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Martin Ford: Attention White-collar Workers: #Robots Are Coming for Your Jobs

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Interview: Martin Ford, Author Of 'Rise Of The Robots' 

From the self-checkout aisle of the grocery store to the sports section of the newspaper, robots and computer software are increasingly taking the place of humans in the workforce. Silicon Valley executive Martin Ford says that robots, once thought of as a threat to only manufacturing jobs, are poised to replace humans as teachers, journalists, lawyers and others in the service sector.

“As we look forward from this point, we need to keep in mind that this technology is going to continue to accelerate. So I think there’s every reason to believe it’s going to become the primary driver of inequality in the future, and things are likely to get even more extreme than they are now.”

"There's already a hardware store [in California] that has a customer service robot that, for example, is capable of leading customers to the proper place on the shelves in order to find an item," Ford tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies. Robot-smokes In his new book, Rise of the Robots, Ford considers the social and economic disruption that is likely to result when educated rise-of-robotsworkers can no longer find employment.

[Check out Martin Ford's book "Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future" at Amazon.com]

"As we look forward from this point, we need to keep in mind that this technology is going to continue to accelerate," Ford says. "So I think there's every reason to believe it's going to become the primary driver of inequality in the future, and things are likely to get even more extreme than they are now." Any jobs that are truly repetitive or rote — doing the same thing again and again — in advanced economies like the United States or Germany, those jobs are long gone. They've already been replaced by robots years and years ago. npr-link So what we've seen in manufacturing is that the jobs that are actually left for people to do tend to be the ones that require more flexibility or require visual perception and dexterity. Very often these jobs kind of fill in the gaps between machines.

[Read the full text here, at NPR]

For example, feeding parts into the next part of the production process or very often they're at the end of the process — perhaps loading and unloading trucks and moving raw materials and finished products around, those types of things.

But what we’re seeing now in robotics is that finally the machines are coming for those jobs as well, and this is being driven by advances in areas like visual perception. You now have got robots that can see in three-dimension and that’s getting much better and also becoming much less expensive. So you’re beginning to see machines that are starting to have the kind of perception and dexterity that begins to approach what human beings can do. A lot more jobs are becoming susceptible to this and….(read more)

NPR

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