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  #51  
Old 04-19-2012, 06:37 PM
heathen earthling heathen earthling is offline
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Originally Posted by Mnemnosyne View Post
By this time, we've probably got 75%+ of the population unemployed, producing nothing, only consuming. Those who are still employed are resentful of them - they don't want these people taking what they have. ... Since government is primarily made up of the rich, the government will be on their side.
Do you think democracy will be history by this point? If 75%+ of the population is unemployed, whatever party that looks out for the interests of the unemployed should be getting 75%+ of the votes.
  #52  
Old 04-19-2012, 06:45 PM
Evil Captor Evil Captor is offline
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Originally Posted by heathen earthling View Post
Do you think democracy will be history by this point? If 75%+ of the population is unemployed, whatever party that looks out for the interests of the unemployed should be getting 75%+ of the votes.
You'd think that, but an awful lot of poor and middle class people are voting against their ecoonmic interests right now. if it were merely a matter of economic interests, Republicans would be a tiny minority in Congress. Also, if Democrats weren't idiots. And even if the unemployed DID elect 75% of legislators by voting their economic interests, that would be democracy. Democracy is when votes are counted and people are elected based on them. It's not a matter of whether you like the outcome or not.
  #53  
Old 04-19-2012, 06:52 PM
Evil Captor Evil Captor is offline
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The benefits also go to the people who figure out how to fix, spec and install the robots.

Those who still bet on making buggy whips do pretty poorly.
You seem to have missed the point. The people you describe will be a VERY small percentage of the population. Eventually, the one percenters will include not just the wealthy but everyone they employ. Gonna get nasty long before then, unless we develop strong social welfare nets and alternative methods of creating value. I personally do not expect that ... even though it's rational, human beings are not rational, especially where money is concerned.
  #54  
Old 04-19-2012, 07:13 PM
heathen earthling heathen earthling is offline
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You'd think that, but an awful lot of poor and middle class people are voting against their ecoonmic interests right now. if it were merely a matter of economic interests, Republicans would be a tiny minority in Congress. Also, if Democrats weren't idiots. And even if the unemployed DID elect 75% of legislators by voting their economic interests, that would be democracy. Democracy is when votes are counted and people are elected based on them. It's not a matter of whether you like the outcome or not.
Ok, but Republicans and Democrats do not differ much in their opinions on whether humans should try to be employed. The percentage of the population actually opposed to employment is currently too small to matter politically. In the hypothetical future with 75%+ unemployment, the platforms of pro-employed and pro-unemployed parties should be much more divergent than those existing today, so perhaps it is plausible that fewer people will vote against their economic interests.
  #55  
Old 04-19-2012, 07:18 PM
rat avatar rat avatar is offline
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Originally Posted by Evil Captor View Post
You seem to have missed the point. The people you describe will be a VERY small percentage of the population. Eventually, the one percenters will include not just the wealthy but everyone they employ. Gonna get nasty long before then, unless we develop strong social welfare nets and alternative methods of creating value. I personally do not expect that ... even though it's rational, human beings are not rational, especially where money is concerned.
I was responding to the current issue with the middle class, there are jobs like crazy we can't fill in the industry that we would love to pay people money for.

I am quite worried as robotic cars produce yet another class obsolete workers and yes this will be an issue.

Last edited by rat avatar; 04-19-2012 at 07:18 PM.
  #56  
Old 04-19-2012, 07:31 PM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is offline
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Nah, there's a lot of stuff that people need/want and robots can't quite do besides Hollywood. Restauration, politics, religion, security, police, journalism, sex, science... just off the top of my head. Keeping the damn robots in check too, 'cause you know you can't trust them. Shifty. Scheming, dead eyesphotosensors. Don't like 'em.

Skill is its own form of currency. You maybe can cook a mean gumbo, but I sure can't. All I can make is a slightly antagonistic mush with fish in it.
On a long enough timeline I would assume all human abilities will be capable of being replicated by robots, and not long afterward surpassed. My assumption is sometime within this century. Popular mechanics claimed bipedal robots capable of doing domestic work and having roughly the same physical functionality of a human should be in the 2030-2050 period. It doesn't matter if it is 2025, 2050 or 2075, it'll still happen.

I don't think skills will count for much when the robotic revolution is in full swing. A robot will be able to mechanically perform virtually all (and most likely all) tasks a person can and could be programmed to develop and overwrite skills as needed. Plus the robot will be able to perform them at a far higher level of precision than a human could.

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  #57  
Old 04-19-2012, 07:37 PM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is offline
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The benefits also go to the people who figure out how to fix, spec and install the robots.

Those who still bet on making buggy whips do pretty poorly.
The robots will be able to fix, spec and install the robots at a higher level of precision and for a lower cost than a human worker.

I'm assuming robotics will follow a trend like computers, exponential growth in ability combined with rapid price deflation.
  #58  
Old 04-19-2012, 07:39 PM
Mnemnosyne Mnemnosyne is offline
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Do you think democracy will be history by this point? If 75%+ of the population is unemployed, whatever party that looks out for the interests of the unemployed should be getting 75%+ of the votes.
I suspect that a good number of them would vote against their own interests due to being convinced to do so. I would also suspect that the owners and producers would control the vast majority of media: consider that 'entertainers' are now one of the few earning groups, the majority of media would likely be skewed toward the interests of lowering their own taxes and reducing welfare for the unemployed - the press and the news providers would generally have a self-interested bias. So other candidates may exist, but they would get even less attention in the press, and therefore the public consciousness, than even minor parties like the Green Party or the Libertarian or Constitution parties do now. Add to that the fact that the rich will be able to very effectively 'buy' many of the politicians at this stage of development, and I find it unlikely that any significant portion of the government would actually be working for the good of the unemployed.

However, I don't find it entirely impossible. Extremely unlikely, but not impossible. If the unlikely happened, I suspect there would eventually be a rather significant branching point where two options present themselves. One, the upper class (who are therefore in control of large quantities of combat-capable robots) attempt to seize control by force, at which point it would be hard to predict the victor - I don't imagine the builders of such robots having intentionally sabotaged those they sold to the military, but the military would then be receiving no additional support or reinforcements from that point forward. It could go either way - this war would probably be relatively light on direct human casualties, since it would primarily be fought by machines. I don't view the upper class as resorting to this out of intentional malignancy, but the concept of defending themselves and their property from a government which is trying to steal from them what they rightfully own.

Alternately, the upper class may not be willing to go so far to defend themselves as a whole (some definitely will, but if the majority of them don't, then the government-controlled military would win handily), and government winds up continuing to increase taxes and regulations until they finally seize control of the majority of the means of production. In this circumstance, I suspect dividing the land would be much harder, and at some point, perhaps quite soon, strict population controls would be needed since the depopulation that happens through the rebellions of what I consider to be far more probable wouldn't occur.

Interestingly, I think the long-term outlook in the 'government helps the people' scenario may be worse. With a much higher population, there's no period where growth is possible, and strict authoritarian rules like population controls become necessary. I am unsure whether to speculate that the other comforts of life at this point would be enough to keep any major unrest from rising or not.
  #59  
Old 04-19-2012, 09:21 PM
heathen earthling heathen earthling is offline
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Would entertainers really be an earning group in this scenario? Even if robots are unable to produce any new entertainment of value, there's enough entertainment already existing right now that any unemployed person with an internet connection can download more than they will ever need, for free. And with the majority of the population liberated from the need to work, there will be a lot more new amatuer-produced entertainment being passed around for free too.

Of course, news media is not exactly like most entertainment, so your point is plausible.
  #60  
Old 04-19-2012, 10:27 PM
rat avatar rat avatar is offline
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The robots will be able to fix, spec and install the robots at a higher level of precision and for a lower cost than a human worker.

I'm assuming robotics will follow a trend like computers, exponential growth in ability combined with rapid price deflation.
We need a few massive improvements in AI before that happens, computers are just machines and don't do well in tasks that are not repeatable or easily defined.
  #61  
Old 04-19-2012, 11:40 PM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is offline
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We need a few massive improvements in AI before that happens, computers are just machines and don't do well in tasks that are not repeatable or easily defined.
Not right now, but on a long enough timeline I don't see how it couldn't happen. Like I said, it doesn't matter if it is 2025, 2050 or 2075.

Robotics and AI will go up in quality and down in price as time passes, and eventually it'll be cheaper, more productive and more efficient to have robots install and maintain the robots over humans.
  #62  
Old 04-19-2012, 11:56 PM
Ethilrist Ethilrist is online now
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Then there's The Monitors, based off of a Keith Laumer novel. Basic plot outline is listed in the link, so I won't spoil it here.
  #63  
Old 04-20-2012, 12:31 AM
SlackerInc SlackerInc is offline
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Do you think democracy will be history by this point? If 75%+ of the population is unemployed, whatever party that looks out for the interests of the unemployed should be getting 75%+ of the votes.
This. If the pessimism of some in this thread were entirely warranted, we never would have had the Progressive Era, the New Deal, the Great Society, etc. We'd still have massive numbers of the poor living in tenements that looked like the ones Jacob Riis photographed, and working at factories out of Sinclair's The Jungle, with no such thing as OSHA inspectors or a minimum wage. Strikers would still get shot en masse by Pinkerton detectives or the National Guard. Etc.

There are always backlashes, retrenchments, etc.; but the overall sweep of history, if you "zoom out" and look in half-century increments, has been toward providing more rights and more of a safety net for those on the lower socioeconomic rungs of the ladder.

Last edited by SlackerInc; 04-20-2012 at 12:32 AM. Reason: forgot to format quote
  #64  
Old 04-20-2012, 11:31 AM
Lemur866 Lemur866 is offline
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You know, there are other countries in the world besides the United States. Even supposing a linear extrapolation of current trends that would make Karl Marx proud, is the enslavement and massacre of the unemployed also going to happen in Japan? In Switzerland? In New Zealand?

This is the model you are predicting:
Ever increased automation resulting in fewer and fewer jobs
The unemployed soon become a majority
Higher taxes to pay for welfare for the enemployed
The rich become increasingly upset at higher taxes

Except this doesn't make sense.

Automated production means cheaper goods. That's why you automate, if goods can be produced more cheaply by human labor you wouldn't automate. As goods get cheaper and cheaper and cheaper through automation, "the rich" who own the factories that produce the goods and the software companies that produce the software that replace human workers become less and less rich, because they can't charge a premium for their products.

This is the essential fact that people can't seem to understand. Cheaper production doesn't mean more wealth for the producers, it means less relative wealth, because the relative value of the thing produced becomes less.

If tomorrow someone invents a process to create diamonds by the bucketfull, will that person become super-wealthy? Probably, but diamonds would become worthless. And even if the first person to monetize diamond mass production gets rich, how about the second and third and fourth and fifth? Mass produced diamonds become a commodity, and the marginal profit is driven to zero.

Products become cheaper, and cheap products cost less money, which means you make less money when you produce them. And if you try to keep your margins high, someone else will open a robot factory or robot accounting firm, and undercut you. When it becomes super-cheap to produce goods and services by robot, how do you prevent "the poor" from owning cheap automated systems that can produce whatever the poor need? Why can't an unemployed ex-factory worker nevertheless possess enough capital to have whatever he likes?

Distribute cheap automated systems and it becomes impossible to make money producing goods and services through automation, because anyone who wants anything producable by automation can get it. And this makes factories and automated systems worth zero, which means you can't even get rich selling the masses automated factories.

Even if some areas of the world try to prevent "the poor" from owning worthless junk like automated fabricators, is this going to happen everywhere? If robots/fabricators/AI are servicing and maintaining and producing the robots and fabricators and AI that produces everything, then there's no there there.

Are "the rich" really going to send killbots to massacre "poor" people who dare to own a fabricator? OK, maybe this happens in some places. Those places become the North Koreas of the world. Whole countries have gone off the deep end before. And so?
  #65  
Old 04-20-2012, 12:10 PM
adrian49 adrian49 is offline
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I've worked in IT for fourty years, and my observation is that jobs are not lost by greater automation, they just change. The job becomes integrated with the technology being used.

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  #66  
Old 04-20-2012, 04:29 PM
SlackerInc SlackerInc is offline
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Lemur, good post. Adrian, I think that might understate things a bit. What about, for instance, linotype operators? Or, I don't know what this was called, but my grandfather was a civil engineer back in the 1930s-1950s, working on big government projects like bridges and dams. He said they used to have roomfuls of human calculators (not what he called them but that was the gist) with slide rules and lots of blackboards and scratch paper, that he would call upon to crunch numbers for him. Now we still have engineers, but that roomful of jobs is gone, replaced by computers. And at some point the engineers will be obsolete too.

Sure, we keep having at least some jobs left when these functions are consolidated, but increasingly what is left are computer operators telling the computers what they want done (more and more like George Jetson, sitting there pushing buttons). And each of those computer operators is, with the help of the computers, fulfilling a role formerly filled by at least several (or maybe even dozens, or scores) of people.

We could in fact already have gotten to a point of mass unemployment, due to this much greater level of productivity, if people were still settling for having as much "stuff" as they did a few decades ago. But instead, we still employ most people and use the greater productivity to supply ourselves with way more stuff than our ancestors dreamed of. That seems to have some kind of saturation point, though: already, the storage industry has boomed in the past decade or two as people ran out of room even in their increasingly large houses to put all their stuff. (Flashing back to George Carlin's famous routine here.)

It could be that we will continue to have high percentages of the population "employed", but at increasingly trivial jobs where they spend most of their time playing games, watching LOLCATS videos, and goofing off with their fellow employees.
  #67  
Old 04-20-2012, 06:50 PM
heathen earthling heathen earthling is offline
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It could be that we will continue to have high percentages of the population "employed", but at increasingly trivial jobs where they spend most of their time playing games, watching LOLCATS videos, and goofing off with their fellow employees.
Nice username/post combination.
  #68  
Old 04-21-2012, 02:55 AM
SlackerInc SlackerInc is offline
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Heh, true enough, heathen earthling.

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The first four chapters are really quite scary, and then from there it veers into bizarre utopianism, IMHO. But this idea that most people will be considered useless and herded into welfare compounds as security risks seems frighteningly plausible.
Ambrosia, that was quite an interesting read; thanks for posting the link. The guy does not really have a literary talent per se; but the futurist ideas he presents are--despite the pedestrian prose--very intriguing, well developed, and plausible (particularly, as you say, the first part of it).

Last edited by SlackerInc; 04-21-2012 at 02:56 AM.
  #69  
Old 04-21-2012, 04:13 AM
Boyo Jim Boyo Jim is offline
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I've been meaning to start a thread along these very lines...

We can, and probably will (in the next couple of centuries), get to a point where the vast majority of humans are no longer necessary to produce the goods and services that drive today's economy.

Personally, I think we're already seeing a preview of the battle lines to come, in the form of the debate over maintaining and increasing, or slashing and removing, the so-called "social safety net".

We as a society are going to have to decide the answer to a question. Do human beings in and of themselves have an inherent value to society that deserves support , regardless of whether those humans do (or ever will) contribute the the material wealth or productivity of society?

To answer the question "Yes" means a massive re-ordering of society including a redistribution of wealth on a scale never before even seriously suggested in the US. There would be massive resistance to it, even from among those people who are displaced out of the economy by automation. You could call this the "Star Trek Vision" -- whether or not we ever develop the technology to expand through the galaxy.

To answer the question "no" means, at best, the near elimination of the middle class, massive ghetto-ization of an underclass the size of which dwarfs anything most people ever imagined, and the slow die-off of much of the population. The only people still around will be those who own most of the stuff, a relatively small cadre of professional technocrats, and some artists who find patronage among the former two groups. It would be a kind of neo-feudalism.

Honestly, I don't have a single fuckin' clue how this is going to get resolved.
  #70  
Old 04-21-2012, 05:27 AM
SlackerInc SlackerInc is offline
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Here's an interesting take.
  #71  
Old 04-21-2012, 01:24 PM
rat avatar rat avatar is offline
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I've been meaning to start a thread along these very lines...

We can, and probably will (in the next couple of centuries), get to a point where the vast majority of humans are no longer necessary to produce the goods and services that drive today's economy.

Personally, I think we're already seeing a preview of the battle lines to come, in the form of the debate over maintaining and increasing, or slashing and removing, the so-called "social safety net".

We as a society are going to have to decide the answer to a question. Do human beings in and of themselves have an inherent value to society that deserves support , regardless of whether those humans do (or ever will) contribute the the material wealth or productivity of society?

To answer the question "Yes" means a massive re-ordering of society including a redistribution of wealth on a scale never before even seriously suggested in the US. There would be massive resistance to it, even from among those people who are displaced out of the economy by automation. You could call this the "Star Trek Vision" -- whether or not we ever develop the technology to expand through the galaxy.

To answer the question "no" means, at best, the near elimination of the middle class, massive ghetto-ization of an underclass the size of which dwarfs anything most people ever imagined, and the slow die-off of much of the population. The only people still around will be those who own most of the stuff, a relatively small cadre of professional technocrats, and some artists who find patronage among the former two groups. It would be a kind of neo-feudalism.

Honestly, I don't have a single fuckin' clue how this is going to get resolved.
This has been happening over and over again for thousands of years.

Improvements in agricultural allowed the rise of human society, we just find new things for those people to do.

The plow allowed people to spend learning to write etc.....and yes, really accountants and writers and teachers are the "doing nothing" population if you think about where we were in a substance agrarian world.

Despite the common dream I haven't seen anything that shows that most humans want to be idle and I know personally it doesn't work for me.

These "robots" and this automation, it is not a black box, there are lots of humans who are required to make it happen. The fact that less humans are required to do existing work doesn't mean that all possible work is being done.

We as a species are a very creative creature, finding new things to work on is accelerating due to the ability to share information instantly and world wide.

The fact that we haven't figured out how to convert human labor workforce, which was cheaper than mechanical solution without issues does not change the fact that there are many areas we still need human talent.

But I guess it really depends on if your scope is for us as a nation or as a species. One of the aspects of this cheap automation is that it is very possible to decentralize production also.

I have a 3d printer that was built from parts that are available any place in this world.

With free software I can use a $3 line laser from a saw, a lazy susan and a webcam I can copy many items in my living room. It may not look as pretty but it can be functional.

There are growing worldwide communities that are sharing the "things" that they make so you can print them for yourself.

Almost everything required to make this printer can be bought at your local hardware store. If you can source the plastic (which can be from recycled material).

As a country we have a problem, but that is in converting our workforce to one that meets the new needs of a global world, it will be tough for us if we fail to do so but for the world well they are just getting started.

So IMHO, change...yep it's coming but doom and or utopia are just as far away as ever.

Unless having a flipping 3d printer and instant access to the world body of knowledge was your idea of utopia....which is kind of what I think mine was in the 80's

Last edited by rat avatar; 04-21-2012 at 01:27 PM.
  #72  
Old 04-21-2012, 04:30 PM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is offline
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This has been happening over and over again for thousands of years.

Improvements in agricultural allowed the rise of human society, we just find new things for those people to do.

The plow allowed people to spend learning to write etc.....and yes, really accountants and writers and teachers are the "doing nothing" population if you think about where we were in a substance agrarian world.

Despite the common dream I haven't seen anything that shows that most humans want to be idle and I know personally it doesn't work for me.

These "robots" and this automation, it is not a black box, there are lots of humans who are required to make it happen. The fact that less humans are required to do existing work doesn't mean that all possible work is being done.

We as a species are a very creative creature, finding new things to work on is accelerating due to the ability to share information instantly and world wide.

The fact that we haven't figured out how to convert human labor workforce, which was cheaper than mechanical solution without issues does not change the fact that there are many areas we still need human talent.

But I guess it really depends on if your scope is for us as a nation or as a species. One of the aspects of this cheap automation is that it is very possible to decentralize production also.

I have a 3d printer that was built from parts that are available any place in this world.

With free software I can use a $3 line laser from a saw, a lazy susan and a webcam I can copy many items in my living room. It may not look as pretty but it can be functional.

There are growing worldwide communities that are sharing the "things" that they make so you can print them for yourself.

Almost everything required to make this printer can be bought at your local hardware store. If you can source the plastic (which can be from recycled material).

As a country we have a problem, but that is in converting our workforce to one that meets the new needs of a global world, it will be tough for us if we fail to do so but for the world well they are just getting started.

So IMHO, change...yep it's coming but doom and or utopia are just as far away as ever.

Unless having a flipping 3d printer and instant access to the world body of knowledge was your idea of utopia....which is kind of what I think mine was in the 80's
The early generations of robots require human upkeep. All the robots in manufacturing plants require humans to maintain them. Even in the industrial revolution I think that manufacturing saw the labor force decline by 70% or so in various industries.

However as time passes our machines can do more and more of our labor, and do it better than us. If by 2050 we have bipedal robots that can physically perform all the actions of a human (and we know enough about the brain to build software that gives them the ability to do most thinking tasks), the robots cost 50k and are as smart as a human, where do we go from there? By 2100 the robots will probably be dirt cheap and far more talented than humans. Our technology advances rapidly while our biology is stagnant. Cell phones went from being a luxury item on the coasts in wealthy nations to a tool that the poorest people in Africa can afford in 30 years. In 100 years our machines will be light years more advanced than they are now and we will be exactly the same. In 500 years we will be the same biologically, our technology will have grown by leaps and bounds. Sooner or later virtually all the physical and mental 'work' we do will be done cheaper and better by our inventions.

Manufacturing isn't the only area affected. The service industry, professional industries, the arts, etc. will see advances in robotics and software that will start to replace humans since machines will be cheaper, better and more reliable. And yeah we will get pushed into different jobs that require us to use our hands and our minds, and our inventions will be able to do those jobs better and cheaper than us too.

Last edited by Wesley Clark; 04-21-2012 at 04:33 PM.
  #73  
Old 04-21-2012, 06:22 PM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
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Well, I could see one way that the country could go, not likely

To be honest, a place like Detroit might be an interesting test scenario.
'nationalize' all the property. Tear it down in sections [there are large areas that are totally empty and would work.] Take the opportunity to update the infrastructure, put in a combination of single family, duplex, small rowhouses and an occasional apartment house, the usual needful stuff [hospital, schools, police and firehouses and shopping, and a selection of empty lots for churches to opt to build, and greenspace/parks] and 'issue' them to families sort of like council housing in Britain was originally. If we are all going to end up on the dole, might as well take the opportunity to actually make rambling badly laid out cities with rotting infrastructures better.

[ I used to own a house in Craddock, one of the US's first planned communities. It was a combination of single, duplex and small apartment houses, with a centralized town square sort of shopping area, churches, schools and municipal buildings. ]
  #74  
Old 04-21-2012, 09:40 PM
Martini Enfield Martini Enfield is offline
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Those who still bet on making buggy whips do pretty poorly.
Only as an industry overall. There's always going to be a small number of people who make a living dealing with well osbolete technology. For example, look at the people who supply Civil War or Wild West re-enactors. They're making a living supplying stuff that's functionally 150 years old.

An interesting and thought-provoking OP. I can't hope to add the same depth of worthy response as some other posters here have, but I think the OP's scenario would play out different in different countries and it would be nice to explore the scenario in an non-US context.
  #75  
Old 04-22-2012, 07:31 AM
eburacum45 eburacum45 is offline
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I enjoy Lemur866's posts, and find them very thought provoking. But they are basically thought experiments, and refer to situations that could not exist in reality. Even a perfectly functioning, fully automated manufacturing system which operates without human input couldn't rovide an unlimited amount of goods for consumption, because some resources remain scarce.

Humans can obtain free oxygen from the air, simply because bazillions of automated factories manufacture it for us. But oxygen is the mosr abundant element in the Earth's lithosphere; if we want automated manufactories to create unlimited amounts of other goods, some of those goods are going to require resources that are less abundant, such as rare earths.

Given a fully automated manufactory system that was given permission by the land owners of our planet to process the rock beneath our feet, this shortage of resources could be solved; hurrah! We can all have limitless quantitioes of electronic goods1 Except that this would cause environmental degradation.

No, that can be fixed as well; the automated manufactory machines would need to be programmed to restore the land to its previous state (or better still, improve it); something like mountaintop removal mining, but on a grand scale, and with carefully regulated end results.

To achieve a green and pleasant planet after all this activity would require a lot of energy input; some might say an unrealistically large energy input. On the other hand there is plenty of Space-based solar power (SBSP) that could be imported into Earth ; given enough (robotically produced) SBSP we could have a true post-scarcity society on this planet. This imported power would eventually cause problems with waste heat, in a couple of hundred years or less depending on growth.

Alternately rare earths and other resources that could only be obtained by environmentally damaging strip mining could be obtained from seawater and/or from asteroids. Hmm; once again we hit problems with growth- if all humans can obtain all of their material requirements from these automated systems, what would prevent the population from growing at an arbitrary rate? Perhaps everyone would be too busy enjoying themselves to have big families; but perhaps not.

Eventually you hit a situation where Earth resembles Corusacant or Trantor; waste heat would be the limiting factor here.

I'm hoping that in a post-scarcity society it would become fashonable to live as responsibly as possible; since almost all trappings of wealth would be meaningless, there would be no need for conspicuous consumption, and no need to have large families to support the adults in old age.

But in an environment where resources are abundant, growth often continues until some limiting factor kicks in. What would be the limiting factor in a post-scarcity society with fully automated manufactories? Waste heat considerations, or simply the choices made by the population to limit consumption?
  #76  
Old 04-22-2012, 11:55 AM
Evil Captor Evil Captor is offline
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I enjoy Lemur866's posts, and find them very thought provoking. But they are basically thought experiments, and refer to situations that could not exist in reality. Even a perfectly functioning, fully automated manufacturing system which operates without human input couldn't rovide an unlimited amount of goods for consumption, because some resources remain scarce.

Humans can obtain free oxygen from the air, simply because bazillions of automated factories manufacture it for us. But oxygen is the mosr abundant element in the Earth's lithosphere; if we want automated manufactories to create unlimited amounts of other goods, some of those goods are going to require resources that are less abundant, such as rare earths.

Given a fully automated manufactory system that was given permission by the land owners of our planet to process the rock beneath our feet, this shortage of resources could be solved; hurrah! We can all have limitless quantitioes of electronic goods1 Except that this would cause environmental degradation.

No, that can be fixed as well; the automated manufactory machines would need to be programmed to restore the land to its previous state (or better still, improve it); something like mountaintop removal mining, but on a grand scale, and with carefully regulated end results.

To achieve a green and pleasant planet after all this activity would require a lot of energy input; some might say an unrealistically large energy input. On the other hand there is plenty of Space-based solar power (SBSP) that could be imported into Earth ; given enough (robotically produced) SBSP we could have a true post-scarcity society on this planet. This imported power would eventually cause problems with waste heat, in a couple of hundred years or less depending on growth.

Alternately rare earths and other resources that could only be obtained by environmentally damaging strip mining could be obtained from seawater and/or from asteroids. Hmm; once again we hit problems with growth- if all humans can obtain all of their material requirements from these automated systems, what would prevent the population from growing at an arbitrary rate? Perhaps everyone would be too busy enjoying themselves to have big families; but perhaps not.

Eventually you hit a situation where Earth resembles Corusacant or Trantor; waste heat would be the limiting factor here.

I'm hoping that in a post-scarcity society it would become fashonable to live as responsibly as possible; since almost all trappings of wealth would be meaningless, there would be no need for conspicuous consumption, and no need to have large families to support the adults in old age.

But in an environment where resources are abundant, growth often continues until some limiting factor kicks in. What would be the limiting factor in a post-scarcity society with fully automated manufactories? Waste heat considerations, or simply the choices made by the population to limit consumption?
You are aware, are you not, of the trend for populations to stabilize and even decline when societies reach a certain level of prosperity? See: Italy, Japan, others.

Last edited by Evil Captor; 04-22-2012 at 11:56 AM.
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Old 04-22-2012, 12:39 PM
eburacum45 eburacum45 is offline
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You are aware, are you not, of the trend for populations to stabilize and even decline when societies reach a certain level of prosperity? See: Italy, Japan, others.
Yes; I hope that is a trend that will continue; but can we rely on it?
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Old 04-23-2012, 11:06 AM
CutterJohn CutterJohn is offline
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Yes; I hope that is a trend that will continue; but can we rely on it?
I don't think so.

The population stabilizes because a child is a huge burden. Gotta take care of the kid, feed it, cloth it, pay for its school, take time off work when its sick, etc. Its not like when we were on a farm, and that kid was essentially a slave laborer, working without pay.

Kids are a net liability today rather than a bonus.


Now when we're all on the dole because of the robot revolution, the kids are neither a benefit nor a liability, so I'd expect that the average number of births would go up.
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Old 04-23-2012, 01:04 PM
Lemur866 Lemur866 is offline
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To answer the question "Yes" means a massive re-ordering of society including a redistribution of wealth on a scale never before even seriously suggested in the US. There would be massive resistance to it, even from among those people who are displaced out of the economy by automation. You could call this the "Star Trek Vision" -- whether or not we ever develop the technology to expand through the galaxy.
This is the key point that I think people are misunderstanding. That we would require a "massive redistribution of wealth". No, we won't.

The future goods and services of the future, created by future robots of the future (again, using "robots" to mean a whole panoply of automated systems), aren't going to be expensive, they'll be cheap. Let's assume a future where a small hyper-wealthy elite owns everything worth owning and performs all the human economic activity worth performing. And we need a welfare system to support all the useless drones who don't own anything and can't produce anything worthwhile. Except, is this welfare system "massive"? No, it isn't. It's cheap and efficient. Only a small fraction of the hyper-elite's wealth is needed to provide everyone on earth with a comfortable lifestyle superior to a modern-day middle class lifestyle, with the added bonus that they don't have to work every day.

Clothes, food, gadgets, furniture, high-rise apartment buildings, entertainment, medical care, all these things can be provided and they don't cost very much. You save a lot of money now that people don't have to commute every day to work, they don't need to be expensively trained to work, they don't need to do anything except not cause trouble. There may be some parts of this lifestyle that would seem constrained to our early 21st century tastes. Detached houses with yards might be rarer, private vehicles might be rarer.

But the reason this is sustainable is that the substitutes for today's goods and services are so much cheaper. You don't have expensive robot mailmen lugging envelopes from door to door, you replace that with email. You don't have robot maids pushing vacuum cleaners around, you have vacuum cleaners that drive themselves. You don't have Robocop running around capturing bad guys, you have millions of cameras everywhere. And on and on, the vast majority of economic activity won't be replacing human work with robots that do similar work, it will be making whole types of work obsolete and replacing them with totally different goods and services that fill the same needs in radically different ways.

As for places to live, there's plenty of empty land out there where we can build housing for people with no jobs, the reason everyone crams into expensive cities is because that's where the jobs are. It's a lot cheaper to live in South Dakota than Manhattan, but there aren't any jobs in South Dakota. Welcome to the future, where there aren't any jobs in Manhattan either. Of course, lots of people will still want to live in Manhattan, except the hyper-elite won't let them. Oh well. There won't be any need for the hyper-elite to keep the masses in their place, anybody who wants can join the hyper-elite, all they have to do is come up with some form of desirable economic activity that can't be produced by automation. So you're a non-elite kid who has no job and never will, and isn't allowed to live in Manhattan. Same thing happens today.

And even though it will be much cheaper to provide a decent middleclass lifestyle for everyone on welfare, the hyperelite will also be much much much wealthier than the regular old millionaires and billionaires of today. We won't need onerous taxes on the hyperwealthy to fund the modest lifestyles of the welfare drones, because supporting the welfare drones will only require a small fraction of the wealth of the rich.

But of course, this vision is actually nonsensical. Because it still imagines factories owned by the elites, which are taxed to produce goods and services which are then distributed to the poor. But in reality, what will happen is the poor will own machines to produce all these goods and services for themselves. We won't need to tax a rich factory owner to buy shoes for some poor kid on welfare. If the poor kid on welfare wants new shoes, he'll just have his home fabricator make him some shoes. Any gadget or tool this kid wants can come out of a box in the living room.

This isn't socialism, where the state or the people communally own the means of production. This isn't social democracy, where the means of production are privately owned but highly taxed and regulated to provide for the people. This isn't even capitalism. This is more similar to a stage before capitalism, where people almost never produced goods to sell or trade, but instead for their own use. Whole categories of economic activity disappear from public space and stop being counted as economic activity at all. Just like vacuuming the floor of your own house isn't counted as economic activity, or posting on the Straight Dope isn't counted as economic activity, so automated production of a new pair of shoes won't count as economic activity. It will be thought of more like brushing your teet or combing your hair. You need a pair of shoes, so you have some made and put them on, and when you're done you throw them away.

So where do the hyperwealthy owners fit in? Nowhere. What do they own? The reason factory owners are wealthy today is that they produce goods that people want. "Factory owner" becomes just another job that is automated out of existence.

Of course in the future, some categories of goods and services won't be automatable, and whoever controls the supply of those goods and services will be wealthy in a way that will make Bill Gates look like a peasant proud of the size of his compost heap. But I doubt those people will very much resemble the industrialists and entreprenuers and apparatchiks of the industrial age, just as those people don't much resemble the landowners and warlords of the feudal age.
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Old 04-23-2012, 02:16 PM
Evil Captor Evil Captor is offline
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I don't think so.

The population stabilizes because a child is a huge burden. Gotta take care of the kid, feed it, cloth it, pay for its school, take time off work when its sick, etc. Its not like when we were on a farm, and that kid was essentially a slave laborer, working without pay.

Kids are a net liability today rather than a bonus.


Now when we're all on the dole because of the robot revolution, the kids are neither a benefit nor a liability, so I'd expect that the average number of births would go up.
Easy enough to make having more than two kids a liabilty ... do it and you are off the dole. Just make sure it applies to both mothers and fathers equally. I suspect however that it would not be a problem. I think given that the trends all indicate diminished birthrate within affluent societies, the problem will be maintaining population, after a while, and not a very long one give the prognostications for Japan.

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Old 04-23-2012, 06:31 PM
Mnemnosyne Mnemnosyne is offline
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But of course, this vision is actually nonsensical. Because it still imagines factories owned by the elites, which are taxed to produce goods and services which are then distributed to the poor. But in reality, what will happen is the poor will own machines to produce all these goods and services for themselves. We won't need to tax a rich factory owner to buy shoes for some poor kid on welfare. If the poor kid on welfare wants new shoes, he'll just have his home fabricator make him some shoes. Any gadget or tool this kid wants can come out of a box in the living room.

This isn't socialism, where the state or the people communally own the means of production. This isn't social democracy, where the means of production are privately owned but highly taxed and regulated to provide for the people. This isn't even capitalism. This is more similar to a stage before capitalism, where people almost never produced goods to sell or trade, but instead for their own use. Whole categories of economic activity disappear from public space and stop being counted as economic activity at all. Just like vacuuming the floor of your own house isn't counted as economic activity, or posting on the Straight Dope isn't counted as economic activity, so automated production of a new pair of shoes won't count as economic activity. It will be thought of more like brushing your teet or combing your hair. You need a pair of shoes, so you have some made and put them on, and when you're done you throw them away.

So where do the hyperwealthy owners fit in? Nowhere. What do they own? The reason factory owners are wealthy today is that they produce goods that people want. "Factory owner" becomes just another job that is automated out of existence.

Of course in the future, some categories of goods and services won't be automatable, and whoever controls the supply of those goods and services will be wealthy in a way that will make Bill Gates look like a peasant proud of the size of his compost heap. But I doubt those people will very much resemble the industrialists and entreprenuers and apparatchiks of the industrial age, just as those people don't much resemble the landowners and warlords of the feudal age.
This part of your scenario goes far beyond what I comprehend to be the concept posited in this hypothetical. This is at the level of star trek replicators, not simply increasing the efficiency of our manufacturing to fully automated, robot-controlled levels with no human involvement.

We aren't going to have people fabricating stuff at home simply by making fabrication of stuff more efficient. Acquisition of raw materials, transportation, refining them into more usable raw materials, transporting them again, converting them into even more usable forms, probably yet another level of transportation (or several more levels of both transportation and production), and finally fabrication of the finished product will still exist.

Making things will still require factories for the foreseeable future, regardless of how much automation we get. As far as I know, energy to matter in the form of star trek replicators is considered scientifically improbable, and similarly some kind of 'omni-gel' type substance that can be instantly fabricated into whatever is also improbable (although far more likely with a limited set of possible things to produce). Therefore, no, people won't be creating their own stuff at home - things will still be mass-produced in factories, they'll still need to be transported around and people will still have to go to stores or have them physically delivered to their homes.

Now, the first part of your post that I didn't quote makes some sense. I can see that potentially happening, maybe. If the manufacturing process is cheap enough, and there's enough competition to drive prices down to near-cost, rather than allowing the manufacturers to simply make ever-higher profits as costs go down, then maybe that vision would happen instead of mine. It's still pretty similar in the end, with the hyper-elite pushing everyone else out of their elite enclaves, except now they're providing a basic living for them in order to keep them from revolting. That might very well be the more likely scenario - I'm not sure.
  #82  
Old 05-05-2012, 04:29 AM
SlackerInc SlackerInc is offline
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Another sign that we are headed in this direction, from tonight's PBS Newshour:

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DAVID BROOKS: But the point is, the productivity of the American economy is doing pretty well. Companies are doing a good job of producing stuff. They are just not using people to do it. And so that is -- that is the structural problem. And so who has an answer for that? Well, I wish I knew. I don't know. But that is a tough one.

MARK SHIELDS: It's a terrible quandary. We are producing the same amount of goods and services we did with five million fewer workers. That is a real challenge.
Romney and the GOP are jumping up and down pointing at the lower workforce participation rate. If we had the same percentage of adults in the workforce (either working or looking for jobs) as when Obama took office, the unemployment rate would be over 11 percent instead of dropping to 8.1 percent. Shields and Brooks see this as a "terrible quandary", but maybe it's just part of the process of moving toward a future like the one Lemur describes. And maybe in the process of moving there, we'll have fewer and fewer and fewer jobs, but without going back into double digit unemployment.

Last edited by SlackerInc; 05-05-2012 at 04:30 AM. Reason: formatting, as usual
  #83  
Old 05-05-2012, 11:44 AM
Evil Captor Evil Captor is offline
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This part of your scenario goes far beyond what I comprehend to be the concept posited in this hypothetical. This is at the level of star trek replicators, not simply increasing the efficiency of our manufacturing to fully automated, robot-controlled levels with no human involvement.
Well, yes, star trek replicator like devices constitute a very futuristic technology whose very existence is problematical. It would be nice to have a magic bullet that could end human need like that, but waiting for it could prove time-consuming and futile. Whereas the trend towards all goods being produced in factories that need less and less human input is happening RIGHT NOW. Look at the post above this.

It's not the fact that factories need less and less human labor to produce goods that's the problem. It's that in a capitalist economy, those factories are owned by a very small percentage of the population. As the trend continues, you will find that political rhetoric among conservatives will increasingly describe the people made unemployed and unemployable by this trend as lazy, useless good-for-nothings, and the people who own things will believe it because it will create an image of them as godlike beings of great worth ... job creators or something like that.

It's a formula for human misery on a massive scale.

Last edited by Evil Captor; 05-05-2012 at 11:45 AM.
  #84  
Old 05-05-2012, 12:01 PM
SlackerInc SlackerInc is offline
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But Captor, that's only if the Koch brothers and the Tea Partiers win the debate. I see it as highly plausible that what they would decry as an "entitlement society" will look appealing enough to a majority of voters that this wins the day, and thus the transition to a smaller and smaller workforce is peaceful, and the misery is prevented by what the right will sneer at as "welfare", but which as Lemur points out will be cheaper and cheaper to provide over time.
  #85  
Old 05-05-2012, 07:20 PM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is offline
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I don't think so.

The population stabilizes because a child is a huge burden. Gotta take care of the kid, feed it, cloth it, pay for its school, take time off work when its sick, etc. Its not like when we were on a farm, and that kid was essentially a slave laborer, working without pay.

Kids are a net liability today rather than a bonus.


Now when we're all on the dole because of the robot revolution, the kids are neither a benefit nor a liability, so I'd expect that the average number of births would go up.
I wonder how much of it is the value we put on quality of life as we become wealthier though. Even if you can afford a kid in developed countries the goal of life is happiness, not survival. So a lot of people choose not to have kids not because they can't afford them but because they don't think the world is a safe place. Robots and a post scarcity society won't really change this. However radical advances in neuroscience probably would.

Last edited by Wesley Clark; 05-05-2012 at 07:20 PM.
  #86  
Old 05-05-2012, 07:33 PM
Evil Captor Evil Captor is offline
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But Captor, that's only if the Koch brothers and the Tea Partiers win the debate. I see it as highly plausible that what they would decry as an "entitlement society" will look appealing enough to a majority of voters that this wins the day, and thus the transition to a smaller and smaller workforce is peaceful, and the misery is prevented by what the right will sneer at as "welfare", but which as Lemur points out will be cheaper and cheaper to provide over time.
I think Wall Street basically owns our government right now. Our debates are meaningless, and likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future.
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Old 05-07-2012, 04:41 AM
SlackerInc SlackerInc is offline
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Then why are they so intent on getting Republicans to overturn Dodd-Frank?
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Old 05-07-2012, 12:00 PM
Evil Captor Evil Captor is offline
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Then why are they so intent on getting Republicans to overturn Dodd-Frank?
Because they are at heart greedy, stupid pigs and they do not want ANY regulation. Dodd-Frank happened at a time when Wall Street temporarily lost control of the government due to, well, imminent financial collapse in the US. The walls were literally falling down, there was a fear that the economy might flatline. Now that things are more stable, of COURSE they want a return to the unfettered license to gamble with bank depositors' and taxpayers' money.

Was this a trick question?
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Old 05-07-2012, 05:11 PM
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No: you said Wall Street already owned the government and that our debates are meaningless. You are the one not being consistent.

ETA to clarify: when you write "of COURSE they want a return to the unfettered license..." this necessarily implies that it is not, at present, unfettered. But that contradicts your saying that they "basically own our government right now" and that our "debates are meaningless". If they were truly meaningless, they wouldn't really be bothered by Dodd-Frank: it would be some sort of sham. But in fact it does seem to bother them quite a bit, and you admitted that as long as it is in place they are not "unfettered".

Last edited by SlackerInc; 05-07-2012 at 05:14 PM.
  #90  
Old 05-13-2012, 11:43 AM
Lust4Life Lust4Life is offline
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Easy enough to make having more than two kids a liabilty ... do it and you are off the dole. Just make sure it applies to both mothers and fathers equally. I suspect however that it would not be a problem. I think given that the trends all indicate diminished birthrate within affluent societies, the problem will be maintaining population, after a while, and not a very long one give the prognostications for Japan.
Would be a nice solution, how long before people demanding their Human rights insisted that they should be able to have more kids, or they had the extra kids by accident, or some other excuse ?
Its a good idea and you've got to respect the Chinese for implementing it, but it is enforced.

Reduced birth rate doesn't mean a declining population.

One million people having ten kids each means a next generation of ten million, who if they have ten kids each makes one hundred million.

But what if one BILLION people have only two kids each ?

That means the next generation is two BILLION, who if they're all responsible people and only have two kids each themselves will make the next generation four BILLION people.

So if every part of the world magically achieved this standard of living whereby regardless of culture they all decide to have fewer kids then it doesn't mean that the population will decline.

"Oh everything will turn out alright in the end", ie. ignoring the problem and hoping that in time the problem will go away by itself doesn't cut it.

Death by complacency, means that you still end up as dead as anyone else.
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Old 06-02-2012, 07:26 AM
SlackerInc SlackerInc is offline
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This question keeps popping up in the media more and more, it seems. This time it is PBS Newshour:

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/busin...ine_05-24.html

One interesting tidbit from this piece is that there are now already so-called "lights out factories" where they don't waste energy on lighting because they are so fully automated, and don't need illumination. But overall, this story just skims the surface of the issues that in this thread were plumbed far more deeply (kudos to SDMB for that).
  #92  
Old 01-15-2013, 11:21 AM
SlackerInc SlackerInc is offline
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Now The Atlantic takes it on and adds a couple new ideas to the mix:

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/...robots/267135/
  #93  
Old 01-21-2013, 04:56 AM
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The thing about the birth rate is that having children is a difficult, painful and dangerous thing for women to do, so if there is abundance and no pressure to have children from others many will pass on it. That's often left out of the conversation, how much it takes out of women to have children.

I'm thinking that since every place that girls/women can get an education, have other things to do, and free access to reproductive rights, they choose to have fewer children than would keep the population levels up.

That means that in a few generations the population numbers would dramatically drop given that situation, especially if they don't need children to support them.
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Old 01-21-2013, 12:22 PM
Evil Captor Evil Captor is offline
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Rereading this thread, I see a lot of points I think need clearing up.

1) I don't think we are going to need AI to get to the point where robots make virtually everything. You don't NEED a high level of intelligence to build things. Most factory jobs are boring and repetitive, that is, they don't require much of the intelligence that your average human being possesses. They do not require what we would think of as intelligence at all. The eye-hand problem -- making machines that can see and recognize objects and manipulate them -- is something that can be solved incrementally ... that's what the "lights out" factories are all about, they're an incremental solution to the problem of robots manipulating objects.

The replicators that are being spoken of are, I suspect, a long way down the road, 3D printers not withstanding, barring some leap in 3D printer technology. How long would it take to build a house out of a 3D printer? Another 3D printer? A wide screen TV set? A PC? A bed? I would personally LOVE it if all anyone ever had to buy to meet their material needs was a 3D printer and a starter bag of dirt (cause it could also print food). I am not holding my breath, and would have to have some convincing to make me think this was a near-term solution to human needs.

That said, I think it very probable that we will EVENTUALLY get there. The problem is the transition. We are already moving fast into the area of massive unemployment, and severe under-employment. The Republicans want to "fix" Social Security in 20 years ... if only politicians of either party had any interest in what this problem will be like in 20 years. The trends are so obvious that, as mentioned above, even ECONOMISTS are noticing them.

There will be an extremely dangerous time coming up soon when the cultural/political beliefs that are based on everybody wanting a job being able to get one eventually will still be around, but there will be no jobs around to get. The cultural/political beliefs will change very rapidly among those affected, but MUCH more slowly among the wealthy and the few remaining middle class who are not affected.

I do not think the wealthy are going to attack the unemployed with killer robots. I think the wealthy are utterly indifferent to the fate of most non-wealthy persons (actually, most "non-themselves" persons as I believe that many of the wealthy are sociopaths). They will be content to let the unemployed die off on their own. Or survive, however miserably, on their own. They might even set up feeding stations! Are they not merciful?

Once human culture develops an ethos that actually values human beings in and of themselves, things will get better and we might even find our way to that utopia of a society where each human being contributes in some way with whatever it is that makes them unique as a person. I'm not worried about that. I'm worried about the shit we will have to go through to get there, and making it as non-catastrophic as possible.

Did I mention that global-warming associated climate change will prolly be going on during this period too?

Interesting times, my friends!

BTW, Slackerinc's link to the Atlantic article contains a link to a huge number of articles relating to this topic, so I'm gonna link directly to that link right here in this link. All sorts of interesting reading for interesting times.
  #95  
Old 01-21-2013, 03:38 PM
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The benefits also go to the people who figure out how to fix, spec and install the robots.

Those who still bet on making buggy whips do pretty poorly.
... Or perhaps the robots will do repairs themselves - after banning screwdrivers and wrenches so that humans cannot disassemble the tyrannical robot overloads.

We need another amendment
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Old 01-21-2013, 05:07 PM
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In 500 years we will be the same biologically, our technology will have grown by leaps and bounds.
Our biology won't be the same due to genetic engineering and/or cybernetics. Future humans may end up being much more intelligent than we are now.
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Old 01-24-2013, 10:40 AM
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Hmmmm ... robotic 3D printers here now ... seems germane ...
  #98  
Old 01-25-2013, 06:36 AM
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One misconception that people have is that automating a job has the net effect of decreasing available jobs by 1.

In fact, employment is basically unlimited. As long as anyone's life is not perfect, there is a job for a human to do. Automating a process makes us more efficient at that process and frees human labour to do one of the jobs that machines can't currently do.

The reason that there are any unemployed is due to a number of factors such as people not being trained in areas that the economy needs, market failures in matching people to roles, and a proportion of the population being unemployable due to general or mental health issues (and yes other factors, but I think those are the main 3).

If automation were a significant problem, why has unemployment continued to bounce around the 5% mark for the last century despite huge industrialization of engineering?

Finally, just to finish out the rant, the scenario of a few rich people making machines while the rest of us live destitute makes no sense at all, economically speaking. If no-one can afford what the machines make then much of the economy would tick on as it currently does.
The reality is that many people's lives have already been made materially better by this kind of industrialization and will continue to be. (Though of course it may well be the case that income disparity may increase, particularly in low-tax countries).

Last edited by Mijin; 01-25-2013 at 06:38 AM.
  #99  
Old 01-25-2013, 08:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Mijin View Post
One misconception that people have is that automating a job has the net effect of decreasing available jobs by 1.

In fact, employment is basically unlimited. As long as anyone's life is not perfect, there is a job for a human to do. Automating a process makes us more efficient at that process and frees human labour to do one of the jobs that machines can't currently do.
Well said.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mijin
The reason that there are any unemployed is due to a number of factors such as people not being trained in areas that the economy needs, market failures in matching people to roles, and a proportion of the population being unemployable due to general or mental health issues (and yes other factors, but I think those are the main 3).

If automation were a significant problem, why has unemployment continued to bounce around the 5% mark for the last century despite huge industrialization of engineering?
You're describing frictional unemployment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mijin
Finally, just to finish out the rant, the scenario of a few rich people making machines while the rest of us live destitute makes no sense at all, economically speaking. If no-one can afford what the machines make then much of the economy would tick on as it currently does.
The reality is that many people's lives have already been made materially better by this kind of industrialization and will continue to be. (Though of course it may well be the case that income disparity may increase, particularly in low-tax countries).
It makes no sense and it won't happen, but it's pleasing to certain segments to imagine a market economy as brutal exploitation instead of voluntary exchanges.
  #100  
Old 01-25-2013, 10:08 AM
Mijin Mijin is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Shanghai
Posts: 7,817
Quote:
Originally Posted by Human Action View Post
You're describing frictional unemployment.
I guess so but that wiki seems to be implying short-term gaps in employment.

I was thinking about more long-term social factors, like the "unemployable", cultural factors that this race/gender/age is rarely considered for this role, not enough people training in IT, say, or poor quality training, companies' hiring policies (e.g. insisting on graduates for a job that doesn't really need it) etc.
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