What To Do About The Long-Term Implications of Automation

Discussion in 'Political Opinions & Beliefs' started by Meta777, Oct 22, 2017.

  1. Meta777

    Meta777 Moderator Staff Member

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    Voting Thread Open!

    Rejoice everyone! Humankind is advancing! We are at a point in history where innovations are occurring at an exponential rate. Daily breakthroughs are giving us an ever-expanding understanding as to what is possible. And such rapid advancement in the overall human scope of capability is certainly cause for some celebration...

    ...but, at the same time...it is also cause for mindful caution and careful consideration, because as any true conservative knows, progress does not always come completely free of any risk or repercussion.

    [​IMG]

    In a society where one's labor tends to be one's main means of attaining a livelihood, the potential downside of a more widespread propagation of Automation,...or Artificial Intelligence and Technology (AI&T) as @Shiva_TD likes to call it,...which reduces and or eliminates the need for human labor, ought be immediately apparent to most. According to a study conducted by C. B. Frey and M. A. Osborne (two senior scholars at Oxford University), roughly half of all jobs that exist in the U.S. today are likely to be fully automated within the next 10-20 years (with the percentages for countries outside the U.S. being even higher). The graphic below illustrates the specific types of jobs which are most susceptible. Jobs which are likely to be automated out of existence within the next 10-20 years are highlighted in black, while jobs deemed safe through that period of time are represented in white.

    By this, its clear to see that some job types will fair better than others, though it should be noted, that if the current rate of automation continues, it is not outside the realm of possibility that even many of the jobs considered safe for the next 10-20 years, will join the black group over the next 50-100. Again, this should not be thought of as a bad thing, but something good and worth celebrating. Automation means that we produce the same or greater amount of valuable goods and services, with less effort overall. However...the question we need to be asking ourselves...is where then are displaced workers to turn towards as a new means of providing themselves a livelihood once their jobs have been fully automated?

    [​IMG]
    http://www.visualcapitalist.com/visualizing-jobs-lost-automation/
    http://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/downloads/academic/The_Future_of_Employment.pdf

    In the past, we as a society have made due by adapting structurally to such advancements. During the onset of the industrial revolution for example, workers who had traditionally obtained and maintained their livelihoods via agriculture suddenly began moving into blue-collar manufacturing roles as agricultural work became more automated. That transition wasn't all roses and sunshine; there were certainly bumps along the way...but for the most part, people were paid more and things were good as early mechanically-based automation allowed for the mass utilization of idle raw resources on a level that simply wasn't possible without it, resulting in new opportunities for workers forced to give up on raising food and livestock to maintain their place in the economy. And as society came to better understand the various implications of this new type of economy, we adjusted expectations for how people and organizations were to conduct themselves in order to prevent the same mishaps of the past from reoccurring in the future.

    Fast forward a bit to the dawn of the information age, and we find again that people are moving on as their old jobs become automated, this time out of the manufacturing jobs and into (for the most part) service-sector roles, although this time taking an overall pay cut in the process. So with those service-sector roles next on the automation chopping block...what will what ever comes next look like? How will it be structured? Which sectors of our society should have a role in shaping it? And if it ever appears that private sector incentives are not sufficient to address issues arising from this new state of affairs, what if anything should we expect our government to do about it?

    [​IMG]

    These are not questions to be ignored. Because depending upon how we as a society use and adapt to the coming waves of technology/automation,...it could either end up being a solution to many of our problems...or an exacerbating force!

    If we as humans ever manage to perfect technology such that close to 100% of the tasks handled by humans today are fully automated...we would still be required to have some (either direct or indirect) access to raw natural resources in order to produce value, with or without the automation. In such a scenario, most jobs would go by the wayside. All that would be necessary for survival would be some raw natural resources and access to a few machines. Though, how would we ensure that everyone had the access they needed? Under our current system, there is no guarantee that such access would exist. We can't assume that the value produced via automation would automatically find its way to those who lose their jobs to it...

    Rather, if we want such to be the case, we as a society have to actively make it the case, by considering how such resources, machines, and value are distributed. That does not necessarily imply the forced seizure of private property such as the automation, and it isn't necessary that that automation be destroyed or resisted in some way. We don't need to fight the automation itself, nor should we, but what we will need to do is adapt as a society. There may well be a fight to enact such adaptation, just as people of past generations have fought for change, though there really shouldn't need to be.

    I'll post my proposal for how we could go about making such changes in a following post, though, fair warning, my proposal does involve taxation of federally issued fiat currency. Some folks may not like that, but ultimately, my view is that it comes down to whether we want an economy in which only select private owners of machines and raw resources can live, or if we want to set things up so that the benefits of these machines and the raw natural resources reaches everyone.....If you have a better idea for how such changes should be dealt with, e.g. ubi, paying people to learn, or something completely different, then well,...that's what this thread is for. I am posting it to find out what other ideas are out there, so if anyone has an idea on what should be done in response to the coming waves of automation, please do post them, along with why the idea will help, how it would work, and how it could be paid for if it costs money. Then we can get into the pros and cons of each idea, as they relate to one another.

    As a side note, let's try to keep conversation in this thread civil, respectful, and on-topic.
    Any discussion of conservative republicans this, or liberal socialist democrats that, or communism fascism this that and the other... will be considered off-topic and out of bounds for this thread.
    Let us instead stick to talking about the ideas themselves, with a focus on being open to eachother's views, even if we disagree. So with that in mind, I thank you all in advanced for a respectful exchange of ideas. :)

    -Meta
     
  2. Meta777

    Meta777 Moderator Staff Member

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  3. Meta777

    Meta777 Moderator Staff Member

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    I think that the best way to handle the various implications of a more automated society is to do things incrementally.
    As such, my proposed incremental solution for handling things is as follows:

    Phase 1: As automation begins to displace workers: Government should do more to provide for basic needs, by hiring a portion of the displaced to improve the country's various infrastructures (as it relates to food, water, housing, transportation, communication, power, etc.) in areas where the private sector falls short, as well as hiring folks to produce affordable personal automation (and or the resources to run it) at such a time that such automation becomes singularly sufficient to handle the roles of the aforementioned infrastructures. Costs for all this should be offset, in part by user/purchase-fees, and in part by increased taxes on the most wealthy.

    Phase 2: As everyone's basic needs are met: The standard workweek should be reduced where possible, spreading out existing work across an increased # of people, and freeing up time for those who were already employed. Employees should also be afforded more paid vacation, more medical/paternity leave time, etc. etc. Costs here will be offset by an automation-induced increase in productivity.

    Phase 3: As people come to have more time on their hands: Government should begin investing more into education, research (cures for diseases, space exploration, additional automation etc.), and training, as well as hiring people to provide for recreational needs, by creating, operating, and maintaining a larger number of parks, community centers, tennis courts, swimming pools, equipment depots, sports orgs., etc. etc. and even branching out into art and music commissions.

    Phase 4: Once everything is fully automated: Government simply needs to ensure that the perpetual benefits yielded from the marriage of automation with the natural resources continues to reach everyone. In such a scenario, work itself might become a luxury of recreational nature. It might even be the case that some begin to pay others for the opportunity to work, not because they needed to, or as an intermediate step to get something they wanted, but because work itself was what they wanted. This, in my opinion, is where we want to reach.


    In summary,...
    -hire people to provide for basic needs by supporting our society's infrastructures/any automation which takes the role of that infrastructure
    -hire people to free up time for others/changing labor laws to do the same after basic needs are met
    -hire people to provide for recreational needs, and to promote education and research, and
    -continue to do all of the above as needed (if needed) once 100% automation has been achieved.

    -Meta
     
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  4. Meta777

    Meta777 Moderator Staff Member

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    So ^that's my idea for how we should adapt as more becomes automated. Any thoughts?

    -Meta
     
  5. RiseAgainst

    RiseAgainst Banned

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    All this automation hype is just greedy corporations trying to squeeze every penny out of their profits.

    We should out right ban companies from going down this route.
     
  6. Belch

    Belch Well-Known Member

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    We already have technology that can't be purchased by the vast majority, so I don't know what you're on about. Ferrari makes a technologically advanced car, yes? However, it's priced a bit out of the ability of your average blue collar worker to purchase. So what does Joe Six-pack buy? Does he buy a ferrari? Well obviously not because he can't afford it, so he buys something he can afford.

    So really, you're basically saying "Ferrari makes cars that we can't afford so we have to print money so that everybody can get a ferrari!!!!".

    Let me assure you, the chevy vega you CAN afford is a perfectly fine car. It just won't be as good as what ferrari makes.
     
  7. Meta777

    Meta777 Moderator Staff Member

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    But wont that stifle innovation and progress?

    -Meta
     
  8. RiseAgainst

    RiseAgainst Banned

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    No. It will make several billionaires worth a few billion less than they already are today. Boo hoo.

    Putting millions of retail workers and truckers out of work isn't "progress" from a Nationalist and America First perspective.
     
  9. Vet1966

    Vet1966 Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    What ever happened to the buggy whip makers or the stall muckers after Ford built his assembly line.

    What about vaudville and live entertainment

    Who ever heard of a plumber or electrician 150 years ago.

    I had a summer job working in a machine shop in '64 - computers did that in - then there's photography and graphic arts and all of that stuff. TV tubes gave way to transistors and resistors and chips - and 80,000 hour television life expectancy.

    CadCam was big - now its gone to the next generation.

    The labor market has been evolving for 200 years and will continue to evolve.

    The entertainment market has gone 24/7 with TV, movies, news, sports and reality shows and whatever.

    Years ago, eating out was a once or twice a month phenomena - now its regular

    Nursing homes were a rarity years ago - now they're common.

    The one aspect that thew OP does go into in detail other than "what is our government going to do about it?" is the failure of the public and secondary education system to lead in preparing students for the ever changing and very technical or very human oriented environment out there.

    The failure of the education system does involve politics and should be studied - maybe in another post.
     
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  10. Meta777

    Meta777 Moderator Staff Member

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    Strictly speaking, the issue is not about advancement per se, but specifically advancement in automation which reduces the need for human labor, particularly in sectors of the economy which employ large percentages of the population. It isn't about what people can afford either (unless we're talking simply whether or not they can afford to live at all), rather its about how they make their money in the first place.

    So that super-advance Ferrari which only a small portion of the population are involved in making/using is not so much of a problem. But when we start talking wide-spread use of self-driving taxi cabs and delivery trucks, then it becomes a whole different story...

    -Meta
     
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  11. Vet1966

    Vet1966 Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    One other point I missed - and it involves economic theory - is the need for a keynesian type of solution for the growing number of lower paying manual labor jobs. Another area the government fails us.
     
  12. Belch

    Belch Well-Known Member

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    If advancement is not a problem, then great!!!!

    I'm not seeing a problem here. Your self driving taxis that put taxi drivers out of work is going to result in a lot of taxi drivers out of work, or they can figure out some other way to get a job.

    Sucks to be them, but that has been happening since the industrial revolution when the cotton gin put slaves out of work.
     
  13. Meta777

    Meta777 Moderator Staff Member

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    I definitely agree with you, that putting millions of workers out of work is not a good idea and should be avoided.
    But, suppose there were a way to let those billionaires keep their automation, and most of the benefit that came along with it,
    as well as allowing all those workers to maintain jobs paying at, or even above, what they were previously making?
    Wouldn't such a thing be a much better option than simply outlawing the automation?
    Personally, a win-win situation such as that would be preferable.

    -Meta
     
  14. Belch

    Belch Well-Known Member

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    If you like your idea, you can put it to work right away because there are many places where automation has already put a lot of people out of work.

    Take flint michigan, for example. They used to make cars all up until the big three decided that it would be cheaper to make cars in Mexico. So your idea is to start printing up a bunch of flint dollars which will result in flint dollars being worth less (basic economics), but more people will have more of these devalued dollars. Then the city of Flint can hire workers to warm chairs, which will then give them a lot more time to do things like get educations that will give them the ability to get out of their government jobs and into the private sector...

    Obviously Flint doesn't print their own dollars, but the basic idea is the same. The only problem is that if flint DID own their own fiat currency printing press, those dollars wouldn't be worth much more than toilet paper to anybody.

    Sorry, but you can't print value, which is what fiat currency represents. Printing merely devalues the value of the fiat currency already in circulation.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2017
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  15. Meta777

    Meta777 Moderator Staff Member

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    What happened to the whip makers and stall muckers? As the OP describes, they had to find other jobs.
    And lucky for them, the number of available jobs back then, some of which newly produced due to the non-all-encompassing nature of that time's automation, allowed laborers the luxury of switching jobs while for the most part being able to maintain or even improve their standard of living. Those who lose their jobs in the coming years will also need to find some way to move on if they hope to maintain their current standard of living. Though today's job climate is significantly different.

    I do agree with you that the markets will continue to evolve in the coming years, however...what I question is whether or not our societal structure will evolve along with it. Because our current societal structure is sufficiently rigid, that it is not going to simply evolve on its own. It sounds to me...like you've already identified a few spots in the system which you believe to be problematic; an insufficient education system and the growing number of lower paying manual labor jobs. What then, would you suggest as solutions to those issues?

    -Meta
     
  16. RiseAgainst

    RiseAgainst Banned

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    I'm open-minded to the idea. But it's a lot like playing with fire. The opportunity for the 1% to earn billions even trillions more by fully embracing automation is just too great for them to resist, I fear.
     
  17. ChrisL

    ChrisL Well-Known Member

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    I don't know that they would be able to automate everything, but all of those machines require maintenance, programming, etc., so there will be those types of jobs at least. Retail and hospitality industries will probably not ever be automated (except for online shopping). Lots of people enjoy the shopping experience and a lot of small business owners also would not be able to afford these machines, their maintenance, etc.
     
  18. Meta777

    Meta777 Moderator Staff Member

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    You say you don't see a problem...that people being out of work simply sucks for them...The way I see it, large segments of the population potentially being out of work is the problem, especially if they have no alternative way of producing value for themselves. Of course it does indeed suck for those people who lose their jobs, and as a person of empathy, that matters to me, but it should be a concern for all of us more broadly, because, for one, it may only be a matter of time before we join them, and two, the whole point of living in a civilized society being to yield mutual net benefit for all involved...if we were to simply leave half the country out to dry, with no resources, and no way to obtain them, thereby blocking them off from any semblance of societal benefit, I can't imagine that good things would follow, for any of us...and let's not kid ourselves, slaves weren't exactly paid well for their work to begin with, in fact, they weren't really paid at all! They were slaves! Receiving subsistence provisions at best, and as a free citizenry we really ought to aspire for much more.

    More to the point though, are you suggesting that nothing should be done at a governmental level, if within the next 10-20 years, we end up with over half the country being unemployed and or working for sub-subsistence (slave) wages??

    -Meta
     
  19. Meta777

    Meta777 Moderator Staff Member

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    Flint dollars???

    That's a weird concept, and I'm pretty sure it wouldn't fly...constitutionally speaking.
    But to answer your question more broadly....yes, I agree with you that printing new dollars to pay for any changes we might come up with to address the issues is not the way to go, at least not in the long term. As my proposed 4-Phase solution implies, my view on the best way to handle it is to pay for things with a combination of taxes and user-fees.

    -Meta
     
  20. liberalminority

    liberalminority Well-Known Member

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    the long term implications of automation will be delayed a few generations until the people can no longer labor in outdated fields such as coal mining and drilling for oil.

    no one wants to be taxed to pay for universal welfare to those unable or unwilling to compete in an innovative market, and those displaced workers will continue to labor in fields of the past since many of them find dignity in living wage employment.

    this is likely the future considering investments required to keep people competitive will be too expensive, such as advanced education, fixing broken institutions, systemic injustices, etc.. all make it so that there is not enough will for change in the near future.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2017
  21. ChrisL

    ChrisL Well-Known Member

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    I've heard before that they are capable of making a "perfect" car that would never break down (or at least not for a very long time) or need maintenance, but they won't do it because it would put too many out of work. I don't know how true that is. It is just something I heard a while back but can't even remember where I heard it.
     
  22. YourBrainIsGod

    YourBrainIsGod Well-Known Member

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    The most common solution I hear is an expansion of the welfare state to help provide basic living for people. This would only be achieved through very high taxes on those who invested in expanding the technology, and might not be sustainable as the longetivity and expected quality of life should continue to rise.

    A full automation economy might look similar to the slavery economy of the past, and comes with similar concerns of the purchased workforce becoming consolidated into fewer hands as time drags on. The consolidated power is certainly troublesome for retaining a working democracy.

    Some are optimistic of new markets appearing to compensate, and while we may need people fixing our swibbles in the future, I'm not sure there will be enough to offset such a dramatic change.

    Certainly an investment in technical education will be necessary to move forward. Everyone may need a technical background to find a place for themselves outside of creatives.

    Indeed this is going to be a very interesting obstacle, and is not discussed nearly enough. We might need to think completely outside the box and design a new style of economy to push through.
     
  23. Sanskrit

    Sanskrit Well-Known Member

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    Some quibbles with the OP research and some predictions of my own... from a private sector perspective:

    1. Malthus was way premature (still premature), and this looks the same despite being a threat from a different direction. It's no surprise I'm going to discount -anything- coming out of the gov-edu-union-contractor-grantee-trial lawyer-MSM Complex in favor of private sector research, and don't see any of that in the OP.

    2. Will automation replace lots of jobs? Of course, that's been ongoing since the industrial revolution. Will it replace jobs anytime soon to the degree in the OP chart? No, absolutely not.

    One anecdote here. I went to a store today, tried to use the automated "self checkout" machines. They were all broken. Interesting because when I went to the same store last week they were all broken then too. I've been going to this large store for 20+ years, and the number of employees in the store has been a constant... even after the automation booths were installed five or so years ago. The goods in that store are generally large and come via truck mostly, but also rail and plane. Distribution logistics won't be automated any time soon, the dark side of my profession (in one of its better moments) and the insurance industry will not be allowing that for many decades. The goods are unloaded via forklift and pallet, technology we've had for nearly a century, and stocked onto shelves via human operated forklift. Again, lawyers and insurers will have a say when any attempt is made to "automate" this. As for the food the store served? We USED TO HAVE automats... for over 100 years. They didn't pan out that well against the -human element- required of the fast food assembly line. Will new automats in food service pan out? Maybe, I'm not particularly worried though. Same for LOTS of other items in the chart.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automat

    3. Culture will change and adapt to new economies, cost increases and reductions. Such change could entail a lower birthrate, something we -desperately- need anyway. My first prediction is that we are on the verge of a revaluation of consumer culture, a backlash as it were. In this backlash, the necessity of working 40 hour weeks and multitasking in 100 different ways will fade. Lower costs of food, clothing, housing, medicine will allow this lifestyle choice, one I made personally several years ago. I used to have 1200 music CDs in huge racks in my house that cost lots of money. Now I have youtube and a device that fits in my hand. People will still consume entertainment, that won't be automated, and I notice that sector of the economy is curiously absent from the chart. Few people will go to a nicer automated restaurant, and again, lawyers and insurers won't be allowing -that- any time soon either.

    4. I take issue with lots of specifics on the chart, but a few are glaring. Somehow -teachers- will be mostly exempt from this supposed new wave of automation? I don't think so. Elementary and secondary teachers, even non STEM postsecondary teachers? Gone, replaced with terminals and daycare, where each student can receive a custom lesson plan. This change -should have- happened already, and the reason it hasn't begun is purely political. Our postsecondary education system is a thoroughly wasteful exercise in self-indulgence, self-interest, and needless expense to consumers. This will change.

    Most bureaucrats will be gone too, another area of the economy curiously absent from the chart (and together with the puzzlingly "safe" teachers, certain institutional bias is revealed). Government at all levels has grown out of control over the last 80 years, of late via contracting and grants. These are superfluous to the country, have been for decades, yet have somehow missed much of the streamlining of the information boom. This trend won't continue. Street level local bureaucrats and public servants will survive, it's the rest who will be "streamlined."

    Too long. I'm not really worried about the latest processes of the industrial revolution in terms of starving, unclothing or unroofing people. We of the private sector will adapt, the Complex should be worried though.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2017
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  24. ChrisL

    ChrisL Well-Known Member

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    True. Now that you mention, it is the same here. There are still bank tellers, store employees, etc. even with the automation. Of course, it will probably get better in the future, but I think real people will still be needed in many businesses. It probably depends on the size and scope of your business as to whether or not investing in automation would turn out to be more profitable than just hiring a few people.
     
  25. Meta777

    Meta777 Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, I don't think that the 1% earning more money is such a bad thing...as long as its not at the expense of everyone else. But you're right though, there are certainly those among the top 1% who are going to try to abuse their power,...but the thing about the 1% is....they only make up a measly 1% of the population. It ought to be the case that the other 99% of the population are able to come up with and enact ways of preventing abuses of that 1% group from negatively affecting others, even as we allow them to automate more and more.

    Probably the best way to ensure others are not negatively affected, would be to do things which enable people to be more self-sufficient...or at least less reliant on the 1%/whatever it is they own. This may be as simple as providing people a wider choice of employment options, access to their own slice of essential natural resources, and or access to their own personal automation+the resources necessary to operate it.

    -Meta
     

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