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> more and more of this planet's 'productivity' is concentrating more and more in the hands of those who produce the AI automations.

Sometimes I think folks who think like this really need to get outside more. Yes, a lot of things are being automated, but (a) consider the janky quality of automation, because it's really not mature yet even in purely-software environments where everything can be controlled, and (b) consider the raw cost of doing it vs. the productivity savings and side effects. It's just not worth it for a lot of things and won't be until we have general-purpose AI and general-purpose robotic workers that can take on human-scale jobs. Even then, it might still be cheaper to get actual people in a lot of cases.

But even if so: as someone who implements something you might call automation, like most here, I have to ask: why is it exactly that I should owe a massive amount of my economic output to those who aren't outputting anything? At what point do I simply say "fuck it" and stop working too, because some ridiculous percentage of my income has to be applied towards feeding those who won't/can't/don't do anything productive?




> Sometimes I think folks who think like this really need to get outside more. Yes, a lot of things are being automated, but (a) consider the janky quality of automation, because it's really not mature yet even in purely-software environments where everything can be controlled, and (b) consider the raw cost of doing it vs. the productivity savings and side effects. It's just not worth it for a lot of things and won't be until we have general-purpose AI and general-purpose robotic workers that can take on human-scale jobs. Even then, it might still be cheaper to get actual people in a lot of cases.

I think that's the general mental mismatch that people have when thinking there's a 1:1 match between the present human job and the future 'robot job'.

Cashiers is the most common job in America and the biggest job loss to automation in the coming years. But it's not some Boston Dynamics humanoid fumbling your quarters around. Nor does it have anything to do with general-intelligence AI. It's simply the task specific orange forklift bots in Amazon warehouses that's wiping out American retail because with that bot, stuff on Amazon is a bit cheaper than in malls.

> But even if so: as someone who implements something you might call automation, like most here, I have to ask: why is it exactly that I should owe a massive amount of my economic output to those who aren't outputting anything? At what point do I simply say "fuck it" and stop working too, because some ridiculous percentage of my income has to be applied towards feeding those who won't/can't/don't do anything productive?

I think that's the core question. Why are you giving away your hard earned money to feeding your child? There is no GDP output from the child.


> Why are you giving away your hard earned money to feeding your child? There is no GDP output from the child.

There will be, eventually; and I get to glorify my selfish genes.


>Sometimes I think folks who think like this really need to get outside more. Yes, a lot of things are being automated, but (a) consider the janky quality of automation, because it's really not mature yet even in purely-software environments where everything can be controlled, and (b) consider the raw cost of doing it vs. the productivity savings and side effects.

That just pushes the problem some decades into the future.

Besides, it doesn't have to be perfect. It's enough that it renders a good chunk (say 20-60%) of the population useless job wise to have adverse effects.

In fact, if it wasn't for tons of paper-pushing and busywork serving as a sort of job program and UBI scheme, we'd be in deep shit already, just from the job migration to China and co, never mind AI.

>But even if so: as someone who implements something you might call automation, like most here, I have to ask: why is it exactly that I should owe a massive amount of my economic output to those who aren't outputting anything? At what point do I simply say "fuck it" and stop working too, because some ridiculous percentage of my income has to be applied towards feeding those who won't/can't/don't do anything productive?

For one, because they can get guns and come and blow your brains out and steal your food. So now you need to pay for cops, and government, or your private militia and so on.

Second, because your quality of life, even if ultra rich will drop quickly in a failed country, when people are unemployed and not "outputting anything". In fact the whole country might go down the drain...


This comment is excellent and needs to be emphasized more.

> Besides, it doesn't have to be perfect. It's enough that it renders a good chunk (say 20-60%) of the population useless job wise to have adverse effects.

Ya - within the US at least (current unemployment around 3%?), it does not even have to be at 20 - 60%. My feeling is that even 10 - 15% unemployment or below living wages would lead to revolts, especially if the unemployment is somewhat geographically concentrated.


Okay, Mr. Galt.

You owe a massive amount of your economic output to others because you stand on the shoulders of people who are standing on the shoulders of people who are standing on the shoulders of people... and it's not a simple pyramid, but one giant ball of interdependence that will be thrown into chaos if a critical mass of people try to buck off their riders.

You can't pay the guy specifically holding you up, and not anyone else, because no one can truly identify their keystone supporters. So you pay a bunch of free riders, too, because that's the only way to ensure your supporters stay happy enough to carry you. And they may think that you aren't outputting anything of value to them, and they only carry you because they can't tell who's throwing all the bread down from above.

I pay freeloaders, because I don't want to fall off the ball, onto my fat ass, and fend for myself, using only what I had on hand when I dropped.

If someone engineered a more efficient society, where everyone has a useful and necessary role, for which they each have an individual advantage, and waste is unsupportable--such as for bootstrapping an off-Earth colony--I might join that, but then still accept that I will implicitly be supporting future generations of freeloaders by accumulating capital that will outlast me.

You don't want an accounting on what you are truly worth to society at large. Trust me.


> I pay freeloaders, because I don't want to fall off the ball, onto my fat ass, and fend for myself, using only what I had on hand when I dropped.

Ok, fine, but if taxes get high enough, along with the benefits, you can expect some people to stop caring and start becoming freeloaders themselves.

Don't be surprised when people just say "screw it, this isn't worth it anymore, I am going to become a freeloader myself".


In my experience there are a lot of people working who would make industry more efficient if they could just freeload instead of faking it.


>Ok, fine, but if taxes get high enough, along with the benefits, you can expect some people to stop caring and start becoming freeloaders themselves.

Some people yes. Good riddance from productivity to them.

The people with actual internal motivation would do inventions, great work, art, programming, etc, even if they're not getting mega-rich from it.

It might slow the speed of mega-corps and new gadgets every month, but perhaps that's just what the doctor ordered. More quality, less greedy obsolescence, longer term products, more personal vision (as opposed quick-buck-schemes).


People are already starting to do this, in a time of immense economic prosperity. Look around at the "able-homeless" in the SF bay area.


That's self-limiting, because if that happens, it drives inflation, which drives the real benefit levels down at the same nominal benefit level, which makes fewer people feel like they can afford to opt out. As long as benefits are tied to revenues rather than inflation-indexed, negative feedback market forces limit opt-outs.


> At what point do I simply say "fuck it" and stop working too, because some ridiculous percentage of my income has to be applied towards feeding those who won't/can't/don't do anything productive?

Econ 101 opinion here, so I'm ignoring totally reasonable things like "people work for reasons other than monetary compensation" and assuming you're a rational participant in the economy, but I'd say there is no percentage at which you'd do that.

No matter how high a percentage is taken, you can always increase the topline number to make the bottom line number come out ahead of not working. I'd take a 99% tax on $1 billion/year over $14k/year in social insurance taxed at 0% if it were offered.

Anyway, isn't this similar to what the comp of people implementing something you might call automation is already doing in US tech hubs? We've had relatively low inflation in the US over the past decade (by CPI, anyway) but I can find you an article by Joel Spolsky from the aughts lamenting the fact that some tech companies were paying top new grads nearly $100k a year.


This is incorrect as the time-value of money is different for different people. If the choice is between a high pressure job with ~$100k after tax earnings or a mid pressure job with ~$70k after tax earnings, where the high pressure one is at a 90% bracket vs. the 50% bracket of the lower one, rational people may decide on the lower impact job.


> but I'd say there is no percentage at which you'd do that.

Huh? If I were getting, I don't know, 200k a year, for free, I'd probably quit.

Of course there is a level where that vast majority of people would simply not work anymore.

Rich people do this literally all the time. It's called "retirement".


There is a big factor that you are missing when it come to huge taxes. And that is the fact that people, especially the wealthy, are mobile.

Tax the wealthiest 0.01% at 99% and watch how fast they leave the country for low tax regions.

It already happens with people like the Facebook cofounder that renounced US citizenship.


I hear this a lot. I will believe it when I see it. Silicon Valley is crazy expensive. Why do people go there? Why don't the wealthy of Silicon Valley live someplace cheaper?

Because that is where the action and the talent is. It's not just about money and cost of living.

Also the 0.01 are so absurdly wealthy many are pledging to give away their money. They are not going to move away from their homeland because they are taxed more.



> why is it exactly that I should owe a massive amount of my economic output to those who aren't outputting anything? At what point do I simply say "fuck it" and stop working too, because some ridiculous percentage of my income has to be applied towards feeding those who won't/can't/don't do anything productive?

There's no easy way of attributing value to invention. Does the inventor / automator really deserve all of the profit that would come from such automation for all of eternity?

What if another person was only 2 months behind in making the same invention? And 2 months after that, a 3rd person was destined to, and within 2 years, the idea would be so obvious that the top 5 percentile of that profession would have been able to come up with the same thing? Why should the first person / company to automate something deserve an eternal monopoly on the output of said automation?


And exactly how is the output of an automated system "your output"? The output of setting up an automated system is, the automated system. The output of that system is, surely an interesting question at least.




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