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Distribution of Wealth in a Robot-Driven World

michael posted about 11 years ago | from the when-robots-take-your-job dept.

Editorial 900

An anonymous reader sent another piece by Marshall Brain. He continues his examination of a society where most manual labor is performed by machines, idling a large fraction of the current workforce. See his previous piece for background.

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900 comments

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gnaa reccomends anuses cheeses (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6840261)

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*_______aaaan_____________________________________ ________C
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Re:gnaa reccomends anuses cheeses (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6840281)

Can somone link to the Slashdot article that:

1. Has at least 100 posts, and
2. Has the greatest troll-to-"wise" post ratio (T2WPR).

I am looking for stuff that the OS X-toting dim bulbs who run this site thought were REALLY profound, but which the populace collectively snickered at, by virtue of posting large number of responses that were modded down to -1 TROLL, -1 FLAMEBAIT, -1 REDUNDANT, etc.

Thank you for your support.
-Bartles and Jaymes.

I hate gay niggers (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6840484)

Watch out man, coz this modafucka's gonna fuck yo momma! Or you think I'm gonna waste this big chunk of white tube steak between your wimpy brown ass cheeks?

We are the world (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6840262)

Remember when Michael Jackson didn't have an ugly nose? Yes, I am talking about the eighties. I think we ought to shutter ourselves from the greed grab that is the 2000's corporate culture for a moment every day to meditate, reflect, or just simply relax. Quite simply, corporate culture is one of the most destructive forces facing America today. How many people live ten or twenty feet from another family, yet don't even know the names of their next door neighbors. In pursuit of highest GDP, America has built a closeted individualistic over-worked society that mistrusts everyone.. fellow citizens, neighbors, and even family members. Pathetic. Please take this time to relax for a moment and let your mind wander elsewhere and reflect on the condition of the world. Yes I know this post is offtopic, but then again, if it isn't a story about SCO, Apple, or a beta release of software, it's not on the front page of /.

We Are The World (chorus)
Sung by USA for Africa
Written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie

We are the world
We are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So let's start giving
There's a choice we're making
We're saving our own lives
It's true we'll make a better day
Just you and me

Brought to you by The Eighties Flashback Shaman

Re:We are the world (5, Funny)

Trurl's Machine (651488) | about 11 years ago | (#6840320)

Remember when Michael Jackson didn't have an ugly nose? Yes, I am talking about the eighties. I think we ought to shutter ourselves from the greed grab that is the 2000's corporate culture for a moment every day to meditate, reflect, or just simply relax

Yeah, back in the eighties at least trolls had some integrity. Are you trying to say that the decade of porsche-driving-yuppies, reaganomics, Wall Street boom and nascence of Bill Gates empire was less greedy that the 2000's? Just because of *one* song? If you want to capture the spirit of the 1980's, read the "American Psycho" and watch the "Wall Street" (or even better the Brit TV-series "Capital City", the most shamelessly pro-yuppie manifesto I ever saw).

What the hell??? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6840331)

You're a fucking limey, AREN'T YOU??? Get the fuck back in your hole, you fucking piece-of-shit Briddish puddle of piss! I hate every one of you FUCKING pieces of encrusted goat shit hanging off the rim of the asshole that your mother is sticking up to me right now, begging for me to stick my steaming 10-inch love rod into. You WORTHLESS piece of limey shit!!!

confirmed: I just shat all over myself (-1)

confucio-licious (555476) | about 11 years ago | (#6840275)

I can't believe I just took a shit in my pants at work. What the fuck? I cant stand up and take it to the restroom, because I am wading in a puddle of feces at this very moment. Any change in my seating position will send my poo spilling down my legs and into my socks and shoes. There is no way I can play this off as a fart. I can hardly see straight! How am I possibly going to explain this to my Supervisor when she comes over here to ask me what the fuck I just did in the presence of my employer? She'll make me drop trau in front of everyone again. There it is. The person in the cubicle to the right of me just asked if I could smell "that". I gotta go.

Do you work on sundays? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6840506)

Or is my calendar wrong?

Time for an open mind. (-1, Flamebait)

Thinkit3 (671998) | about 11 years ago | (#6840276)

Things are gonna change--those who refuse to change will be killed (especially when laser blasters come out). Got a closed mind? You won't live long.

Re:Time for an open mind. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6840358)

Sounds like the Slashdot moderation system.

TOURETTES (-1)

Yr0 (224662) | about 11 years ago | (#6840279)

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You completely inhale the pastes in crust (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6840287)

It has come to my attention that you completely inhale the pastes in crust. Read on for more about this fascinating topic.

The world went into shock a few weeks ago when goatse.info [goatse.info] reported the results of a study which concluded that inhaling paste is a very dangerous pastime, one that no one is advised to take up. Eventually, everyone adapted to the new state of affairs and began inhaling other things. Almost everyone, that is. But not you! According to my records, you still inhale paste!

Why?! What the fuck is wrong with you?!

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why read it? (1)

way2trivial (601132) | about 11 years ago | (#6840291)

there are a great many Sci-Fi books (and 100's of shorts) with well rounded and fleshed out stories concerning possible developments that preclude the usefulness of 95% of the population.

it's not hard, picture a world where everyone is on welfare, with a minimum stipend, that allows for near 0 opportunity for anything beyond mundane existance, for some television to watch, and others just having trees and dust to contemplate.

Re:why read it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6840301)

You're describing michael's ideal world.

What's with the damn sci-fi books? (1, Offtopic)

Thinkit3 (671998) | about 11 years ago | (#6840313)

Can I be a geek and not read the damn sci-fi? I wanna develop sci-reality, not be confined to a section of a bookstore designed to keep nerds busy and not changing the world.

Re:What's with the damn sci-fi books? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6840505)

Yes you can. Less with the talking, more with the action.

Re:why read it? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6840352)

Exactly, I've probably read a dozen or more of those types of books. With robots and without. The great unwashed masses living in completely automated apartments not caring what goes on around them.. watching tv (or something similar) and living out the life of a vegetable. I started reading part of that article posted and thought to myself "Ok, which sci-fi books has he been reading?" heh.

SHUT UP FUCKDICKNIGGHER (-1)

Yr0 (224662) | about 11 years ago | (#6840367)

Federal authorities have arrested a teenager fuck on suspicion of creating and distributing one of the variants of shitfuck the prolific Blaster worm earlier this motherfucker month.

fuckfuckafuckerfuck
Jeffrey Lee Parson,fuckfuckafufckerfuck 18, was arrested today and is due to make a court appearance in St. Paul,fuckfuckafuckerfuckfuckfuckafuckerfuck Minnesota, this afternoon. His arrest follows a search of fuckfuckafuckerfuckfuckfuckafuckerfuckhis home at Hopkins, Minnesota, by FBI and Secret Service agents on Tuesday,fuckfuckafuckerfuckfuckfuckafuckerfuck where seven computers were seized.

Parson (AKA teekid or t33kid) reportedly admitfuckfuckafuckerfuckfuckfuckafuckerfuckted to FBI Special Agent Eric Smithmier that he modified the original Blaster worm and created a variant which used the filename penis32.exe. Parsonfuckfuckafuckerfuck, who's reportedly 6 foot 4 inches tall fuckfuckafuckerfuckfuckfuckafuckerfuckfuckfuckafuc kerfuckand weighs 320 pounds, is allefuckfuckafuckerfuckged to have run a website where viruses were available for download.

Investigators believe a separate, as yet unidentified, individual created the original Blaster worm.fuckfuckafuckerfuckfuckfuckafuckerfuckfuckfuc kafuckerfuckfuckfuckafuckerfuckfuckfuckafuckerfuck fuckfuckafuckerfuck

"The cfuckfuckafuckerfuckrime-fighting authorities have moved quickly in this case - sending a strong mfuckfuckafuckerfuckessage that law enforcement agencies around the world are gettingfuckfuckafuckerfuck better at catching cyber-criminals," said Graham Cluley, senfuckfuckafuckerfuckior technology consultant for Sophos Anti-Virus. "Itfuckfuckafuckerfuck is to be hoped that other budding vifuckfuckafuckerfuckrus writers think twice before unleashing tfuckfuckafuckerfuckheir worms on innocent computefuckfuckafuckerfuckr users."

The Blaster-B variant of the worm was fuckfuckafuckerfuckfuckfuckafuckerfuckreleased on August 13 two days after the original worm. Like the original, fuckfuckafuckerfuckfuckfuckafuckerfuckBlaster-B targets the same Remote Procedure Call (RPC) DCOM vulnerabilitfuckfuckafuckerfuckfuckfuckafuckerfuck y in Windows to spread.

Blaster afuckfuckafuckerfucknd variants created widespread network congestion and infected hundfuckfuckafuckerfuckreds of thousands of computers. The worm was also programmed to launfuckfuckafuckerfuckch a DDoS attack from infected computers on Windowsupdate.com. In the efuckfuckafuckerfuckvent, this attack failed.

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LoLoLoloLlolololololo!!!!!!

People will adapt (-1, Redundant)

Gay Nigger (676904) | about 11 years ago | (#6840298)

Quit your whining. This is a good thing people and it's an example of what makes capitalism great.

Read up on Joseph Schumpeter [newschool.edu], arguably the most brilliant economist to come out of Austria. One's inability to see that the move of IT labor offshore is a good thing is largely due to a failure of most people to understand Schumpeter.

Schumpeter's primary focus was on capitalism as a dynamic system. It continually evolves through creative destruction. There are countless examples of this phenomenon.

A 120 years ago, most Americans were living on farms. With little mechanization, hard manual labor was the order of the day. As mechanization began to become more prevalent, thousands upon thousands of farm workers were surplus to requirements. Doom and gloom predictions that the move from an agricultural economy to a non-agricultural economy would lead to the collapse of America were common. Politicians ran on platforms aiming to keep the family farms solvent and prevent greater mechanization (for instance by taxing production of goods that could be used for farm mechanization).

However, mechanization and consolidation took place in the agricultural business. Today, less than 3% of Americans are farmers, and there are far fewer farmers today than there were then. If static economic analysis, from the perspective of the past, was used to look at the economy today (or during the boom years of the late 1990's), the only conclusion would be that the US was in a total depression, because the vast majority of the old farm jobs were gone.

So why wasn't it the case that the US went on to enjoy even better economic times than in the late-19th century? Why isn't there 90% unemployment (since from the 19th century perspective, 90% of the jobs that existed then are gone today)?

What no one saw was that freeing up the most important capital, human labor, from inefficient application to the task of growing food for other purposes. What those who looked at the farms failing and saw disaster were missing was that now the farmer was able to go to the city and be basically as well off working in a factory, and that the farmer's children would go on to become doctors or lawyers or engineers or skilled laborers. Indeed, the industrialization could not have happened without the farm failures.

For a more recent example, look at the state of heavy industry over the last 30 years. In the 1950's, 50% of Americans worked in industrial occupations, creating physical products. Nowadays, it's less than 20% (IIRC). You would expect there to be massive (>30%) unemployment, wouldn't you?

But there's not 30% unemployment. The children of factory workers went to college and became clerks or salesmen or scientists. Think about what your grandparents did for a living. With few exceptions (I'm one of them; my grandmother was one of the early programmers of ENIAC-type machines), they weren't computer scientists, sysadmins, or electrical engineers. They were probably factory workers, or day laborers, or housewives, or maybe a clerk at some large industrial concern.

By freeing up human capital from making cars and clothing and other labor intensive tasks, financial services, creative services, IT itself could be spawned.

IT arose out of the collapse of an old economic model; it will collapse as a major player. It is inevitable. In 20 years, the jobs held by the readers of this site will have demand levels at a fraction of what they were before. In a century, we'll be looked at as the farmers; while there will still be demand for the tasks we perform, it will be nowhere near what it is today (and nowhere near what it was a few years ago).

The core of what I'm saying is that we don't know what will come next (though it is most likely happening below our noses). There is a fear of the unknown that most people seem to have. Do I know what's coming next? No. But am I certain that something will come along next to consume our collective labor in a new and even more efficient manner? Absolutely and irretrievably, because it has never failed before.

The worst thing we could do would be to pass laws fighting this dynamic change aspect of capitalism. Capitalism is a tsunami, and attempts to control it will simply result in total failure or if they succeed in the short term, will merely enhance the impact of the tidal wave later, when it's too late.

For an example, look at Western Europe. In the 1950s, Europe enjoyed a similar level of prosperity to the USA. Now it has fallen behind, with double-digit unemployment and ruinous social taxes to support those unemployed. Not even subsidies to vital industries (such as shipbuilding) prop up the economy. In the meantime, Europe was somewhat behind the US in the move toward the information economy. What happened?

As demand for European production of heavy goods declined, the answer was to subsidize their huge employment levels. If you take a cruise on a luxury liner around the Caribbean and are amazed at how low the price is, thank Francois Mitterand, or any of hundreds of Italian or British politicians of the past few decades; their government subsidies of shipbuilding (at times to the point of virtually paying Carnival or Disney to build a cruise ship at their country's shipyards) are what make those low prices possible. But the opportunity cost of continuing to tie up their capital (human and financial) in sunset industries is what got them in the funk they've been in for the past 20 or so years.

What causes this aversion to economic change? I conjecture that it is the simple fact that when a company lays off its workers, it's in a massive burst. You read in the newspaper that IBM is letting 10,000 employees go. You don't read of the biotech startup or whatnot that hired 20 people in the last month.

What if you're wrong? (1)

Thinkit3 (671998) | about 11 years ago | (#6840330)

At some point, you just don't need all the people. Then, shit will happen.

We already dont need all the people (4, Funny)

HanzoSan (251665) | about 11 years ago | (#6840433)



Which is why we have poverty, prisons, welfare, and the republican party.

Think economy, stupid! (1)

Freston Youseff (628628) | about 11 years ago | (#6840493)

Right into the National Healthcare General Fund!

Re:People will adapt (4, Insightful)

tambo (310170) | about 11 years ago | (#6840356)

Quit your whining. This is a good thing people and it's an example of what makes capitalism great.

Sure... if you subscribe to the theory that a class-based culture is a healthy thing.

If you've read this gentleman's writings, you'll glean that this isn't just another routine shift in employment - we're heading toward a watershed event, a singularity. In the past, as old industries became obsolete, the work force laid off from one profession got dumped into the "generic labor" pool... y'know, the Walmart greeter, etc. What Marshall Brain is arguing - quite insightfully - is that the "generic labor" pool itself will be obsolesced, which has never happened before. What happens when the only jobs are those that you need serious skill and training to perform? What happens to the 90% of the population who has no such skills and can't develop them?

Moreover, and even worse: People claim all the time that the economy has survived everything before it, and will adapt. But some trends, promoted by such shifts, have just continued to go in an unhealthy direction. One of them is the concentration of wealth: the increasing percentage of resources owned by a tiny fraction of society. Another is the shift in wealth from individuals to corporations - never before has the economy dealt with gargantuan bodies like AOL-Time-Warner.

The impact of these trends is unknown, and ominous.

I suspect that we're heading toward a two-class society, comprised of the working skilled and the unemployed masses. Already, these two groups exist and rarely interact, but the differences are growing more visible stark by the day.

- David Stein

Re:People will adapt (1)

smallfries (601545) | about 11 years ago | (#6840469)

You make some good points, but I think the main problem with Michael's article is the shear amount of crack that he is smoking. Yah! Lets give $25K to everyone in the country, so everyone can be really happy and have nice middle-class lifes. In the opium laced utopia that he is currently inhabiting that makes sense, but here on planet earth we have a thing called inflation.

So what happens when you pump $25K x 300M = 7.5 trillion dollars into the economy? Do you think that the relative value of money does not decrease?

Now, don't get me wrong, he has one or two nice ideas in his list - particularly taxing extended copyrights. That one is a gem. But none of them are even with a few orders of magnitude of $7.5T.

An issue that he doesn't touch upon is what happens when the lower end of the gene-pool is freed from drudgery. Work is not just an economic activity, it also has a social function. Consider the collapse in living quality in communities where large numbers of men have been laid off of work, think of the fall of the coal industry in British northern industrial towns in the 80's.

What do you think the effect of releasing 80M people who don't have a high quality of education, have no great skills or abilities (his argument, not mine) and no ambitions from the workforce. Not just that, but giving them lots of cash and saying, here, go and enjoy your new life of freedom.

Does he really believe that a new Renaissance will result? Has he never seen Ibitha uncovered?

MOD PARENT DOWN PLEASE (was: Re:People will adapt) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6840382)

He posts the same fucking article every day. And Gay Nigger, +3:Insightful? Come on people, use your brain, not your stupidity...

Seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6840405)

I just got kicked in the stupidity yesterday, and boy, did it hurt!

Parent is a racist homophobe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6840417)

He apparently has something against Gay Black people that causes him to want them moderated down.

Mod Down! (1)

mikeboone (163222) | about 11 years ago | (#6840402)

Nice copy of an existing Slashdot comment [slashdot.org] . He could have at least fixed the URLs.

Re:People will adapt (3, Insightful)

sydb (176695) | about 11 years ago | (#6840409)

What no one saw was that freeing up the most important capital, human labor, from inefficient application to the task of growing food for other purposes. What those who looked at the farms failing and saw disaster were missing was that now the farmer was able to go to the city and be basically as well off working in a factory, and that the farmer's children would go on to become doctors or lawyers or engineers or skilled laborers. Indeed, the industrialization could not have happened without the farm failures.

True, but you miss the point of the article, which is that the upcoming wave of automation won't just make farmworkers or industrial labourers or any other arbitrary sector of the working population redundant, it'll make damn near everyone redundant. It'll be a long wave, but it's coming. Damn, I was in an internet cafe an hour ago. Last time I was in they had staff, who would take your payment and give you a ticket for your purchased time. Tonight they have vending machines. OK, it's a trivial example but I was surprised.

We are heading towards a world where the only use for people is thinking up what to do next, and as plain as your nose, that isn't a job for everyone, not when we have seven or eight billion people [census.gov] in the world.

Mass automation is a huge opportunity and also a huge risk for billions of people. It has to be managed, not left to the whims of the market, which will be increasingly controlled by fewer and fewer extremely wealthy people.

If we continue to do what we did yesterday to meet the problems of tomorrow, we are destined to fail at every step. Mankind cannot rely on the market of the last millenium to meet the dizzying challenges of the new one. And if think it's all pie in the sky, look at the pace of change right now. It's only going to accelerate.

Which is why we have problems with terrorism (4, Insightful)

HanzoSan (251665) | about 11 years ago | (#6840443)



When wealth isnt distributed, crime goes up, terrorism goes up, etc etc.

The idea that we can fight terrorism with bombs isnt very smart, in the end the only way to solve this problem is with jobs, education, etc.

This isnt going to work because I refuse to give up my job to fight terrorism.

Re:People will adapt (1)

f97tosc (578893) | about 11 years ago | (#6840456)

Mass automation is a huge opportunity and also a huge risk for billions of people. It has to be managed, not left to the whims of the market, which will be increasingly controlled by fewer and fewer extremely wealthy people.

The great amounts of capital are not increasingly controlled by fewer and fewer extremely wealthy people. It increasingly owned by normal people, specifically through their insurances and retirement funds.

These discussions are interesting, but the more extreme predictions are worth taking with a grain of salt. The imminent arrival of an automated society where everyone is unemployed has been predicted for 200 years; yet unemployement has fluctuated around a few percent or a little more in the down cycle.

Tor

Is it just me... (2, Funny)

EverDense (575518) | about 11 years ago | (#6840481)

By freeing up human capital from making cars and clothing and other labor intensive tasks,
financial services, creative services, IT itself could be spawned.


Is it just me, or does anyone else find the term "human capital" offensive?
If you are talking about the plebs, I much prefer the term "human cattle". ;-)

Re:People will adapt (1)

SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) | about 11 years ago | (#6840496)

First off, nice cut'n'paste. Secondly, if exploiting people over in some 3rd world country is cheaper that using robots, then capitalists are still going to be using human labour.

Anarchism on the other hand, where the goal is to reduce labour in favor for more creative work, robots would be a good option, even if they do cost more.

Whenever someone says "that's why capitalism is so great" they need to stop and think if what they are talking about is going to be better for society, or if it is going to make someone more money. Unless it makes more money, it ain't going to happen in a capitalist society because it's goals are indervidual profit, not benifiting society.

Almost insightful.. (4, Insightful)

fadeaway (531137) | about 11 years ago | (#6840311)

I thought that the article was rather well thought through until reaching this:

What if the way to achieve the strongest possible economy is to give every citizen more money to spend? For example, what if we gave every citizen of the United States $25,000 to spend? $25,000 sounds impossible the first time you hear it, but consider the possibility.

Putting aside the laugability of the idea of a capitalist government giving each person a years worth of middle income wage for a moment - it would be great if that could work, but it wouldn't. Price inflation would be rampant. Bread would cost $500 a loaf.

Unless some form of government inforced price fixing went into play (ha!), the money would just shoot right back up the tree.

Re:Almost insightful.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6840339)

You've just described why it doesn't make sense to continually raise the minimum wage. If a bill were passed tomorrow making the minimum wage $20/hour, the price of everything would go up accordingly. Then the ones earning the minimum wage would bitch at Congress for yet another raise.

Re:Almost insightful.. (4, Insightful)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | about 11 years ago | (#6840364)

There's a certain level at which inflation would occur, but that's only if there's scarcity at the supply end. The concern is radical oversupply/overcapacity and underemployment, caused by mass redundancy and automation. It's sort of a game-theory no-win situation where no company would benefit from hiring anyone (because they have automated most of their functions) and thus there's inadequate wealth to generate demand. It's quite plausible, and it may even be a bit of what we have now.

Re:Almost insightful.. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6840391)

You work for the government, don't you? My guess would be the IRS.

Re:Almost insightful.. (2, Insightful)

Squareball (523165) | about 11 years ago | (#6840384)

Exactly! Gov't HAS NO MONEY to give! Money is seized by the government from the citizens. If the government were to seize money and then redistribute it, that's called.. oh I dunno.. COMMUNISM. The fact is, capital is earned, not distributed.

Re:Almost insightful.. (2, Insightful)

geekee (591277) | about 11 years ago | (#6840448)

To be fair, the author does try to explain where the $25K comes from, rather than just printing money. However, I think his ideas aren't much better than simply printing the money.

Who can make predictions like that? (4, Insightful)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | about 11 years ago | (#6840318)

People predicted the working week would decrease dramatically over the last half-century. We now seem to work much harder. People predicted a paperless office. On the contrary we use more paper than ever because we can print on it so damn fast! Who knows what the outcome of more robots will be? Judging by the last 50 years it'll mean more and harder work for all of us.

Re:Who can make predictions like that? (1)

thebigmacd (545973) | about 11 years ago | (#6840327)

It'll mean that if you understand hardware and become a technician/technologist you will be middle class, if not you will be poor :P

Well said, but there is more (1)

einhverfr (238914) | about 11 years ago | (#6840460)

In the US, the ammount of housework per day has not gone down much in the last 150 years. This is despite the advent of vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, etc. Instead, we have found ways to use these inventions to change the way we do things, so that we can fill up our free time with the same old chores....

Same thing regarding the work force. Sure, it is painful for the older population who may not have the skills to compete, but that is an argument for lowering the retirement age, IMO ;-) Can we all retire early??

The fact is that a robot-driven world will mean that MUCH more will be done, and that everyone's job will be that of information management (whether a corporate manager type, a researcher, or a technician). In general, I predict very little change to wealth distribution. After all what does an entry level computer technician make today compared to a McDonalds fry cook..... In my state it is only about 30% more, if that.... The differences will be:

1: More education will be required to find a job. This means that schools will take up a larger percentage of our economy and wages will go up to compensate.

2: Raw weath (savings, assets, etc.) distribution will probably be relatively unchanged, though the quantities accumulated would go up with productivity.

How do we get there?
What else would be necessary?

This may offend some people, but it is what I honestly think. Forget affirmative action-- it is based around an industrial age model, and will not be able to provide lasting benefit as the economy progresses. There are other, better, though costlier ways to ensure equal access to education:

1: Start programs aimed at donating used computers to low income families. Computers should be preloaded with an operating system, a word processor, spreadsheet, web browser, etc.

2: Open branch campuses of local community colleges in the inner cities, and in low income areas. Pair these with community technology centers, where people can go to use computers, learn about technology (computer operation, repair, etc). and hopefully better prepare themselves for the new economy.

3: Have the federal and/or state government pay for full tuition through the first bachelor's degree. Masters and PhD's could be offered on a merit basis via teaching assistanceships, etc.

4: Require folks on welfare who do not have a bachelor's degree to take some classes :-) Failure to pass without a medical/learning disability would put one on probationary status, and two successive quarters in a row might require suspension of some benefits.

Why won't this fly?
1: Education is expensive and too many people see it as a luxury rather than something which is necessary for our continued economic development.

2: Cost, cost, cost. The current solution we have is far less expensive, although it doesn't seek to elevate *every member* of society to the point where everyone can participate in the information revolution. For this reason I say that our schools are about 30 years (maybe more) behind our current needs.

and lets pick out an obvious fallicy right now (0, Troll)

way2trivial (601132) | about 11 years ago | (#6840319)

From the link-

80 percent of the households in America make 50.6 percent of all the income in America.
The richest 20 percent of the households, on the other hand, make 49.4% of the income.

so the folks that fall between 21 & 80% make 1.2% of the income in this country?

I'm pretty sure the author means that 1/4th of that 80% make 49.4 of the money that is 50.6% of the national income, but it could use a little clarity on that point.

Re:and lets pick out an obvious fallicy right now (4, Informative)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | about 11 years ago | (#6840337)

No, you've got the wrong 80%. He's talking about the bottom 80%.

The bottom 80% of households earn 50.6% of all income. The top 20% of households therefore get the other 49.4%. This gap is recent, according to the article - the differentials were smaller in the 50's and 60's.

Re:and lets pick out an obvious fallicy right now (1)

swimmar132 (302744) | about 11 years ago | (#6840341)

No. The bottom 80 percent makes half the money. The top 20 percent makes the other half of the money. Your post was more confusing than the author's statement.

Re:and lets pick out an obvious fallicy right now (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6840495)

Bottom 80% by income have 50.5% of total income
Top 20% by income have 49.4 of total income

I'm pretty sure that you're fucking stupid. I think you could use a little education on that point.

Oops- I really need some coffee (1)

way2trivial (601132) | about 11 years ago | (#6840513)

ya, I can't think at all today, can i?

Sweet (1)

swimmar132 (302744) | about 11 years ago | (#6840321)

Does this mean that I can smoke coke off of coke bills in twenty years?

Say it with me folks (1)

The Clockwork Troll (655321) | about 11 years ago | (#6840322)

I, for one

History repeats itself? (4, Insightful)

strider3700 (109874) | about 11 years ago | (#6840329)

In the 1960s, the split was closer to 60/40, with 80% of the population making 60% of the income, and the richest 20% of the population making 40%. [ref] Between 1960 and 2000, the income split has gone from 60/40 to 50/50.


Perhaps I'm wrong but haven't we seen this before a few hundred years ago. I'm thinking of the poor unwashed masses rising up and overthrowing the rich elite minority. The french revolution, the american war of independance, the russians also killed off their royalty if I remember correctly. These days the people are the business leaders, and not royalty but they still have the same outlook on life. I wouldn't be too surprised to see the same thing happen again. When you leave people with nothing and no hope they have very few real reasons to not die for a cause. Keep the masses happy and comfortable and they don't want to risk losing that.

fast food is already doing this (0, Interesting)

Shaklee39 (694496) | about 11 years ago | (#6840336)

I went to McDonald's this weekend with the kids. We go to McDonald's to eat about once a week because it is a mile from the house and has an indoor play area. Our normal routine is to walk in to McDonald's, stand in line, order, stand around waiting for the order, sit down, eat and play. On Sunday, this decades-old routine changed forever. When we walked in to McDonald's, an attractive woman in a suit greeted us and said, "Are you planning to visit the play area tonight?" The kids screamed, "Yeah!" "McDonald's has a new system that you can use to order your food right in the play area. Would you like to try it?" The kids screamed, "Yeah!"
The woman walks us over to a pair of kiosks in the play area. She starts to show me how the kiosks work and the kids scream, "We want to do it!" So I pull up a chair and the kids stand on it while the (extremely patient) woman in a suit walks the kids through the screens. David ordered his food, Irena ordered her food, I ordered my food. It's a simple system. Then it was time to pay. Interestingly, the kiosk only took cash in the form of bills. So I fed my bills into the machine. Then you take a little plastic number to set on your table and type the number in. The transaction is complete.

We sat down at a table. We put our number in the center of the table and waited. In about 10 seconds the kids screamed, "When is our food going to get here???" I said, "Let's count." In less than two minutes a woman in an apron put a tray with our food on the table, handed us our change, took the plastic number and left.

You know what? It is a nice system. It works. It is much nicer than standing in line. The only improvement I would request is the ability to use a credit card.

I will make this prediction: by 2008, every meal in every fast food restaurant will be ordered from a kiosk like this, or from a similar system embedded in each table.

As nice as this system is, however, I think that it represents the tip of an iceberg that we do not understand. This iceberg is going to change the American economy in ways that are very hard to imagine.

Re:fast food is already doing this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6840372)

And I predict that if you don't get those brats under control, they'll grow up to be assholes or worse. Try swatting their behinds a time or two. Works like a charm.

Kids like yours are the reason I don't go to fast food places.

Re:fast food is already doing this (0)

kamakot (661425) | about 11 years ago | (#6840381)

They should've barcoded cards. That way you can just slide it into a digital box on the table (with wi-fi, of course), the employees get notified where you're at and the card gets recycled.

I hear you. (1)

YllabianBitPipe (647462) | about 11 years ago | (#6840431)

On one hand we get people claming that they like the personal contact, they want a clerk or cashier to talk to and help them out. I find the people who feel this way are usually older people, and they'll be out of the picture soon. Younger people are totally at ease with computers and prefer them to some extent.


I can't remember a time without ATMs. Now on the few days I have to actually stand in line to talk to a teller, frankly, it's a pain in the ass. I can easily see how your McDonald's experience would be similar. The thing that annoys me the most about dealing with a human at a cash register is that sometimes they screw up. When they get your order wrong, when they give you the wrong change, etc.

goes around, comes around... (1)

poptones (653660) | about 11 years ago | (#6840509)

So in a few more years we might have clean fast food restaraunts where people dressed in something more attractive than a brown plastic uniform bring food to your table?

Remember the old diners? Where you walk in, sit down at a booth, and a smiling (or not) waitress takes your order? Then you rummage through the jukebox console hanging from the end of your booth, pick a couple of songs, and shovel a quarter in? Enjoy a couple of tunes whole you wait for your meal...

So the difference is now the console takes your order and your money - but it doesn't play music because that would disturb the others that may not like your taste. But that doesn't matter anyway, because you won't even be able to enjoy one song before your food gets shoveled onto the table by someone earning $5 an hour. So.. there are fewer fast food employees, which means even more profit for the clown. But what about the person who brings the food?

Will there be a throwback to the old days where you could leave change on the table knowing it would go to someone who did some actual work? Probably not, because YOU are the person placing your order AND busing your table. You are oblivious to the person doing the work, because she only brings you a tray and then wipes the table down with disinfectant AFTER you have left.

I am sure something else will come along to reestablish the balance. But I honestly don't see it happening before a bunch of people end up with their heads on sticks.

Look at the past 20 years to predict... (4, Insightful)

John Seminal (698722) | about 11 years ago | (#6840346)

How are we, as a society, going to respond to this robotic revolution? If we handle it properly, the arrival of robots could be an incredibly beneficial event for human beings. If we do not handle it properly, we will end up with millions of unemployed people and a severe economic downturn that will benefit no one.

Most buisnesses will do whatever it takes to make more of a profit. If the robots are cheaper than people, they will use robots. I doubt that most buisnesses consider the effect on employment or workers morale in buisness decisions. With NAFTA, many USA jobs that paid over $20 an hour left for Mexico where they pay a small fraction.

Re:Look at the past 20 years to predict... (2, Interesting)

kfg (145172) | about 11 years ago | (#6840462)

"I doubt that most buisnesses consider the effect on employment or workers morale in buisness decisions"

If a robot can do my job then giving the job to a robot would greatly improve my morale.

Yes, even if that means getting canned.

I'll go find something human to do with my life.

KFG

The Future: (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6840349)

There is only one certainty, and that is that we will run out of money. Corporations gather money faster than any force on the planet, and eventually, they will have it all sewn up. The consumer will have less money to throw around, because McDonalds, Microsoft, and Major Movie labels will have gobbled up the entire economy in their attempts to keep stocks rising, even as the balloon's dimensions stretch into dangerous proportions.

In the beginning there was man, and for a time... (4, Funny)

Myriad (89793) | about 11 years ago | (#6840350)

In the beginning there was man, and for a time it was good.
But humanity's so called civil societies soon fell victim to vanity and corruption.
Then man made the machine in his own likeness. Thus did man become the architect of his own demise...

Ha! I knew I'd seen this before! [intothematrix.com]

Blockwars [blockwars.com] : multiplayer and it's free!

I don't think so Tim (2, Interesting)

jeffkjo1 (663413) | about 11 years ago | (#6840362)

So service based industries where employees of companies communicate face to with customers are going to become robots communicating with people?

More than anything else, people just won't accept this. As mammouth as Walmart is, they made the right decison in deciding against automated checkout. I've used automated checkout on a few occasions when it was absolutely necessary, and hated it. "So I'm checking myself out, therefore eliminating the need for you to pay a cashier $6 an hour.... and I don't get a discount?"

Consumers, by and large, aren't going to accept robots as waiters and robots as cashiers and target sales people. Now, certain positions will become robots.... but the vast majority of people will continue to keep their jobs.

Re:I don't think so Tim (1)

I don't want to spen (638810) | about 11 years ago | (#6840414)

Actually, most of the cutomer service people you come into contact with already appear to be robots - they're just made out of flesh and blood!

Re:I don't think so Tim (2, Interesting)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | about 11 years ago | (#6840426)

Cost savings. It's about cost savings and separable sources of value.

People will view getting their hamburger as a distinct value from getting face-time with a person, and pay for each separately. Providing face-time will be the value, not the delivery of a hamburger.

Which, essentially, makes whores, therapists, clowns or a combination of all three, of most of us.

Insofar as women tend to thrive in customer-service people-time situations, I wonder what this will do to the future of gender politics?

Dont agree. (2, Insightful)

YllabianBitPipe (647462) | about 11 years ago | (#6840450)

There are some times when I really would like automatic check out. say I'm in a store to just buy one item and there's a line around the block with people, carts full of crap, and the person at the register is filling out a check.

Sometimes I want people to help me, sometimes not. It would be nice to have the choice. I don't agree with replacing all the clerks by any means, but there are many a time when I just want to get in, get out, and I could ring myself up a lot faster, and I'd do it. I'm the type of person, that if there isn't a clerk bagging the groceries, I step in and do it myself.

Robots and their limited flexibility..... (1)

lylum (659581) | about 11 years ago | (#6840363)

>Take retail stores as an example. In 2003 we are seeing the deployment of automated checkout lines in stores all across the U.S.

At a local store in virginia they have several automated checkouts and one person supervising all those. One time the machine was very uncooperative and I began hitting it because the person wasn't willing to offer any assistance. The hitting helped and I could go on.
Personally, I am not going to miss those people who aren't even doing their simple job. At least if a computer/robot is unresponsive I can imagine why. But if an employee acts like this then I get much more upset because they don't do what I pay them for!

Are we doomed? (1)

brejc8 (223089) | about 11 years ago | (#6840373)

I did have this sort of idea several years ago and I figured out that the only way the society can survive is to turn socialist.
There are two ways of making money:
Rent your self out (i.e. do work)
Rent your other assets (i.e. invest in/own companies)
Now what happens when the returns you get on these swing. The freedom of capitalism allows the value of labour and investment to change. When your company becomes unproductive it folds. This is the capitalist method of weeding out the ineffective companies and allowing the market to be run by better companies selling cheaper/better products.
The other swing isn't very nice at all. If the value of labour drops below the bread line then the population simply cannot survive and we weed out the no longer useful members of society. This happens in stages. The first areas are the primary and secondary industries where machines can most easily replace humans.

Only after I figured this out did I find that socialists economists have been talking about this stuff for generations. Marx was predicting that the revolutions will happen in the industrialised world first because the value of their labour would drop first. This hasn't happened yet because we have been very good at producing jobs and although the value of unskilled labour in the US etc. is too low the exploitation of east Asia allows the living costs to be driven down too. Unfortunately this is not a situation that will last forever. East Asia will want more money and they will want to find someone else to exploit.

Are we doomed? Technocrats assume that the change will be so slow that a balancing out of the problems will not affect us. Raising the unemployment benefit to a sustainable living level allows people to not need to work while keeping them as consumers.
In other words the future might be quite nice. If you want to work then you will get paid well. If you don't want to work, then you get enough money to live on and all produce is very cheap as its made by cheap to run machines.

The Artistic Economy? (4, Interesting)

meldroc (21783) | about 11 years ago | (#6840377)

Looking at the example of J. K. Rowling in the article, I've had a brainfart.

Farming has been mechanized. So has manufacturing, and as the article predicts, service sector work will be done by machines as well. There will always be some demand for IT, though that's being filled more frequently by workers in countries like India with cheap labor. Same goes for accounting, call center and other formerly safe white collar jobs.

Essentially, almost the entire workforce will be replaced by machines.

So what's left that can't be done by machines?

Art. All art - writing, painting, music, computer games, etc.

That's how J. K. Rowling adapted, by writing books. So far, we don't know how to make machines that make art, thus we have to make art ourselves. Granted, there's a lot of competition out there for artists, but there are still many people out there who can make money through selling artwork and performances.

So are we entering the Artistic Economy? Maybe...

Re:The Artistic Economy? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6840408)

So are we entering the Artistic Economy? Maybe...

If you consider advertising as art, definitely! Whenever you buy a product, you are almost certainly paying a heavy chunk of change for the artists, models (whether athletic or voluptuous), and musicians who put together commercials and other advertising materials that promote the product.

Doubtful... (2, Interesting)

YllabianBitPipe (647462) | about 11 years ago | (#6840480)

Seeings how people like downloading their music, movies and books for free off the web, I don't think your prediction has much hope of coming true. There will be tons of artists out there, probably even more than ever before, but they won't be making nearly enough money to make ends meet.

someone has to build the robots (1, Insightful)

0111 1110 (518466) | about 11 years ago | (#6840389)

Someone has to build the robots, and then once we teach robots to build other robots, then someone still has to build the robot building robots. Then, once we teach some robots to build the robot building robots...

So I guess human labor will be needed until AI has reached a level comparable to human (or at least dog) intelligence, and that aint happening any time soon. Not in any of our lifetimes at least.

Also he may be underestimating the time needed to build useful general purpose (probably bipedal) robots. We do have some well built bipedal robots like ASIMO but they still cost over $20,000 and, although they may be stronger, I don't think they can do all the physical labor that a human is capable of.

Turing test passed c. 2045 (1)

cabalamat2 (227849) | about 11 years ago | (#6840464)

So I guess human labor will be needed until AI has reached a level comparable to human (or at least dog) intelligence, and that aint happening any time soon. Not in any of our lifetimes at least.

I disagree. I think the Turing Test will probably be passed by a computer program between 2040 and 2050. And after that, we'll be living through the Singularity, where prediction gets difficult.

Forget robots for a second .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6840390)

... shouldn't we be more concerned about the distribution of wealth in a world where all the work has been outsourced to India?

oh, lord... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6840392)

how long must we endure this kind of socialist horseshit?

Re:oh, lord... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6840423)

Until michael retires or is fired. Frankly, I'm about to give up on /. completely. Let the little socialists play by themselves.

Here's how we adapt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6840394)

Every person installs their own electricity generation system (solar power on their houses, cars, property, etc), then they sell the excess electricity generated to the companies with the robots making goods and providing services. With the money from the electricity, they can buy goods and services.

40 hour work week (2, Interesting)

prichardson (603676) | about 11 years ago | (#6840397)

The only way the 40 hour work week will be done away with is if there are another series of huge strikes against the 8 hour day. Dropping "full-time" to 6 hours would do 2 things. It would decrease unemployment and it would cause such a shortage of labor that businesses would be forced to innovate more efficient manufacturing. The only way to have more automation actually cause people to work less is if the people work less first. Otherwise everyone will continue to assume that they have to work 40hrs/week.

Re:40 hour work week (1)

reboot246 (623534) | about 11 years ago | (#6840446)

What I wouldn't give to work only forty hours a week! I average sixty hours a week now. Maybe when I retire a few years from now I'll finally be able to slow down a bit.

Who will do the real work? (1)

geekee (591277) | about 11 years ago | (#6840419)

Robot's won't be smart enough to make important decisions. The author suggests a socialist system is needed where wealth is generated through advertizing on money, natural resources, etc. The question is who will want to spend the time managing all the robots if they have the option to sit on their ass all day and surfd the web or whatever? Countries like the USSR, N. Korea, Cuba, etc. have shown the govt. is incapable of making these decisions. You still need a reward system to motivate people to want these jobs and weed out the incompetent, which capitalism does naturally. By taking away natural resources from private owners, you are already eroding on this principle. If you decide farm land, oil fields, forests, etc. are all now owned by the govt., you are inviting disaster by eliminating competition in these areas, and causing these industries to stagnate. The Star Trek ideal of a future world wthout money, for instance, is impractical for these reasons, and the author, although not encouraging the elimination of money, is headed in that direction. Using the Star Trek example, who really wants to be the red shirt that has a boring job and will likely be killed when he can sit at home in his personal holodeck all day.

Um, you mean, like today? (2, Interesting)

SuperBanana (662181) | about 11 years ago | (#6840420)

He continues his examination of a society where most manual labor is performed by machines, idling a large fraction of the current workforce.

You mean, say, a society where:

  • 3-story high dumptrucks cart entire hill's worth of rubble
  • Automotive frames are almost entirely assembled(welded) by robots?
  • Construction sites have pneumatic nailguns, automatic laser levelling systems, GPS GIS survey equipment, bulldozers, cranes, etc? In Japan, robot use at construction sites is extensive(and unfortunately, every once in a while, someone gets flattened or pushed off a building by one)
  • Cars have automatic cruise control units, not to mention engine and climate control units smarter than their owners
  • Commuter trains are (almost) entirely controlled by computers
  • Supermarkets have automated checkouts
  • Robotic vacuums, lawn mowers are available on the open market to consumers for (fairly) reasonable prices
  • Guided missile heads can be strapped to virtually any bomb to enable it to drop on any 1m-square area your heart desires

Interesting that in almost every case, the robotics work WITH and ENHANCE the capabilities of the humans that operate them. Not 'take over their jobs'.

The author also makes the asinine assumption that robotic labor is always better- cheaper, more efficient, and so on. Maybe he should take a trip to some third world countries, where for the cost of one robot, you could employ a hundred factory workers for years upon years.

Oh, and all these robots-take-over-the-world philosophers always seem to forget:

  • Programming errors
  • Manufacturing/component defects
  • Maintenance needs
  • Mechanical breakdowns

Just like computers, robots aren't foolproof, they're not magical, and they're not going to simply save your business a shitload of money. They come with their own entire set of other problems, often many times worse.

The very concept of "machines which just 'work'" goes against the way almost every business in the world tries to keep their revenue stream- by forcing people to buy parts, hire company repair staff, and/or simply replace machines.

Nevermind that we still haven't made machines that can even approach understand human language as well as a human can, read handwriting as well, or move efficiently over ground as well as a human can...

Too late (4, Insightful)

Minna Kirai (624281) | about 11 years ago | (#6840424)

"Most manual labor performed by machines"?

It already is! Recall that work is measured in joules (distance of mass per time). Then look outside the window at a modern European or American nation.

Where are all the joules (work) coming from? Not by human effort! 90% of it is from machines. Look at all the energy that goes into driving North Americans to their Labour Day holidays!

Some might disagree and say that all of the output of these machines isn't "work", as does the article author when claiming that 50% of modern work is in service industries (like McDonalds). That's because he's already accepted an altered definition of work that excludes non-human efforts.

Take the perspective of a 17th century economist and ask what tasks account for most of the "work" done in a nation- the list includes plowing, digging, hammering, sewing, scrubbing, and chopping (amoung similar things). Today all but one of those (scrubbing) are performed by machines. As Roblimo mentioned last week [newsforge.com] , agricultural food production is the only really important job. The US makes 5x more food than it did a century ago by employing 10x fewer people.

The time when most work is performed by machine has long since come. A more accurate description of the question facing us in the future (as addressed by the article) is: What happens when unskilled jobs cease to exist?

Absolute Rubbish (1)

Boss, Pointy Haired (537010) | about 11 years ago | (#6840425)

You cannot take an article that proposes to dish out $25,000 to everybody and not mention the word inflation once seriously.

I know posts above have already mentioned inflation; and whatever the argument the author of this must still cover the issue to show that he understands the possible consequences of his plan.

Make it a capital offense (0)

Sphere1952 (231666) | about 11 years ago | (#6840427)

to be one of the 500 wealthiest people.

Also, break up the 500 largest companies.

Rinse, lather, repeat.

Eventually being at the top will become a cat-and-mouse game, and with the head cut off the drive towards centralization of wealth and power will be effectively stopped.

Re:Make it a capital offense (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | about 11 years ago | (#6840463)

The problem is the rich. I'm as much a socialist as the next, erm, socialist, but the real issue isn't lopping the heads off the top, it's improving the status of the bulk of people. If people are reasonably well-cared-for, have decent opportunties to create rewarding lives for themselves, can get access to housing, education and medical care, and so forth, I really don't care that the richest 1 percent own a space station and a yacht. That would be resentment, not concern for the well being of the many.

So concentrations of wealth are OK to me if the wealth flows. The problem is what I've described elsewhere: a no-win situation where there is no benefit to be had from hiring enough people to generate income.

At a certain point, an economy built around the logic that "if you don't work, you don't eat" may not benefit anyone, even the wealthy.

Re:Make it a capital offense (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | about 11 years ago | (#6840478)

Erm, I meant for that to start "the problem *isn't* the rich."

Re:Make it a capital offense (1)

Sphere1952 (231666) | about 11 years ago | (#6840489)


I'm not a socialist. Business is the cellular structure of society. Big business is cancer.

I'm just trying to kill the disease without killing the patient.

Re:Make it a capital offense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6840490)

And then the whole system falls apart. Remove the incentive to work hard and make a lot of money and people won't work at all. You're describing a system that fails every time it is tried. When will you people learn?

Re:Make it a capital offense (1)

Sphere1952 (231666) | about 11 years ago | (#6840512)


No I'm not. I haven't even proposed taking the money away from them. Let the money follow normal laws of inheritance.

All I want to do is correct capitalism's basic flaw. The market does not remain free.

Simple - more polarization of wealth (1)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | about 11 years ago | (#6840435)

Those put out of work by automation will suffer.

Those who own the automation will prosper.

Nobody really does anything anymore (5, Insightful)

Jonas the Bold (701271) | about 11 years ago | (#6840442)

Very few people actually make anything anymore.

Most poor people don't make anything: Truckers, people who work in stores really just help move goods around. Same for people who work in restaurants.

The middle class people all sit in cubicles. God knows what they do, but they sure as hell aren't making anything.

The upper class are businessmen, lawyers and doctors. Doctors keep people alive longer, businessmen move money around, and lawyers, as far as I can tell, have no function at all.

Nobody really needs to do the vast majority of today's jobs.

Crackpot economics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6840452)

I dont understand why the author went off on the tangent about the $25K-per-citizen. I mean, that is totally crackpot economics, since the author's plan would simply cause rapid price inflation. But anyway, what does this have to do with the robots???

Robotic Miners (3, Interesting)

core plexus (599119) | about 11 years ago | (#6840455)

I've been thinking about having robotic miners for about 20 years, but one thing I think about is the loss of high-paying mining jobs to the local economies. Even in emerging countries mining pays many benefits. On the other hand, labor is very expensive, and most of the machines could easily be converted to automatic operation. Plus robots don't have a union, never need a smoke or piss break, or steal gold when they are supposed to be working. Think of the advances in sensors and computers within just the last 10 years. Raw resources, which we all require, could be had far cheaper than they are today. Likewise, exploration could be done by robots, especially using a UAV with sensors built in, like the Mars project I read about recently. Then, robots could follow up by collecting samples from targets located by the UAV and analyze them on the spot. This would eliminate bias, and reduce other errors and salting as well. We already use the software we need, and most of the hardware is off-the-shelf stuff.

I would welcome robotics in mining, but I have a job no matter what.

-cp-

I've always dreamed of doing nothing.. (1)

quadra (2289) | about 11 years ago | (#6840461)

"An economic security system eliminates poverty. Under this system, every citizen in the United States receives the money needed to live a middle class existence, regardless of whether or not they are working. "

Hahah. Maybe I'll just not work then! I receive a middle-class income anyway, right?

That's BS. Babies are cheaper to produce. (1)

melted (227442) | about 11 years ago | (#6840466)

That's BS. Babies are cheaper to produce. And their life span in the most undeveloped countries is about 60 years. Who the heck would pay a fortune for the latest technological marvel if you can have a Mexican illegal immigrant do the same.

We could have had this already by now... (5, Insightful)

Murdoc (210079) | about 11 years ago | (#6840472)

But political and business leaders won't let it. Scientists and engineers in the 1920's and '30's determined [technocracyinc.org] that not only was this type of society possible, but also but also necessary [technocracyinc.org] in order to be able to distribute the vast amount of wealth that machines were capable of producing for us. They even developed a soundly logical and rational model [technocracy.ca] of society that would allow this to work.

The problem of course is that in order to enact this "society of abundance," you need to abolish all the relics of scarcity. Mostly this means money, and by extention, political control of technology. Think of what happened in the Great Depression. Factories were producing so many products (like food) that there was plenty for everyone, but because the money used to distribute it was still scarce, the value dropped below the margin of profitability. No one could make money selling it, thus no one made money. Add to that people losing jobs to these machines and you have a society that has enough for everybody, but no one can afford even the dirt-cheap prices. You can't sell air, it's too abundant. If we pollute it enough, however, we will be able to because it will be scarce.

So the question is not a matter of when will technology be advanced enough so that this can happen, it's how can we tell enough people that this kind of life [technocracy.ca] is already possible, and circumvent political and corporate attempts to stop it from happening because they will lose all their "power" and "control"?

There is a reason that the most popular social movement of the '30's nad '40's is now completely unknown to people today. It's because it just might work.

We are at the dawn of a new world. Scientists have given to men considerable powers. Politicians have seized hold of them. The world must choose between the unspeakable desolation of mechanization for profit or conquest, and the lusty youthfulness of science and technique serving the social needs of a new civilization. - Albert Einstein

Tax and Spend (1, Insightful)

chill (34294) | about 11 years ago | (#6840475)

What I find interesting is that the author is mostly concerned about finding new ways for the Government to raise money.

No options in there for SPENDING LESS, only taxing more.

Making $60,000 last year, I was in a 33% tax bracket -- not counting Social Security and Medicare withholdings. That means, the government took over $19,800 of the money I made in Income Tax. They also took about $6,000 in Medicare and Social Security. That totals about $26,000. I received aboout $3,000 in a return, so that means the gov't took about $23,000 from me.

Damn, that is close to the $25,000 the author was talking about giving to every American. (hint hint)

A simpler soultion to raising more taxes, ad revenue, etc. would be to STOP TAXING INDIVIDUAL INCOME and provide an opt out for Social Security and Medicare.

While the poor are able too get all their Income Tax refunded to them, it would be better if it wasn't taken out to start with. Instant 20% (or so) raise!

Taxing corporations more would simply mean those corporations would pass the taxes on down and the consumer would end up paying them all anyway.

Re:Tax and Spend (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | about 11 years ago | (#6840519)

Spending less. Smart.

Further reducing demand in a period of oversupply. Pure economic genius.

I better change careers... (1)

geekee (591277) | about 11 years ago | (#6840486)

to robot design. Hmmm, must remember to make sure to tell the sw writers to include a no-terminator/no-matrix function to supress desires to destroy or enslave the human race (and put me out of a job).

people aren't obsolete (2, Insightful)

racecarj (703239) | about 11 years ago | (#6840492)

i can imagine a day where robots do a large majority of the grunt work. but if all these companies are firing their employees and buying bots, who are they going to sell their stuff to? unemployed people can't buy stuff. the ironic part of capitalism is that the consumer is protected merely because they are needed as consumers. people must have money in their pocket. and this guy is just afraid of the future like a thousand before him.

Wealth isn't distributed (0)

Kohath (38547) | about 11 years ago | (#6840511)

Wealth isn't distributed. Wealth is earned.

And then... (2, Funny)

TexVex (669445) | about 11 years ago | (#6840514)

Within 50 years in the likely case, and without question within 100 years, robots will perform every task essential to human survival. Robots will grow, package, transport and sell all of the food we eat. Robots will build all of the housing we live in. Robots will make, transport and sell all of the clothes we wear. Robots will manufacture all consumer products, put them on the shelves and take the money that we pay for them.
And then they'll install us in a virtual reality that keeps us pacified while they harvest thermal energy from our imprisoned bodies!

Yes... (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about 11 years ago | (#6840518)

10 Million unemployed and pissed off people, out of work and looking for a leader! Soon my plan will be complete! Mua-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!
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