Are robots replacing managers?

This is an introspective article that comes at automation from a different angle. We have mostly heard of robots replacing jobs that are boring, dangerous, or repetitive. This article shows that a piece of software called Orchestra is able to corral contract employees, mainly freelancers, size up their specialty, hire them for the duration of the project, and then be able to provide feedback on these workers.

One quote I thought was especially appropriate was, “Leaders can oversee as many as 20 projects at a time, offering guidance to their team, recommending bonuses to people who are doing well, coaching, training and jumping in when an issue is escalated,” he wrote in a recent blog post on LinkedIn. “Companies are then able to hire an entire team of freelancers to manage a project, knowing that there is a hierarchical structure in place to support them.”

Sounds a bit futuristic, but it is here now. Enjoy!

Quote for the Day from Kahlil Gibran:

“Work is love made visible.

And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.

For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.

And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distills a poison in the wine.

And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man’s ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.

All work is empty save when there is love;

And when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God.”

Robots are replacing managers, too

 

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Employees Fear Robots May Take Jobs or Does Amazon Have it Right?

Here are two very interesting articles that show the pros and cons of robots. Bottom line, it is whether you have a positive attitude toward technology and automation or you fear both technology and automation. As you have the opportunity to read the first article take note of what is causing the fear, so then when you read the second article, you can then sense that robots are helpful and do take away dangerous and boring jobs.

So, find your easy chair, pick up your iPad or laptop, grab yourself a Pepsi, Coke, or water and take a little time reading. I think you will find these fascinating.

Fears of Robots

Amazon Robots, 1,500 Humans together

Quote for the Day: “The grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” — Joseph Addison

Robots are not the cause of unemployment

PricewaterhouseCoopers (dba PwC) researched and wrote a report that said over a third of jobs in the United States were ripe to be replaced by automation. PwC is a consulting firm that was acquired by IBM and folded into IBM Global Business Services unit in October 2002. Eventually PwC began to rebuild its management consulting practice by acquiring firms such as Bearing Point and PTRM.

Because it gained experience and knowledge in the areas of automation and artificial intelligence within IBM, it has been able to use its research arm to develop reports of interest like this one. One of the key facets of the report is that those that could be at risk of automation are those that do not have as high an education level as others. The “high risk” industries include finance, hospitality, and transportation.

Robots were not deemed to replace that many human workers which runs contrary to other reports that have been seen on this site. The main reason is the cost of the robots, including repairs and maintenance, would be too expensive compared to human workers. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that artificial intelligence is not “even on my radar screen. I think it’s 50 or 100 more years.” This will come as a pleasant surprise for employees in some industries.

His take is that automation would enable human workers “to do more productive jobs at higher wages.” His focus is to ensure the U.S. is investing in education and training for the American worker.

And that’s the rub. Most industries have begun to hire more workers at lower wages than before 2008. Yes, more people are working, but for families it is almost a requirement for both the husband and the wife to work to make ends meet. Robots have become a secondary discussion since wage growth has been so anemic.

Quotes for the Day:

“All the technology in the world will never replace a positive attitude.”— Harvey Mackay

“The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions, and not on our circumstances.”— Martha Washington

 

Research House pegs Robot Spend in Asia Pacific as Fastest Growing

A recent IDC press release stated the Asia Pacific region is the fastest growing robotics market led primarily by China, Korea, and, of course, Japan. The research firm forecasts this region will account for two-thirds of global robotics spend from the years of 2016 to 2020. Also estimated was the fact this region will grow from $60 billion (B) to slightly over $133B by 2020 (a compound annual growth rate of 22%).

Robotics is reported to be able to “drive the wave of industry transformation” and disrupt many aspects of business operations and business models. One area mentioned by IDC was in the area of commercial and consumer service robotics.

As wasmentioned in this blog, the future of personal robotics looks bright, especially for the baby boomers and their parents who need the companionship, queuing (for the time to take medicines, eating, and other activities of daily living (ADLs)), and support that families need to do with their parents, but for one reason or another are not able to accomplish. The newer robots on the market seek to help families handle these functions quite well although the pricing is far out or range today.

Here is a link to the report:

http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prAP42234517

 

A humorous story for the day:

A young technician and his General Manager board a train headed through the mountains on its way to Wichita. They can find no place to sit except for two seats right across the aisle from a young woman and her grandmother.

After a while, it is obvious that the young woman and the young tech are interested in each other because they are giving each other “looks.”

Soon the train passes into a tunnel and it is pitch black. There is a sound of the smack of a kiss followed by the sound of the smack of a slap.

When the train emerges from the tunnel, the four sit there without saying a word.

The grandmother is thinking to herself: “It was very brash for that young man to kiss my granddaughter, but I’m glad she slapped him.”

The General Manager is setting there thinking: “I didn’t know the young tech was brave enough to kiss the girl, but I sure wish she hadn’t missed him when she slapped and hit me!”

The young woman was sitting and thinking: “I’m glad the guy kissed me, but I wish my grandmother had not slapped him!”

The young tech sat there with a satisfied smile on his face. He thought to himself: “Life is good. How often does a guy have the chance to kiss a beautiful girl and slap his General Manager all at the same time!

What has had the greatest impact on manufacturing job loss in the U.S.?

America has lost several millions of manufacturing jobs over the years according to a study produced for Conexus Indiana by Srikant Devaraj, PhD and Michael J. Hicks, PhD from Ball State University.

The authors state that about 87 percent of the job losses were due to productivity gains,  technology gains (robots), and better supply chains. What was quite interesting was that about four percent of manufacturing jobs have been lost to international trade (aka outsourcing).

This is somewhat hard to believe when you look at the shuttered factories, demographic changes, and an overall lack of students entering technical schools.

The report also found that:

• Since the end of the recession, the economy has added 750,000 manufacturing jobs.
• Biggest job losses occurred in low productivity sectors with low transportation costs.

The report points out the baby boom generation retirees are leaving behind solid, well-paying jobs and younger workers are filling those jobs at an unprecedented rate. Recent new hire salaries averaged $20.06 per hour — almost $42,000 a year. “As millennials move into the workforce, wage gaps between new and existing jobs are primarily age- and tenure-related.”

Despite this, I thought it was an interesting read and you can access it right here: 2017-0107-conexus2016-advmfg.

 

Quote for the Day:”Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.”  — F. Scott Fitzgerald, US author

 

2016 Wrap-up

It is a few days shy of the end of 2016. Various authors have summarized what they felt the most important events that occurred over 2016. Since this is a blog about robots and motors, the link below will take you to an article that is one of the best. Enjoy the remainder of 2016 with an eye on a most fabulous 2017!

 

2016: The Year of Drones, Cars, Bots (and Less Jobs…)

 

Quote for the Day: “I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner.”  —Audrey Hepburn

Long Awaited Robotis Mini Robot Video

Dear friends, it has been a while since I committed to create a video of the Robotis Mini robot for all of you to view. This is my favorite robot of all time (at least for now). It was a labor of love – took about 13 hours to assemble and wire the robot plus another 3 hours to assemble the pins required to make the subassemblies for the robot.

In this video I used the app to control the Mini, however, another cool way to make this robot move is by using the voice recognition on the app. It allows the robot to headstands, rolls and advancing forward for a longer period of time. It was very satisfying seeing the robot boot up and work the FIRST time! To me the key thing about building the robot was ensuring all of the servo wiring was not too tight so the connections did not get cut or come out of the servos.

 

Should We be Concerned About AI?

Saturday Night Live (SNL) had a skit about robots and the skit was modeled after Honda’s ASIMO robot. SNL chose the wrong robot since ASIMO (Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility) is highly sophisticated and is the most researched and most developed humanoid robot today.

I came upon a 14 minute YouTube video that shows ASIMO’s current abilities. It is pretty impressive. This also shows the current state-of-the art in Artificial Intelligence (AI). As I put in the title above, “Should we be concerned about AI?”

 

Quote for Today: ““Imagination is more important than knowledge.” – Albert Einstein

Follow-on to Recent Articles of “Will Automation Take Jobs?”

Seems there has been more written on this topic ever since the U.S. decided to raise the minimum wage from $7.50 to $10.10 with the view of moving it to $15/hour by 2022. Just read that Wendy’s restaurant chain has announced that it will roll out kiosks where you place your order without the help of a human in order to reduce payroll expenses. Other areas are starting to talk about using kiosks to get blood drawn and have lab work thus eliminating labor expenses.

On the flip side, this article does show that automation is nothing new. Concerning manufacturing employment as a percent of overall employment, that percent has been declining. It has been happening since 1954.

Here’s the link to the article from The Lane Report that is published from Lexington, KY.

Quote for the Day: ““Better questions to ask regarding a career or job choice would be: What was I born to do? What would be my greatest contribution to others? What do I really love to do (and when I’m doing it, time just flies by)? What are the recurring themes that I find myself drawn to? How do I want to be remembered?”  ― Dan Miller, Author of 48 Days to the Work You Love

Are You Blaming Robots for Slow Job Growth?

Since the Great Recession ended in late 2009 the jobs recovery has been rather sluggish. However, corporate profits, purchasing of equipment, and software has returned close to normal. The slow movement of the jobs recovery has caused some economists and technologists to place the blame on machines. Most believe the nature of work has changed and companies are adding automation rather than new employees.

I’m not as convinced and I’m not alone in this thinking. Some analysts believe that technology-led productivity improvements don’t affect all classes of workers the same, that high-skilled (data scientists) and low-skilled (janitors) workers aren’t as much affected as the semi-skilled, middle-income wage earners.

Bottom line it appears there are several culprits behind the slow return of jobs and these would be the formation of new businesses, the availability of credit, and that companies must invest more in information technology rather than physical capital.

What can we do to spur jobs growth?

  • Policymakers should encourage and support entrepreneurship among younger adults and remove the regulatory inhibitors to make capital readily available.
  • To increase credit, the Fed should encourage banks to lend more of its deposits to productive businesses rather than the fact that banks deposit money with the Fed.
  • To accelerate productivity growth from IT-led investment, companies should encourage the use of standards and best practices that reduce complexity. Incremental investments rather than just ‘big bang’ projects would deliver more consistent gains.

As the job recovery continues, the alleged evidence of technological unemployment among middle-income earners is disappearing and therefore automation is not the main reason after all.

 

Quote for the Day: “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will not die.” — Daniel Burnham, Chicago architect

2nd Quote for the Day: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” ― Oscar Wilde