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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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

Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

kwan_e,

"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."

If we're really conceiving doing away with an employment based society through obsolescence, then we as a society really should strongly reconsider the very existence of for-profit corporations as well. Because if we really do end up with machines taking the majority of jobs (bit of a stretch, but I'm willing to roll with it), the means of production will no longer be dependent upon ordinary people as employees, there'll be no corporate ladders to climb either. You'll either be an owner, or your not, there will be very few opportunities to transition from one to the other because most people will have no where to work. Since work would mostly not exist, working would become something people do for their own pride & entertainment.

Under such circumstances, society would probably be better off transitioning to public ownership where the technology exists to serve the general public rather than private profit based interests, which would likely have collapsed into a handful of all powerful oligopolies.



"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."

That's a logical solution to unemployment, especially considering how employees are working longer hours each year. Within the past decade, US law was changed to specifically exclude IT workers from federal overtime pay requirements so that businesses are legally entitled to demand longer hours from us with zero additional pay (forget time and a half). So we're kind of moving in the opposite direction.

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

I'm a bit confused... it matters because you brought them up as examples of that trend "...the iPad and Android are able to make the possibility of programming available to a wider group of people..." I find them ironic choices for illustrating the point because technology could be less user accessible in the future.


Incidentally, the FSF just sent an email about it's campaign to fight restricted boot devices, if anybody's interested:

http://www.fsf.org/campaigns/secure-boot-vs-restricted-boot/2012-ap...

Edited 2012-12-29 04:49 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2