Will Automation Screw Men Over More?

We hear often in the news about the rise of automation and how millions of people will be replaced by robots and machines in the coming few years. While I don’t share the sentiment that there will be macroeconomic shifts so drastic that measures such as Universal Basic Income will be the only way to provide a means of spending for the average person in such an automated society, I did wonder about what kinds of jobs automation will replace and how it may disproportionally affect men.

Generally speaking, automation and robots will have the largest immediate impact on jobs that are repeatable and physically demanding. Work such as manufacturing and farming has already been largely automated and similar types of work may be next on the way. Let’s take a look at the jobs listed on Kiplinger, a D.C. based business journal, regarding “8 Jobs That Will be Replaced by Robots Soon” and look at them on a gender based lens.

1. Store Clerk

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 3,200,000 cashiers in the U.S. of which 73.8% are Female.

The Kiplinger article discusses the Amazon Go Store which has eliminated the checkout line using advanced cameras and additional sensors and Tally from Simbe Robotics which audits retail shelves for out-of-stock items. While Tally doesn’t equate to a cashier position, because the numbers in retail spaces heavily skew towards women, in this case it seems like women may be affected by automation more.

2. Data Analyst

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 1,929,000 accountants and auditors in the U.S. of which 60.6% are Female.

While not exactly the shame, the job function between accountants and auditors are similar enough to draw a comparison. Largely, positions where data is transcribed and or analyzed for reports are getting automated via software.

3. Fast-Food Worker

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 322,000 food preparation and serving workers, including fast food in the U.S. of which 63.0% are Female. There are 2,067,000 cooks of which 58.2% are Male.

Startups around Silicon Valley and elsewhere are trying to tackle the fast food industry by bringing down the cost of fast food even lower by eliminating the cost of labor. Cooking robots such as the “Flippy” are able to flip burgers without rest.

4. Truck Drivers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 3,549,000 driver workers and truck drivers in the U.S. of which 93.4% are Male. There are 631,000 industrial truck and tractor operators in the U.S. of which 91.9% are Male.

Automated trucks have been a breeding ground for autonomous vehicles as long hours and relatively simple driving routes along highways have made the opportunity irresistible with even large players such as Tesla developing trucks to help automate this industry.

5. Livery Drivers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 777,000 taxi drivers in the U.S. of which 82.0% are Male. This number may not include gig economy drivers for companies such as Uber and Lyft as it may not be counted as a full-time economic activity.

Google’s Waymo has been developing self-driving cars for several years now and companies such as GM-Cruise and Uber are also spending considerable resources to automate everyday cars with concentrated effort and bringing down cost of the taxi service.

6. Deliverymen

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 302,000 postal service mail carriers in the U.S. of which 60.2% are Male.

Companies such as Grubhub and Marble are leveraging self-driving technologies for the delivery of food.

7. Security Guard

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 958,000 security guards and surveillance officers in the U.S. of which 77.6% are Male.

8. Front-line Soldiers

According to Pew Research, there are 1,340,533 active military personnel of which 83.0% are Male.

Conclusion:

The 8 jobs discussed by Kiplinger account for roughly 15 million jobs in the U.S. of which 9.5 million belong to men. Thus, it seems that automation may indeed affect men about 1.6 times more than it will women.

*Bureau of Labor Statics

My Incomplete Perception of Border Controls Around the World

I’ve been to a relatively decent number of countries and airports now. I’m confident in saying that I’ve been to more countries and airports than 90% of the world’s population. Now that doesn’t say all that much since the bar is relatively low when it comes to traveling. Earlier this year, it was reported that 64% of Americans have never left the U.S. (Link) So I feel confident in saying that the majority of residents of less affluent countries such as China, India, Indonesia, and Brazil would have not travelled internationally or been to an airport. Of course, there are better authorities on this subject matter – people who travel much more regularly for work.

Recently, I’ve been really disgusted by the border control process when coming through America. Having Global Entry, I’m now mostly a bystander in the process – but the regular immigration lines in America are one of the longest in the world. It’s always to be expected that after a long trans-Atlantic or trans-Pacific flight even American citizens will have to spend a minimum of 30 minutes to get back to the country. Non-citizens could spend hours just waiting in line. It was easy to think that was just the norm when I was growing up, but now I see that it really is not the case.

In my experience, the richest countries have the worst lines. The U.K., China, South Korea, Japan. My best experiences have been in Taiwan and Germany. This makes me wonder, do countries that have “a lot lose” – keep their borders more secure? Do longer lines / underemploying border control agents make the border more secure? In the case of Germany, perhaps their cultural attitude towards efficiency and modern history of relatively lenient immigration policies have made those line short.

Fees for Calling Cops

Trevor Noah had an interesting bit posted on YouTube regarding a fee for calling the cops that I thought was worth discussing.

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What he suggests here is that a lot of prank and non-police matter calls are made because there is very little consequence to calling 911. For sake of humor he disregards obstruction of justice. However, I do think his suggestion is relatively well-founded.

It’s well studied that even an incremental cost will change people’s behavior. Money has become one of the most powerful motivators in modern society. Even a dollar discourages a lot of behavior. Given that, Noah’s suggestion is simple, just bill the caller $5 and give it back if it was a legitimate call.

DailyShow
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah – Copyright The Daily Show

Now of course, that reimbursement might make it hard to actually get – but I’m not sure if that matter all that much. If the caller is poor and really needs the money, they will make sure to get it back. If automated reimbursements fail, a simple online or callbot system where you give a case number to get reimbursed might be sufficient. For the rich, they may ignore the fee and now the police department has more revenue it can use for public safety. And for the people who made an illegitimate call, at least the department gets something for their efforts.

Victim-Shaming in Reporting

This morning there were reports of discriminatory actions taken on Yale University’s campus against a black graduate student by a fellow dormitory resident and the local police.

As I followed the story, I noticed something odd. The victim was clearly identified. Age, racial profile, name, gender, even area of study. However none of the aggressors of the story were being reported – just simply “a fellow resident” was how the initial caller was referred to. The police officers were not identified as well (although their actions were less clearly egregious. They made the victim wait an extra 15 minutes for confirmation of ID).

On a broader point, I would love to see news articles focus on the aggressor in these types of reports. The victim did very little wrong, so why profile them so much? Many people just want to move on and live their lives without the attention of the viral web. Instead, let’s focus on the offenders, they should be getting the higher level of scrutiny so that their actions are well known and recognized.

Edit: It looks like it took an extra day but the aggressor’s name is now being widely reported on news outlets like the Washington Post.

Source: https://nyti.ms/2KPQPyP

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2018/05/10/a-black-yale-student-fell-asleep-in-her-dorms-common-room-a-white-student-called-police/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.449235594b2a