits for the people. There would be no disruption because nobody would be depending solely on their work for a living.

            We'd better wake up, people, before AI eliminates all jobs and the plutocracy turns the world into a welfare society forced to survive on handouts from a thieving minority.

        2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

          1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

            Re: Give us what is ours

            The way I see it If robots taking our job is to be seen as a good thing , which it should be , we need a new system . We need to change from capitalism to .... something ...

            Whats that one called where everyone gets a basic wage for free?

            1. poohbear

              Re: Give us what is ours

              "Whats that one called where everyone gets a basic wage for free?"

              Romanism.

              You know, bread and circuses for the citizens while the slaves I mean robots do the work ....

            2. Rebel Science

              Re: Give us what is ours

              Whats that one called where everyone gets a basic wage for free?

              It's called Universal Basic Income or UBI. It's another plutocrat/socialist ploy to give handouts to the masses while they're living in decadent luxury. I and many others will rebel against it. I mean, why should the unemployed masses receive a subsistence handout from the plutocrats while the equally unemployed Mark Zuckerbergs and Bill Gates of the world are eating sushi and drinking champagne? What makes them so special?

              We should all have an inheritance in the land. We need an inheritance-based economic system. The wealth of the earth is the earth. It belongs to all.

          2. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

            Re: Give us what is ours

            Hey look, a fan of the hard left blaming everything on Jews!

  4. Filippo

    Umm?

    "recent trends showing a growth in equality"

    Really? Where could I take a look at these recent trends?

    1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
      Go

      Re: Umm?

      Perhaps the author meant that we are making progress towards a society where the vast majority of people are equally destitute and economically insecure :)

      1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

        Re: Umm?

        Cmon, be a bit more positive! on the whole, we are living in a better world every year!!

        1. Michael Habel Silver badge

          Re: Umm?

          Better than last year, in that we now have massive concrete blocks to protect us from disgruntled foreigners driving their trucks into a bunch of recently unemployed people's enjoying a local street fair.

    2. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Umm?

      The Top 10%'s share of income has not changed since 1990. Income inequality has narrowed slightly in the past few years.

      The change is within the Top 10%: the "super-rich" are racing away from the rest of the "rich" (£50,000-£150,000pa). You particular notice this in the money laundering capital of the world, Dubai-on-Thames.

      1. d3vy Silver badge

        Re: Umm?

        @Andrew

        "the "super-rich" are racing away from the rest of the "rich" (£50,000-£150,000pa)"

        Where did the notion that 50k pa make you rich suddenly come from? I know youre not the first, Corbyn made mention of it.. I would strongly argue that £50k pa does not make you rich its not even double the national average wage (~£28k).

        To be clear I dont disagree with your comment, just the dissertation that 50k is rich.. Well off maybe... comfortable definitely, but by no stretch rich.

      2. jmch Silver badge

        Re: Umm?

        Re rich vs super-rich - spot-on. On a worldwide scale it is highly likely that almost every reader of this site is in the global top 10%. Probably quite a few in the top 1% (which is 70 Million people!), and possibly even 0.1%.

        But as a result of top 10% being stable and top 0.001% getting richer, everyone else in the top 10% is getting poorer

    3. d3vy Silver badge

      Re: Umm?

      @Filippo

      "Really? Where could I take a look at these recent trends?"

      Actually he might be right, I cant remember where I saw it but I was reading an article recently that showed that we are all gradually becoming equally broke (With the exception of a select few) - the article was something about trickle down economics not working.

    4. jmch Silver badge

      Re: Umm?

      "recent trends showing a growth in equality"

      In most individual countries, the gap between rich and poor is widening, but the gap between the richest and poorest countries is narrowing. As western middle-class wages freeze, former 3rd-world countries' middle classes catch up, while the poor get a bit less poor and the rich in all countries get richer.

      So yeah, on a relative scale for most 'westerners' it's them getting poorer that's part of what's driving this 'equality'

  5. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Terminator

    Vinod Khosla of Silicon Valley VC fame disagrees

    http://www.businessinsider.com/vinod-khosla-on-it-data-center-automation-2016-11

    He thinks 80% of IT jobs can be "highly leveraged, maybe replaced" by "AI-type systems"

    My favorite part of his presentation:

    "In response to some anxious grumbling from the audience on Tuesday, largely comprised of CIOs and other tech executives, Khosla was quick to reassure the crowd: "But we're all in the other 20%, not the 80% that's automated.""

    1. Robert Moore
      FAIL

      Re: Vinod Khosla of Silicon Valley VC fame disagrees

      He thinks 80% of IT jobs can be "highly leveraged, maybe replaced" by "AI-type systems"

      He is wrong.

      For several reasons:

      1. There is not, nor will there be any true AI.

      2. Expert systems and "Machine learning" do not count.

      3. Anyone who has used computers for any length of time has solved a problem with a fix that makes absolutely no sense.

      4. There will be no sentient AI. I know I mentioned it twice, but I thought it was important enough to need repeating.

      1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

        Re: Vinod Khosla of Silicon Valley VC fame disagrees

        Does programming an AI to automatically turn a malfunctioning server off and on again count? :)

        1. Robert Moore
          Pint

          Re: Vinod Khosla of Silicon Valley VC fame disagrees

          Does programming an AI to automatically turn a malfunctioning server off and on again count? :)

          As Roy and Moss showed us so clearly, it doesn't require AI, just a reel to reel tape recorder.

          1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
            IT Angle

            Re: Vinod Khosla of Silicon Valley VC fame disagrees

            More seriously, every day some lucky factory worker somewhere fixes a car or washing machine by whanging an ill-fitting piece into place with a rubber mallet, but that doesn't mean that robots don't produce 98% of those items coming off the line, without human intervention.

            The same can apply to IT, where one human is left in the datacenter to do the illogical after the AI has exhausted the logical options.

        2. Captain DaFt

          Re: Vinod Khosla of Silicon Valley VC fame disagrees

          Does programming an AI to automatically turn a malfunctioning server off and on again count? :)

          Since it was running on that server, you'll still need a human for the "and back on again" part. ☺

        3. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

          Re: Vinod Khosla of Silicon Valley VC fame disagrees

          I love the acronym STONITH for that, and no.

      2. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
        Terminator

        Re: Vinod Khosla of Silicon Valley VC fame disagrees

        "1. There is not, nor will there be any true AI."

        Proof? I'm going to have to ask you to show your work on this one.

      3. d3vy Silver badge

        Re: Vinod Khosla of Silicon Valley VC fame disagrees

        "He thinks 80% of IT jobs can be "highly leveraged, maybe replaced" by "AI-type systems"

        He is wrong."

        It depends what those 80% of jobs are.

        Ive worked in large organisations where a good chunk of the IT staff were there to do tasks that could be automated with bloody batch files never mind an AI !

        Consider that the vast majority of support calls are "My mouse doesn't move", "My emails are not working" etc - these kinds of things can be automated through self service portals with a decision tree to build towards an appropriate response.

        I am currently in the process of building a system which uses automation to automate the retrieval of data from around 20 different data sources (Websites, Applications etc), compare and compile this into a report and send it to the appropriate back end system for review by a human..

        This task currently has around 100 people manually working full time to carry out. We expect that number to reduce to around 25. So I can completely see where he gets the 80% from.

        Look at another example, a company I contracted for recently had a very protracted recruitment/leaver process basically HR and IT didnt communicate well. HR required line managers to fill in forms and have them authorised before they were sent to IT to be actioned, the task would then sit in a queue waiting for someone in IT to action it, similar happened with payroll, asset management etc.

        So for a new starter you would fill in an HR form saying "Person x is starting on date y" this would go through an approval process and be passed to IT who would put it in a queue for hardware to be allocated user accounts etc to be set up etc.. often we would have people starting and their request would still be queued so they would be paid for a few days of "Shadowing" other staff.

        We looked at this process and realised that there was little need for most of it to be done manually.

        In order for the line manager to get to the start point described above they must have already been through authorisation for the spend on wages so we can cut that authorisation out...

        The new employee WILL be starting so there is little need for IT to manually review the details as long as the managers input is validated we can trust it so lets automatically create/close user accounts/email accounts etc (depending on it being a leaver/starter process).. Lets put a record into the payroll system but flag it for review before it becomes active (We dont want to pay anyone the wrong amounts). Automate the process of checking stores for hardware and if we dont have it lets raise an order with the appropriate supplier to have the equipment here on the start date.

        The process went from sending a form and hoping that it was actioned in time to filling in a form and within 10 minutes having confirmation that it had been actioned with a list of dates when you could expect equipment and other deliverable to be with you. It wasn't perfect and still needs some supervision but it freed up a considerable amount of HR & IT time because most of the tedious, repetitive and boring tasks were suddenly being done for them - no staff were made redundant in this case, they were just freed up to work on more important things.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          New Users

          Look at another example, a company I contracted for recently had a very protracted recruitment/leaver process basically HR and IT didnt communicate well. HR required line managers to fill in forms and have them authorised before they were sent to IT to be actioned, the task would then sit in a queue waiting for someone in IT to action it, similar happened with payroll, asset management etc.

          The NHS establishment I work for seems incapable of developing a solid new users / leavers system , despite having a team of people dedicated to it , well to one part of it - issuing smart cards. These people cant apparently do any of the other parts , like AD account email acc, etc that is shoved onto the already over busy helpdesk to do when they get a moments respite. And , get this , part of this so called system involves paper written forms - written by doctors! The team of people handing out cards seem to be waayy behind the helpdesk who do EVERYTHING ELSE and refuse to see frustrated users insisting they leave a message on a phone they never answer or check the messages or email them for an appointment that could be weeks away.

          I sit in the same room as the helpdesk and hear the chaos and frustration of users regularly . Its maddening that no one asks me to do it - but why would they , they have a whole bunch of people above me who seemingly cant make it run smoothly . HAND WRITTEN FORMS FFS!

          Key issues seem to be: some "customers" coming from different parts of the trust need different things and have different employers - due to the fragmented nature of the nhs.

          An inability of the HR(s) dept to communicate with the IT dept.

          An inability of someone - and i suspect this is HR - to tell managers what info is needed for a new employee.

          The inability of a team of 6 to issue a smartcard in less than 3 months.

          Its not fucking rocket science

          I'm pretty sure I could script the whole thing .

          </rant>

  6. fidodogbreath Silver badge

    Supply and demand

    The global economy is based on people buying stuff. If we are all replaced by machines, leaving us with no jobs and therefore no money, the economy will collapse, thus eliminating the economic case for machines that make things. Problem solved -- at least, for those who survive the global depression.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Supply and demand

      Problem solved -- at least, for those who survive the global depression.

      The rich wankers who flock to Davos every year are quite happy with this outcome. They don't mind if we starve and fight amongst ourselves, they expect to ride out the unrest, and then live in a Utopian future where robots make stuff, grow stuff, and attend to their every need. Who needs the hoi polloi?

      And by hoi polloi, I don't mean the wastrels found outside your average Wetherspoons, I mean almost all normal people.

  7. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Jobs going?

    Ok. That means less Income Tax/N.I. paid but more people on the Dole.

    Can someone explain to us mere mortals, how that is sustainable?

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: Jobs going?

      cos machines doing work.

      How bout this:

      Machines do all the work:

      Elected people in charge hand out the food ,warmth and shelter etc that the machines have built.

      Anyone who wants extra credits , for luxuries like mars bars , can become a machine mechanic (full or part time)

    2. d3vy Silver badge

      Re: Jobs going?

      "Ok. That means less Income Tax/N.I. paid but more people on the Dole.

      Can someone explain to us mere mortals, how that is sustainable?"

      Its actually quite simple, with lower wage bills corporation tax would increase.

      Because £11,500 of wages at the moment are not taxed low paid workers dont pay much tax anyway.. they are the ones first to be replaced.

      So if you look at a low paid worker on 12k a year they are only paying 20% tax on £500 (£100 income for the government.

      However if that person is replaced by a machine the companies profits are increased by £12000 *

      Corporation tax is currently 19% BUT its a flat 19% with no allowances so the government would collect £2400 in corporation tax.

      Even if the robot costs 11k a year to lease and maintain it would still result in a higher tax take for the government because of the different way the taxes are structured.

      * I know the cost of the machine needs to be factored in as it would be an expense, Im trying to keep it simple at the moment!

  8. John H Woods

    The current state of AI ...

    Me: "Hey are you joining us for dinner?"

    He: "Hi John, no not tonight, thanks"

    FB Messenger: "Start plan [for tonight?]"

    I haven't seen anything that remotely convinces me we have Turing Test capable robots now, or that we can expect them in the near future.

  9. John 104

    So... the people who lost jobs to robots, who pays for their new training? What about up and coming people? Who pays for their education to get some other type of work?

    And don't forget, it isn't just middle class workers who get the shaft here. Every self checkout station in any store is a job lost.

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      "Who pays for their education to get some other type of work?"

      Why do we have to work? this is the dawn of a new age where technology and robots do the work for us.

      We just have to fond a new economic model not based on us being slaves.

  10. FozzyBear Silver badge
    Terminator

    But even as those dead-eyed bastards proliferate

    At first I thought the article was talking about the latest batch of MBA graduates, not robots. Then I realised a difference without a distinction.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A short sighted story to medicate the masses

    No communism is not the answer, Socialism is the only check to capitalism - capitalism needs it to be sustainable. the road of capitalism is consolidation of wealth and resources which in the end leads to only one with all the wealth and resources and he/she/it will be forced to create an economy to make new forms of entertainment for their own consumption, via socialism, philanthropy, and/or investing in false competitors (which is a kind of socialism too).

    As long as your job requires open ended problem solving, the kind where you have to define the issue and the solution you won't be replaced any time soon by a robot. every "A.I." system currently presented relies on data sets to match expected questions to a outcome. Simply put, if you can number all the variables in your job a machine can do it faster and probably better, it won't forget that solution that you have not used in the last 12 months. If you are constantly faced with WTF is wrong issues with complex variables you will have a longer job life. Most managers are doomed as are most entry level jobs in basically all fields. Pay attention all you in a production type job, you will be replaced, they are already building data sets on the tasks you do.

    According to that Davos crowd, there are about 7 Billion (+/-) extra people on this planet, they just haven't quite found a clean way to Cull us from their lives just yet. The current method, expensive health care, is not moving fast enough, but it is working just look a Red State here in the US note the bankruptcy related to healthcare rate. Why would anyone want to live for five more years as an indentured servant in a slave styled shack? Just take the Fentanyl and check out happy.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: A short sighted story to medicate the masses

      Most of my job is automated already, everything from rules on my email inbox, to plugging in key words to merge into pre-written documents. I automated it myself because I didn't want to be doing all this boring stuff. So people think I'm productive, I'm not at all but the job comes with a PC so I used it to do what it's supposed to. It even looks like I'm working when I'm at home asleep in bed.

  12. Winkypop Silver badge
    Mushroom

    14 months 'til retirement

    Almost there...

    Almost there...

    Almost there...

    Then:

    Take over R2

    - Red Leader

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      We are going to become huge blobs...

      You've just described the average KFC customer...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I work with Quants...

    So working alongside robots won't be too much of a change, except the banter will probably improve.

  15. Ralph the Wonder Llama
    Meh

    A machine wants my job?

    Srsly, it can fucking well have it.

    1. Dr. G. Freeman

      Re: A machine wants my job?

      Yes, I don't think anyone would notice if a machine did my job.

      Although there would be more coffee available to everyone else, and a LOT less shouting/swearing at things.

  16. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

    Why did the readership of the Morning Star take over my beloved El Reg forums?

    Couldn't they just stick to taking over the Labour party?

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      Stop

      FULLY AUTOMATED LUXURY GAY SPACE COMMUNISM WILL WIN!

  17. Joe Harrison

    Private Eye cartoon this month

    Bloke (talking to cylinder shaped thing next to bed): "Alexa when will the machines take over?"

    Alexa: "Piss off human scum"

  18. strum

    Fortunately, there is a steady stream of new jobs made available by changing technology.

    Unfortunately, those new jobs are seldom available to those put out of work by new technology. It's the next generation that gets them - if they're lucky. 'Skilled' workers are no damn use (and they're too expensive).

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