Robotics will lead to mass unemployment in a world where many are elderly. Howso

In the book the lights in the tunnel the author talks about how mass unemployment will soon result due to automation of many jobs over the next few decades.

Well and good but why doesn’t the fact that this will occur at the same time that 30%+ of people will be in retirement age solve this problem? I know the author addressed this issue, at least a little bit but I forget his reasoning why it wouldn’t be a good thing.

In places like Japan the % of the country 60+ will be 40% or so of the nation by 2050. So that leaves very few able bodied workers age 20-60 to work when you factor in all the people who cannot or will not work who are of working age.

Aren’t the two things going to cancel each other out? A tax on the owners of the robots to fund the automated care of the elderly would free up younger workers to do things other than jobs in healthcare and oppressive taxes to fund the elderly.

Well for one thing, Japan is demographically unusual that way. For another those unemployed people still need food and shelter; who’ll pay for them? And for yet another problem, what about all the permanently unemployed people in their twenties and thirties in this scenario?

Well they unemployed people in their twenties and thirties, having no jobs and no opportunities, will naturally be attracted to violent demonstrations and rebellions and our militarized police will efficiently kill them. Those who don’t have the nerve to rebel will quietly starve to death. Problem solved … kind of.

Japan isn’t that unusual among wealthy nations, they are just further ahead in the graying of their population. Other nations should catch up to them, having 30%+ being retirement age within a few decades.

I’m not sure what you mean by your other points. If we have mass robotics, that’ll be good because the automated machines (and taxes on the owners of the machines, assuming we live in a very unequal society) should provide for the elderly. That will free up the young to do jobs that can’t be automated yet, and free them from having to pay huge taxes to fund the elderly and their pensions and health care.

Or we’ll just let them starve. I find that much more likely in America; anything else would be shouted down as “socialism”. And the rest of the world seems headed that way too, with all this fascination with “austerity” (aka “let them eat cake”).

You are assuming that there will be enough of those “jobs that can’t be automated yet” to go around with the young. And I still find “let them starve and shoot them when they riot” to be a more likely course of action for us to take. If they are poor and unemployed they are less than animals in the eyes of most people. People care what happens to animals.

So, all the factories full of robots turning out goods… who exactly are those goods for, if everyone is out of work and starvation poor?

A fully automated labor force is going to fundamentally alter the entire economic equation. Unemployment goes way up, but prices plummet, to the point where it will be cheaper, easier, and safer to placate the mob with free consumer goods than to try to murder them. You could end up with a pure socialist state, where everyone is guaranteed a minimum standard of living, regardless of employment. From there, you either end up with a Star Trek utopia, where society is geared towards helping every individual reach their maximum potential. Or you get the Republic of Haven, with a massive Dolist underclass of parasites gradually sucking the state dry. Which one we get probably depends largely on how where in the process we can get our population growth under control, assuming we ever manage to do that at all.

The elderly will live off of their retirement plans, of course. Just because they’re not working now doesn’t mean they don’t have money from when they were working.

Starving people have a tendency to riot. They’ll begin to starve, take to the streets, and get gunned down.

(Hell, which would one choose? Starving is a really shitty way to die, but most gunshot wounds aren’t immediately fatal. Is crawling around for a few days with an abdominal penetration really better?)

Still, there’s hope: we may be clever enough to “riot” at the ballot box, and vote ourselves a government that sees we get fed. The “Occupy Wall Street” movement wasn’t particularly successful, nor will the next one be, but they can’t oppress too large a majority of us, forever, can they? (Cough, cough, North Korea, cough…)

That didn’t work for Rome. What makes you think it would work for us?

No one; the factories will sit idle. And the only acceptable solutions will be “Lower taxes! Fewer regulations! Punish the poor!”

Or, you end up with a tiny elite living off of the automated economy; and the rest of the population either left to starve, or massacred by the equally automated military.

I predict conflict between robots and seniors. Robots will be everywhere, and they’ll eat old people’s medicine for fuel.

Eh? I thought it worked fairly well. The government was frantic to obtain Egyptian grain to feed the masses, as well as paying the great expense of the games to keep the people entertained.

Okay, it didn’t lead to reforms or rights as we understand them…but it kept the people fed. McDonald’s and MTV!

I remember when they said all this same crap in the 1970s.

I would attack the unemployed, first by shelling their homes, and then, when they run panicked out into the street, mowing them down with machine-gun fire. And then, releasing the vultures.

I realize these views are unpopular, but I have never courted popularity.

They didn’t realize how long it would take for the technology to mature (it still isn’t there yet after all). And they didn’t realize how far the public would let itself be ground down without resisting. I expect that if you’d asked many people back then how the public would react to the way they are treated right now and to the massive wealth imbalance, they’d have said there’d be a revolution, or at least riots.

Then, what’s the point of automating them?

It gets rid of the workers, and assuming that anyone could buy what they made increases their profit margins. Of course it won’t actually work that way; a public with no money can’t buy what they make. But acknowledging that workers and consumers are anything other than worthless parasites would mean throwing out the Randian fantasy that only the wealthy “job creators” matter, so that won’t happen.

They step in only when labor is already too scarce or too expensive.

They also said it in the 50s.

People who stare into crystal balls often wind up with facefuls of glass.

“Randian fantasy”?

Dude, nobody except a few people who spend way too much time on the internet actually thinks Ayn Rand was remotely influential or even knows who she was.

What’s next? Suggesting that libertarians are a potent political force?