Lights-out manufacturing - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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By Quantum
#14476883
How close are we to achieving lights-out manufacturing, when the automation process has reached to a level where manufacturing can take place without human intervention, thus factories can run normally without the lights on? With the cost of robots falling down, this may become a possibility in the future and there are a few companies which have claimed to have achieved lights-out, such as Philips and FUNAC, a Japanese robot company but hardly anybody else.

I, myself, am ecstatic about this process but unless it is concentrated amongst the few, as is the case in our current capitalist system, then the technology hasn't fulfilled its potential.

Here's an interesting article, if anyone is interested in this:

http://www.economist.com/node/21552897
#14506060
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The trend is quite unmistakable. Fewer and fewer humans are needed every year to achieve the same output. New jobs are created for those who design and maintain these machines, but in vastly fewer numbers than jobs lost. The defining feature of emerging 21st century industry will be the near-complete independence of capital from labor. In practical terms this means that conditions can be allowed to deteriorate much further than in late 19th century/early 20th century environments. The few workers actually involved in manufacturing have little leverage and no incentive to fight for change.
#14916415
Quantum wrote:How close are we to achieving lights-out manufacturing, when the automation process has reached to a level where manufacturing can take place without human intervention, thus factories can run normally without the lights on? With the cost of robots falling down, this may become a possibility in the future and there are a few companies which have claimed to have achieved lights-out, such as Philips and FUNAC, a Japanese robot company but hardly anybody else.

I, myself, am ecstatic about this process but unless it is concentrated amongst the few, as is the case in our current capitalist system, then the technology hasn't fulfilled its potential.

Here's an interesting article, if anyone is interested in this:

http://www.economist.com/node/21552897


I interviewed for Amazon for a robotics job a few years ago. They told me this the goal of the job I was interviewing for, enable lights-out warehouses. I have the feeling Amazon will get there in another 5-10 years.
#14916420
Are the robots going to provide security too? That is the problem with ‘lights out’.
#14916422
One Degree wrote:Are the robots going to provide security too? That is the problem with ‘lights out’.


Security robots that roam parking lots and data centers already exist. Why couldn't these be used too? All a real life security guard does is call 911. A robot could do the same.

Cameras also do a better job at recording than a humans memory too.
#14916424
Rancid wrote:Security robots that roam parking lots and data centers already exist. Why couldn't these be used too? All a real life security guard does is call 911. A robot could do the same.

Cameras also do a better job at recording than a humans memory too.


What assurance do we have this is all they will be allowed to do?
Actually, I am not too worried about a robot takeover but it is fun to speculate about it.
#14916425
One Degree wrote:What assurance do we have this is all they will be allowed to do?


In the shorter term, robots won't be smart enough to do more than we program them to. Your concern is a little more meta than security robots in a warehouse though. In the much longer term, well... it's the same issue with AI in general, they could turn on us. Whether lights out warehouses are implemented or not, that's the ever present danger anyway.

I do believe AI will eventually take over and kill us all. We're slowly gonna fuck ourselves. The thing about AI you need to understand is that it won't be physical robots that take over and kill us. Most AI is implemented in servers/clouds/datacenters. They do not have a physical robot body, they effectively live on the internet. They are more likely to take over key functions of our infrastructure (data centers, power plants, transport networks, social media, etc. etc.) to manipulate us, hold us hostage, and ruin our lives.

Death by AI isn't death by physical robots. It's death by hijacking automated systems around the planet.
#14916429
Rancid wrote:In the shorter term, robots won't be smart enough to do more than we program them to. Your concern is a little more meta than security robots in a warehouse though. In the much longer term, well... it's the same issue with AI in general, they could turn on us. Whether lights out warehouses are implemented or not, that's the ever present danger anyway.

I do believe AI will eventually take over and kill us all. We're slowly gonna fuck ourselves. The thing about AI you need to understand is that it won't be physical robots that take over and kill us. Most AI is implemented in servers/clouds/datacenters. They do not have a physical robot body, they effectively live on the internet. They are more likely to take over key functions of our infrastructure (data centers, power plants, transport networks, social media, etc. etc.) to manipulate us, hold us hostage, and ruin our lives.

Death by AI isn't death by physical robots. It's death by hijacking automated systems around the planet.


Yes if you think about human flaws, it seems logical an AI would soon see no need for us and our idiocy. :)
#14916468
quetzalcoatl wrote:The trend is quite unmistakable. Fewer and fewer humans are needed every year to achieve the same output. New jobs are created for those who design and maintain these machines, but in vastly fewer numbers than jobs lost.


Just by repeating the same old fallacy over and over again doesn't make it come true. Automation has always produced more jobs than it destroyed. The reason is simple: increasing productivity by automation results in more revenue (more wealth is created). The higher revenue is in turn spent on services we haven't been able to afford in the past. The number of useful jobs is unlimited. What is limited is the revenue to pay for these jobs. Thus, more automation results in more revenue which results in more jobs.

That's the reason why advanced manufacturing countries like Germany and Japan will always suffer from a shortage of labor.

The defining feature of emerging 21st century industry will be the near-complete independence of capital from labor.


Both labor and capital are secondary. What counts is technological innovation. Putting your money into the wrong technology can bankrupt you faster than you think.

In practical terms this means that conditions can be allowed to deteriorate much further than in late 19th century/early 20th century environments.


You can't predict the future by viewing it through the rear-view mirror of the past.

The few workers actually involved in manufacturing have little leverage and no incentive to fight for change.


Workers are also consumers. The wheels of industry won't turn without consumers.
#14916585
Atlantis wrote:Just by repeating the same old fallacy over and over again doesn't make it come true. Automation has always produced more jobs than it destroyed.


It's a fallacy to assert that what happens in the past will necessarily happen in the future. It might, of course, but it would be foolhardy to take it as a law of economics. Just as it would be foolish to think Moore's Law can continue to hold true indefinitely. The industrial revolution and cheap energy were a blip in human history; many of the "truths" we hold about economics are actually true within only a very narrow set of circumstances.

It's not even true in the past, much less in the future. Automation (in the general sense) produced a wealth of new jobs in the first half of the twentieth century. In the second half, this tapered off. We now produce fewer new jobs for every one destroyed.

An MIT study predicts nearly half of all jobs will be obsolete in twenty years.

The reason is simple: increasing productivity by automation results in more revenue (more wealth is created).


This is true, but of limited utility to your argument. The increased revenue could be used for stock buy-backs, or simply sit in treasuries and RE. The top 1% of U.S. earners (median income, $1.4 M) got 36% of their income from capital gains — all invisible in the standard measure of “income.” This is only realized capital gains, and it ignores capital gains from the $20T+ of invisible assets held in offshore tax havens. This diverted capital now exceed the entire annual GDP of the US. Not too many jobs being created by this revenue, eh?

The higher revenue is in turn spent on services we haven't been able to afford in the past. The number of useful jobs is unlimited. What is limited is the revenue to pay for these jobs. Thus, more automation results in more revenue which results in more jobs.


This could happen, but it won't. Revenue produces jobs only to the extent that new demand is created. Consumers can't create more demand without having some increased access to this revenue. In the post-Thatcher/Reagan era an increasingly diminished proportion of revenue goes to consumers. Where's the new demand?

Nearly 51 million households don't earn enough to afford a monthly budget that includes housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and a cell phone, according to a study released by the United Way ALICE Project. That's 43% of households in the United States. Not a lot of room for increased demand.

Austerity measures have created a similar aggregate demand deflation in Europe and the UK.

That's the reason why advanced manufacturing countries like Germany and Japan will always suffer from a shortage of labor.


The shortage applies mostly to low-paying jobs of the kind usually delegated to immigrants. There's been no upward pressure on wages - what you would reasonably expect from a tight labor market.

You can't predict the future by viewing it through the rear-view mirror of the past.


The questions you raise are to some degree empirical, and will only be resolved by the passage of time.

Workers are also consumers. The wheels of industry won't turn without consumers.


This doesn't seem to bother our political leaders very much, does it? Capacity utilization has been trending down for three decades - long enough to realize it's not a cyclical phenomenon. This brings up a troubling question: what good is increased efficiency, when consumers can't afford to buy the things we already produce?

I quite agree with much of what you are saying. We should have well paying jobs for everyone with shorter work weeks, longer vacations, and earlier retirements. Our productive capacities make this possible, yet we continue to march in the opposite direction.

Why?
#14916587
quetzalcoatl wrote:We should have well paying jobs for everyone with shorter work weeks, longer vacations, and earlier retirements. Our productive capacities make this possible, yet we continue to march in the opposite direction. Why?

In a word, "Tension." Know anything about engineering?

Look at the Golden Gate Bridge … it's almost entirely supported by balanced tensions. Spanning that gap conventionally is impossible.

The USA was built on conventional platforms that required massive amounts of labor to support it. Since WWII the US has increasingly converted itself to a model of social engineering based on tension. Like the bridge, our modern civilization would be impossible without it. We don't have "well paying jobs for everyone with shorter work weeks, longer vacations, and earlier retirements" because they would ease the necessary tensions and collapse would become inevitable.

So the fruits of our, and our robots, labor are diverted to a small minority of elites who don't need them anyway. Politicians dance around tweaking the social engineering to maintain balance. Educators ingrain the necessary attitudes in our children. Entertainers distract attention and encourage equilibrium. Wars adjust supply and demand. All these things generate the tension required to hold things together. One big Ant hill.

Zam
#14923877
JamesLV wrote:In my opinion, and not only in my, there is only matter of time when machines begin to replace humans. And for first, it will be non-intellectual workers.


I believe it is just the opposite. Computers replace office workers, not plumbers and ditch diggers. So far, it is only Sci Fi that shows them doing menial tasks. The reality looks different.
By Decky
#14924310
One Degree wrote:I believe it is just the opposite. Computers replace office workers, not plumbers and ditch diggers. So far, it is only Sci Fi that shows them doing menial tasks. The reality looks different.


:eh:

If you honestly think technology is not replacing ditch diggers I really don't know what to say to you. I take it you have never been on a building site? Or even walked past one?

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#14924317
This may be the case for advanced cities like LA or San Fran but in little NH, it will be maybe another 20 years. This area is old-fashioned and most don't know how to operate robots. Maybe 1 guy in the whole office can operate a robot where I work and he built one, with some help.

It would be a sad day when it's Lights out for manufacturing all through the world. People need those jobs.
#14924397
Decky wrote::eh:

If you honestly think technology is not replacing ditch diggers I really don't know what to say to you. I take it you have never been on a building site? Or even walked past one?

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Looks like a human ditch digger with a really big shovel to me. The human was not replaced, just given a bigger shovel. The office worker filling in a ledger is replaced by the computer.
Besides, the question was who would be affected first, not whether they would be affected at all.
By Decky
#14924616
One Degree wrote:Looks like a human ditch digger with a really big shovel to me. The human was not replaced, just given a bigger shovel. The office worker filling in a ledger is replaced by the computer.
Besides, the question was who would be affected first, not whether they would be affected at all.


A human was not replaced, dozens of humans were replaced.

A digger does the work it would have took dozens of people with shovels, picks and wheelbarrows in the past.
#14925654
"replaced" = "made more productive"

Both are true. Ultimately most reasonably healthy economies have work of some kind available to whoever wants it, so ultimately bigger shovels or faster ledgers mostly means "more productive" rather than "replaced" because the replaced can usually find something else if they get on their bike and actually look.

The trend has been towards machines replacing muscles up until the computer but now with the computer technology machines are replacing brains too. We may soon be entering an age wear human labour, whether muscle focused or brain focused, is entirely obsolete.
#14925668
One Degree wrote:I believe it is just the opposite. Computers replace office workers, not plumbers and ditch diggers. So far, it is only Sci Fi that shows them doing menial tasks. The reality looks different.


This is hard to gauge. It is easy to replace basic office workers but it is MUCH harder or almost impossible to replace high skilled workers through automation. At least not until the point when AI gets more developed.

As for menial tasks, i can tell you that latest tests of 5g has shown that it is enough to properly automate a freaking Iron mine with all of the equipment running in real time without issues. This includes very heavy machinery.
By Rich
#14925679
We say computers as a short hand for electronic computers. But for thousands of years computers were humans. This must have been very frustrating for the pre modern programmer. In the early twentieth century a computer was human, mostly women, with a mechanical arithmetic device.

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