Are American workers in a race against the machine?

Discussion in 'Media' started by hvactec, Oct 28, 2011.

  1. hvactec
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    hvactec VIP Member

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    Is technology worsening America's jobs crisis?

    That's the argument of a new book, Race Against The Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy, by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee. The authors contend that advances in technology have reduced the economy's ability to create new jobs for humans. And in the years to come, Brynjolfsson and McAfee argue, that impact is only likely to get stronger. Even when the economy eventually recovers from its current slump, they maintain, employment levels may not return to where they were even just a few years ago.

    Yahoo News spoke Thursday to McAfee (right) -- a top research scientist at the Center for Digital Business in the MIT Sloan School of Management -- about why a busboy might have less anxiety about his job security than a lawyer should, how we can make the automation trend work for us, not against us, and why this all this is good news for Lady Gaga.


    YN: What types of jobs are currently being affected most by the development of new technology?

    AM: The classic examples have to do with customer interfaces. So, clerks, cashiers, salespeople. We can now buy stuff online without talking to a person or interacting, check into our flights at the airport, check out of Home Depot, and just do a lot of these kind of routine interactions without having to interact with a flesh-and-blood human being.

    Computers are just improving by leaps and bounds in their ability to do that stuff. And one of our points in the book is, if you think Watson and the Google Car and Siri are impressive, you ain't seen nothing yet.

    [These jobs] are a big source of employment. Retail's a huge industry in the United States. They are good old-fashioned middle-class jobs in America. And we think that this amazing encroachment of technology is part of what's making the middle class feel justifiably kind of precarious and nervous.

    In addition, we're starting to see that, already, some of the pattern recognition technologies that we talk about in the book are having an impact in a field like law. So e-discovery is becoming a big deal. And anecdotally, we're hearing that a lot of companies and law firms are using software instead of rooms full of lawyers to look over documents as part of a discovery process. And we include a quote in the book from a guy who is now using e-discovery who went back and applied it to a huge set of documents that he had previously used human lawyers for. And his conclusions was that the humans were only about 60 percent accurate, and a huge amount more expensive. So he said, 'I spent a lot of money to do a little bit better than a coin flip.'

    read more Are American workers in a race against the machine? | The Lookout - Yahoo! News
     
  2. Oddball
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    Oddball BANNED Supporting Member

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    When the machines start designing, building and maintaining themselves, you come get us, General Ludd.

    Sheeeeesh! :rolleyes:
     

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