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Robonomics: Prepare Today for the Jobless Economy of Tomorrow by [Crews, John]
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Robonomics: Prepare Today for the Jobless Economy of Tomorrow Kindle Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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About the Author

John Crews has 30 years experience as a software engineer working primarily in the fields of geographic information systems, data visualization, user interface design,and artificial intelligence. He is the creator of “Gods of Money,” an app for visualization and simulation of the U.S. economy, and holds two software patents. John has degrees in computer science and geographic information sciences. He lives in Garland, Texas with his wife and young son. Robonomics is his first book.

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  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1179 KB
  • Print Length: 170 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01DQ20E1I
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  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #874,058 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Paperback
Hi,

I have written a detailed chapter-by-chapter review of this book on i-programmer DOT info, the first and last parts of this review are given here. For my review of all chapters, search i-programmer DOT info for STIRK together with the book's title.

Concern about the future of jobs for you and your children, should make this a compelling book, how does it fare?

Books about the advance of technology and the loss of jobs are increasingly popular. Earlier technological advances led to some job losses, but subsequently created more and better jobs. Recent thinking suggests this time no replacement new jobs will be created, leading to mass unemployment.

This book aims to show how robots/Artificial Intelligence (AI) will take over the jobs in most major industries, and discusses some likely outcomes, including how you can take advantage of the situation.

The book is targeted at the general reader, but has much to excite the technically aware. No specific technical skills are needed to understand this book. It’s relatively short, divided into three main parts (sections), composed of 27 chapters, in 134 pages.

Below is a section-by-section exploration of the topics covered.

Part I The Coming Automation Revolution

The book opens with the premise that future AI will be able to “observe, learn, reason, and think like humans”. Additionally, having the ability to sense the surroundings, and move, will enable intelligent robots to replace people in their jobs. Next, the section looks at some history, placing the coming automation revolution (i.e. robots and AI) in the context of previous changes (e.g. agricultural revolution).
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Format: Paperback
If you are ready to commit suicide because you have lost your job, you home that has been foreclosed and you fear for the future, just read this book. It will either cure you of the desire since pretty soon billions of human beings in the world will be out of work and the Big Looting will start. Or it will justify your decision to pass over to the other side of your mental moon into some black hole of antimatter, the rectal passage to annihilation.

If you do not read the book, good luck for the future and I hope you do not live too long. In fact it would be better if you decided to move six feet under or to get scattered into the air in the coming days since the apocalypse is finally arriving, has finally arrived. Don’t you feel it in your “buns”?

The author advocates the Automation Revolution along his concluding quotation of Arthur C. Clarke: “The goal of the future is full unemployment, so we can play.” A rapid mention of Ray Kurzweil’s Singularity but no bibliography in the book is not enough to see the roots of that thinking, and thinking it is even if you may think it is deficient.

I will here only make a few critical remarks on various aspects of the book.

He assumes that machines will all be more intelligent than men but only as for speed. He does not see the limit of this element. The human brain is not only a question of speed. It is also a question of the possible by-passing of any instruction, limit, forbidden act or thought, because it is vastly parallel. The brain can always take a side path because there are great numbers of side paths in a parallel machine of the human brain type. A machine cannot go against its own programmed rules. Can, we program it to make it go against its own programmed rules and soon enough its self-programmed rules?
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Format: Paperback
This book is about a lot more than science fiction. The great economist John Maynard K Keynes predicted that in 2030 people would work no more that 15 hours a week. The conclusion of the author is that it is inevitable that it will happen.
The reason is the combination of robots, sensors and computers that are programmed with "artificial intelligence." The author takes away the mystery of what is "artificial intelligence". Most but not all goals are reached by a number of steps. It those steps are specified in a sequence it is given the fancy name of Algorithm. The steps to make a pancake are an algorithm and a combination of robots sensors and a computer programmed with that algorithm can produce pancakes.

The author describes how this will work in 14 areas with specific examples covering, manufacturing, construction, defense, finance and insurance, government and eight more areas. Each example is fascinating, not possible to day but possible in the future. The author also presents the consequences on society. He explains that it is obvious that companies that replace employees with automatic systems, at the right time, considering investment costs, will win over those that act later. One immense advantage of an automatic system is that it can function 24 hours, seven days a week, for 52 weeks.

The result will be radical reduction in jobs and much lower prices of most products and services, and a reduction in the sales revenues of companies. This in turn will radically reduce the income to government of income taxes, payroll taxes, and sales taxes, value added taxes and corporate taxes. The government has no choice but to reduce employment too. The result is mass unemployment.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars 17 reviews
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a development ushered in by artificial intelligence and smart robots; some will thrive in it 18 May 2016
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
John Crews foresees a near-future distinguished by a jobless economy, yet marks no day of doom.

All will survive, he contends, the fast-approaching Automation Revolution, a development ushered in by artificial intelligence and smart robots; some will thrive in it.

"Robonomics" serves as a guide to those who wish to join the latter group.

Walter James
Lindale, TX
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ‘Exploring the impact of Artificial Intelligence on our society and economy’ 24 April 2016
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Texas author John Crews, having earned his bachelor's degree in computer science and master's degree in geographic information sciences, is well qualified to pen this fascinating book. He is an experienced software engineer in the fields of geographic information systems, data visualization, user interface design, and artificial intelligence. Of note, John is the creator of "Gods of Money," an app for visualization and simulation of the U.S. economy. ROBONOMICS is his literary debut.

Not long ago we all considered robots as the fascinating humanoids that populated such artsy creations as Star Wars but in recent years the possibilities of robots as human substitutions flood the books, movies, and television programs and children’s ‘game machines’. Now the concept of Artificial Intelligence is a subject familiar to everyone. John informs us just how far this concept of robots and AI can go in our lifetime.

Simply reading his Introduction gives us the opportunity to explore what he has in store for readers: ‘I have long been interested in artificial intelligence. Since my first exposure to computer programming in the early 1980s when using the BASIC language, I have been fascinated by the thought that a computer program could think like a human. A computer running AI software would be able to think – to answer questions, recognize people, do chores, offer insights, and do those things that computers do in futuristic science fiction. I naively thought that AI was a software issue. I believed if someone could just write the right code, AI would suddenly appear. I could envision the computer suddenly coming to ‘life;’ it would awaken, and begin learning like a newborn child Over the years my thinking about AI shifted from creating it to considering its implications. I realized that eventually affordable computer processors would be fast enough to support human-like behavior. The software running the AI would be like any other computer program; it could be easily duplicated and installed on any suitable computer. What would the world be like with true AI running on computers everywhere? And AI is not limited to just running in a box on a desk. Combined with a mechanical body, AI would also be the brains of the first intelligent robot.’

John sets the topics for discussion and exploration as follows: Part I: The Coming Automation Revolution – Robonomics, The Automation Revolution, The Adoption of Technology, Robots and Your Job, Resistance is Futile, How to Build a Smart Robot; Part II: Advanced Automation by Industry – Agriculture, Manufacturing, Construction, Mining, Transportation, Retail, Defense, Education, Criminal Justice, Healthcare, Finance and Insurance, Research and Development, Leisure, and Government; Part III: Preparing for the Automation Revolution - Government Response, The Great Deflation, Investing for the Automation Revolution, Investments to Avoid, Jobs for Humans, and The Jobless Society.

Appendices at book’s end help explain the concepts, realities and possibilities. This is not a sci-fi fantasy story – it is a fortuneteller’s globe, full of challenging information we should all access. Grady Harp, April 16
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Eminently readable and well considered although perhaps not critical enough 19 April 2016
By Dennis Littrell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
This is about what Crews calls the “Automation Revolution” to come. It reads for the most part as though written by a spokesperson for the robotics industry. Indeed Crews’ enthusiasm about how robots are going to make our lives better is so untempered by even a hint of unintended consequences that I am forced to give him only four stars. '

But guess what? I think he’s probably right at least as far as the number one worry of the general public is concerned, namely that robots will take over the world and enslave human beings…or something like that. As Crews makes clear robots do what they are programmed to do and nothing more. They have no desire to take over the world and they will be scripted to value human life and indeed other forms of life, perhaps in a hierarchy of value.

What about black hat hackers? It appears that Crews believes that advanced AI systems will not be vulnerable to hacking. (See the Chapter “13. Defense.”) Here I don’t know if he is on terra firma or not. It seems that today’s systems are indeed very vulnerable to hacking as North Korea, the Chinese, the US, Israel and others have demonstrated. If anyone knows how and why advanced AI systems will be safe from hackers I would like to see the explanation. Crews does not elaborate. My personal opinion is that surveillance will become so nearly ubiquitous that it will be hard to get away with anything criminal. But that, as they say, is another story.

Regardless of hackers, Crews' main point is that robots (Artificial Intelligence with muscle so to speak) will make almost everything we need not only a lot cheaper but safer.

Crews shows in concrete detail what robots can do from being household nannies and housekeepers, to teachers, to police bots to warriors and even health counselors and doctors of surgery. He has chapters on how robots will revolutionize various industries: agriculture, manufacturing, construction, mining, transportation, etc. Furthermore robots, because they will be enormously intelligent and exactingly competent, will make our lives safer and healthier.

Again I agree—that is, unless we blow ourselves up or pollute the planet before the age of AI can be ushered in. I am taking it as given that AI systems will eventually become so advanced that robotic intelligence will approach or even exceed human intelligence. AI has been a little late in fulfilling this promise but lately there have been scientific breakthroughs that are so promising, as Crews points out, that investors and big corporations are nurturing the projects with a lot of money. Some people even believe that quantum computers will become viable in the not too distant future. If so AI systems run on such machines will be something close to godlike. (Crews, I think wisely, doesn’t speculate on how, when and if QM machines will materialize.)

What Crews sees as clear is that robots will be employed in almost every aspect of our lives, including building other robots. Forget the “almost.” Although Crews doesn’t mention it (it probably got edited out) but one of the first and most wide-spread use of robots will be as sexual surrogates. Note that one of the most wide-spread and popular uses of the Internet is for virtual love. He does mention that robots will be handy as human companions.

The problem with this brave new world is that virtually nobody will have a job. How will humans adjust to doing nothing but leisure? Crews is not worried. He sees humans furthering their educations, going on cruises, making music, doing artwork, or just hanging out, perhaps meditating on the bounty that is life. However since few people will have jobs there will be few wages to tax. What’s a government to do? Crews writes:

“The federal government should tax labor done by AI systems and smart robots to make up for the loss of income from income and payroll taxes. The government should also provide a basic income for all Americans when their labor can no longer be traded for money.” (Kindle location 1394-96).

Moreover: “The federal government will need to pay a stipend, a universal basic income, to practically every adult citizen.” (Kindle location 1533-34)

This really gets to the nitty-gritty of what is going to happen to our world if and when robots are capable of doing human work. I have thought a bit about this myself and my conclusion is that everybody on the planet will then be assigned some sort of responsibility such as being an expert on bees or even just one species of bees, or on trees or periods of history, and so on. Or if you have musical talent you can write songs, sing, play instruments. If you are athletically talented you can play sports. Or perhaps you will be paid to contemplate your navel.

All this makes me wonder what humans and life are all about. What does it all mean?

At any rate I am working on a book about the social, political and economic aspects of the future which I hope to complete before I become too enfeebled. Crews has admirably anticipated some of my concerns.

By the way, Crews’ text comes with almost two hundred end notes, many of which have links to Internet sources. You could do your own research.

--Dennis Littrell, author of “The World Is Not as We Think It Is”
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars like many works of visionaries 6 April 2017
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I wasn't sure what to expect as I opened this book for the first time several months ago. As I read through it, I thought that this was an interesting topic, but seemed theoretical and Sci-Fi.

Then, like many works of visionaries, his visions started to become reality. I started to see a few, then many news stories and prognosticators which either mirrored or expanded upon what John laid out so clearly in this book. For one, the very real possibility of the replacement of multitudes of truck drivers by driverless vehicles is coming. Not a hundred, or even twenty years from now, but it's starting to happen NOW.

While reading it, I mentally dismissed the possibility of automated construction. Too many variables, too large and complex, in my mind. But, then there was a house built in Russia this year (2017), using a 3-D printer. It's here!

I would highly recommend reading this book, to get the wheels spinning in your mind, so that you can plan for tomorrow. Because some of its predictions have already come true, with many more to come. Being mentally prepared is the first step!
5.0 out of 5 stars Overall, an interesting read on a fascinating topic. Recommended. 13 Dec. 2016
By Ian Stirk - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Hi,

I have written a detailed chapter-by-chapter review of this book on i-programmer DOT info, the first and last parts of this review are given here. For my review of all chapters, search i-programmer DOT info for STIRK together with the book's title.

Concern about the future of jobs for you and your children, should make this a compelling book, how does it fare?

Books about the advance of technology and the loss of jobs are increasingly popular. Earlier technological advances led to some job losses, but subsequently created more and better jobs. Recent thinking suggests this time no replacement new jobs will be created, leading to mass unemployment.

This book aims to show how robots/Artificial Intelligence (AI) will take over the jobs in most major industries, and discusses some likely outcomes, including how you can take advantage of the situation.

The book is targeted at the general reader, but has much to excite the technically aware. No specific technical skills are needed to understand this book. It’s relatively short, divided into three main parts (sections), composed of 27 chapters, in 134 pages.

Below is a section-by-section exploration of the topics covered.

Part I The Coming Automation Revolution

The book opens with the premise that future AI will be able to “observe, learn, reason, and think like humans”. Additionally, having the ability to sense the surroundings, and move, will enable intelligent robots to replace people in their jobs. Next, the section looks at some history, placing the coming automation revolution (i.e. robots and AI) in the context of previous changes (e.g. agricultural revolution). By examining the impact of previous changes, it’s possible to gain some insight into what to expect from the coming automation revolution.

In the previous revolutions, more and better jobs were subsequently created (i.e. The Luddite fallacy). It’s stated in the forthcoming revolution there will not be other jobs for people to go to. Some questions this raises are examined, including the need for governments to provide a basic income for displaced workers. Having other forms of income will be advantageous, and the book discusses these later.

There’s an interesting chapter on how you would build a smart robot, for which current technologies are insufficiently advanced. This leads on to a discussion where some argue AI will not be able to be creative – however the author supplies examples where AI can create new art, music, and solve engineering problems. (But I wonder, is creating new versions of existing concepts/things really ‘intelligence’?!)

It’s suggested future AI may follow the similar development as of a child, having a small set of innate responses, and learning as it develops. The AI’s initial ethical values will be those given by its creators. The advantage of being the first to create a truly general AI (i.e. human-like intelligence), could be stated simply as ruling the world, forever.

As for a timescale, the author says “By 2040 any job in manufacturing, agriculture, construction, mining, education, healthcare, government and more can be, and most will be, done by smart robots”. In the past it was the blue-collar jobs under threat, the argument has now moved to include white collar jobs.

Overall, this section provides an interesting overview of previous revolutions and their impact, together with a view of what AI of the future might be capable of and its impact on jobs. The gap between what we have now, and how to achieve what we expect in the near future (2040), is largely glossed over.
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Conclusion

This book is well written, easy to follow, has an easy flow between sections, and is overwhelmingly an interesting read. It opines on how jobs will be lost to automation and that, unlike previous automation changes, replacement jobs will not be found, leading to mass unemployment. All the major industries are examined, and example automation changes are given. The book ends with some approaches on how you can take advantage of the coming automation revolution.

A world where people lose their jobs and can’t find other work makes this a compelling topic. Books on the forthcoming automation revolution and jobless society are very much in vogue (e.g. see my recent reviews of Rise of the Robots and The Fourth Industrial Revolution).

The concern that automation will create a jobless society is an old one. In the past it has always proven to be incorrect, with new technology subsequently creating more and better jobs. However, there is a growing consensus that we are approaching a time when new jobs will not be created. The author suggests the year 2040; the true date may be further in the future, perhaps much further.

The elephant in the room is of course how to achieve general AI, this is glossed over in the book. AI is often compared to the working of the human brain, however people forget the brain’s workings are currently largely unknown. Even the term intelligence can be difficult to define (What is intelligence? Is a spreadsheet intelligent? Is an autonomous car? Is a bacterium?). Some potential approaches to creating general AI are given in Nick Bostrom’s book. Superintelligence - but be warned, it is not an easy read. Others suggest it may not be possible to create general AI. For an eclectic range of views on this subject, I’d recommend What to Think About Machines That Think. Perhaps just having more innovative and invasive computer systems will be sufficient to create a jobless society (i.e. no need to use the word ‘intelligence’).

Obviously people are concerned about how they or their children will make a living in the future. Additionally, for many people, work defines who they are. Irrespective of the automation revolution, perhaps we need to re-evaluate ourselves, what we have, why we have it, especially in a global setting. Maybe we should celebrate the freedom to explore leisure pursuits.

For me, a minor niggle is the book is too prescriptive, stating too often what ‘will happen’ rather than what ‘may happen’.

While the book’s thesis seems plausible, it is only one view, albeit a common view - other views exist. Who’s to say the current populist political turmoil will not arrest the development of general AI. Or perhaps general AI will prove to be impossible. The future’s a big place, with many potential pathways...

Overall, an interesting read on a fascinating topic. Recommended.
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