An Algorithmic and Social Introduction to Computer Science (CSC-105 2000S)


How have your views on losing jobs to computers changed (or not changed) from reading this article?

Adan

I always assumed that the technological revolution would require more technical jobs and would lead to a decrease in jobs from the service sector. And, that there would be an increase in number of people with the skills and knowledge required by the new technology. However, that does not seem like the point that F&M are trying to stress. My views: Although I still believe that computers (at this point in time) will create more jobs than they will take away, I do acknowledge the opposite as being possible. It is difficult to make any prediction on something that we are not certain about. In the past, analysts have based their predictions of manufacturing by looking past trends and other indicators. However, the possibility that a new economic revolution is upon us (brought about by computers) makes it very difficult to make any similar predictions, since their is nothing to look back upon.

Cathy

I'm not sure whether my views have really changed that much from reading the chapter. I generally agree with F&M when they seem to side with those analysts taking a "middle ground" approach between the alarmists and optimists. The debate about whether there are or will be more or less jobs because of technology is an interesting, and probably unresolvable one. I'm glad that they referred to the increasingly stratified workforce (see 202): the increasing gap between the high-paid/high-skilled and low-paid/low-skilled. I thought that F&M's negligible treatment of the high tech industry itself in this chapter was a little strange (there's a little on 196-8, but not that much). They note that even though it's growing fast, there really aren't (or weren't when they were writing) that many jobs in high tech, at least compared to other sectors. When they talk about all of the computerization in other industries, and the difficulties involved, I kept thinking of the need to always have tech people to train employees and fix systems and stuff. The more computerized offices there are the more support people are needed. What about the creation of those jobs, for better or worse?

I was also disappointed (but not really surprised) though, that they don't really address how the export of manufacturing and it's technology to so-called "newly industrialized countries." They quoted a lot of studies lamenting the alienating if not downright injurious effects of some modes of implementing technology in the US, Europe, and Australia; and they talked about US companies increasingly sending manufacturing and even data processing work overseas; but they only addressed these overseas jobs in terms of the impact they would have on the US job market. Considering the debates of VDTs, RSIs, etc., isn't it significant that many of the countries where low paying, high repetition and stress jobs are being exported to may not have the employee health safety nets or insurance structures that could at least provide a minimum of safety?

Ivy

Jae

After reading the article, I thought there were some interesting points made about several issues. First, I liked learning that much of the strain that modern workplace environments cause is now under some regulation (i.e. - specified breaks for computer operators). Second, I had no idea we shipped data entry type work off to other countries. I really hate it when I think about how we are supposed to have so much less liesure time, and instead spend more time bored at work because, as the article points out, of repetitive tasks that a human must perform like a machine. I think the article is also careful to point out that automation and computerization is not finished, that we are still in the process of determining what will happen. Also, that technical workers are in a struggle for power with managers is interesting, and I like how the article points out that they are more indespensable and upset the system of managerial power. I was kinda disturbed that the article says that IT jobs account for less than 10% of the workforce. I don't know how to fix the system of work and economy in the U.S., but reading about all these issues made me realize how much more interesting it can be not to know how to do something already.

Jeana

I had certainly always been under the impression that technology has had an adverse impact on traditional manufacturing industries, but didn't really have any idea in terms of what the figures were in terms of job loss. I suppose that what I tended to focus on more was the explosion of high-tech job opportunities. I didn't realize that there was such a large discrepancy between the two, that though high-tech industries certainly have generated many employment opportunites, these numbers are still quite significantly less than the number of jobs lost in manufacturing sectors. The figure that high-tech industries only account for 3% of the workforce was particularly surprising, as high-tech jobs never seem to be in short supply.

Jeff

The chapter is F∓M was horrible. I tried to read it, I read most of it, and I was so disappointed that I stopped reading before I completed the chapter. The authors don't know anything about economics or why computers are in the workplace. Computers should be in the work place because computers increase output. Computers increase the output of every individual. Output is directly related to income and income is directly related to the standard of living.

The first flaw of F∓M was to assume that job will not be replaced. The surge in the output in the 1990's and continued surge into the 21st Century is directly a product of innovations in technology. Technology is not the only factor in the longest continuous non-war economic boom, however, in economic circles it is argued that Intel's microprocessor is the one and only single invention that has ever shifted the entire SRAS curve.

The economic boom that is a function of computers spills over to other aspects of society. Unemployment is somewhere around 4%. Companies are begging workers to work for them. There is upward pressure on wages (and in the long-term prices). The manufacturing jobs that were lost in the 1990's have been regained. The long-term structural change of the 1991-1992 recession was that excessive management was eliminated. F∓M overlook mainstream economic thought in favor of crackpot statistics and theories.

Computers will continue to play a critical role in the economy in the future. What would happen to GDP if computers were banned? That should be enough of an answer to any objections. Certain occupations will be eliminated. Those individuals will need to find new jobs. The jobs that will be eliminated are jobs that are labor intensive. The United States lacks a comparative advantage with the rest of the world in labor intensive products. The United States should based ALL future economic planning on the assumption that the United States will use its comparative advantage (the US has a comparative advantage in capital). That will increase domestic GDP(and standard of living) as well as increase international growth (and standard of living).

If computers are able to produce more then there are more goods to purchase. The goods will cost less for everyone. That is desirable. The more production the better. Marx was wrong about capitalism's tendency to over-supply. No legitimate economist agrees with Marx on that assumption. F∓M need to get a clue.

Joel

Before reading this article, I knew there was widespread concern about computers replacing human jobs, but I also knew that the new technology would help create jobs. I was uncertain as too which would weigh out more in the end, and after reading the chapter, I am still uncertain. Some of the things I learned from the chapter is that the erosion of employment opportunities due to technology is focuses on certain parts of the work force, such as less-skilled manual workers and clerical workers. "The majority of jobs in the future will be in low-tech or no-tech occupations such cashier, receptionist, waiter ..." - essentially the service sector. However, Forrester and Morrison's take home message was that "we cannot assume that a computer based economy automatically will provide enough jobs for everyone in the future."

Others argued (and I agree with them) that computer technology forces employers of the future to constantly improve staff quality "through learning and retraining if they are to survive and prosper," so they can do their jobs better.

I did not know that "technostress," problems with VDTs, and RSIs were such a big issue. I think that some of these complaints are legitimate and actions should be taken to alleviate the problem, but in general, I think that some people just like to complain and will complain about anything they have to do, whether it is sit at a computer or answer phones.

I agree, though, that computers increase the sense of depersonalization. I don't know how to fix this, except Forrester presents a good idea on p. 226: "human-centered systems - i.e. systems that seek to retain and enhance human skills, control, and discretion, rather than taking them away from employees," giving workers more knowledge of, and responsibility for, the entire work process.

Finally, I did not know about the whole "IT productivity paradox." Interesting

Kevin

Well, this particular article didn't really do much to my view on losing jobs to computers except remind me that they (F&M) go on and on and on and on about the same thing over and over again. This blathering can be somewhat annoying, but I've dealt with it.

Honestly, I feel like jobs will be and have been lost to computers, but I think that's just a temporary thing. While I accept that non- or low- skilled factory jobs will be lost to computer geeks and expert systems, I think those jobs will eventually be replaced by things we haven't even thought of as jobs before. Perhaps we'll become socialist and it won't be an issue. (sure) I think the problem is a real one, but I don't honestly believe that the problem will be one that persists. Like with the previous technological revolutions, the computer revolution will eventually balance out in a way such that everything is similar to the way it once was.

Liz

Really, the thing this chapter made me think was how outdated it was. They were talking about how the high-tech industry isn't providing many jobs and probably won't in the future. Maybe I have a biased view of how big an influence high-tech has been, but it seems to me that the internet, e-commerce, trading, etc. have had a huge impact on the job industry in general. Not just for programmers, either. Every company today needs a webmaster, and tech support for their employees, and tons of other tech positions. If anything, I would say the current state of technology has provided more jobs that anyone can get. Most of them aren't about a college degree but real world experience, and that's something 14-year olds have. I can't think of anyone I know personally whose job has been affected that dramatically by computers.

Sam

I'd have to say that my views on losing jobs to computers haven't changed that much after reading this article. I had a bit of a tough time trying to figure out why F&M decided to include particular passages in this article, so I am a little confused. As these high-tech jobs increase, there are countless menial tasks that go along with them. F&M do well to highlight this point, as illustrate it with the dispersing of US jobs to foreign countries for cheap labor. I feel like the office world has been infiltrated by technology to such a degree that the technology can only improve, but it may not expand. I don't really like the idea of computers eliminating unskilled labor from the market. There is a need for this balance. But there surely will be more and more white collar tech jobs appearing, as more independent web consulting groups sprout up, and other such firms. The manufacturing industry won't wither away. I guess we can get back into the debate of human error v. computer error, although there is less room for individual thought involved in the process. I think that non-human production loses some customer confidence and appreciation for what went into the process. it lack the human element that many people find comforting.


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