Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Automation and the Workforce

This article talks about how to avoid negative impacts from automation in the workforce.  Bluntly put, everything that gets automated costs jobs, and that will bite you in the ass more often than not.  If it's a filthy dangerous job that nobody wants to do, it's probably an improvement, but what are you going to do with the poor sod who used to get paid to do it?  Some ways to discourage the problems:

* If you are the decider, don't automate unless it is a big improvement and you can shift those workers to another job they like.

* If you are shopping and you see an automated version vs. a person, choose the person.  Those self checkout lanes at the supermarket?  Every one of those represents an unemployed worker, not to mention all the underemployed workers whose food stamps you are paying for because their cheapass boss won't pay them enough to live on.

* If you are an inventor, subtly design processes so they are not readily compatible with automation but require human workers to perform.

* When a person is replaced by a machine, complain to the manager.  They less likely to do this if people complain.

* Watch for safety.  Automated systems are often less safe than human monitoring, unless they can operate faster than human reflexes (e.g. emergency shutoff switches).  However, it's a great way to get people out of horrid situations.  Remember that other people's poor decisions can put YOU at risk, with things like self-driving cars (which already killed one person due to program error and backup driver inattention).

* Watch the ongoing butchery of privacy and its two extreme results: people who turn their boundaries into Fort Knox and people who don't even know what boundaries are because they've never been permitted to have any.  Automation and privacy are almost mutually exclusive.  At least you can argue with a person and have some  chance of winning.

* Watch for other serious drawbacks.  A recorded phone message is much less effective at reminding people of appointments than a live person, does not support a household, and cannot tell if the person on the other end sounds like shit and hey maybe should be checked on to make sure they don't drop dead.

Tags: activism, economics, news, science
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