Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Article: We’re heading into a jobless future, no matter what the government does

Any article that presumes to predict the future always has to cherry pick trends and assume that they continue. The problem is that no trend continues forever. It is called the "fallacy of extrapolation." Examples are here and here.

This had been the basis for the global warming scare: The earth is warming. IF this trend continues, all life on earth will be destroyed (and, yes, that argument has been made, although not usually by a climate scientist.)
In his debate with me [the author], [futurist Ray] Kurzweil said: “Automation always eliminates more jobs than it creates if you only look at the circumstances narrowly surrounding the automation. That’s what the Luddites saw in the early 19th century in the textile industry in England. The new jobs came from increased prosperity and new industries that were not seen.” Kurzweil’s key argument was that just as we could not predict that types of jobs that were created, we can’t predict what is to come.
My feeling is that we will not have a jobless future. People who want to work will find work. The old and disabled will have their safety net. Drones who want to live off the gainful employment of others will do so.
The only solution that I see is a shrinking work week. We may perhaps be working for 10 to 20 hours a week instead of the 40 for which we do today. And with the prices of necessities and of what we today consider luxury goods dropping exponentially, we may not need the entire population to be working.
Currently, the price of necessities are going up. There is a massive amount of food inflation that is not being tracked because food was dropped from the cost-of-living index during the Bush administration.

On the other hand, the price of luxury goods have been dropping all during my lifetime. Fifty years ago, a home movie theater existed only in the homes of the very rich. And even they did not have movies on demand the way we do. A recent "factoid" that I read said something like, more photos were taken in 2013 than in the entire history of photography. Exotic cheeses and bean coffee are available everywhere.
...[A]t best we have another 10 to 15 years in which there is a role for humans. The number of available jobs will actually increase in the U.S. and Europe before it decreases.

An observation from the Star Trek universe. The people of the Federation had unlimited energy and replicators that could make all basic needs. People who wished to work, but did not want to work for the government, became entrepreneurs, travelers, craftsmen. One character was a wine maker, another ran a restaurant, still another was a tailor. A groundskeeper was a pivotal character. Exotic religions seem to have flourished.  These occupations generate work for others. Craft work will always be in demand.

Not to mistake Star Trek for reality.

However, I do think that a lot of people are hard-wired to be busy; the "what" of the busy-ness varies.

Tech people, as the article observes, will also always be in demand. And, until we get "holodoctors," the real thing, and nurses, etc., will also always be needed.

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