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General Chat Thread, HP going "fully automated" in General; BBC News - Hewlett-Packard to cut 9,000 jobs worldwide This is a trend I expect we will all be affected ...
  1. #1
    theeldergeek
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    HP going "fully automated"

    BBC News - Hewlett-Packard to cut 9,000 jobs worldwide

    This is a trend I expect we will all be affected by over the next decade or two. For me, it signals a step nearer to science fact rather than the science fiction films like the Terminator and War Games have posed (OK, I doubt they'll be Terminators travelling across time...)

    What you'll have, is fully automated data centres 'humming' away 24/7, with not a sign of any human interaction. These data centres will communicate between themselves, making decisions and carrying out artificial intelligence operations like repairs and upgrades.

    If each and every cabinet is the same spec, you can imagine a small robot who is summonsed to replace a faulty component. The robot will position itself in a precise position so that any number of pre-programmed repair sequences can be carried out from where it stands.

    For anything it can't do, a human will be sent for, a human who will 'disappear' when the task is complete... after all, no-one would want the human to tell others what he had seen.

    I've gotta go now, they want me to go back to my room..... but listen to me, it will happen, and you'll remember what I said.....

    Last edited by theeldergeek; 1st June 2010 at 09:06 PM.

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    speckytecky (1st June 2010)

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    Luddite - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    I've been surprised over the last couple of years to find machines doing jobs that I thought it would never be possible for them to do. Two examples would be automated checkouts in supermarkets, and voice recognition on customer support lines. We've all encountered them and often the experience has been diabolical but it is improving noticeably. This trend will continue, I think it's inevitable. Who knows, we may in 10 years be using cars that drive themselves.

    Our lives already display a clear dependence on machines. I don't think that's wholly bad or wholly good, my question would be, would we survive if our machines were taken away?

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    torledo's Avatar
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    it's interesting isn't it.

    not long ago i was talking to someone who worked at a mid-sized company here in the UK, and he mentioned how their datacentres were effectively being shipped over to the US [as in servers were physically being transported over] where datacenter consolidation would occur on a grand scale.

    fully automated processes just seem the next logical step, so while you start off with it being a remote mgmt operation and consolidation of physical boxes it then becomes a question of creating automated workflows and processes - not unlike how repetitive tasks can and are already being done with scheduling and scripts, but here we're presumably talking about taking it a step further with automated provisioning of more complex services.

    .....i don't know if these are the correct technical terms as i don't know anything about the technologies and software used by the likes of HP, but workflows will suffice for want of a better word. If you ask me the jobs are in planning and designing of such systems and processes [the creating of the workflows and understanding of ITSM], as fewer and fewer people are required for the actual maintenance of such infrastructure.

    is anyone really surprised. And is it necessarily a bad thing if they can replace a good proportion of the jobs lost with jobs in other areas doing different things. every industry has to deal with the outcomes from increased productivity and automation.

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    Batman's Avatar
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    That's bizarre. I can see the sense in consolidating datacentres, but not moving them to the US... I guess there must have been a significant cost advantage for them to consider this? There must be plenty of options home in the UK that they could have gone for surely?

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    Quote Originally Posted by torledo View Post
    <snip>
    is anyone really surprised. And is it necessarily a bad thing if they can replace a good proportion of the jobs lost with jobs in other areas doing different things. every industry has to deal with the outcomes from increased productivity and automation.
    Ask the 4000 call centre operators that lose their jobs, as they are told a whole swatch of business model specialists and programmers get jobs, and a computer is now doing their job.

    This principle of "automating" the lower level jobs is all well and good, and im sure it will result in the costs moving from A to B, and possibly reducing. But if we automated everything, Then about 1% of the world would be employed (to keep the machines running), and the rest of us would be out of a job.

    Think already how so many of what we do in lives are already run by computers, and how many more could be automated.
    -Shops; already seeing self service checkouts.
    -Cars already almost drive themselves, you just have to keep it on the road, and tell it to turn when your sat nav tells you to
    -Support lines; most customer support is automated already, and the move towards 'FAQ's and teaching the end user to be more competent is already happening.

    Half of your household services (water, gas, electricity, telecomms, media) is controlled by computers for how, where when etc.
    Your car was probably only handled by a person as it was driven from the assembly line to the storage centre.

    Jobs over the years have become more and more automated, with the 'person' behind those jobs moving from the hard labourer, to a computer programmer or analyst. It might be a step in the right direction for the 'end consumer' but not for the hard labourer who has only done that work for the last 25 years.

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    soveryapt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by theeldergeek View Post
    For anything it can't do, a human will be sent for, a human who will 'disappear' when the task is complete... after all, no-one would want the human to tell others what he had seen.
    A human sent for? But I thought humans are going to be used as power supplies suspended in a coma-like state with an artificial world created to keep them happy as they would work more efficiently?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Batman View Post

    I've been surprised over the last couple of years to find machines doing jobs that I thought it would never be possible for them to do. Two examples would be automated checkouts in supermarkets, and voice recognition on customer support lines. We've all encountered them and often the experience has been diabolical but it is improving noticeably. This trend will continue, I think it's inevitable. Who knows, we may in 10 years be using cars that drive themselves.
    the amount of free stuff you can get from those self service checkouts is immense, i have a friend who works for Asda and they decided to test the system took him to a different asda and said go buy some stuff and see how much you can get for free from the self serve, 2 paid for bottles of wine and 6 for free , needless to say it gave the manager something to think about.

    i dont steal however just the other day managed to get a free pizza when the weighing system failed and the clerk reset it for me, didnt notice till i had left it hadn't actually recorded the sale.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Batman View Post
    automated checkouts in supermarkets
    I reckon supermarkets could go even further with the automation since automated checkouts are not really automated if you think about it. Customers still need to scan barcodes and the supermarkets still need supervisors to keep an eye on the checkouts for when they inevitable go wrong or someone doesn't know what they are doing of.

    Once every item on their shelves has an RFID tag and we all have contact-less payment cards (like BarclayCard's) then it would just be a case of loading up your shopping trolley and walking out of the supermarket with your goods - the money would be debited from your account as you are leaving the store. Queues will be a thing of the past and not having to deal with surly checkout operators will be a nice bonus.

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    Back on topic, I can see why HP are doing this. Humans waste huge amounts of time and introduce errors. While 9,000 jobs may sound a lot, it is still less than 3% of their total number of employees (304,000).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur View Post
    Back on topic, I can see why HP are doing this. Humans waste huge amounts of time and introduce errors. While 9,000 jobs may sound a lot, it is still less than 3% of their total number of employees (304,000).
    It may only be 3% of the employees but it's still 9,000 people who won't have a job and will need to find some other way of getting money to buy food etc.

    It makes a nonsense of claims by politicians that the public sector should shed staff and the private sector will employ them - everywhere you look, the private sector is shedding staff as fast it can (because they're "inefficient")

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    Luddite - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The problem as I see it is the whole system. We all rely on working for someone else (true if you're self employed too - you've still got to serve somebody) to earn money which we then use to get what we "need". We're stuck in the rat race and it's actually bad for us. If we all spent less time at work we'd have more time to put towards becoming self sufficient.

    If a business/organisation is inefficient it's not working properly... it's a waste. The business should treat employees fairly, but it should also be efficient. I think having too much staff is irresponsible bad management. Businesses are businesses, not charities, and should be allowed to concentrate on doing what they do not wasting time on politics.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Batman View Post

    If a business/organisation is inefficient it's not working properly... it's a waste. The business should treat employees fairly, but it should also be efficient. I think having too much staff is irresponsible bad management. Businesses are businesses, not charities, and should be allowed to concentrate on doing what they do not wasting time on politics.
    I don't disagree with this (I wrote an essay saying more or less this for my PGCE about 30 years ago!) but what do we do with all the people who don't have jobs because they make HP (or whoever) inefficient? I don't think we can all have "The Good Life" style gardens with our own goats etc for food so how do we get the money to pay the rent and buy our food?

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    My first thought on reading the title of this was of an hp branded shipping container showing up on the schools doorstep with a single sealed "Safe Disposal Methods" card in it for something or other that we purchased. I guess I have just read too many hp automatic packing stories in past and it has tainted my views.

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    Quote Originally Posted by srochford View Post
    I don't disagree with this (I wrote an essay saying more or less this for my PGCE about 30 years ago!) but what do we do with all the people who don't have jobs because they make HP (or whoever) inefficient? I don't think we can all have "The Good Life" style gardens with our own goats etc for food so how do we get the money to pay the rent and buy our food?
    That's the big question. I do wonder how long the system we rely on is going to last... it's all so fragile. Something happens the other side of the world and it has direct consequences for us in this global economy. There's no guaranteeing that in ten years time we'll be as comfortable as we are now and I think if times get harder people will get more creative about their lifestyles - some may have no choice. I do think we need to be more self sufficient individually and as a nation... "The Good Life" isn't for everyone but I don't think it's as crazy as it sounds (chickens are more useful than goats to be fair).

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