Aug 22nd 2017 by Iam_Max_vwdv • 9 Questions • 114 Points
The Associated Press is launching Future of Work, a series of stories exploring how technology and global pressures are transforming workplaces across the U.S. and around the world. The first installments went out this week and focus on workers’ relationships with robots, and how automation is changing the availability and nature of employment in manufacturing.
There’s a paradox in how we think of modern American manufacturing jobs.
While it’s true that many of these jobs have gone overseas, U.S. manufacturers have actually added nearly a million jobs in the past seven years, and federal statistics show nearly 390,000 such jobs are unfilled.
But this isn’t the kind of assembly-line work your parents and grandparents did. More and more factory jobs now demand education, technical know-how or specialized skills to run robots. Many of the workers laid off from low-tech factories lack such qualifications, and training opportunities are limited, particularly for older workers. Japan is way ahead of the U.S. in introducing robots to the workplace, but it hasn’t resulted in some of the job reductions observed in other nations. It has also not created the surge in higher-skilled employment. So, it turns out, there are plenty of manufacturing jobs. There just aren’t enough of the right kind of workers to fill them.
Here’s your chance to talk about this with some of the Associated Press journalists who reported these stories in text, photos, video and graphics across three continents. We are writer Dan Sewell and photographer John Minchillo in Cincinnati: business writer Yuri Kageyama in Tokyo: economics editor Fred Monyak in Washington: and enterprise editor Jeff McMillan in Philadelphia. Ask us anything!
This AMA is now closed. Thanks to everyone who offered questions!
Do you think robots should be taxed?
Top comments on this AMA get a volcano named after them!
No seriously, it is not up to me to name these volcanoes at this point. There is a special committee whose role it is to give things names, such as remote volcanoes or mountains, in Antarctica. But people who study Antarctica for long enough are good candidates, and usually end up having something named after them (for example my coauthor Rob Bingham), so I could be in luck someday!
Some people do. The idea of a tax on companies that automate human jobs out of existence isn’t being considered at the federal level. But the notion has begun to emerge in a few politically progressive pockets of the country. Officials in San Francisco, for example, are calling for a tax on companies that automate jobs and put people out of work. It’s too soon to say if the idea will go anywhere, even in San Fran. Some Silicon Valley tech entrepreneurs say they’re being unfairly targeted. So prospects for the idea remain hazy. (Monyak)
Do you think you will ever try to look for other natural disasters like maybe becoming a storm chaser?
Right now most of the automated jobs are things that don't require a massive amount of reflexes and instant response times. Eg maybe a robotic nurse preventing an elderly man from falling down.
Any idea about where that level of robotics is at the moment, and how soon we can expect them to actually significant affect a larger proportion of the work force ?
Honestly yes, working with natural disasters is a fun path to go down. Not only are they exciting to work on and discover, but there is also the added long term benefit of understanding the hazards better and being able to improve safety for anyone who lives near them. I don't know about being a storm chaser though, where I live it tends to just rain lightly 24/7 so I don't know how interesting that would be :p
We did see robotic systems in plants that self-adjust (with humans monitoring) and to your question, a lot of growth is expected in the next decade with use of robots in the kind of service roles you mention becoming a major area, as the needs increase for aging Baby Boomers (like me) (Sewell)