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  #951  
Old 03-09-2018, 10:19 AM
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And I did not say that, (knowing how MLB reacts against performance enhanced drugs, performance enhancement bionics will be out) but for switching among tasks that are not so simple, it will do.
I do wonder if any of that will change. I do actually look forward to the day when we have genetically and/or cybernetically enhanced athletes battling it out at performance levels that make current olympians look like clumsy puppies.
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As the people that can not be trained for having a handicap are not hard to identify, it is more likely that automation will reduce the prices and increase the availability of technological solutions for the people that are affected.

I do foresee medicine as one of the big reasons why AI is being developed, after all that is the main reason why Watson is being developed. Yes, developed, even after winning Jeopardy there are still more things that it needs to learn before becoming effective in medicine, the point here is that there re still human doctors that have to intervene. But the promise is that a lot of the problems that we want to solve thanks to automation and the growth of AI are also related to the people that are in need.
I do think that if we solve the healthcare crisis (and to be honest, single payer or other forms of UHC only help, not solve the problem), it is going to be with substantial assistance by computers and robots. If you can answer detailed surveys and history with the computer, and it collates that info with test results, that can give the human doctor quite a bit of assistance in diagnosing and treating whatever it is that ails you. Most doctor visits could be handled by a nurse practitioner, or even really just a nurse for most things, freeing up the doctor to be involved in more complicated cases that require more human interaction.

They can also be invaluable in researching of new cures and treatments.

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A certain amount of healthy caution is never a bad thing, and in this case I also have equal measures of hope and apprehension wrt how things will pan out. I do think that a lot of different things are converging at this time, and that our society is on the cusp of true greatness or some really bad times. My own optimism points more towards looking at the positive things we as a species have already done, and that emergent AI could help us to do all the things our potential warrants, but I'm realist enough to know that we could fuck it all up right at the end.
Short of some sort of catastrophe, I think that life will be great for at least 10% of the population. Whether life is great for the other 90% is going to be largely up to the first 10%. The resources will be available, but whether they will be allocated is another matter.
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I think this is the wrong way of looking at it. It will take fewer people to produce the goods and services that we use today, but that doesn't mean we will need fewer workers in the future. Just like today we produce an abundance of food with fewer and fewer workers, but those workers aren't all sitting around on unemployment, there are things we do that were unimaginable to the people at the turn of the previous century. And I think that will be the case down the road too. Things we haven't even thought of, or don't really consider 'work' today will suck up that labor, IMHO. What it will be I have some ideas, but that probably means they are wrong and what will actually happen is something no one today could predict.
The change is happening more rapidly than it has in the past, and even with the rates of change in the past, many workers were left displaced with little to nothing productive to do. They need training and relocation, both of which not only consume resources, but also get much resistance from people that don't want to change.

Some coal miners are going on to training to be web developers or computer programmers, but, due to both lack of adequate resources to train everyone, and lack of desire on the part of the displaced workers to be retrained, most are staying in coal country, collecting welfare until their coal mining job comes back.

Whether or not the end result is where everyone is as productive as they care to be to receive the goods and services they desire or not, the transition is likely to be at least a bit rough under the best of circumstances, and can be nearly catastrophic if it is not carried out smoothly.
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I will say that I think people in this thread are under rating the impact of entertainment in the future. I was watching a crowdfunded movie trailer the other day by a couple of guys who basically did it in their basement, and it was pretty good. The tools available today make it possible for a few people to do things that it took large studios and an entertainment industry to do in the past. Consider the impact if a handful of motivated people using some near future tools could put together a movie or other entertainment program without a big budget, studios and bean counters getting in the way, etc etc. There is an emerging world wide market out there...literally billions of connected people, many with the means of buying and consuming entertainment, and who might not necessarily need their entertainment to come from some Hollywood studio. And that's not even the tip of the very large iceberg. Think of all the things those billions of users might want to consume in the future. Then think of the relative handful of movie studios out there using the same old formulas to churn out the same old movies, often rehashed because some bean counter or big wig figured, hey, it made money before, why not again? Eventually, I see that as I see the old broadcast TV channels, replaced by cable networks, being replaced as we speak by on demand content providers who are increasingly doing their own content. And what else might those billions want or need? Look at things like Twitch or YouTube channels.
Entertainment is going to probably be the employment of most people looking to have a job. The only problem is is who pays for it? Right now, we have jobs doing all sorts of things, and then we give a bit of that money to the entertainment industry to pay for them making movies that we want to watch. We let people try to sell us things that we may have some intention and capability of purchasing in exchange for television shows. If most people don't actually have an income to spend on either entertainment or on advertised products, both of those forms of paying for entertainment dry up.
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Absolutely there will be people displaced. And this time, it might not just be blue collar workers. You could see doctors and lawyers being displaced, or other white collar workers. And it's possible we will see an entire sector downsized, as I think we are on the cusp of autonomous driving capabilities. Couple that with automated warehouses and the entire logistics sector could be disrupted. And a lot of those folks will get caught in the gears of progress. We will need, more than ever, to have capabilities and resources available to help those displaced find new things to do, new training. I think we, as a society should seriously look at 'free' after high school training and schooling. It's what we as a society did in the farm displacement in the past, and it gave us incredible returns on our investment. I think this will as well, allowing us to train and educate a workforce for the new era. We just have to get past some of the stupid politics and attitudes stopping this, but I think we need to do it by explaining to the people WHY we are doing this, not just saying 'free education for all because it's a right!'. Just like when you have to sell something to upper management we need to sell these sorts of ideas to the public by explaining the cost to benefit and WHY we are doing it...and what the return on investment will be in tangible terms.
It is of course in the best interest of society to make its members as productive as possible. Relying upon them to use their own resources to attain the skills and knowledge required to be productive seems counterintuitive, especially as the wealth that is in the hands of individuals dwindles. Part of a comprehensive safety net that includes food, clothing, shelter, and healthcare should also e education. And computers and robots can help there. I am sure you have seen the youtubers doing product endorsement for brilliant or curiosity stream, and while I have yet to check any of those out myself, I assume that they are relatively useful in their educational resources offered. Making such systems more robust and offering them for free to the public could go a long way towards closing education gaps. I don't think that automation can completely replace teaching, at least not in the near future, but automation and machine learning can also free people up to be more individual tutors than classroom teachers.

Last edited by k9bfriender; 03-09-2018 at 10:21 AM. Reason: fixed formatting
  #952  
Old 12-05-2018, 12:26 AM
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In this thread, we have mostly discussed direct economic impacts of AI/automation, and then the impacts this disruption might have on the political sphere. But this NY Times op-ed focuses on the direct threat AI poses to politics and democracy itself, in the form of chatbots:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/04/o...gtype=Homepage

Last edited by SlackerInc; 12-05-2018 at 12:27 AM.
  #953  
Old 12-09-2018, 12:52 AM
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Lights out


Hello, 2nd post on the dope. I’ve really enjoyed reading this thread even though I’m only about halfway through it.
I just wanted to comment about a post I read back quite a few pages about lights out manufacturing. I work in manufacturing and wanted to comment.
I visited a plant in japan back in 2001 that practiced lights out. But here’s the thing, this part of the plant machined huge castings for machine tools. The cycle time for machining one of these castings was ~22 hours. So, the first shift would setup the operation and then using their cnc mills, would then let them run all night. Wasn’t that impressive, just the nature of the operation. If the cycle time were only 8 hours, they’d keep the lights on longer. No AI involved, just CNC’s that have been around for 30 years+
  #954  
Old 12-09-2018, 02:41 AM
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Interesting. And welcome to the Dope! I can imagine how intrigued I would be if I just found this thread. But it’s a lot by this point! Kudos for reading so much already.
  #955  
Old 12-09-2018, 10:42 PM
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Thanks SlackerInc! It’s a pleasure to read such a thought provoking thread. I work for a moderately sized global japaneses manufacturer, who have been using automation in its factories since the ‘80’s, like many Japanese manufacturers. The Japanese have been on the for front of adopting automation and industrial robots. IME what we see in the US as far as factory automation, has already occurred in Japan, 30 years ago. What we’re seeing now in the US is just “catch up”, due to automation costs finally becoming competitive here in the US. But this is just the easy automation, the repetitive tasks, just like japan 30 years ago. I have worked for a heavily automated factory for the last 20 years, and all the easy repetitive tasks were automated 30 years ago, there hasn’t been much change since then and haven’t seen much improvement in automation that would eliminate many jobs from the trade shows I attend.
I guess what I’m trying to convey is that the automation of the last 30 years has been relatively cheap and easy to reduce labor by say ~50% (just an example), but it will become increasingly difficult and more expensive for each percentage moving forward. Hope this makes since, I’m not the best writer.
  #956  
Old 12-10-2018, 12:15 AM
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I think I’ve got the gist. Basically, you think the low-hanging fruit was grabbed thirty years ago in Japan, and now the U.S. is catching up, but we should then hit a kind of plateau. Is that about right?

It makes a certain amount of sense. I wonder, though: what about the massive increases in computing power in recent years and developments in AI? You’ve got outfits like Boston Dynamics making strides unimaginable even one decade ago, much less three. You don’t think that will filter its way into the manufacturing or service sectors?

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  #957  
Old 12-10-2018, 03:12 PM
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Yes! That's exactly what I was trying to say, thanks for deciphering.
I'm sure there's plenty of applications for the Boston Dynamics robots, but might be overkill for automotive production. Industrial robots usually perform repetitive tasks where speed and accuracy are required. An actual human looking robot isn't really necessary if wheels can work just as well and be faster and more accurate. But I'm sure there are many applications out side of the automobile manufacturing sector.

IMO, the next wave of labor reduction in the automotive manufacturing sector will happen with the shift to EV's, since EV's require far fewer and simpler components.
  #958  
Old 12-10-2018, 04:21 PM
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We've been having the debate about 'robots taking all the jobs' since the time I started on the SDMB 19 years ago. In one of those early threads I mentioned that the debate was not new, and I remember people confidently asserting that robots would take all the jobs 'within ten or twenty years' back in college in the 1980's. Like fusion power, automation of all jobs is only ten or twenty years away - and has been for forty years.

So here we are, decades later, and unemployment in the U.S. is at an all-time low. And I predict that two decades from now, whatever the unemployment rate is will have everything to do with overall economic conditions, and almost nothing to do with automation - just like it is today. And the reasons are still the same - humans have general intelligence, which is way more valuable than most people in the debate seem to recognize, and replacing that makes automation much harder than people seem to realize, except in those areas where general intelligence doesn't matter such as in mature, well defined assembly line processes where the vast majority of automation activities are focused.

People should stop listening to the economists and social scientists who pontificate about the looming automation crisis, and start listening to the engineers who actually have experience automating things. It is NOT an easy problem, and human brains are still incredibly valuable things to have at all levels of production. Thus it will remain until we build robots than can think generally and creatively. Which may never happen.

In the mantime, the only reason we automate something is if it is profitable to do so. And when we increase overall wealth through automation, it just creates more jobs elsewhere. In the same way, the mechanization of farming displaced millions of workers from farms, but the resulting economic growth created more jobs than were lost. I see no reason to assume that pattern won't continue.
  #959  
Old 12-10-2018, 08:58 PM
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We've been having the debate about 'robots taking all the jobs' since the time I started on the SDMB 19 years ago. In one of those early threads I mentioned that the debate was not new, and I remember people confidently asserting that robots would take all the jobs 'within ten or twenty years' back in college in the 1980's. Like fusion power, automation of all jobs is only ten or twenty years away - and has been for forty years.

So here we are, decades later, and unemployment in the U.S. is at an all-time low. And I predict that two decades from now, whatever the unemployment rate is will have everything to do with overall economic conditions, and almost nothing to do with automation - just like it is today. And the reasons are still the same - humans have general intelligence, which is way more valuable than most people in the debate seem to recognize, and replacing that makes automation much harder than people seem to realize, except in those areas where general intelligence doesn't matter such as in mature, well defined assembly line processes where the vast majority of automation activities are focused.

People should stop listening to the economists and social scientists who pontificate about the looming automation crisis, and start listening to the engineers who actually have experience automating things. It is NOT an easy problem, and human brains are still incredibly valuable things to have at all levels of production. Thus it will remain until we build robots than can think generally and creatively. Which may never happen.

In the mantime, the only reason we automate something is if it is profitable to do so. And when we increase overall wealth through automation, it just creates more jobs elsewhere. In the same way, the mechanization of farming displaced millions of workers from farms, but the resulting economic growth created more jobs than were lost. I see no reason to assume that pattern won't continue.
100% agree, well said. We’ve even gone back to rethinking some operations to re-introduce humans for some of our low volume multiple product type areas, due to the flexibility allowed by human labor. I’m sure there will be improvements in factory automation in the near future, but a degree or experience in computer integration and electronics will still be highly sought after for the foreseeable future at the factory level.
  #960  
Old 12-11-2018, 12:10 AM
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The drive towards factory automation is actually primarily motivated by two things: Improved operational efficiency through accuracy, repeatability and measurability, and the need to replacie workers as they retire. Specificsally, the drive towards digitization has a lot to with trying to nail down processes and document them before the oeople who have all the domain knowledge retire.

This is necessary because factories are having a hard time attracting new workers. This is exactly the opposite of the claim that there is some demand for factory jobs that no longer exist. The average age of floor workers in factories has been climbing for years, and I believe is aroun 50 now. This terrifies factory managers. When old Gus, the go-to guy to figure out why the line is rejecting 5% of its product retires, and there was no apprentice below him to learn all he knows, the factory loses a bunch of knowledge that was very expensive to acquire. So they want old Gus to have his kmowledge documented and embedded into a ditiAtion program before he leaves.

Digitization is the first step before you can automate. You need to capture your processes, document them, and cnvert them into process plans that can be executed by automation. This is turning put to be exceedingly hard in some cases, as quite often the process in place only works because the humans executing it constantly use their own judgement to solve problems and deviate from the plan when the plan deviates from reality.

In other words, before you can even digitize a process you have to discover what it actually is, then figure out how to remove the need for human judgement from it. The complexity of these processes can result in the failure of the digitization process. In that case, the factory has to essentially rebuild its processes around automation from the botttom up, and sometimes they discover that there are severe limits to how much you can automate.

Elon Musk thought he could build a fully automated car plant. He was sure of it, and he bet billions on it. Years of failures later, Musk now admits that he grossly underestimated the need for humans in the production process.
  #961  
Old 12-11-2018, 03:50 AM
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I think you two have three errors there:

(1) Assuming that the replacement of human jobs must involve entirely replacing every (or nearly every) person’s job with a robot. This is definitely a heavy lift. Creating automation that still depends on humans, but less than half of the number previously needed, still eliminates a lot of jobs.

(2) Focusing too narrowly on factory jobs. These were the ones people were paying attention to a few decades back, as you noted. But was anyone then worrying about the jobs of radiologists, paralegals, even lawyers? That’s a real issue now.

(3) Focusing narrowly on the unemployment rate, which only tracks those actively looking for work. The share of working-age men not involved in the labor force is up over 40 percent in the past 40 years, including 14 percent just in the past decade: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/LNS11300001. I can easily imagine a future another 40 years from now (which is really not all that long) in which that non-working segment is actually the majority (after being only about 12 or 13 percent back in the Fifties) , even as the unemployment rate itself remains within its historical range.

Last edited by SlackerInc; 12-11-2018 at 03:53 AM.
  #962  
Old 12-11-2018, 07:53 AM
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Bungled my links. Be right back.

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  #963  
Old 12-11-2018, 08:13 AM
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Links hopefully mostly unbungled.
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Originally Posted by SlackerInc View Post
I think you two have three errors there:
Yes, let's talk about errors.
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(3) Focusing narrowly on the unemployment rate, which only tracks those actively looking for work. The share of working-age men not involved in the labor force is up over 40 percent in the past 40 years, including 14 percent just in the past decade: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/LNS11300001. I can easily imagine a future another 40 years from now (which is really not all that long) in which that non-working segment is actually the majority (after being only about 12 or 13 percent back in the Fifties) , even as the unemployment rate itself remains within its historical range.
That is not the share of working-age men. That's all males, 16+. So good job including all the college students and boomers to help push this robot narrative. During that same time period (40 years), the participation rate for women increased (LNS11300002, also including all the college students and retirees). This is not a problem, although if you think it is, by all means please share why you think it's bad that in many households today a woman works and a man stays at home. We're all ears. Or eyes I guess, this being text.
My advice here is to try thinking about demographics and social conventions before immediately jumping to the "robots!" conclusion.

Since you started this thread, the seasonally adjusted "core age" (not my term) 25-54 labor force participation rate has increased from 81.5% to 82.2% (LNS11300060). The highest it's ever been is 84.6% (1999). 40 years ago (not terribly relevant IMO but you brought it up)? 78.1% [JMT]This is not the trend you are looking for.[/JMT]

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(2) Focusing too narrowly on factory jobs. These were the ones people were paying attention to a few decades back, as you noted. But was anyone then worrying about the jobs of radiologists, paralegals, even lawyers? That’s a real issue now.
And we used human computers to send spaceships to the moon, and my dad had a bank of secretaries before his first desktop computer. "A few decades back" we had 43 million fewer jobs (and we've increased 16.6 million since you started this thread.) "A few decades back" we didn't even have types of jobs that we have today. Please allow me to google that for you. Jobs change. That's normal and expected. You might be able to formulate and test a hypothesis about the rate of job change. Let us know what you find out.

I see the automation of radiology and legal services is a good thing, making those services more affordable and accessible.

Last edited by Ruken; 12-11-2018 at 08:14 AM.
  #964  
Old 12-11-2018, 09:57 AM
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My focus on male labor participation has nothing to do with thinking it’s a bad thing for women to be in the labor force. It’s just that looking at both genders combined obscures the fact that “women’s liberation” goosed the numbers for a while, but that peaked (as you alluded to) in 1999, and labor participation has been down since then. You talked about college, retirement, etc.; but economists will tell you that people going back to school or retiring early are just more socially acceptable ways of being out of the labor market.


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I see the automation of radiology and legal services is a good thing, making those services more affordable and accessible.

Definitely. So do I. Looks like it’s time for one of my periodic disclaimers (I must have issued them several times in the thread so far) that, unlike several other Chicken Little posters, I don’t see the ultimate obviation of need for all or even most human beings to work as a bad thing, not at all. I think in the long run, it will be great for humanity (as long as we avoid some other existential dangers that are outside the scope of this thread). My concern is over how the transition to this state of being will come about economically and politically—which is why I strongly support implementation of a basic income or “mincome”.
  #965  
Old 12-11-2018, 11:06 AM
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You talked about college, retirement, etc.; but economists will tell you that people going back to school or retiring early are just more socially acceptable ways of being out of the labor market.
Bolding mine -- prove it. Not that it's relevant to anything I wrote, because I didn't write about going back to school or retiring early. My links show college enrollment ages 18-24 and the percent of the population age 65+. It is a simple fact that young people are more likely to go to college today. It is a simple fact that we have more old folks than we used to. It is a simple fact that household structures have changed in the past 40 years. All of those have contributed heavily to the trend seen in the male 16+ labor participation data. So to use those 16+/M data alone as evidence of, well, anything, without acknowledging and accounting for the other contributing factors is simply misleading. Careful readers of this thread will note I already brought up demographic factors wrt workplace participation in this very thread (#874 and subsequent posts).

For those interested, here's a FRED blog post on the working age population as a percentage of the overall population. It topped out in 2007 and as of 2017 was the lowest it's been since 2000. Anyone have caregiver stats on hand? That's another factor to look into. An aunt flat out didn't work (as an employee) during my grandfather's last few years, but I don't know how common that is.
https://fredblog.stlouisfed.org/2016...-demographics/


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Definitely. So do I. Looks like it’s time for one of my periodic disclaimers (I must have issued them several times in the thread so far) that, unlike several other Chicken Little posters, I don’t see the ultimate obviation of need for all or even most human beings to work as a bad thing, not at all. I think in the long run, it will be great for humanity (as long as we avoid some other existential dangers that are outside the scope of this thread). My concern is over how the transition to this state of being will come about economically and politically—which is why I strongly support implementation of a basic income or “mincome”.
Your "concern" is noted. If you have anything specific, measurable, etc. to discuss, I'm here.

Some targets may be more geographically-constrained data. Let's consider a pool of people whose careers are disrupted by technology. Those living in more densely populated areas may be more easily able to shift to related jobs or be closer to re-training opportunities. Those in less dense areas may have to move. But not everyone can move, for various reasons. This is from-ass brainstorming, so I got nothing to actually analyze. Yet.

If the robots taking over requires increased population mobility to cope with it, are there policies we can enact (or remove) to facilitate this? Dunno, but I'll mull it on the plane this afternoon.
  #966  
Old 12-11-2018, 03:32 PM
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A highly related joke.

https://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/human-jobs
  #967  
Old 12-11-2018, 07:57 PM
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My comments are only wrt automotive component manufacturing, I’m pretty clueless about any other sectors of the evonomy. However, just imagining the world of the future? I would think by the time human labor is obsolete, future humans will be living in a virtual world for the most part, and won’t even need the physical items that future AI/robots would produce, except nutrition of some sort.
  #968  
Old 12-12-2018, 12:13 AM
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I think you two have three errors there:

(1) Assuming that the replacement of human jobs must involve entirely replacing every (or nearly every) person’s job with a robot. This is definitely a heavy lift. Creating automation that still depends on humans, but less than half of the number previously needed, still eliminates a lot of jobs.
Of course jobs will be lost to automation. But the history of those job losses show that they ultimate grow the economy, which means jobs are created to replace the ones lost.

What I am arguing against is that automation will make humans so obsolete that there simply won't be enough jobs for them, leading to mass unemployment. There is exactly zero evidence that we are heading for such a future, and all the evidence we have suggests that a future where 100 million current jobs are automated is probably one in which at least 100 million new jobs will be created, and the future world will be much wealthier.

This is because employment carries with it opportunity cost for society - if you weren't doing job A, you'd be working somewhere else doing job B. Since you chose A, there will be less of B. If you can automate A, you can do B, and other people can create job categories C,D,E... etc.

The reason so many people have a pessimistic view of the future is because it's easy to imagine a potential automation catastrophe, but impossible to imagine the new things we will choose to do or the new things we will invent when millions of people are freed up from their current jobs and are available for other new jobs. Humans are a resource. An incredibly valuable one. When automation can replace them while maintaining or increasing their output, wealth grows because we now have the same things we had before, plus whatever the worker is now building.

In my opinion, the only way this pattern will be broken is if we invent AI with general intelligence, but nothing we are doing today leads to that, and we have no idea how to get there, or even if we can.

Quote:
(2) Focusing too narrowly on factory jobs. These were the ones people were paying attention to a few decades back, as you noted. But was anyone then worrying about the jobs of radiologists, paralegals, even lawyers? That’s a real issue now.
Focusing on factory jobs is an act of charity, because factories are the best case place for automation, which is why it appeared there first.

The key in automated factories is that everything the robots do is extremely well defined, and the range of choices it can make extremely limited. Move spot welder to location defined by the process instructions, apply current, move arm back. That's simple automation, which actually isn't that simple. Nowadays, we are adding limited AI in terms of analytics, and advances in vision systems are sensor technology are allowing robots more choices. For example, a robot might use a camera to reject a drilled hole that is too oval, or even inspect the paint job of a car and report flaws. But the minute the process deviates from the limits set in the plan, the robots are completely helpless to change it. They can't think.

Now try automating something less well defined - like driving. That is turning out to be much harder than people originally thought, and a lot of car companies have scaled back their claims. And actually, driving isn't even the worst case for automation because it still happens within a set of pretty well defined rules. Now try building a robot that can go into a framed house and install all the plumbing and electrical. Totally different thing.

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(3) Focusing narrowly on the unemployment rate, which only tracks those actively looking for work. The share of working-age men not involved in the labor force is up over 40 percent in the past 40 years, including 14 percent just in the past decade: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/LNS11300001. I can easily imagine a future another 40 years from now (which is really not all that long) in which that non-working segment is actually the majority (after being only about 12 or 13 percent back in the Fifties) , even as the unemployment rate itself remains within its historical range.
Before you do that, you'd have to convince me that any of this has to do with automation. There are lots of things that can affect the unemployment rate. And automation could certainly cause short term job losses - there has to be lag between job losses and job creation, because people need time to change jobs, retrain, whatever. That's different than massive, permanent job losses from automation.
  #969  
Old 12-12-2018, 12:42 AM
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You’re right that my previous cite for labor participation rate included everyone over 16, and that there are more people over 65 now. Mea culpa.

But if we look at men aged 25-54, we still see that the share of those out of the workforce increased 40% from 1996 to 2016:

https://www.bls.gov/emp/tables/civil...ation-rate.htm

That strikes me as significant.


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Ha, nice one. One might wonder how the fetishist gets his money, but he looks like he might be old enough to be retired and living on a pension or savings.


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My comments are only wrt automotive component manufacturing, I’m pretty clueless about any other sectors of the evonomy. However, just imagining the world of the future? I would think by the time human labor is obsolete, future humans will be living in a virtual world for the most part, and won’t even need the physical items that future AI/robots would produce, except nutrition of some sort.

Yeah, good point. Kind of like in “Ready Player One”. I suspect though that there will still be a high-end market for stuff that’s “real” and not possible to mass produce (like land in a highly desirable, scenic location). Kind of like how people now appreciate handmade, bespoke items even if they could get comparable quality for much less at Target.


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The reason so many people have a pessimistic view of the future is because it's easy to imagine a potential automation catastrophe, but impossible to imagine the new things we will choose to do or the new things we will invent when millions of people are freed up from their current jobs and are available for other new jobs. Humans are a resource. An incredibly valuable one.

It seems to me that this is a false dichotomy. What about the optimistic vision of the future in which no one needs to work? That’s what optimism looks like to me. The idea that human labor will be a crucially needed “resource” until the end of time is actually the pessimistic outlook, from where I’m standing. But then, I guess as an inveterate slacker I may not be in tune with the way most people think. In some of these discussions, of automation and basic income and so on, you’ll read stuff about how people have a fundamental psychological need to work, so they would be profoundly depressed if they just lived off a basic income. I cannot comprehend this mindset at ALL.
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Old 12-16-2018, 01:43 AM
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Yes, it’s kinda like Lemur866 theorizes about stuff being the robots make being free. When we’re all living in virtual reality, everything should be basically free. If you want a ferarri? No problem, u have one for the same price as any other virtual car. Free. Want to travel through time or visit another planet? All free. There’s no need to colonize mars, you can just be there in your own home or hospital like compound where they feed u through a tube. Maybe we’ll all have to spend an obligatory amount of time in the real world every now and then to ensure the physical systems that keep the virtual systems running
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Old 12-16-2018, 01:57 AM
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also, virtual reality may be the main driver behind the Fermi paradox, in that any civilization with the ability to contact earth may have mastered the technology to live in a virtual world. And would have no desire to expend the resources to physically travel/communicate.
  #972  
Old 06-05-2019, 11:22 PM
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I saw this on the AP today and thought of this old thread: South Korean businesses growingly adopt unmanned services
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Robots are coming to South Korea’s vibrant coffee culture, where crowds of lunchtime customers queuing at cafes are a daily sight.

Cafes are among many businesses that could be transformed by automated services in this tech-forward nation — a notion both exciting and worrisome as jobs become scarcer.

The Dal.komm Coffee franchise has 45 outlets, in malls, cafeterias, schools and an airport, where robot baristas take orders remotely through a mobile app or kiosk cashier and then brew and serve fresh coffee. Customers are sent a 4-digit code and can retrieve their drinks from a pickup box.

South Korean industries, including restaurants, convenience stores, supermarkets, banks and manufacturers are relying increasingly on robots and other automation. But not without protest: many Koreans, especially the young, are struggling to find work.
What if the future is starting right now?

Last edited by Snowboarder Bo; 06-05-2019 at 11:22 PM. Reason: fixed coding
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Old 06-05-2019, 11:54 PM
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I think it is--or rather, it has. Skeptics might point out that automats came to NYC many decades ago; but of course, they still had humans making the food and putting it in the slots.

Wasn't there some place, though (a fast food chain, maybe?) that implemented something like this and then decided it was a failed experiment?
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Old 06-06-2019, 02:05 AM
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South Korean businesses growingly adopt unmanned servicesWhat if the future is starting right now?
Remember vending machines?
For 50 years people have been able to get coffee from a machine. Insert in two coins , press a button to choose decaf, regular,etc, press a button for "add extra sugar", press a button for add milk.
And --MAGIC!--the machine dropped a plastic cup from a chute and filled it with your drink, and you lifted up the plastic shield to remove your cup.

The difference here seems to be that the machine now looks cool.
Instead of a boring rectangular machine made of metal with all the mechanics hidden inside, this machine in the linked picture is transparent glass with a robotic arm you can watch while it works.
And of course, you operate it after loading yet another app on your smartphone linked to your credit card, and, I assume, have to remember your password. Who wants to drink coffee without a password? That's old fashioned. Not cool at all.

And actually, that's the big difference: the coolness factor.
It seems to be successful. According to the link, these computerized coffee shops are popular. So instead of installing a bank of vending machines, the airport or shopping mall opens a franchise with these computerized machines, and people stand in line happily waiting to pay.

But regarding the OP 's issue of robots taking our jobs--the question is: is this robot-cafe replacing the old vending machines, or is it replacing human workers at Starbucks? We'll wait and see.

Last edited by chappachula; 06-06-2019 at 02:06 AM.
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Old 06-06-2019, 02:48 AM
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Periodic reminder that I, as the OP, actually do believe it will ultimately be a good thing for robots to take our jobs, unlike many others who have posted in this thread over the past 7.5 years (I wonder if some of them are now dead??). It's the transition I worry about.
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Old 06-07-2019, 10:13 AM
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We are in an interesting point on the transition curve. The machines are continuing to be interconnected. This has 2 immediate effects - centralization and standardization. It's not ROBOTS (plural). It's a gigantic robotic system:

+ Recently I was involved in a complex automobile licensing issue that involved titles, insurance, multiple cars, licenses, owners and states. A young lady was able to sit at a computer and resolve all of the issues in 20 minutes. Many years ago I had to fly to Carson City Nevada to resolve a much simpler title issue. Definitely an improvement.

- Also recently, I made an error on the account number when I changed where to automatically deposit my SS check. The bank returned the check to the SS Administration. When that happens the SS computer assumes you are dead and cancels SS and Medicare. The insurance companies then cancel any supplemental policies. All communicated instantly and without human intervention. I was not informed since I was assumed dead. I found out about it when WalMart charged me $90 for a prescription that used to be free. My resurrection required a couple of months of visits and phone calls.

So, the robots are not metal anthropomorphs scurrying around the house to do your bidding. It's an interconnected robotic system that is meticulous in monitoring what it requires of you and equally rigorous in punishing your bad behavior.
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Old 06-07-2019, 06:59 PM
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Oof, that SSA deal sounds like a nightmare. Reminds me of the bureaucratic hoops I had to jump through to get a passport after they tightened things up post-9/11. My parents never thought to get a consular report of birth when I was born in Kenya (they were both American citizens). So all I had was a fairly useless Kenyan birth certificate.

I went to a special office of the State Dept. in Connecticut, and brought them a sworn, notarized affidavit from my mother. My father had died decades previous. But since I had written on the form that both my parents were American citizens, they demanded proof of citizenship for both. They acknowledged that if I had put my mother down and listed my father as "UNKNOWN", I wouldn't have to prove it for him.

Last edited by SlackerInc; 06-07-2019 at 07:02 PM.
  #978  
Old 06-09-2019, 11:28 AM
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We are in an interesting point on the transition curve. The machines are continuing to be interconnected. This has 2 immediate effects - centralization and standardization. It's not ROBOTS (plural). It's a gigantic robotic system:

+ Recently I was involved in a complex automobile licensing issue that involved titles, insurance, multiple cars, licenses, owners and states. A young lady was able to sit at a computer and resolve all of the issues in 20 minutes. Many years ago I had to fly to Carson City Nevada to resolve a much simpler title issue. Definitely an improvement.

- Also recently, I made an error on the account number when I changed where to automatically deposit my SS check. The bank returned the check to the SS Administration. When that happens the SS computer assumes you are dead and cancels SS and Medicare. The insurance companies then cancel any supplemental policies. All communicated instantly and without human intervention. I was not informed since I was assumed dead. I found out about it when WalMart charged me $90 for a prescription that used to be free. My resurrection required a couple of months of visits and phone calls.

So, the robots are not metal anthropomorphs scurrying around the house to do your bidding. It's an interconnected robotic system that is meticulous in monitoring what it requires of you and equally rigorous in punishing your bad behavior.
In Case 1, you were fortunate to make contact with someone who knew what to do.

Case 2 and ones similar to it, are becoming ever more frequent. Any exception that gets kicked out of the automated process, you are in hell, either because no manual process has been set up to deal with it, or nobody knows what it is.
  #979  
Old 06-12-2019, 09:17 AM
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Software is the ultimate Socialist endeavor. It assumes that a central authority 'Main' can anticipate and manage all contingencies.

Good luck.
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Old 06-14-2019, 09:05 PM
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Software is the ultimate Socialist endeavor. It assumes that a central authority 'Main' can anticipate and manage all contingencies.

Good luck.
Which is why it doesn't work! Nice one.
  #981  
Old 06-16-2019, 05:40 PM
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Software is the ultimate Socialist endeavor. It assumes that a central authority 'Main' can anticipate and manage all contingencies.

Good luck.
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Which is why it doesn't work! Nice one.
Sounds more like "The perfect is the enemy of the good"














Sure, it does not work in all contingencies; however, history showed that capitalism falls flat in its face too, of course less often than the silly countries that besides socialism also try to make a command economy to work. And one can't help but notice the irony when one notices that those posts worked (arrived to their destination) thanks in great part with the work from servers on the web that according to W3Cook, are powered by Linux/Unix. They run about 96.5 percent of the top one million domains in the world (as ranked by Alexa).

Open sourced and community oriented systems that are usually free and egalitarian. Based on the job they do and their reach in the internet, I can say that I fell more than lucky. (but always back up your stuff and help keep the competition alive)

Last edited by GIGObuster; 06-16-2019 at 05:43 PM.
  #982  
Old 06-16-2019, 09:09 PM
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Software is the ultimate Socialist endeavor. It assumes that a central authority 'Main' can anticipate and manage all contingencies.

Good luck.
You haven't been paying attention to software development trends, apparently. Software development has been moving away from central designs for decades, and 'agile' programming is a refutation of grand central plans, which we find never survive contact with the customer. We've learned not to create grand up-front designs by high-powered architects and planners, and instead we build the smallest viable product we can, then release it and respond to how the market reacts.

In software itself, we've discovered that borders are really important. In the early days of computing, there were no borders. All code ran in the same space, and your bad code could kill my program, or the operating system itself.

So first we learned to partition code into protected spaces. Then we learned to write object-oriented code that had isolated functions. Then we learned to code against interfaces, because the code that calls a library function doesn't need to know how the library function works. It just needs to comply with the interface.

And the 'main' function (in languages that have it) does not act as a central authority, and does not handle all contingencies. In a modern language, the 'main' method may be completely empty, or it may construct a few high-level objects, but the actual control of the program is left to controllers, interrupt-driven code, etc. The move towards more decentralized logic has been going on for decades.

And the reason this is true is because of the same thing that makes an economy impossible to plan and control from the top down - complexity. Software is much more complex than hardware, and as a result we have learned to architect it in a way that allows modules to have autonomy and for the overall system to emerge from the bottom-up interaction of the modules.

So at every level - hardware, operating systems, and programs - software has been trending towards compartmentalization and decentralization. We don't use the 'smart people think of everything' waterfall process any more because it's high risk and rarely works well. Instead, we've moved to ever more decentralized and iterative designs. You know, like a market.

Speaking of that, even inside software we find that markets are working. Token Ring networks have been designed that use pricing to have modules bid for network access based on their internal needs, allowing the overall schedule to emerge dynamically. This solves the problem we had with top-down allocation whenever the requirements changed or something new is added to the system, or when the guys designing the bandwidth allocation failed to understand the needs of the software or the customer.

Software as an industry also has virtually no regulation. You don't need a license to be a programmer. You don't need a degree. You don't need government certification of your code. You don't have to wait for government inspectors to sign off on it. There are no regulations specifying what language to use, or what best practices you must follow. The computer industry is the closest thing to a wild west we have - for good and for bad.
  #983  
Old 06-16-2019, 09:54 PM
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Thanks for the enlightening comments. I stand corrected.

Still, catastrophic failure is the result of unanticipated events. The programs you describe cannot be thoroughly tested.

Interrupt driven systems are never used in bomb fuzes.
  #984  
Old 06-17-2019, 11:59 AM
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What quality controls are in place for the objects you invoke? What quality assurance do you use when distributing them? What incoming tests do you perform on purchased objects?


Crane
  #985  
Old 06-17-2019, 12:28 PM
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What quality controls are in place for the objects you invoke? What quality assurance do you use when distributing them? What incoming tests do you perform on purchased objects?


Crane
Objects are tested with their own unit tests, written by the people who most intimately understand the object, and the tests belong to the object. Integration tests are used to make sure nothing else breaks when the object is added to code, for as much as you like to isolate functional modules there is always interaction effects.

Unit tests are executed every time the software is built, and anything that breaks as a result of a code change is detected and reported.

When using a 3rd party module, it will will either have its own unit tests, or if the code isn't inspectable you devise tests that can execute all the functions you need and verify that they work. And some software we don't test at all, trusting in the provider, market reviews and history that the quality is there. No one outside of Microsoft is going to write tests to verify that the caching inside SQL server is bug free. We simply test that our own statements sent to the server result in the data we expected, and we hold Microsoft responsible for ensuring the quality of their own product. If that quality starts to slip, we'll choose another vendor. Just like people do in the rest of the market. The fact that we will do so keeps Microsoft focused on their own quality.

In even more distributed systems (and most systems are becoming more distributed), and with online services like AWS or OpenID servers, we can't test the code behind the interface, so all we care about is whether the functions exposed in the interface do what they are supposed to. So we write tests that exercise the interface. The developers of the service can change all the code behind it if they want and we don't care - the interface abstracts away the implementation.

This is analogous to one of the greatest advantages of money in a free economy. It's an abstraction that allows us to trade without having to know all the details of production of each object. It allows us to work together even when we disagree on just about everything. Arabs buy goods with Jewish workers in the supply chain. White Supremacists buy products from businesses owned by minorities, and they don't care. Like the interface in software, all you care about is the value of the product represented by dollars, snd the details of how it's made don't matter.

Politics is not like this. Which is why on the political front people will bicker endlessly and ecen go to war, while economically they are perfectly fine trading with each other. Which is also why it's tragic that some people are trying to politicize the marketplace.
  #986  
Old 06-18-2019, 03:15 PM
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Then you are describing ever wider distribution of untested systems. That's a formula for disaster.

Consider the Boeing 737 angle of attack issue. That's an obvious QA problem that could have easily been anticipated. They did not test it. Running the program to see if it does what it's supposed to, is not testing.

Robotics is not desk top stuff. Robotics controls material that moves with force. If the software only assumes that it's input data is correct the system is on the edge of failure.

Software can be tested. Automotive ABS systems are examples of software that is well tested and not failure prone.
  #987  
Old 06-18-2019, 03:41 PM
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Then you are describing ever wider distribution of untested systems. That's a formula for disaster.

Consider the Boeing 737 angle of attack issue. That's an obvious QA problem that could have easily been anticipated. They did not test it. Running the program to see if it does what it's supposed to, is not testing.

Robotics is not desk top stuff. Robotics controls material that moves with force. If the software only assumes that it's input data is correct the system is on the edge of failure.

Software can be tested. Automotive ABS systems are examples of software that is well tested and not failure prone.
I don't know how you came to the conclusion that software isn't tested. Unit and integration tests are part of the build process. But testing doesn't end there. There are also functional tests, customer acceptance tests, alpha tests, beta tests, yada yada.

As for robots, the software I write is for factory automation, so I know all about writing software for robots. I have no idea why you think that software that controls robots only considers its own inputs - generally physical systems like this give lots of feedback in the form of many sensors, and control software uses this feedback to keep the robots in control. This is yet another reason why software isn't top-down control and planning - it's more like a market where you make an input, and the input changes the outputs, and the results of the output are used to modify the inputs. That's also how airplanes fly and remain stable - through feedback. Top down control is terrible at responding to feedback from complex systems.
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Old 06-18-2019, 06:22 PM
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Software development has been moving away from central designs for decades, and 'agile' programming is a refutation of grand central plans, which we find never survive contact with the customer. We've learned not to create grand up-front designs by high-powered architects and planners, and instead we build the smallest viable product we can, then release it and respond to how the market reacts.

...

We don't use the 'smart people think of everything' waterfall process any more because it's high risk and rarely works well. Instead, we've moved to ever more decentralized and iterative designs.
Partially true and partially one sided.

The reality is that big design up front vs iterative just have different pros and cons and are each the best tool for different problems.

Waterfall/big design up front is the most efficient method and produces the best design when the solution is known. Agile and/or iterative methodologies are best when the solution is not known and is only discoverable by having people use the system.


In my experience, people that are good naturally apply both styles based on the specific need. Dogmatic approaches one way or another tend to be less optimal.
  #989  
Old 06-18-2019, 07:11 PM
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Waterfall/big design up front is the most efficient method and produces the best design when the solution is known. Agile and/or iterative methodologies are best when the solution is not known and is only discoverable by having people use the system.
Not really.

The focus is on how you manage resources and time, not the novelty of the design or product per se.

So if the world has never seen a sprocklett before, but you already know exactly all the work involved and how long it will take, then waterfall makes sense.

Meanwhile if you need to make boxes of matches, and while it's an established process, it's new to your team and there are some things you'll need to research and potential risks...good reason to agile.

Quote:
In my experience, people that are good naturally apply both styles based on the specific need.
Disagree, especially if we're talking about all parts of the chain.
I know lots of great engineers who are very dismissive of agile practices, even as they benefit from agile workflows by avoiding months of "crunch time" and rewrites.

Quote:
Dogmatic approaches one way or another tend to be less optimal.
Yes, and if this is responding to Sam Stone's statement that "[waterfall] never survive[s] contact with the customer" I agree: that's too broad.

Last edited by Mijin; 06-18-2019 at 07:13 PM.
  #990  
Old 06-18-2019, 08:15 PM
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Not really.

The focus is on how you manage resources and time, not the novelty of the design or product per se.

So if the world has never seen a sprocklett before, but you already know exactly all the work involved and how long it will take, then waterfall makes sense.

Meanwhile if you need to make boxes of matches, and while it's an established process, it's new to your team and there are some things you'll need to research and potential risks...good reason to agile.
Yes, really.

If you know what the solution to the problem is, meaning you have the knowledge to be able to design up front, then designing up front creates both a cleaner design and less work than iteratively reworking the design and code.

When you don't really know what the solution is, because it's unclear which features the users will actually make use of vs the ones they will ignore, or if it's unclear to what degree the solution actually meets the business requirements, then it's better to iteratively chip away at portions of the problem, reworking the system as you add capabilities. This method increases the time spent re-designing and re-coding some aspects of the system and typically decreases the quality of the overall design compared to if you had all of the knowledge up front.



Quote:
Disagree, especially if we're talking about all parts of the chain.
I know lots of great engineers who are very dismissive of agile practices, even as they benefit from agile workflows by avoiding months of "crunch time" and rewrites.
I've just never met someone that I consider good that approached a problem full of unknowns by trying to guess and predict all of the solutions in advance, and designing the entire thing prior to any dev/prototype/testing/etc.

The natural inclination is to break down problems into the chunks that are known, the chunks that are less known but experience allows a high success rate using patterns and educated guesses, and the chunks that require some method of prototyping and validation.

I know there are companies that force people into a particular methodology that may not be appropriate, but I've never worked in one of those companies so my experiences might be somewhat skewed compared to yours.
  #991  
Old 06-19-2019, 10:13 AM
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Sam Stone,

Have you never had a user reported problem with your software?
  #992  
Old 06-19-2019, 12:49 PM
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Sam Stone,

Have you never had a user reported problem with your software?
Of course. No large piece of software is completely free of bugs. No complex user facing software ever gets all the requirements exactly correct, or has a perfect UI.

Most large software projects have hundreds to thousands of bugs, and bug triage is a constant activity before and after the software is delivered. A large amount of effort in the industry has gone into building the capacity to fix fast and release fast so that critical bugs can be patched quickly when they crop up in the field. Hotfixes and service packs are a common part of the software dev process.

Again, this is bottom-up correction to plans gone wrong. The perfect design doesn't exist, and bug free software generally doesn't exist. The next best thing is shorter dev cycles, better bottom-up feedback in terms of bug reporting and user engagement for feature requests and complaints.

If you can't release perfect software, it's better to let the software evolve by updating it rapidly in response to complaints and suggestions from the field. This is yet another way in which software development has moved more towards bottom-up, market-like processes and away from heavy top-down control.

Last edited by Sam Stone; 06-19-2019 at 12:50 PM.
  #993  
Old 06-19-2019, 01:07 PM
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Yes, really.

If you know what the solution to the problem is, meaning you have the knowledge to be able to design up front, then designing up front creates both a cleaner design and less work than iteratively reworking the design and code.
I wasn't disagreeing as such just making clear the distinction:

Agile and waterfall are project management methodologies, so what matters is how many unknowns there are from a project management point of view.

Yes this will generally be correlated with how much uncertainty there is in terms of the design of the product itself, but not necessarily, and I illustrated that with a couple of examples.

Quote:
I've just never met someone that I consider good that approached a problem full of unknowns by trying to guess and predict all of the solutions in advance, and designing the entire thing prior to any dev/prototype/testing/etc.

The natural inclination is to break down problems into the chunks that are known, the chunks that are less known but experience allows a high success rate using patterns and educated guesses, and the chunks that require some method of prototyping and validation.
It's not as simple as knowing or not knowing one simple nugget of information.

Yes most good engineers, indeed most everyone with some engineering experience, know that designing a novel system in isolation and expecting it to work first time is asking for trouble if not completely impossible.

But project management is a lot more than that. It at least includes when you test; how you break down and prioritize the work, and at what points you have something shippable. For sure you can be a great engineer, who understands design cannot be performed in a vacuum, without understanding any of that.

Anyway, this is all a tangent, maybe we can pull it into a separate thread.

Last edited by Mijin; 06-19-2019 at 01:08 PM.
  #994  
Old 06-19-2019, 05:09 PM
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Sam Stone,

Thanks, you made my point.
  #995  
Old 06-19-2019, 07:55 PM
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I must have missed it. What was your point again?
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