Technology and job loss

View previous topic View next topic Go down

Technology and job loss

Post by reboot on Sat Jul 25, 2015 3:36 pm

Was just readingthis article and was wondering, if this premise is true (which I am not sure it is), if technology eliminates work, what do you think society would be like?

I definitely do not believe it would be a utopia of leisure, because without work people will not have the money for leisure and I do not see the US providing welfare if the unemployment rate is 30% or higher. I can see a lot of misdirected blame to globalization and immigrants, so there would be increased protectionism. I am struggling to imagine what people would do with their time and how they would survive.

Any thoughts?
avatar
reboot
Moderator of "Other Relationships" and "Gender, Identity and Society"

Posts : 2514
Reputation : 1005
Join date : 2014-09-24

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Technology and job loss

Post by waxingjaney on Sat Jul 25, 2015 5:06 pm

In the short term there will still be work, since someone has to develop and maintain that technology. In the long term it doesn't matter, as we'll become pets of the thought machines.
avatar
waxingjaney

Posts : 352
Reputation : 152
Join date : 2014-10-03

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Technology and job loss

Post by The Wisp on Sat Jul 25, 2015 5:18 pm

I don't think I agree with the premise either, that said...

I wouldn't count out the passage of a guaranteed minimum income or something. What counts as the political center shifts really really fast from a historical perspective. A Republican in 1970 is way to the left of modern Republicans today, but that same 1970s Republican is also way to the left of a Republican in 1925. Political winds shift, and to project current politics into the future doesn't work very well, I think. Spend 20 years in a world with 30% structural unemployment, and the political center will inevitably shift.

But, let's say the current political climate doesn't change too much. Probably what would happen is there would be an under-the-radar expansion of existing social programs to people who couldn't find work. The requirements to get on them would become more and more lax on programs like social security disability (which has already happened to a degree since 2008). There would probably be an increase in communal living among those people, with having 2 or 3 other roommates becoming more normal, as living off that money on one's own probably wouldn't be nice. I imagine with their free time people would invest more time into online multiplayer video games and social network websites.
avatar
The Wisp

Posts : 896
Reputation : 198
Join date : 2014-10-01

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Technology and job loss

Post by nearly_takuan on Sat Jul 25, 2015 6:14 pm

If we wanna get all speculative-fictional: methane and carbon bubbles from beneath the melting ice caps will save us. Agriculture is going to get harder with the radically shifting climate, and we're going to need science and technology (e.g. indoor farms, algae-based waste disposal and energy production, genetic manipulations) to make it "easier" than that just to make it possible to eat again. Plenty of ongoing work involved in managing all those things.

If someday technology does manage to eliminate the need for work to supply the basic necessities (food, shelter, etc), then yeah, a lot of people who don't already "own" that tech and can't convince the right people to pay for whatever nonessential services they can provide will have a very hard time surviving. A lot of others, though, will probably get through the following decades through creativity and resourcefulness, which is to say providing new forms of entertainment, or at least ways of making entertainment seem new.

There must've been a shift in the proportions of which kinds of humans thrived and which didn't, back when enough technologies were discovered to make it so we didn't need a great majority of members to be hunter/foragers. There'll be another when nobody does that job.
avatar
nearly_takuan

Posts : 1057
Reputation : 430
Join date : 2014-10-01

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Technology and job loss

Post by reboot on Sat Jul 25, 2015 6:25 pm

I thought the analogy with horses was an interesting thought. They went from being "workers" where technology was used to enhance their labor to hobbies for the most part, outside of cattle ranching.

I wonder if businesses mostly staffed by humans would become a niche, very lux thing? Like hotels that had humans at the front desk rather than check in kiosks? Or restaurants with human servers and head chef? Some jobs, though, even in places like that would still be automated (e.g. dishwasher, housekeeping, food prep).

If w did transition to the minimum income system as Wisp mentioned, I wonder how many people would have to be unemployed and unemployable for that to happen? 50%? More? The time between hitting that point and minimum income support would be freaking ugly, I bet
avatar
reboot
Moderator of "Other Relationships" and "Gender, Identity and Society"

Posts : 2514
Reputation : 1005
Join date : 2014-09-24

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Technology and job loss

Post by nearly_takuan on Sat Jul 25, 2015 7:02 pm

Civil unrest would accelerate things, I bet.

Scarcity would, in its way, accelerate things more. If we jump straight into "post-scarcity" then whoever owns the machines that enable that could just say, "screw everyone except the group I directly care about". But if, say, local grocers started being unable to supply the high-quality foods my neighbors and I have grown accustomed to, one of the ways we could solve that "problem" would be lobbying for (and paying to support) improvements to the welfare system so the homeless people we're stepping around on our way to work can feasibly patronize the find establishments we're hoping to save.

Anyway, this is reminding me of https://medium.com/@RickWebb/the-economics-of-star-trek-29bab88d50
avatar
nearly_takuan

Posts : 1057
Reputation : 430
Join date : 2014-10-01

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Technology and job loss

Post by Gentleman Johnny on Sat Jul 25, 2015 10:50 pm

reboot wrote:Was just readingthis article and was wondering, if this premise is true (which I am not sure it is), if technology eliminates work, what do you think society would be like?

Well, the basic problem is we have an economy that incentivises two thing: labor and investment capital. So right now, the only two ways to get out of labor are to climb off the top and have enough capital for the returns to support you or fall of the bottom and starve. We don't currently have a model that either compensates for or incentivises pursuing non-commercial work. If we're going to keep the current model without becoming a dystopian hellscape, the only answer I can see is education. There's always room for more work, its just that the type of work changes. What does a truck driver do in a society where driving is automated, or for that matter a telephone operator in a world where connecting calls is automated? Either transition to a premium service for people who want a real driver (which has fewer available positions) or learn something else entirely. How does a truck driver transition (to, say, automated truck maintenance or 3D printed architect) if they're living hand to mouth? The answer right now is that they don't and their employer has no incentive to provide them with a way.

The stated objective of a business is to maximize profit. Anything else is the responsibility of the people and their proxies in unions and government, including the system of incentives that allow businesses to generate a profit. Build the incentives and business will follow.

_________________
Gentleman Johnny
Not John Galt
avatar
Gentleman Johnny

Posts : 555
Reputation : 213
Join date : 2014-10-02

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Technology and job loss

Post by reboot on Sun Jul 26, 2015 12:45 am

Have you read Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell? He was homeless in England in the 1930s and saw this kind of transition happening with all the displaced workers during the depression. He suggested some solutions that are similar to those in the article, such as providing everyone with a plot of land and tools so that people could be productive and creative. He felt that people who had no art or sense of purpose suffered a diminishment of self.

With automation and mechanization, the number of people needed to maintain the new machines/technology is always less than those who were employed doing the work. There are not new places and never will be for those displaced, so alternate models definitely need to be developed. Those with the talent will go into arts and craft work, but not everyone has those skills.
avatar
reboot
Moderator of "Other Relationships" and "Gender, Identity and Society"

Posts : 2514
Reputation : 1005
Join date : 2014-09-24

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Technology and job loss

Post by Caffeinated on Sun Jul 26, 2015 12:36 pm

The optimist in me says we go post-scarcity utopia, where everyone gets a minimum basic income and people are encouraged to have a part time job to keep busy and circulate in society. The pessimist in me says we re-up things like racism and sexism and classism to make sure that the people who do the suffering are the "others" while those with privilege get to keep living about the same, at least until things really change and the privileged are affected, at which point it becomes a problem those in power might actually care to fix. Sort of like during the recession how the unemployment rate for blacks and whites was very different.
avatar
Caffeinated

Posts : 455
Reputation : 272
Join date : 2014-12-08

View user profile

Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top


 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum