All American Chair

All American Chair.jpeg

Got to love this all American chair. 

Red, white, and blue. 

And stars and stripes everywhere. 

The only thing that I seriously wonder about is whether this chair was manufactured in the U.S. 

With the U.S. losing 35% of it’s manufacturing employment between 1998 and 2010 (from 17.6M to 11.5M), due in large part to outsourcing, there is a good chance this chair was made overseas. 

Now manufacturing makes up less than 9% of total U.S. employment

Also noteworthy is the loss of 51,000 manufacturing plants or 12.5% between 1998-2008.  

Together, agriculture and industry make up only approximately 20% of the entire U.S. economy

Manufacturing are agriculture are strategic capabilities for this country and any country. 

It’s not just what you know, but what you make!

Sure we can make things faster and easier with automation, but at this point there is a serious skills shortage (with millions of jobs going unfilled), and we need to safeguard the strategic knowledge, skills, capability, and capacity to make things vital to our thriving existence.

We need to be a more self-sufficient nation again and not a one-trick service pony. 

We need to use information to be better innovators, creators, developers, and builders. 

Information is great, but you can’t live by information alone. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Two Days–Two Scary Statistics

American Flag Scarf

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)


Happy Presidents’ Day today!


The picture is of a snoozing guy on the Washington, D.C. metro with a scarf that looks like the American Flag.


Scary statistic of the day: 


Robots and artificial intelligence are forecast to push unemployment to 50% by 2045


Is that a good thing because people will have more time for leisure?


No says the experts…work gives live meaning, and without it we’ll all be sleeping our time away on the Metro. 

Valentine's Day

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Happy Valentine’s Day yesterday!

This photo is of luscious chocolate covered strawberries from Godiva. 

Scary statistic of the day:

About 1 in 5 people over the age of 25 (about 42 million people) has never been married, and the median age for marriage is 27 for women and 29 for men and rising.

Is this a good thing since people are perhaps further along in their education and career then and more ready to get married and have this as a priority?

No, says the research, since 50% believe that we are simply not better off with marriage and children as priorities.

_________

With these two holidays and statistics taken together, we are heading towards a very jobless and loveless future.

Andy’s advice for the young folks (who of course won’t listen because they are young):

1) Get married and get bliss!

2) Get a technology degree and get employed!

You can have a job and a spouse…little human-robot children to follow. 😉

How NOT To Interview For A Job

How NOT To Interview For A Job

So I am at this place of business this evening, and I overhear someone trying to apply for a job.

Note, I feel bad for the guy who is looking for extra work, but the interview just is going all wrong.

– Easy-Smeasy – He asks “What is the easiest part of the job?” Ugh, didn’t sound exactly like he was looking for a challenge.

– Keep your head down – He exclaims, “And never do someone’s else’s job!” What about helping where the help is needed?

– Great facilities you got here – He ends with, “And when I work here, my kids are really going to love coming to use the facilities here all the time!” Not exactly, a what will I do for you strong ending.

I didn’t get to hear the whole interview dialogue, but this was enough to get the idea about some things not to do in an interview.

The funny/sad thing was, I think this gentleman really thought that he was going to get the job after all. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Got References?

Got References?

If you’ve ever done any hiring, you’ll know that the reference checking can be the wildest part of the process.

Some people have a lot of trouble coming up with good references or perhaps any references.

In one case (actually more than one), calling the number provided for the candidate’s supervisor went to the voicemail for the candidate him/herself–ah, clearly that doesn’t help.

However, often candidates don’t want their references checked until they have a clear intent of offer, which is sort of understandable–they don’t want their references bothered unnecessarily and don’t want to jeopardize their current position–but also a little bit of a chicken and egg approach, since you can’t provide a real offer without checking references first.

Then, there is a whole different category, where references are just bogus. In fact, according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek (14 January 2013), in an article called “Imaginary Friends as Job References,” a CareerBuilder survey of 2,500 hiring managers found that “30% regularly find false or misleading references on applicants CVs.”

Maybe candidates think that throwing around big names on their resume will just land them the job or at least get them a foot in the door–not fully realizing that the references will actually get called.

One of the funniest anecdotes in the article was that of a hiring manager who actually found himself listed as a candidate’s reference—I can hear the candidate fessing up now, “Oh, did I do that?”

Anyway, it’s probably not a good idea to list people that don’t know you, don’t like you, or are not professional references like your mom, your boy/girlfriend, or your 5th grade teacher–then again, maybe that last one is okay if you’re Doggie Howser, M.D. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Tulane Publications)

Robots Taking Your Job

Robot

Don’t get too comfortable in your job.

Yes, the economic realities of high spending are about to catch up with the country and that will threaten your livelihood, but even more than that Robots can probably do your job better than you–sooner or later. 

Wired Magazine (24 December 2012) has a great article on this called “Better Than Humans.

In the 1800’s, when 70% of the working population did agricultural work, probably no one would have believed what the future had in store for this occupation–today with automation, only 1% do this work.

Similarly, today 80% of jobs are in the service sector, and people think they are on safe ground–but think again!

Make no mistake robots will replace or drastically alter your current job, as artificial intelligence, processors, memory, sensors, learning, communication, dexterity, and humanoid likeness all continue to advance.

Wired presents the 7 Stages of Robot Replacement (to which I’ve added my notes in parenthesis):

1. Robots cannot do what I do (denial).

2. Robots can do some of what I do, but not all (partial acceptance).

3. Robots can do what I do, but they break done (rationalization for the loss, and so do we “break down”).

4. Robots operate flawlessly on repetitive tasks, but need training for new ones (you weren’t born knowing everything were you?). 

5. Robots can have my old job, because it’s not fit for humans anyway (acceptance with a large dose of resignation–“the train has left the station”).

6. Robots can have my old job, because my new job will be better (maybe for the time being). 

7. Robots cannot do what I do now (the cycle of employment safety from automation starts anew). 

Let’s face it–your special, but so is technology and the pace of advancement is extraordinary. 

For those of you in jobs that you feel could only be done by humans–Wired has some news about developments with robots doing the once unthinkable:

– Musicians–Georgia Tech has developed Shimon the musician; these robots can not only play violin and trumpets, but they can form a band, and they can improvise (“as if it’s a musician with a soul!).

– Therapists–Mindmentor has an AI therapist that after a 1-2 hour session made patients feel their “problem was 47% solved.”

– Artists–Vagobot has made hundreds of pictures and “even sold some to Crate & Barrel.”

– Comedians–Aldebarab Robotics makes robots for all sorts of jobs, including entertainment–they can sense audience reaction (such as laughter or silence) and adjust topics accordingly.

– Professional Trainers–The Intermational Conference on Social Robots in 2011 presented a robot that could coach you on your exercise, sense your form, and correct it. 

– Teachers–University Of Southern California has developed a robot teacher that in 2 weeks helped preschoolers increase vocabulary mastery by 25%.

– Nurses–Aethon makes the TUG nurse robot that is “picking up and delivering medication and supplies, autonomously navigating hospital hallways…summon an elevator, wait in line, and politely roll aside to give hemorrhaging humans priority access.”

– Athletes–Robocup compete robots that one day can be “capable of winning against the human  soccer World Cup champions.

So what will be left for humans to do–innovate, invent, build, operate, and maintain the next level of breakthrough automation to help people–maybe these are the best and most-rewarding jobs that any of us can hope to have. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal, Ft. Lauderdale Discovery and Science Museum)