A faltering economy explains much of the job shortage in America, but advancing technology has sharply magnified the effect, more so than is generally understood, according to two researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The automation of more and more work once done by humans is the central theme of “Race Against the Machine,” an e-book to be published on Monday.
“Many workers, in short, are losing the race against the machine,” the authors write.
[ ]….But Mr. Brynjolfsson and Mr. McAfee argue that the pace of automation has picked up in recent years because of a combination of technologies including robotics, numerically controlled machines, computerized inventory control, voice recognition and online commerce.
Faster, cheaper computers and increasingly clever software, the authors say, are giving machines capabilities that were once thought to be distinctively human, like understanding speech, translating from one language to another and recognizing patterns. So automation is rapidly moving beyond factories to jobs in call centers, marketing and sales — parts of the services sector, which provides most jobs in the economy.
During the last recession, the authors write, one in 12 people in sales lost their jobs, for example. And the downturn prompted many businesses to look harder at substituting technology for people, if possible. Since the end of the recession in June 2009, they note, corporate spending on equipment and software has increased by 26 percent, while payrolls have been flat.
There are two econmists cited in the article who disagree. The staistics on spending for machines and software, yet flat figures for new hires would seem to indicate a trend.
I think it is the writers at the NYT rather than Mr. Brynjolfsson and Mr. McAfee who use SIRI as a good example of machines and software replacing people. SIRI cannot recognize the difference between grease and Greece. That is just one example of several I read recently of where SIRI doesn’t get context.
I just recently had to deal with some people at a call center. I sympathize with customer service people. They make around $10 to $12 an hour, half the people they deal with are hateful, ignorant and rude. Polite pateint cutomers make up the other half. The burn-out rate for reps is high. That said the ones I dealt with could have easily solved by problem, but decided to be in one case rude ( she hang up on me) and the other one was polite but useless. Might as well replace them with a machine. Ultimately I blame the corporation – this was a big telecom – they obviously do not empower their employees to solve problems. Rather they use them to insulate the company from being bothered with customer issues.
Back in the 90s centrist Democrats bought into the conservative mantra of free trade agreements. So what, we lost a lot of our manufacturing base. We’ll get everyone a specialized two-year degree or a bachelors and everyone will go into great jobs in technical fields or executive management. That ain’t worked out too well. We could deal with the new software based machine revolution with training for people to make the machines, do the programming and all machines need a repair person eventually. No one wants to pay for that huge shift in the dynamics of the economy. Just one example – Paul Ryan Tells Student To Work Three Jobs Rather Than Take Pell Grants. Pell grants have always been difficult to get and Obama’s new guide lines automatically disqualified over a million students. There are an average of five applications for every new job opening – exactly where are those three jobs going to come from. And does Ryan plan to introduce a bill that extends the length of each day to 48 hours so they you can go to all these jobs , attend class, labs and study. Another problem is that American business no longer believes in training. Somebody somewhere is supposed to do that, not business – from the WSJ today – Why Companies Aren’t Getting The Employees They Need: “The conventional wisdom is that our education system is failing our economy. But our companies deserve a lot of the blame themselves.”
What began as the gathering of just a few US Marines has now become a major organized movement to get Marines and military personnell of all branches to Occupy America nationwide. You can thank Marine Sgt. Shamar Thomas for that. His actions last week have inspired service men and women across the country to take a stand for the American people and join the Occupy protests.
Active military can participate in political rallies they just can’t wear their uniforms. I think OWS is looking for ways to designate vets and active military with special t-shirts or badging so they can show OWS supports the military and many in the military are finding common cause. In the right-wing game of find a nut, right-wing bloggers are outraged that one guy at OccupyDayton said shouted some outrageous stuff. Funny how this game works. Most, though not all of the tea stains shouted every kind of expletive and they said the tea bags should not be defined by them. Now the vast majority of OWS protesters are peacefully protesting and the Right is trying to define them by the .0001 percent of the nuts jobs who join in. So I guess we should not judge the far Right by this – Chemical bomb tossed into Occupy Maine encampment.
A federal judge accused two state Republicans, called by federal prosecutors in a massive Alabama corruption case, of cooperating with the feds because of their “ulterior motives rooted in naked political ambition and pure racial bias.”
State Sen. Scott Beason and former Rep. Benjamin Lewis, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson wrote, “lack credibility for two reasons.”
“First, their motive for cooperating with F.B.I. investigators was not to clean up corruption but to increase Republican political fortunes by reducing African-American voter turnout. Second, they lack credibility because the record establishes their purposeful, racist intent,” Thompson wrote.
We’re not back to Jim Crow yet, but conservative efforts to disenfranchise so many voters tends toward trying to justify Jim Crow-lite.
A just-published study from Canada suggests early music education stimulates a child’s brain, leading to improved performance in an entirely different arena – verbal intelligence.
[ ]…The results showed, in Moreno’s words, “a rapid transfer of cognitive benefits” for the music students. Specifically, those who received music training raised their scores the visual-intelligence test.
Yet in the race to cut budgets music and art tend to be the first programs for the chopping block. Children do not do as well without those programs, which reinforces the schools are failing us meme. That makes a lot of public education haters happy, even if kids are made the pawns and victims in the fight or race to the bottom of educational achievement.
Widowspeak – Hard Times
I’m So Proud – THE IMPRESSIONS
I don’t know what to make of my daily hits going up on the days I post videos. I guess I am mostly surprised that so many people would share my eclectic taste in music.