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Robots Are Good - Productivity and efficiency bring prosperity
Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 2/9/2013 | Jarrett Skorup

Posted on 02/11/2013 9:38:13 AM PST by MichCapCon

Typing on computers that have replaced typewriters, which previously replaced ink-pen and paper, some reporters write about the concern that increased productivity is leading to irreversible job losses for workers.

"Some experts now believe that computers and robots will take over much of the work performed by humans, raising critical concerns about the future of jobs," wrote business and economics columnist Rick Haglund in MLive.

Haglund’s piece came after a recent Associated Press article, “Recession, tech killing middle-class jobs” that also questioned advances in technology.

"For decades, science fiction warned of a future when we would be architects of our own obsolescence, replaced by our machines," read the AP. "An Associated Press analysis finds that the future has arrived."

Luckily for workers, the idea that robots and technology will lead to overall widespread job losses is nonsense.

These predictions have been made since the Industrial Revolution and before — and gains momentum whenever new technology arises. Right now, people think of machines replacing autoworkers and grocery store clerks, but decades ago, neo-Luddites worried about cars replacing horses and tractors substituting farmers. As I noted in an article last summer:

When this country was founded, approximately 90 percent of people worked in agriculture. By 1900, growing enough food only required 40 out of every 100 workers. Today, less than 1 percent of U.S. workers feed not just America, but many more people all around the world. The massive increase in farm productivity is purely due to technology. Farmers used to harvest grain with a sickle, but then came Mr. McCormick’s reaper, followed by motor-driven tractors and combines. More recently, chemical and biological advancements have greatly increased yields. With each advance, fewer workers were needed to grow food. To cite just one example, today American farms produce five times as much corn on 20 percent less land than 70 years ago.

And yet the loss of all those farm jobs did not produce 89 percent unemployment … because the greater efficiency in farming equipment freed up resources to move into other areas of the economy.

A main part of the workforce in America has gone from family farms to mass agriculture to manufacturing to service-sector jobs all because of technological advancements. The idea that new products will continue to substantially change the economy and workforce is to be expected.

But while change can be difficult in the short-term and lead to temporary job losses, it is good for the overall economy. In economics, this is known as “creative destruction” — the practice of less efficient segments of the economy being replaced by more productive and innovative businesses.

This increased efficiency has lead to real gains for the average person. As economists Mark Perry and Don Boudreaux write in The Wall Street Journal, the standard of living has increased substantially over time:

No single measure of well-being is more informative or important than life expectancy. Happily, an American born today can expect to live approximately 79 years — a full five years longer than in 1980 and more than a decade longer than in 1950. These longer life spans aren't just enjoyed by "privileged" Americans. As the New York Times reported this past June 7, "The gap in life expectancy between whites and blacks in America has narrowed, reaching the lowest point ever recorded." This necessarily means that life expectancy for blacks has risen even more impressively than it has for whites. Americans are also much better able to enjoy their longer lives. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, spending by households on many of modern life's "basics" — food at home, automobiles, clothing and footwear, household furnishings and equipment, and housing and utilities — fell from 53% of disposable income in 1950 to 44% in 1970 to 32% today. As spending on these items fell, people were freed up to spend money in other areas of life. In turn, jobs were created in other industries.

The loss of a job and the economic hardship it leads to is tough. But greater government involvement into the economy to hold on to older and less efficient industries would lead to less productivity, less innovation and less prosperity for everyone.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Science
KEYWORDS: robots; technology

1 posted on 02/11/2013 9:38:18 AM PST by MichCapCon
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To: MichCapCon

There is an “Obama in the ointment” of the computer argument, however.

If computers were supposed to start first at eliminating menial jobs that require little IQ, why do we still have a congress?

Not to speak of the Obamadork......


2 posted on 02/11/2013 9:41:56 AM PST by Da Coyote
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To: MichCapCon; cripplecreek
HA! I can't think of any situation where Robots and Artificial Intelligence might be dangerous

Except for....

...Um...

...Um...

...Um...

...Um...

...Um...

....Um.....


3 posted on 02/11/2013 9:44:18 AM PST by KC_Lion (Build the America you want to live in at your address, and keep looking up.-Sarah Palin)
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To: MichCapCon

Just another push to make our economy based on service type jobs. All manufacturing and engineering will be done overseas. I guess the logical step would be for humans to own robots and send them to work, but then libtards will scream we are violating their robot rights and the wage they earn is theirs and since they are all workers they must be democrats, right? So all money got to union dues.


4 posted on 02/11/2013 9:47:55 AM PST by Resolute Conservative
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To: MichCapCon

Just another push to make our economy based on service type jobs. All manufacturing and engineering will be done overseas. I guess the logical step would be for humans to own robots and send them to work, but then libtards will scream we are violating their robot rights and the wage they earn is theirs and since they are all workers they must be democrats, right? So all money got to union dues.


5 posted on 02/11/2013 9:48:46 AM PST by Resolute Conservative
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To: MichCapCon

What’s that I read somewhere about “Idle hands”.


6 posted on 02/11/2013 9:52:21 AM PST by dfwgator
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To: MichCapCon

7 posted on 02/11/2013 10:06:13 AM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: MichCapCon

The luddites have always had the same argument and they have always been wrong.

When kids at home are using 3-d printers to make their own toys will Mattel be suing?


8 posted on 02/11/2013 10:06:44 AM PST by GeronL (http://asspos.blogspot.com)
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To: Springman; Sioux-san; 70th Division; JPG; PGalt; DuncanWaring; taildragger; epluribus_2; Chuck54; ..
Bots are good and even great for some things but they're not going to replace humans anytime soon.

If anyone wants to be added to the Michigan Cap Con ping list, let me know.
9 posted on 02/11/2013 10:07:55 AM PST by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: cripplecreek

Bots are good and even great for some things but they’re not going to replace SMART humans anytime soon.

There, fixed it....But what about the rest of the people who will just be sitting around idle?


10 posted on 02/11/2013 10:09:57 AM PST by dfwgator
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To: dfwgator

11 posted on 02/11/2013 10:13:08 AM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: MichCapCon

Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

In other words, just because the Luddites were wrong before...

For example, look at the millions on government paychecks.

In what business would they be otherwise employed?


12 posted on 02/11/2013 10:13:44 AM PST by P.O.E. (Pray for America)
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To: Resolute Conservative

We still produce about $2 trillion of manufactured goods each year in the US. We just don’t use as many workers to do so, compared with the past.


13 posted on 02/11/2013 10:17:00 AM PST by riverdawg
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To: GeronL

Having worked with robots I can confidently say that we’re in no danger of being replaced. Its an imperfect world and robots operate within a perfect set of parameters for them.

On the other hand there are some jobs which are extremely dangerous where we can only hope they’ll replace us.


14 posted on 02/11/2013 10:17:24 AM PST by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: cripplecreek

And you don’t have to worry about robots failing drug tests.


15 posted on 02/11/2013 10:19:07 AM PST by dfwgator
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To: P.O.E.
For example, look at the millions on government paychecks. In what business would they be otherwise employed?

I wouldn't trust them to paint my fence.

16 posted on 02/11/2013 10:20:06 AM PST by dfwgator
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To: dfwgator

Robots don’t play grabass or repeat shop gossip.


17 posted on 02/11/2013 10:23:00 AM PST by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: KC_Lion
Um...


18 posted on 02/11/2013 10:24:34 AM PST by raybbr (People who still support Obama are either a Marxist or a moron.)
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To: MichCapCon

I worked for over 20 years in the field of industrial automation, mainly in the automotive industry in Michigan. At first the push was to automate every process you possibly could. But, by the mid 90’s, with NAFTA, and normalized trade with china, companies started shifting from highly automated processes, back to manual labor processes. The reasoning was clear, for a given investment in capital equipment, and labor and shipping costs, nobody could compete against china and asia. So the trend by the late 90’s was at first building manual manufacturing equipment to china, soon followed by advanced manufacturing machinery (think CNC and precision machining equipment). Now, a dozen or so years later, the chinese have the technology to out do us with our own technology. And worse, they manufacture most of the precision CNC and advanced technology components we use now. The “cheap consumer products” notion doesn’t apply anymore, and hasn’t for some time. The chinese now have the upper hand, they can send us back to the stone ages with one embargo if they wanted to. The US basically sold their industrial infrastructure to the communists, and could pretty much could care less, as long as they got theirs.


19 posted on 02/11/2013 10:25:23 AM PST by factoryrat (We are the producers, the creators. Grow it, mine it, build it.)
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To: Resolute Conservative; All

So we should stop technology all in the name of saving jobs??


20 posted on 02/11/2013 10:28:53 AM PST by KevinDavis (And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.)
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To: dfwgator

Heck, they can’t even keep their own abodes in order.


21 posted on 02/11/2013 10:30:10 AM PST by P.O.E. (Pray for America)
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To: KevinDavis

Trying to stop technology is like putting up a ten-foot wall to stop a 100-foot tsunami wave.


22 posted on 02/11/2013 10:30:42 AM PST by dfwgator
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To: factoryrat

Manufacturing is a national security issue. The real danger of the robotics is the loss of knowledge.


23 posted on 02/11/2013 10:30:49 AM PST by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: raybbr

24 posted on 02/11/2013 10:37:16 AM PST by Adams (Fight on!)
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To: cripplecreek
Robots don’t play grabass or repeat shop gossip.

I disagree cripple ;)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SUWirDGJZc


25 posted on 02/11/2013 10:39:34 AM PST by KC_Lion (Build the America you want to live in at your address, and keep looking up.-Sarah Palin)
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To: dfwgator
ASIMO is VERY cool !
26 posted on 02/11/2013 10:40:25 AM PST by knarf (I say things that are true ... I have no proof ... but they're true)
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To: Adams

27 posted on 02/11/2013 10:40:55 AM PST by raybbr (People who still support Obama are either a Marxist or a moron.)
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To: KC_Lion
Photobucket
28 posted on 02/11/2013 10:43:55 AM PST by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: raybbr

29 posted on 02/11/2013 10:45:35 AM PST by Bratch
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To: Bratch
Look out...


30 posted on 02/11/2013 10:51:57 AM PST by raybbr (People who still support Obama are either a Marxist or a moron.)
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To: KevinDavis

No. However we don’t need to become a society based entirely on us (people) sitting on our duffs and become “enlightened” to the point we are morphed into fat blobs of latte coffee while tracking what our neighbors are doing for breakfast, lunch and dinner (fb mentality). I can see that happening quicker than not. Not to mention who controls these robots once we evolve them to become almost humanly independent. Is there are override chip so the feds can take control when they deem necessary to control output or in a larger conspiracy theme turn them against us?


31 posted on 02/11/2013 10:58:32 AM PST by Resolute Conservative
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To: riverdawg

And that would be an even better number if we quit trying so hard to be globalist and create everything here and only import raw goods, at least until the playing field is level as far as import/export tariffs and such.


32 posted on 02/11/2013 10:59:55 AM PST by Resolute Conservative
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To: cripplecreek

Yes, that is a very disturbing facet of outsourcing. The worst part is that we’ve armed our potential future enemies with the ability to create anything that we can come up with, and use it against us. The chinese gained some very valuable insight, and learned some very valuable lessons from the fall of the soviet union. The point to remember is this: the chinese are EFFIN COMMUNISTS!!!. WHAT PART OF THAT DO PEOPLE HERE NOT UNDERSTAND???. Alas, with you and me coming from Michigan, we’ve had to witness the destruction of our industrial infrastructure up close and personal. I’ll take what I learned, and put it to good use, against those who put profit above country.


33 posted on 02/11/2013 11:01:15 AM PST by factoryrat (We are the producers, the creators. Grow it, mine it, build it.)
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To: factoryrat

There’s a revolution in robotics just like the PC revolution in computers: changing from large centralized robots to small distributed networked servos. 5 years ago we had a 1/4 million dollar robot the size of a backhoe placing .1 oz. inserts in packages. Now that can be done by a $50k robot the size of a breadbox. Which device can be quickly reprogrammed to do any similar task.

Eveything our competitors have can be obsolete in 3 years.


34 posted on 02/11/2013 11:05:38 AM PST by mrsmith (Dumb sluts: Lifeblood of the Media, Backbone of the Democrat Party!)
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To: factoryrat
Don't get caught up in ideologies....To borrow a quote from the movie "Network", "What do you think the Russians talk about in their Councils of State — Karl Marx? They get out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories, minimax solutions, and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions and investments, just like we do."

With China, it's not about political ideology, but race....every bit as much as it was with the Nazis.

35 posted on 02/11/2013 11:06:11 AM PST by dfwgator
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To: MichCapCon

The faster that people can transition from one technology to another, the less that people will complain. The more that someone is included in the progress, the more that they will go along with it - including robots. Finally, the longer that someone benefits from that transition, the more value that they will see in making it.

That aside, I’m not sure that the “service economy” is anything other than something that happens in bad economic conditions. Expecting everyone to be consultants or otherwise marginally attached to work(especially for long amounts of time in places normally associated with more permanent work) does not work for everybody. The service sector mindset simply isn’t in everyone that wishes to be productive.


36 posted on 02/11/2013 11:13:43 AM PST by setha (It is past time for the United States to take back what the world took away.)
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To: mrsmith

I have no problem with advancements and improvements in technology. I’ve seen it first hand. The point I’m making is that the future advancements are being shifted to future enemies solely for profit, consequences be damned. The chinese are waking up to the fact that they don’t NEED us for techonlogical innovation anymore. They have the funds and resources to sweep us aside, and do what they want, and eventually conquer. The one thing to remember is that private property rights do not exist in communist china. All of those factories in china reside there solely by their good graces. When they decide to, all of that manufacturing capacity becomes the property of their government, with no recourse. If you build your stuff in china, that stuff, along with the know how, no longer belongs to you. Sorry, but you will be SOL.


37 posted on 02/11/2013 11:27:19 AM PST by factoryrat (We are the producers, the creators. Grow it, mine it, build it.)
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To: MichCapCon; All
Check out this clip: "Fastest Robot in the World"
38 posted on 02/11/2013 11:38:43 AM PST by ken5050 ("One useless man is a shame, two are a law firm, three or more are a Congress".. John Adams)
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To: factoryrat

“The one thing to remember is that private property rights do not exist in communist china.”

And the IRS, OSHA, EPA, etc. have severely limited them here. Making it comparatively less of a risk to manufacture overseas.
Along with the goverment sucking up capital for it’s welfare system and facilitating the trial lawyers, it’s probably more risky to build here.

It’s not investors building up our enemies, it’s our government.


39 posted on 02/11/2013 12:26:35 PM PST by mrsmith (Dumb sluts: Lifeblood of the Media, Backbone of the Democrat Party!)
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