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Measures to ameliorate job automation


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#1
funkervogt

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Here's an interesting interview with Dr. John Hopcroft about the future of job automation and how we could manage its ill effects on the human population: 

 

I agree with his point that, just because humans have been able to climb up the skills ladder in the past faster than machines could automate old jobs, doesn't mean we will be able to do that forever. Past trends don't continue indefinitely, and there's no reason why we couldn't get into a situation where machines took over 1 million human jobs in a given year, but only 900,000 new jobs were created during that same period. In fact, I think that's what will happen. 

 

While, at first glace, it might sound great not having to work, the reality of the situation will be far more dour, at least in the short-to-medium run. As the pandemic-induced unemployment spike in the U.S., coupled with the wave of civil unrest shows, idleness and inadequate government benefits lead to widespread discontent and political instability. 

 

Hopcroft suggests that we could ease the pain by effectively spreading the remaining jobs out among a larger number of people as time passes. Higher education could be drawn out for a longer length of time (this probably means we subsidize college and accept that no one will get jobs until they've finished a masters degree, then later a Ph.D., and maybe later on some higher level of accreditation), people with jobs could be given more mandatory vacation time, and retirement ages could be lowered. 

 

This is surely a conservative's worst nightmare, but from a logical and economic standpoint, it might be the cheapest way and perhaps the only way to maintain social and political stability. I think these reforms could be thought of as an across-the-board expansion to the existing welfare state, and I believe some centralized, homogeneous countries with culturally obedient people will pull it off this century. However, as an American, I have no faith in our ability to do the same, unless it comes very belatedly and after a prolonged period of internal acrimony. 

 

Let me also say that the across-the-board expansion of the existing welfare state, a little bit each year, is much more realistic and more palatable than the institution of a UBI created from whole cloth. For obvious reasons, it would be easier to build upon government programs that are already familiar and accepted by average people than to create an entirely new and massive one. A constellation of many such programs, like more college tuition support, expanded access to state healthcare and housing vouchers, and mandatory paid vacation days, would also effectively accomplish the same goals as handing out cash. 



#2
TranscendingGod

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 Working hours have been on the decline for over a century. There has been no concomitant rise in any kind of civil unrest or violence. What's more having an inordinate amount of work has never precluded civil unrest nor contributed towards peace. If anything the opposite has been true. 

 

I'd also like to point out that the argument that people with nothing to do will cause trouble has been utilized by those with power since time immemorial. It's been discredited time and time again. Today we have less males in the workforce than ever before. Males who are the testosterone filled tyrants. And yet we live in one of the most peaceful times ever. 

 

Besides it's asinine to think that once we develop sufficiently competent AI systems there will be anything approximating enough jobs for even a tiny sliver of the population. The future is one with labor relegated only to robots. As well it should be. 


The growth of computation is doubly exponential growth.

#3
Jakob

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Higher education could be drawn out for a longer length of time (this probably means we subsidize college and accept that no one will get jobs until they've finished a masters degree, then later a Ph.D.,

Please God no. As someone starting a PhD, the degree only has one purpose: training you how to be a scientific researcher. It's not really an education, so much as an apprinticeship. If you don't wanna be a scientist, you're wasting your time. And there's only so much demand for scientific researchers, the supply already exceeds the demand. And trying to force everyone through the pipeline will force PhD programs to be watered down to a glorified undergrad degree (which has already been watered down to a glorified high school degree over the past 50 years). I would guess that maybe 10% of the population has the raw intelligence to complete a PhD, and out of those, maybe 10% actually want to do so.



#4
funkervogt

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Higher education could be drawn out for a longer length of time (this probably means we subsidize college and accept that no one will get jobs until they've finished a masters degree, then later a Ph.D.,

Please God no. As someone starting a PhD, the degree only has one purpose: training you how to be a scientific researcher. It's not really an education, so much as an apprinticeship. If you don't wanna be a scientist, you're wasting your time. And there's only so much demand for scientific researchers, the supply already exceeds the demand. And trying to force everyone through the pipeline will force PhD programs to be watered down to a glorified undergrad degree (which has already been watered down to a glorified high school degree over the past 50 years). I would guess that maybe 10% of the population has the raw intelligence to complete a PhD, and out of those, maybe 10% actually want to do so.

 

I love it!



#5
tomasth

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What do you mean by watered down ? They don't get the same training ?

#6
Jakob

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What do you mean by watered down ? They don't get the same training ?

Standards would have to be lowered or 90% of the population would be too stupid and 90% of the remainder wouldn't be interested.



#7
Jakob

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Higher education could be drawn out for a longer length of time (this probably means we subsidize college and accept that no one will get jobs until they've finished a masters degree, then later a Ph.D.,

Please God no. As someone starting a PhD, the degree only has one purpose: training you how to be a scientific researcher. It's not really an education, so much as an apprinticeship. If you don't wanna be a scientist, you're wasting your time. And there's only so much demand for scientific researchers, the supply already exceeds the demand. And trying to force everyone through the pipeline will force PhD programs to be watered down to a glorified undergrad degree (which has already been watered down to a glorified high school degree over the past 50 years). I would guess that maybe 10% of the population has the raw intelligence to complete a PhD, and out of those, maybe 10% actually want to do so.

 

I love it!

 

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