Technology and the job market.

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Technology and the job market.

Postby Tailsteak » Thu Mar 13, 2014 8:49 pm

Google's been working on a self-driving car, and they're not alone. Within twenty years, automated vehicles will be street legal and common. When that happens, every trucker on this continent is out of a job.

And, if you ask me, that's a good thing. That's what technology is supposed to do. It disrupts industries and economies, it puts people out of a job, it replaces human labour. That's how we, as a species, advance.

If you have a job that, someday, could conceivably be done by a machine, soon you will not have that job.

Now, the thing about jobs that get taken by machines is that they tend to be entry-level jobs. They tend to be the jobs that don't require education, other than the specific training provided at the job site. As we as a species advance, young adults require more education, and thus enter the job market later and later. Moving from one career path to another requires more and more thought, time, and investment. More people will, necessarily, spend more time without a job.

And, as our society embraces this, I think our economy will become more and more socialized and wealth-redistributiony. Unemployment will last longer and pay out more. Post secondary education will last longer and scholarships and grants will get sweeter. Non-lucrative careers, especially in the arts, will get subsidized.

I'm viewing it as a sort of continuum. On the left, we have most people starting in the workforce (i.e., the family farm) at 10, and doing simple manual labour from dawn to dusk. In the middle, we have people in school until their late teens, then flipping burgers for eight hours, and going home to watch TV while the sun's still up. On the right, you have people going to publicly-funded school until their mid-twenties, then doing some sort of specialized creative work for three hours and playing in VR for the rest of the day. As time goes on, work gets easier, pays out more, takes up less of your time, and requires more and more education.

Of course, this presumes that, as time goes on, the percentage of people's incomes absorbed by taxes will increase. It also presumes that jobs will require more and more psychological investment - you don't have menial, meaningless work any more, your job is something you had to have chosen and worked towards. Presumably, there'll also be more and more holidays, a higher minimum wage, more benefits.... hiring a human being to do any sort of job would be a very expensive thing to do.
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Re: Technology and the job market.

Postby snowyowl » Fri Mar 14, 2014 1:09 am

Have you read Manna? It's a sci-fi story about precisely that phenomenon, and the changes that need to happen for joblessness to be considered normal and proper. I find it a bit heavy-handed, but it's worth reading.
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Re: Technology and the job market.

Postby doctor100 » Mon Mar 17, 2014 12:18 pm

Where I live in West Virginia, there is a lot of support for mine workers. Having seen some of the equipment (in video mostly) I'm mostly convinced almost the entire job could be done without human danger-everything under the surface can be done my machine. I tend to keep my political views to myself esp. when it comes to labor.
Particularly considerign that so much of morality is emotional based 'not to hurt people' 'don't be mean' 'build community' 'listen' 'be humble', a logical answer doesn't present itself, the problems exist in an emotional framework.
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Re: Technology and the job market.

Postby Merle » Mon Mar 17, 2014 2:19 pm

One problem will be the natural tendency of those currently in power to try to hang on to as much of the gains from increased productivity as much as they possibly can. We're seeing this already - look at just about everyone in the Republican Party's elite today, and what they say about anything to do with social welfare or minimum wage or even unions.
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Re: Technology and the job market.

Postby snowyowl » Wed Mar 19, 2014 7:55 am

Source for this post: On the phenomenon of bullshit jobs.

Productive jobs will be automated away. It's a process that's already happening, that's been going on since the Industrial Revolution. That was two centuries ago... really, we should have reached the 10-hour work week by now. What's slowing us down?

Arguably, it's the rise of consumerism. Sure, we could live on less than 10 hours work per week, if we were willing to live with 1900-level technology. If you want more cool toys and blinking lights, someone has to build them. But that's not the whole story.

Automation makes productive work take less time. Tailsteak, you believe that this will result in people spending less time on work, and accepting this new status quo. I think that people will fill in the hours with unproductive work.

A lot of companies have jobs undoing what their competitors are doing. The entire advertising industry exists for that purpose. One ad will win more customers for the Skub company, and tomorrow another ad will win the same number of customers for their competitors. Sometimes it's the same ad agency playing both sides - just undoing their own work.

Same with corporate lawyers. They're primarily needed to defend against lawsuits from other corporate lawyers. Same with salesmen, or (heh) call centre operators. I do admit that a certain number of corporate lawyers (ad agencies, salesmen, etc.) are necessary to society. But we have about 10 times more than we need.

Not to mention that while you or I could get away with 10 hours of work a week, it would not do anything for our career prospects if our co-workers kept doing 8 hours a day 5 days a week. Heck, we'd probably look pretty good if we worked harder than them (or at least appeared to). Promotions and raises go to those who work the hardest. And believe me, anyone who's ever had a job they didn't like knows you can drag out 5 hours of work to take a week.

I'll admit that the 40-hour week is a lot better than it could have been, and there'll still be improvements in the future. (France legally requires a 35 hour limit, and they're right next door to me.) Human ingenuity is a powerful force. Unfortunately, powerful forces tend to be used for really stupid purposes.
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Re: Technology and the job market.

Postby RyukaTana » Wed Mar 19, 2014 8:58 am

Basically, this is all to say: We waste a fuckton of time on jobs because someone decided that's just how the world works. You have to work, and if someone were to ask why, you'd look at them cock-eyed, because of course you have to work asshole...

The 'you' there isn't even a 'general' you, it's just making a point... I do think everyone should contribute something valuable to the world. However, that doesn't mean everyone has to spend 40 hours (which is a bullshit figure when you include how much time you spend talking about, dealing with, or travelling to work) a week on it. Nor does it mean you should have to do a job that is clearly and publicly beneficial. Someone who just takes care of their friends and family and keeps them happy is providing a valuable service. Anyone raising a child (well) is providing a valuable service.

So yeah, do I think we should be getting to a point where technology makes most jobs pointless and we can do what we choose? Absolutely, but I don't think that's going to happen anytime soon. People are stupid, complacent, and cling to tradition (which falls pretty well under the previous two categories). For many of the same reasons why bigotry isn't going away anytime soon (read: likely ever), this is just another bunch of bullshit we'll be dealing with for the foreseeable future.
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Re: Technology and the job market.

Postby doctor100 » Wed Mar 19, 2014 8:05 pm

Re: RyukaTana

You, live in a slightly different world than me. In my world, you only work if you want to, and machines do most of the work.

If you don't mind I ask, Why, exactly, do you have to work asshole...?
Particularly considerign that so much of morality is emotional based 'not to hurt people' 'don't be mean' 'build community' 'listen' 'be humble', a logical answer doesn't present itself, the problems exist in an emotional framework.
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Re: Technology and the job market.

Postby RyukaTana » Wed Mar 19, 2014 8:42 pm

I'm not exactly sure why insulting me is necessary, but I suppose that depends on what you mean by 'work'. First, there are plenty of jobs that aren't being replaced by machines, and if everyone can take a piece and lighten the load for others, that's a good thing. Not to mention, making video games and art is 'work'. Cooking, cleaning, raising children, all 'work'.

If you don't provide something to the collective, you shouldn't reap the benefits of the community. However, 'something' is quite vague and spans all kinds of things. I don't care what one provides, as long as it's reasonably valuable to a large group, or very valuable to a few. Personally, I feel my most meaningful contributions are in taking care of my family, making sure they're happy and dealing with their emotional well-being. I don't help that many people, but I help the people in my life by quite a bit. That is an acceptable contribution to me.

If all you do is serve yourself, then you're a negative contribution, and no one should expect to sacrifice anything for you (especially not the lives of plants and animals that serve a greater function in that case).
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Re: Technology and the job market.

Postby crayzz » Wed Mar 19, 2014 9:27 pm

I'm not exactly sure why insulting me is necessary...


doctor100 is quoting you.
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Re: Technology and the job market.

Postby RyukaTana » Wed Mar 19, 2014 9:50 pm

crayzz wrote:
I'm not exactly sure why insulting me is necessary...


doctor100 is quoting you.



Oh, I wrote that at 11am with no sleep, so I didn't remember...

I thought the phrasing was weird, though now I'm unsure if doctor100 misses that I wasn't actually talking to him, but making a satirical statement, which could be understandably lost without inflection.

If you were just mirroring my statement, doctor, whatever then. If you were directing that at me, in response, then you should understand that my original statement was me being facetious. I can see where it was hard to get that without inflection (again, 11AM, I was just writing what came into my head), but there we are.

All in all, my bad.
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