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aTechnology killing middle class jobs

Discussion in 'The OT' started by Cholly, Jan 26, 2013.

  1. Cholly

    Cholly Old Guys Rule! DBSTalk Club

    Mar 22, 2004
  2. Rich

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

    Feb 22, 2007
    Piscataway, NJ
  3. Herdfan

    Herdfan Well-Known Member

    Mar 18, 2006
    And we are all guilty of it to some degree. I will wait to use the self-checkout at the grocery or HD just so I don't have to interact with the idiot cashier. There are many things I would just rather do myself.

    And Rich, maybe someday you will get to pump your own gas. ;)
  4. jimmie57

    jimmie57 Hall Of Fame

    Jun 26, 2010
    Texas City, TX
    Technology goes both ways.
    Technology replaces a job. For that technology to be in existence someone had to make it. Then they have to install it and adjust it and repair it.
    It allows us all to have things much cheaper and better than it would have been without it.

    I remember back in 1973 when we got our first computer controlled machine in our Machine Shop. Everybody was talking about how they were being replaced by the machine with the computer control.
    The reality of it was that the shop grew and added more machinist and a couple of programmers to run these new computer controlled machines and not one machinist lost his job.

    As for the self check outs, I do not use them. I do not want to learn all the technical buttons to press when I go to pay for my groceries. We get way too much of that already with the automated controls in large companies phone systems.
  5. Sharkie_Fan

    Sharkie_Fan Hall Of Fame

    Sep 26, 2006
    Yes, technology can create jobs, but often times, the jobs created are outpaced by the jobs eliminated.

    For instance, in my industry (commercial printing), we now to directly from the computer to the printing plates we use. In our shop, that piece of equipment replaced 1 employee. In a larger shop, that single piece of equipment could easily replace 5 or 6 employees. Add that up in the hundreds or thousands of shops that have this equipment.

    Our manufacturer has 3 technicians on the West Coast, and they rack up the frequent flier miles travelling to wherever the machines are. But, those 3 technicians are working on machines that have eliminated hundreds and hundreds of jobs.
  6. AntAltMike

    AntAltMike Hall Of Fame

    Nov 20, 2004
    The article says that no sector of the economy will get a "pass", but I have been an installer of one sort or another all of my life, and so unless things I install become self-installable, I do get a pass.

    I have always installed and serviced electronic things, and on infrequent occasions when I needed to engage an assistant, I always favored hiring someone who had done physical things. For most installation work, I'd favor hiring a guy who had worked on cars over one who knew the difference between a volt and an ohm. One characteristic that distinguishes those of us who can go from installing one product line to another is that we can roll with the punches, so to speak. What makes me "me", and eminently useful, is that I can walk into just about any situation, size it up, and think: "Now lets see. I don't have the installation tools I need, I don't have the parts I need, I don't have the manpower need, and the customer doesn't yet realize that even if I do whatever I have been called out to do, doing so won't serve his purposes. Now, what am I gong to do to get this job done on this trip?" And then I come up with a plan, and if need be I sell either the customer, or occasionally, my employer on the plan, and then I do it.
  7. phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

    Jan 18, 2007
    Technology has always been a two-edged sword.

    The mechanical cotton gin, for instance, is often blamed for the flourishing of American slavery and the American Civil War. And yet, I don't know anyone who thinks the world didn't gain from the technology.

    It's like the whole drone thing, which displaces highly trained pilots, but keeps the operators out of harms way. We can't discard the underlying technology.

    And I think we all know about atomic energy. But how does one rate letting the genie of atom splitting out of the bottle? Good or bad?

    Maybe asteroid mining will be the source of jobs that will replace the lost jobs. Who knows?

    But, the issue of worker displacement cannot be resolved by simple hand-wringing or absolute faith in capitalism. The problem for my grandchildren is clearly stated in these three paragraph:
    To my way of thinking significant opportunities for society are buried in all this, but all such significant group leaps to "the other side" require a safety net as not everyone can jump high and far enough.
  8. phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

    Jan 18, 2007
    By the way, all three parts of this AP Impact series are available on line, likely through your favorite AP affiliated newspaper that's probably nearly bankrupt and employs 30% of the people that it did in 1970. Here's mine:

    Recession, tech kill middle-class jobs

    Practically human: Can smart machines do your job?

    Will smart machines create a world without work?

    That last one ends with this:
  9. hdtvfan0001

    hdtvfan0001 Well-Known Member

    Jul 28, 2004

    Wonder how many people have jobs to:

    Design the technology
    Build the technology
    Install the technology
    Transport the technology
    Maintain the technology
    Write software for the technology
    Test the technology
    Support the technology
    Update/modify the technology
    Create new technology
    Do the financial transactions and accounting for the technology
    ...and so on.

    Then there's the integration/related product impact to an instance of technology that has the same elements.

    That seems to be no less than 10X people (or job types) for each instance of technolgy. In many cases, that ratio could be 100-to-1 or 1000-to-1 for each related job/role. Many of these are "middle class" jobs.

    Guess that was omitted from that story for some strange reason.
  10. Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Roving Reporter Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

    Jan 7, 2005
    Kittrell, NC
    Multiple things in play here...

    Some middle class jobs are replaced... I saw something on TV the other night about a warehouse that was running robots around to pull orders! They replaced a lot of employees with those robots.

    Service jobs have been going away as many products are designed to either be throwaway/replaceable cheaper than servicing OR are merely component-swap repair jobs.

    Also, since assembly lines are often automated... many machines are being made by other machines! And, while people do have to think up and design and program these things... those people aren't usually the ones being replaced by the technology.

    In other words... the average factory worker didn't get to be involved in the invention/creation process.

    I fully envision a world not too long from now where many traditional jobs just will not exist... and while there will be opportunities for some people to train and take higher innovating jobs... we need far less people in those positions.

    We can only handle so many leaders... everyone can't be a leader even if qualified. We typically need far more followers than leaders... so a lot of qualified people will be out of work because the higher jobs will be filled.

    Forget laziness... you might be out of work because that kind of work is done by a computer and that computer is made by another computer... and all of that is designed/maintained by people already with those jobs.
  11. TXD16

    TXD16 Icon

    Oct 29, 2008
    The need for knife and sword makers decreased when the gun became popular. The need for farriers and saddle makers decreased when the automobile took hold. The need for telegraph operators decreased when the telephone became popular. The need for radio engineers decreased when TV became popular. The need for train engineers decreased when aircraft flight took hold, and on and on. Those who adapt survive, those who don't either quit, die, or file a complaint with their union.

    Technological unemployment has existed pretty much since the dawn of time. Those who adapt survive, those who can't or refuse to, don't.
  12. phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

    Jan 18, 2007
    The great hazard here is the lack of time for folks to adapt to the new technology.

    Again, I find the armed flying drone a good example though I hate to use the worst of human behavior. Even in Vietnam "carpet bombing" from an expensive to build and maintain B-52 was the technology used with heavy "collateral damage," though comparably expensive small fighter/bombers and helicopters were used in combat support with losses in expensively trained personnel with pilots such as John McCain being captured or killed. The expense there was the employee cost needed to assemble and maintain these aircraft.

    Now we have the cheap-to-build flying drone and I'm sure that ground drones are not far behind, neither of which will require the personnel to assemble and maintain. Sure there will be design engineers, but far fewer support people drawing complex plans.

    Keep in mind that the earliest "picture" of a gunpowder weapon is a mid-10th century Chinese illustration of a fire-lance. Guns didn't become the predominant weapon until the mid-19th Century. That's 900 years for folks to adapt.

    Effective use of manned flying weapons platforms were not seen until the late 1930's. It hasn't been 90 years and unmanned flying weapons platforms controlled from thousands of miles distant are being used effectively. That's 1/10th of the time for human societies and economies to adapt.

    Even the military is going to suffer significant future shock at the speed this is happening.
  13. hdtvfan0001

    hdtvfan0001 Well-Known Member

    Jul 28, 2004
    That's likely the best summation.

    Jobs evolve...people need to evolve with them...otherwise you get left behind.

    People need to take some personal responsibility for their own future.
  14. longrider

    longrider Well-Known Member DBSTalk Club

    Apr 21, 2007
    Elizabeth, CO
    A little humor on the subject:

    The bad news: Your job is being replaced with a robot

    The good news: We are hiring robot repair technicians

    More bad news: They are developing robot fixing robots

    The worst news: We expect no more good news
  15. longrider

    longrider Well-Known Member DBSTalk Club

    Apr 21, 2007
    Elizabeth, CO
    Seriously, I am somewhat more pessimistic on this situation, the new jobs wont be in anywhere near the quantity the old jobs were. Using an example right in this thread, the printing industry developed a machine to take the content directly from computer to printing plate. While a few technicians were hired to fix the machine, how many jobs did the machine eliminate?
  16. Rich

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

    Feb 22, 2007
    Piscataway, NJ
    Not in NJ, I hope. Do you know what you have to go thru in an industrial setting to have an above-ground gas tank and pump? You have to have a qualified person doing the pumping, for one thing. Here in NJ, we're lucky if the guys doing the pumping can speak English. I dunno which is worse.

    I've been in many states that allow you to pump gas and seen many people smoking while doing it. I think Oregon and NJ are the only states that prohibit people from pumping their own gas.

  17. 4HiMarks

    4HiMarks Hall Of Fame

    Jan 21, 2004
    Laurel, MD
    I will not use the self-check. It isn't my job. It is the cashier's job, the cost of which is built into the price I pay for my groceries. If they offered me a discount for using the self-check, I would think about it, but not if it doesn't present any advantage to me.

    In fact, I really like the Trader Joe's and Harris Teeter model, where the cashier unloads the cart for you too.
  18. Cholly

    Cholly Old Guys Rule! DBSTalk Club

    Mar 22, 2004
    You pay a pretty penny for that assistance. Granted, Harris Teeter has first quality meats and produce, but their prices in general are considerably higher than other grocery chains. Trader Joe's on the other hand, can be considered to be a specialty market. Across the board, their foods are very good indeed. Some are priced competitively to major brands. Selection of meats and produce is somewhat limited
  19. spartanstew

    spartanstew Dry as a bone

    Nov 16, 2005
    Wylie, Texas
    It's faster and more accurate. Those are huge advantages for me. I'd probably pay more to use self check out.
  20. longrider

    longrider Well-Known Member DBSTalk Club

    Apr 21, 2007
    Elizabeth, CO
    I will usually try to use a cashier but one issue is that since self checkout started there is almost never an express lane open. This probably hits me more than some as my shopping style is to stock up once every 2 - 3 weeks and fill in perishables in between. This means I make 1 or 2 trips a week with 5 or 6 items. Unless I want to wait behind 2 full baskets I have to use self check.

    Regarding unloading the basket, King Soopers (a division of Kroger) still unloads the basket at the regular checkouts

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