The End of Work: The Decline of the Global Labor Force and the Dawn of the Post-Market Era is a non-fiction book by American economist Jeremy Rifkin, published in 1995 by Putnam Publishing Group.
In 1995, Rifkin contended that worldwide unemployment would increase as information technology eliminates tens of millions of jobs in the manufacturing, agricultural and service sectors. He traced the devastating impact of automation on blue-collar, retail and wholesale employees. While a small elite of corporate managers and knowledge workers reap the benefits of the high-tech world economy, the American middle class continues to shrink and the workplace becomes ever more stressful.
As the market economy and public sector decline, Rifkin predicted the growth of a third sector—voluntary and community-based service organizations—that will create new jobs with government support to rebuild decaying neighborhoods and provide social services. To finance this enterprise, he advocated scaling down the military budget, enacting a value added tax on nonessential goods and services and redirecting federal and state funds to provide a "social wage" in lieu of welfare payments to third-sector workers.
He was mostly laughed at.
The objection I often hear (and I recall that this is PG's stance as well) is that as old jobs disappear new ones will take their place. For example, as the article mentioned, the former toll booth operator could now repair the automated toll booth system.
So far this general idea has been true. Before computers existed as we know them, "computers" were people who did lengthy computations for a living, often for scientists. Once electronic computers arrived these people seemingly found new jobs and survived.
I'm not sure if this will continue to be the case. We may be reaching a discontinuous point on the economic timeline. If robotic and computer systems are developed that can effectively do the jobs of most humans for less than minimum wage, there won't be enough work for people to make a good living.
The key difference is the following: in the past, technology has only disrupted specific segments of the economy, allowing humans to find work other places where they could still add value. Now, technology has the potential to disrupt the majority of the economy. There won't be any work to do.
There will still be pockets where humans can add value, but there will be so much competition for this work by all the unemployed that the wages will be driven down to nil.
If this situation occurs, the Government will have to find a way to distribute resources directly to the masses lest every sitting politician be voted out of office. In fact, all the rhetoric right now about creating jobs is exactly that. Politicians are promising that they'll find a way to distribute resources to the unemployed.
In the Star Trek economy (afaik), the inwention of the replicator was key to the end of money and the end of a scarcity based economy.
Well, we already have a replicator for much of the economy
So maybe this is good and we can all become Platos, relaxing, philosophizing, self-actualizing at the top of Maslow's pyramid. If so, it should be reasonable to convince everyone to go the Star Trek way and jettison money.
What will be dangerous, is dangerous, is the transition periods like now, where jobs that are lost, never come back, not just because they have been automated away, but also because the owners would rather pay more for automation and less human involvement because they find humans to be a big pain. At that point (which is sort of like now) it is hard to convince others that it is reasonable to distribute resources to the masses.
I would certainly like to see a single payer, universal health care system implemented that separates health care from monolithic employers. That, and I'd love to see actual real encouragement and incentivization of small business entrepreneurship.
Remove the barriers that big companies have on us. Make it easy and rewarding for people to create their own jobs, form their own companies, on a semi-permanent or even ad-hoc way.
Oh well, pie in the sky.
I'm a fan of Kurzweil and am convinced that many of his predictions will come true. However, he paints a rosy picture of the future and glosses over any potential conflict in the transition between between now and when he predicts that humans will merge with machines, which he pegs at 2099.
There is definitely going to be conflict as we move to a post-scarcity world.
Yes! Society as the kernel/API, entrepreneurs as userland tools / third-party services, with free reins to innovate and build on top of the base.
I'm neither right- or left-wing. I'm up-wing. I want the best of all alternatives. Too bad that the mainstream is stuck in the XOR mentality...
This is Hacker News at Y-Combinator. The whole idea is there's nothing stopping you. Open a browser & text editor and write your own paycheck.
Advocate compulsory redistribution, however, and you build those barriers yourself.
I tend to agree. Up until about a year ago I was working as a cinema projectionist for a very successful UK cinema chain. It was a decent job, right up until the point where the company announced a plan to completely replace all 35mm projectors with new digital machines. Now, up until this point we had maybe 3 Digital projectors already installed and we had become quite fond of them, they had a lot of problems and were much less reliable than the 35mm machines but hey, progress is progress.
The real problem was that the company intended to make every single one of us redundant in the same move, as they had some crack-pot idea that the digital projectors would "practically run themselve" (which we knew from experience would never work). This is when I realised that the old myth of "as old jobs disappear new ones will take their place" wasn't true. The company had no intention of generating new work, each cinema site would simply shift the work of running the new projection suite onto the existing (overworked and underpaid) management staff, and the work of maintaining the macines would shift to the existing (overworked and underpaid) technical crew, who were already zipping up and down the country 364 days per year.
The company could have generated some new work to replace the jobs that were lost, but ultimately they don't _want_ to do that. It's much more in the companys interests to jettison as much of their workforce as possible. Fortunately for myself, I had already decided to go back to school and get a degree in software development. Better to be at the devils right hand than in his path. :)
It's not technology that's really killing the labour-force, it's companies who jump at the opportunity to get rid of thousands of employees and essentially delete their productivity from the economy.
In your example, either the company bought new, more technologically advanced digital projectors that actually do need much less supervision and maintenance, or their plan simply failed and they had to re-hire people to run and repair the projectors after they had some expensive downtime and/or management and technical staff burnt out or quit.
The jobs are very unlikely to be created at the point of elimination. The theory is that the jobs will be created somewhere else. And remember, somewhere else is now global.
If the levels automation rise to crazy levels, and there are cheaper and greener sources to energy to drive them. Then Food, Clothing and Shelter won't be much of a problem. We will get those three things without much effort. In other words, you can survive without doing anything.
But you will still pay for Opera, a concert, you will pay to visit a art gallery. You will still pay for quality entertainment. You will continue to pay for a costly vacation in a foreign country. You will pay to find out the deepest secrets of the universe and traveling to get there. Somebody might invent an organic fruit which might taste nothing like before, and you might have to pay just to taste it. There might be narcotic drugs that take you heaven without killing you, and you might pay for it etc etc. .Our goals as a society will be different. But we will still have to work to meet them.
There will be reasons for humans to exist, but those will be very different reasons.
If the toll collector had the skills, or the ability or inclination to acquire the skills to do something like fixing automated toll booth systems, they probably wouldn't have taken a job as a toll collector.
Just like those self-scanner checkouts at the supermarket, where you've got one guy supervising five or ten checkouts, where previously he would have had five or ten colleagues working.
Consider the humble spreadsheet, arguably the most powerful business innovation of the last 50 years. Now that people can calculate complex models in hours, not weeks, have the fields of corporate finance and forecasting gone away? Hardly. If anything, more work gets packed into each day to fill the vacuum left by not having to crunch numbers on paper for days on end. And the level of sophistication going into deal analysis has increased, allowing people to spend more time planning and less time bean-counting.
Sure, some jobs have been in outright decline since the rise of technology. Secretaries, human computers (sorry, Frank Herbert!), many factory workers, and so forth. But the net amount of work to be done hasn't decreased. If anything, it's increased dramatically. It's just shifted to the knowledge-worker side. And knowledge workers' workloads have skyrocketed. All of this technology has actually made us busier and more productive, because it has allowed us to do more each day.
The theory that technology replaces the need for X or Y work is based on the flawed assumption that the total need for X or Y work remains static over time. In the knowledge worker's domain, it does not. It turns out that meeting the need for X and Y actually increases the need for, or at least the expectation of, more X and Y. In this sense, I tend to agree with PG's argument (and the arguments of those like him).
hours-of-work-per-day = wealth ÷ productivity
Looking at the current trends, I'd say wealth absorbs only a (big) fraction of the productivity gains. Which means unemployment.
Also, technology is also a poor business decision if it costs more than existing methods taking into account increases in productivity.
It seems we have passed the tipping point for unskilled/blue collar and a good portion of white-collar labor. The future doesn't need the bottom 90% at all.
My guess is that the demand will switch to other services as well, like the nannies you mentioned and better education and other wealthy-person services: personal trainers, nutrition, leisure, party/wedding planners, clothing advisors, gourmet cooking. There will also be a lot of services needed for the elderly.
Of course, competition will be cut-throat, but those jobs that cannot be made more efficient or paralellized (those with a high amount of in-person involvement) will sustain the new middle class.
Yes, people can move to service work but there's not much demand for it. I live near Monaco and the people I know who could easily afford such domestic help tend to get by with less than you would expect.
Besides, do we want it to be 10% has the other 90% working for them doing cleaning and cooking?
In fact, the field has leveled so much, that the rich can't get more bang for their buck. I spent $2,500 on a maxed out MBA, but my super rich friend can't spend $25,000 or $250,000 to get something better. Same goes for iPads, iPods, iPhones, anything in technology.
Another example is Gmail. It's free, and arguably it's the best there is. Rich businessman are stuck in email for most of the day, but they can't do better what I get for free in Gmail. (In fact, they're probably using suckier corporate email.)
It's not food, it's not medicine, but this phenomenon is still pretty notable if you ask me.
What is an example of an industry where gains to productivity don't benefit everyone? Gains to productivity in farming enable the price of food to drop. Gains to productivity in housing enable the price of housing to drop. How does it only benefit the rich?
Even if the price does not drop directly as a first-order effect (such as if the company whose productivity is boosted keeps the difference as a profit), it will eventually through market pressure; a new price equilibrium will be established. In perfectly competitive market (such as food) a competitor will use the productivity boost to lower costs and undercut the first. The resulting competition will lower the market place. Productivity gains lower prices (real prices), benefiting everyone.
Mainly I think discussions of any squishy data set carry a lot more weight once we throw out some outliers and general purpose computers are a definite outlier.
Food production in the US is one of the most heavily subsidized (i.e., artificially manipulated) sections of the economy.
Unless I have steadier access to food, shelter, healthcare, and a safe society, I don't think it should count as a productivity gain or increase in standard of living.
The way I see people used eat, get cured of disease and live how we live today. Without the traditional definition of a job as we know today.
People will have to continue to work to make a living. But it may not necessarily be a job meant in the sense of working for large corporate etc.
The only solution would be to start increasing the quality of the immaterial and material products, putting more and more human effort to designing each one, but I think pretty much the opposite has been happening.
To me this seems like a natural consequence of a market-based economy, which will by default try to minimize costs and labor until they approach zero. So eventually we'll have robots that build more robots and produce everything we need, while the majority of human kind is unemployed.
Not that I'm an expert on economics, just trying to think about it logically.
- The rise of *aaS
- The mindset of maximizing profits and and minimize expense
Some of us have said a few times in the past: building software is expensive.
Some of us have also said a few times in the past that: good programmers are expensive.
Put two together and you get a recipe as to why more companies shy away from custom-development and prefer to build IT based on OOB + small tweaks.
I've been seeing a growing demand of Microsoft Office 365 + Sharepoint Online + Dynamics CRM Online as opposed to in-house installation or using Basecamp.NEXT + Backpack (yes, SP Online is equal to Basecamp.NEXT + Backpack). Some companies don't necessarily put top premium for nice UI or super simple easy and friendly software.
Open Source software is also impacted with the rise of the cloud: in certain area of software, if the cost of the commercial offering is less than installing+maintaining Open Source software, then that particular area of software for Open Source probably will die eventually (e.g.: Open Source bug tracking and project management software => Is it more expensive to install+maintain Trac vs paying GitHub/FogCreek/Atlassian to host everything?)
We might be slowly eating ourselves as well (in the context of IT). Whether we can produce something new, innovative, and exciting, faster than we can eat is yet to be seen.
PS: There are industries with unique requirements and regulations, these industries might pay for expensive custom software until one day a new software will arise and effectively kill customization in the said industry.
Aren't these companies more vulnerable to disruption? If there productivity is very low, and they don't provide digital solutions. This means they can't go bankrupt by competitive and high-tech competition (like Netflix did)
The question is "when they will go away?" It's very likely when the cost of implementing the technology is cheaper than hiring many workers.
When comparing Basecamp vs SharePoint Online, there are people who don't care of the warm fuzzy feeling of Basecamp.NEXT "paper" UI and would probably go with SharePoint Online due to Microsoft brand.
Sure, a lot of people might just become layabouts doing nothing. But are they really doing much right now, by enduring crappy jobs that add marginal value?
Other people might unlock vast reservoirs of creativity which would bring great positive externalities to society, if they didn't have to spend their productive hours on such a trite problem as survival.
The problem is not that they're "doing nothing", it's that they're actively increasing their burden to the working society by having an unsustainable amount of children.
They're also REJECTING job offers (80% of those getting the emergency wage). And many of those job offers were for a good wage by local standards.
It may sound fascist, but I'd like people to be able to support themselves before having children.
The idea of a citizen's wage sounds nice in theory, but implementation opens a big can of worms.
There's plenty of work available, on the second link above, Alberto Iglesias, the president of the Farmer's federation acknowledged that (losing the wage if you get employed) makes it very difficult to get labor to harvest fruit and vegetables. "Crews have been decimated at an alarming rate""
There's also a labor shortage for construction work, at wages above the country's mean, and higher than the "Plan de emergencia" wage, but of course, you don't have to work for that one, so that's the one people choose.
It also goes agains the link the parent posted, which was what I was partly refuting:
"a regular “paycheck” just for being alive, a paycheck sufficient to support basic human needs, with no means-test nor any rules on how it could be used"
"Without enactment of legislation by the end of this month, the Postal Service faces default, as funds will be insufficient to make a congressionally mandated $5.5 billion payment to pre-fund retiree health benefits, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe told a Senate committee today."
This was a manufactured crisis, passed by a lame duck Republican congress in 2006. See Title VIII - Postal Service Retirement and Health Benefits Funding in the following link:
Yes - E-mail has made an impact on the USPS' bottom line, but it's because of POLITICS that the USPS is in such bad shape.
Screw any politician who crows about "creating jobs". I would support one who can create careers. Won't happen.
The 600,000 the article mentioned were mostly of this type, I presume (not the part time maybe, but the other two).
E.g. Secretarial/bureaucracy type jobs which rarely pay more then $15/hour, and usually ~$10/hour, are quickly being replaced with computers.
> Careers? Full time, living wage that can support a family, full benefits packages? Those are becoming obsolete, and fast.
I wouldn't say obsolete. I doubt they're growing at the same rate of the population, but there are still many fields where building a career is a reasonable venture.
Psychologically, people seem to have a basic need to do something productive with at least a good chunk of their time, and jobs do fulfill this important need. The jobs might become more abstract and more indirectly removed from everyday necessities, and hours might even drop, but I don't think they'd go away.
To wit: the recession and slow recovery of the last
couple of years are just that, a recession and slow
recovery--they aren't a harbinger to the end of
capitalism or conventional labor or employment.
Even though Rushkoff believes that automation is killing jobs, he doesn't believe that the alternative he proposes is inevitable. He just invites us to consider it.
Too bad we have probably billions of human beings not contributing towards that progress.
We need people motivated to enter the sciences and engineering disciplines to make the future happen. We will probably see our means of survival fully automated in our lifetimes, and besides the imminent highly coupled crisis of global warming / overpopulation / resource depletion this century, we will probably emerge from it in a state where no person born will ever need to toil to survive to the next day.
We might even get to the point where people don't die, or aren't bound to biological form.
But we are too busy complaining about celebrities on TV and our neighbors to have a collective motivation towards progress. The greatest problem to solve in the 21st century is one of motivating people to tackle hard problems to progress the whole of humanity, en masse.
Unifying people into action is historically only possible by getting them to engage in shared values and beliefs. We need culture, politics, philosophy and, dare I say it, religion to motivate people into tackling these problems. Promoting science beyond these seems unlikely to result in the kind of Utopian vision you are talking about.
Also, is toiling always such a bad thing? Hard work can be rewarding too.
How are we to create sustainable jobs if we keep taxing, regulating, etc... such that we increase the requirement for marginal productivity of labor in order to turn a profit?
Basically, on-the-job training and low skills employment could be made more profitable by making it so that there is some room left for the free market. If they have lower non-employment costs, then they will be able to hire less productive people. This drives demand for employment, and thus, wages.
But I'm not suggesting that this will ever happen. ;) Some people in power pay lip service to the free market while attacking it, and others aren't shy about attacking it. We create "make work" jobs that come at the cost of companies and individuals. If it didn't come at the cost of companies and individuals their costs would be lower. If enough wiggle room was given, on-the-jobs training would be possible, and low-skills labor more profitable.
As of April, the US will have the highest corporate tax rate in the world. This approach doesn't seem to be solving the inequality of wealth problem, and it doesn't look like it's giving people a way to earn their living.
Namely, taxing reduces whatever that is taxed. Taxing work makes work less desirable, and sometimes not worth to be done at all. Taxes should target things that are unnecessary or harming.
Thus, income shouldn't be taxed at all. Conversely, consumption should be taxed with a VAT roughly equal to the lost income tax. Food could certainly be taxed less than cars but the general rule should be that you're taxed for consuming. Because income wouldn't be taxed, people's purchasing power would increase but taxing the consumption would make them think twice where they spend their money. Consider that this is the opposite of the current situation: people are all pre-taxed (=license to consume) and items and products are so cheap they can get spent money on and ultimately discarded without anyone blinking an eye.
The issue is value capture -- who derives the benefit of this value creation, and how?
If a human being does a job, they're compensated through wages. Machines have owners, which earn income in exchange for the productive output of their machines.
There are a lot of ways to earn income besides having a job. The sooner people realize this, the sooner we'll get beyond this absurd "job creation" mentality around which so much of modern politics revolves.
The article doesn't mention Lanier's extensive writing on what he calls Digital Maoism: the notion that collectives always solve problems better than individuals, who should give their digital content away for free. If there were some way of monetizing this digital content that did not benefit only a few well-positioned social networking hubs and that did not require draconian intellectual property legislation (which mainly benefits a few monopolists), then there might be some hope.
I honestly feel that the way our government is run by lawyers (who seem to actually believe in this silly idea of an IP-based economy) is the reason so much manufacturing has fled the country. Americans today just don't know the value of mining, manufacturing, and agriculture. Germany and Switzerland didn't make this mistake. They love and value manufacturing and look where their economies are.
(And by the way kids, get off my lawn :-)
Disclaimer: Copied from the comments on the original article.
If my assumption is correct, let me reply- land has real value. This is for two reasons.
First, everybody occupies space. We all live somewhere; space is valuable because we all have to occupy it, the same way that food is valuable because we all have to eat.
Second, all wealth originates from two sources; human labor/effort, and natural resources. Natural resources are harvested from land.
Thus, the competition over plots of land will go away only if land becomes so plentiful (or humans become so scarce) its value is unimportant, AND resources become so plentiful their value is also nominal. An example is air; it has little value, even though we all have to breathe, because there is so much of it.
Could we even get there with our current basic cultural value being that if you don't work, you have no value?
I think the major problems are:
- People like nicer food/nicer homes. Some (most?) of this is social signalling, some not. Some of the signalling issues could perhaps be addressed by raising the level of the basic provision, I'm unsure. (Basically, there will always be scarcity of some things and they can be used for signalling).
- Advanced human interaction/daily interest. For many/most people, working from home is in some ways less satisfying than working in an office environment (it may be better in other ways). I mean lack of social interaction in etc. Similarly full time mothers/fathers bemoan the lack of grown up contact/use of their higher mental faculties etc.
Lots of the issues are fixable with culture changes, but I suspect we'd need to be closer to full abundance before we could make much progress there.
If I had a home, food and health care as a basic right, what I would do? Raise my child with undivided attention, care and love. Try to make his environment a happy, safe and stimulating place. The kind of stuff that modern society apparently considers optional, or not valuable at all.
Here's an example. Let's say I am capable of earning $160,000 a year, if I work 5 days a week in a role that is optimally suited to my skills. The problem is that this role leaves me with little time for my family (or other projects) and an excess of money. What I really want is to work 2 days a week for a salary of $64,000.
The above is hard to do in the current employment system. The closest options seem to be:
1) Take part time work. Typically part time work pays a much lower hourly rate, so to get my $64,000, I'm having to work 5 days/week. No gain, only pain.
2) Go into contracting. Fine for a single person, but too unstable with dependents.
3) Work for some number of years, then quit for a number of years. Demolishes the CV, making it hard to return to work, and leads to an unbalanced all or nothing relationship with the family.
4) Doesn't seem to exist.
Option 4) might be a company that specialises in allowing high value people to work limited hours, at what they do best. It would require a new way of organising things.
a) Systems to eliminate the "fixed cost" of employing someone, allowing many people to be employed in place of one, at the same cost.
b) Systems to allow multiple people to efficiently time share on a task.
c) Systems to allow people to rapidly pick up where they left off on a task.
d) Systems to allow a person to remain up to speed on a discipline, even with restricted working hours (ie. reducing the fixed cost to the employee).
It would be interesting to see how such a company would go competing against traditional a company of full-time employees. Assuming the negatives a)-d), above, could be solved, the benefits would be:
i) A fresh, productive, low stress, "burn out free" workforce.
ii) With some flexability of hours by healthy workers, the elimination of holes in the workforce, due sickness or unexpected events.
iii) The ability to very rapidly bring extra resources to bear (eg. some people work 4 days/week) under special circumstances.
iv) A larger employment pool, by including people who would would normally be precluded from full-time work. (How to make the model work well while not eliminating those who want a full-time job.)
Points a)-d) would seem to be fodder for a start-up, which would dog food its own system. The selling point could a competitive advantage, delivered by points i)-iv).
EDIT: formatting + spelling
Also consider that adding more people to a team increases communication overhead, regardless of whether they are part time or full time: n*(n-1)/2. So there's a further loss of efficiency with replacing a small number of full time workers with a larger number of part time workers.
I think the problems are solvable and what's more, I think that whoever cracks the problem will be able to deliver a sustainable competitive advantage, and that is worth money.
But in 2000s, we are slowly killing work itself and replacing it with automaton.
Without a world with religion or necessary work, I wonder, what is there for (majority of) humans to "cling to"? Without distractions, won't their "freedom" drive them insane? Without God and profession, what would give meaning to their life?
I believe that able bodied people and their families who don't have means of earning money should be supported in clean and safe tent cities and incentivized to put effort into accepting and working with training programs and education. Incentives might be things like cable TV, etc. in their housing.
No one should starve to death or go hungry in our country. People who simply don't want to work or accept training and education should get fewer perks in life, but should still have enough to be happy if that is the lifestyle they want.
All children should have good educational opportunities, including free meals at school if they need them.
New jobs always pop up though. The problem with this logic is that because all of today's jobs will likely be automated in the future you think everyone will be unemployed, but in reality you just can't fathom what the jobs of the future will look like. Can you imagine trying to describe to someone that lives in 1900 your job description? You write code for a living? You're a computer scientist? Wtf is that? They pay you to just sit there all day and press buttons?
We may no longer strive for food, clothing and shelter. Many things may come automatically. But we will have to still work to make a living for many things like medicine, travel, vacations etc but the basic stuff may all come at cheaper prices.
There will still be 'rich' and 'poor' people. People will pay for greater things. The poor will no longer strive for basic survival, but they will have to strive for luxury.
The whole point is the definition of poverty and luxury will change. And we are likely to have better standards of living at the lowest levels.
I can't imagine people running out of productive things to do. After all, can making movies be automated? How about becoming a professional dancer or athlete? Writing books? Building a custom car? Making art of any sort? Elder care (a booming business as baby boomers age)? Research? Tutoring?
There have never been greater opportunities for productive work than now.
There is, of course, no shortage of productive work, but getting paid for that productive work is another matter.
But we still feel the flutter of our primal fears for survival, even in the abstraction, and fight to the death over increasingly excessive piles of wealth, as if we might not "survive". And because we do that, in the global picture not everyone DOES survive. If you are convinced you do not have enough to survive, it's very hard to share.
Even worse, as our personal bar of "survival" continues to rise in this abstract world, our frantic and instinctual struggle to "survive" is apparently driving us towards an incredibly sad and ironic demise - if you believe the headlines about nuclear war and global warming.
I agree with the article's idea that as technology takes care of more and more basic needs we should move to "information-based products" to keep ourselves busy and satisfied. We have to. All the world's billions can't have two cars in the garage, but they can all have giant digital art and music collections. (I guess we could do more recreation/sporting too, that's not a finite resource.)
But it's another level of abstraction. How far can we get from our concrete instincts for food and babies and still find sufficient meaning and purpose?
Are you familiar with the 8 Circuit Model of Consciousness? Sounds like you're describing a negatively imprinted first circuit (or "bio-survival anxiety").
I feel kinda stupid for saying this but I always thought people stopped producing their own "stuff" when we really got the hang of money. In other words, thanks to money, I can do one thing all day (and maybe get really good at it!) instead of doing all the little separate things I need to do to survive. And then I can exchange the fruits of that one thing for all the other stuff I might need or want.
I appreciate this more now since I started learning how to write code. By my second or third go at a script, I figure out how to factor out common functions and reuse them. Good thing these lines of code aren't laborers because what I'm essentially doing is firing all of them and replacing them with a workhorse (a function or a subroutine) which will do all the work for me, multiple times.
I guess I'm sort of brainwashed into thinking the efficiency gained by factoring my code is more important than the livelihood of all those little redundant lines I figured out a way to delete. But what this guy's saying sounds too politically charged for me to be fully persuaded by it. I'm like 88% persuaded by it but there's the nagging 12% saying, "He's got an agenda, Jimmy. Don't listen to him!"
I guess, maybe naively, I don't care as much about the arrangement between employer and employee as I do about the apparent dark side of rapid efficiency gains through specialization. I wanted him to say, "Hey, look, specialization is awesome until we're so efficient we don't need all the humans we're giving birth to!" But I'm slightly disappointed because I think I just read something about how evil and oppressive corporations are.
"New technologies are wreaking havoc on employment figures -- from EZpasses ousting toll collectors to Google-controlled self-driving automobiles rendering taxicab drivers obsolete."
I wasn't aware that "Google-controlled self-driving automobiles" was rendering taxicab drivers obsolete any time in the near future... call me a luddite, but we've probably got several decades of legal and social hurdles before that even approaches being a reality.
Really? We found a way to cure cancer and power our economy with clean energy?
There'll always be something more. Some day, when a sizable portion of humanity lives to 115, we'll consider the genetic limit of 115 year life spans to be as important as cancer is today.
For example, farming is pretty vital as work per se and it used to cover the majority of people. But these days, if a percentage of people can do the farming for everyone then what would constitute equally meaningful jobs for the rest of the 99%? We basically need food, clothes, housing, and heating. Then there are things that we "need" (but can do without) such as electricity, plumbing, running water, etc. Some people would become artisans to produce specialized goods or merchants to trade those goods. These are pretty quickly and efficiently implemented with the current efficiency and if that was all, we'd probably have employed few percent of the work force. What's there left to do that would genuinely cover the rest 90% of the work force?
IMHO, USPS is more important now than ever.
“Might the spirit of enterprise we currently associate with ‘career’ be shifted to something entirely more collaborative, purposeful, and even meaningful?” I’d like to think so. We are just as much competitive creatures as collaborative ones, though, so in a world where needs are fulfilled regardless of whether you do anything, I fear people will have little incentive or inspiration to create.
If you give your surplus food to an area that supports 5,000
starving people, then you have only ensured that 6,000 of
them will be around in the next generation to starve even
so in a world where needs are fulfilled regardless of
whether you do anything, I fear people will have little
incentive or inspiration to create
I wish I didn't have to care about making enough money to survive so that I would have time to pursue my lofty research ideas.
The real problem is that we keep reproducing uncontrolably. The religiously crazed keep pushing having tons of kids with NO WAY TO SUPPORT THEM. Furthermore, better medicine means more kids are surviving, so that means population keeps growing. However with a growing population there is less and less opportunity for each member to contribute to society. It's a cycle. We need controlled population growth globally and an incredible education system. There is simply no other way to go.
The real problem is that we keep reproducing
uncontrolably. The religiously crazed keep pushing having
tons of kids with NO WAY TO SUPPORT THEM.
And then, presumably, every near-democracy travels back in time one hundred years.
As I understand it, isn't it a lot cheaper to hire a bunch of third-world workers than to build out automated factories?
For another thing, population doesn't matter much anyway because the demand for most occupations probably grows linearly with population regardless of technology. You don't need linearly as many engineers, but you do need linearly as many doctors, policemen, firemen, cleaners, repairmen, prostitutes, soldiers, nurses, dentists, veterinarians, barbers, yoga instructors, and dog groomers.
We are not reproducing uncontrollably. This memeset needs to take a good long look around, and then die itself, before it gets enough power to do something truly unfortunate... and entirely unnecessary.
It’s a fundamental principle of ecology that an increase in food production causes an increase in population. But what may not be intuitive is that these two increases need not happen in the same place, and often do not.
Contraception is irrelevant. Our population is not growing as quickly in the developed world as it is elsewhere, but it is still assuredly growing. It always will grow, as long as we are human and there is enough food to allow it.
We produce enough food each year to feed every person on the planet. If we were to continue producing exactly as much food each year as we did the last year, then our population would, necessarily, cease to grow.
I am not trying to be “fashionably cynical”, nor cold-hearted. I don’t think we’re “reproducing uncontrollably”. I am advocating that some people must starve to death because it is more humane than the alternative of producing ever more people each generation to starve to death. Surely you can understand why I argue such a seemingly untenable position, even if you aren’t comfortable agreeing.
"Fundamental principles" are still less fundamental than facts. The facts are clear. It is possible for large human populations to be both abundantly fed and reproduce at less than replacement rates, and the trend is strongly in the direction of sub-replacement growth. This is true of groups that comprise multiple billions of humans, and the connection between wealth and sub-replacement rates is pretty clear.
As I said, the why is still an interesting question.
You are simply wrong. There is no reason why we must starve anyone to death in the forseeable future.
You may note I'm not providing citations. This is because I would contend this is in the class of commonly known fact. We have periodic debates arising in the media about what to do about the fact that neither we nor many other countries can sustain our planned social spending in the face of ever-slowing reproduction rates. This is not stuff that has been hiding out on obscure corners of academic journals, it's on the evening news.
On a similar vein, this is why I don't spend much time listening to people moan about how uniquely evil humans are. Humans are the uniquely moral animal. It is in fact an ecological principle that species will reproduce to consume all available food, and it is a unique characteristic of humans that we can choose not to. (So I do understand how easy it is to make that mistake.) We are not unique in utilizing our ability to raze ecosystems, we are unique in our ability not to use abilities we have, and unique in trying to fix them up after we learn better. We are not unique in our capacity for violence, we are unique in our capacity for peace, and so on.
This is inaccurate. The population across significant swaths of the developed world are no longer increasing. Take Germany, Japan or Italy - all of whose populations are in fact decreasing - even after taking into account immigration statistics. If population migrations were static, this would also hold true across most of Western Europe.
>> I am advocating that some people must starve to death because it is more humane
I'm sure you regard yourself as a bold forward thinker. You're sadly mistaken.
What stops population growth is political and economical stability, empowerment of women, and education. E.g. check this video http://vimeo.com/m/2905893 to see what research on the matter has to say.
Sounds like a campaign speech writer for Obama. Regardless any other analogies, everyone needs to pull their fair share unless they either already have (elderly or injured or medically incapable) or have enough wealth to hire those of us who are willing to pull our fair share.
In the latter case, workers don't need Union boss thugs to protect us from you; we just need your respect.
Scarcity of a resource is the most profitable opportunity for those who own it. Scarcity of jobs is an opportunity for profit to some people.
His suggestion is very simple: provide an annual stipend of about $25,000 to each citizen.
The US government is arguably going in the opposite direction of libertarianism.
> would be to let those who can't capitalize on the bounty simply suffer.
I think most people don't want to let the poor "simply suffer". Libertarians simply argue it shouldn't be government's role to help the poor.
Note that, in the USA at least, federal government revenue never exceeds 20% of GDP. Try taking more, and GDP declines - to wit, producers slow or stop.
"The communist answer to this question was just to distribute everything evenly. But that sapped motivation and never quite worked as advertised."
Wow. Understatement? Volumes of economic thought have been written about why communism doesn't work and he just kinda brushes it off like, "minor bug, nbd".
Obviously he never grew a significant fraction of his own food, or built his own house. That I can do so by the proxy of writing software (to wit thinking real hard) does not devalue them to the point that those who don't/won't create food & shelter, or do something exchangeable therefor, can demand I provide them with such necessities. Advocates of this "jobs are optional" meme don't grasp, or won't admit, how little most people are willing to live on if they can get it for zero effort and can be entertained indefinitely ... funny, that sounds a lot like the "bread and circuses" stage of a civilization on the brink of collapse.
Make them "rights"? Obvious discussions of "you have no right to compel me to provide for you" aside... I've figured $10/day is a workable, albeit stark, minimum "living income" (see http://abuckaplate.blogspot.com for the mindset). Few indeed are incapable of earning $10/day and making that livable, save only for lack of will. There is no need to declare a "right to food & shelter" (manifested thru confiscation) when so little effort is needed.
But, as you note, he just tosses out the "human rights" premise as "nbd". Never mind the 100,000,000 dead from prior attempts at the memes he proposes as new.
When he grows half his own food, and builds his own home, and gives 90% of his income to the state (just write a check to the treasury, nobody's stopping him), then maybe he'll have standing. Methinks he won't hold those views if he lived them a while.
is this true ? is it legal..