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Resolved: The advacement of technology will significantly harm the job market.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/3/2017 Category: Society
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 1,761 times Debate No: 102883
Debate Rounds (4)
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This is a debate in the second round of the official May tournament. TUF and I are going to be debating the topic that is written out in the topic portion above. Structure is pretty standard. In TUF's first debating round, he will be allowed to provide rebuttals.

Otherwise format is:

1st - intro/acceptance
2nd - main arguments/starting rebuttals
3rd - rebuttals
4th - summaries

In the fourth round there shouldn't be any new argument. It should be for new evidence and elaboration on things already said in the debate. Just so everyone's clear on that.

Now let's get started! Good luck!


I very much look forward to debating Jonbonbon, and I have no doubt this will be an excellent debate. This should prove to be a spectacular tournament, win or lose, I am glad for the oppertunity to debate you! I accept the rules/round stucture, and wish you luck in this debate! :)
Debate Round No. 1


A horse walks into a bar, and the bartender says, "Why the long face?" The horse says, "A machine stole my job." Of course, the horse didn't suspect that owning a car would become the norm. There wasn't the infrastructure or the money per household to support machines taking over the transportation market, but humanity is nothing if not lazy, so if a machine can do a job better than something else, we will use it.

In this debate I'm going to be proving that technological advancements will, in the future, be a main cause for unemployment going up. That's how I'm going to measure a "significant harm," and I'm sure my opponent will find that fair. To substantiate this, I need to prove that in the business world it makes economical sense to replace millions of jobs with robot workers or innovative machinery. To further clarify, my goal is not to prove that machines will steal a lot of jobs and keep stealing them forever and ever. I simply need to prove a sort of significance, which in this case could be an unemployment spike for a period of several years.

This is a sort of scary idea (but then again, maybe we should just give them all our jobs and never have to work again), but don't be too frightened. I'm sure my opponent will have some words of hope for you. Now on to my case.

1) They have in the past

If video killed the radio star, then what killed the manufacturing workers? Refer to the video at the top. Of course, this isn't a surprising image. It's commonplace right? It's not shocking to only find two or three humans amidst this machinery. Their job is to make sure that the machinery isn't malfunctioning or attempting to take over the world. People don't build cars anymore in large quantities.

Now refer to reference [1], and you may be thinking "Well yeah, but just look at the job shift from manufacturing to sales, business, and brokers like the insurance, finance, and real estate market." Granted, you have a point, but we're getting ahead of ourselves. First we need to consider why the machines took so many jobs. Points jump ones head like the following:

-Machines don't take smoke breaks or lunch breaks
-Machines can consistently lift heavy materials without medical concerns
-Machines also don't have medical concerns
-Maintenance on machines is fairly easy to plan for
-Machines don't want a 401k or health insurance or other benefits
-Machines aren't paid hourly, you just make payments on them, which means you don't pay overtime
-Machines don't form unions
-Machines don't complain
-Machines can work faster and more consistently, and they don't get tired of doing it
-Machines don't do no-call-no-shows or show up late to work

There's likely a plethora of other things, but those happened to pop into my head first. Now you look at that and think, "Wow, manufacturers must've saved a lot of money after using machine run production lines." And now that these machines have factories that can produce them efficiently, the cost of the machine has gone down signficantly.

Think about it, we're not just talking about hourly wage. Especially in the modern day with modern health insurance laws and modern compensation laws. Think of risks that a human undergoes by working somewhere and the workman's compensation a company has to pay out due to the simple fact that humans are vulnerable. A lot more cost goes into this than a simple minimum wage, and these jobs don't pay minimum wage, because they are dangerous.

2) Modern technology can do much more than put a car together.

a. For those of you who work at a fast food joint, you could potentially be thinking there's no way that a robot would ever come after your job. McDonald's nickname is "job security" because their requirment is that you're not actively doing drugs (during the interview) and that you have a heartbeat. So if everything else fails, they're probably hiring, and you're probably going to get a job there if you apply for at least minimum wage pay.

But what if a robot could make a burger more efficiently and more correctly than you? Refer to video 2.

That's right, this burger making robot makes burgers with precision and almost as fast as your average joe. Humans can still go faster, but this robot was a prototpye, and it doesn't make mistakes. Humans make mistakes all the time. If you've ever gone out to eat, you know this. So anyway, let's look at the benefits this robot brings, because I've really only focused on a couple.

I'll be the GM at a Steak n' Shake here for a minute, and the corporation is telling me they'll add a robot to my burger line if I can prove that the benefits outweigh the costs. I tell him that there's only a couple burger making guys worth keeping around, but they have a couple problems. They make burgers very fast, but sometimes their speed just causes them to mess up orders or get things mixed up during a rush. This results in about 15% spoilage during our money making hours. They also like to snack on the bacon and french fried onions, and they're some hungry hippos. So we can add another very generous 10% in product loss. Aside from that, I usually catch them texting or joking around when they could be working on something else to help the restaurant.

So far they're making me enough money to justify paying them minimum wage, but I can't schedule them full time without having to offer insurance, and now they're in this union demanding $15 an hour. If I look at the numbers again, I don't know how I can keep even my best employees employed if they keep behaving like this.

So the corproation says, "Sounds like you need a machine to take over your assembly line," and that job becomes obsolete, because this robot is open 24/7, doesn't take breaks, and it doesn't get tired of doing things at a constant speed. It may just be a Steak n' Shake, but as long as you justify the cost, then you can replace humans with robots. In fact, if you look at video 3, you'll see a few prototype robots doing more than just preparing a burger.

b. Here's a real world example of a coffee shop that doesn't use humans. Refer to video 4. This robot does all the work there. The humans just own the shop, throw out the garbage, and perform cleaning and maintenance. Whereas a small coffee shop may have employeed 12 people to do all this work, the owners can do it by themselves without having to employee anyone else.

Then if 100 coffee shops of the same size did this, that's 1,200 people unemployed. That's generous though. Bump it up to 1,000, and that's 12,000 people unemployed, and that's just coffee shops.

c. Customer service is safe right? Not quite. USAA has adopted an AI customer service assistant that makes the customer service jobs much easier [2]. In some cases the AI, Nina, can help a customer from start to finish without ever having to connect you to a human customer service representative [3]. And it doesn't need you to type in numbers other than to verify your identity with a PIN. It hears you say "yes" and "no" and more complex phrases like "I would like to submit a travel notification" and it either helps you itself or transfers you to a human who can help you.

Now, beyond the things that something like the Amazon Echo can do, we have the development of lifelike robots that can interact with humans and learn how to act more like humans. See video 5. Of course, that's probably incredibly expensive right now (although Sophia is not currently for sale), but if you were to create a manufacturing plant that just 3D printed the skeletons, put in the hardware, installed the software, then covered it in skin-colored silicone, then this could be significantly cheaper, and it could be significantly more useful to a company than the standard human employee.

Refer to the list of expenses I talked about above. An employee can cost 1.25 to 1.4 times their base salar range [4]. This means an employee who earns 50,000 a year may cost the company 62,000 to 70,000 a year. That's before we consider things like employee theft, sexual harrassment, and employee disputes.

Now, imagine paying $50,000 for a robot and spending only $500 in maintenance costs. That's a lot more attractive from a business standpoint.

3) New technology will cause an increase in unemployment:

People who run businesses are known for doing one thing very well: making money. If something makes "business sense" then they will do it to increase profits. Using new machinery makes business sense. Technology only has to do two things to beat humans: be cheaper and do it better. A heart surgeon may make 3 mistakes a month, but a robotic heart surgeon may only make 1 every three months. In that case, the robotic heart surgeon is the one you'd want working on you.

A self-driving car may be the cause of one accident in a year, but what about humans? I don't think I need to provide a statistic to prove that humans are worse than that. Brilliant minds are hard at work making robots that can do anything better than a human can. While I don't think that robots will take literally every job (because we're not that stupid), I think that we can expect a signficant spike in unemployment in developed countries (particularly the US, the UK, Japan, etc).

Thank you for your time! I look forward to seeing TUF's response!


[3] Personal experience



When it comes to change, people are naturally a little weary. Such has been the case with most major social dynamics concerning the economy and the Job market. Anything that people feel like will result in the loss of jobs, people will automatically become a bit skeptical. The same dynamic is seen toward immigration, and significant economical changes in a specific state. Well, my goal in this debate it to quell those worries by showing how technology will help, rather than hurt the job market! I will be covering my opponents arguments within my own arguments.

1) Technology works alongside humans, and creates more work!

My opponent posts a video of a car factory busy at work mass producing vehicles. What you may also have noticed in the video is a couple of humans walking by in some of the frames assisting with some of the work. It is simply impossible right now to have a business run on pure technology, and that is because the human aspect will almost always be needed in conjunction with the technology, especially in a warehouse environment. The machine helps with the work, but without multiple people to tell it exactly what to do, it doesn't operate nearly as effectively. As someone who works in a warehouse, let me elaborate a little more clearly on how this works.
Let's take a Wal-Mart distribution center, that has some of the coolest technology working to ship out the hundreds of thousands of different boxes being sent out to each of it's distributors daily. Most have 15-20 miles (1) of conveyor systems, a couple hundred fork lifts, computer systems used to properly convey all information accurately, and an advance computer scanning system that finds labels and sends each box to it's specific store automatically as a box passes through. The technology is incredible, but what is more incredible is the need of a human to operate and control all of this equipment, which leaves wal-mart distribution centers almost always hiring. They need someone on these forklifts pulling pallets from trucks to load on the conveyor belt. People labeling boxes appropriately and sending them to staples stock, or to break-pack employees who pick out individual items a store requests. They need supervisors, managers, and HR representatives for all the employees in these individual areas, that leaves distribution centers constantly hiring. The best part is some of these jobs that have higher responsibility in maintaining this expensive technology, also end up paying higher. Let's take your average distribution warehouse job- In Utah, it pays out starting at 16.50 and hour, and is an exceptionally easy job to get as long as you meet the physical requirements. Distribution centers around the states also pay competitively according to the states individual economy. Now let's get back to the car factory point, because it may be true that some companies use technology in a way that requires less humans than others. If you look at the description in my opponent's first video however, it says the following: "In answer to the many who have commented "how many people have these robots put out of work" the answer is 0. The factory was built in a town which had high unemployment after the Soviets left, and the production line is a small part of a plant which employs several thousand."

Also whenever new technology is created, it requires people building this technology. That is a whole other job market that opens itself up for potential jobless people looking for careers.

It's easy to see a small portion of a company where technology advancement looks amazing, and jump to the conclusion that the robots are taking over. The same could be said from someone taking a tour of a wal-mart distribution center looking at the amazing conveyor/scanning technology, but at the end of the day, great technology works best in the hands of great employees.

2) Are machines a feasible replacement to humans?

Jonbonbon in the last round points out some benefits machines have to humans, which can be true, but there are also a lot of benefits humans have over machines. Machines that are used constantly or frequently get wear and tear, or break down. This requires human assistance to provide maintenance. This maintenance can be costly, especially if repairs are needed or parts need replacements.
Also Burger Bot won't make the best burger; To have a machine move parts of a sandwich around is interesting, but it's not the most enticing principle ever. When I go to a burger joint, I choose where I go based on the taste and quality of the patty. How many people are interested in paying for a burger that was just thrown together without a human to verify it is the right temperature, the vegetables were in good condition and not rotted, the ketchup/mustard bottles are full and actually giving the right amount of sauce, etc, etc. Leaving a machine in charge of making food can be a very dangerous idea when talking about FDA inspections and customer service relations.
Technology can potentially cost more than an employee. Let's use the burger bot example again, and say you had to pay a pretty penny to get the technology in the first place. Is buying the technology for let's say 50k, spending all the money constantly doing maintenance, and funding all the extra electricity bills, and potentially having messed up burgers. It is worth the money to do this when you can pay a fast food employee less than 25k a year, give them proper training to add the human touch?

3) Customer Service Relationships

How does this play in customer service roles? Let's talk about Sophia. How many times have you yelled at your GPS because it is taking you a route that you know is longer, or doesn't account for construction in certain areas? How many times do we blame our phones for auto-correct messing up a sext and ruining our date? My opponent points out that phone operating companies being automated makes a smoother process, but how many times have you tried to use your voice with an operator system to tell it what you need so it can try to direct you where to go, just for it to push you through to the wrong department because it 'mis-heard you' or asks you annoyingly to repeat yourself many multiple times? Quite simply, while technology like Sophia is very interesting, it is bound to run into many of the same problem areas other technology quite often runs into. In the video with Sophia posted by my opponent, it's easy to see that Sophia is answering interview questions with typed out lines, fed by the producers. But how would this work realistically in a stake n shake? I tell the machine "I want a Caramel Shake with French fries", and it potentially hears "I want a Caramel Shake with extra ice". It's going to be a problem without a human presence to verify that everything is working properly. The logistics behind how this can work flawlessly are ultimately unknown by my opponent and myself, as much of this technology is only being tested and not released. But in the customer service industry, this may bring up a lot of problems. Imagine the impact technology will have on the technology impaired, or the elderly! People being forced to talk to computers when they have difficulty understanding them and how they operate. While having technology is awesome for people in the wal-mart or McDonald's checkout line that want to stream line the process with the machines, it remains un-realistic to think the human option of customer service will be completely ruled out from the endeavors.

With all these potential errors that technology can provide (and often does, again referring to the GPS and cell-phone examples), is it really accurate to predict self-driving cars and machines that perform heart surgery are going to be flawless and provide less accidents? Further would you as a consumer trust yourself in the hands of a licensed profession surgeon who has done what he/she has done for years and has a degree, or a machine that can have any number of things go wrong with it. All it takes is for the power to go out and the patient is screwed, where as a doctor with knowledge and expertise in his field can improvise and use tools that don't require technology to perform the surgery. While it is easy to fantasize about the wonders of technology, we also have to be realistic in how we approach them and their over-use in the modern day world. A human presence will not become obsolete, and while it is true that technology is impacting the world, I am a firm believer that technology will only ever work alongside humans effectively.

Debate Round No. 2
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Debate Round No. 3
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Debate Round No. 4
25 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Jonbonbon 2 years ago
Yeah I wasn't sure how to carry on. Like if we're supposed to restart since this happened during the first blackout.
Posted by TUF 2 years ago
Not on this platform? The reason this debate didn't finish was because of the 503 error.
Posted by tejretics 2 years ago
So I guess TUF and I are doing the final?
Posted by LBPeraltz 2 years ago
I enjoyed the debate and was able to see both views in a clear way; I do hope it did finished though. But if it does, I MIGHT have probably gone with the Pro. Because for one, book sales at the bookstores aren't doing that good with the advancement in technology (at least to my resources). It also became an issue shown in the news in the Philippines with the kids relying on technology more and the copy of books becoming a waste.
Posted by TUF 2 years ago
Quick bonbon! You have an hour left!
Posted by Jonbonbon 2 years ago
I'm just glad you posted. Good round actually, I knew you'd put up a good fight :P
Posted by TUF 2 years ago
Didn't have time to grammar check this, hopefully it's read-able
Posted by Jonbonbon 2 years ago
Lol cool
Posted by TUF 2 years ago
Yeah I know, I got off at 1:30 am last night ready to post the argument and the damn 503 error was there. I waited til like 4 am and the dumb error was still there haha. Working it now.
Posted by TUF 2 years ago
Yeah I know, I got off at 1:30 am last night ready to post the argument and the damn 503 error was there. I waited til like 4 am and the dumb error was still there haha. Working it now.
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