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Matthew Prestifilippo

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Everyone can be happily unemployed.

As more and more jobs can be done by automated processes, we need less people to work. We have pizza shops/restaurants that are completely automated. We can rent videos out of a vending machine, or streaming. Will it get to the point where technology is so efficient that we will have barely any work? This could crank up the unemployment rate, but is that necessarily a bad thing? How will we cope with this?

Some clarifications:
Let's define work as something you don't want to do. Some examples would be cleaning, washing dishes, cooking, assembly line jobs, work in a coal mine. If there is something you want to do, like cooking, because of curiosity, or any other reason, then that's fine. If you want to do journalist work, then good! Perfectly acceptable. I don't envision people doing nothing. I'd imagine people would still want to watch the olympics, have fashion shows, comedy shows, etc.

The gist of the idea is to point out that sometimes things get more efficient, like in Mick Mountz warehouse, or in farms where a ton of food is produced by fewer and fewer people. So just because a company is growing, or a farm is growing, or a warehouse is growing, doesn't mean there are more jobs. It could be more cost effective to have computers/robots do the work that humans really don't feel like doing every day of their lives. So if we go with that trend, that would mean fewer jobs are available even though the population climbs?

Also, instead of an absolute 100% unemployment rate, let's consider a 40 or 50% unemployment rate because of technology. To put that in perspective, the Great depression maxed out at 33%.


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    Jan 30 2012: It's true that human lost many jobs as technology developing, but we also get some new jobs which didn't exsit before. who will creat and produce the robot and computers ? It's us, human.
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      Jan 30 2012: So what if we consider a world where not all jobs are gone... that's probably too far fetched... but what about a world where we only have a need for 50% of the people to do work?
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        Jan 30 2012: in 1800, 90+ percent of the population worked in agriculture. back then, you would ask, okay, so there will be a time when machines and chemicals will help agriculture, so only 5% of the population can feed the 95%. what the 95% will do?

        look around. the time came when only 5% works in agriculture. do you see now what others do?
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          Jan 31 2012: You have valid data, but things have changed since 1800. People are living longer. They are able to retire (not work). Quality of life has changed because work is much less harsh. I think it will be even easier to the point where an even smaller percentage of the population has to work, or if distributed, we could work even less. I think it's possible.
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        Jan 31 2012: we can't stop the progress of technology development, when we can't adapt the changes of the society, or the world, there will be a revolution which can help us change our mind to adapt to the world and continue to survive in the world. DO something for our worries.
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        Jan 31 2012: "I think it will be even easier to the point where an even smaller percentage of the population has to work"

        yes, so? how would that invalidate what i have said, or how would that support what you have said? today, the total number of work hours are much less than it was in 1800. but it does not mean some people don't work at all. it meas that we all work less. i can imagine a future in which if you want only food and shelter, you have to work half an hour per day. you can do it today, btw, you can maintain a medieval lifestyle with very few work hours.
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        Jan 31 2012: When farm work dries up -- and in the face of global warming induced droughts, I mean that literally as well as figuratively -- people, especially young people without formal educations, leave the farm and go to the cities looking for work, driving down the wages that people already living in the cities base their lifestyles. What comes next is price controls and riots when the controls no longer work. Meanwhile the robots are happily churning away, reducing job opportunities across the board. I think what we're describing is a disaster in a world with more, not fewer people. BTW we don't retire happily, at least not in the USA. The house is mortgaged or gone, you get no pension, Social Security is pathetically slim, and being marginalized economically, your opinions are not eagerly sought out. There is no TED for people who can't participate in the discourse. This is very blue sky thinking, okay for the net, no so practical in the material world.

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