The New York Times recently had a scare piece about a new generation of robots come to take our jobs. More agile, more precise, more flexible, more capable… they will deindustrialize America!

But I saw this and thought, “when do I get one?” It’s as if these people have never seen Thingiverse, or a Reprap, or contemplated a self-replicating robot. Apparently they haven’t.

Perhaps these robots are far more revolutionary than they realize.


Posted by: John Stoner | Monday August 27th, 2012 12:17 PM

Bio: John is a software developer in Chicago. He's interested in repraps and ideas for new currencies.

Categories: Robotics | 10 Comments on New York Times Misses Big Picture

10 Responses to New York Times Misses Big Picture

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  1. I thought it was predictable that the article would concentrate on job loss in a manner that thinks that people displaced from one industry because of automation just sit around with nothing to do. The job I initially trained for 30 years ago does not exist today. I am not unemployed because I adapted to the new technology and am better for it. So is the industry I work in.

    In the future, every boring, repetitive, and dangerous job out there will eventually be designed out of the system, or be done automatically. You can count on it.

    I think the U.S. has an advantage in this regard, because societies with large populations of unskilled workers will be less likely to replace these ‘cheap’ workers with ‘expensive’ automation, and they will have less people to understand these systems.

    The U.S. will need a workforce that is very well skilled in critical-thinking, problem-solving, engineering, computer software and hardware. This will require the increased enrollment in ‘hard sciences’ in high-school and college. The robotics programs available (FIRST, BostIQ, etc…) are a good start to get middle and high school aged kids comfortable with these concepts.

    Allowing businesses to depreciate these automated systems quickly will also help their quick adoption. Remember that the U.S. has never been a country that was satisfied with commodity (low value) production. I can see individuals adapting this technology to everything from cow milking to cake decorating.

  2. I just wish as a parent who is (sadly) not a ‘maker’ and can barely check email, that instead of grabbing headlines and soundbites to stir controversy, real journalists would do their job, which is report on innovation, opportunity, and ideas that have potential to change lives. The school board who actively supports robotics as well as the mind-numbing rubric that are the state standards will be ahead of the curve in terms of meeting the needs of the future. But just like school gardens, which are not supported until mandated,robotics are mentioned in passing as a ‘club- if that’s your thing’. The politicians at the school board, running the meetings seem to be influenced by big business -just as the water board and every other political board has always been.

    • The politicians at the school board are not influenced, but controlled, by the teachers unions. Start there if you wish to change the emphasis of the government schools. Some enlightened schools do teach robotics, but it takes knowledgeable teachers.

  3. ameyring on said:

    I’m a Union member and I can understand how people in the Unions can be scared of automation taking away jobs. People need to adapt to changing technology and learn to work with it, and that’s part of life. We didn’t go to college or trade school to do the same thing over and over again – we learned new things and work is about learning new things as well. Workplaces also have to play a role by providing quality training – many times employees get stuck with crappy training when equipment is installed. Everybody’s brains work differently in absorbing info. Investment in better training for consistency is important.

  4. machines don’t take jobs in america they make them. somebody has to run and maintain them and they make manufacturing affordable which keeps buisness profitable. without gizmos that either make things cheaper or make the impossible possible jobs get outsourced. that’s reality.

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