Wednesday, 11 July 2012

How Far Will Businesses Go to Automate the Middle Class into Unemployment?

This Big Think headline alerted me to a piece in technology review by Antonio Regalado “Automate or Perish: Successful businesses will be those that optimize the mix of humans, robots, and algorithms”.

The first paragraph of Regalado’s piece starts thus:
In Automate This, a book due out next month, author and entrepreneur Christopher Steiner tells the story of stockbroker Thomas Peterffy, the creator of the first automated Wall Street trading system. Using a computer to execute trades, without humans entering them manually on a keyboard, was controversial in 1987 – so controversial that Nasdaq pressured him to unplug from its network. Then, with a wink, Peterffy built an automated machine that could tap out the trades on a traditional keyboard – technically obeying Nasdaq rules. Peterffy made $25 million in 1987 and is now a billionaire.
However, the main thrust of the story is about Amazon’s use of robots which bring shelves to the humans for picking rather than the human going to the shelf. Fewer humans are needed and the company saves money (makes a bigger profit) but at what cost?

The socio-economic effects are horrendous and will escalate.

Read it for yourself here.

No comments: