Generally,the chattering classes have taken it in stride. After all, when poorly educated workers’ jobs are being replaced, they can be trained to do higher level work. The attitude has basically been, “when computers can replace human thinking and intuition, then we’ll worry about it.”One of the problems with the "higher level work" is that anyone who pays attention to the "labor pyramid" understands that the further up one goes (away from "manual labour") the smaller the triangle gets. Similarly in no way does the the number of people required to maintain robotics compare to the number of people that are displaced by robotics. If it weren't so, then there would be no point to mechanization. Mechanization only works when it significantly lowers the cost of labour. The long term prognosis is not good so long as society is in a "Work for pay to live" mode. It is why the movie In Time is so powerful. In that movie the society has basically eliminated the "middle man" that is money and pay people directly for life. After all that is the ultimate goal of labour: Man shall live by the sweat of his brow. If a man cannot sweat (work) then man cannot live. Similarly as the "poor" (read "manual labour") work is eliminated, then an entire class of people become unnecessary unless society is willing to pay people based on the overall production of society. This is not unheard of, The Arab gulf states do this already. Citizens get a cut of the oil profits the sum of which is greater than the average wages of many (if not most) people in the US. IN such a scenario one does not have to work to live. One simply lives. Should mechanized societies not change then even the "skilled" labour pool will see problems because of overcrowding in the market for the "robot maintainers" which will result in wage deflation much like already has happened in businesses with high numbers of illegal immigrant labour.
Sunday, February 10, 2013
Continuing my interest in the ramifications of an increasingly mechanized "work" world: