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Old 08-08-2019, 02:42 PM
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Shouldn't we just *ban* automation?


I was listening to an episode of The Weeds podcast several weeks ago when one of the speakers pointed out that Tucker Carlson of all people had actually floated the idea of *banning* automation. I'll be honest in that I had never before even considered such idea; I've basically been operating under the assumption for years that the coming automation-induced unemployment explosion - while overblown in a lot of ways - is nonetheless largely unavoidable. Consequently, the idea of just banning the practice - or just establishing a line over which the robots cannot cross (so, for example, no self-driving trucks) - might actually yield more broad social benefits than downsides.

I.e. for all the talk of UBI being a way around the automation bubble - and it's a proposal that I support! - it is no coincidence that UBI's greatest proponents are all emanating from Silicon Valley; the tech sector has a vested interest in ensuring that the automation technologies that *it is inventing* do not spur a consequent crackdown on automation writ large. If we were to just ban automation, then the political issues surrounding UBI could be put to rest because the policy itself would not be necessary.

What say the Dope?
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Old 08-08-2019, 02:51 PM
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You want to ban business from using technology and maximizing efficiency?

I think the best thing we can do as a society is get over this idea that everyone must work a job to have value. There are many ways to contribute to society without earning a paycheck from an employer. If we can increase efficiency to where not everyone *has* to work to live, then to me that's a good thing. Less overall work that needs to be done for society to function well is a good thing.
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Old 08-08-2019, 02:51 PM
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How well would America's non-automated economy compete against countries that fully embrace it?
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Old 08-08-2019, 03:18 PM
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Banning automation would destroy millions of high paying, high value jobs, and replace them with grunt work for low pay. Products would decline in quality, and go up in price. Exports would collapse.

But hey, maybe weavers will make a comeback. It took a couple of hundred years for the Luddites to get their way, but now we can all go back to working back-breaking labor for subsistence. Go team.

This idea is totally, ridiculously daft. Either Tucker is trolling, or he's had a stroke and is spouting gibberish.

Oh, and the robots aren't taking our jobs. Nor will they. The Robot Apocalypse is just the latest in a string of existential scares some people seem to need to get them through the day.
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Old 08-08-2019, 03:19 PM
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I'm pretty sure that turning a doorknob instigates an automated process that pulls a latch back. You'll have to be rather specific about what processes are disallowed if you're going to do this.
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Old 08-08-2019, 03:20 PM
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I would like to see you get into your time machine and explain to our ancestors about how the species in a far-future time frame will develop the technology to let us attain our goals without us having to extend any effort -- or at least very little -- and that we want it BANNED because that would be a BAD THING.

This structure that we call an "economy" has lost touch with reality. It isn't rational. It has become quite contrary to our interests. It makes no fucking sense.

Last edited by AHunter3; 08-08-2019 at 03:21 PM.
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Old 08-08-2019, 03:28 PM
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It's not the economy that is irrational and contrary to our interests - it's our 'thought leaders' who want to take their irrational ideas and use them to control the economy.
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Old 08-08-2019, 03:32 PM
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This is an idiotic idea, and Tucker Carlson is an idiot for proposing it. Yes, banning automation would result in more people working, and that's precisely why it's a bad idea. Nobody wants to work. People say sometimes that they want work, but what they usually mean is that they want a paycheck, and banning automation would decrease that.
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Old 08-08-2019, 03:32 PM
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It's not the economy that is irrational and contrary to our interests - it's our 'thought leaders' who want to take their irrational ideas and use them to control the economy.
Beg to disagree. The economy creates the situation where we collectively seriously consider it to NOT be in our best interests to save ourselves from mind-numbing time-consuming labor, because it (the economy) is founded on the notion that there's shitload of work that needs doing, a scarcity of hands to do it, and not enough food and other essential resources to go around, so "ya don't work ya don't eat".

We now have not enough WORK to go around (unless we slice it into smaller chunks), a surplus of available people to do it, and a bounty of food and other resources and little need to be fighting over it. I repeat: the economy is not in touch with reality any more.
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Old 08-08-2019, 03:37 PM
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You want to ban business from using technology and maximizing efficiency?

I think the best thing we can do as a society is get over this idea that everyone must work a job to have value. There are many ways to contribute to society without earning a paycheck from an employer. If we can increase efficiency to where not everyone *has* to work to live, then to me that's a good thing. Less overall work that needs to be done for society to function well is a good thing.
Pretty much this. We definitely don't want to ban automation...that's impossible, any way, especially if you aren't god ruler of the world who can rule by fiat. Even if we banned automation, no one else would, and what you'd get is a worse version of what happened to Japan before the US forced open their ports and markets and dragged them kicking and screaming back into the rest of the world.

Basically, what I expect is something like a BLS system at some point, though I think that the fears about automation taking all the jobs is vastly overblown (as they have been historically for, well, centuries now). Personally, I think that unused labor will be used by someone to do something at some point. Also, I think that the very idea of what a 'job' is continues to be in flux, and that the new connectivity will give nearly endless opportunities for folks to create and consume content. But, at some point I expect that something like a basic living standard will also play a role, with everyone receiving some stipend for basic living necessities (housing, food, clothing, entertainment, etc) and then freeing people to do other, creative things with their time instead of some work grind. AI, automation, all of those things are going to provide a world where you won't need to work, at least not in the traditional sense of a 9-5 job punching a time clock and working in the coal mine.
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Old 08-08-2019, 03:41 PM
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Not unless you get the whole world to ban it, which won't happen so why bother. This answer seems so out there even for Carlson that I can't believe he's serious. We won't be competitive if we ban automation. Being luddites isn't the answer. We have adapted to several innovations in business. This will be no different.

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Old 08-08-2019, 03:41 PM
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I was listening to an episode of The Weeds podcast several weeks ago when one of the speakers pointed out that Tucker Carlson of all people had actually floated the idea of *banning* automation.
Remember that this is the guy who thought that a "kilometer" (and other metric units) was some foreign concept that the US should avoid, so I wouldn't look to him for any sensible idea.
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Old 08-08-2019, 03:44 PM
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Beg to disagree. The economy creates the situation where we collectively seriously consider it to NOT be in our best interests to save ourselves from mind-numbing time-consuming labor, because it (the economy) is founded on the notion that there's shitload of work that needs doing, a scarcity of hands to do it, and not enough food and other essential resources to go around, so "ya don't work ya don't eat".

We now have not enough WORK to go around (unless we slice it into smaller chunks), a surplus of available people to do it, and a bounty of food and other resources and little need to be fighting over it. I repeat: the economy is not in touch with reality any more.
Actually, all throughout history the "economy" has been telling us the following: there is X amount of work that needs doing, and it must be done. If you find ways to do it more efficiently, you don't need to invent more work; you instead get your evenings and weekends off. You don't have to send your children and geriatrics into the mines; it's okay for them to stay home. Workload is in a tug of war with free time and leisure.

If we have reached the point where there isn't enough work to go around, that's the economy telling us that some people don't need to work at all. The other people have it covered; everybody else can relax. In an extreme case, our robot overlords have it covered and everyone can relax.

If we're decent human beings, we realize that neither murdering the surplus population nor leaving them to starve in poverty is a decent thing to do. This, of course leads to the idea of taxation of the producers to fund a UBI of some sort - some of the surplus production is siphoned off the top and distrubuted to the masses. If we're so incredibly efficient that we can produce everything we could possibly want and still have idle hands, we as a society can certainly can afford to do this - it's a logical certainty.

Of course, we only have a reason to do this if we're decent human beings. That's not an given, of course.
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Old 08-08-2019, 03:45 PM
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This is Luddite-ism. This would be like people from a century ago wanting trains, airplanes or whatnot banned because they put existing forms of transportation out of business. Or people who wouldn't want the Internet or smartphones because they make so many other forms of communication obsolete.
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Old 08-08-2019, 03:47 PM
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Tell you what, why didn't we do this 20 years ago? Or 50? Or 100? Do you know how many people lost their jobs during either industrial revolutions? Or when we started using animals for labor?

Oh, but this time, it's completely different. Just like every other time. Just like in 1995 when there was going to be The End of Work https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_End_of_Work or in the early 1800s https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luddite

Alternatively, you could mandate that everyone has to work with a hand tied behind their back. That way, you would either need to hire twice as many people or they'd take twice as much time to complete a task, increasing employment.

Last edited by MichaelEmouse; 08-08-2019 at 03:48 PM.
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Old 08-08-2019, 03:47 PM
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This is an idiotic idea, and Tucker Carlson is an idiot for proposing it.
In all fairness, Tucker may simply be pandering to his target demographic of idiots and may not actually be one himself.
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Old 08-08-2019, 04:58 PM
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I've read the documentary, and I believe we're going to have to discover a source of milange to make this proposal feasible.
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Old 08-08-2019, 05:00 PM
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I've read the documentary, and I believe we're going to have to discover a source of milange to make this proposal feasible.
If you're talking about the substance, it's spelled with an e.
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Old 08-08-2019, 05:14 PM
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If you're talking about the substance, it's spelled with an e.
Yes I was and thanks for the correction. There's a Butlerian/Carlsonian Jihad joke I was going for until that stumble.
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Old 08-08-2019, 05:38 PM
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Good news! The working age population of the world is declining. So the fact that automation is going to take over some of the work that previously humans would have done is a good thing, because there's actually fewer humans to go round.

Of course, being humans, apparently our reaction to these two facts is to have simultaneous moral panics about how we're not going to have enough people for the work because population decline, and also we're not going to have enough work for the people, because automation. Because that's smart!
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Old 08-08-2019, 05:39 PM
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When I started working in accounting 26 years ago, we had a 2 rooms full of people that did nothing but data entry and simple addition on 10-key calculators all day. Twenty people, 40 hours a week. Our error rate was .1%. And our average turn around time was 2 business days. When we automated 30% of our invoicing (by volume, not dollar amount), the company absorbed the excess personel in other departments. Overall efficiency and accuracy improved. Invoice volume increased while costs stayed the same. Why would anyone suggest that we pull people out of better jobs, and put them back to grueling data entry work?
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Old 08-08-2019, 05:46 PM
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I'm on board if it means that my great grand pappy gets his buggy whip making job back.

But seriously, blocking progress and innovation in technology in the name of preserving jobs that will be displaced or replaced by that technology is going to do no one any favors.

We are in for an interesting transition with not only labor jobs, but skilled jobs as well getting automated. New jobs should come up, but it will take time to move workers into those jobs.

That was a factor in why I got into the industry I'm in. I'm not saying it cannot ever be automated, but it is going to be a pretty good hold out before someone comes up with a way to make a robot that can groom a dog.
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Old 08-08-2019, 05:59 PM
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Assuming that automation was subject to banning, per OP, automation would have to be very specifically defined. Automation is widespread throughout thw world, the whole world, of manufacturing.New cars are painted, produts are assembled and packaged, the list is approaching endless. Where does the category of automation stop? How about a simple pneumatic cylinder used to fill a bottle or push a defective product off of an assembly line? Is that automation? You may not think about pnuematic actuators in your spare time, but let's say they were included and banned. You just knocked out very large companies that manufacture them. I will guess that you also just caused very adverse production conditions in roughly- roughly- 100% of the manufacuring plants in the country.
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Old 08-08-2019, 07:46 PM
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There will probably be more mass shootings and violence but the automatons will take care of that as well, eventually you'll just be a giant fetus-like creature in a sack of sustenance. Think how much free time you'll have then!!!
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Old 08-08-2019, 07:56 PM
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Don't worry. As soon as you tell people the truth that removing automation will destroy their ability to get bluetooth-enabled toenail clippers for their parrots on next-day delivery, the subject will be as dead as gun control.
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Old 08-08-2019, 09:14 PM
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Some people manually collect water every day from a nearby reservoir.

For others, there's an automated process that brings water directly from the reservoir in to your house, on-demand. It's called piping.

Are you sure you want to "ban" automation?
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Old 08-08-2019, 11:18 PM
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So, "Tucker Carlson of all people had actually floated the idea of *banning* automation."

That FOX is giving a soapbox to that yahoo is not only ridiculous, but dangerous. That sounds a lot like the Unabomber and one of the most recent mass murderers.

Carson really does not mind tossing liquid oxygen into the fire.

One thing to check as a counter and explanation to all that is what James Burke said at the end of his historical view of technology and progress TV show "Connections"

Quote:
Originally Posted by James Burke, Connections (1995)

Scientific knowledge is hard to take [compared to the products of human emotion– art/literature/politics], because it removes the reassuring crutches of opinion and ideology, and leaves only what is demonstrably true about the world. And the reason why so many people may be thinking about throwing away those crutches is because thanks to science and technology they have begun to know that they don’t know so much. And if they are have to have more say in what happens to their lives, more freedom to develop their abilities to the full, they have to be helped toward that knowledge that they know exists, and that they don’t possess.

And by “helped toward that knowledge”, I don’t mean “Give everyone a computer and say ‘Help yourself’.” Where would you even start?

No, I mean: Try to find ways to translate the knowledge, to teach us to ask the right questions. See, we are on the edge of a revolution in communications technology that is going to make that more possible than ever before. Or, if that is not done, to cause an explosion of knowledge that will leave those of us who don’t have access to it as powerless as if we were deaf, dumb, and blind. And I don’t think most people want that.

So, what do we do about it?

I don’t know.

But maybe a good start would be to recognize within yourself the ability to understand anything, because that ability is there, as long as it’s explained clearly enough. And then go and ask for explanations. And if you’re thinking right now “What do I ask for?”, ask yourself if there’s anything in your life that you want changed...

That’s where to start.
The episode, while with dated technology, shows his views about what was coming up as being almost right on the money. Particularly on how some would react to even more rapid fire change brought thanks to automation today and in the near future.

https://archive.org/details/james-bu...ections_s01e10

In essence, banning automation or technological progress is not a recommended course of action.

Last edited by GIGObuster; 08-08-2019 at 11:20 PM.
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Old 08-08-2019, 11:21 PM
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Why ban automation? Why not just distribute the fruits of production more evenly? Problem solved.

Oh wait, it's Fox News we're talking about...
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Old 08-08-2019, 11:35 PM
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Why ban automation? Why not just distribute the fruits of production more evenly? Problem solved.

Oh wait, it's Fox News we're talking about...
Funnily that is option 3 as talked about by James Burke. And with a big :sigh: from him.

As he said, It sounds like a good idea until you ask who would pay for it. Or forgetting about the implied "stop doing more and share it now" directed to the ones working with technology.

Option 4: keep going with change and progress with technology and automation is the best option, but it comes with a lot of choices that should had been made yesterday, so as to prevent the discontent from a very significant number of people that will be left behind by the fast pace of change or worse, that they will work harder to prevent change when science points at problems but there are likely good opportunities that we will get when dealing with the danger. Sadly, they will ignore those opportunities too while trying to prevent change.

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Old 08-08-2019, 11:37 PM
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Funnily that is option 3 as talked about by James Burke. And with a big :sigh: from him.

As he said, It sounds like a good idea until you ask who would pay for it. Or forgetting about the implied "stop doing more and share it now" directed to the ones working with technology.
The rich would pay for it, with progressive taxation.
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Old 08-08-2019, 11:46 PM
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The rich would pay for it, with progressive taxation.
And the rich will try to give us more Trumps in the future. /s

Although I'm not very pessimistic, because to me the latest Luddites are also hurting the rich corporations bottom line, so I do think that more corporations will finally see that looking for tax cuts is not good if the result is a complete collapse of their business later, or bad publicity and loss of revenue now by having to pay for more security at their businesses.
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Old 08-09-2019, 12:01 AM
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How well would this conversation work without computers?

I rest my case.
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Old 08-09-2019, 12:07 AM
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Beg to disagree. The economy creates the situation where we collectively seriously consider it to NOT be in our best interests to save ourselves from mind-numbing time-consuming labor, because it (the economy) is founded on the notion that there's shitload of work that needs doing, a scarcity of hands to do it, and not enough food and other essential resources to go around, so "ya don't work ya don't eat".
No, "the economy" does not hold opinions. There are countries with economies similar to the US which do not share this culture of work being an end in itself: that as long as you've got a jab it doesn't matter if what you are doing is pointless or soul-destroying.

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If you find ways to do [work] more efficiently, you don't need to invent more work; you instead get your evenings and weekends off. You don't have to send your children and geriatrics into the mines; it's okay for them to stay home. Workload is in a tug of war with free time and leisure.
To add to this: sometimes we do the same work using less human labor, and sometimes we decide to do more work overall. And the latter is not a bad thing at all either: it widens the scope of what humans can achieve.

Pick your favorite sci-fi utopia: we're not going to get there with handicraft.
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Old 08-09-2019, 06:47 AM
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Banning automation would destroy millions of high paying, high value jobs,...
Including mine.

That's not a subtle reference to my user name. It really would.
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Old 08-09-2019, 07:21 AM
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How well would this conversation work without computers?

I rest my case.
I like the idea of hand-fabricating a CPU. Or, even better, hand-wire the transistors and components than make up a make up a modern computer! Laptops would be the size of a city block.
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Old 08-09-2019, 07:38 AM
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I like the idea of hand-fabricating a CPU. Or, even better, hand-wire the transistors and components than make up a make up a modern computer! Laptops would be the size of a city block.
As soon as I find the wifi cog, I'm switching to this.
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Old 08-09-2019, 07:40 AM
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Beg to disagree. The economy creates the situation where we collectively seriously consider it to NOT be in our best interests to save ourselves from mind-numbing time-consuming labor, because it (the economy) is founded on the notion that there's shitload of work that needs doing, a scarcity of hands to do it, and not enough food and other essential resources to go around, so "ya don't work ya don't eat".

We now have not enough WORK to go around (unless we slice it into smaller chunks), a surplus of available people to do it, and a bounty of food and other resources and little need to be fighting over it. I repeat: the economy is not in touch with reality any more.
To be fair, itís not ďusĒ who think that. Itís a bunch of loud people who donít think things through. There may be more of those when we discuss economics, but theyíre there in every field.
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Old 08-09-2019, 10:10 AM
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How well would this conversation work without computers?

I rest my case.
I'm pretty sure I have both a semaphore cheat sheet and a naval ensign recognition card somewhere in the appartment, just in case. I'm not sure in case of what, as such, but by gum I shall be prepared when whatever it is happens !
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Old 08-09-2019, 10:34 AM
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I'm pretty sure I have both a semaphore cheat sheet and a naval ensign recognition card somewhere in the appartment, just in case. I'm not sure in case of what, as such, but by gum I shall be prepared when whatever it is happens !
So you'll know to run away instead of standing to fight next time you see Royal Navy signal flags spelling out "England expects that every man will do his duty?"




Too soon?
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Old 08-09-2019, 10:34 AM
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Seems pretty obvious, we just ban the bad automation.
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Old 08-09-2019, 10:45 AM
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Seems pretty obvious, we just ban the bad automation.
Ooooh, good idea, then we won't have any more J.J Abrams ripoffs.
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Old 08-09-2019, 11:23 AM
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Ooooh, good idea, then we won't have any more J.J Abrams ripoffs.
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Old 08-09-2019, 11:59 AM
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This seems so contrary to typical conservative deregulatory mindset. I can't imagine many conservatives agreeing with this.
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Old 08-09-2019, 12:01 PM
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Depends on what sort of conservative we are talking about. I could see several types of conservatives going for this whole hog.
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Old 08-09-2019, 12:03 PM
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This seems so contrary to typical conservative deregulatory mindset. I can't imagine many conservatives agreeing with this.
Yeah, but conservatives today have more to do with George Wallace than Barry Goldwater.
  #46  
Old 08-09-2019, 12:29 PM
Yllaria is offline
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Originally Posted by k9bfriender View Post
As soon as I find the wifi cog, I'm switching to this.
I don't know. The current model is cranked by hand, but Babbage designed it to run on steam. That sounds like automation to me.

As an aside, one of the reasons that Babbage never completed the engine is that standardized parts weren't yet available. Every screw in the machine had to be specifically designed and then manufactured by hand.

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Originally Posted by RitterSport View Post
I like the idea of hand-fabricating a CPU. Or, even better, hand-wire the transistors and components than make up a make up a modern computer! Laptops would be the size of a city block.
Sometimes I think that some people think that if you just got the right group of grannies together, they could knit anything. But there are some things that you just can't knit.

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Originally Posted by KellyCriterion View Post
Some people manually collect water every day from a nearby reservoir.

For others, there's an automated process that brings water directly from the reservoir in to your house, on-demand. It's called piping.

Are you sure you want to "ban" automation?
And it the other direction, water is collected from every house* with piping and pumped to a wastewater treatment plant. Those WWTPs are automated. Try getting clean water if you shut those babies down.

* Almost every house - rural areas with the right kind of soil can use on-site septic tanks.
  #47  
Old 08-09-2019, 12:30 PM
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This seems so contrary to typical conservative deregulatory mindset. I can't imagine many conservatives agreeing with this.
Where do the tariffs stand for the conservative deregulatory mindset?

BTW, that's how we ban automation and survive the competition -- just keep raising tariffs until our hand-crafted automobiles and cell phones can compete on price with the stuff made more efficiently. Has there ever been 10,000% tariffs? 100,000%?
  #48  
Old 08-09-2019, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by RaftPeople View Post
Seems pretty obvious, we just ban the bad automation.
Potential snark aside, this is kind of how I imagine an automation ban would work in practice. I guess I should be clear that I am not wholeheartedly endorsing the idea, but I am intrigued by it given that it is coming from such a prominent right wing pundit. Depending on the extent to which the automation-induced unemployment apocalypse actually materializes there will definitely be more broad receptivity to this general argument.

I imagine how such a ban would work would be to take a look at the forecasted numbers of people put out of work by a given automation technology and weigh those numbers against the costs of retraining those people and/or providing them with monetary compensation via UBI. If the numbers of potentially displaced workers are so great on the former side of that equation, then the technology that displaces them would be banned.

And in terms of how employers would compete internationally against countries who do not ban a given automation technology, the obvious answer is that such employers would have to find other ways to compete that do not involve automating a large part of their workforce. How that would work in practice is beyond me, though.

The two biggest jobs I hear about being automated away are (1) cashiers - which you can already see happening in the form of that shitty self-checkout technology at Walmart and other stores and maybe that tech will improve over time - and (2) truck drivers, which would be a hugely disruptive change given that truck driving is one of the few professions that can deliver a six-figure income without a college degree. That's a lot of angry people who would lose substantial incomes to robots and I don't know how that would play out!

Last edited by 2ManyTacos; 08-09-2019 at 12:36 PM.
  #49  
Old 08-09-2019, 12:50 PM
HammerJoe is offline
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Originally Posted by 2ManyTacos View Post

The two biggest jobs I hear about being automated away are (1) cashiers - which you can already see happening in the form of that shitty self-checkout technology at Walmart and other stores and maybe that tech will improve over time - and (2) truck drivers, which would be a hugely disruptive change given that truck driving is one of the few professions that can deliver a six-figure income without a college degree. That's a lot of angry people who would lose substantial incomes to robots and I don't know how that would play out!
Touching on this I also think the next industry that be hit with automation is the medical industry. I can see robots replacing gp for simple medical visits and sorting simple medical issues.
Surgeons are able to do surgeries remotely, anesthesists jobs can be replaced by machines imo... And so on.

Plus the government has a huge vested interest in reducing the human numbers in this industry to save millions of dollars.

But in the end if we really look into this there is really no job that is safe from automation. It all just comes down to economics really.
  #50  
Old 08-09-2019, 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by 2ManyTacos View Post
Potential snark aside, this is kind of how I imagine an automation ban would work in practice. I guess I should be clear that I am not wholeheartedly endorsing the idea, but I am intrigued by it given that it is coming from such a prominent right wing pundit. Depending on the extent to which the automation-induced unemployment apocalypse actually materializes there will definitely be more broad receptivity to this general argument.

I imagine how such a ban would work would be to take a look at the forecasted numbers of people put out of work by a given automation technology and weigh those numbers against the costs of retraining those people and/or providing them with monetary compensation via UBI. If the numbers of potentially displaced workers are so great on the former side of that equation, then the technology that displaces them would be banned.

And in terms of how employers would compete internationally against countries who do not ban a given automation technology, the obvious answer is that such employers would have to find other ways to compete that do not involve automating a large part of their workforce. How that would work in practice is beyond me, though.

The two biggest jobs I hear about being automated away are (1) cashiers - which you can already see happening in the form of that shitty self-checkout technology at Walmart and other stores and maybe that tech will improve over time - and (2) truck drivers, which would be a hugely disruptive change given that truck driving is one of the few professions that can deliver a six-figure income without a college degree. That's a lot of angry people who would lose substantial incomes to robots and I don't know how that would play out!
And, you definitely shouldn't automate away doctors and lawyers, because they spent so much time and took out giant loans to get their degrees. You shouldn't automate away computer programmers because they worked so hard to get their degrees and would probably be terrible truck drivers.

The most important thing is to protect my job, of course. Whatever I do should not be automated.
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