charlize burstein

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Debate: Technology will eliminate the need for human employees, and the unemployment rate will increase.

Technology is an easier and faster way to get a job done. It is obvious that technology increases the profitability of companies throughout the world. So why would I hire a human rather than purchasing the technology when the costs of them are the same?

Discuss the situation where you are going to choose one of them with equal conditions (conditions means the costs and several types of expenses).

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    Gail .

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    Nov 22 2012: Yes, unemployment will increase into the 90% range. So if you do away with money altogether, then we can use technology to our advantage, rather than to use it to reduce the value of a human being.
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      Nov 22 2012: why 90? why not 99 or 75?
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        Nov 22 2012: None 'bean counter' take it as an approximate value to get to understand the 'message' around it.
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        Lejan .

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        Nov 22 2012: Krisztián, maybe you should revise your encouraging skills if this your comment was meant to 'inspire'.
        It truly didn't come across this way to me in any positive way. It rather mocked TED Lover's comment in a way of ignoring the 'core message' and to pick on details instead.

        Maybe this is part of your 'amusement' in the way you phrase your comments, but it does not support any fruitful insiration to derive from it.
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          Nov 22 2012: i don't have encouraging skills. i also don't know how can one revise a skill. i have the skill, on the other hand, to ask the appropriate question that, when one attempts to answer, sheds a light on underlying problems. coming up with such a question is indeed an intellectual amusement. short lived, i might add, as the answer rarely comes.
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        Nov 22 2012: Debate: Technology will eliminate the need for human employees, and the unemployment rate will increase.

        Any arguments from your side?
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        Nov 22 2012: polemics.
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    Nov 30 2012: If empoyees are rendered redundant by self-replicating, self-servicing robotics why would there be such a metric as " Human Unemployment"? My guess is that long before the last human got her pink slip the economy would be terminal. Game over.
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    Lejan .

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    Nov 22 2012: Your debate headline is a given fact, so there is actually not much to debate about.

    As more technology evolves and as more 'clever' it gets, as less need there is for human employees.
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      Nov 22 2012: if you ignore all those that disagree
      • Nov 22 2012: Your disagreement is invalid/irrelevant until you provide us source(s) that proves that technological unemployment is not a fact.
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          Nov 22 2012: i don't need source to prove that the statement "not much debate about" is false. we are just now debating. the source is me, and all the people that shares my views, including but not limited to all that subscribe to austrian economics.
      • Nov 22 2012: Thing is, Austrian economics is an _economic ideology_, that stem from the late 19th century and is not rooted in the physical reality and it certainly didn't predict or account for the technological advances of the 21st century - which makes it utterly obsolete in terms of our present technological possibilities.

        Basing the validity of our current technological possibilities through an economic ideology is utterly nonsensical, since it in no way, shape or form represent our technological possibilities.
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          Nov 22 2012: and it has zero to do with the statement "not much to debate about". one thing is that you don't believe that argument, and another thing whether it exists.

          for example i don't agree with you. but i also recognize that you in fact do exist.

          newtonian physics is 400 years old. should abandon it too? or rather, we should judge a theory based on its actual merits. so far, austrian theory is the only economic theory with any predictive power.
      • Nov 22 2012: "and it has zero to do with the statement "not much to debate about".

        It has everything to do with that statement.

        "one thing is that you don't believe that argument, and another thing whether it exists. for example i don't agree with you. but i also recognize that you in fact do exist."

        That is called ignorance. Or scientific illiteracy in this case.

        "newtonian physics is 400 years old. should abandon it too?"

        Economics has nothing to do with physics, your "credibility" just flew out the window.

        My work here is done.
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        Lejan .

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        Nov 22 2012: What is this excitement all about?

        I choose 'not much' over 'nothing' so we have a little space left for believers of austrian economics and other schools... ;o)

        The given economical system prefers 'profit' over 'people' and the rest is simple math in the balance sheet.

        I don't see any significant argument why technology is not killing jobs, so if you have some, make them a contribution in your comment instead of stressing 'newtonian physics' or other non related topics alike...

        Wasn't it you who prefers arguments to be 'on the point'? Then act like it. ;o)
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        Nov 22 2012: How do you form your beliefs if not 'looking' for arguments?

        And again, all you deliver is polemics and not a single argument to make your case clear on the topic!
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          Nov 22 2012: you mean, in this conversation. i presented my arguments in all other conversations about the same topic. it does not count?
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        Nov 22 2012: Sure it counts! But then give reference to those converstions and link to them, instead of beating the drum of polemics only. TED will always have repetitive topics but just to claim different arguments without naming or linking them is not 'inspiring' to those who don't see them.
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        Nov 22 2012: polemics ...
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      Nov 22 2012: "As more technology evolves and as more 'clever' it gets, as less need there is for human employees."

      Why would you say something like that? Gut feeling? Personnal theory? Could you provide us with further explanations about your surprising worldview?
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        Lejan .

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        Nov 22 2012: Let me summarize what brings me to this conclusion:

        The main goal of capitalism is profit maximization and as more 'free' or 'radical' this system runs, as more this goal promotes itself.

        In general, a major thread on profit maximization is the cost factor of labour, which is cause why companies produce in low income countries supported by ridiculously cheap transportation costs and the omission of regulating import taxation. In short: The global market.

        Due to the invention of assembly line production, in which a complex product gets produced in simple step by step sequences, a human employee can be substituded by machines and robots.

        The decision to do so is just a matter of simple math of productivity, acquisition-, repair- and maintenance-costs of those machines compared to the cost of a human worker.

        Companies do not see themselves as charity projects, so if there is an overall cost benefit in a machine over a human worker, it will be taken.

        As more advanced or 'clever' technology gets, as more jobs will be endangered and substituted by it.

        The magic is simple: 24/7/52, no vacation, no illness, no strike.

        New technologies are already on the horizon. Rapid prototyping, Machines produce machines, neural network computing, artificial intelligence, artificial evolution, etc.

        At the moment machines are literally stupid yet that potential is already enough to substitute people. So what happens when they turn 'smart' and become as cheap as a Chinese migrant worker and as reliable and durable as a Swiss clockwork?

        The capitalistic economy will self-destruct itself in the race of the disequilibrium of the global market and comes to an end by viewer and viewer people earning their income by their work to purchase all of those goods with brilliant profit margins.

        Capitalism is no long term oriented concept and its vital instinct is only driven by greed.

        Look around and you can see 'it' acting as I stated all over the world. And it will become worse.
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          Nov 23 2012: "Capitalism is no long term oriented concept and its vital instinct is only driven by greed."

          Would you have more people in assembly lines? Don't you think certain "robotic" jobs are a waste of human beings?
          I thought people took jobs to access comfort. Are you not confusing employment with wealth? In your vision of the future, it seems everybody's well fed and clothed and, since everything is free, a push on a button makes a dream come true.
          Capitalism creates wealth, or are you denying this too?
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        Lejan .

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        Nov 23 2012: 'Capitalism creates wealth, or are you denying this too?'

        What in your view was I also denying? And where did I deny the creation of wealth in capitalism?

        You asked for 'further explanations' on my 'surprising worldview' that technology is eliminating jobs, so why are you changing the subject in your last question? This is another debate all by itself, yet not on the topic on this one.

        'Would you have more people in assembly lines?'

        Yes, because the alternative in the given system is unemployment, which does not enable people to 'access comfort' as you phrased it.

        'Don't you think certain "robotic" jobs are a waste of human beings?'

        Yes, I think so. But don't you think that unemployment is a waste of human beings too? I do, and that's why I criticize the substitution of people by robots but not having those wasteless jobs for them instead.

        'I thought people took jobs to access comfort.'

        How do you define comfort? What are necessities to you in comparison?
        In my view, the purpose of economy is to enable all people to participate and to provide a reliable and sufficient base for a living.

        'Are you not confusing employment with wealth?'

        Don't you think employment creates wealth? To me it does and this creation shall neither be concentrated for just a view nor parasitic to the cost of others. Is that an evil thought to have?

        Is my 'vision of the future', as you named it, really that 'odd', that 'fantastic' that we should stop to think about is how to get there, to move on with business as usual of which we know it will fail?

        So would you rather hit this wall or 'push on a button' to avoid this to happen?

        Why is it, that those thoughts are either greet with smiles or dismissed as communistic or Utopia?

        Have you given up on improvements already? Do you really think there are no better alternatives to the 'given system' possible? To me there are, and they are worth trying. Unfortunately we have to hit the wall first to become more open about it again...
  • Nov 22 2012: The biggest challenge of the 21st century is the irony of technologies of abundance in the hands of those thinking in terms of scarcity.
  • Nov 21 2012: "Technology will eliminate the need for human employees"

    Not eliminate it entirely, but reduce it for sure.

    "and the unemployment rate will increase"

    If we stick to the 40 hour workweek until age 67 then yes, unemployment will eventually increase.
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    Nov 25 2012: High tech industrial production needs a marketplace and naturally sombody to buy it.

    No jobs=>no money=>no purchasing power=>no production. That's the way the industrial west has been treating the third world since the start of the colonial period, say three centuries ago. Somebody simply needs to have purchasing power in order for the high tech industrial society to work ... up until now that has been the industrial West, but it needn't stay that way.

    The industrial West built its economic strength by dominating the raw material producers in the third world. Cheap raw materials from around the world became manifactured products in the West and sold at a profit around the world. The economic motor that made the West's domination work was control of the means of production.

    At this point it looks as though the real problem for the industialized West isn't technological advancement, but that industry opts for cheaper labor in Asia. Within a decade or two there might well be virtually no industrial jobs anywhere outside of China. Wherever production is strongest in the future, will determine where the economy is strongest in the future.

    Don't believe for a minute that we can outsource all our labor and still keep our control over economy and trade

    I cannot envisage any plausible scenario in which old industrial societies that can no longer poduce any significant part of what they consume, can stay on top.
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    Nov 24 2012: This is a confusing question to me. I believe it's commonly agreed that technology does some jobs well, and human beings do some well. A calculator can add up some figures for you, but it cannot tell you what to do with the figures, only a human being can make that decision.
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      Nov 25 2012: Let me ask you: If we can make mathematical calculations by ourselves, why we use calculators??
      I have my answer to this question: Human being do not stop to find easier and much more easier ways to live, even we see that these easier ways pollute our environment. We do not care about future as much as we should.
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        Nov 29 2012: Well, I guess the mathematical calculations are so complex that it would take us huge amounts of time to do them by hand. The calculator can do them faster.

        By the way, Charlize, how do you do math when you do it? By yourself, or with calculator?
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    Nov 23 2012: If I had to choose between human or technological solutions, my choice would be made first and foremost from a humanistic and environmental perspective. Only then would the conditions of costs and expenses follow.

    My reasons are because technology is in danger of going way beyond its own brief of enhancing our own existence. Technology now exists merely for its own sake.

    When it gets to the stage where people have to fantasise and dream about using their own hands, their own brains, their own intuition, having pride in a job, using hard-won skills and having vital human to human contact and contact with the natural world - is the stage where technology really has gone too far.
  • Nov 23 2012: Two words: tech support!

    (In case someone doesn't get the facetiousness, I'll add that I *make* technology.)
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    Nov 23 2012: It's interesting how all commenters generally agree that automation is increasing, but still a line is drawn between those who are optimistic about the future and those who are pessimistic. In fact, the same division can be seen in the TED talks themselves:

    http://www.ted.com/talks/peter_diamandis_abundance_is_our_future.html

    http://www.ted.com/talks/paul_gilding_the_earth_is_full.html
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      Nov 23 2012: let's put more weight on the bright side:
      http://www.ted.com/talks/matt_ridley_when_ideas_have_sex.html
      • Nov 23 2012: Agreed, but people often ask "how?"
        Should we say, "We are working on it"..?
        In effect, zillions of people including factory workers lose their jobs all over the world.
        I wouldn't say it's all because of Technology, but it seems like the people in charge of their employment keep saying, “We wish we could help, but for now, our hands are tied.”

        I'm also the one who tries to look on the bright side of this issue, however, I happen to have the opinion that there has to be at least a certain way out of this problem.

        We'll find a solution, someday maybe. But for now, it's quite vague. Any suggestions?
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          Nov 23 2012: the labour market is just another market, with the same principles as any other market, namely supply and demand. if we have overproduction of shoes, it is a meaningful question to ask why we produce more shoes than people willing to buy? the same question should be asked about labour. why do we have less demand than supply? changes in the shoe production does not change the fact that the market finds its equilibrium. so changes in the productivity of a person should not change the total demand for labor. then what happened?

          what happened is we don't have a free labor market anymore. high taxes, high administration costs, minimum wage, employee "protection" laws, state granted benefits all move the labour market in the direction of reduced demand.
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          Nov 23 2012: True. The inability to see the "unseen" on this particular market, however, wrecks havoc in the whole of the economy like nothing else.
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      Nov 23 2012: This line of optimistic and pessimistic views about the future of human employees seems to rise from the given uncertainty of how and if we will rearrange our econmy to compensate for it.

      At the moment, if you are an highly educated and experience specialist at the age of 20 you could not care less about this debate, as it will take years to effect you personally.

      On the 'lower end' of unlearned and poorly educated worker the given technology level already is a real threat, and if not technology is the cause, then low income countries are instead.

      And even if we would 'produce' only highly educated workers from now on, the question remains if there are enough jobs left for all of them.

      As the development in technology will not put itself 'on hold' societies have do re-invent themselves as well to cope with the problems of a high-tech future.

      At present I don't really see any effort made on this transformation process, on the contrary, all there is to see is 'protection of vested rights' of an old-fashioned and well nursed, established system. The 'bail out' phenomena of todays history ...
    • Nov 23 2012: I don't think people are blaming technology, they're blaming the way our society and economy deal with automation. If properly utilized automation is a blessing, if not properly utilized it will lead to massive unemployment, or many, many people scrubbing the toilets of rich people with toothbrushes for very, very low wages.
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        Nov 23 2012: I think it's just misplaced class envy. Rich people are only rich if there are employed people spending money on there products and services. The wealthier the middle class is, the more money the upper class makes. No one wants high unemployment, or actively works to cause it.
        • Nov 23 2012: I think this paradigm, (if that's the right word), has been bypassed by the fiat currency system.
          Now there is no need for working-class people to make any money at all to funnel up to the rich. Money is now electronically zapped-into the wallets of the rich, & then they spend it buying-up the world's resources. Any "money" earned by the poor are buried by the next avalanche of currency.
          "Inflation is a result of legalized counterfeiting." ~Chris Bridges
        • Nov 30 2012: "Rich people are only rich if there are employed people spending money on there products and services."

          This is true today but many rich people don't believe in it and even if they do it wouldn't stop them from not caring about unemployment: if a millionaire can increase his net worth by 50% though increasing unemployment he won't really be bothered by the fact that he and all the other millionaires lose a bit of purchasing power per unit of currency (a 50% increase in net worth more than makes up for it), maybe that will eventually come back to bite his great grand kids in the ass, but that's not his problem when he's long dead.

          There may also come a day when the rich don't need middle class consumers anymore. Imagine 1% of the population owning huge automated facilities and massive numbers of robotic drones that mine/harvest 90% of the Earth's natural resources and turn it into toys for their rich masters, people within this 1% will still trade with one another. Meanwhile the other 99% live off the remaining 10% of the Earth's natural resources as subsistence level. The top 1% would then be at 90% of the maximum possible wealth level (after all, you can't consume more than 100% of the Earth's natural resources) and the emergence of a middle class among the remaining 99% would actually make the top 1% less rich (because any middle class would be able to consume more than 10% of the Earth's natural resources with their wages since those wages have to be higher than subsistence level for there to be a middle class).
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    Nov 23 2012: This is our opportunity to escape the SURVIVALIST MENTALITY and develop a money-less world enveloped in the new paradigm and new economy of human heroism:

    "No longer should our greatest energies be dedicated to the motive of material survival and creature comfort—the status quo, global condition which seeks to reduce all major human initiatives to the commonest value of money. Corporations are not persons, and unenlightened capitalism is beastly! With the birth of a radically new non-profit movement, we might attain to our next evolutionary step. Let our present society be seen for its shameful and no longer quiet desperation, for Henry David Thoreau long ago called us out. If non-profit organizations would arise to compete alongside for profit businesses, for example, propelled by the best and brightest and most talented of our species (individuals no longer seduced by primitive profiteering), our world would gradually transform into a new Atlantis. "

    http://www.newamericanspring.org/book.htm
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    Nov 22 2012: Yes!

    Technology will certainly eliminate all jobs.
    And the social wealth will be distributed equally. People need not to work at all.
    Then, people will be happy VALIDLY all their life without worrying about jobs.

    And the INVALID happiness from the greed of occupation of more wealth will be a crime.



    (For the VALID and INVALID happiness, see the 1st article, points 1.1-3, at https://skydrive.live.com/?cid=D24D89AE8B1E2E0D&id=D24D89AE8B1E2E0D%21283&sc=documents.)
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    Nov 22 2012: Technology has created very dumb and enslaving jobs. It began with agriculture and got worse with the age of industry. So a member of the most outstandingly creative species on this planet can be witnessed to sign a 30 year contract for a job that requires half a dung beetle's brain.
    This is the self-perpetrated crime against humanity civilizations are responsible of.

    But if technology is the poison, it is also the cure. Boring jobs will eventually disappear. Where I live, it's hard to find a job similar to that of Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times. Not just because someone in Bangladesh has it covered, but because brainless tasks have become automated, as they ethically should.
    To get rid of dumb jobs you need technology. You need innovation. And this is the future of employment : jobs that contribute to the effort of killing stupid jobs.

    ps : everyone on earth was unemployed before the presence of technology. Technology creates jobs, period.
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      Nov 23 2012: 'ps : everyone on earth was unemployed before the presence of technology. Technology creates jobs, period.'

      But this is no answer to the original question. It is not asked if technology creates jobs, it is asked, if this technology which creates jobs is going to 'eliminate the need for human employees'.

      Would you share your view on this aspect?

      And what do you think about jobs which do not require 'Charlie Chaplin' style 'dumb people' but also those which require high skills, education and creativity?

      In chess technology already managed to outrun our human grand masters. And what will happen to employees when the first 'intelligent and creative' robots become available and this at a price of a fraction of long term human employment?

      For example, some very high skilled, trained and 'intuitive' people - jetfighter pilots - are becoming already and also in another way an endangered species by Drones.

      Any geek would be able to play those 'games' without dealing with any g-forces, stress and fear. And the military is already working on autonomous systems to replace even those geeks at one day.

      What do we do with all the people who will, sooner or later, have no alternative jobs to earn their living?

      The scope of this questions goes way beyond 'dumb and enslaving jobs' as technology will not stop there and so will the economy...
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        Nov 23 2012: Don't stop there. What are people, in the end, but bits and pieces of machinery that technology could easily mimick?
        What then, when technology allows you to build people?
        With everything available all around you for nothing. With machines willing to pick up anything you dropped on the floor, you'd still want to get busy at something. People nowadays might call it recreation, but in the future, people's jobs might be playing videogames with virtual salaries, just useless scores. Or people might work on their TEDcred.
        Wealth and employment are drifting away from each other.
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          Nov 23 2012: 'Wealth and employment are drifting away from each other.'

          Yes, but for this I don't even need any advanced technology. What is your opinion on this your statement? Is this ok for you? Do you mind? Could you be affected by it? Are you affected by it already?

          What can this 'virtual salarie' buy? Food, clothes, housing, energy? Or just 'upgrade items' for my videogame avatar?

          Access to basic needs is wealth to me, what is it in your scenario?

          I have no trouble to picture your idea of this 'bright future', what trobles me is the process of transition to finally get there. The current system does not lead to it and it uses technology for its own simple 'greed' mechanism only. So how do you get to your point in time without poverty of the masses, without hunger, starvation and even more wars for resources?

          Technology still is our tool, not our master, so how do we use it wisely? Any suggestions?
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        Nov 23 2012: "So how do you get to your point in time without poverty of the masses, without hunger, starvation and even more wars for resources?"

        I have access to the same technology, pretty much, as any billionaire. This is because companies like Samsung are greedy. They know that if they find a way to make cell phones cheaper, they'll sell more of them. Someone building cheap solar panels will be rich. He might be environment-concerned, or he might be a capitalist bastard, who cares : the result would be the same.
        The current system allows technology to be democratic.

        'Wealth and employment are drifting away from each other.'

        Yes I think that's a good thing, because wealth-driven employment is not homo-sapiens friendly.
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          Nov 23 2012: I understand that you have no suggestions. You choose to ignore that cheap products often stem from cheap labour and that those who made them can't affort them. Do you think Apple is successful because their design team is based in California? Or is it China who makes this possible? And how many Chinese assembly line worker do you think have their own i-products?

          The current system only seem to allow technology to be democratic, but think globally, look at the whole picture and you may understand what I was trying to make understandable. Well, probably not ...

          '... wealth-driven employment is not homo-sapiens friendly' to you, yet you seem to react provoked if someone states that capitalism is driven by greed. Honestly, I don't understand your true thoughts on this, as you are not explaining how a 'homo-sapiens friendly' system would look like to you. Maybe you could share this view in case it differentiate from the 'status quo'.

          And no, not any result justify the means. The pollution of this planet is one sign that is doesn't. But on the current wave of ignorance you probably don't care as well.

          In this case we then desagree.
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        Nov 23 2012: " those who made them can't affort them."

        That's true. But it seems to be on the decline. The gap between rich countries and poor countries is diminishing, everyone knows that. And the cause of this is not philanthropy.

        The polution on this planet is only due to expensive and wasteful technology. It's a necessary transition towards a greener (cheaper) way of life.
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      Nov 23 2012: it is the opposite of the truth. in fact, the jobs that gets automatized are the most monotonous, less satisfying, most back breaking jobs. nobody wants them back. nobody wants to plough with an ox or horse, let alone without it. nobody wants to pick fruits by hand. nobody wants to wash clothes in the river. nobody wants to carry around water on their shoulders. machines save us from these awful jobs.
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        Nov 23 2012: You missed my point, I think, because I agree with everything you say. Let me clarify.
        Hunter-gatherers "worked" two days a week, and had the rest of the time off. The back breaking activities you mention came with agriculture. Plows were perhaps supposed to create constant food with little effort, but in the end, people just started to work their asses off, tempted by the wealth their could build. I was suggesting that we might be heading towards a ballance between our biological needs to laze about as much as possible and our limitless appetite for wealth. Hence I expect our descendants to have exciting jobs for a couple days a week, with every dumb task left to machinery. Unemployment would not necessarily result in misery, but people like to have jobs nonetheless.
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          Nov 23 2012: "Hunter-gatherers "worked" two days a week"

          i'm not convinced about that. animals seek food all the time. tribes in abandoned parts of the world too.
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        Nov 23 2012: The hunter-gatherers I've read about are the !Kung San and the Ache, to name a few. They behave as I've described. You can now check
        As for other animals, baboons and lions, for instance, only seek food 3 hours a day.
        I don't just speculate!
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          Nov 23 2012: interesting. i wonder what made man abandon leisure, and start to work more when agriculture came about? certainly they had a choice, as they could just opt for doing farming on a lesser scale. maybe that "leisure" was more like unwanted idle time during which they could do nothing to further improve their condition.
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        Nov 23 2012: Why you ask?
        I see people all around me who are willing to trade 30 years in a factory for a home with three bedrooms and a shiny car. They could do just fine if they work three times less. So why don't they?
        Children in settled tribes spend a lot more time left to themselves, crying, while both parents work their asses off, and play time is replaced with field work and household chores as soon as they can stand. So much for "improving their condition". But people always want more. Right?
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    Nov 22 2012: Technology would not neccesarily increase the rate of unemployment; it creates a demand for new kind of skills, it is an industry on its own which does not cause shortage of labour but metamorphosis of it.
    Like Krisztian Pinter has stated, we've had this conversation before.
    • Nov 22 2012: "Technology would not neccesarily increase the rate of unemployment; it creates a demand for new kind of skills, it is an industry on its own which does not cause shortage of labour but metamorphosis of it."

      Wrong. We don't have infinite jobs. The 'invisible hand', which I guess you are referring to, will not simply provide new jobs over night. That is physically impossible.
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        Nov 22 2012: wrong. we do have infinite jobs.
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          Nov 22 2012: And because we have them, all unemployed people are lousy beggars, right? Or is it because of the governments? Again? The governments? Maybe there are no unemployed people at all and the whole buzz about it is nothing but another conspiracy theory of those socialists and communists people? Hmm, may be..., may be ... ;o)
        • Nov 22 2012: "wrong. we do have infinite jobs."

          When automation progresses faster than general technology (the capacity to make more using the same amount of natural resources), the only ways to keep employment up are lowering of wages and shortening of working hours. Maybe you assumed those things would happen but I'd be very surprised if you did because the free market would never implement them unless it's ordered by to do so by governments (because it's not very profitable to lower the productivity per employee).
        • Nov 23 2012: Yes, we do have. And we will have. But depending on our social statuses, talents, competence, and quite often sociability, we don't get to choose what we want to do at times. Unemployment rate is not just a mere signal. It reflects particular demands of our society and a sign that says, “Society doesn't need your skill anymore.” And it goes like, "but however there are plenty of jobs out there so, do what you want. Many many opportunities are waiting for ya."

          Is it merely about distributing job opportunities? Or.. maybe because of lack of people’s flexibility?
          I like your comment here—that’s why I gave you a thumbs-up—but despite the way it sounds, telling the unemployed that there are 'Infinite jobs' may sound some kind of sarcasm(even if you don’t mean it).
        • Dec 5 2012: Don't confuse infinite tasks/challenges with paid jobs that make a living. Yes, there is always going to be a lot things left to do if we automate the entire service sector tomorrow, but these tasks or challenges will not give sufficient or if any income to the producers or workers as the whole socioeconomic system is set up to fix/repair/service things constantly, not produce abundance, efficiency and sustainability. Why do you think there's nobody in the "air-business" selling clean air? Because there is an abundance of air. There is simply nothing to sell. And we've reached that paradigm in terms of robotics and automation, where we can produce goods and services in such abundance that money (as an exchange for goods) becomes irrelevant.
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        Dec 5 2012: what is a paid job decided solely on the participating people. if i sing you a song, and you in return help me make my room look cool, it is just as valid economic transaction as an exchange of a loaf of bread for a can of peas. we already have a service based economy, industry and agriculture have shrunk in size. there is no need to produce any physical to participate in the economy.
        • Dec 5 2012: "what is a paid job decided solely on the participating people. if i sing you a song, and you in return help me make my room look cool, it is just as valid economic transaction as an exchange of a loaf of bread for a can of peas."

          Most people still need to pay their bills and their rent. And for that they need to generate an income. Time banks and gift economies are great, but won't meet everybody's needs in the short run and will resort to much more waste and pollution than intelligently managing the production and distribution of goods and services.

          "we already have a service based economy, industry and agriculture have shrunk in size."

          Sure, my point was that with automation and robotics we can produce such abundance of goods and services that an exchange for goods (money and even barter) because irrelevant.
        • Dec 5 2012: "we already have a service based economy"

          It's not that simple: most of today's services sector is actually facilitating industry and so their number is limited by the size of industry. The "pure service" jobs that would have to employ the portion of the population made jobless by automation would have to be a) not in any way, shape of form be linked to industry, b) not consume natural resources and c) not possible for robots to carry out (this condition get harder and harder to meet as robots keep getting more advanced). Your example of a musician fits this "pure service" description, as do athletes, actors and people in the sex industry, but that's about it. Is it realistic that a significant portion of the population will find employment in such fields? I have a hard time believing that.

          I would also like to point out that robots are not made of, nor do they run on, magic pixie dust so the purchasing power per capita of the population will decrease up to a finite value (it converges at 100% automation), this effect will likely cause structurally higher unemployment even if the "pure service" sector explodes, unless someone forces redistribution of wealth (lowering everyone's wages so everyone can still get a wage).

          Finally it's simply unethical to make people perform often degrading, physically demanding and ultimately useless jobs. We should be striving to reduce the hours a person works in their life, that will also enable us to harvest the big advantage of automation: more free time (instead of a loss of purchasing power per working hour we could have an increase) and with all that free time on our hands we won't even miss a huge "pure service" sector because we can entertain ourselves and each other when and how we want to.
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        Dec 5 2012: " they need to generate an income"

        they will. in the service sector, like today.

        "automation and robotics we can produce such abundance"

        automation can push the cost down to any degree, but never to zero. but even if you push the cost of something to zero, it just means that you took out that thing from the economy. but the economy is still there, as there are other things with nonzero cost.

        we've been through this. you claim that there will be no more jobs, because there will be no more jobs. this is not an argument.
        • Dec 5 2012: "they will. in the service sector, like today."

          But what happens when companies automate the entire service sector? Hypothetical or not.

          "automation can push the cost down to any degree, but never to zero. but even if you push the cost of something to zero, it just means that you took out that thing from the economy."

          "Never to zero" or "even if we push the cost to zero"? Please make up your mind :)

          "but the economy is still there, as there are other things with nonzero cost."

          Only if we let it be, but we don't have to and if people start loosing their purchasing power they will revolt and reject the current system all together and demand a new one. We can however, peacefully, evolve from a monetary economic system to an access economic system using technology to produce abundance and sustainability. Not 'redistribution of wealth' or any of that crap from communism and socialism, but access to wealth for everybody. We would all live like Bill Gates or any other generic rich guy who has it all.

          "we've been through this. you claim that there will be no more jobs, because there will be no more jobs. this is not an argument."

          I've never said that. I've said that there will be no jobs left in any given sector which implements automation. That is the argument and you know that. We see this in agriculture and manufacturing and the service sector is also being automated as we speak. This is not my personal opinion, this is fact.
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        Dec 5 2012: there is no entire sector. as i said, the list of jobs is infinite. you can automate as much as you can, you will never get to the end of the list.

        you have problems reading written text? i said you can push down, but never to zero. meditate on it, if you still don't understand. try harder.

        cost is not a matter of letting. cost is just there, like the weather or laws of physics. cost means that we need to put time and effort to make things as we want. automation does not lower purchasing power, it increases it.

        yes, you said. you said that if we are out of jobs that exist today, we will have no more. you did not only say that, but you have repeated that many times.
        • Dec 5 2012: "there is no entire sector. as i said, the list of jobs is infinite. you can automate as much as you can, you will never get to the end of the list."

          Then define 'service sector' to me, as we seemingly have two different definitions of it.

          "you have problems reading written text? i said you can push down, but never to zero. meditate on it, if you still don't understand. try harder."

          Well, in the same sentence you wrote this: "but even if you push the cost of something to zero, it just means that you took out that thing from the economy." Explain that to me.

          "automation does not lower purchasing power, it increases it."

          To those who own the manufacturing industries and service companies yes, but not the workers who loose their jobs.

          "yes, you said. you said that if we are out of jobs that exist today, we will have no more. you did not only say that, but you have repeated that many times."

          Paying jobs that is, not tasks/challenges.
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        Dec 5 2012: why would i define service sector? i was not even using it in the part you are answering to.

        you don't understand the phrase "but even if"?
        • Dec 5 2012: "why would i define service sector?"

          Because more than 70% of all labor is currently in the service sector, therefore making it highly relevant to talk about. So, let's say that the entire service sector were replaced by automation in the course of a couple of years, what would happen to the workers?
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        Dec 5 2012: sigh. service sector is an artificial classification. if you classify anything that is not agriculture and not industry as service sector, it is an infinite list, and can not be replaced. if you come up with a new class, like "experience sector" or "whatnot sector", then after the service jobs are all automatized, we will work in the whatnot sector.

        try to focus: there is an endless list of possible jobs. if you have machines do the first million, we will work on the next million. if you automatize the next million, we will work on the million after that.

        that is the last time i tried to explain that to you. everyone else understands it already, and my patience is over.
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    Nov 22 2012: everything said in the previous incarnations of that conversation went down the toilet. the same people making the same remarks almost word by word. what is the benefit of all this?
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      Lejan .

      • +2
      Nov 22 2012: This is interesting, as somehow I got the same impression about your comments. Any answer you may find for your above question may therefore be choosen carefully ... ;o)
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        Nov 22 2012: it is not true, i always try to vary my replies to the same question/statement. partly to increase understanding, partly for my own amusement. i enjoy approaching a problem from different directions.

        when i run out of directions because my opponents repeated the same thing one too many times, i start to lament.
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          Lejan .

          • +1
          Nov 22 2012: So you know which of my impressions are true or not... this is quite interesting indeed... ;o)
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    Nov 22 2012: I have heard this argument in one form or another since the 1960s. What has happened instead is that each increase in automation is an increase in efficiency, which results in a stronger economy employing more people (although not in the same jobs as before).
    • Nov 22 2012: It's not that simple, see, in the developed world, since the 1960s the average number of hours a person works over a lifetime has decreased, populations have aged (so the worker/consumer ratio became smaller), without those factors there would probably be massive unemployment in all developed countries today. Also, the true breakthroughs in automation didn't take off until the 1990s.

      "What has happened instead is that each increase in automation is an increase in efficiency, which results in a stronger economy employing more people (although not in the same jobs as before)."

      No, that's not true in general: advancements in robotics and IT don't have to be accompanied by equally great advancements in other fields. For example, if an economy learns to make 50% of the workforce redundant with robots there is absolutely no guarantee that economy will at the same time invent technologies that allow it to prodce (at least) 50% more "stuff", stuff that robots can't make, using the same (fixed by definition) amount of natural resources, therefore there is absolutely no guarantee unemployment will not rise.
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        Nov 22 2012: First of all, the Fair Labor Standards Act, establishing the 40 hour work week, was passed in 1938. The standard retirement age of 65 was established at about the same time, so there has NOT been any decrease in the average hours worked in a person's lifetime since then.

        You have to think on a more macroeconomic scale. While you cannot say. "General Motors lost 1000 jobs due to automation, but Microsoft gained 1000 at the same time." You can say, and economics have said for the last half century, that automation has grown the economy, which in turn has caused an increase in jobs. Don't forget to factor in the fact that our population has doubled since the 1960s, while unemployment has remained fairly unchanged over the decades.

        "Also, the true breakthroughs in automation didn't take off until the 1990s." That's just not true. I lost my assembly line job to a robot in 1982. Your limited historical perspective leads me to believe that you must be in your early 30s.
        • Nov 30 2012: "First of all, the Fair Labor Standards Act, establishing the 40 hour work week, was passed in 1938. The standard retirement age of 65 was established at about the same time, so there has NOT been any decrease in the average hours worked in a person's lifetime since then."

          You mean in America, it happened much later in Europe, where I'm from. My country had a six day workweek until 1960 and in those days most people left school at age 14 while today half of them stay in school until they're 22 (and that's true of America as well), in addition many people now retire at an earlier age than 65, which used to be rare in 1960. Finally I'll repeat that the workers/retirees ratio has decreased markedly since the 1960s and that employment statistics count part time workers.

          "I lost my assembly line job to a robot in 1982."

          Most automation comes from computers taking over administrative tasks, that didn't become big until the 1990s.

          "You can say, and economics have said for the last half century, that automation has grown the economy, which in turn has caused an increase in jobs."

          No, technological progress causes both automation and (real) economic growth, but usually not in equal amounts: it's much easier to find a new, more efficient software algorithm than to invent a new technology that makes cars more fuel efficient. This causes unemployment unless most (a minority could of course get the smaller number of newly created jobs in IT and robotics) of the laid off people get new jobs that a) don't really (help) produce anything, b) take up minimal natural resources and c) can't be done by a robot or computer (watch the movie "The Full Monty" to get an idea of what this means), this is just not realistic.

          "Don't forget to factor in the fact that our population has doubled since the 1960s"

          This is irrelevant because the increased demand caused by a larger population should of course maintain employment, until you get to the point of natural resource depletion.
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    Nov 22 2012: I remember a conference about future technology and a speaker argued how once we reach the age of replicators, the only work will be for people to build replicators...
    Someone then shouted out 'what if we make a replicator that can replicate replicators?',
    the speaker conceded that it turns out we wouldn't need workers afterall, haha.
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    Nov 22 2012: With this new research in auto-cleaning public toilets I worry for my kids' future.
    • Nov 23 2012: Oh don't worry - robots don't use toilets!
      I'm sure your kids will be safe and happy encased in their carbonite !
      lol
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    Nov 21 2012: i can't wait robots taking over debating in forums. that will be so much fun to read. maybe we will have less repetition, if we include the necessary algorithms.