Since the 1970’s the job opportunities in America have slowly dwindled to the point of total economic collapse, at least for the blue collar worker. No longer can a person expect to go out and get a job at will in the field of his choice. The jobs are now far and few between and they are mainly service related and part time at best. While there are still good jobs to be had in some sectors, these are highly specialized and very competitive. Only a few lucky individuals get them. It leaves very little for the bulk of the job seeking public. Over the years we have seen a gradual decay of the job market from one sector to another.
First agriculture jobs gave way to manufacturing jobs. Then manufacturing jobs gave way to service sector jobs. Then full time jobs gave way to part time jobs. The problem with service related jobs is that you must have a productive economy where people have large mounts of excess, spendable income to support the service economy. Most people no longer have the excess money to spend on less critical items. So what comes next in the great American job game?
That can only be one thing. Part time jobs will give way to no jobs. The day when Americans can no longer work for others to create income is fast approaching. This means many will need to take matters into their own hands and create their own jobs. When the economy becomes dysfunctional only small business will be able to pull it out. That means more individuals taking the risk to produce products that society needs on the local level.
Packets of Oreos, boxes of crayons, and squeaky dog toys will test the limits of robot vision and manipulation in a competition this May. Amazon is organizing the event to spur the development of more nimble-fingered product-packing machines.1
Participating robots will earn points by locating products sitting somewhere on a stack of shelves, retrieving them safely, and then packing them into cardboard shipping boxes. Robots that accidentally crush a cookie or drop a toy will have points deducted. The people whose robots earn the most points will win $25,000.+
Amazon has already automated some of the work done in its vast fulfillment centers. Robots in a few locations send shelves laden with products over to human workers who then grab and package them. These mobile robots, made by Kiva Systems, a company that Amazon bought in 2012 for $678 million, reduce the distance human workers have to walk in order to find products. However, no robot can yet pick and pack products with the speed and reliability of a human. Industrial robots that are already widespread in several industries are limited to extremely precise, repetitive work in highly controlled environments.