Doctor Robot

One of the popular topics among the curious minded is the coming robot revolution where, presumably, all work will be done by robots. A regular feature of the news is the story of how some function previously done by people is now being done by smart machines. The prevailing assumption is that the sort of manual labor jobs done by the working class will disappear over the next generations. That may be true, but it will not be the working man losing out initially. It’s going to be the office people who feel the pinch first.

One of the things everyone sort of knows is that a whole lot of what passes for office work is not all that important. Government is the most obvious example. Everyone is familiar with the image of the road crew standing around watching one guy work, but that pales in comparison to the government agency.Thousands hiding cubicles watching porn or gambling. The paleocons used to make the point that the expansion of government at all levels is primarily a jobs program. It keeps the troublesome busy.

Anyone who has worked in big corporations or large law firms knows there is plenty of busy work going on in those cubicles too. Some of it is defensive, like human resource departments and safety managers, but a lot of it just sort of happens. Make-work jobs grow on an organization like a fungus. The hospitality industry has always suffered from this more than most. In good times, they hire up, even though the need is not there, but then come the lean times, the extra is cut loose and no one really notices.

The robot came to mind when booking my last physical. I’ve been saying for years that a good chunk of health care could be automated today. Yet, the only growing segment of the labor market, outside of government, is health care. At my doctor’s office, I interact with probably a dozen people during a physical. I know what two of them do and one of them could be replaced by a kiosk. The rest are just women in purple scrubs milling around doing nothing I can identify as medical work or even clerical work.

What’s always been puzzling to me is that I never actually see a doctor. In fact, I have yet to meet my doctor in person. We have communicated by e-mail once or twice. Instead, I deal with a nurse practitioner. Once a year, she asks me the same questions and then types my answers into a laptop. She then gives me a physical examination, sticks her finger in my arse and that’s the end of it. If I was allowed to answer the questions in advance, the whole thing could be done as a drive-thru service.

I noticed when booking the last visit, on-line of course, that the time slot was now 30 minutes. In the past, I was told to be there for an hour. Some of that time was waiting for my turn, but most of the face time with the nurse was the question and answer stuff. The new on-line appointment process had me answering the questions during the booking, rather than in person. I even did the insurance work in advance. I just show up, get naked, get violated, give a blood sample and go on my way.

The truth of it is, most people could get along just fine with Doctor Google and a routing service to guide people in need of services to the correct providers. When I hurt my knee a while back, I met with a dozen people I had no reason to meet, just to get to the correct person. Frustratingly, I knew the service I needed because I knew the injury. I even looked up the possible ways to address the injury. But, I was forced by humans to see a dozen of them first. The robot doctor would never do this to me.

This is just one example of the millions of daily tasks now done by humans in offices that can easily be eliminated with current automation. The fact that it is happening so slowly speaks to how resistant work life is to change. Medical service providers are now being squeezed by insurance companies so the medical providers are looking for savings via automation. One day, reality will come crushing in on the insurance firms and most of those jobs will be automated in the blink of an eye.

The medical services business is a massive racket, that exists as it does primarily due to government. I’ve made the point for years that it would look something like veterinary medicine if not for government. As such, it should be more resistant to the robots than other fields. The fact that it is showing signs of disruption due to automation suggests we will get our first glimpse of the robot revolution in a white collar fields, rather than a blue collar one. The robots are coming for the office workers first.

That will be bring some interesting socio-political ramifications that our rulers seem incapable of pondering. Just look at how they struggle to make sense of the public reaction to wholesale migration. Democrats abandoned working class whites in favor or cheap foreign labor and they remained poleaxed over why these voters abandoned Team Clinton for Team Trump. Imagine what happens when suburban unemployment doubles due to automation. Signaling over trannies is probably not going to work too well.

In case anyone is wondering, Doctor Robot gave me a clean bill of health.

This post has already been linked to 2307 times!

Leave a Reply

56 Comments on "Doctor Robot"

Notify of
avatar
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Tim Newman
Guest

Anyone who has worked in big corporations or large law firms knows there is plenty of busy work going on in those cubicles too.

Try working for a major oil company. You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a giant welfare programme to keep those with an expensive degree occupied. The relationship between activities carried out by employees and actual revenues remains a mystery to me.

A.B. Prosper
Guest

It is a welfare program basically. If we fired nearly all the dead weight everywhere, economies of scale and automation driven efficiency would cause an immediate economic collapse

wages are the ability to fulfill demand basically , too little wages and everyone is bankrupt . hell your future measured as fertility rate is bankrupt or well you have a truly massive welfare state or all of them which is what we have

Karl McHungus
Guest

once we are forced into single payer, you will have to use your own finger, too.

Al from da Nort
Guest
Z Man; Back in the dim past when US businesses worried about Japanese (before they worried about Korean, much less Chinese) competition, we had one of those corporate running gunfights that rarely seem to be settled before being overtaken by events about employing robotic manufacture. The arguments against have some salience today. To wit: Robotic manufacture is both operationally and financially a bad idea. Robots are expensive, pretty task specific (i.e. inflexible), hard to maintain and can’t be temporarily laid off during a downturn to trim expenses. The latter is even more true if one leased the robots to keep… Read more »
CaptainMike
Guest

Personally I am amazed that colleges and universities still exist as overpopulated brick and mortar institutions. 99% of the academic work can be done online, which only leaves the social “experience” of being brainwashed via immersion and peer pressure.
There is a huge push on to automate commercial ships at the moment, so my job/career path is likely to be eliminated within the next 20 years or so. It’s going to be a bizarre couple of decades coming up.

Ryan
Guest

Automated commercial shipping would give the US Navy a nice out when one of its ships crashes because the crew was fornicating instead of navigating.

Member

Captain Mike, I am sorry to hear of your likely fate – you deserve better, given that you probably add a lot of value to the bottom line of those who employ you – certainly more than most airheaded academics running around these days. It is an insane world we live in, isn’t it, when the productive are sacrificed to save the careers of the unproductive?

Leonard Herr
Guest

That’s nothing, just wait until the oldest profession is taken over by robots. It may be the end of humanity as we know it.

Matt
Guest

1 if 3 US adults would consider sex with a robot *cheating*

https://www.statista.com/chart/11390/would-you-have-sex-with-a-robot/

Matt
Guest

1 in 4 men would use the robot. There is a ready made market waiting. Hence innovators are already hard at work.

https://www.thesun.co.uk/tech/2084051/robot-sex-doll-cost-samantha/

Anonymous White Male
Guest
If the robot was very life-like and as pleasant and pleasing as 1950’s American blonde teenage girl, plus was programmed to make a porn star blush, I think 1 in 1.1 men would use a robot. Actually, they would have to be more like an android or a cyborg. Steel against your Johnson is a definite turn-off. But, think about it: Even muzzles and mezkins would use the new and improved Jenna. 3rd world repopulation of White countries would be a moot point. Most men would prefer to avoid the attention and financial vampires called modern women if they could… Read more »
PV van der Byl
Guest
Member
I work in the IT department of a large Fortune 500 company, and the inefficiency is flabbergasting. And I’ve worked in several of these kinds of shops, so I can also add that my current employer is by no means exceptional; most of the employee roster in a big company is dead weight, or participating in mindless paperwork-shuffling. Putting aside the standard Dilbert-esque monologue on life as a cubicle drone, it does make me think about modern economies, and what would happen if businesses truly were in the business of making profit, instead of participating in some strange corporatist make-work… Read more »
Ursula
Guest

Yes, how will our market-based economy have enough consumers to keep it going well? Or will the entire paradigm change?

Member
I’m thinking “Paradigm Shift”. That term tends to get thrown around a little too easily, and there are plenty of automation tut-tutters who will repeat familiar stories about the Chicken Littles of the 19th century who asked what all the farmers would do once food production was automated. But this time is, dare I say it, different. No matter how healthy and vigorous an economy is, there’s only so much fat it can carry. Something to point out is that, this employment catastrophe isn’t going to be the result of The Singularity, or Strong AI. The sad fact (as I… Read more »
cerulean
Guest

“This will further increase and concentrate the control that the tech monopolies hold over our lives, and make them even more powerful strongholds of Progressive SJW totalitarianism.”

This is believable and scary.

Issac
Guest
“I’m a lifelong fiscal “conservative” (whatever that word used to mean), and this is the kind of thing that makes me grit my teeth, and admit that we might have to consider some form of living wage. I’d love to hear a better suggestion, because the only other option might be for the Actual Workers to live in gated communities with robotic sentries and laser drones to keep out the furious mobs.” The walled community is the net result either way. One cannot cultivate a class/cohort around the ethic of productive pro-social labor and another around the mandate of provision… Read more »
Member
Completely true, and it’s the reason that the words “living wage” make me throw up in my mouth a little. I think it would be an absolute catastrophe for the soul of the nation. I simply can’t imagine any way to un-ratchet the Progressive rot in our society, short of civilizational collapse or an overthrow of the government. It seems to take hard times to build a noble people. It’s a truly depressing thought, that peace and prosperity is one of the most destructive things that can happen to a civilization. It seems like two to three generations is about… Read more »
Member
So far automation in medicine has resulted in more employees hired to do less real and more busy work, and higher, not lower costs. The use of electronic medical records is a good case in point. We were told that it would speed up processes, improve efficiency, lower costs, and make it so that more patient-physician face time would be available. In your case, any time saving noticed was gotten by transferring work to you. If you were to ask anyone on staff in that office whether their work load had diminished, my guess is that they would say no,… Read more »
notsothoreau
Guest
I can’t understand why anyone things electronic medical records is a good idea. If it were done correctly, it would flag areas for the doctors. On prednisone? Then a bone density scan and meds to support the adrenals would be in order. Electronic medical records don’t do anything like this. It seems to have been a pay off to the tech companies, forcing hospitals and clinics to buy a lot of computers and software. And let’s not forget how hackable the whole thing is. I have better luck, treating my illness, with a naturopath than with my pulmonologist. The naturopath… Read more »
Ryan
Guest

Just to play ever so slight devil’s advocate, the main cost savings from electronic medical records is not having to pay to store a cubic acre of paper records for 10 years after the facility stops treating patients. And additionally no one will have to search through the miasma to find records anymore. That cost savings is still in the pipeline.

Amateur Brain Surgeon
Guest
Amateur Brain Surgeon

When researching a Doctor these are the two most important questions to be asked:

Is she good looking?
Does she have tiny fingers?

Al from da Nort
Guest

And takes any rings off before the exam. Old military joke about Docs’ enormous academy rings…

Jim in Alaska
Guest

I would add, does she have warm hands?

D&D Dave in the Bubble
Guest
D&D Dave in the Bubble
….”Frustratingly, I knew the service I needed because I knew the injury. I even looked up the possible ways to address the injury. But, I was forced by humans to see a dozen of them first.” If it wasn’t the insurance companies trying to force you to take the most conservative (and cheapest) route by making you see 10 different people, then it was the scam between a bunch of friends at different offices for referrals so they could get their cut of the pie. Much like the lawyer who always had his go to “doctor” when you were in… Read more »
Member

Yep. That licensing regime put in place a hundred years ago really protected you.

Ryan
Guest
I work at a mid sized Plaintiff’s firm. We do almost all our cases on contingency. So we sign clients, front any and all costs, then take roughly half of what we get in terms of a verdict or settlement as fees and covering expenses. There is a lot of procrastination, most work is done at the last minute, but I hardly ever see any unnecessary work happen, unless it’s mandated by law, regulation, or our IT department. As an aside, there is no better guard against the “frivolous lawsuit” than the contingency fee agreement. I have friends who work… Read more »
notsothoreau
Guest

Yeah, I had some pills block my esophogus and had to go into the ER. They wound up doing an endoscopy to clear it all out. The doctor wanted me to make an appointment, a month off, so he could tell me what he found. I felt like he could have taken the five minutes to do it that night. It’s all done to line their pockets

Reluctantreactionary
Guest
I used to work in an automobile manufacturing plant. Robotics were rolled out in a big way back in the early 80’s. Repetitive tasks such as painting or welding unit bodies were automated. Other tasks such as routing cables or harnesses are more challenging for robots. Imagine the difficulty in programming a system to do something as simple as clean a motel room. Magazines have teased about Jetsons style house cleaning robots for a couple of generations, but the design is challenging. I can imagine an alternate history in which eugenics rather than dysgenics was implemented in 1963. Toilet scrubbing… Read more »
Ryan T
Guest

In this drive thru physical, how would the rectal exam work?

Amateur Brain Surgeon
Guest
Amateur Brain Surgeon

Go to the entrance in the back

joe_mama
Guest

You hang your arse out the car window as you go by. Get in, get out.

Drake
Guest

I think Doctors will eventually be the programmers and Quality Controllers of health care. Lower paid people can draw blood, take retinal scans, perform MRIs, etc… The doctors will just be the ones reviewing results, making the official diagnosis, and prescribing treatments.

Member
As you stated, most of the office jobs are going to go away. Technology is going to handle shuffling the paper from one spot to the next. The problem is, we are reaching an automation tipping point. People always like to throw out the buggy whip maker analogy over concerns about automation. However, if you look at earlier waves of automation, they mainly involved shifting people around to similar levels of work. Virtually all of the ditch diggers were competent enough to move to a factory screwing parts together to the ditch digging equipment. Now the automation is killing jobs… Read more »
Member
The thing that will keep lots of people employed is that software doesn’t work very well. It works so poorly that often you need the help of a person to undo a problem that software has caused. Look at all the cell phone stores that are all over the place. There shouldn’t be a need for these places as you should just be able to order a phone online or pull it from a rack at walmart and activate everything online, either on your own computer at home or walmart’s wifi using the device you are trying to activate. Yet… Read more »
Member

My wife is a doctor. They may have “eliminated” manpower from some of their record keeping sections, but she has the software support at Epic on speed dial for when the software malfunctions or crashes.

guest
Guest

Here in former Yugoslavia people would joke how we pretend to work and the government pretends to pay us.

Outdoorspro (former)
Guest

To join the chorus,

I work in the medical lab and the automation is already here. Clearly, the big advances in medical laboratory tech came about in the 80’s, when three things were developed into what is now relatively cheap: robotics, computers and lasers. Those three things form the foundation of nearly every laboratory analyzer.

What I find comical, is that we call ourselves “medical laboratory SCIENTISTS”. The reality is that we are, for most of us, simple technicians. Yes, we understand what those tests mean, but we spend all of our time maintaining machines.

Member
Short of a quantum leap advance in AI, mostly robots will shift employment much the same way that electric vehicles shift, but do not eliminate or massively reduce, energy consumption. Trade jobs (electricians, painters, HVAC, etc.) are going to be safe for a really long time. Jobs that are considered high tech “STEM” jobs today (think “robot repair” and software development) will be the trade jobs of the next generation of workers. Until robots can change bedpans, don’t expect the medical field to see much of a decrease in employment. This is particularly true as the population ages. I would… Read more »
Member

Drive-by prostate exams conjures up a lot of interesting images.

ed in texas
Guest

Fact is, most of the people you interact with on a doctor’s visit are there to block any attempt to file a malpractice claim. They make sure that the rote questions are asked and the answers are recorded. No one is allowed to directly approach the MD at the apex; must protect the king.
Kinda like the layers in the Mafia, to keep anybody away from the top guy.

CaptDMO
Guest

“sticks her finger in my arse and that’s the end of it.”
How odd, if you’re old enough that she’s giving digital prostate exam, she SHOULD be fondling your balls as well!

Karl McHungus
Guest

not on Zman’s HMO plan. Ball fondling is only covered by a PPO plan.

abelard Lindsey
Guest

Domo Arigato, Roboto-san!

Member
A few weeks ago my boys 100 Lb pointer stopped eating and stated drinking gallons of water. After a couple of days we took him to the vet, he had a full exam and an xray. No sign of anything so a full range of anti-biotics and a few cans of extra virtuous food. Two day’s later no change except for the squirts. Back to the Vet. Xray, sonogram, nothing. Three days later back again, this time an observably visible mass in the the colon had appeared. Dog in overnight, operated on next day, pieces of kitchen rug removed two… Read more »
james wilson
Guest

35 grand? Ha.

TomA
Guest

The big picture here is that we will accelerate the devolution of the species because the new paradigm will reward parasitism at the expense of productivity. This inevitably leads to a cancer-like population dysfunction when the attendant social pathologies become dominant and destructive. The only viable alternative is to artificially create an environment of extreme hardship and force everyone to aggressively compete for resources.

Bob
Guest

“the whole thing could be done as a drive-thru service”

Well I hope you are backing through.

Member
Modern healthcare has been resistant, thus far at any rate, to automation and the turmoil of 21st century economics because it is a cartel whose goal is not the maximization of patient satisfaction and health, but protection of the turf of medical professionals – physicians, pharmacists, nurses, physical therapists, and the rest. The healthcare field has insulated itself from the worst of the changes affecting the rest of the economy by use of what Charles Hugh Smith accurately terms a “complexity fortress.” The complexity surrounding healthcare is intended to limit entry into its various fields, thereby keeping the number of… Read more »
UKer
Guest
‘Frustratingly, I knew the service I needed because I knew the injury’ My wife, here in England, had a bad knee and went to see numerous people in our much-vaunted (at least by the socialists among us) NHS with not much progress. Finally her doctor sent her to see a hip specialist, who was utterly mystified why she had been sent to him. A few weeks later she met a man with a similar problem, though he had a dodgy heart but his doctor eventually sent him to see a brain injury specialist who announced he could find nothing wrong.… Read more »
Brianguy
Guest

The **** County Highway Dept. where I live in WI has had several layoffs in ’17. Yeah apparently they found shovels that will stand up by themselves.

Brianguy
Guest
As a side note, in my industry of railroading Positive Train Control will be fully implemented by 2018. PTC is a collision prevention system which is what we believe is the testing ground for what eventually will become crewless trains. PTC was rushed to the front of the line after 2008’s Chatsworth Ca. Metrolink doing a header into a Union Pacific freight killing 25. As a result of that crash they implemented a cell phone ban on us while running trains. I’m fine with that. PTC is being tested on a portion of my railroad down in Louisiana. I hear… Read more »
dad29
Guest

The medical services business is a massive racket, that exists as it does primarily due to government.

Well, one COULD make the case that lawyers are also a significant part of the problem

Michael
Guest

In 2013 a Watson algorithm beat the oncology department at Sloan-Kettering:

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/ibm-watson-medical-doctor

Scotcho
Guest

my doctor told me that putting a finger up the butt is no longer in practice as part of a routine physical.

FaCubeItches
Guest

Robots are easily kept out of offices by way of licensing requirements. Plus, since robots won’t be paid, and thus won’t pay taxes, the government will make sure that only humans can be licensed.

wpDiscuz