What if we have hit an era where technology kills more jobs than it creates?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Nov 13, 2011 2:04 AM GMT
    I'm a bit skeptical but this is a sobering possibility considered by a TechCrunch post. I'd say that unlike some here, I am not bothered by inequality so long as it is not structural - ie that the rich and connected are creating structural barriers to equality:

    http://techcrunch.com/2011/11/12/what-if-this-is-the-future/

    Ford essentially argues that we have hit an inflection point at which technology destroys jobs faster than it creates them. Kling writes (at length, but it’s worth reading): “The new jobs that emerge may not produce a middle class … gains in well-being that come from productivity improvements [may] accrue to an economic elite … we could be headed into an era of highly unequal economic classes. People at the bottom will have access to food, healthcare, and electronic entertainment, but the rich will live in an exclusive world of exotic homes and extravagant personal services.”

    Which sounds eerily like what we would get if we extrapolated from today, no? While millions of long-term unemployed fight desperately to tread water, technology’s handmaidens — software engineers — are minting money like bailed-out bankers. That Stanford survey mentioned above seems to undercut Peter Thiel’s take that “We’re in a bubble and it’s not the Internet. It’s higher education”

    It’s beginning to look like we might have entered a two-track economy, in which a small minority reaps most of the benefits of technology that destroys more jobs than it creates. As my friend Simon Law says, “First we automated menial jobs, now we’re automating middle-class jobs. Unfortunately, we still demand that people have a job soon after becoming adults. This trend is going to be a big problem…”

    It’s even been suggested that inequality may cause unrest and violence in the Western world. Don’t bet on it. True, inequality has provoked the Occupy movement, and to a lesser extent the Tea Party; but I’ve been around the block a few times, and take it from me, the world is full of nations with a tiny minority of the very rich, a slightly larger well-off elite, a small middle class, and a great majority who are various degrees of poor and struggling. Brazil, China, India and Russia, for instance, to name a famous foursome. There’s nothing unusual or inherently unstable about that kind of inequality. In fact, in most of the world, it’s the norm.

    I still believe technology will be the great equalizer that brings comparable economic opportunities to all regions of the world. But I’m beginning to wonder if that same technology will also ultimately make the rich world as fragmented and unequal as the poor, and turn the majority middle class into a thing of the past.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Nov 13, 2011 2:06 AM GMT
    "I'd say that unlike some here, I am not bothered by inequality so long as it is not structural - ie that the rich and connected are creating structural barriers to inequality: "


    Did you mean, "that the rich and connected are creating structural barriers to equality: "

    icon_question.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Nov 13, 2011 2:07 AM GMT
    meninlove said "I'd say that unlike some here, I am not bothered by inequality so long as it is not structural - ie that the rich and connected are creating structural barriers to inequality: "


    Did you mean, "that the rich and connected are creating structural barriers to equality: "

    icon_question.gif


    Lol yes. My error icon_wink.gif
  • commoncoll

    Posts: 1222

    Nov 13, 2011 2:10 AM GMT
    This is based on the assumption that the job market and skills do not evolve at the same pace as technology. The assumption is not correct.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Nov 13, 2011 2:12 AM GMT
    Yea, this is why I'm glad my profession is creative. I doubt we will see many robotic artist in my lifetime.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Nov 13, 2011 2:18 AM GMT
    commoncoll saidThis is based on the assumption that the job market and skills do not evolve at the same pace as technology. The assumption is not correct.


    I think this depends on the types of skills and the types of jobs. Like I said I'm skeptical... but I do wonder how far services can take us economically. On the other hand, if history is a guide, I am guessing the original Luddites could not have foreseen our world today when they started burning the looms.

    I think we live in an amazing time (this killjoy of a post notwithstanding). The opportunities are enormous for those who seize them. Most structural barriers to equality are falling - and you have things like http://teamtreehouse.com/ (that was launched last week)- that cheaply give people access to learning such that we are moving less from a focus on credentials and more towards actual knowledge and education.

    But these changes are not coming without a fight or without costs. But there is a stark contrast between the two worlds I try to keep up with and their intersect - ie technology/web services and my own business which is firmly rooted in the old world of manufacturing.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Nov 13, 2011 2:22 AM GMT
    riddler78 said
    meninlove said "I'd say that unlike some here, I am not bothered by inequality so long as it is not structural - ie that the rich and connected are creating structural barriers to inequality: "


    Did you mean, "that the rich and connected are creating structural barriers to equality: "

    icon_question.gif


    Lol yes. My error icon_wink.gif


    I was too lazy to read the article properly, but at the least I do share the sentiment as well. People won't work if there's no inequality. And as long as there is absolute growth across the strata without a regression any one stratum, I'm all for it. What I don't agree with is inequity, but that's not as relevant here. That was a little rambly but just a thought icon_smile.gif
  • Bowyn_Aerrow

    Posts: 357

    Nov 13, 2011 2:26 AM GMT
    I read somewhere a while back that we are at the point were 80 to 90 percent of all jobs could be fully automated today with the technology we already possess.


    This is only a bad thing in that we worship money and place importance on the check earning thing.

    Eventually we are going to be forced to reconsider economics from the ground up. And force ourselves to really economize resources for fair distribution and move away from the whole idea that work defines a person.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Nov 13, 2011 2:37 AM GMT
    Bowyn_Aerrow saidI read somewhere a while back that we are at the point were 80 to 90 percent of all jobs could be fully automated today with the technology we already possess.


    This is only a bad thing in that we worship money and place importance on the check earning thing.

    Eventually we are going to be forced to reconsider economics from the ground up. And force ourselves to really economize resources for fair distribution and move away from the whole idea that work defines a person.


    And that would be what we call structural barriers to equality. The irony of seeking "fair distribution" which I will interpret as code for redistribution is that there's less wealth and a shrinking pie. Look at what they have done to seek "fair distribution": interest rate deductions for buying homes, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, unsustainably low interest rates by the Fed, the Community Reinvestment Act, forced ratings/institutional investment constraints - all of which helped to contribute to the housing bubble and ultimate collapse - which is still happening.

    In an attempt to "help" people, the US government has slowed the collapse prolonging any recovery. Then let's look at minimum wage which has resulted in higher levels of unemployment (and this should make sense to you - given that most of the people who get hired at minimum wage are done at small businesses who just don't hire or hire more experienced people).

    I think some people need to get away from the idea that work defines them and stop blaming their circumstances on society. But for instance, I want to believe at some point that my accomplishments professionally define me. That I am/have been making a difference in the world - which is entirely also related to the wealth I create.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Nov 13, 2011 3:12 PM GMT
    More on why this is an amazing era in which we live:

    6th Grade iPhone Developer speaks at TEDx :
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Nov 13, 2011 3:48 PM GMT
    WAIT a minute! I thought you subscribed to the "OBAMA is DESTROYING JOBS" mantra???????????????????????
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Nov 13, 2011 3:57 PM GMT
    TropicalMark saidWAIT a minute! I thought you subscribed to the "OBAMA is DESTROYING JOBS" mantra???????????????????????


    I also subscribe to that mantra - that doesn't meant that I also don't believe there are other macro issues at play. But like I said, it's also a hypothesis that I am skeptical of but am open to considering.

    But let's be clear here - the increased regulations make it even more difficult for the US to be the leader in the transition - not making the poor any wealthier but the innovators less wealthy - for a society that is worse off.

    I think we are almost certainly also seeing an economic transition which will result in short term unemployment (and which had already been underway during the Bush era) but much of this current level of prolonged unemployment is unusual and I believe a direct and large result of government policy. I am unsure however whether or not technology will be the large driver of reduced employment in the future - and if you bothered to read what came after the headline you might know that.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Nov 13, 2011 4:55 PM GMT
    riddler said, "Then let's look at minimum wage which has resulted in higher levels of unemployment."

    That hasn't happened here.

  • conservativej...

    Posts: 2465

    Nov 13, 2011 5:44 PM GMT
    The enabled intelligent individual with a broad technical education – typically an engineer – given the right tools can accomplish improvements in some of the most rudimentary undertakings of life which few could ever imagine. At one time I thought growing fruits such as apples, pears, peaches, etc. would forever remain labor intensive. That is no longer the case.

    This year we had a 100-acre test plot in northeast Georgia on which was planted a hybrid apple tree, which through placement and pruning was harvested using an automated picker. Labor usage in the grove dropped over eighty percent. Yield increased twenty percent.

    Labor content of farm products such as tomatoes, squash, and other vegetables also is falling. While still very labor intensive, total labor input is down twenty percent.

    The labor content of row crops such as cotton, corn, and soy beans also continues to fall. This has occurred primarily due to techniques such as strip till and the use of massive equipment such as the Steiger 450 row crop tractor that drives multi-purpose implements that till, seed, and fertilize all in one pass. Net fuel savings is approximately fifty percent.

    In fact, the cost to grow cotton has fallen so dramatically that all U.S. competitors are screaming to the WTO in an effort to claim such efficiency is through subsidy rather than technology. Who was my biggest customer on this years 40,000 acres of Texas cotton? China.

    It is interesting to me that while a few camp in cities across America shouting “give me,” that they truly have no fricking idea of what drives an economy and pays for that food they are so fond of demanding from folks like lower Manhattan vendors. All for free of course.

    You have to love the Communist you know.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Nov 13, 2011 5:55 PM GMT
    meninlove saidriddler said, "Then let's look at minimum wage which has resulted in higher levels of unemployment."

    That hasn't happened here.



    Actually it has. More broadly it might not have but particularly in bad economic times, it is more obvious. The people it hurts the most? Teens -

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203440104574402820278669840.html

    Checked out youth unemployment rates - it's downright scary.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Nov 13, 2011 6:08 PM GMT
    riddler78 said
    meninlove saidriddler said, "Then let's look at minimum wage which has resulted in higher levels of unemployment."

    That hasn't happened here.



    Actually it has. More broadly it might not have but particularly in bad economic times, it is more obvious. The people it hurts the most? Teens -

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203440104574402820278669840.html

    Checked out youth unemployment rates - it's downright scary.


    That presumes that teenagers should be working, where the preferable thing would be for them to be in school, focusing on their studies and extra-curricular activities so we have well-rounded, productive citizens. And I say that as someone who has worked since I was 12.

    The primary reason why teens work is because they need to contribute to the household because their parents do not earn enough. That's why a living wage is so vital to democratic participation.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Nov 13, 2011 6:11 PM GMT
    Christian73 said
    riddler78 said
    meninlove saidriddler said, "Then let's look at minimum wage which has resulted in higher levels of unemployment."

    That hasn't happened here.



    Actually it has. More broadly it might not have but particularly in bad economic times, it is more obvious. The people it hurts the most? Teens -

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203440104574402820278669840.html

    Checked out youth unemployment rates - it's downright scary.


    That presumes that teenagers should be working, where the preferable thing would be for them to be in school, focusing on their studies and extra-curricular activities so we have well-rounded, productive citizens. And I say that as someone who has worked since I was 12.

    The primary reason why teens work is because they need to contribute to the household because their parents do not earn enough. That's why a living wage is so vital to democratic participation.


    Ah so youth unemployment is a feature then?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Nov 13, 2011 6:21 PM GMT
    Riddler, here it's easy for a teen to get a job, and my two god children and their enormous circle of friends are excellent examples of that.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Nov 13, 2011 6:28 PM GMT
    conservativejock saidThe enabled intelligent individual with a broad technical education – typically an engineer – given the right tools can accomplish improvements in some of the most rudimentary undertakings of life which few could ever imagine. At one time I thought growing fruits such as apples, pears, peaches, etc. would forever remain labor intensive. That is no longer the case.

    This year we had a 100-acre test plot in northeast Georgia on which was planted a hybrid apple tree, which through placement and pruning was harvested using an automated picker. Labor usage in the grove dropped over eighty percent. Yield increased twenty percent.



    It is interesting to me that while a few camp in cities across America shouting “give me,” that they truly have no fricking idea of what drives an economy and pays for that food they are so fond of demanding from folks like lower Manhattan vendors. All for free of course.

    You have to love the Communist you know.


    Hah, there was a nice article on "Wired" yesterday about farm automation, although I suspect that the $25K units they're targeting could be whipped up by clever high school students for much less. http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2011/11/mobile-farm-robots/
    A hundred years ago, farmers had to become mechanics. Now maybe we'll all be robot geeks.

    I think everyone who has harvested fruit or pruned extensively, uses the idle brain time to think of how to build a machine to do that. Now there are enough cheap open-source hardware and software resources that it's possible to actually go out to the workshop on sunday afternoon and do something about it.

    Anyway, my take on this is that it should stabilize labor, not eliminate it. That is, create four or five steady full time jobs instead of 100 temporary harvest jobs. As if there were anybody to hire for those jobs these days.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Nov 13, 2011 6:40 PM GMT
    riddler78 said
    Christian73 said
    riddler78 said
    meninlove saidriddler said, "Then let's look at minimum wage which has resulted in higher levels of unemployment."

    That hasn't happened here.



    Actually it has. More broadly it might not have but particularly in bad economic times, it is more obvious. The people it hurts the most? Teens -

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203440104574402820278669840.html

    Checked out youth unemployment rates - it's downright scary.


    That presumes that teenagers should be working, where the preferable thing would be for them to be in school, focusing on their studies and extra-curricular activities so we have well-rounded, productive citizens. And I say that as someone who has worked since I was 12.

    The primary reason why teens work is because they need to contribute to the household because their parents do not earn enough. That's why a living wage is so vital to democratic participation.


    Ah so youth unemployment is a feature then?


    Given the increasing complexity of a global economy and the US' terrible record of academic achievement, particularly among children of color, they would be better served - and so would the country - if they spent more hours in study and sports and became more well-rounded citizens.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Nov 13, 2011 7:43 PM GMT

    As for the no-minimum-wages thing....

    "In the face of growing public outrage over the rise of a new class of working poor in Germany, Ms. Merkel has done an about-face on the issue of minimum wages. Germany has no statutory minimum wage like the U.S. or many European countries. Instead, unions and employers work out minimum pay on a sector-by-sector basis. But there are still many low-paying workers such as florists, hairdressers and sanitation workers, who earn such low wages that they often have to supplement their income with social-welfare payments. In some parts of the country full-time florists and gardeners earn as little as €2.75 an hour.

    In the past, Ms. Merkel has opposed a minimum wage. Now, she is considering establishing a commission of unions and employers who would be charged with establishing minimum wage levels for those industries that don't have them now."

    For the rest of the article, visit Socal's topic about Germany. Very good.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Nov 18, 2011 7:08 PM GMT
    Another rejoinder on TechCrunch - it's tough to tell what the net flow of jobs will be and the inequality that may result - but it's also possible that it may be natural and inevitable:

    http://techcrunch.com/2011/11/18/silicon-valley-killing-jobs/

    And that’s the other side of the coin. Professionals whose jobs were eliminated due to automation and outsourcing can now outsource themselves on automated marketplaces. Many of these skilled professionals are finding new homes as independent knowledge workers connected to a broad base of smaller organizations via evolved crowdsourcing marketplaces like oDesk and Trada. Once again, this is creating employment and redistributing wealth back into more hands.

    So perhaps we’re not evil. After all, the technologies we are creating in Silicon Valley are inevitable. If we don’t build them, someone else will. They are also disruptive and game changing. Those who don’t use them will suffer at the hands of their competitors. Yet most importantly, we have built them to be inherently democratic. There are no velvet ropes keeping these efficiency enablers solely in the domain of large corporations.

    We may be killing jobs and concentrating wealth in the short term, but in the longer term we are creating tools that are giving thousands of unemployed and underemployed people the ability to take charge of their future and redistribute wealth back into their own hands. While the markets that these new companies participate in may shrink in size and rely on less upper management, one thing they certainly don’t leave out is the need for employees.

    And therein lies a world of new occupations for Main Street, courtesy of your friends here in Silicon Valley.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Nov 19, 2011 1:01 AM GMT
    riddler78 saidI am not bothered by inequality so long as it is not structural - ie that the rich and connected are creating structural barriers to inequality


    I've got bad news for. It IS structural, and has been for decades.

    Can any resident Republicans explain how further de-regulation will fix this structural problem?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Nov 19, 2011 3:10 AM GMT
    intentsman said
    riddler78 saidI am not bothered by inequality so long as it is not structural - ie that the rich and connected are creating structural barriers to inequality


    I've got bad news for. It IS structural, and has been for decades.

    Can any resident Republicans explain how further de-regulation will fix this structural problem?


    Sorry, but the structural barriers have been falling because of technology. It's those that depend on government and the power of government who are invested in the idea that income inequality is important moreso that income mobility.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Nov 19, 2011 4:34 AM GMT
    riddler78 said
    intentsman said
    riddler78 saidI am not bothered by inequality so long as it is not structural - ie that the rich and connected are creating structural barriers to inequality


    I've got bad news for. It IS structural, and has been for decades.

    Can any resident Republicans explain how further de-regulation will fix this structural problem?


    Sorry, but the structural barriers have been falling because of technology. It's those that depend on government and the power of government who are invested in the idea that income inequality is important moreso that income mobility.


    What evidence supports your claim that structural barriers have been falling? Would not income inequality be falling too?

    When you say "those that depend on government" do you mean people who use clean water & air, roads, safe food supply (everyone) or do you mean people surviving on food, rent, income subsidies (poor) ? Why would either of these categories find income inequality more important than income mobility?
    You are frequently opposed to any policy changes intended to reduce income inequality. Are you dependent on government and/or power of government?