Last Human Jobs

Discuss the evolution of human culture, economics and politics in the decades and centuries ahead
Tav-El
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Last Human Jobs

Post by Tav-El »

I'm writing a story that takes place in the future. I was reading about the time period on the main site, where it talks about how human labor will begin to dwindle, and be pretty much over by the 23rd century. I would like my story to be about the last company(ies) that still employee humans. Any ideas what that could be? As automation and post-scarcity take over, who do you think will be the last remaining holdouts? Lawyers? Surgeons? Telephone cleaners? Multiple answers are fine. It's fine if it's complicated. It's fine if the job CAN be automated, but you think there will still be people who want to do it anyway. I once watched a video about the literally last human who still had a job, and I think it was her last day, I'm not expecting something to change over night like that. Ignore jobs that humans will ALWAYS want to do, because we would feel pointless without them, like starship captains.

Thanks!
caltrek
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Re: Last Human Jobs

Post by caltrek »

Picking lettuce. Farm labor activists have reported that doing this well is an extremely difficult task. While it might be possible for a robot to do this task, it would be very difficult. It would not only have to make a precise cut at the stem of the lettuce head, but would need to be able to navigate through a typical lettuce field with all of its rows and uneven terrain. While technically feasible, it would have to be more cost effective than a human laborer. Many such laborers in the United States are wiling to do the work because they are not native and it is difficult for them to find work at comparable pay outside of their profession. Of course, that is the highly skilled workers who can make money at piece rates that you and I would starve at because we would be so slow in comparison. At least until we gained some experience.
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wjfox
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Re: Last Human Jobs

Post by wjfox »

caltrek wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 5:11 pm Picking lettuce. Farm labor activists have reported that doing this well is an extremely difficult task. While it might be possible for a robot to do this task, it would be very difficult. It would not only have to make a precise cut at the stem of the lettuce head, but would need to be able to navigate through a typical lettuce field with all of its rows and uneven terrain. While technically feasible, it would have to be more cost effective than a human laborer. Many such laborers in the United States are wiling to do the work because they are not native and it is difficult for them to find work at comparable pay outside of their profession. Of course, that is the highly skilled workers who can make money at piece rates that you and I would starve at because we would be so slow in comparison. At least until we gained some experience.
Um... no.
"Take it easy, nothing matters in the end."
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caltrek
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Re: Last Human Jobs

Post by caltrek »

"No."

Please elaborate.
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wjfox
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Re: Last Human Jobs

Post by wjfox »

Of all the possible jobs to be automated last... you choose a lettuce picker?

These are already being developed. Pretty much any type of repetitive "drudge" job will be gone within 50 years.

How about tasks involving abstract/creative thinking, subtleties of human emotion, highly skilled professional roles, and so on.
"Take it easy, nothing matters in the end."
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Tav-El
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Re: Last Human Jobs

Post by Tav-El »

I actually did choose farming for my story. The characters are irrational, and they don't want their lifestyle to end, while the government is trying to turn their land into another nature preserve. So the main characters have to figure out how to appease them without anybody getting hurt. I've always considered creative jobs (like the the one I have) to be personal pursuits, rather than "jobs". They need to be done nowadays, or life will be so boring, but in the future, entertainment will probably come primarily from simulations, which are programmed by engineers. I think if you want to be a singer, you just become a singer, and being successful at it will no longer be backed by how much money it makes you. Who knows, maybe I'll be a singer in a thousand years, and then a thousand years after that, I'll turn myself into a tree, I don't know.
caltrek
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Re: Last Human Jobs

Post by caltrek »

Ignore jobs that humans will ALWAYS want to do, because we would feel pointless without them, like starship captains.
These are already being developed. Pretty much any type of repetitive "drudge" job will be gone within 50 years.

How about tasks involving abstract/creative thinking, subtleties of human emotion, highly skilled professional roles, and so on.
My initial response was going to be along those lines of "involving abstract/creative thinking". Then I focused in on the last sentence of the opening post that I have cited above. The jobs you describe would seem to fit into jobs people will always want to do. So, I went for something which is inherently alienating.

I did some research while I was waiting for your response. Yes, you are right. They are "already being developed." Fifty years is probably more than enough time. Yet, you also indicate that "pretty much any repetitive job" will be automated. So, if lettuce picking turns out to be the most difficult of repetitive jobs, then I will be right, even if that is done within fifty years. Right if jobs that involve "abstract/creative thinking" are excluded, as the opening post seemed to do.

Some of the things that I found:

https://www.theproducenerd.com/2019/07/ ... rocessing/
If you have been an avid reader of my blog, you might have noticed that I have posted about a lot of different lettuce operations! I definitely noticed that too, but I was so excited to share each operation with you because the work that is done to harvest, pack and process different types of lettuce is really incredible, and no two operations are the same. To be even more honest with you, a lettuce harvest was the first harvest that I ever saw in person while in college and it really blew me away that people could work that hard and that efficiently, and then when I first started this blog, I really wanted to showcase lettuce and was turned down multiple times because nobody wanted to share their processes (even though most of them are very similar). So, now I am very happy to share this vast library of lettuce harvesting, packing and processing operations that I have collected, all in one place!
https://mishtalk.com/economics/farm-rob ... ettuce-bot
Robots will cost plenty – for the largest farming operations, millions of dollars – but farm operators say the expense will be worth it.

Still, there is much research and development to be done. Right now, bots – machines in general – are clumsy and bulky. They are not always able to detect when fruit and vegetables are ready to be harvested or picked. They can’t always detect between produce and leaves. And they don’t have the dexterity of a seasoned farm worker.
https://www.latimes.com/projects/la-fi- ... anization/
Such has been the progress of ag-tech in California, where despite the adoption of drones, iPhone apps and satellite-driven sensors, the hand and knife still harvest the bulk of more than 200 crops.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/20/us/f ... obots.html
“It’s going to take years to develop technology that can recognize when it’s the right time to harvest our produce and do it without bruising the produce,” said Tom Nassif, president of Western Growers, a large association that represents agricultural concerns in Arizona, California, Colorado and New Mexico.
To be honest, the last article also indicates that:
About 60 percent of the romaine lettuce and half of all cabbage and celery produced by Taylor Farms are harvested with automated systems. The company has partnered with an innovation firm, which previously focused on automated vehicle assembly, to develop a machine to begin harvesting broccoli and iceberg lettuce within two years
The New York Times doesn't talk about endive:

https://www.theproducenerd.com/2019/01/ ... g-packing/
Harvesting – The harvesters use a knife to harvest each individual endive. They make a cut near the soil line and then remove the outer leaves before placing the endive on the packing tables. At this particular operation, they are trying out new varieties that will make it so the workers will not have to cut so close to the soil line, and therefore, will not have to remove as many of the outer leaves. This would also help to decrease the amount of bending over for the workers and the amount of wasted product, as not as many of the outer leaves would need to be removed.
Still, I suppose if they can harvest romaine mechanically, they will figure out a way to harvest endive as well.
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funkervogt
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Re: Last Human Jobs

Post by funkervogt »

Judges, juries, religious clerics, sperm or egg donors.
caltrek
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Re: Last Human Jobs

Post by caltrek »

Judges, juries, religious clerics, sperm or egg donors.
Judges - involves abstract reasoning and challenges that many do not find to be that alienating.

Juries - Ok, there you have me. Personally, I hate the thought of serving on a jury. People that are too anxious and willing to do so probably won't make good jurists.

Religious clerics - also involves abstract reasoning and challenges that many do not find that alienating.

Sperm or egg donors - Ok, there you have also got me. Still, some sperm donors might find it fun to go through the process. :D
Tav-El
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Re: Last Human Jobs

Post by Tav-El »

funkervogt wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 7:23 pm Judges, juries, religious clerics, sperm or egg donors.
Religious jobs aren't really jobs either. They're callings, and I don't care about them. Very true, though, they'll hold out forever.

Sperm and egg donors is an interesting suggestion. I think it's hard to predict how we'll have children in the future. I imagine we'll grow them eventually, like on Krypton. It's also entirely possible that we'll stop having biological children, and the only newborns will be new programs.

The judicial system is really complicated in my canon. The United States replaces the whole system with something new, and this model is adopted by other nationstates shortly thereafter as the world forms a global government. There are two separate juries that deliberate separately, each guided/led by professional arbitrators. I'm kind of hoping it dies out as crime approaches zero, and the idea of personal possessions becomes almost laughable. I mean, we'll still have them, but no one will want someone else's, because they'll have their own. Why steal my chair when you can just go request a new one?
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