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The Parts of America Most Susceptible To Automation (theatlantic.com) 267

Alana Semuels writes via The Atlantic about the parts of America most susceptible to automation: Much of the focus regarding automation has been on the Rust Belt. There, many workers have been replaced by machines, and the number of factory jobs has slipped as more production is offshored. While a lot of the rhetoric about job loss in the Rust Belt has centered on such outsourcing, one study from Ball State University found that only 13 percent of manufacturing job losses are attributable to trade, and the rest to automation. A new analysis suggests that the places that are going to be hardest-hit by automation in the coming decades are in fact outside of the Rust Belt. It predicts that areas with high concentrations of jobs in food preparation, office or administrative support, and/or sales will be most affected -- "places such as Las Vegas and the Riverside-San Bernardino area may be the most vulnerable to automation in upcoming years, with 65 percent of jobs in Las Vegas and 63 percent of jobs in Riverside predicted to be automatable by 2025. Other areas especially vulnerable to automation are El Paso, Orlando, and Louisville. Still, the authors estimate that almost all large American metropolitan areas may lose more than 55 percent of their current jobs because of automation in the next two decades.
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The Parts of America Most Susceptible To Automation

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  • and prison pop will go way up as healthcare will be much better there with no to very low cost. Then that shit high risk pools that you may not have the funds to pay for.

  • by Lennie ( 16154 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @09:14AM (#54353773)

    If you do anything on your job which you can be automated, which is repetitive, those tasks will eventually be automated.

    This does not automatically mean your job will be automated completely, but your job will change.

    Or as Edsger W. Dijkstra said: higher level programming languages: People thought that those languages would solve the programming problem [make it easier]. But when you looked closely the trivial aspects of programming had been automated while the hard ones remained.

  • by exabrial ( 818005 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @09:29AM (#54353831)
    Any "Objective Repeatable Task" is automatable.

    Objective: The goal can be clearly defined in simple words. There are few input parameters to the problem that affect the output. The output is easily measured. The decision process for the input parameters has just a few steps.

    Repeatable: The input parameters are similar and the outcome is similar.

    Examples: Roofing. Laundry. Cooking. Manufacturing.
  • Trump (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @09:33AM (#54353861)
    I just wonder how long it will take these people to realize that Trump is NOT getting their jobs back.
    • Re:Trump (Score:5, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday May 04, 2017 @09:50AM (#54353965) Homepage Journal

      I just wonder how long it will take these people to realize that Trump is NOT getting their jobs back.

      A lot of people are woefully short on imagination. They never learned to daydream for themselves, which is why they are so prone to repeating talking points verbatim. They have to have someone else's dream, because they don't have their own. All that was crushed out of them. But creativity is a key problem-solving tool; it's not enough to achieve success on its own unless the world happens to be looking for abstract artists, but it's a mandatory tool.

      These people are not going to realize they've been hoodwinked until the end of the Trump presidency, or possibly just before the end.

      • Like it or not the vast majority of people are neither intelligent or creative. What are we going to do with these people?
        • Thousands will be starving, so eventually the police won't be able to keep up with the crime. They'll have to do something like maybe make Manhattan an island just to keep all the bad people, and then they can survive as they will.
  • All of them. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @09:34AM (#54353871)

    Once upon a time it took 100% of humans 100% of their time to stay a live and gather enough food. Then we started to specialize.
    In 1987 2% of Americans farmed, and that's was the lowest number (total) since the 1800s. In 1820, when they were reported at less than 2.1 million, or about 72 percent of the American work force of 2.9 million. By 1850, farm people made up 4.9 million, or about 64 percent, of the nation's 7.7 million workers. The farm population in 1920, when the official Census data began, was nearly 32 million, or 30.2 percent of the population of 105.7 million, the report said. So we've gone from 100 to 72 to 64 to 30 to 2% of the population need to just make food to keep our species going.

    How many people did horses 'automate'? If you look at the cumulative improvements at a single task how many people with sticks [youtube.com] can a single tractor [youtube.com] replace? Think of how many 'jobs' we could bring back if we outlawed tractors? It doesn't mean that a 'farmer' has gone away, it just means they do something different. An engineer in 2017 has had most of what an engineer did in 1917 'automated'.

    Computers have been automating computer jobs since they were invented. Compilers are just "robots" that turn high level C into Assembly. I don't even write my own C any more, Simulink does a much better and consistent job at it. The autogenerated code may be a bit verbose but it's very explicit and bester right

    • Re:All of them. (Score:4, Informative)

      by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @09:43AM (#54353921)
      Actually apparently your first statement is a misnomer. Farming communities would have a crunch around harvesting time, and of course they could starve if crops were mad, but most of the time they only did a. couple hours of work a day. Cars and tractors actually created work when they were invented, because people on this side of the ocean were needed to build them.
    • Re:All of them. (Score:5, Informative)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday May 04, 2017 @09:43AM (#54353929) Homepage Journal

      Once upon a time it took 100% of humans 100% of their time to stay a live and gather enough food

      Nope. Hunter-gatherers had more free time than you do. Medieval serfs did get fucked over pretty hard, though. They did what they were told from sundown to sunup, and they only got time off for religious ceremonies. Even pyramid builders may have been better-paid.

      • by lgw ( 121541 )

        Depends what you define as "work": they were almost always working, but work mostly consisted of walking around looking for food or game, plus the constant fight against entropy when almost everything you use, wear or, live in is gradually decaying.

        Medieval serfs did get fucked over pretty hard, though. They did what they were told from sundown to sunup, and they only got time off for religious ceremonies.

        Sundays off, and all holy days (not just during the ceremony). Not so bad as you think, once you understand just how many holy days there were at the height of Catholicism - I believe the work week averaged 4 12-hour days. The peak weeks during harvest were a b

      • Sounds about right. Did you see the thing on netflix recently... it was a cameraman that goes to tribal places and hangs with the people a couple of days. All those really distant from modernization hunter-gatherer types seem so damned happy and unstressed. Although I do remember one African tribe having the ladies fuss at the men for not bringing in a kill for a couple of days, at least I think it was on the same show. I've watched a lot of this type of stuff lately.

        This guy:

        BBC Natural History Unit specia

    • How many people did horses 'automate'? If you look at the cumulative improvements at a single task how many people with sticks [youtube.com] can a single tractor [youtube.com] replace? Think of how many 'jobs' we could bring back if we outlawed tractors?

      And how many "new" jobs have been created by the construction of the tractors and all the support they require? Many people discuss automation and lost jobs, but don't see the gained jobs in other sectors. The jobs aren't lost or new, they are just changed and moved. Retraining usually will be required.

      • I want to know how many jobs directly or indirectly were created from the Steam engine.

        How many people did the foundry employ to just make the things? How many mechanics were required to keep one running (early ones took more days off for 'maintenance' than they did running). Before the automated luber was invented someone was employed to make sure every single metal on metal part was lubricated (with catastrophic failures). You had thousands if not tens of thousands of jobs just from one technology. And ju

    • Once upon a time it took 100% of humans 100% of their time to stay a live and gather enough food. Then we started to specialize. In 1987 2% of Americans farmed, and that's was the lowest number (total) since the 1800s. In 1820, when they were reported at less than 2.1 million, or about 72 percent of the American work force of 2.9 million. By 1850, farm people made up 4.9 million, or about 64 percent, of the nation's 7.7 million workers. The farm population in 1920, when the official Census data began, was nearly 32 million, or 30.2 percent of the population of 105.7 million, the report said. So we've gone from 100 to 72 to 64 to 30 to 2% of the population need to just make food to keep our species going.

      How many people did horses 'automate'? If you look at the cumulative improvements at a single task how many people with sticks [youtube.com] can a single tractor [youtube.com] replace? Think of how many 'jobs' we could bring back if we outlawed tractors? It doesn't mean that a 'farmer' has gone away, it just means they do something different. An engineer in 2017 has had most of what an engineer did in 1917 'automated'.

      Computers have been automating computer jobs since they were invented. Compilers are just "robots" that turn high level C into Assembly. I don't even write my own C any more, Simulink does a much better and consistent job at it. The autogenerated code may be a bit verbose but it's very explicit and bester right

      Please stop looking at the past as any indication as to how the future will go; it's fundamentally a flawed analysis.

      Yes, history has shown that automation has come along and replaced jobs. Our previous answer was to tell humans to go get an education, and go "do something different." That solution will not be applicable in the future when AI starts replacing even the educated human, and there is nothing for humans to go off and "do". Education is barely a viable answer today due to the obscene cost of i

      • and in the past an education was a trade / apprenticeship with university being for the rich kids.

        Now days trades have been put down and HR's people don't like them university are still very theory loaded with high costs.

      • What's more, as large parts of the labor force are put out of work, even the educated worker will find his skills devalued, unless those who control resources start demanding a lot more creative work.

        It's pure market forces: if there are fewer jobs out there, more people will bid on the work, driving prices down.

        Already, despite huge increases in productivity per hour, the worker is paid 50% of the share of corporate productivity that the worker got in 1973. If labor had the same fraction as in 1973, labo

    • Re:All of them. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by turp182 ( 1020263 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @10:56AM (#54354383) Journal

      Research has shown that hunter gathers work (hunting and gathering) far less than people in industrialized societies.

      Think 2-6 hours a day depending on the group studied.

      http://www.rewild.info/in-dept... [rewild.info]

    • I learned a lot about DRM from this website when I was much younger. It has only gotten worse since then, with DRM infesting not just DVDs etc but now John Deere tractors, which are hostile architecture black boxes preventing farmers from optimizing their super expensive machines. So there is no free software or open secondary market for GPS data gathered (i.e. something that would sense micro conditions and efficiently apply another tech). This is hugely dangerous to the human race at large since we are de

  • It's time for a I-hate-technology politician to run for president. "I'll build a Turing Test center, and Google will pay for it!"

  • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @10:20AM (#54354189)

    Automation isn't the enemy it's a very helpful tool. Unfortunately, this tools is displacing people significantly faster than new job opportunities being created. The industrial revolution had this problem and many farmers faced near starvation while the rest were forced to survive working in factories. People seem to think it was a time of great progress but the truth is that it was a time of mass exploitation. [bcp.org] We are going to have a similar outcome if we do nothing to prevent it. There are people who balk at the very idea of Universal Basic Income in a heartless manner because they do not grasp the breadth and level of widespread suffering that is coming. I hope that humanity has the wisdom to understand what is happening but I fear that our selfish tribalism is going to leave tens of millions to die.

    • by Daetrin ( 576516 )
      The people most likely to go out and do something violently reckless are the people who feel they have nothing to lose. People who are accepted as a part of their community, are secure in where their next meal is coming from, and have plenty of entertainment and leisure options are unlikely to decide to go out and shoot or blow up a lot of people.

      Technology in the form of automation is making the future of employment uncertain, while at the same time continuously increasing the amount of death and sufferi
      • Technology in the form of automation is making the future of employment uncertain, while at the same time continuously increasing the amount of death and suffering an individual can unleash against others.

        That's Silicon Valley. If geology decided to rip a new one such that Silicon Valley (and the Bay) disappeared, while causing something to do similar with Seattle/Vancouver, we'd probably be in a better position to keep work versus losing it.

        And to top it off the left is trying to currently trying to keep rolling back healthcare for millions of people with the ACA, while making access more uncertain as providers pull out.

        The GOP is actually trying to bring healthcare back, not remove it. On the other hand, their opponents would rather have a law that diminishes access and lowers the quality of what jobs are left (29ers).

      • See, you're saying pretty much the same things I've said on this same subject in the past, using different words, but of course the typical garden-variety neckbearded troll of /. will come down on you like a ton of bricks, claiming it's going to 'create a utopia for everyone', 'no one will have to work anymore', and their perennial favorite, 'Universal Basic Income will free everyone and allow them to follow their dreams', among other nonsensical things.

        A few points I'd like to add to the discussion:
        1.
    • Yet somehow, with all that automation, we are at less than 4% unemployment, lower than the number considered by economists to be "full" employment. I'm not ready to run for cover from the falling sky just yet.

    • by Osgeld ( 1900440 )

      if you are a starving farmer, then you might not be as good at farming as you thought

    • Automation isn't the enemy it's a very helpful tool.

      Unfortunately, Watson (the AI that betrays humanity, like the original one that betrayed NCR's John H. Patterson) needs to meet its burning end [time.com].

  • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @10:27AM (#54354225)

    While a lot of the rhetoric about job loss in the Rust Belt has centered on such outsourcing, one study from Ball State University found that only 13 percent of manufacturing job losses are attributable to trade, and the rest to automation.

    This could only possibly be true if one utterly fails to recognize the difference between labor intensive manufacturing and capital intensive manufacturing. Labor intensive means that labor costs are a relatively high proportion of the total cost of the product. Capital intensive is the converse. The vast majority of job losses for labor intensive products (textiles, basic assembly, etc) are entirely due to production moving to low labor costs locations. For capital intensive manufacturing, automation is the big driver. US manufacturing has been capital intensive for several decades now so further job losses will often be due to automation.

    Any time you hear a politician talking about "bringing back manufacturing jobs" they are almost always talking about bringing back labor intensive production. Problem is that unless US wages fall by a LOT, production of those products is never going to come back to the US. They will be made wherever labor costs are lowest and no amount of politician's promises will change that fact. The days when someone without a college degree could go straight from high school into an assembly plant and make a big wage are long gone.

    • production of those products is never going to come back to the US, save for regulatory pain making it easier to manufacture in the US.

      FTFY.

      The days when someone without a college degree could go straight from high school into an assembly plant and make a big wage can return with sufficient regulation.

      FTFY.

  • I speculate there is a natural cap on automation since we are proven incapable of making them secure. All the recent IoT bots show what will happen: if you put in too much automation criminals will wreck it.
  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @11:07AM (#54354465)

    I imagine that things are going to be very rough once automation _really_ starts cutting into employment in ways that haven't been seen previously. The ironic thing is that the "knowledge worker" is the target for this round, as most large-scale US factory work is offshored or automated by now. All that money people are paying to get themselves the education they need for a job is never going to be recovered if employees aren't receiving salaries to make it worth going in the first place.

    I graduated high school in 1993, and even by then, everyone was being told that there was no longer a viable career path that didn't go through college. And this was in the Rust Belt city I grew up in, where just 20 years prior it was possible to guarantee a lifetime of work by joining a union's apprenticeship program and working in a factory for your whole career. I distinctly remember events at the end of high school that were basically send-offs into the "grown-up" world like the prom and a formal senior dinner -- as if to say that for at least a chunk of the graduating class, this was the last time they'd ever see the education system again. Wind the clock forward, and we're requiring college degrees for receptionists and the few factory workers that are left. So now we have a more educated workforce, who may no longer have anything to do that will allow them to make money, start families, buy things, etc.

    I've done most of my career working directly for or contracting with large companies -- think companies big enough to have a huge corporate campus, parking garages, etc. Even in 2017, there really are a ton of corporate jobs that could go away in this next round of automation. Lots of jobs we IT people support involve taking input stacks of work, performing some sort of process on them, and putting them on the output stack. Look at how mega-corps lay people off in huge numbers -- HP/HPE just got rid of more than 30,000 people last year. I'm sure a lot of that was just idiotic MBA spreadsheet jockeying, but how many of those 30,000 people were doing one of these easily automated jobs? Each one of those 30,000 people probably owned a house, paid property/school taxes, some of them had kids, they bought cars, and basically contributed to society. Now, we're saying that even high end positions like healthcare workers are in for a big restructuring as more stuff gets automated.

    With no way for educated people to make money, what happens to the work-money-consumption cycle we've been used to for ages? Some people propose paying people regardless of their employment status, and I think that's one way to bridge the gap. But what happens on the other side? Will we have a Star Trek utopia where everyone does what they're best at instead of driving to MegaCorp every morning to file papers? Or will we have a Hunger Games style existence or go back to feudal serfdom?

    • I'm a deep STEM person now in a more bureaucratic job, and a lot of the people around me are boggled by the automation that I'm doing. Quick scripts to parse Excel files, co-editing Google Docs to create final drafts in 1/4 the time it used to take, creating Google Sheets that automatically parse data and make pretty graphs, all sorts of utterly trivial things that massively boost productivity. It's just that nobody in this office ever had the skills or knowledge to do this.

      Now, we're saying that even high end positions like healthcare workers are in for a big restructuring as more stuff gets automated.

      I don't think that even the low-

      • Even if we could retrain the folks that mundane office automation and machine learning will replace to be healthcare workers, if those jobs are gone, what then?

        Start making it outright painful for employers to offshore, contract out, automate, or avoid long-term/displaced.

    • If we stop having to work for money, society will collapse. Then we won't have an automation problem any longer.

      People only appreciate the things they have to work for. It's easy to see this in anyone's children who never had to work for anything. They are called "spoiled" for a reason.

      Work is a critical need for humans to thrive. It's hard to transition from one kind of work to another, but it can be done. We've done it many times since the start of the industrial revolution. We will do it again.

    • I imagine that things are going to be very rough once automation _really_ starts cutting into employment in ways that haven't been seen previously. The ironic thing is that the "knowledge worker" is the target for this round, as most large-scale US factory work is offshored or automated by now. All that money people are paying to get themselves the education they need for a job is never going to be recovered if employees aren't receiving salaries to make it worth going in the first place.

      Offshoring and automation aren't inevitable.

      One can start by making it harder for employers to avoid hiring humans directly, especially those displaced by trade and automation.

  • by moeinvt ( 851793 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @11:15AM (#54354505)

    The number of U.S. manufacturing jobs hovered in the 17-18 million range for about 30 years, 1970-2000. NAFTA was signed in 1994, GATT/WTO treaty was signed in 1995. Five years later, the number of people employed in manufacturing in the U.S. started a precipitous decline, going from ~17 million to under 12 million in the course of the next ten years.

    It's hard to believe that only 650k of those jobs were lost because of the trade agreements and the other 4.35 million were lost due to some huge wave of automation.

  • Given that it is taking from too many at too fast of a rate and leaving way too many people in a long-term displacement, it is beyond time to pull the brakes.

    You want automation, fine. Just make it a royal PITA to not bring in the displaced.

  • [allegation that trade is less than automation]

    Then hit both, hard. Their allegations only paper over trade-related losses with more prosperous regions.

  • Herbert's Dune spoke of a large uprising against AI that crushed it completely. Centuries of progress went out the window just because someone couldn't use it responsibly.

    If those behind AI/ML forget about or underestimate effects of the mass displacement of individuals, they may end up losing everything - where Ned Ludd not only wins, but does so gloriously on a global scale. If they depart from that path and start including humanity, especially the short/long-term displaced, they might live and see thei

  • My job is to write code that can be used 24hrs a day forever by machines. These machines and computers are already taking the place of human workers, never need to sleep and don't falter when tired like silly humans. I guarantee that I will be replaced at some point by a script in the next 10 years. We meat sacks are screwed.

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