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  #51  
Old 08-15-2019, 02:43 AM
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Why would autonomous trains be more difficult than autonomous trucks? Trucks on the highway have far more variables to manage than trains on rails. Trains don't have other trains changing lanes in front of them. They don't even have to steer.
They aren't more difficult. But I make the following prediction:

There will be widespread, close to ubiquitous automated cars and trucks while most trains, ships, and airliners will still be piloted/crewed by humans.

Why am I making this prediction? Trains, ships, and airplanes actually all have simpler environments to operate in. While they are more technically complex to run than driving a car, present software is more than adequate to the task.

The reason is market scale. Driving is a very hard task to automate, and it's requiring the development of state of the art software that heavily uses machine learning.

How much is it going to cost in total? Let's say the cost is 100 billion dollars. GM is already in it 20 billion, or is it 40 now?

Planes, trains, and ships are easier, but the intricacies of operating fairly complex diesel locomotives and scanning the track ahead and reading old maps and dealing with faults is still a complex task. Ships require coordinated efforts between a whole crew and maintenance and repair, including at sea, of complex systems. Planes are similarly complex.

So it's going to cost a lot of money to automate all the elements of these tasks, especially in the planes and ships case. Lets say it's 5 times easier, and the cost is 20 billion.

That's why. There are very few ships and airliners in the world, while there are hundreds of millions of cars. You are splitting any potential revenue from savings on paying crew far fewer ways.
  #52  
Old 08-19-2019, 12:46 PM
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A few people have mentioned secretaries, but more obsolete than that is the role of secretarial pool typist. My mother was one of these: Her sole task was taking oral dictation or hand-written notes from various employees and typing up the results for correspondence or official records. I suppose it made sense back in the day when typewriters were unforgiving and unwieldy. Nowadays a similar role only exists in specific fields like medical transcription, and even then speech-to-text software can perform the task.
  #53  
Old 08-19-2019, 01:09 PM
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Because a 12,000 foot long vehicle that weighs thousands of times what one truck does, all while going up and down hills, and because it can't stop really quickly.

Drone trucks? OK, let's see how that goes for a few years. Drone trains? I'm just positing it is quite a bit more difficult to control trains without continuous organic feedback.
I'm going to go with Akaj on this one. Just because a train is bigger and takes longer to stop doesn't make automating it any more complex. It's on rails that travel over known terrain between known switching points. It basically just needs to be told "stop", "go" and "how fast", with sensors adjusting for weather, track conditions, slope, etc.

An automated truck has to deal with all those things, plus maneuvering around random traffic and other obstacles all in real time.
  #54  
Old 08-19-2019, 03:42 PM
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There's at least one public building I know of which still has manual elevators, and actual elevator operators (who do more than just push buttons): the Fine Arts Building, in downtown Chicago.

But, yes, it's a job that's close enough to extinct to qualify as "completely eliminated."
When I worked at the Petroleum Building in downtown L.A. in the 1970s they still had manually-operated elevators. I tried googling to see if it's still true, but I couldn't find anything, so I assume they've been automated.

I also found out that the ground floor coffee shop has been converted to a rum bar. They had an awesome burger called the Canadian Burger, because it had a slice of Canadian bacon in it (the owners were French Canadian, but I don't know if that was significant). But I often ordered their Speedy Breakfast for lunch -- two eggs any style; choice of bacon (2 slices), sausage (2 links), ham slice or hamburger patty; cottage potatoes; choice of toast; and either coffee or oj .... for $1.06. And it was delicious.
  #55  
Old 08-20-2019, 04:37 PM
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Noone combs cotton by hand anymore. It used to consume huge amounts of labor.
  #56  
Old 08-20-2019, 05:59 PM
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Ruth Belville used to "sell" Greenwich Mean Time by setting her watch by the clock at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich daily, then touring around the city allowing her subscribers to set their own timepieces from hers. Nobody took up the role after she retired, possibly because by then the BBC's time signal was well established and radios had become ubiquitous.
  #57  
Old 08-21-2019, 09:38 PM
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Part of the background story in "Rabbit Run" was Rabbit's father losing his job to automation in 1969. He was a linotype operator.
  #58  
Old 08-22-2019, 12:33 AM
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There are still some grooms in super posh hotels I believe.

Old one, but I nominate knocker-uppers. No, not your skirt chasing brother-in-law - I'm talking about the guys who used to do the rounds in factory towns with a long stick used to knock on upper floor windows to wake people up. Replaced by alarm clocks, which in turn have been replaced by phones.

Public criers have been replaced by newssheets, which created (or rather boosted) the profession of public reader ; but edumacation more or less took care of those beggars.
  #59  
Old 08-27-2019, 03:18 PM
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nm

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  #60  
Old 08-27-2019, 04:56 PM
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The railroads have dropped employment in all sectors. 70 years ago, the move from steam to diesel took a lot of labor out. Modern brakes have reduced the need for other men to ride along as brakemen. Today they are even using remote controlled switchers in yard situations.

Will the future bring crew-less trains? Probably. Eventually. Right now it's an order of magnitude more difficult than the current driver-less big rigs on the highway. We'll see.
Thats why we dont see cabooses anymore.
  #61  
Old 08-28-2019, 01:19 AM
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Thats why we dont see cabooses anymore.
Sure we do. I went to a motel where you got to sleep in cabooses.
It was awesome.
  #62  
Old 09-01-2019, 02:09 PM
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Have brakemen been eliminated? Or just the necessity for them? I thought the union kept them employed aboard trains still. Or maybe I'm thinking of firemen.
The union contract just required them to be kept employed by the railroad. They didn't have to shovel coal anymore, or even to ride on trains. So the railroad tried to find other jobs for them to do. Without displacing other union workers.

In the 1990s, I worked for BN railroad, and they sent a bunch of former coal-shovelers to training for mainframe computer programmers. Didn't turn out too well -- those guys mostly didn't have the aptitude for computer work at all!
  #63  
Old 09-01-2019, 03:58 PM
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Pole dancing might be on the list. A club in France has brought in robot pole dancers, with mannequin parts for their bodies. Video here. I think the human pole dancers don't have to worry for a while yet.

And lap dancing would be right out. Ouch!
  #64  
Old 09-01-2019, 06:31 PM
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Readers for a press clipping service.
  #65  
Old 09-02-2019, 03:25 PM
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Cast members at Disneyland - and really at all theme parks - will never, ever be automated, even as a lot of actor-y jobs in general probably will be. I feel fairly comfortable in that prognostication.
  #66  
Old 09-07-2019, 06:40 AM
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Musicians - tea houses, bars, restaurants, dance halls.

Furniture makers, printers, weavers, clothes manufacturing.

Retail has lost jobs 14 years in a row.

Car factories - and probably most other factories.

Post office. Farmers.
  #67  
Old 09-07-2019, 08:31 AM
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Garbage men. Our town just switched over from miscellaneous cans to those wheeled bins. Each truck used to have a driver plus two men who picked up and emptied the cans, and now it's just the driver. And I wouldn't be surprised if each truck didn't do a longer route now. So that's got to be at least 2/3rds of their employees laid off.
  #68  
Old 09-11-2019, 01:16 PM
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No more professional Knocker-uppers thanks to reliable alarm clocks.
I think the main factor was that rising wages made alarm clocks affordable for the working classes.
  #69  
Old 09-11-2019, 01:28 PM
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When I was at Intel in the mid-90s there was a whole bunch of people who drew the detailed circuits, laying them out to be as compact as possible. Five years later when I moved into the microprocessor group at Sun that job no longer existed, replaced by CAD tools.
There are still people who do the detailed layout of cells in a library, but these people didn't do that.
In the analogue audio business PCB layout is still done by hand, as there are layout constraints that digital-focused auto-place and auto-routing software does not incorporate. It's done on a computer of course, I don't mean we're still using black-tape-on-plastic.

What has gone is the job of PCB assembler; I worked in a plant where 200 women (and they were always women) pushed components into PCBs. Almost all gone now. First there were auto-insertion machines that stuffed components into holes, now most stuff is surface-mount https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surface-mount_technology and it's even faster.

Even before that, automated soldering https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wave_soldering had replaced women soldering each joint by hand.
  #70  
Old 09-11-2019, 02:02 PM
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When I was at Intel in the mid-90s there was a whole bunch of people who drew the detailed circuits, laying them out to be as compact as possible. Five years later when I moved into the microprocessor group at Sun that job no longer existed, replaced by CAD tools.
There are still people who do the detailed layout of cells in a library, but these people didn't do that.
I don't know... that's more of a situation where the job evolved due to technology. Draftsmen used to be almost along the lines of a technical artist, in that they'd make scale drawings in pencil and ink based on engineering and architectural layouts and plans. Nowadays, it's all done in CAD software... by people still called draftsmen, or maybe CAD techs.

And I'm still trying to figure out how automating a train would somehow be more difficult in a conceptual sense than a long-haul truck. The truck has to deal with both varying speed and direction in order to get where it's going, avoid obstacles, and share the road with other vehicles.

By comparison, an automated train's concerns are much simpler-sounding the horn at the appropriate times, speeding up in the appropriate places, slowing down in the appropriate places and times, and identifying if something unusual is on the tracks- a cow or car for example. There's no steering, navigation, sharing the road, obstacle avoidance, etc...

There's already a lot of automated rail in varying degrees, especially in the metro rail arena, as well as a lot of automated safety stuff regarding speed, etc... such as Positive Train Control.

I predict we'll see automated freight trains before we'll see automated semi-trucks...
  #71  
Old 09-11-2019, 06:19 PM
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Theres not just the issues of jobs disappearing, there's also the fact that one person can do the work of 3 people now due to automation.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/F..._1890-2014.png

There were 850k coal miners in the 1920s, there are barely 100k now. Coal production has doubled in that time from 600 million tons to 1200.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_m...production.png

So we are able to mine 2x as much coal with 1/8 as many workers.

There are still coal miners, but far fewer. So the job wasn't 'eliminated' but you need far fewer people.
However, the main reason the coal industry is dying is that natural gas is cheaper.
  #72  
Old 09-11-2019, 06:22 PM
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Or what about home milk delivery? In old TV shows you see that people had someone bring milk to their home every morning, like the newspaper. Why did that stop?
Did it? What about Milkman Dan?
  #73  
Old 09-11-2019, 06:28 PM
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The railroads have dropped employment in all sectors. 70 years ago, the move from steam to diesel took a lot of labor out. Modern brakes have reduced the need for other men to ride along as brakemen. Today they are even using remote controlled switchers in yard situations.

Will the future bring crew-less trains? Probably. Eventually. Right now it's an order of magnitude more difficult than the current driver-less big rigs on the highway. We'll see.
I think the main reason for decline in railway jobs is the decline of the railway industry as such. Airliners, automobiles, Greyhound buses, and long-distance tractor-trailer trucks have taken away a lot of its business. Likewise with streetcars -- where they still exist, they're preserved out of nostalgia (or newly built by visionary environmentalist officials) and are negligible compared to local bus transit, which is, after all, more flexible, as a bus can go anywhere the streets are paved and does not require fixed-guiderail infrastructure. Rail transit does, however, retain the advantage of being much more energy-efficient than rubber-wheeled alternatives.
  #74  
Old 09-11-2019, 06:31 PM
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I found this article that kind of explains the concept, and there is a helpful chart:
Say, what ever did happen to boarding houses? I should think there would always be a demand for a place where you can rent a room and be served meals, all for one price. Like a bed and breakfast serving three meals instead of one.

Last edited by kirkrapine; 09-11-2019 at 06:31 PM.
  #75  
Old 09-11-2019, 06:40 PM
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A few people have mentioned secretaries, but more obsolete than that is the role of secretarial pool typist. My mother was one of these: Her sole task was taking oral dictation or hand-written notes from various employees and typing up the results for correspondence or official records. I suppose it made sense back in the day when typewriters were unforgiving and unwieldy. Nowadays a similar role only exists in specific fields like medical transcription, and even then speech-to-text software can perform the task.
I recently worked in a law firm for an attorney who used Dragon NaturallySpeaking. He never dictated anything I did not have to carefully edit. Speech-to-text still has a long ways to go. E.g., it has a very hard time distinguishing homophones, to say nothing of capitalization rules.
  #76  
Old 09-11-2019, 06:42 PM
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Say, what ever did happen to boarding houses? I should think there would always be a demand for a place where you can rent a room and be served meals, all for one price. Like a bed and breakfast serving three meals instead of one.
SROs, or single room occupancy buildings aka boarding houses have been made illegal in many North American cities. Ostensibly it was for safety concerns: boarding houses facilitated the spread of disease and many were firetraps. However, it's not hard to imagine that real estate developers prefer to use that land for profitable condos instead, and that city residents who can vote (that is, people who aren't homeless) might support legislation to get rid of their transient neighbors.
  #77  
Old 09-11-2019, 06:44 PM
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Public criers have been replaced by newssheets, which created (or rather boosted) the profession of public reader ; but edumacation more or less took care of those beggars.
Here in Tampa, Florida, back in the glory days of the local cigar industry ("Ceegar City" is still CB-radio slang for Tampa), every factory had a reader on the floor who read out newspapers and books, all day long, for the people rolling the cigars.
  #78  
Old 09-11-2019, 06:53 PM
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Perhaps a more interesting question would be, what jobs cannot be automated, short of the invention of Turing-test-capable strong artificial intelligence? (One of those things that, like nuclear fusion power plants, seems always to be ten years away.) I'm thinking lawyers, doctors, engineers, scientists, journalists, probably even accountants. And jobs requiring face-to-face customer service or hands-on work -- a live waiter is part of any dining experience more elegant than fast food, and a massage chair cannot compare with a live massage therapist. And it will be a long time before prostitutes face serious competition from sexbots.
  #79  
Old 09-11-2019, 06:54 PM
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Say, what ever did happen to boarding houses? I should think there would always be a demand for a place where you can rent a room and be served meals, all for one price. Like a bed and breakfast serving three meals instead of one.
A lot of cities legislated them out of existence. Because they didn't like the class of people who lived in them (mainly working class laborers minor clerks, etc. -- often equated with winos or beer hounds), under the theory that removing the places where they live will make them disappear.

Now those same cities are having a crisis of affordable housing, but the old regulations prevent creating new boarding houses. Other countries have many youth hostels, but our cities are filled with homeless youth.
  #80  
Old 09-11-2019, 06:56 PM
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Here in Tampa, Florida, back in the glory days of the local cigar industry ("Ceegar City" is still CB-radio slang for Tampa), every factory had a reader on the floor who read out newspapers and books, all day long, for the people rolling the cigars.
In Spanish, more often than not. Tampa's Cuban community is much older than Miami's.
  #81  
Old 09-11-2019, 06:57 PM
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SROs, or single room occupancy buildings aka boarding houses have been made illegal in many North American cities. Ostensibly it was for safety concerns: boarding houses facilitated the spread of disease and many were firetraps. However, it's not hard to imagine that real estate developers prefer to use that land for profitable condos instead, and that city residents who can vote (that is, people who aren't homeless) might support legislation to get rid of their transient neighbors.
I realize I should be a little more precise about what I wrote here: Some city administrations are actively trying to restore or retain SRO units (basically, boarding houses) because they realize they are needed by the homeless population. However, the reason the number of units dropped in the first place is usually a combination of stricter regulations and profit motives.

Edited to add: Or, what Tim@T-Bonham.net said.

Last edited by xnylder; 09-11-2019 at 06:58 PM.
  #82  
Old 09-11-2019, 08:54 PM
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A lot of cities legislated them out of existence. Because they didn't like the class of people who lived in them (mainly working class laborers minor clerks, etc. -- often equated with winos or beer hounds) . . .
And vaudeville performers. I recall a scene from Yankee Doodle Dandy -- the Four Cohans are staying at a boarding house with a sign that says "Special Rates for Those in the Theatrical Profession."

Vaudeville was pretty much killed off by radio and film, but I'm not sure that counts as "automation" within the meaning of the OP. Perhaps it is an instance of "technological unemployment" more broadly defined.

Last edited by kirkrapine; 09-11-2019 at 08:56 PM.
  #83  
Old 09-11-2019, 11:41 PM
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The railroads have dropped employment in all sectors. 70 years ago, the move from steam to diesel took a lot of labor out. Modern brakes have reduced the need for other men to ride along as brakemen. Today they are even using remote controlled switchers in yard situations.

Will the future bring crew-less trains? Probably. Eventually. Right now it's an order of magnitude more difficult than the current driver-less big rigs on the highway. We'll see.
That's already happening, in Australia Rio Tinto have crew-less iron ore trains operating in the Pilbara

https://thewest.com.au/business/mini...-ng-b88895647z
  #84  
Old 09-12-2019, 01:03 PM
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Newpaper boys/girls seem to have disappeared. You can't get a paper delivered early every morning like you could 20 years ago. (in the UK)

That's presumably due to lack of demand as not many people buy physical newspapers now they can get the news off t'net. I don't know if that counts as automation...

Last edited by Bert Nobbins; 09-12-2019 at 01:03 PM.
  #85  
Old 09-12-2019, 11:52 PM
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Newpaper boys/girls seem to have disappeared. You can't get a paper delivered early every morning like you could 20 years ago. (in the UK)

That's presumably due to lack of demand as not many people buy physical newspapers now they can get the news off t'net. I don't know if that counts as automation...
Boys and girls yes, but there are guys who drive around and deliver papers early. My NY Times comes by 6 am.
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Old 09-13-2019, 05:59 PM
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No fully automated ships I know of.
There are automated ferries in Norway. The Captain's only function is to push the button to say "go to the next port". Although I'm sure they have other crew to make sure all the cars are positioned right, etc.

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Garbage men. Our town just switched over from miscellaneous cans to those wheeled bins.
You just switched over to that? We've had that for about 20 years now.
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