View Single Post
Old 01-09-2012, 09:18 PM
Arjuna34 is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: Nov 1999
Posts: 1,576
Originally Posted by SlackerInc View Post
So it looks like a lot of people responding are like me in having an easier time imagining the end result, but not a lot of comments about the transition. What does the economy look like a decade or two before we get to this state where most everything is automated? High unemployment or underemployment seems a given (or reduced hours, or reduced importance for each employee to do their share to keep society functioning). But would that lead to turmoil in the medium term, or would the massive increases in GDP make it fairly easy to use taxation to provide a comfortable safety net?
The book The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future is about this transition, and the end result (assuming technology results in this scenario, of course). The book argues that, unlike the progress in the last 200 years, technology will eventually make many jobs obsolete without new, different jobs to replace them. Without jobs for everyone, there are very few consumers, and thus our system breaks down.

According to the book, the massive increases in productivity and drastically lower labor costs allow much higher taxes on businesses, ultimately resulting in business taxes on business comparable to the original labor costs. These taxes are then distributed back to the people, allowing them to be consumers. Hopefully this would be a gradual occurrence, as specific jobs and sectors were affected.

Tough to predict how our society will actually react to disruptive technological changes over the next 50-80 years.