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Description: A faltering economy explains much of the job shortage in America, but advancing technology has sharply magnified the effect, more so than is generally understood, according to two researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Date: Oct 23, 2011

Technology has always displaced some work and jobs. Over the years, many experts have warned — mistakenly — that machines were gaining the upper hand. In 1930, the economist John Maynard Keynes warned of a “new disease” that he termed “technological unemployment,” the inability of the economy to create new jobs faster than jobs were lost to automation.

But Mr. Brynjolfsson and Mr. McAfee argue that the pace of automation has picked up in recent years because of a combination of technologies including robotics, numerically controlled machines, computerized inventory control, voice recognition and online commerce.   READ REST OF STORY

Questions for discussion:

  1. Do you agree with this articles thesis that machines will continue to displace jobs for human workers and that this is a long tem problem?

2.  Do you agree with this statement? Why or Why not?scientific discovery,” they write, “the key to winning the race is not to compete against machines but to compete with machines.”

7 Responses to “More Jobs Predicted for Machines, Not People”

  1. Lindsay G

    1) Do you agree with this articles thesis that machines will continue to displace jobs for human workers and that this is a long term problem?

    I believe that, based on the pace of technological advances, machines will continue to displace the jobs of human workers. Because machines are able to highly specialized tasks very efficiently and for a fraction of the cost to employ human workers, it isn’t surprising that more and more employers are making use of automation. Machines are able to work long hours and don’t require compensation, which likely offsets the costs associated with running the machines. It was thought that there were some tasks that machines would never be capable of performing, but the Google car has proven otherwise. It seems that advancements technology will be accompanied by the automation of many blue collar jobs. There are many tasks that machines can perform now, it is believed that they will continue to be unable to be creative or possess intuition. Even though machines aren’t able to do these tasks now, there is no way to be sure that this will also be true in the future. I believe that job displacement is likely to become a long term problem, progressively infiltrating higher level positions as technology grows.

  2. Andrew Douglas

    I agree that machines will probably continue to displace jobs for human workers, but I do not see this as a long term problem because the key word here is “displace.” That is, machines will continue to perform jobs that were once done by humans, but this will also create various new jobs as well. Perhaps we will need less assembly line works because the process is more automated, but then we will need people to build these machines, people to market them, people to install them, and even more people to maintain and operate them. So although there will be fewer assembly line jobs, this is not necessarily a loss in the total number of jobs available, it is merely a shift of these jobs to other areas. In fact, this could potentially create more jobs than it replaces as we now need more support staff to aid in running these new companies in charge of making, selling, and distributing these machines. Also, assuming these jobs pay more (as they require more skill than most assembly line jobs), this would increase the amount of income that is available to the population as a whole and increase the standard of living as well as aid the economy in general.

  3. adam smith

    I feel it is true that this new technology will displace many workers in many industries from their jobs. And the machines and technology will even be able to perform these jobs more electively and efficiently at a cheaper rate then if it was done manually. But in my opinion this might not be a bad thing, yes many people won’t have the current job that they now might be performing, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have a job. With technology taking over our manual jobs I feel that they won’t be able to take over jobs that require brain, intellect, creativity and any real amount of thinking. And having these manual physical jobs taken by technology will only mean that more educated jobs and people will be required to run and maintain these systems. So we may be losing more of the labor jobs but will be gaining jobs that need more of an education. So I don’t see us as really losing jobs I see us more as becoming more productive and efficient with a more educated work force which will intern strengthen our economy.

  4. Jian Li

    I agree with the thesis that machine will continue to displace jobs for human workers and that this is a long term problem. The technology develops rapidly in nowadays. The artificial intelligence will be more sophisticated and will be used more widely. I believe that in the future, machines can do more jobs in a more productive and effective way. Also, lower cost and more economic machine will be invented. They have the advantages that a human labor doesn’t have. Therefore, for business whose main goal is pursuing the benefit, machine is absolutely a better choice. Consequently, there is a problem. The job machine does can satisfy people’s needs, then what do people do to make money. Although new technology brings new job opportunity, the truth still is less human labour is needed. Moreover, this is not just a problem for individuals, it becomes a problem for a family even the society.
    We need to find a way or new production relations to keep an employment rate. However, people who design or control the machine is the core. Their ideas and thoughts determine how the machine works. Also, using the machine properly and always keeps in mind that machine is a tool, people are the dominator.

  5. Thomas Davies

    1. Do you agree with this articles thesis that machines will continue to displace jobs for human workers and that this is a long tem problem?

    I believe that jobs will continue to be displace by machines, but at the same time, emergences of new technologies will generate more jobs to the public. Machines will displace jobs that require meticulous and tedious roles, but the we will always need a more intellectual element in the business world, ie: selling process, customer service, and many other different aspects that cannot be replaced with technological systems. When we talk about the long term problem, I think that a few jobs will be replaced by more and more information systems that will be in place. But overall, having these systems will just make us a heck lot more efficient by having information processed faster and immediate access to that information. In the long run, this will help us strengthen our economy.

  6. Blair Watkins

    I think that it’s a good thing that people are finding ways to be more innovative and productive, however, machines are eliminating jobs and it obviously is affecting unemployment rates. Does that mean that this will always be the case? I don’t think so. If things really do get as bad as these scientists think they will then people will have to adapt as well. That is a good thing. They kind of make it seem like the world is coming to an end and we’re in a battle against machines. It makes me think of Terminator or something. That also goes to show that we’ve heard this story a hundred times over. With innovation and technology we are opened to finding new opportunities for ourselves, and if we can’t find them we make them. Change is always seen as uncertainty. WIth the world changing in a technological sense fear of the unknown has people on edge. People will always be needed and there will always be opportunity for someone that is willing to look outside of his/her comfort zone and make something happen for themselves. That in my opinion is a big reason that the unemployment rate is so high. People have a specific skill set, and when they can’t utilize that skill set they sit around and wait for something to happen for them, rather than making it happen. So I don’t know if I agree that we are going to have to fight machines for jobs.

  7. Taylor Elderton

    I do not think this is a long term problem, however, it is a problem that will need to be dealt with. It is my belief that the loss of jobs to machines is something that is inevitable. The reason this is not going to be a long term issue is because as time and technology moves forward, new jobs are going to be created that were never needed before. Obviously I can’t say what these will be, but I believe the advent of this kind of technology will lead to a whole different era of careers we have never seen.

    I completely agree with this statement. In an age like ours, technology is always going to advance and move forward. Fighting against it will always be a losing battle. The only thing we are going to be able to do to sustain our livelihoods is working out a partnership with the machines. No matter how advanced machines get, creativity is something that is created from nothing, and that is one thing that a machine can not do.

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