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Workplace Automation
How automation is affecting our lives and workplaces
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Rise of the Machines: How computers took over the stock market • The Register

Rise of the Machines: How computers took over the stock market • The Register | Workplace Automation | Scoop.it
Digital Gloss's insight:

This article on the technology behind the automation of stock trading contains many technical details, but it remains of concern that peple in the hard sciences (like physics) are still being targetted to become "quants" or quantitative analysts ("the people who write the algorithms that create the data mining models used in these fantastically fine-tuned trading engines") so that buy and sell orders can be executed at a faster and faster pace. As Frank Hatheway, chief economist for NASDAQ OMX says, "Once you have software that's sophisticated enough to do this, the ability to scale it is so much greater in an electronic environment than it was with a clever human who could do one or two or three stocks, now you can deploy a clever algorithm across 100 stocks, 1,000 stocks, 2,000 stocks, and potentially deploy it globally." And the risks of making a mistake increase proportionately (as in the April 2012 stock market reaction to a report that came from AP's hacked Twitter account).

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Will the Robots Steal Your Paycheck? BREAKING: They Already Have ...

Will the Robots Steal Your Paycheck? BREAKING: They Already Have ... | Workplace Automation | Scoop.it
A new study finds that labor's share of the world's income is plunging, and suggests the technology boom is to blame.
Digital Gloss's insight:

The author of this article goes on to say, "So why are workers seeing their slice of the pie shrink? Blame robots, say Neiman and Karabarbounis. Specifically, cheap robots (or, if you'd prefer, cheap PCs, cheap industrial machinery, and cheap technology on the whole). As the digital revolution started unfolding in earnest during the 1980s, the cost of computing power fell precipitously. As a result, the pair suggest that companies began investing in high-tech equipment instead of comparatively inefficient and expensive employees. To oversimplify just a bit: Robots really have been taking our jobs, or at least our raises."

 

Many recent articles suggest that workers are losing out to technology, but this article gives a lot of substantiating data from Neiman's and Karabarbounis' recent studies.

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Sympathy for the Luddites

Sympathy for the Luddites | Workplace Automation | Scoop.it
What happens when good jobs disappear? It’s a question that’s been asked for centuries.
Digital Gloss's insight:

Nobel-Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman compares those whose jobs are being automated out of existence today to the cloth workers of Leeds in 18th century England. These workers opposed technology because they lost jobs and a way of life. Krugman says that's happening today because of the influence of "disruptive technologies." His answer to the question of how we can have a middle-class society under these circumstances is that we need a guaranteed minimum income.

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What post-PC era?

What post-PC era? | Workplace Automation | Scoop.it
Tech writers writing about Africa love to talk about leapfrogging. Last week, a blogger at Thomson Reuters published a post called “Learning…
Digital Gloss's insight:

Smartphone adoption does seem to be driving many aspects of the internet and tech, but Rowan Moore Gerety says, "Recent studies in the US show that younger people are more and more likely to use their phones to replace computers, with half of 12-17 year olds using cell phones as their main means of going online. Partly, this is a reflection of a society whose every need and desire is increasingly tethered to the internet; it has become a caricature of modern life to say that young people carry their (internet-enabled) cell phones with them everywhere. But affordability is another major reason that both young people in the US and people in African countries have readier access to cell phones than to computers. It’s in this convergence that African developers have a real advantage: they are accustomed to developing products for a market where cell phones are the best, or only option."

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Has Instagram replaced Kodak?

Has Instagram replaced Kodak? | Workplace Automation | Scoop.it
I have to admit that I have not read Jaron Lanier's "Who Owns the Future?", but mainstream media seems to be filled with snippets from the book. Often descr
Digital Gloss's insight:

The author of this article claims that digital photography has not actually reduced the number of jobs in the photography field. Here's his argument:

 

"Lanier hints strongly that all of the jobs lost by Kodak should have been picked up by Instagram, if that is not the intention, then the analogy simply breaks down. But obviously there is no one-to-one substitution, Instagram does not equal digital photography. A more accurate analogy would be to look at other elements of the economy that have directly replaced Kodak, and this gives us a lengthy list of companies. Let’s just look at the memory card market, which provides a better type of comparison. We have several types of technologies here, including Secure Digital card (SD), MiniSD Card, CompactFlash (CF-I), Memory Stick, MultiMediaCard (MMC), and SmartMedia. Listing some of the jobs created by some of the top card manufacturers, we get a better picture of just how wrong Lanier truly is (this is not an exhaustive list):

Sandisk – 4,600 employees.
PNY – 1,000 employees in 13 company locations around the world.
Kingston – 4,200 employees.
Transcend – 2,200 employees.
Fujifilm – 35,274 (proving that you can make a successful transition from film to digital).
Samsung – 17% of South Korea’s total GDP."

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Top 4 Robot-Themed Short Films of 2013 (thus far) « Akihabara News

Top 4 Robot-Themed Short Films of 2013 (thus far) « Akihabara News | Workplace Automation | Scoop.it
Digital Gloss's insight:

This review of four robot-themed films includes a Malaysian film about an assistive robot and its human companion. Will robots assist the elderly in our society as this film and Robot and Frank show them doing? Will that result in the loss of jobs? Will it result in the improvement of the quality of life for older people?

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Are You Prepared for the Next Generation of Manufacturing? (Part One) | Emerging Technologies content from IndustryWeek

Are You Prepared for the Next Generation of Manufacturing? (Part One) | Emerging Technologies content from IndustryWeek | Workplace Automation | Scoop.it
Understanding the key technologies leading the industry today is essential to take on the future of manufacturing.
Digital Gloss's insight:

In this article Warren Smith talks, among other things, about the idea of the "industrial internet" and the notion that "Additive and 3-D manufacturing methods will enable rapid production of custom low volume products without the need for tooling and pre-production process."

He goes on to say: " In today’s market, robotics can be acquired for as little as $20,000 and provide up to 6,000 operating hours.

"In a recent 60 Minutes interview, Rodney Brooks co-founder of iRobot Corp estimated that the average cost per hour is fewer than four dollars, which is less than that of overseas labor. This new benchmark could change the way products are fabricated and lead to a resurgence of manufacturing in the U.S."

Resurgence of manufacturing, yes; resurgence of manufacturing jobs, probably not.

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The rise of the robots|chinadaily.com.cn

The rise of the robots|chinadaily.com.cn | Workplace Automation | Scoop.it
Rising labor costs, innovation drive prompt companies to use more machines in manufacturing.

As seen from a chinese perspective

 

According to this article, because "as the advantage of a cheap labor market gradually disappears and there is no distinct price gap between the products made by industrial robots and manufacturing outsourcing.... It could actually be more economical for US and European companies to bring jobs back to their own countries to save on logistics and transportation." But though those jobs may come back to the U.S. and Europe, they are not likely to be done by human workers any longer.


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Robots! Surrender! - Washington Post (blog)

Robots! Surrender! - Washington Post (blog) | Workplace Automation | Scoop.it
Robots! Surrender!Washington Post (blog)More robot talk but don't forget I was talking about it here first.

 

Tom Toles waxes a bit utopian about the roboticization of our future, but I liked "Why do we want to persist in the chase for a miserable 60-hour a week job, when a machine will do it FOR US? The catch, which was never worked out, was who would continue to give you a paycheck. So let’s work that out!" Yes, let's!

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The Next iPhone May Be Made By Robots - WebProNews

The Next iPhone May Be Made By Robots - WebProNews | Workplace Automation | Scoop.it
PanARMENIAN.NetThe Next iPhone May Be Made By RobotsWebProNewsThe switch to robot labor has come at a time when Foxconn has been forced to start paying its workers more.

 

The tone of this article is too light for my taste -- the workers at Foxconn have had justifiable grievances -- but the progress of robotics is surging forward.


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Reno J. Tibke's comment, September 27, 2012 10:08 PM
Hello, China! Welcome to Capitalism. Ummm, You Might Not Like the Next Part… http://goo.gl/Tq6bX
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The Rise of the Robotic Workforce

The Rise of the Robotic Workforce | Workplace Automation | Scoop.it
Famed roboticist Rodney Brooks is back with a breakthrough invention that could revitalize American manufacturing and automate millions of jobs.

 

This is a fascinating article about a new robot prototype that could do lots of repetitive jobs. But Brooks' assurances that it won't take jobs away from humans is somewhat disingenuous. When he says "The PC didn't replace people in offices. It made them more productive," he sounds overconfident, to say the least.


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Recycling Jobs Now Even More Dirty and Dangerous

Recycling Jobs Now Even More Dirty and Dangerous | Workplace Automation | Scoop.it
Recycling is easier than ever for consumers, but recycling jobs are more dirty and dangerous than in the past.

 

This article gives insight into recycling center jobs and shows that automation doesn't always remove the most hazardous or onerous aspects of a work situation.

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What Happens When Robots Eliminate All Our Jobs?

What Happens When Robots Eliminate All Our Jobs? | Workplace Automation | Scoop.it
Paul Krugman says were running out of jobsbecause theyre all being automated. But can we sit back and let bots do all the work without going into...
Digital Gloss's insight:

This article is a wide-ranging response to Paul Krugman's recent column about workplace automation and the loss of jobs. Though I think the author gives too little attention to the notion of a guaranteed income, he does also bring up the notion of decreasing the workweek so that more people can work. He says that people will then be able to choose between leisure and consumption and ends on this note: "Izabella Kaminska of FT’s Alphaville argues that, eventually, technology will advance to the point that we will be able to produce goods virtually for free. Labor will be removed from the system altogether, and everyone will be provided with a baseline of goods and services to keep them alive and allow them to pursue what makes them happy. In his book Makers, Cory Doctorow envisions a society where small teams of hackers invent new economic systems as they go, using new accessible production tools like 3D printers and easy-to-assemble microprocessors."

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Long Shunned, Robots Finally Infiltrate Boeing's Assembly Line | Autopia | Wired.com

Long Shunned, Robots Finally Infiltrate Boeing's Assembly Line | Autopia | Wired.com | Workplace Automation | Scoop.it

EVERETT, Washington -- Boeing welcomes its robot overlords. After decades of relying on Rosie (and Robbie) the riveter to build airplanes, automated systems are making their way onto Boeing’s assembly line.

Digital Gloss's insight:

Now Boeing is using robots on its production lines for the 777. Jason Paur says, "Because airplanes are sold in relatively low numbers, the industry has been slow to adopt automation. But things are changing as the pace of production increases, and Boeing learned a lot about robotic assembly lines during a visit to BMW’s factory in Munich last year.

 

"The company already has robots in a few stations on the assembly line. It recently unveiled its first robotic painter in a sealed booth, where the 106-foot wing of each 777 is washed, cleaned and, painted. Robots have a far easier time of it than their human counterparts, because their 19-axis mechanical arms have a reach of 18 feet. The paint ‘bot can lay down a single coat in just 24 minutes; human painters need four hours."

 

At the bottom of the page, there's a Boeing video of the paintbots at work.

 

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Robocars will take us out of driver's seat - Telegraph

Robocars will take us out of driver's seat - Telegraph | Workplace Automation | Scoop.it
Germany is leading the global race to build self-driving cars, reports Jeevan Vasagar.
Digital Gloss's insight:

Vasagar goes on to say, "Raul Rojas, a professor of artificial intelligence at the Free University of Berlin who leads their autonomous car project, has a more ambitious vision.

 

"He predicts that the public transport of the future will be fleets of robot taxis, cheaper and safer than the human kind, and capable of operating for 24 hours a day without fatigue.

 

"In a few years' time, Professor Rojas suggests, people will use their mobile phones to summon a robot taxi, dropping it off at their destination ready for the next passenger.

 

According to this article, there are still many barriers to the creation of automated cars, mostly technical in nature, but a concern for the elimination of jobs doesn't seem to be one of them.

 

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Laid off Sun-Times photographers' reactions from Billy Goat

Reactions from a gathering of recently laid-off Sun-Times photographers at the Billy Goat Tavern on Lower Michigan Avenue. For more video, visit http://chica...
Digital Gloss's insight:

These short interviews of laid-off Sun-Times photographers illustrate Jaron Lanier's concept of "canaries in the digital coal mine." He also says "technology will get to everybody eventually."

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Jaron Lanier: The Internet destroyed the middle class

Jaron Lanier: The Internet destroyed the middle class | Workplace Automation | Scoop.it
Kodak employed 140,000 people. Instagram, 13. A digital visionary says the Web kills jobs, wealth -- even democracy
Digital Gloss's insight:

Here's a short excerpt from this article by Scott Timberg: "[Lanier's] book continues his war on digital utopianism and his assertion of humanist and individualistic values in a hive-mind world. But Lanier still sees potential in digital technology: He just wants it reoriented away from its main role so far, which involves “spying” on citizens, creating a winner-take-all society, eroding professions and, in exchange, throwing bonbons to the crowd."

 

He sees photographers, journalists, and artists as the "canaries" in the digital coal mine in which we all get access to free content on the internet and very few people get paid for making it. He asks if this is the precedent we want to follow for doctors and lawyers and nurses and everybody else because "technology will get to everybody eventually."

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Micro-Drones That Are Completely 3D Printed | Disrupt 3D

Micro-Drones That Are Completely 3D Printed | Disrupt 3D | Workplace Automation | Scoop.it

Via Tony Sacksteder
Digital Gloss's insight:

Fascinating and beautiful 3-D manufacturing process, which will use fewer materials and less energy than traditional manufacturing, will also no doubt employee fewer workers -- and then there's the worry of what will be done with these tiny drones?

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WalMart Is A Technology, Just Like Selfridges And Sears & Roebuck Were - Forbes

WalMart Is A Technology, Just Like Selfridges And Sears & Roebuck Were - Forbes | Workplace Automation | Scoop.it
One of my favourite writers on economics, Virginia Postrel*, points out something interesting about the new TV show, Mr. Selfridges.
Digital Gloss's insight:

Yes, Walmart's inventory control is certainly a new technology. But the author of this piece goes on to say: "If we look at retailing in this manner, the way we should as a technology, then it’s also possible to say that WalMart has been the one technology that has increased the standard of living for the American poor the most in recent decades. something we don’t usually hear said but perhaps we should more often." Related to the application of this amazing technology are Walmart's low wages and the fact that it has helped to siphon jobs from the United States.Neither of these factors has helped increase the standard of living for the poor in the U.S. To the contrary.

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The Future Of Working From Home

The Future Of Working From Home | Workplace Automation | Scoop.it
Sometimes it seems that a new study comes out every day touting the benefits of working remotely--it makes you more productive, happier, potentially even more creative.

 

According to this piece, "Approximately 29% of people in 2020 will work remotely--the majority from home, project sites, and customer/partner premises."  I like the part about "most or all of the costs" of digital devices being covered by employers.

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Can Robots Bring Manufacturing Jobs Back to the U.S.?

Can Robots Bring Manufacturing Jobs Back to the U.S.? | Workplace Automation | Scoop.it
Heading into the 20th century, America was a predominantly rural country. Roughly 40% of the nation’s labor force toiled on farms alongside 22 million work animals. One hundred years later, fewer than 2% of U.S.

 

Read more: http://business.time.com/2012/09/27/can-robots-bring-back-manufacturing-jobs-to-the-u-s/#ixzz27hDa6tUh

 

This article contains an honest assessment about roboticization of the workforce: "But the fundamental problem of our age is figuring out how do we distribute the gains of this efficiency in a way that everyone can get a decent piece of the pie. Baxter won’t solve that."

 

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Where is Technology Leading Higher Education?

Where is Technology Leading Higher Education? | Workplace Automation | Scoop.it
By Doug Ward The rush to create large, free online classes has generated anxiety at universities around the country.

 

Tuition is high, and online classes can be positive for students, but instructors are right to feel anxiety as employers constantly find ways to eliminate jobs.


Via Cíntia Rabello, LuciaSilva
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Iterations: Recruiting The New Labor Force | TechCrunch

Iterations: Recruiting The New Labor Force | TechCrunch | Workplace Automation | Scoop.it
Most Apple fans become slightly uncomfortable at the sight of Apple’s latest television commercials featuring celebrities talking aimlessly to their iPhones.

 

Though the tone of this article is too upbeat for my taste, it does contain a lot of information about how our workforce is changing and being changed by mobile technology.

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The Robotics Daily

The Robotics Daily | Workplace Automation | Scoop.it
A newspaper by PCA_Robotics - updated daily with a curated selection of articles, blog posts, videos and photos. (The Robotics Daily is out!

 

This is a paper.li publication and so is a kind of roboticized publication about robotics. Nonetheless, there are some decent links to interesting content.

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