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Old 02-23-2015, 10:07 AM
 
Location: Ruidoso, NM
5,170 posts, read 4,730,147 times
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Sorry this is so long, but I couldn’t think of a good way to pare it down. This is something I’ve been researching and contemplating for a long time (years), and I’m having a tough time imagining a realistic yet happy outcome in light of recent trends. I'd like to know your thoughts.

If you like videos, this is one I found that does a pretty good job of covering key aspects of how robotics will make human labor obsolete. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. The main thing I'm concerned with is what will happen then?

Humans Need Not Apply:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-...yer_detailpage


Computers are getting more sophisticated all the time. Before long they will be "smart" enough to make some human workers obsolete... meaning that the person has *no* viable task that they can perform better or at a lower cost than a machine. These people will be unemployable, and as the machines continue to become more sophisticated, the number of persons in this category will grow.

Every developed country in the world runs on a consumer capitalist economic model. That's because it has been proven the most successful since the industrial revolution began. The consumer/worker is vital part of this system, because the prosperity of the capitalist depends on the prosperity of the consumer. The capitalist makes profit from making and selling stuff to consumers. If consumer income and wealth doesn't increase, then the capitalist's wealth can't either for long. It's a symbiotic relationship that never before existed in human history. Previously serfs, peasants, and slaves provided valuable labor, but there was no incentive for the wealthy to allow them to keep more than a bare minimum of their production.

Consumer capitalism also favors a democratic government, human rights, and freedom. Why? The general population will work harder and be more efficient and more willing to fight wars if they are free, which ultimately increases the power and wealth of the capitalists.

Our socio-ecomomic system will soon be obsolete. As the economically useless humans become a greater % of the population, consumer capitalism will no longer be viable. From the capitalist standpoint the consumer is no longer a vital part of the system, but rather something that merely consumes resources while providing no value to them. We will not descend to our previous level of serfs and peasants. Those positions will be taken by machines. From the standpoint of the wealthy, the unemployable persons will be like vermin. Instead they can use those resources for themselves, and use robotic slaves to build whatever they want directly and much more efficiently than ever before. They will experience a lifestyle and degree of luxury and power that we can't even imagine today, but it will only be for a few.

What do you suppose will happen to our human rights and living standards then? I don’t expect this change to happen swiftly. There is only so much you can do in one generation before people really notice and complain. The necessary computer sophistication will probably take another 30 to 40 years before a majority of the population becomes unemployable. Most likely welfare will be expanded, and propaganda will continue to pit the middle class (who experience higher taxes and declining living standards) against the lower class (who don't work and receive the dole). Divide and conquer. But the population will be mollified and distracted one way or another while the number of unemployable persons grows. I imagine in a short few decades most of us will be "happily" spending nearly all our time in VR pods hooked up to feeding and evacuation tubes... until we die. And that is an optimistic scenario. Useless humans might be eliminated much more swiftly, especially if there is a shooting battle for world domination.

The alternative? That democracy and freedom are actually strong enough for the interests and wishes of the majority to win out over the desires of the powerful few. And so we share in the bounty and all live better and more interesting lives without needing to work.

Trends are not encouraging. The greatly increased spying and surveillance, along with a repeal of some legal protections, is one disturbing aspect. Totalitarian control that is well beyond anything seen before in the world is now possible. Another is the globalization and “free trade” project that the US embarked on several decades ago. This was sold as something that would make us all richer, and that could have been the case. Instead it was structured from the beginning to benefit the wealthy greatly, and result in depressed wages for rest of the population. Even now it is taboo to point this out. Which brings to mind what is probably the most disturbing trend; the apparent success of propaganda to divide the populous 50/50 around issues that are of little importance. This keeps everyone “entertained” and distracted over political theater and indignation over “hot button” issues, and effectively powerless to organize and change anything worthwhile. Democracy may have always been a sham, but this is becoming more obvious at the time when we really need it to work.
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Old 02-23-2015, 10:12 AM
 
12,405 posts, read 9,195,957 times
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Oh, the technological unemployment thing again. Somehow we have made it so far. The employment rate dipped during the Industrial Revolution, and then bounced back. Same with the Digital Revolution.

A century or two ago, most households were headed by farmers. Today, far from it. Yet unemployment is currently in the single digits, despite only 1-2% of households doing farming rather than the old 80-90%.

Somehow I think the robotics thing is the same deal.....
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Old 02-23-2015, 10:18 AM
 
Location: Ruidoso, NM
5,170 posts, read 4,730,147 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ncole1 View Post
Somehow I think the robotics thing is the same deal.....
Watch the video and read what I wrote, then let me know what you think.
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Old 02-23-2015, 10:32 AM
 
Location: NYC
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I didn't watch the video. However, if I had to make a long term prediction, we either go to the stars and expand to new planets or the idle masses generate global conflicts which reduces the population and causes enough destruction to make labor important again. Either way, the problem is self correcting in painful or not so painful ways.
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Old 02-23-2015, 10:43 AM
 
12,405 posts, read 9,195,957 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rruff View Post
Watch the video and read what I wrote, then let me know what you think.
I am not convinced. The argument that "mechanical" replacement of humans or horses has happened and that "mental" replacement is next, is woefully oversimplified. The motor movements undertaken by a human are quite complex and hard to emulate via a machine. I'll bet that this robot cannot, for example, squeeze into a narrow corridor, handle heavy boxes while climbing stairs, etc.

Humans are not even close to being obsolete for many jobs, even manual labor jobs. Humans still deliver mail, humans still go to military combat (along with machines), etc.

And even simple mental tasks are sometimes so puzzling and we are nowhere near emulating them with computers - such as face recognition. Computers require much higher resolution images than humans do.

Similarly with music - humans can often transcribe music from a quite noisy recording with almost no errors in note choice or pitch. Computers - let's just say, no contest.

We definitely have a long way to go.

Professionals, doctors, lawyers? Suffice it to say the robots have only taken on small bits and pieces of the job. Human judgment will be needed for a long time to come - probably at least another 50-100 years.
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Old 02-23-2015, 10:52 AM
 
Location: Ruidoso, NM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ncole1 View Post
Human judgment will be needed for a long time to come - probably at least another 50-100 years.
I predicted 30-40 years before a majority of the population becomes unemployable, and consumer capitalism is completely broken. But the process will begin much sooner than that. When will it be time to do something about it, and realistically what would be done?
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Old 02-23-2015, 10:58 AM
 
Location: Ruidoso, NM
5,170 posts, read 4,730,147 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adhom View Post
reduces the population and causes enough destruction to make labor important again
The idle masses will be mollified until they are unable to protest. But even if they did revolt and cause destruction, that won't help or self correct because a very small human population is the optimal economic solution. Unless of course you are thinking that the infrastructure of the entire world would be decimated... and then we'd start over from scratch?
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Old 02-23-2015, 11:01 AM
 
12,405 posts, read 9,195,957 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rruff View Post
I predicted 30-40 years before a majority of the population becomes unemployable, and consumer capitalism is completely broken. But the process will begin much sooner than that. When will it be time to do something about it, and realistically what would be done?
I'd argue the process started at least 300 years ago. And I see no reason to think the trend of new jobs coming into being to replace old ones is changing any time soon. There are simply too many things, both "mechanical" and "mental", that computers are simply not good at.
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Old 02-23-2015, 11:03 AM
 
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Also, by the time robots can do *everything* humans can, they will have rights, work ethic, and morality. I expect robots to support non-working humans in the same way parents support non-working children, assuming "Friendly" AI.
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Old 02-23-2015, 11:32 AM
 
Location: Ruidoso, NM
5,170 posts, read 4,730,147 times
Reputation: 4206
Quote:
Originally Posted by ncole1 View Post
I'd argue the process started at least 300 years ago. And I see no reason to think the trend of new jobs coming into being to replace old ones is changing any time soon. There are simply too many things, both "mechanical" and "mental", that computers are simply not good at.
The processing power of a PC is currently at about the level of an insect. That's why there are many tasks that humans can perform much better. It is predicted to be at human level at ~2050.

In the past we had lots of viable jobs for guys with a 80 IQ and poor personal skills. They could use their dexterity and muscle power. That's changing right now. Our economy is already at the point where many in this demographic are unemployable at a decent wage. There are jobs that require more skill and education, but a lot of people simply can't compete in that demographic. And as time goes on it will get more and more competitive.
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