NO ONE WILL MISS LABOR:

March of the humanoids: Figure shows off autonomous warehouse work (Loz Blain, February 26, 2024, New Atlas)

It seems the Figure 01 won’t just be making coffee when it shows up to work at BMW. New video shows the humanoid getting its shiny metal butt to work, doing exactly the sort of “pick this up and put it over there” tasks it’ll be doing in factories.

Figure teaches its robots new tasks through teleoperation and simulated learning. If its videos are to believed – which is not always a given in this rapidly evolving space – its humanoids are capable of ‘figuring’ out the success and failure states of a given task, and working out how best to get it done autonomously, complete with the ability to make real-time corrections if things appear to be going off-track.

CANARIES IN THE SILCON MINE:

The U.S. economy is booming. So why are tech companies laying off workers? (Gerrit De Vynck, Danielle Abril and Caroline O’Donovan, February 3, 2024, washington Post)

[G]oogle, Amazon, Microsoft, Discord, Salesforce and eBay all made significant cuts in January, and the layoffs don’t seem to be abating. On Tuesday, PayPal said in a letter to workers it would cut another 2,500 employees or about 9 percent of its workforce.

The continued cuts come as companies are under pressure from investors to improve their bottom lines. Wall Street’s sell-off of tech stocks in 2022 pushed companies to win back investors by focusing on increasing profits, and firing some of the tens of thousands of workers hired to meet the pandemic boom in consumer tech spending. With many tech companies laying off workers, cutting employees no longer signaled weakness. Now, executives are looking for more places where they can squeeze more work out of fewer people.

Profits will be driven ever higher as labor and energy costs trend towards zero.

THER INEVITABILITY OF UBI…:

The white-collar class derided mass layoffs among the blue-collar workers. It’s about to feel their pain (Glenn H. Reynolds, Jan. 16th, 2024, NY Post)

[T]he worm has turned. Google is looking at laying off 30,000 people it expects to replace with artificial intelligence.

The Wall Street Journal reports that large corporations across the board are planning to lay off white-collar workers.

Investor Brian Wang notes ChatGPT is already causing white-collar job loss.

In fact, ChatGPT can even code.

Sometimes its code is quite good. Sometimes it’s not so good.

(Though God knows, the latter is true of much human-generated software code too.)

It can write press releases, ad copy, catalog descriptions, news stories and essays, speeches, encyclopedia entries, customer-inquiry responses and more.

It can generate art on demand that’s suitable for book covers, advertisements and magazine illustrations.

Again, sometimes these items are quite good, and sometimes they’re not, but there’s a lot of less-than-stellar human work in those categories too.

Learning to code is bad advice now.

And the kicker is, AI is getting better all the time.

ChatGPT-4 has demonstrated “human-level performance” on many benchmarks.

It can pass bar exams, diagnose disease and process images and text. The improvement since ChatGPT-3.5 is significant.

People, on the other hand, are staying pretty much the same.

The bad news for the symbolic analysts is they’re playing on AI’s turf.

When you deal with ideas and data and symbols, you’re working with bits, and AI is pretty good at working with bits.

People losing their jobs to AI is just the tip of the iceberg.

In the next decade, lots more people — possibly (gulp) including professors like me — will be facing potential replacement by machines.

It turns out that using your brain and not your hands isn’t as good a move as it may have once seemed.

…is a function of the fact that “we” are going to not have jobs, not just “them”.