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A review of Federico Pistono’s book Robots Will Steal Your Job But That’s OK

piero scaruffi

Ethical Technology

December 07, 2012

The impact of technological progress on jobs has been the topic of countless books: most of them are forgotten because they were so wrong about it. Predicting the future has always been a lucrative business (Delphi’s Oracle, Nostradamus, George Orwell), but rarely a science. If all of them had been right, today we would all be unemployed and, in fact, extinct. Instead, guess what: humans are wealthier than ever in history, the world has never been so peaceful and we all buy machines by the millions. Pistono’s book is the refreshing exception: no, we are not doomed. That, per se, is a good reason to read it.


Complete entry


Posted by CygnusX1  on  12/07  at  10:30 AM

“If General Motors lays off one thousand employees in Michigan but hires two thousand in China, it is not correct to simply conclude that “one thousand jobs have been lost”. If the car industry in the USA loses ten thousand jobs but the car industry in China gains twenty thousand, it is not correct to simply conclude that ten thousand jobs have been lost in the car industry. In all of these cases jobs have actually been created.”

Yet this is not the case is it? In contradiction, you are falling into the same pitfall?

The March of Robots Into Chinese Factories

China’s rising wages feed robotics boom

Robots Evolution

International Federation of Robotics

” Another major factor that accounts for massive losses of jobs in the developed world is the management science that emerged in the 1920s in the USA. That science (never mentioned in this book) is the main reason that today companies don’t need as many employees as comparable companies employed a century ago. Each generation of companies has been “slimmer” than the previous generation. As those management techniques get codified and applied massively, companies become more efficient at manufacturing (across the world) and selling (using the most efficient channels) and at predicting business cycles. All of this results in fewer employees not because of automation but because of optimization.”

Yet the root cause/agent is still efficient technological innovation, (computerisation), aiding effective management. How can a human compete with a robot that bends wires at nano-metres lengths, and at speed? You have merely substantiated a vision of further growing mass unemployment?

Often the counter-argument is that despite efficient technologies displacing jobs and former job roles and employment, folks will just find some other job to do.. like administration, (of robots?), tiers of hierarchal management to absorb shop floor redundancies, increased opportunities for “lone wolf” investment bankers and stock market speculators… yadda yadda..


I agree that folks, (humans), will need to find/invent new job opportunities.. or they will starve! Yet this does not dismiss the plain facts that Moore’s law is displacing employment through technology and robotics at an accelerated rate?

Agreed, this should be viewed from/in a socioeconomic/socio-political/sociocultural context, and also as opportunity to re-evaluate how “we” will not only feed and provide basic needs for the growing world population, but also to appease and mitigate suffering, unhappiness and ultimately increasing dissent, anger and revolution?

Providing for Human “Social” needs is the prime directive for the existence of capital & monies - what other use is there for it?

Yes to Arts, Music, Nurture of children and future technological generations, Healthcare, Education, Entrepreneurship.. and a zillion ways that Humans can find stuff to do and amuse themselves… yet you have to feed and clothe and shelter them first > Socioeconomic change.. supported by technology and robotics and renewable clean/cheap energy is the route to success? Yet not by denying that increased global unemployment is here as reality?

Now 20% presently in Spain

What is the alternative then to technology and robotics? .. wage servitude in sweat shop factories? (even the Chinese are wise enough to realise the future is with technology?)

Posted by Intomorrow  on  12/07  at  07:20 PM

Right. Plus bots offer real companionship; there’s too much negative reinforcement for humans to be considered friends. In the past one could live the three score and ten life, go to church, commiserate in alcoholic dazes, then die and allegedly ascend to Heaven; having really good friends (extremely hard to find) didn’t matter as much—as the junkie said:

“life is in vein.”

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