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Sorry, but the jobless future isn’t a luddite fallacy


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This is really long term investment considerations. But the well known, highly credentialed writer posits some well founded predictions. (Vivek Wadhwa is a fellow at Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University, director of research at Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization at Duke, and distinguished fellow at Singularity University. His past appointments include Harvard Law School, University of California Berkeley, and Emory University.)




"True, we are living better lives. But what is missing from these arguments is the timeframe over which the transitions occurred. The industrial revolution unfolded over centuries. Today’s technology revolutions are happening within years. We will surely create a few intellectually-challenging jobs, but we won’t be able to retrain the workers who lose today’s jobs. They will experience the same unemployment and despair that their forefathers did. It is they who we need to worry about.

The first large wave of unemployment will be caused by self-driving cars. These will provide tremendous benefit by eliminating traffic accidents and congestion, making commuting time more productive, and reducing energy usage. But they will eliminate the jobs of millions of taxi and truck drivers and delivery people. Fully-automated robotic cars are no longer in the realm of science fiction; you can see Google’s cars on the streets of Mountain View, Calif. There are also self-driving trucks on our highways and self-driving tractors on farms. Uber just hired away dozens of engineers from Carnegie Mellon University to build its own robotic cars. It will surely start replacing its human drivers as soon as its technology is ready — later in this decade. As Uber CEO Travis Kalanick reportedly said in an interview, “The reason Uber could be expensive is you’re paying for the other dude in the car. When there is no other dude in the car, the cost of taking an Uber anywhere is cheaper. Even on a road trip.”

The dude in the driver’s seat will go away.

Manufacturing will be the next industry to be transformed. Robots have, for many years, been able to perform surgery, milk cows, do military reconnaissance and combat, and assemble goods. But they weren’t dexterous enough to do the type of work that humans do in installing circuit boards. The latest generation of industrial robots by ABB of Switzerland and Rethink Robotics of Boston can do this however. ABB’s robot, Yumi, can even thread a needle. It costs only $40,000.

China, fearing the demise of its industry, is setting up fully-automated robotic factories in the hope that by becoming more price-competitive, it can continue to be the manufacturing capital of the world. But its advantage only holds up as long as the supply chains are in China and shipping raw materials and finished goods over the oceans remains cost-effective. Don’t forget that our robots are as productive as theirs are; they too don’t join labor unions (yet) and will work around the clock without complaining. Supply chains will surely shift and the trickle of returning manufacturing will become a flood.

But there will be few jobs for humans once the new, local factories are built."


There's much more with links and support sources in the full article here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/innovations/wp/2015/07/07/sorry-but-the-jobless-future-isnt-a-luddite-fallacy/?wpisrc=nl_tech&wpmm=1

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Interesting read. But, I would guess we are too far down the road to make major changes in our life. For most of our children and Grandchildren a major hurdle for them. Question? So why are we letting thousands of people into the country with ONLY manual labor skills?


Safe Travels!

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So why are we letting thousands of people into the country with ONLY manual labor skills?




Without taking this thread into politics, this kind of comment presupposes that what the country needs is people with technical degrees who can be part of the technology-driven economy. In fact, there is a considerable body of evidence which shows that we don't have a shortage of trained technical workers and, in fact, may already be educating more of them each year than there are jobs.


This is a controversial position since so much political energy goes into beating the drum to train more STEM workers (science, technology, engineering and math) so I've chose a reference a rather detailed one published in an IEEE journal since you would think that the IEEE would be reasonably objective about this topic. You can read the article here: http://spectrum.ieee.org/at-work/education/the-stem-crisis-is-a-myth


The bottom line is that the concept of a world that produces all necessary goods and services without needing the work of a large segment of its population is not limited to the one article RV posted. If we are already educating more technical workers than the economy can use, what would a society be like if there simply wasn't enough work to pass around?

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The key point is that it is happening in years time frames as opposed to the decades in the 20th century, and centuries for the Industrial Revolution, eons for transitions from stone age to bronze to iron and steel.


In our retired position we are in the catbird seat to watch. Assuming we are vested in the flow which is apparent today.


I have a 41 and 39 year old sons. One is a medical professional, the other in Hazmat control. They are the ones that will see these changes directly affect them and their children.


I think that like my one son who told me he'd wished he'd listened and learned when we ere the only family they knew with not just a computer, but three systems, two Commodores one portable DX 64, one a 64 with programming boards, 300 baud dial up modem, dedicated color monitors, and an IBM with a humongous 10MB hard drive we thought could never be filled. Our dot matrix printers used ribbons and made a lot of noise. Snapshot 1985. Ten years ahead our kids almost through with HS in Germany and we had a home office/study with a notebook computer (AST) a Windows 95 PC and our last Commodore the 128, our dial up was provided by my company using dial up, 50 US robotics modems and an octopus to handle the multiple lines coming into the NOC. Online was usually followed by AOL in a sentence which wa the gared community for those afraid to venture out into the wild wild web. Snapshot 1995. Ten years ahead we were running XP laptops, and desktops and the kids were long gone on to their own lives. We had a flip phone for my wife, I was running around the countryside with a 3" screen Garmin, and a Bluetooth earpiece using a laser transit to do the dirt calculations for new construction and planning the buildings on a computer. dialup was starting to give way to copper DSL and rumors of megabit connection speeds for our websites and wireless Internet service providers (WISPS) looked like they were going to solve the last mile. Wireless routers running 802.11b allow connections at a blazing 10mbps without wires in our house. Snapshot 2005 Ten years ahead of that is today with Windows 10 coming out free to my full computer Windows 8.1 tablets, desktops, and Windows phones, cable Internet service at 30mbps not special, gigabit home networks, personal clouds and cross platform Apps flying in the Ether. Electric cars are real with charging stations all over the world that charge faster than ever making cross country travel silently with no pollution a reality for early adopters. Final testing in Austin Texas and other locations for auto computer driven vehicles is being allowed around real streets and people looking to become an option within a couple of years. The human genome ha been broken for years, cameras record our activities everywhere. Complete buildings and now bridges and othe real structures are being "printed" using the same tech as computer 3D printing but in life size giant automated nozzles spraying cement compounds and steel in manufactories. Houses and cars done. Robots that are humanoid and can walk up stairs, get in a vehicle and drive it competed in the DARPA competition. Space costs have come down with successful, almost routine orbital missions being done by several private companies successfully, two in the US. auto and other manufacturing has gone to a futuristic level where they can now assemble motherboards and final assemblies in vehicle plants that before could only be done by humans. Each robot costing only $40k today needs no time off save for maintenance. 60-70" household screens have become the norm and serve the traditional role of TV, but in addition have built in computers and WiFi to stream content (videos, audio recordings, pictures, music, multimedia, and productivity desktop functions.) We can watch, listen, or broadcast, ant media we want, instantly without waiting for a TV scheduled broadcast. We can sit at home, phone in hand and ask our digital assistant to show us the best price on anything and order it immediately having it delivered in 48 hours or less. Video phone calls, free, to anyone in the world, instantly, are the norm. Truncated snapshot 2015.


That is just what we have lived through, are facts, and survived, in just the last thirty years of our lives. The efficiency of PV solar cells, energy storage via batteries and several other demonstrated technologies is in production or real world testing. Magnetic refrigeration and heating using only the power a are on the verge of breakthroughs to put the final nail in the coffin of fossil fuels.

I am amazed at folks who get angry because things are changing. Attacking the messenger doesn't change a thing. The saying used to be "The train is coming, you can get on or get run over" no longer applies. Now it's more like a thousand trains coming from all directions. I guess some folks will still tilt at windmills, and try to enlist Sancho Panzas to no avail. If change frightens, there's no place to hide.


Our kids will see the acceleration of change as the norm. And I have one and his wife are BSRN's now, the other in HazMat removal. I believe their job security is at least for their lifetimes.

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I did not get to your most excellent article until just now Joel. Thanks! I agree with a lot of Malesic's conclusions and extrapolations.


Why? I've been resurrecting three laptop computers and upgrading one to Win 8.1 from 8 and another severely infected laptop from a Windows 7 factory restore to a fully updated Windows 7 and this was before SP1. It is about halfway through its first 173 updates after restoring with a clean install and original software. The last is a Vista machine that is on its last, I hope, 100 updates to Vista after a clean install using up my last boxed Vista 32 bit retail copy. I tried the upgrade but it cannot do a clean install and it was infected badly too. Then, if it meets minimum specs, I'll use up my last retail copy of Windows 7 32 bit Professional on it and see what happens with Windows 10. These were given to me in exchange for setting up their new computers with my special tweaks and security. They all needed major replacements of DDR2 RAM, or a hard drive in another, and a Toshiba keyboard and scrubbing from its filthy state. But I believe with a trade with some friends I can use up my last DDR2 RAM and my DDR3 RAM on the factory restore 6 Windows 7 system that has DDR3 and 64bit system. I can up it to 8 GB and then throw my spare 256GB Crucial BX SSD in it and it will be a duplicate of my 10 second booting Toshiba laptop I built to do the Windows 8 previews several years back in 2011/12.


When finished I will have a 32 bit Windows 10 laptop for my oldest son, a Windows 10 desktop for the Grand Daughters, and a test bed for me running Win 7 Pro to Win 10 Pro direct jump. And a nice laptop for a spare. Or to sell.

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  • 1 month later...

This was written in October 1995. It is here with a vengence TODAY.


The Black Factory workers were the "Miner's Canaries" to the problems of the White "Cubicle Drones" today.


"What's a Worker Worth IN A WORKLESS WORLD???"

Jeremy Rifkin is the author of "The End of Work: The Decline of the Global Labor Force and the Dawn of the Post Market Era" (Tarcher/Putnam, 1995.)


The displacement of Black Americans when factories closed '
will cross racial lines in the Information Age.


A new study reports that one in three Black men in their 20s is imprisoned, on probation or on parole in the United States. The breakdown of the African American family and drug abuse are often cited as the immediate causes of the increase in crime. Yet, a look back at the economic roots of the present crisis offers a far more telling explanation for the current plight facing African- American men. Their story needs to be retold, as it is an object lesson for what may lie in store for young White males in the years ahead.

In the mid-1950s, automation began taking its toll in the nation's manufacturing sector. Hardest hit were unskilled jobs in industries where Black workers were concentrated. Between 1953 and 1962, 1.6 million blue·collar jobs were lost in the manufacturing sector. While the unemployment rate for Black Americans had never exceeded 8.5% between 1947 and 1953 and the White rate of unemployment had never gone beyond 4.6%, by 1964, Blacks were experiencing an unemployment rate of 12% while white unemployment was only 5.9%.

Writing in 1964, civil rights activist Tom Kahn quipped, "It is as if racism, having put the Negro in his economic place, stepped aside to watch technology destroy that place."

The introduction of computers and numerical control technology on the factory floor in the 1960s accelerated the displacement process.

Sidney Wilhelm summed up the historical significance of what had taken place at the time in his book, "Who Needs the Negro?": "With the onset of automation, the Negro moves out of his historical state of oppression into one of uselessness. Increasingly, he is not so much economically exploited as he is irrelevant. ... The dominant whites no longer need to exploit the Black minority. As automation proceeds, it will be easier for the former to disregard the latter."

Thirty years later, African American men are being incarcerated in unprecedented numbers. While drug-related crime is the immediate cause for the rise, underneath lies a far more menacing reality: an entire people rendered powerless and hopeless by a society that no longer needs their labor.

Today, the same technological and economic forces are beginning to affect large numbers of White male workers with potentially ominous consequences for society at large.

Sophisticated computers, telecommunications, robotics and other Information Age technologies are fast replacing human beings in virtually every sector and industry. Near-workerless factories and "virtual" companies loom on the horizon.

While the emerging "knowledge sector" and new markets abroad will create some new jobs, they likely will be far too few to absorb the millions of workers displaced by the new technologies. That's because the Information Age economy is based on the use of ever smaller elite work forces combined with automated technologies to process goods and services, while the industrial economy relied on mass human labor to produce goods and services.

The steady decline of mass labor' threatens to undermine the very foundations of modern society. For nearly 200 years, the heart of the social contract and the measure of individual human worth have centered on the value of each person's labor. How does society even begin to adjust to a new economic era in which most people's labor is increasingly devalued and even made worthless?

Every nation will have to grapple with the question of what to do with the millions of people whose labor is needed less or not at all. The growth of the penal economy is one way to address the growing social unrest, crime and violence. If we continue along that path, we are likely to see increasing numbers of white men as well as minorities in jail in the years to come. The alternative is to conduct a soul-searching, nationwide debate on how best to share the vast productivity gains of the emerging Information Age to give every American both a place and a stake in the economic future of the country.

We are being swept up into a powerful technology revolution that offers the promise of a great social transformation, unlike any in history. It could mean fewer hours of work and greater benefits for millions. For the first time in modern history, large numbers of human beings could be liberated from long hours in the formal marketplace to be free to pursue family responsibilities, civic obligations and leisure activities.

If, however, the productivity gains of the Information Age are not shared but used primarily to enhance corporate profit, chances are that the growing gap between the haves and the have-nots will lead to widespread social disintegration and increased crime and imprisonment on a scale previously unknown in America.

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I became technologically jobbed out back in the mid-1980's within the automotive industry and the computerization of them. It then took a few years and I moved to golf cart repairs after a few stints in sales and customer relations (UUUGHH!) then in 2009 again the computerization of golf carts (Gas and especially Battery Powered) took its toll at the age of almost 59. I then went into the field of work camping; positions in repairs; grounds maintenance; golf cart repair and some human relations.

In the Spring of 2012 a severe STEMI ST elevated heart attack took me from the work force in mid-July of 2012. Unfortunate to the SS and military healthcare system I survived and I am one of the fortunate ones to get some of my and the employers investments returned. :P :P

I do feel for the younger generations growing up in the entitlement society as it seems to be growing hour by hour as us older generations without technical skills and the employment sector leaning more in the direction. i guess we can ride in the driverless transportation industry; eat by swallowing nutrition pills made from dehydrated food substances or synthetic materials; set back and watched our 4 dimentional media outlets and slowly lose our stamina and strength from our life of liesurely pleasures! :o:o need I say more??? I

I honestly tried to keep this real without being politically motivated and not to offend anyone! :(:(

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Not a concept that many can or will relate to in this modern world that we now live in with skills or the desire to be productive dead. At the rate we are changing we will or may become a third world in a short period of time. What have we created? The only one we can blame is our self.


Safe Travels!

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The creative technology sector is live and well. The middle class of the future will be the business owners auctioning jobs to the lowest bidder.


The concept and Business Plans of thousands of startups, ie. Air BnB, Facebook, Instagram, etc is not all that difficult. Look at all the entrepreneur wanna bees on Shark Tank. As long as you have the dream and initiative to pursue that dream you will be fine. Expecting to work for wages and you will be at the bottom of the economic ladder.


Follow start-ups on Quora.com and see all the entrepreneurs that have started dozens of small businesses and they are willing to explain how they did it. Look at KickStarter and some of the dynamite ideas those guys have.

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:rolleyes: And we will always have the Peeons getting peed on!! ;):huh: Instead of creating work for all levels of society!


It's called initiative and preparation. It's not societies responsibility to "create work" for anyone, but to create an environment that allows them to create their own opportunities. What's the old saying - "Luck favors the prepared".

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We just completed a partnership with our company and some Colorado State University engineering students. This group of students were seniors at a off campus location in Grand Junction, Co. I was told every student had an engineering job secured before graduation. So there still seems to be a demand but many less than half of the freshman class graduated as engineers. Many changed to other subjects and many more never graduated. A lot of them were not prepared to handle the classes. Just like the industrial revolution jobs will change. In fact I think the technilogical changes are just an extension and refinement of the industrial revolution but in any case most work will require an advanced education. I think this will be the most challenging of this advancement.

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