Author Topic: Automation Culture  (Read 1324 times)

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Offline MH

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Automation Culture
« on: June 27, 2017, 10:17:49 am »
https://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2017/06/25/getting-capitalism-wrong-ai-will-reduce-economic-inequality-not-increase-it/#6db588c3675b

There are a few problems with this piece, but since it criticizes another piece and also since it has some good points, then it's a good jumping-on point for discussion IMO.

Are you ready for automation ?

What do you think is going to happen with millions of jobs removed from the economy ?  So far, in recent history, we have seen massive social policies but also most recently a protectionist backlash. 

How are you getting ready, both materially and socially ?

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Offline BC_cheque

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Re: Automation Culture
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2017, 09:59:50 pm »
Automation has been going on for a long time and few people cared because it was only manufacturing jobs that were being lost.  Now, the next wave will be doctors, lawyers and accountants and everyone is starting to pay attention. 

No, I'm not ready and head is firmly in the sand.  I'm just hoping accounting profession will last another 20-30 years, but I know that chances are good it won't.  :(

Offline kimmy

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Re: Automation Culture
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2017, 12:55:20 am »
I think drivers are next in line.  It's probably just a matter of time before self-driving vehicles start replacing overtired, under-rested, amphetamine-addled truck drivers. Delivery drivers too.

I remember watching an episode of Star Trek where Captain Picard explains to an alien guest that technology has freed mankind from the necessity to work, and that humans are free to pursue self-fulfillment through learning, the arts, travel, exploration, and so on.

Thinking back on that now, I think the most improbable science-fiction element there is not that such technology would eventually exist, but rather that everybody would benefit from it.  In theory, automation and vast increases in productivity could be a great thing, yet in practice they're a nightmare for the average person. 

 -k
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Offline MH

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Re: Automation Culture
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2017, 06:35:07 am »
Automation has been going on for a long time and few people cared because it was only manufacturing jobs that were being lost.  Now, the next wave will be doctors, lawyers and accountants and everyone is starting to pay attention. 

No, I'm not ready and head is firmly in the sand.  I'm just hoping accounting profession will last another 20-30 years, but I know that chances are good it won't.  :(

Yes and no.  Computer jobs have been offshored (which isn't the same I know, but analagous) as well as legal jobs and nobody cares so much.  If you add that family farming is being phased out then you have something of a picture.  And the idea of a basic income too: all of these amount to mass job loss and brings us back to the reality that we sell ourselves in the market every day, and demand can go away quickly.

Offline MH

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Re: Automation Culture
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2017, 06:36:29 am »
I remember watching an episode of Star Trek where Captain Picard explains to an alien guest that technology has freed mankind from the necessity to work, and that humans are free to pursue self-fulfillment through learning, the arts, travel, exploration, and so on.

Thinking back on that now, I think the most improbable science-fiction element there is not that such technology would eventually exist, but rather that everybody would benefit from it.  In theory, automation and vast increases in productivity could be a great thing, yet in practice they're a nightmare for the average person. 
 

I have watched about an hour total of TNG, but I did see a scene where Picard explained that.  It's actually true: work gets better when robots take the more unfulfilling tasks.  The jobs that are created are much better than the ones lost.


Offline kimmy

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Re: Automation Culture
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2017, 09:17:37 am »
I have watched about an hour total of TNG, but I did see a scene where Picard explained that.  It's actually true: work gets better when robots take the more unfulfilling tasks.  The jobs that are created are much better than the ones lost.

My complaint isn't that I wish people had more unfulfilling work to do.  It's that the benefits of all of this massive improvement in productivity have been reaped by just a few, while the rest of us scramble to find some other way to put food on the table and shelter over our heads.

In Star Trek, people are liberated from labor to pursue personal fulfillment. In our reality, people are liberated from labor to search for some other source of income.

In highschool we learned about "land, capital, and labor".  Landlords and capitalists are doing extremely well, while labor-- the only means of income that the large majority of us have access to-- is under a never-ending attack, from both automation and globalization.

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Offline MH

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Re: Automation Culture
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2017, 09:25:07 am »
It's that the benefits of all of this massive improvement in productivity have been reaped by just a few, while the rest of us scramble to find some other way to put food on the table and shelter over our heads.

Oh, I didn't realize you were complaining.  The few you mention are the ones who own the new technology.  It's sad for the rest of us but change hits the few also, if that's any comfort.  The Eaton Family, The Thomson Family, the descendants of the Family Compact who used to inherit bank jobs.  They are now subject to the new economy too, including loss of status and income. 

I'm thinking their millions may help cushion the blow a bit.


Quote

In Star Trek, people are liberated from labor to pursue personal fulfillment. In our reality, people are liberated from labor to search for some other source of income.

Yes, which is part of the evolution of the economy described in TNG.  What's better for your soul - organic farming, massage therapy or pulling a lever in a factory all day.

Quote
In highschool we learned about "land, capital, and labor".  Landlords and capitalists are doing extremely well, while labor-- the only means of income that the large majority of us have access to-- is under a never-ending attack, from both automation and globalization.

 -k

You went to a communist highschool.  Must be BC.  The fact of the matter is we sell our minds, hearts and bodies on the market every day and you can't protect people from market forces.  Trying to mitigate those forces is the best we can do, but there are limits.

Offline cybercoma

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Re: Automation Culture
« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2017, 11:44:54 am »
https://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2017/06/25/getting-capitalism-wrong-ai-will-reduce-economic-inequality-not-increase-it/#6db588c3675b

There are a few problems with this piece, but since it criticizes another piece and also since it has some good points, then it's a good jumping-on point for discussion IMO.

Are you ready for automation ?

What do you think is going to happen with millions of jobs removed from the economy ?  So far, in recent history, we have seen massive social policies but also most recently a protectionist backlash. 

How are you getting ready, both materially and socially ?
There's a problem with your post.

You're talking about automation. Automation happened in the 80s with industrial robots replacing jobs. What the problem is now is not automation, but artificial intelligent. That's not automating processes. That's replacing thought with programming. The number of jobs that will be lost to artificial intelligence will make automation look like a tiny dip in employment by comparison.

Offline MH

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Re: Automation Culture
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2017, 12:16:53 pm »
You're talking about automation. Automation happened in the 80s with industrial robots replacing jobs. What the problem is now is not automation, but artificial intelligent. That's not automating processes. That's replacing thought with programming. The number of jobs that will be lost to artificial intelligence will make automation look like a tiny dip in employment by comparison.

A quibble.  It's also called white collar automation.  We're still undergoing changes from automation, those really were pushed back by globalization.  Agree on your points.

Offline BC_cheque

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Re: Automation Culture
« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2017, 12:29:46 pm »
In highschool we learned about "land, capital, and labor".  Landlords and capitalists are doing extremely well, while labor-- the only means of income that the large majority of us have access to-- is under a never-ending attack, from both automation and globalization.

 -k

Skilled labour jobs currently have a better future than jobs that require a 6+ years of post-secondary.

Offline kimmy

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Re: Automation Culture
« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2017, 09:20:10 am »
Yes, which is part of the evolution of the economy described in TNG.  What's better for your soul - organic farming, massage therapy or pulling a lever in a factory all day.

What's better for your body - eating, or starving?  I'm not troubled by the loss of unfulfilling work.  I'm troubled by the lack of paid work to replace it.



You went to a communist highschool.  Must be BC.  The fact of the matter is we sell our minds, hearts and bodies on the market every day and you can't protect people from market forces.  Trying to mitigate those forces is the best we can do, but there are limits.

I forget if I was living in BC or Alberta at that point.  Regardless, it's true-- most of us start off with only labor (be it service, white-collar, blue-collar, pink-collar, or whatever) as our way of making our way in the world.  Hopefully we eventually accumulate enough money that we can earn money by other means-- rent or investment-- but the weakening of labor makes it take longer to reach that point. The boomer retirement slogan Freedom 55, the millennial slogan could be Tombstone 85.

 -k
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Offline MH

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Re: Automation Culture
« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2017, 09:23:47 am »
What's better for your body - eating, or starving?  I'm not troubled by the loss of unfulfilling work.  I'm troubled by the lack of paid work to replace it.

Hyperbole.  Starvation is not a problem.  Economic disruption is a problem and my easy answer is to use the economic savings to fund the transition.

Brilliantly stupid idea, that is.

Offline SirJohn

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Re: Automation Culture
« Reply #12 on: June 29, 2017, 12:20:14 pm »
A quibble.  It's also called white collar automation.  We're still undergoing changes from automation, those really were pushed back by globalization.  Agree on your points.

Most of those who will be most threatened are not white-collar. The lower skilled will be pushed into what one writer called "The useless class", people whose labour is of zero value since machines can do it better and cheaper. That includes truck and taxi drivers, messengers, bus drivers, heavy equipment operators, landscapers, and most restaurant and retail clerks. When you go into a Tim Hortons or McDonalds in a decade or two there won't be any employees greeting you. You'll push a button and get what you want out of a sliding door. Most likely it will be robots inside making it too. Well, at least we won't have to worry about the bitter kid with acne spitting in our burgers. There's no reason places like liquor stores couldn't operate in the same way.

And what happens when we can build robots which will build and maintain the robots? What happens when they can write and alter the code? Who needs humans then?
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Offline MH

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Re: Automation Culture
« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2017, 01:10:19 pm »
Fair point - but they still call it white collar automation sometimes, which maybe highlights who is really feeling threatened.

Offline SirJohn

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Re: Automation Culture
« Reply #14 on: June 29, 2017, 01:28:06 pm »
Fair point - but they still call it white collar automation sometimes, which maybe highlights who is really feeling threatened.

White collar jobs are threatened first by offshoring. No need for an accountant to be a highly paid Canadian when an Indian can do the job for a tenth the cost. Same goes for computer programmers. Managers are only needed when they have staff. No need to manage robots. Lawyers? I see no need for lawyers once we have AIs. Architects are safe until AIs get an artistic flare. We don't need many pharmacists, though. Most of their job can be done by a sorting machine. All we need them for is advice. A computer screen which allows us to talk to a pharmacist at a distant location will do. That's probably fairly easily doable now, in fact. 
"When liberals insist that only fascists will defend borders then voters will hire fascists to do the job liberals won't do." David Frum