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I agree with everything said above, but what about the fact that society will always need plumbers, garbage collectors, fast food employees etc.? I'm not even sure that this is a counter point to what is mentioned above, just more thinking out loud. Is it possible to have a high functioning/efficient society in which there are no economic pressures to motivate people?



> the fact that society will always need plumbers, garbage collectors, fast food employees etc.

Is that a fact? I'm sure plenty of people would once have said society will always need human "computers" (now so entirely replaced by machines that the original meaning of the word is a historical factoid). Or that society will always need assembly line workers (now well into the process of being replaced by robots).

When I check out at CVS I use a machine, not a human cashier. I bet there are restaurants in Japan/Korea with no human serving staff - just use the touch screen at the table to place your order and it pops out of a slot in the wall when it's ready. Cab drivers will be replaced by self-driving cars in the next 20 years. Et cetera. So I think that part of your comment is quite short-sighted.

On the other hand, the question of what all those folks will/should do once their economic value plummets (which, arguably, has already started happening) is a tricky one.


> On the other hand, the question of what all those folks will/should do once their economic value plummets...

We as a society need to figure this out quickly. There's a video called Humans Need Not Apply that everyone should see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU


In Germany, the liberal arts programmes are mocked as "taxi driver courses" all the time, ranging from libertarian hate for any form of public spending all the way to happy self-deprecation by those who elect to be taught in a field they like at the risk of not benefitting from their education economically. But aside from a few outliers in the most extreme corners of conservativism, antiintellectualism and leftism most people tend to consider the general availability of those programmes to people who are willing to take that economic risk (high enough even without student loan debt) as an important piece of freedom.

Of course it helps that educating in those fields isn't terribly expensive: you basically pay infrastructure and a few greybeards, the lower ranks are nearly working for free due to the low market value of their education and the resulting attractivity of maybe becoming one of the greybeards themselves. Also, some people might even understand that the greatest thinkers, just like the greatest sportsmen, are unlikely to be produced by focused training of a tiny elite selected by circumstances or a superficial entry test. Talent is rarely visible before a considerable amount of training has been applied.


That's what The Market should be for, to make those jobs compensated attractively. Plus, people will be more likely to take a part-time job flipping burgers to fund their writing/music/open source project/whatever if they don't have pressure to pay back debt or don't have to worry about health insurance (another can of worms).


Why do they deserve the broadly desired services of doctors, nurses, professors, etc for free while doing very little for those doctors, nurses, or professors in return?


I would say they deserve them because we want to live in a 'society'. If they are contributing to society - even just by serving lattes or creating poetry to someone like me who desires caffeine and art, and I in return contribute something that doctors, nurses and professors want, then I think they deserve it.


Then you should pay them enough to afford the things you want them to have. I don't want lattes nor poetry, so if they want money from me they should do something I want them to do, not get the government to confiscate it from me and redistribute to themselves.


Because by incurring in certain costs up front as a group, society benefits from blurry but tangible externalities.


I suppose this is the challenge all societies are grappling with; how to compensate fairly so everyone is comfortable while still better compensating jobs that require more skill or 'contribute more' to maintain demand.


Why can't a plumber be also a free thinker?


Yes that is exactly the point I am trying to raise with my previous question. Is this sustainable? Certainly not in the US where a student must take on massive amounts of debt to complete a degree only to make near minimum wage after graduation.


She can, but it's more unlikely that she will have the time and the energy to get there if she's preoccupied by riding the conveyor belt of our schooling system followed by the worries of the 9-5 world.


I am sure he can be, but why must some free thinkers be plumbers?


That's...a great rebuttal.


If you believe some people, one day all those jobs will be automated away.


Garbage collection could be automated tomorrow if we wanted. Fast food is just a matter of us not trying hard enough but plumbers is a difficult one.

Not saying it couldn't happen. Two scenarios I could see are everyone lives in a prefab home, when things start to go wrong you just replace it. That leaves all the plumbing to just cutting and bending pipes to pre-built designs and installing it in prearranged steps. I could see that being possible.

Another interesting case could be that all houses are 3d printed, with cavities for plumbing printed right into the fabric of the building, and possibly sealed in someway.


"Two scenarios I could see are everyone lives in a prefab home, when things start to go wrong you just replace it. That leaves all the plumbing to just cutting and bending pipes to pre-built designs and installing it in prearranged steps. I could see that being possible."

Currently we live in Microsoft houses, eventually we might live in Apple houses. That is a terrifying thought either way...


This video by C.G.P. Grey is, at least for me, thought-provoking on this matter:

http://youtu.be/7Pq-S557XQU


nice video, i think its pretty much spot-on.


plumbing, garbage collection, food serving and many more things can be done by machines.


So you have a robot that can perform as well as a human plumber and work in extremely variable environments with installed plant that may go back 100's if not thousands (London still has some roman pipe work) of years.

Even Mr Finch isn't that good at building AI's




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