Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 27th Dec 2012 10:19 UTC, submitted by anonymous
General Development "Computers are ubiquitous in modern life. They offer us portals to information and entertainment, and they handle the complex tasks needed to keep many facets of modern society running smoothly. Chances are, there is not a single person in Ars' readership whose day-to-day existence doesn't rely on computers in one manner or another. Despite this, very few people know how computers actually do the things that they do. How does one go from what is really nothing more than a collection - a very large collection, mind you - of switches to the things we see powering the modern world?"
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kwan_e
Member since:
2007-02-18

Looking past these roadblocks, I have to wonder if there's any need for a significant percentage of the population to know programming. What would that get us? If half the population could program, wouldn't most of them be overqualified for the menial jobs they end up getting? Many of us are already overqualified today, meaning our advanced degrees are not being put to great use.


I have addressed that problem specifically. Menial jobs are getting automated - slowly for now, but it's happening and can only accelerate.

Warehousing is becoming automated obviously (eg Amazon's robotic warehouse with robots zipping around at 40km/h). Industrial manufacturing is getting better automated. Shopping centres are moving towards self service, and more and more people are just ordering things over the internet (the dotcom dream wasn't dead, just resting). Google is developing driverless automobiles. Roomba. The list goes on.

Today's device aren't too programmable, but as we can see, things like the iPad and Android are able to make the possibility of programming available to a wider group of people but that's beside the point. Programming will become a menial job.

I'm not saying the average person will write in Java or C++ or C# or one of the functional languages. There will probably be domain specific languages that are less powerful that would be easy enough for it to be common knowledge like maths is today.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

kwan_e,

"I have addressed that problem specifically. Menial jobs are getting automated - slowly for now, but it's happening and can only accelerate."

Yes and no. The price of robotics obviously has to continue to drop for them to become more prevalent. In theory we might get rid of most jobs and have robots to do all the work. Some might even consider it a utopia. However if we don't reform our current economic models, it might easily result in mass joblessness. The thing with robots is that production can scale WITHOUT creating enough new jobs to replace those that had been laid off.

For example, a highly successful robotics company might eventually employ 100K engineers to build machines which will do the menial work of 50M people.

There's certainly no need for 50M engineers, and even if we pretend there is, there would not be enough money to pay all of them good wages.


"Today's device aren't too programmable, but as we can see, things like the iPad and Android are able to make the possibility of programming available to a wider group of people but that's beside the point. Programming will become a menial job."

Can the ipad be programmed without a computer?
Can an android?

Reply Parent Score: 2

kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

kwan_e,

"I have addressed that problem specifically. Menial jobs are getting automated - slowly for now, but it's happening and can only accelerate."

Yes and no. The price of robotics obviously has to continue to drop for them to become more prevalent. In theory we might get rid of most jobs and have robots to do all the work. Some might even consider it a utopia. However if we don't reform our current economic models, it might easily result in mass joblessness. The thing with robots is that production can scale WITHOUT creating enough new jobs to replace those that had been laid off.


You think employers care, or the government cares? They're going to push for this no matter how many people lose those jobs. They'll just redefine unemployment yet again.

Yes you are right, it's going to require reforming current economic models, especially employment models. But employers don't care. They always want to get rid of the human element for cheaper, non-unionized, labour if they could. They haven't cared in the past when the higher ups made a bad decision and covering it up by laying off tens of thousands of low level workers.

For example, a highly successful robotics company might eventually employ 100K engineers to build machines which will do the menial work of 50M people.

There's certainly no need for 50M engineers, and even if we pretend there is, there would not be enough money to pay all of them good wages.


I think one of the solutions has to be a rotational workforce. We have to be done with the idea that everyone has to have a job every day of the year and that welfare is bad. You can't force people to find jobs that don't exist, and you can't force employers to create jobs when they don't need them or can't afford them.

This leaves us in a situation where the only jobs left are the highly skilled jobs that are too difficult to automate.

I personally don't have a problem with welfare, but a lot of people do, so why not cut people's working year short and have workers do essentially shifts a few months at a time. They'll still be "earning their keep". Robots aren't going to complain about how they have to work and how others are on welfare, are they? ;)

"Today's device aren't too programmable, but as we can see, things like the iPad and Android are able to make the possibility of programming available to a wider group of people but that's beside the point. Programming will become a menial job."

Can the ipad be programmed without a computer?
Can an android?


What does that matter? I'm talking about potential 50 years in the future. It's obviously part of a trend.

Reply Parent Score: 2