The Rise of the Machines – Why Automation is Different this Time

 

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how long do you think it will take
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before machines do your job better than
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you do automation used to mean big
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stupid machines doing repetitive work in
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factories today they can lab aircraft
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diagnose cancer and trade stocks we are
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entering a new age of automation unlike
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anything that’s come before according to
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a 2013 study almost half of all jobs in
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the US could potentially be automated in
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the next two decades but wait hasn’t
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automation been around for decades
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what’s different this time the things
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that used to be simple innovation made
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human work easier and productivity rose
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which means that more staff or services
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can be produced per hour using the same
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amount of human workers this eliminated
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many jobs it also created other jobs
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that were better which was important
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because the growing population needed
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work so in a nutshell innovation higher
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productivity fewer old jobs and many new
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and often better jobs overall this
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worked well for a majority of people and
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living standards improved there’s a
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clear progression in terms of what
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humans did for a living for the longest
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time we worked in agriculture with the
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Industrial Revolution this shift into
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production jobs and as automation became
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more widespread humans shifted into
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service jobs and then only a few moments
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ago in human history the Information Age
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happened suddenly the rules were
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different our jobs are now being taken
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over by machines much faster than they
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were in the past
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that’s wiring of course but innovation
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will clearly save us right while new
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information age industries are booming
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they are creating fewer and fewer new
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jobs in 1979 General Motors employed
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more than 800,000 workers and made about
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11 billion u.s. dollars in 2012 Google
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made about 14 billion u.s. dollars while
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employing 58,000 people you may not like
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this comparison but Google is an example
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of what created new jobs in the past
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innovative new industries old innovative
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industries are running out of steam just
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look at cars when they became a thing
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100 years ago they created huge
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industries cars transformed our way of
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life our infrastructure and our cities
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millions of people found jobs either
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directly or indirectly decades of
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investment kept this momentum going
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today this process is largely complete
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innovation in the car industry does not
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create as many jobs as in Houston while
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electric cars are great and all they
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won’t create millions of new jobs but
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wait what about the internet some
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technologists argue that the Internet is
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an innovation on a power of the
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introduction of electricity if we go
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with this comparison we see how our
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modern innovation differs from the old
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one the internet created new industries
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but they’re not creating enough jobs to
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keep up with population growth or to
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compensate for the industries the
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internet is killing at its peak in 2004
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blockbuster had 84,000 employees and
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made 6 billion US dollars in revenue in
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2016 Netflix had 4,500 employees and
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made 9 billion dollars in revenue for
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take us for example with a full-time
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team of just 12 people courtesan 2
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reaches millions of people a TV station
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with the same amount of viewers needs
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way more employees innovation in the
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information age doesn’t equate to the
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creation of enough new jobs which would
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be bad enough on its own but now a new
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wave of automation and a new generation
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of machines is slowly taking over to
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understand this we need to understand
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ourselves first human progress is based
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on the division of labor as we advanced
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over thousands of years our jobs became
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more and more specialized while even our
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smartest machines are bad at doing
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complicated jobs they are extremely good
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at doing now redefined and predictable
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tasks this is what destroyed factory
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jobs but look at a complex job long and
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hard enough and you’ll find that it’s
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ready just many narrowly defined and
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predictable tasks one after another
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machines are on the brink of becoming so
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good at breaking down complex jobs into
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many predictable ones but for a lot of
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people there will be no further room to
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specialize we on the verge of being out
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completed digital machines do this fly
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machine learning which enables them to
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acquire information and skills by
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analyzing data this makes them become
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better at something through the
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relationships they discover machines
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teach themselves we make this possible
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by giving a computer a lot of data about
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the thing we wanted to become better at
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so a machine all the things you bought
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online and it will slowly learn what to
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recommend to you so you buy more things
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machine learning is now meeting more of
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its potential because in recent years
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humans have started to gather data about
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everything
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behavior weather patterns medical
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records communication systems travel
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data and of course data about what we do
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at work what we’ve created by accident
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is a huge library machines can use to
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learn how humans do things and learn to
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do them better these digital machines
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might be the biggest job killer of all
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they can be replicated instantly and for
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free when they improve you don’t need to
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invest in big metal things you can just
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use the new code and they have the
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ability to get better fast how fast if
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your work involves complex work on a
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computer today you might be out of work
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even sooner than the people who still
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have jobs in factories there are actual
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real-world examples of how this
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transition might be happening a San
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Francisco company offers a project
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management software for big corporations
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which is supposed to eliminate middle
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management positions when it’s hired for
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a new project
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the software first decides which jobs
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can be automated and precisely where it
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needs actual professional humans it then
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helps assemble a team of freelancers
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over the Internet the software then
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distributes tasks to the humans and
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controls the quality of the work
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tracking individual performance until
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the project is complete ok this doesn’t
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sound too bad
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while this machine is killing one job it
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creates jobs for freelancers right well
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as the freelancers complete their tasks
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learning algorithms track them and
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gather data about their work and which
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tasks it consists of so what’s actually
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happening is that the freelancers are
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teaching a machine how to replace them
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on average this software reduces costs
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by about 50% in the first year and by
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another 25% in the second year this is
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only one example of many there are
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machines and programs getting as good or
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better than humans in all kinds of
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fields from pharmacists to analysts
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journalists to radiologists cashiers
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bank tellers or the unskilled worker
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flipping
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all of these jobs won’t disappear
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overnight but fewer and fewer humans
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will be doing we’ll discuss a few cases
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in a follow-up video but while jobs
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disappearing it’s bad it’s only half of
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the story it’s not enough to substitute
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old jobs with new ones we need to be
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generating new jobs constantly because
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the world population is growing in the
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past we have solved this through
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innovation but since 1973 the generation
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of new jobs in the US has begun to
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shrink and the first decade of the 21st
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century was the first one where the
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total amount of jobs in the u.s. did not
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grow for the first time in a country
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that needs to create up to 150,000 new
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jobs per month just to keep up with
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population growth this is bad news this
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is also starting to affect standards of
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living in the past it was seen as
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obvious that with rising productivity
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more and better jobs would be created
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but the numbers tell a different story
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in 1998 US workers worked a total of 194
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billion hours over the course of the
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next 15 years their output increased by
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42 percent but in 2013 the amount of
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hours worked by US workers was still 194
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billion hours what this means is that
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despite productivity growing drastically
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thousands of new businesses opening up
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and the u.s. population growing by over
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40 million there was no growth at all
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when the number of hours worked in 15
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years at the same time wages for new
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university graduates in the US have been
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declining for the past decade one up to
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40 percent of new graduates are forced
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to take on jobs that don’t require a
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degree
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productivity is separating from human
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neighbor the nature of innovation and
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the information age is different from
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everything we encountered before this
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process started years ago and is already
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well underway
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even without new disruptions like
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self-driving cars or robot accountants
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it looks like automation is different
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this time this time the machines might
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really take our jobs our economies are
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based on the premise that people consume
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but if fewer and fewer people have
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decent work who will be doing all the
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consuming are we producing ever more
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cheaply only to arrive at a point where
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too few people can actually buy all our
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stuff and services all will the future
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see a tiny minority of the Civic who own
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the machines dominating the rest of us
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and does our future-ready have to be
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that grim while we were fairly dark in
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this video it’s felt a certain that
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things will turn out negatively the
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Information Age and modern automation
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could be a huge opportunity to change
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human society and reduced poverty and
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inequality drastically it could be a
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seminal moment in human history we’ll
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talk about this potential and possible
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solutions like a universal basic income
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in part two of this video series we need
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to think thick and fast because one
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thing’s for sure the machines are not
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coming they are already here this video
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took us about 900 hours to make and
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we’ve been working on it for over nine
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months projects like this one would not
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be possible without your support on
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patreon.com if you want to help us out
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you get a personal coach because out
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bird in return that would be really
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useful we based much of this video on
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two very good books the rise of the
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robots and the second Machine Age you
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can find links to both of them in the
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video description highly recommended
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also we make a little robot poster you
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can buy it and a lot of other stuff in
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our dftba shop this video is part of a
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larger series about how technology is
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already changing and will change human
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life forever if you want to continue
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watching we have a few playlists

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