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The Hidden Automation Agenda of the Davos Elite

automation jobs AI

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21 replies to this topic

#1
starspawn0

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https://www.nytimes....omic-forum.html

Not really surprising. I've said before that if the AI really works and is cheap enough and easy enough to deploy, companies will almost certainly try to automate jobs away. People who think they are going to be humane about it, and keep workers that could be replaced by software, are in denial. And all the talk about how machines will "up-skill" humans is probably mostly a nice thing to say during interviews. If they could get rid of humans and make more money, they would.

And this isn't just about AI, but all kinds of other automation technologies (hence why I didn't put it in the AI and Robotics section). Robotic Process Automation, for example, doesn't really need AI; but Intelligent Process Automation does.

Alas, they can't yet automate that many jobs away. The tech isn't there yet. But it is improving rapidly. One advance I'd especially pay attention to is the recent work on Machine Reading Comprehension -- that will be a key ingredient in automating a large swath of jobs away. It will need to improve some more, and think it will in the next year of two.

Here's one way it could improve: many of the models they use are purely text-based. They learn about the world through analysis of statistical patterns in words. I think that can be taken quite far -- but a quicker approach may be to use images, video and audio data. That extra data should contain a lot more world knowledge than they have yet been able to bake into their models. I could see a BERT 2.0 system rolled out in the next year that combines BERT with data from modalities other than text, leading to another big leap in performance -- perhaps enough to push it over the hump, to where Reading Comprehension systems start to rival humans on some very hard problems.

....

But this can be looked at as a good thing, right? The more aggressive the automation, the closer we get to a world where nobody has to work that much.
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#2
tomasth

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At some point some reasoning ability or even planing will be needed for reading comprehension , if that is achieved , the main work for people will be adapting the world for those systems.

 

agriculture got us closer to that world , its the interim that looks bad.



#3
caltrek

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No, the more aggressive the automation, the harder we have to work to justify our own existence.  Otherwise, the fascists will just purge us from the planet.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#4
starspawn0

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That is why more automation has to be paired with more government involvement. But more automation is one of the key ingredients for a better future.

....

Alas, it's not easy to get the people behind it. They are confused about who has their back. This could be part of the reason why:

https://press.uchica...bo29143391.html

#5
caltrek

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Problem is that government employees are often on the front lines of justifying their existence. 

 

Yes, billionaires like Trump are a part of the problem.

 

Mind you, I am not against more automation, just that we need to think out how to do that.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#6
funkervogt

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This isn’t the first time someone’s felt this way about the dying. In fact, many of the unnecessariat agree with you and blame themselves- that’s why they’re shooting drugs and not dynamiting the Google Barge. The bottom line, repeated just below the surface of every speech, is this: those people are in the way, and its all their fault. The world of self-driving cars and global outsourcing doesn’t want or need them. Someday it won’t want you either. They can either self-rescue with unicorns and rainbows or they can sell us their land and wait for death in an apartment somewhere. You’ll get there too.

https://morecrows.wo.../unnecessariat/


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#7
starspawn0

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The depression from feeling that one is suddenly unnecessary would not be there if they weren't made to think they were indispensable in the first place.  Retired people don't have this hang-up, because they have been expecting it and just accept it; young people are the same. 
 
I would guess two other causes of the depression have a greater impact:
 
* Reduced income, which translates into less freedom -- reduced social mobility.    
 
* Atomization:  reduced sense of community and close connections, due to migrations (e.g. to the city for a better life), reduced tax base, and the pulling-out of large employers (e.g. the local auto plant).
 
....
 
Incidentally, customer service is getting closer to being automated en masse.  That will take a chunk out of the job market. 
 
Look to China to see what's coming.  For example, we all saw what Google Duplex could do; but Alibaba has their own Duplex-like assistant that is a level or two better:
 
https://www.uctoday....tshines-google/
 
It can handle natural human conversations in restricted domains.  It is good at managing context, handling interruptions, "non-linear conversation", and has excellent language understanding, human-like speech synthesis, and Google-level speech recognition.
 

These are the areas where Alibaba’s agent truly shines. First, the agent can respond to interruptions and relay useful information without having to start from scratch when something doesn’t go “according to script.” Secondly, when non-linear conversation occurs, the agent doesn’t lose track of its purpose, it answers customer’s questions, then goes right back to the initial script. Thirdly, Alibaba’s assistant can respond to “implicit” intent. In other words, it can infer basic context in a conversation.

That’s way more revolutionary than a bot like Google Duplex that leaves customers with visions of Terminator-style global takeovers.

....

When it comes to figuring out how Alibaba’s assistant got so smart, Rong wouldn’t share his secrets, but he did suggest that the thousands of recordings that the company has at its disposal are a valuable asset. On an average day, Alibaba handles around 50,000 service calls.



Right now, their product is used to handle package deliveries; and Alibaba wants to open the platform up to automate lots more customer service jobs, across a large number of verticals.
 
Next gen language understanding (BERT 2.0) will crank that up even further, making the system more general, able to handle multiple verticals at once, while also making it much easier to train model on new verticals (far, far less training data needed).
 
And this only one of about 50 similar products I have noticed over the past 4 years.  There are similar products being trialled for restaurants in the U.S.  You wouldn't believe how good food ordering AI systems have become.  None have yet made their way into the local fast food chains -- but it is coming.

Then there are cashierless stores like Amazon Go.

A lot of change is coming...
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#8
caltrek

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The depression from feeling that one is suddenly unnecessary would not be there if they weren't made to think they were indispensable in the first place.  Retired people don't have this hang-up, because they have been expecting it and just accept it; young people are the same.

 

True.  Still, exactly why are those in the middle made to think they are "indispensable"? 

 

  1. Because they really were?
  2. For morale purposes?
  3. All of the above?
  4. None of the above? (If so, then why?)

 

Personally, when I was working I was always quite aware that I was not "indispensable."   Perhaps it was because that while I was considered dispensable, I was not actually dispensed with (until I voluntarily retired).


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The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#9
starspawn0

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I think it is due to a kind of conservatism you see in rural communities:

 

People think the world doesn't really change, and that if it does, it must be illegal immigrants or minorities or some other tormenter who is threatening the social order.  They don't think in terms of impersonal market forces and the advancing tide of technological change.  Oh, sure, they see the new toys (smartphones and internet), but don't think in terms of how they can negatively affect their livelihoods.  They go to church on Sunday, see the same people (that are all going to Heaven), and do the same jobs they've always done -- like an episode from The Andy Griffith Show; or like that scene from The Shining -- "You've always been the caretaker.":

 

https://youtu.be/SiZ-XgJKAIk

 

The steel jobs or coal mine jobs or auto plant jobs are here, and will always be here, unless some outside villain (e.g. Mexicans or "liberals") makes it stop.  

 

This worldview has some positive aspects.  It makes people confident, gives them self-esteem -- unafraid to go on Fox News and say what they are feeling, or stand up on a soapbox and shout "Make America Great Again!"  Take away that self-esteem, and the will to fight evaporates.



#10
caltrek

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Just a little reminder of what things might look like in a "rural" community:

 

 

50625258_2043273905757015_82639188673995


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#11
starspawn0

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Well, yes, you see that, too, in rural communities; but the parts of the Rust Belt that voted for Trump, are not as far gone as having a large fraction of people missing legs and holding homeless signs.  Many of them resemble Mayberry, with some "poorer areas" where people live in little wood houses with peeling paint (from not having been painted in 20 years), but can still afford to buy things at WalMart.


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#12
tomasth

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"they see the new toys (smartphones and internet), but don't think in terms of how they can negatively affect their livelihoods"

is a frightening attitude.

That you can so devalue a phenomena you are certain you understand control and on top of ; only to end up controlled by it , devalued by it , and keep searching for your logic flaw in misunderstanding it.

 

Analogues [exasperatingly] to AI expert that can give a detail explanation why certain AI capability is impossible , only to find the opposite , and that the explanation was in sub fields that they know and contributed to.

 

 

"Take away that self-esteem, and the will to fight evaporates"

Don't they have better coping ways ? Interpreting their conservatism in a manner more rising to the occasion (while still being the same) ?

 

"A lot of change is coming..." Is because history is multi factorial with many feedback loops. One never know if the coping ways are apt for it.



#13
Sciencerocks

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Lets just say that one of the main goals of these "bastards" is to wipe out and replace certain industrial populations.


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#14
starspawn0

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I wouldn't go that far. I don't think the Davos elite want to erase industrial populations out of spite (which is what it sounds like you are suggesting). They just want to make money. Some of them probably agonize over getting rid of people, and would rather not -- but know that the stockholders would get angry.

I think this is another case of being trapped by "the machine" -- Moloch demands efficiency.
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#15
tomasth

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Maybe they think that we drive the standard of living of everyone. And that unemploying menials , will drive those to creative new hights. So its all altruistic humanity improving.

 

I personalty hated reading that Scott Alexander post , my favorite is the post about the different between modern and western.


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#16
Alislaws

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We need mass automation of some sector to happen well ahead of the general wave of mass automation that will likely follow. 

 

I'm hoping driverless cars will be this, but until we see some sector of jobs rapidly removed, they're going to keep playing interviews with people talking about how AI is just going to make people more productive and how only 20% of jobs will be 100% automated in the next X years etc.

 

Ignoring that automating 50% of a job will still mean fewer people doing that job, and in the same way increasing productivity will still reduce demand for jobs in that area (or maybe in competing areas etc.)

 

Automation Is absolutely the best hope for a post scarcity future in the long run, so should be pursued, but we will need to push wide scale change in political and economic systems which run our nations as automation progresses or we will end up in a proper dystopian nightmare.


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#17
funkervogt

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I've driven all around America, and I don't get why people choose to live in most small towns, especially in geographic areas where there's little natural beauty (e.g. - middle of the flat, featureless Nebraska prairie). If there's widespread job automation, I can't imagine what there will be for humans to do in places like that. 


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#18
starspawn0

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Many live in little towns to be close to their parents.  They lead serene lives devoted things like farming, horse tending and racing, and so on.  Not much for people with ambitions; but those same ambitious people who leave get separated from all they knew growing up.  

 

As more jobs get automated, it will become harder for ambitious young people to leave.  They will have less and less relative wealth, compared to people living in the city, which makes starting fresh harder.

 

Perhaps VR can give country-dwellers a taste of city life. 



#19
Alislaws

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I know the USA has some monopolies on internet provision, which are massively slowing the rollout of high speed internet in poorer places. But with 5g on the way and advancing VR tech maybe we will get to a point where telecommuting is much more effective/practical. Then you could earn good money doing white collar work for a city based company while living in the middle of nowhere. 

 

That might bring rejuvenation to a lot of small towns (although mostly the ones which are in areas of natural beauty)


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#20
starspawn0

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I don't think 5g is going to much change the situation. Regular high speed internet is already good enough to telecommute.

One thing that might help is AI that finds things for people to do. It could read what they write and say online, and then try to match their skills and interests with an employer. For example, if the AI notices they follow legal cases closely on social media, have good understanding of the legal system, can communicate well, and have a natural interest in following the high-profile legal cases, the AI might try to find them a job at a law firm as an assistant.
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