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The big debate about the future of work, explained

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Why economists and futurists disagree about the future of the labor market. Subscribe to our channel! http://goo.gl/0bsAjO Sources: https://economics.mit.edu/files/11563 https://www.aeaweb.org/full_issue.php?doi=10.1257/jep.29.3#page=33 http://voxeu.org/article/how-computer-automation-affects-occupations https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/sites/default/files/future-work-lit-review-20150428.pdf https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/documents/Artificial-Intelligence-Automation-Economy.PDF https://www.vox.com/2015/7/27/9038829/automation-myth https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PWX7RPG/ref=dp-kindle-redirect https://www.amazon.com/Second-Machine-Age-Prosperity-Technologies-ebook/dp/B00D97HPQI/ref=sr_1_1 https://www.amazon.com/New-Division-Labor-Computers-Creating/dp/0691124027/ref=sr_1_1? https://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/downloads/academic/The_Future_of_Employment.pdf Clips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTlV0Y5yAww https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_luhn7TLfWU https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVlhMGQgDkY https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCoFKUJ_8Yo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yeyn9zzrC84 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSKi8HfcxEk /// Recent advancements in artificial intelligence and robotics have commentators worrying about the coming obsolescence of the human worker. Some in Silicon Valley are even calling for a basic minimum income provided by the government for everyone, under the assumption that work will become scarce. But many economists are skeptical of these claims, because the notion that the the economy offers a fixed amount of work has been debunked time and time again over the centuries and current economic data show no signs of a productivity boom. Fortunately, we don't need to divine the future of the labor market in order to prepare for it. /// Vox.com is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out http://www.vox.com to get up to speed on everything from Kurdistan to the Kim Kardashian app. Check out our full video catalog: http://goo.gl/IZONyE Follow Vox on Twitter: http://goo.gl/XFrZ5H Or on Facebook: http://goo.gl/U2g06o
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Text Comments (4609)
Jarod Farrant (1 day ago)
I did a co-op at a Tim Horton’s for my last year in high school, and one of my coworkers put up a news article about cafe in japan that has its coffee made and served by robots. That’s right all made and served by robotic arms and how long until all fast food jobs are automated?
Carlos Chau (2 days ago)
I know this is inappropriate But Joss Fong is hot and I have to say this out load
Maverick Hargrave (3 days ago)
"We've heard it before, therefore robots won't take our jobs this time either" is a massive fallacy.
petrol devo (4 days ago)
So the government is prepared to start passing out a shitload of free checks every month ?.... people have to live too ! People that don't have work just don't buy anything, so the machines will be they're own demise...
TechnoDelight (6 days ago)
The new jobs created could very well be automated too.
Cari Garafalo (6 days ago)
heyoo, kurzgesagt at 0:43 awyis!
5xmasterx5 (9 days ago)
If ur in demets class, good job
also general intelligence and super intelligence forms of A.I don't need people. A.I rules himself and repair his self when it is in this state
this video shows again how degenerate delusional and brainwashed capitalists are. this world have a limited amount of resources that means a limited amount in grow. 'A.I' will absolute replace most of jobs also A.I absolute will enslave us as it will be like his creator. ;a dictator,; btw Big Brother satan is watching you,' capitalists are eco terrorists 'The essence of capitalism is to turn nature into commodities and commodities into capital. The live green earth is transformed into dead gold bricks, with luxury items for the few and toxic slag heaps for the many. The glittering mansion overlooks a vast sprawl of shanty towns, wherein a desperate, demoralized humanity is kept in line with drugs, television, and armed force.”
Armani Nguon (10 days ago)
Those news who reported the 47% lost. Yeah, that's Fox news type of journalism. Give you a scarse histeria.
soupthestarfish (12 days ago)
How about we just dismantle capitalism?
satria amiluhur (13 days ago)
That's why you should stop complaining too much about your jobs
Ahmed Bokhari (13 days ago)
Future's gonna be amazing.
Gi Max (14 days ago)
Machines has to work for humans. Machines has to make life better for humans. Humans has to enjoy their live. All hard work has to do machines. Humans has to be free from money and all other suffer.
Gi Max (4 days ago)
+petrol devo i just say how technology has to be used, but how it will be nobody knows.
petrol devo (4 days ago)
The machines and their capitalist owners will rise, but us humans are going to suffer. Then the capitalist will fall... nothing will ever be free, especially our everyday needs.
KelsoLass (14 days ago)
From what I can see give more money to the government with our new jobs! Have government run every aspect of our lives! Job's We can be some A I's pet! It's called the new order of thing and one world dominance! one world order!
Ricardo Duarte (14 days ago)
these gains of productivity and new jobs created by technological advances has nothing to do with the periphery countries. these countries do not incorporate productivity and do not develop technology themselves, becoming more and more dependent on the developed countries. the trend is the inequality and unemployment resulting from this process being absorbed by the poorest countries .
Inthinkable (14 days ago)
The problem with comparing current automation anxiety to the 1920's is that back then, the new jobs created a demand for unskilled labor, while today's machines are replacing unskilled and mid-level to even high level jobs. The new jobs that will come from these machines are high-skilled ones that will require above average intelligence, essentially barring most of the population from being able to work.
Sara (15 days ago)
But as most millennials can attest, the jobs that are still around, largely don't pay well, and companies, rather than raising wages, are using the increased profits to buy back stock and make their major shareholders richer.
Tyler Padgett (15 days ago)
Vox has to be the worst news corp on the planet... most ridiculously naive report on automation I've seen yet.
Jesse Maddux (15 days ago)
let's see here... basically, they say "yea people get displaced but they can find other jobs". okay so say a displaced worker making $15 an hour gets displaced by a machine, but hey they can get a $7.25 job at a store or something. But it's not fixing the problem, is it? You end up losing job security and we're expected to be okay with people being forced out of jobs and forced to take a massive pay decrease just so they can live life.
Oldeuboi (16 days ago)
The problem with AI and advanced robotics is that it doesn't just make a job (performed by a human) obsolete, it - to all intents and purposes - makes the human obsolete. Humans can do A, B and C? Wonderful, machines can do the entire alphabet and they can do it a million times better. We're not there yet obviously, but we're getting there faster and faster. Of course, if you create enough 'bullshit jobs' you can keep everyone employed, but that shouldn't be the way forward.
Eve Kohley (16 days ago)
6:54 why don't we look at productivity improvements as like how many 9s are there being achieved, as in exponential towards a human limit?
Manak Modgalya (16 days ago)
Well, i think that as long as purchasing power stays in the hands of humans and not machines, there will always be the incentive to create new ways to draw it (through transactions ) from the people and thus replacement jobs or atleast ways of earning will stay..
Conor McCammon (16 days ago)
Economists agree that we can always create new jobs, but the real question is whether we WANT that. We could all be working 3 day work weeks and enjoying the same standard of living: instead we're stuck in this old-timey idea that we need to create bullshit jobs to keep people busy, and that 40 hours a week is somehow the 'correct' amount of time to be working. We SHOULD automate jobs. And figure out how to all live better lives in the process.
Authorityfigures (17 days ago)
The argument regarding productivity seems a fallacious one. It assumes that robots will replace humans only if robots are more productive, or that more automation means more productivity. Generally speaking, robots replace humans because they're cheaper (no wage, no benefits, no worker's comp, no bonuses, no accidents, etc). And the moment the technology becomes cheap enough, it will spread like wildfire.
jayden zhang (22 days ago)
NOTE: human population might decrease
The Butcher (23 days ago)
They took our jobs!
Jesse Lewis (23 days ago)
In a nutshell, the arguments are like this: 1) The present rise in automation is NOT worrisome for jobs because A) It hasn't been so in the past (we've handled automation very well in the past) B) Some key economic metrics (e.g. labor productivity) do not support the claim that we are in an "exponential growth" phase with automation 2) The present rise in automation is worrisome for jobs because A) Futurists (e.g. Elon Musk) are worried about it B) Studies are finding that a large percentage of jobs are at risk of being automated C) This time, the rise of automation is different - exponential growth
Endo C (23 days ago)
Vegas shows used to have many artists..dancers.. performers.. now.. it's mostly a movie screen ..some robotic props and one or two key performers... Vegas has no shortage of wealth and profit.. but it does seem to lack respect and value for human workers.
Spiffy Turtle (1 month ago)
It's not about $$$. They simply won't need your labor, so they have no reason to feed you, shelter you, or keep you healthy. Ergo, you will be allowed to expire en masse
Kallisti Babylon (1 month ago)
how comes that noone seems to think outside the box? it's a good thing that there is less work - capitalism is the problem. a system where people are dependent on an income to live can never suffice for all the needs in the future. it doesnt matter for the guy that loses the job if the total jobs stay more or less the same.
Zac Newnham (1 month ago)
That slump in and stagnation of worker efficiency was caused by the introduction of mandatory SAFETY measures in most developed countries. I Promise
flowstyleliving (1 month ago)
robots will soon move into the industry of sex work, the oldest entrepreneurial endeavor
Jason Rose (1 month ago)
that kind of automation is way different than an ai learning and being able to continuously take away jobs, even that of programmers, doctors and engineers. Also, humans can’t buy things when they’re out of work. Automation historically lead to betterness, this is where it leads to worseness.
The analysis is flawed. Productivity is not growing fast because this new technology kills demand. Without demand there's no sense in producing more. This technology implies a massive transfer of resources from the lower and middle class to the wealthy The wealthy consume a smaller portion of their total income, hence the sluggish demand. More money in the pockets of people who don't need to spend it.
There is a major problem in your analysis. When you measure productivity as the ratio between GDP and labour (which has been growing slower than in the past) you arrive at the conclusion that present day technology is not displacing jobs at all. But something else is happening: GDP is also growing slower than in the past. And which brings together this apparent contradiction (namely this fascinating technology that doesn't translate into unprecedented economic prosperity) is not that supply cannot expand fast enough, the key is in the demand side. Technology is killing demand in the form of fewer jobs for the majority of people which pay less than in the past.
Billy Toulas (1 month ago)
It has happened before?? Really? This is the first time we have AI in the game. Do people like Heidi Shierholz even know what that is? Do they realize its potential? Obviously not.
Ookashay (1 month ago)
This is why Capitalism works.
Anthony Dunn (1 month ago)
The coming of machine intelligence is FUNDAMENTALLY different than what we've seen in the past. Once they have more power, AND more intelligence, there'll be no point in hiring humans for most jobs. That said we should welcome automation, create a Universal Basic Income, and focus on making humanities future bright.
Carlitox b (1 month ago)
Everyone will be a youtuber in the future
Ryan Pembrook (1 month ago)
Holy crap that exponential graph though... just imagine how much more of an increase their has been just by the time I'm posting this comment from when this video is made a year ago. That's like more of an increase than four Decades of the past
Daksh Gupta (1 month ago)
Humans need not apply? Anyone remember cgpgreys video?
Ted Bishop (1 month ago)
T%he working class will become extinct as they will no longer be needed. The coming AI/robot revolution will make them obsolete.
Devashish Sood (1 month ago)
I think that this is where a majority of people blindly pass the thin line between machines and AI. The late 1800s and early 1900s were quite different. The machine (The Steam Engine here) had to be looked after by workers, providing coal and maintaining the fire. Work did not disappear during the advent of computers because there was a requirement for someone to regulate its work. AI, on the other hand, is entirely different. We are not providing the robot with a pre-defined sequence of work to do. We are giving it the paper to think and make decisions on its own. So yes, jobs will disappear, because there will be a better option than employing humans. The robots will provide them with precision, accuracy and greater efficiency but the richest have something at stake too. That is consumers. Lesser jobs mean lesser incomes. If poverty increases and affordability decreases then where the hell do the companies think that they will sell their products!
RICHARD POSTRERO (1 month ago)
We need to automate income tax collection. Get the flat tax bill passed and we get rid of a ton of overhead: no need to keep an accountant, no complex tax code or loopholes, no need to file for taxes annually, IRS is reduced to a building full of computers, no lawyers to pay to settle disputes. It all just gets taken as a percentage of what we buy. Even the top 1% can't hide their money from that. But these are white collar jobs, people with money that can't give up their way of life for the sake of progress. Oh and they're well connected with the top 1%, who will also take a loss in their well being if this was passed. Sounds like there same argument made by travel agents and telephone operators of decades past, only difference is that it's the law makers and their friends that will lose.
DiverGaming (1 month ago)
Nicholas Potter (1 day ago)
1 word. *COMMUNISM*
Jarod Farrant (1 month ago)
Elon musk said he’s playing on putting driverless cars in a few years so I think truck drivers are in trouble.
hedgehog3180 (1 month ago)
It's a bit ridicules that there being less work isn't a cause for celebration.
Erasmo Acosta (1 month ago)
What this video doesn’t comment about is how the livelihoods of people are destroyed and the stress that it generates leading to heart disease and suicides. Whether this time is different or not, the damage done to people.
Anderson Clemente (1 month ago)
In the future the only remaining job to humanity is in science. Then we gonna be the aliens we ever imagine on movies.
Shakti Maan (1 month ago)
why don't people understand that back in 1928 there were less people and plenty of other things to do.. but soon all handicraft and small manufactures vanished.. Today, there're so many people and then this AI and automation.. It's time when we should learn to kill each other and escape.
Eduardo Cobian (1 month ago)
Josb have really gone away. Most jobs todays are unncessary and useless. Real jobs must be no more than 30% than current jobs.
Fábián Tamás (1 month ago)
Great summary thanks for sharing! Thomas from Doksi net
Clinton Cook (1 month ago)
Something I’m suddenly realizing about whether or not robots take over is what to do when something breaks down. If you have a whole shift of people and someone is laid up for a week or two, the rest of the shift will have to compensate for that one less employee until they get back. If a robot on an assembly line goes down and it takes a couple of days to a week or more to get the right part to repair it, is there a backup machine in the meantime? Also, if you wanted help with a product, do you want help from a cold, unemotional machine or do you want to talk to a human being?
Ben Anter (1 month ago)
people who aren't worried about robots are the same people not worried about climate change.
stephen tarr (1 month ago)
i hope to get another 50 years of life time in order to see the state of play, it will be interesting to see if the world reacts to climate change in time and how automation changes the world interesting times indeed
stephen tarr (1 month ago)
bertrand russel said that humans should only work 4 hours a day to be happy anyway, and we would achieve more if that was the case most of the changes that happened in his life came about by aristocrats who never worked for a living anyway
Rainbow Pierrot (2 months ago)
Technology can already grow all our food, medicine, clothing material, build our houses, etc. all we need to do is stop fighting each other and help each other instead, there is no reason for war or environmental abuse. We can all live in peace and prosperity
delfis_ _ (2 months ago)
45% of workers in the USA are in a job that is susceptible to automation. This is different workers won't just be unemployed they will be unemployable.
liece ghali (2 months ago)
The same economists who didnt see the 2008 crash coming? They better get out of their numbers and sheets and look at the real economy.
Ben Gardner (2 months ago)
Are the statistics for Germany at 7:17 for both Germanies?
Kripendra Amatya (2 months ago)
The problem will not emerge until automated industry needs supplementary human labor, the problem will emerge only when AI can do the same or better work than humans. The first cracks are the rising debt, due to productivity but as people are not earning sufficiently it give rise to debts, if this continues people will fall in debt trap.
guesswho kk (2 months ago)
Machines have always been taking human jobs ever since the Industrial Revolution. A simpler question, was the Industrial Revolution a mistake? And where did all these displaced workers go? e.g. look at some of the examples after the 2008 crash. Globally, new technology create far more 'job categories' than what it displaces with our 'current labour jobs'. Smartphone has taken over the world where for one "App developer" or "phone accessories designers" jobs are a thing now, which is unheard of 10 years ago. The problem is that when technology change, people must also change to adapt, but there are some who refuse to change and want to stick with what they know best and unwilling to learn to change e.g. sticking to 2G phones. Some of the nay sayers shouldn't look into history for reference because these machines are different has it has a brain now claiming it replaces human brain workers. Sorry, but that too simplistic, because mechanical brain long existed before electronic brains such as the "Moors Law". A brain is just a set of preset functions just like a babbage machine or any mechanical functions to predetermine it outcomes like the invention of the strokes in typewriters or even a "ball point" pen replaces calligraphers. There are far more people making ball point pens than quill makers even during the heydays during the renaissance period, transporting ideas by means of written language, which was when printing was invented to keep up the demand).
Jessie james (2 months ago)
what people miss is that an a.i. powered humanoid robot will do any job. in the past, automation would only kill 1 job at a time. soon, 1 robot will kill all jobs.
YouTube User (2 months ago)
No AI taking our jobs away!
Red_Head _Redemption (2 months ago)
ai and robots that can do most jobs better than us 24/7 + population growth = much less requirement for human work and more competition for any still existing jobs. were going to have many people who cant compete and will have to live off welfare or universal basic income.
Mike Marsh (2 months ago)
5:40 actually made my Google Home start talking... sooo...
Saptarsi Mondal (2 months ago)
As long as Joss is happy <3
Martin Lemma (2 months ago)
Studying displacement of work in a national perspective in the 21st century seems quite blind sided.
Roger Petras (2 months ago)
Joss <3 ^^
GeorgiePentch2 (2 months ago)
6:04 Zipf's law
Daphne (2 months ago)
Economy is about value. Firstly the basic needs. Then what we want: learning, entertainment, human contact, fun etc.
pigofapilot1 (2 months ago)
Robots are machines and are subject to the laws of entropy (decay) in the same way as everything else in existence. Cars, phones, TVs,  computers, animals and plants are all subject to entropy and that is why everything on earth eventually 'dies'. Robots require vast amounts of energy (from somewhere) and servicing or replacement in the same way as an old washing machine and this is what drives the law of supply and demand (capitalism). There must be 'demand'  to require a 'supply' and this is where capitalism will triumph over the robot. If AI cuts off the 'demand' side of capitalism (no jobs) then capitalism itself will cut off the requirement for robots. In other words, capitalism and AI cannot co-exist unless the law of supply and demand is maintained. Otherwise, 'helicopter-money' distributed by central government to maintain a 'demand' chain is the only way out. AI could (possibly) be a great economic equaliser because either AI or capitalism has to give way.
Andrew Clarke (2 months ago)
But all those "new jobs" are shitty service jobs
Flexible Dreamer (2 months ago)
See: movie “1984”
Jarid Gaming (2 months ago)
Whoever says No is an Idiot. It is happening right now farms have Automatic Milking Machones, Factorys are Automatic, Farms are Automatic, Restaurants are becoming Automated, Every Career has been moving Towards automation
Boi singhn (2 months ago)
i love robots
iliya (2 months ago)
New Jobs will be created but AI will adapt to do them faster than humans can. All will left for working class is trashy retail and day care jobs or sucking up.
academ Knig (2 months ago)
But the Moore's law is dead right about right now. Yes, we are now seeing the result of 40 years of Moore's law and software code base and communication technology build up, but the underlying fundamental is out of the picture now.
Andrei (2 months ago)
Leland Shennett (2 months ago)
that last part about the labor productivity didn't make any sense....your saying the tech is slowing growth...but don't worry tech won't...kill jobs? what
Leland Shennett (2 months ago)
None of those tech advances were from machines smarter than humans. God's wont need our petty economy
Leia Brookes (2 months ago)
Well I lot of people won’t be able to do the jobs they want and will work unhappy for the rest of their work lives
estupidowario (2 months ago)
They're taking our jobs >:v
Anjuli Kamins (2 months ago)
Lol, when she said ok, Google my phone paused video and responded.
Michael Wood (2 months ago)
This isnt a tech issue this is an intelligence one... more like the car replacing the horse rather than things you mentioned
fuck the alt right (2 months ago)
wow just wow
Katie Katie (2 months ago)
Imagine how stupid we'd all look to someone from the 2070s reading these comments.
Katie Katie (2 months ago)
6:30 - Well, maybe it *won't* accelerate for decades. Just because it's the current trend, it doesn't follow that it will continue this way for the rest of eternity. What actual evidence is there that it will just go on like this?
UnliNet (3 months ago)
Raghavendran T B (3 months ago)
These economists are poor in understanding the level of AI technology.
Ted Fitzpatrick (3 months ago)
a future when AI helps us to the point when humans only need to work if the want to, is desirable
soulico (3 months ago)
Maybe what I will write is dumb since I don't have a lot of fact but: Isn't the problem deeper yes robot maybe create more job if we follow the schema and think everyone is on equal but the people who have a lot of money just stock the money slowing the economy and I refer to the schema may not create the job in the bottom right corner since we can't buy the more affordable stuff and so go more often to dinner and other services? It's just a thought feel free to correct me.
Riley Nicholson (3 months ago)
I think there is the argument can certainly be made that the rising inequality over the last several decades is a major contributor to slowing productivity and economic growth. It's really hard to increase your productivity in many jobs that low income people have to work just to stay a float. How much better can you really get at serving coffee at a Starbucks, for example. I'd love to see productivity growth broken down by income. Perhaps if the gains from automation are shared, the bottom half of your diagram will take effect, but I think the concern of futurists is that low income workers will be made obsolete without getting the gains to fuel the productivity spiral this time.
Andrew Metzger (3 months ago)
Looking at the impact of automation by employment rate is using circular logic, since mortality is causally linked to under and unemployment. Labor demand and population decline are both more meaningful metrics.
T Oadaly (3 months ago)
The day will come, when machines exceed human intelligence, and robotics exceed human skill at absolutely everything. When that day comes, humans simply will no longer work for a living. But there will still be limited resources, so how will they be distributed? Personally, I think everyone will end up with robot caretakers, but there will still be demand for things human. Oddly, we may very well revert to something akin to the pre-industrial age, where what is valued, are hand made items, hand grown vegetables, the arts (human variety), sports etc. No-one will have any physical wants anymore, but those who are exceptional at this sort of thing will end up with a larger percent of resources.
Fernando Valdez (3 months ago)
Automation might displace workers, and there is no problem with that. However, we have to worry about AI.
firefox5926 (3 months ago)
3:19 sigh hehe expect this time its difernt .. because ant no one going to be getting a job serviceing robots.. thats what robots are for
firefox5926 (3 months ago)
3:47 and all of those new jobs will also be better done by more robots...
Felipe Cirne (3 months ago)
How can I translate to Portuguese ???
Drum Ape (3 months ago)
Who you jiving with that cosmic debris?
Rich Brescher (3 months ago)
As someone that works with AI you have nothing to worry about. You gotta stoo watching Scifi movies lol :)
Rich Brescher (3 months ago)

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