Does better productivity kill jobs?

AS in my last blog. I already asked the question, does it really will kill jobs? We all know that productivity will increase but will jobs be decreased by that fact. This article is about that.

The article asks this question and in this article the McKinsey Global Institute says no. The MGI Says that productivity comes hand in hand with job growth and that increasing productivity in crucial for jobcreation. The MGI gives three reasons why productivity and job growth can complement each other. The first one is productivity can lead to cost reduction. This will lead to lower prices and more demand of the customer, and so also need for more employees. Second the productivity growth is not always about reducing input costs but also about better quality, a higher output.   Third sustaining global competitiveness requires ongoing productivity gains. Therefore attracting and maintaining local Jobs.
I think they are right but only for the close future. Our blog is about is this function divergent or convergent not everything in between. we want to look at infinity where you can divide by 0. This article feels like its made for Americans who are afraid of the word productivity. It is true what they say but only on a land-scale. I wonder is they would do the world at ones, it will still be the same. For one because the competition is then gone.

IBM’s Watson has got most doctors beat!

I’ve read this article about Watson, a computer that analyses medical data and can make diagnoses for real life patients. It turns out that Watson is getting smarter than regular doctors! Not all that surprising. Computers don’t rest, don’t need sleep and can “remember” all (and lets face it, we mean all) scientific research papers, patient data, operation data, side effects of medicine and has a battery of statistics backing up his own diagnose to form his own second opinion.

Well, that apparently tends to make Watson better in his diagnoses of cancer. Let me give you this extract of the article giving us some figures and allowing you to wrap your head around his technology:

For the last year, IBM, Sloan-Kettering and Wellpoint have been working to teach Watson how to understand and accumulate complicated peer-reviewed medical knowledge relating to oncology. That’s just lung, prostate and breast cancers to begin with, but with others to come in the next few years). Watson’s ingestion of more than 600,000 pieces of medical evidence, more than two million pages from medical journals and the further ability to search through up to 1.5 million patient records for further information gives it a breadth of knowledge no human doctor can match.

This, in my opinion, doesn’t mean doctors will become obsolete just yet. But it may reduce the need of GP’s (general practitioners or ‘family doctors’). Well maybe not in treatment of wound and such but in prescribing medecine and giving correct information on treating your illness.

I think some of you might say  “but computers make mistakes, not to mention how (far to) often software crashes”, Well yes. That is very much a thing, but i’ve found some figures here on how many misdiagnoses GP’s make (these are mostly percentages but i’ve found a”  failure to rescue” of 155 in 1000 due to misdiagnosis. These figures vary of course from a hospital to GP’s and so on) But the point is, doctor’s make mistakes too! Watson doesn’t have to be perfect, just better that us…

Right, let’s get commenting! would you like a doctor you can visit at the pharmacy? just a computer screen maybe some measuring systems (heart rate, blood pressure, maybe even blood/urine sampler)?

I would like the idea for more common things like influenza and infections and to ease your mind when you’re feeling hypochondriac!

What about you? A computer doctor or just your good old GP?

Link to the article:
Link to IBM Watson’s page for a very wide scan of his capabilities:
link to misdiagnosis page:

Efficiency vs Jobs

I found this ted-conversation about the question:  Efficiency vs Jobs, which should be a priority in modern society? a lot of the talkers opinions are that we always have to be as efficient as possible but that we just have to find new jobs. Some make a big difference between what we do for profit and what for fun. The for profit things will be as efficient as possible. The things for fun will not. Because it’s the proces not the result why you do things for fun. You don’t want a Pc-game played by a pc or just knowing the story of it( then you will watch a movie 😉 ) but you want to play it.

I think that the mainstream of people think the same way but all to superficially, I think no mater what we say today, it still will be totally different. I just hope by the end of this blog it will be just that little bit closer to to futur truth.

Yesterday I though to myself, what if all what we are writing is totally wrong is this blog. What has happened in the past. Because of the industrial revolution people are working less now then before. Could it be that jobs will disappear but that that would be a problem. We will for example work 1 day a week and because of technology we have the rest of the week for all the fun stuff in life.
So you friendly followers. my question to you. If jobs will disappear, will we have to find new ones of get unemployed or will we in the future have double , triple the time for fun?

The technological revolution reaches Belgium

I’ve found this article from ING bank. They did a study determining how many jobs in Belgium are susceptible to be automated in the near future.

For the purpose of discussing this study I’ll give you their conclusions:

In accordance with the current technological level, 49% of Belgian jobs can be automated on long term basis.

35% of Belgian jobs has a larger chance to be automated(<70%).

Administrative clerks, salespeople and domestic help will have the highest losses of jobs.

Technological advancement will aid in freeing workers to perform other/new(!) tasks.

Automation provides an answer to increasing ageing problem, by compensating the lack of workforce.

The risk is that continuous change will be badly managed. Not accepting new technology has  always slowed technological advancement

Let me start at the end. It does feel kind of obvious that the lack of acceptance and/or the greed of people slows technology. But also advances it. Bear with me, I’ll try to clarify this, using wild allegations, speculation and a good bit of criticism!

The electric car VS The fossil fuel car.

The giant car manufacturing companies and oil industry have in the past (very successfully) slowed the development of the electric car (Remember “who killed the electric car?” -consumer uncertainty or conspiracy?) Of course this wild allegation isn’t founded on proof. But you do kind of tend to feel this way don’t you? Why haven’t we seen more of electric motors in cars? Now brands like Porche en Mclaren sell their hybrids as powerhouses thanks to the incredible torque of the electric motor. Well this isn’t exactly news is it? We have been using electric motors extensively in torque-demanding scenario’s. it’s only after the popularity of the Prius and the batteries of the Tesla that we saw changes in the car industry. Although hybrids still tend to have little range on batteries alone (wouldn’t want to stop using petrol do we?).

On the other hand the ways we now are able to get giant platforms floating on the seas extracting oil, the extreme stability and performance of cars are examples of indeed technological advances. Some of them quite extreme and really innovative.

So are we slowing technologies we (or some corporations) don’t like? Most likely. Is this the way of the future? Most likely. Is that a good thing? I guess not.

But this does reflect the un-eagerness regarding technology. I think we can say the most resistance is with Elderly people, the minimum-wage-poor people and the extremely rich. All have their reasons, all equally good. Preserve our heritage and ways, fear of the unknown, fear of losing their wealth respectively. (again just guessing here of course.)

Does this mean we should slow the pace of the “slowest mover”? We do this in our laws, for example driving restrictions prevent less experienced drivers to enter in dangerous situations. Making drugs illegal tends to the safety of malleable young minds. I’m afraid this tactic is the most likely to be adopted but also the one that may prevent us from reaching a sustainable world before we damage it beyond repair.

I’ll end at the start. 49% of all Belgian jobs are going to be replaced according to the ING study. Does this seem realistic?

See you in the comments!

Hey Siri, why did Apple make you?

Some weeks ago I saw the movie Her. It is movie about a Guy who get’s in love with a computersoftware Samantha, who has the ability to learn.  Of course It isn’t real yet but with a little imagination is can become real in the future. my source, a tedblog* ,  isn’t really statistical but I helps you think outside the box that finding the idea is harder then to produce it if you have the right equipment.
Let us proof that it can exist by contradiction. Siri, done! Siri is the beginning of a computersoftware women who can interact with the surroundings and remember special things you saw. For example if Siri is speaking a contactname wrong, you can help him learn how he has to pronoun it.
Imagine that Siri learns everything you do. Where you go, with who you call, what you say when you call. Siri can find solutions for questions you ask. Now it is only the height of the empire state building. This will only be more spectacular when hardware and software technology increase.
I think it will first start with taking over every callcentre there is. You don’t need to pay people money to look in an excelfile to find the steps people have to take to fix the problem. Siri or Samantha will just understand your questions and reply, keep track of the most used problems and it solves.
After that half of the civil servants will be replaced. All the repetitive working will be taken over by a worker who cost a lot for buy in and only cost energy to work.
What will a civel servant do if he or she can not do something repetitive? how far will it go, how repetitive is has to be for the software. Time will tell


The race against the machine

This post builds on the above article and my last post (jobs of the future?)

Andrew McAfee is the Co-Director of the Initiative on the Digital Economy at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a Member of the Global Agenda Council on the Future of Jobs.

The article is a good read, however a thad lengthy. But don’t worry, I’ll give you the cliff-notes!

In his article he presses that we need not fear losing all our jobs:
“We will soon be able to eliminate those dull and repetitive tasks we don’t like doing, and achieve the goal of more wealth and abundance with less work.”
And that we should stop slowing innovation to keep people working:
“We definitely need to rethink the social contract that our societies’ offer to workers, but trying to protect existing jobs at this pace of innovation is a deeply flawed idea.”

I’d like to give you his conclusion:

“While it’s true that the consequences for labor seem – and are – pretty serious at the moment, it is vital that we don’t attempt to put the brakes on technological progress. We are standing on the edge of a singular point in human history, and we should be profoundly heartened and optimistic about that. Technological progress has always generated new, exciting opportunities for humanity. There isn’t any reason for us to expect otherwise for the future.”

“Are we holding back advancements in technology?” you might say. I could only say, ask the electric car wether it’s a yes or no. How long have we been holding onto our polluting cars? We all know they pollute but risking not having your oh so useful car is unimaginable. Maybe if we all said no to our cars and kept our minds open for a better solution it might happen faster than we might think. But then again, what if it doesn’t?
That, I think is a bit our conservative safe self. I find we have the same vision on technology in regards to our jobs. Innovation is all wel and good as long as we get better stuff that’s cheaper and more useful.

Smartphone, welcomed with open arms. HDTV, couldn’t live without it. The new slicer dicer that cuts onions so easily and without you crying, can replace the knife, for all some people care. But what about our jobs? Many people will fight as hard as they can to resist letting the “slicer dicer” of workers, robots, take over. The resent strikes in Belgium are all about our jobs, we don’t want to lose them or gain less money than we did before. Ironically we don’t want to work longer either. But that’s a discussion we best not go into here.

What would it take for us to be able te lot go of our jobs? It would seem magical, not having to work day in day out. So why can’t we risk it? I feel it’s because we can’t put our finger on how we will be when we no longer have jobs. Will we still have enough money? Will we all be rich? Will we all be poor?

I like to think we will all be better off if we all find something useful to do. hmm ALL…I do wonder what will happen to our population rate, births tend to be related to welfare (1). But do we feel rich when everyone has the same and yet still all they need?

Feel free to post your opinion on the matter. give your philosophical self free reigns!






the fluctuation between labor demand and supply

In this Tedtalk(1) a german men called Rainer Strack talks about the near futur, the future that is we already predict: 2030. for this year there are a lot more old people who can’t work and a lot less people that can. because it is 15 years from now, the new kids don’t could because in 2030 they will be still to young to work. This means that labor supply will decrease and through some calculations the labor demand will increase. Solutions are increase of immigration and retirementage. But still in 2030 we will get an Global Workforce Crisis where the highskilled workforce is in a much harder crisis then the lowskilled. This crisis could be solved by machines and technology. Here the questions arise when, how fast  and to what extend they could do it. Automation already made some jobs disappear but also created new ones, who need even higher skilled workers. Those workers companies will have to search all over the world and try to hold them in their company. This will be the hardest problem for companies in the close future.
The first part of the global workforce crisis i follow his opinion. Indeed this gonna be a big issue and immigration will be needed more then ever or companies have to emigrate. But i think that through automation there are more low skilled jobs that disappear then new high skilled jobs that appear. So automation will help a little bit close the gap.
In this 15 years people will adapt at this situation and a lot of technology will be invented to still keep the labor supply as high as possible. After a while the big part of old people dye and the demand will decrease what could change in an over supply what will get people fired all over the world. The only solution we have is keep the supply and demand equal. but because of the supply will increase through automation this means that or the demand has to increase to or the supply through human work has to decrease. what will end in less people in the world. The bigger the fluctuation between supply and demand, the bigger the changes will be in the technological world to compensate.
To paraphrase. the supply and demand of labor will fluctuate a lot in the future( like waves if we look in the past). if the demand is higher then the supply. we will invent automation and technology to try to fix the problem. When the demand is lower then the supply. people won’t get any jobs and this can be fixed by working less or wait 15 years and getting less children. The only thing that can’t decrease is technology and the human labor will have to adapt to this.