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Peter Wicks on '2040’s America will be like 1840’s Britain, with robots?' (Oct 31, 2014)

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IEET > Rights > Economic > Life > Innovation > Vision > Technoprogressivism > Contributors > Dick Pelletier

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Robots taking Human Jobs may Require a New Kind of Capitalism


Dick Pelletier
By Dick Pelletier
Positive Futurist

Posted: May 6, 2012

Are humans becoming obsolete in the workforce? Many experts believe the answer is yes. The amazing win for IBM’s Watson computer over humans on the quiz show Jeopardy, proved that automated systems are getting closer to reaching human intelligence levels.

IBM is currently adapting this machine intelligence architecture to commercial applications including systems that will act as medical consultants, financial analysts, marketing specialists, and even machines that would one day make more equitable decisions than human lawmakers, judges, and police.

Though today’s robots may not be very impressive, roboticist Hans Moravec believes that within the next decade or so, we will create ‘bots with human-like bodies that can express reasoning and emotions similar to us, and possess the competence to perform nearly all human jobs.

According to analysts, half of Americans work in people-powered industries, such as fast food restaurants, retail stores, delivery companies, and other areas that require minimum skills. All of these jobs are prime targets for robotic replacement.

Some stores are already beginning to deploy automated checkout systems. By 2015, voice-recognition ‘bots will take over customer service roles, as well as chef duties in restaurants. By 2020 or before, questions such as “Would you like fries with that?” could be uttered by a smiling machine at the register.

Cisco Systems analyst Dave Evan predicts that robots with advanced artificial intelligence could one day replace most workers. Although today’s unemployment hovers around 8-to-10 per cent, this is mild compared with what we can expect as robots become more mainstream. It is estimated that by 2030, 50 million jobs will be lost to machines, and by 2040, robots could grab more than half of all human jobs.

When this writer grew up during The Great Depression, unemployment reached 25%, which caused soup lines, riots, and turmoil throughout the country. In our robotic future, 50% of workers will become jobless, which could bring about an economic disaster unlike anything the world has ever experienced.

Is there anything we can do to prevent this catastrophe? Futurist Marshall Brain in his Robotic Freedom blog examines the problem and offers suggestions that would provide humanity with all the benefits from tomorrow’s robot wonders, while protecting us from the financial devastations of unemployment.

Brain believes that America should create a $25,000 annual stipend for every U.S. adult. These payments would be paid for through a variety of possibilities. The government could allow ads on currency and public properties, rebates on natural resources, create a national lottery, launch a consumption tax, and levy taxes on robots, automated systems, travel, and emails.

The U.S. collects over $2 trillion in taxes annually, which works out to about $20,000 per household. It’s easy to imagine a program that would pay every adult $25,000. The stipend would not need to be created immediately. It could be phased in incrementally over the next couple of decades. By 2030 though, Americans could be enjoying a financially secure middle class or better lifestyle loaded with leisure time.

Equitable wealth distribution like this would allow consumers to spend without fear of losing their jobs. This increased spending could give the economy its biggest boom ever.

How might people spend their extra time in a world where work is eliminated from everyday life? Some may enroll in education programs; others could awaken their creative juices and become entrepreneurs.

Those who enjoy traveling could satisfy lifelong dreams to visit distant points on Earth, or become space pioneers and grab a Virgin Galactic trip to the International Space Station; or join other colonists in communities planned for Moon, Mars, and artificial habitats hovering above the planet.

Arrival of human level robots marks a transformative time in history. These wonder bots promise a utopian future as dependable household servants, performing unwanted tasks, responding to our every need; but we must first revise our capitalist system before this positive vision can become reality.


Dick Pelletier was a weekly columnist who wrote about future science and technologies for numerous publications. He passed away on July 22, 2014.
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COMMENTS


If by “new kind of capitalism”, you meant “open source, post-scarcity” economy, then I agree with you.





At the beginning of the previous century, agriculture was the occupation of more than half of the working force, even in the most economically developed countries on the planet. Now, there are wealthy countries with less than 5% of farmers. Does it mean that we progressively stopped eating? Did we face traumatic transitions in the agricultural field, with angry masses of unemployed farmers? No. Simply, technology liberated productive resources - and allowed those who spent a lifetime in the fields to find another, more advanced job - because in the meantime, new, more qualified activities became necessary, activities connected with these new technologies and their maintenance. It is a gradual process, usually. So people - with some exceptions - can indeed relocate themselves, and upgrade their professional profile. 

I still believe that such stipends will have to come from some pockets, and therefore they would destroy part of the economical process that creates wealth and allow increasingly larger segments of the population to enjoy it. I am not saying that unemployment insurances should not exist. I am only skeptical about the financial magnitude of such stipends. Overall, I suspect they would mainly cause a number of inflationary bubbles, while slowing productivity and innovation down. Their beneficial effects would probably last too little to be worth pursuing.





Have you ever heard of a recent book (maybe not published yet, but coming soon) titled:
“Robots Will Steal Your Jobs (but it’s OK!)” by Federico Pistono? Infact, we don’t really need a “new kind of capitalism”. This book advocates for a Resource Based Economy. When robots will take over the majority of mechanic tasks, the Monetary System Based Economy will collapse. It’s doomed! It’s something we can’t escape from. Why? I will reply with quote an Argentine economist - Walter Graziano - in his book “Hitler Won The War” (Hitler ganó la guerra)
“You can not blow into a balloon indefinitely without expecting any moment that it bursts in your hands. The greed of the financial markets will soon meet its saturation point, because it will clash with the ruthless machine that they themselves have set in motion: THE MARKET LAWS.”





I see a future unfolding during this century that could produce a ‘work-free’ world.

Every task that humans perform today will one day be turned over to a more efficient automated system. As we march through the decades ahead with molecular nanotechnology providing much of our household needs – food, medicine, clothing; even transportation vehicles and homes; first at low costs, later at no costs; our requirements for money will soon disappear.

Bridging into this futuristic scenario could require a temporary stipend as mentioned in the article, but eventually, even this radical solution would not be necessary.

As future technologies provide more and more of our human needs, we may see the day when we will consider ourselves a ‘work-free world.’





@Dick

And at some point, the elite say to themselves, “What with all this automation, what do we need the masses for anymore?”

I stand on the side of total transparency and post-scarcity technology.

But, I wonder if the elite have some kind of final solution up their sleeve they’ll try to implement just as we reach the point where we become super abundant.

Super abundance also makes people themselves super redundant.





I agree 100% that the only realistic long-term solution is some form of Resource Based Economy. That being said, there are a lot of remaining questions to be answered; such as:

1. What form of political system will society use? Who will make the decisions? I a technocracy control is given over to scientific experts. In the Venus Project, and the Zeitgeist movement that grew out of that, control is given over to the computers themselves. Is there any way to preserve democracy?  Would it be desirable to preserve democracy given humankind’s faults and failures to appreciate nature? Is there some middle road that would preserve most of what we consider freedom, while ensuring we cannot extend that freedom to the destruction of Earth?

2. How will the flow, control and allotment of resources be controlled? Can the system function as idealized by Jacque Fresco (The Venus Project) where everything is absolutely free? Will a personal budget or stipend work, as noted by Brain in his book “Manna”, and also supported by the Technocracy movement?

3. How does society decide who has the right to live near the Earths sweet spots, beachfront properties in Hawaii, and who gets the freezing hillside in Montana. There will be those that call both places their version of paradise; however, what if more people desire a location than there is room for at that location. What mechanism decides who gets to live there?

4. How will we ever create a transition to a world free of property ownership without a major revolution, Bolshevik style? How will we manage the transition while there is still a need for some human labor? Who will work, and who gets to go on vacation?

If you have read any of my posts or my blog, you will know I am a huge supporter and advocate of a RBE. Some of the questions above have been put forward by others on this site in response to my posts. They are all valid questions.  Questions that must be answered, or at least given more study before the reality of a RBE can be fulfilled. I have some thoughts on how to address most of those, but I would like to hear your ideas before I add my own.





Concerns over how a future will unfold that promises a work-free world with abundance for all may be unfounded.

If Ray Kurzweil, George Church, Robert Freitas and other future thinkers are correct, we will see technologies developing in the 2030s and 2040s that will create a future almost unimaginable from today’s crude world.

During the ‘magical’ decades from 2030-to-2050, Artificial General Intelligence could provide enhancements enabling humans to process information millions of times faster than today; creating a society where taking advantage of another person would become almost unthinkable.

And Nanoscience, according to Freitas, will produce biological robots between now and 2020, hybrid robots built from engineered structural DNA, synthetic proteins, and other non-biological materials during the 2020s, and by mid-2030s or so, completely artificial devices – nanorobots – will appear that can protect every cell in the body from disease and injury; even aging.

I think the key here is to multi-track the future; focus on a world created by advancing technologies filled with miracle solutions to nearly all of humanity’s problems.

Will the future unfold like this? Stem cell advances, genetic breakthroughs, and nanotech discoveries are occurring almost daily. Our dreams of a paradise existence without commerce could become reality; and in time to benefit most people alive today.

Comments welcome.





Dick,

I believe all of the technology you desribe will come to pass in the near future. Where I differ is that I have little faith in the current socio-economic system to survive the coming changes in its current form, nor that the current power base will permit a new paradigm to emerge without a fight. There are those who will profit greatly from advances in technology and productivity, and they may use their extreme wealth and power to manipulate the system in such a way that maintains their power base. Abundant cheap resources will be seen as something that erodes that power, therefore they will fight its appearance (think De Beers diamonds). Perhaps I am wrong, and the wave of change, like a tsunami, will be so swift and powerful that it sweeps them along with us to a utopia of abundance; I can only hope so. 





Kelly,

You’re correct; achieving this ‘magical future’ could be delayed by a greedy or unfair society, terrorist acts wielded by religious fanatics, or events like an unavoidable asteroid collision, or possibly even an alien invasion.

However, I believe that tomorrow’s AGI will help researchers develop the technology to replace our neurons with non-biological materials, such as say – carbon nanotubes – and connect our brains with our machines to share their vast intelligence. Now it’s all over but the shouting. Becoming one with our machines could become humanity’s final victory stage, able to overcome nearly anything that stands in our way. That’s the dream anyway.





@iPan

You have a point. I would also be mindful of all the ecofascist self-appointed elites that already openly talk of the need to “reduce” (exterminate) “excess” (not them) “population” (worthless breeders).

That’s the “elite” to watch out for; the ones who already want to kill you. The ones who already have the mindset that some people are “undeserving”.





With stuff like this I personally try to avoid being overly optimistic about our future.  Though I agree many of these developing technologies will be a very big help to humanity, I highly doubt that they would be the magic bullets that will make all of our problems go away and prevent new ones from ever occurring.  I also find the timetable given by the futurists Pelletier mentioned overly optimistic.  In that regard I agree more with George Dvorsky that most of those technologies (in particular a reverse-engineered brain which would allow human and machines to connect if I hear you guys correctly) probably won’t mature until 50, 75, or even 100 years from now.





Dick, if it’s more than a dream, what you write above is the best news read for a long time encapsulated in one paragraph.
If only we could outlaw the GOP and their rube-allies, but they have a death grip on America- and America is—apology for mixing metaphors again—the heart of capitalism, whatever capitalism is (after all, every nation save for Pol Pot’s Cambodia has used capital).
Anyway, I sense the GOP is determined to make the near future as painful as they can, they don’t care about transhumanism or anything else that does not obviously benefit their families and dynasties. Maybe the next decade will see some improvement, yet in the meantime what would be a positive would be a whopping ‘defense’ tax:
if those millions of assholes want to continue their bungled wars, then let them be soaked to fund the wars. It probably has to with military modernization/DARPA/testing new strategies and tactics, correct? well let them fork over the funds. We know what happened.. with a multi-polar world having coalesced they simply don’t know what to do—and they’ll keep botching it year after year.





I think we will see an AGI in the next 50 years. Our current socio-economic system will fail long before that time however, even before many of the abundance technologies take root. In fact it’s the leading edge of those technologies that will be the death of Capitalism. As these advanced technologies create higher levels of automation, it will require less human labor to produce the same amount of goods. Less labor means less employment, but it also means declining wages and benefits for those that still have a job too.

During time, the increased profits from higher productivity are going to the owners of Capital. Now, the owners of Capital have a valid argument in that productivity gains are due to capital investment, not individual productivity. Individual productivity (the actual output of a single worker) started leveling off in the 70’s as most gains have been through capital investment since then (more machines). That will be the owners’ justification for keeping the profits to themselves. The flaw in this plan is that the working class is getting weaker while the owner class (the Capitalist) is getting more powerful.

Even moderate improvements with robotics and technologies like 3D printing will push the trend identified above past the breaking point. Attempts may be made to tax the wealthy to extract the excess productivity profits, but their newfound wealth and power will effectively halt all efforts. The result is that the current trend of increasing income inequality continues to the breaking point. That breaking point is not 50 years away; I doubt it more than five or ten years out. That is being optimistic.





Clear, informative comment, Kelly. However please don’t forget how criminals—
and not merely peaceful, ‘victimless crime’ criminals, but also the Luca Brasi-types—
will take advantage of the tumult. We in America don’t have to visit Russia to witness such dislocation: we can see it in our Southern neighbor, Mexico.





@Kelly

You are always very well-spoken and interesting to read. However I disagree with your economical analysis - as I already mentioned once elsewhere.

“As these advanced technologies create higher levels of automation, it will require less human labor to produce the same amount of goods.”

This is demonstrably false, at least from a simple historical analysis. Productive structures of all sectors, including farming, already increased dramatically their level of automation in the last 150 years. However, this fact has not caused any dramatic reduction of employment levels. Quite the opposite. What you said could become true if and only if - machines will be autonomously able to reproduce and fix other machines. We have still a rather long way to go, anyway - before we arrive to that point. When technological, productive units will be assembled and maintained exclusively by other technological productive units - things will change indeed. But it is really hard to tell now how people will react to this new, independent biological species made of plastic and metals. Many scenarios are equally possible. Now, we cannot make reliable predictions.

“Less labor means less employment, but it also means declining wages and benefits for those that still have a job too.”
Less labor means better jobs - tasks that can be performed without much physical effort. This is a good thing. Contemporary workers learn all the time how to master new, more efficient technologies. In all sectors. Better softwares, better processes, better machines. Their jobs change. And if these workers are flexible enough to upgrade their skills and interface productively with the new tools - their wages are even going to increase. Unskilled workers, fifty years ago had to allocate a substantial portion of their salary to buy food. Now that percentage is as low as 10% in rich countries. Technology bestowed all these extra gifts. Of course there is always someone unemployed because his or her job is not useful anymore, and because he or she is also too old to learn something new. But this is why we have retirement funds and unemployment insurances. Overall, Marx was dead wrong in his predictions about capitalism.

“During time, the increased profits from higher productivity are going to the owners of Capital.” [...] “The flaw in this plan is that the working class is getting weaker while the owner class (the Capitalist) is getting more powerful.”

This is where Marx went particularly wrong. Where capitalism is more developed, the working class is particularly strong and wealthy. Manual workers today can enjoy a lifestyle that King Luis could only dream about. High hygienic standards, any kind of food they want, warmth all year long, televisions, cell phones, cars. Think about it. What is the typical fat capitalistic cat doing with his disproportionate profits? Is he going to stuff his pillow with banknotes? Probably he is going to buy some expansive car, a boat or two, two or three houses, three or four high-class hookers. The number of workers earning their wage out of luxurious consumptions is quite high. Their wage are high too, and will also be spent in something. This is why Marx was wrong. With few pathological exceptions, money never sleeps. Capital is a highly dissipative structure. It requires constant osmosis to maintain itself. Allow me a bizarre comparison. If Marx’s logic was correct, on our planet biological evolution, by now, would have already created two or three immense organisms, and a mass of proletarian, unicellular serfs. Economic logics is a resource-efficient logic - not different from biotic logics. We just have to turn to biology to see how our cultural structures might evolve.

So, no, the inequality is not going to arrive to any breaking point. Capitalism, science, and technology are close relatives - and cannot be separated without traumatic, catastrophic consequences (I know Peter is going to bust me for this, but I had to say it). It is the political pursuit of equality that causes economic breakdowns - together with oppression, and violence.





@ Kelly..

“As these advanced technologies create higher levels of automation, it will require less human labor to produce the same amount of goods. Less labor means less employment, but it also means declining wages and benefits for those that still have a job too.”

So therefore a stipend is the “essential” solution?


“During time, the increased profits from higher productivity are going to the owners of Capital. Now, the owners of Capital have a valid argument in that productivity gains are due to capital investment, not individual productivity. Individual productivity (the actual output of a single worker) started leveling off in the 70’s as most gains have been through capital investment since then (more machines). That will be the owners’ justification for keeping the profits to themselves. The flaw in this plan is that the working class is getting weaker while the owner class (the Capitalist) is getting more powerful.”

Not necessarily so? The Free market ideal, (tweaked/original Capitalism model), supporting both supply and demand relies ultimately upon support by the masses and their demand for goods and services - the relationship between classes is still essential and through direct symbiosis? Again if you cannot envision this - think human healthcare and longevity and hence the perpetuation of demand?

The “working class” may become redundant and no longer exist, yet we are confusing working class with mass population here? The masses will have the power of demand side economics to control market forces, and ideally together with imposed technocratic policies and politics applied to excess profiteering which will prevent world economic domination by the few, (including corporations), applied through patent restrictions and direct levied taxation, (and many other ways to maintain investment in industry, innovation, infrastructure and future technocratic and welfare stability?

Also higher productivity by automation and machines will drive price of goods down, and hopefully to some goods and essential services free at source, so the argument that the greater class divide will increase due to increased profit will hopefully be false?

Once again, I would refer you to my previous argument on Dick’s other article, which I will not take further time to reiterate here as this is time consuming and non-constructive. And this article is almost a duplicate of that article anyhow - heavens knows why?





@Andre: Thank you for the constructive critique. Let me respond to your comments:

<Kelly’s Post: “As these advanced technologies create higher levels of automation, it will require less human labor to produce the same amount of goods.”

Andre’s Reply: This is demonstrably false, at least from a simple historical analysis. Productive structures of all sectors, including farming, already increased dramatically their level of automation in the last 150 years. However, this fact has not caused any dramatic reduction of employment levels. Quite the opposite.>

Productivity is a measure of output per unit of labor input. The numbers are available at the Bureau of Labor Statistic, and show non-farm productivity has increased 350% between 1947 and 2012. By disputing my statement, you would have to be saying that increases in technology do not improve productivity. My statement says nothing about total employment levels; only that higher productivity reduces the demand for labor. In manufacturing we have in fact seen a large drop in labor due to a combination of off-shoring and automation. What most people miss however is that while manufacturing has been shedding jobs, the total output of manufacturing in the U.S. has more than doubled since the 1970’s while the amount of human labor has been cut in half. That is the result of automation.

<Andre’s Reply: Less labor means better jobs - tasks that can be performed without much physical effort. This is a good thing. Contemporary workers learn all the time how to master new, more efficient technologies. In all sectors.>

The second part of your assertion claims that other industries have always grown fast enough to take up the slack in excess labor from a specific sector, such as moving from Manufacturing to Service. In the past this has been true. Some people are able to retrain and take better high tech jobs. The vast majority however take jobs at Wal-Mart, or flipping burgers, or anything to keep paying the bills. Most people have been moving down the economic ladder as they are displaced. The service sector is not known (other than medical) for its highly paid job profile.

However, the service sector is starting to feel the pressure, as well as other areas. It has not reached critical mass yet as growth is still keeping up with productivity from automation, but I believe that is about to change with advances just around the corner. Where will the displaced go. They cannot all train to be computer operators or programmers. They lack either the access to education, or the aptitude to do those jobs. Some people will adjust, yes. However, increasingly, you will start to see either higher unemployment or a decreasing percentage of the population as part of the work force.

<Kelly’s post: “During time, the increased profits from higher productivity are going to the owners of Capital.” [...] “The flaw in this plan is that the working class is getting weaker while the owner class (the Capitalist) is getting more powerful.”

Andre’s Reply: This is where Marx went particularly wrong. Where capitalism is more developed, the working class is particularly strong and wealthy. Manual workers today can enjoy a lifestyle that King Luis could only dream about. High hygienic standards, any kind of food they want, warmth all year long, televisions, cell phones, cars. Think about it. What is the typical fat capitalistic cat doing with his disproportionate profits? Is he going to stuff his pillow with banknotes?>

If your arguing that there is not growing income disparity in America, I could go on all day with statistics that say otherwise. However, I will try to reply directly to your comment about Marx being wrong. Marx did get some things wrong in his work, most notably his thinking that the state could function efficiently as the owner of all capital and the means of production. Many people criticize Marx for his predictions about the downfall of Capitalism. He was wrong on the timing, but I think ultimately he will be proven correct on the diagnosis.

Capitalism was in fact at risk of failure just as he predicted after the Great Depression. A change in economic policy, and a reining in of the runaway Capitalist engine in the 30’s saved Capitalism. World War II ended the Depression and gave America as the sole industrial survivor a monopoly on manufacturing for several decades. New economic policies coupled with rapid growth in manufacturing meant a high demand for labor, and so, the standard of living grew fast enough that it kept pace with productivity increases. By the 60’s this began to change as other countries built new factories and started competing with the U.S. again. International competition placed downward pressure on labor which has resulted in stagnant wage growth. Yes, Capitalism built a strong middle class, far better off that the rich were in the previous century. That all started to change though in the 80’s, as policy again shifted away from helping labor to helping business. One after the other, bipartisan efforts destroyed the protections put in place during the 30’s, and the Capitalist engine was permitted to resume the path it was on at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. The path that Marx was eluding to. So, there was an 80 year delay in his prediction, but we are starting see it realized now.

Regarding what the wealthy do with their money: Some of it spent of homes and food and luxury items, but that is a far smaller proportion of their income than the poor spend. A lot of that excess income is invested. Have you ever wondered why the stock market has remained so strong through a weak economy. Have you ever wondered who is doing all that speculating on commodities like oil and wheat that is driving the price up. The people on Wall Street just pull the trigger. The wealthy with all of their surplus income provide the ammo.

As far as income redistribution goes, I like to use the following analogy:

The economy can be compared to the Earths hydrologic cycle. It rains down on the land. Some water pools into lakes, some runs off into streams and then rivers, some is taken up by plants and then evaporated back into the atmosphere to become rain again somewhere else. Now, replace the water with money, and where water accumulates are the people and companies. A lake is analogous to a wealthy person. A plant sipping on the water out of the ground is like an average person in society.

The conservative right would have us believe that any water that ends up in a lake should be that lakes personal and exclusive property. That the lake should have a right to retain as much of it as it can. If the lake had an infinite capacity, and the amount of water flowing into the lake is greater than the water flowing out, eventually, the lake will hold so much of the water that the farm lands downstream will all dry up and the plants will die. Taxation is equivalent to digging a canal from the lake to the farm land where plants need the water. It’s not draining the whole lake, it’s just reestablishing flows that enable more of the landscape to flourish. When you change your perspective of how money is like a fluid flowing through an economy, it’s not taking from one to give to another, it is just an adjustment of the flow to ensure a fertile landscape where all can flourish.





@Kelly

Really thanks for the lengthy and elaborated reply. I agree with several point you made, and more importantly I agree with the spirit behind your words. But, even if we share the same ideal goals, I would like to precise still a few strategic differences. Sorry for the long post ahead.

“Productivity is a measure of output per unit of labor input. The numbers are available at the Bureau of Labor Statistic, and show non-farm productivity has increased 350% between 1947 and 2012.”

I absolutely agree with that. Productivity increased - and quite a lot. What I was contesting was something else.

“As these advanced technologies create higher levels of automation, it will require less human labor to produce the same amount of goods. Less labor means less employment, but it also means declining wages and benefits for those that still have a job too.”

You seemed to propose this equation : more productivity = less human labor = less employment = declining wages and benefits. I agree, only with the very first part of that equation. An increase in productivity cannot but determine a decrease of human labor. But this only means that jobs became easier. Consider this fact. The US had in 1950 roughly half of its current population. This means that, while less and less human labor was necessary to produce the same amount of stuff, more and more work opportunities were created, and unemployment rate remained more or less the same (always under 8-9%). In other words, the need for human labor shrank, and jobs doubled. Sounds like a charming change.

“However, the service sector is starting to feel the pressure, as well as other areas. It has not reached critical mass yet as growth is still keeping up with productivity from automation, but I believe that is about to change with advances just around the corner.” [...] “Some people will adjust, yes. However, increasingly, you will start to see either higher unemployment or a decreasing percentage of the population as part of the work force.”

I think your predictions are mistaken here. They are based on a static conception of jobs. It seems that you consider jobs as preexisting spaces that need to be filled - either by humans or automata. This is not correct. Try to see jobs as activities that other fellow humans would like someone else to do. There is always some way to help, or just please those around you. In simple, small social structures - it takes little to help each other. Little specialization, much egalitarianism. As social complexity grows, together with technological pervasiveness - men find increasingly sophisticated ways to help each other. And, according to your skills and trainings, you will be (more or less) rewarded by those you interact with. They will renounce to something valuable, like their time, or their stuff - and they will give it you.  Thanks to this model, which is consistent with our historical record, we can predict that - if someday we will be able to build enough artificial, self-sufficient, robotic slaves, unemployment will soar. But it will be voluntary unemployment. People will exploit artificial labor, and keep more time and money for themselves. Unemployment however will never, ever reach a 100% rate. There will still be ways to help each other out - probably highly sophisticated ways.

“If your arguing that there is not growing income disparity in America, I could go on all day with statistics that say otherwise.”
I am not arguing that income disparity is not growing. I am saying that income disparity is absolutely irrelevant for the well-being of everyone - except pathologically envious individuals. As Pareto theorized, everywhere on this planet, no matter in which historical moment, only a small fraction (about 10-20%) of every civilized population could claim property rights over the vast majority of the economical resources. That said, is it better to be a hunter-gatherer who receives a fair share of misery, or a contemporary poor who receives a small fraction of a great plenty? Revolutions and riots do not explode when inequality becomes excessive. Regimes fall when political tyranny becomes too demanding, and too apparent to bear.

“Capitalism was in fact at risk of failure just as he predicted after the Great Depression. A change in economic policy, and a reining in of the runaway Capitalist engine in the 30’s saved Capitalism”
I strongly disagree with your historical analysis. There was a credit crunch before the 30s. This happened (not different from the current depression) because banks made terrible choices. Hoover first, and then Roosevelt, protected the bank cartel, socialized all their losses and created the great depression. Really not different from what is currently happening worldwide. Citizens are requested to pay with their taxes for the debts of the banking sector. This is not capitalism. This is crony corporatism - i.e. some sectors use the coercive power of the state to increase gains/avoid losses. If each individual bank had to pay for its own debt, as capitalistic ethics request, the great depression probably would not have even happened. And today we would all be much better off.

“The economy can be compared to the Earths hydrologic cycle.” I found your metaphor really fascinating, yet misleading. It can be seen as a good explanatory model only if we assume a progressive increase of amount of water. Economic relations do not form a zero-sum game. We should always remember this fundamental fact. Wealth can be indeed created out of thin air and then annihilated - thermodynamic laws do not apply here.
That aside, your metaphor is really insightful - because it shows how, even the largest concentrations of water are anyway in constant, cyclical interaction with smaller pools. Water evaporates. Rich capitalists consume and invest. Their investments and their consumptions please other human beings, masses of other humans beings. New structures appear, more stuff, more services - the complexity of our world increase. This is wealth. Of course there are certain negative externalities. This is why we really need a light administrative super-structure to limit the dangerous sides of capitalistic growth. Nevertheless, mere wealth redistribution, in the form of stipends, progressive taxation, or monetary inflation is not what we need to move to the next level.





“With stuff like this I personally try to avoid being overly optimistic about our future.  Though I agree many of these developing technologies will be a very big help to humanity, I highly doubt that they would be the magic bullets that will make all of our problems go away and prevent new ones from ever occurring.  I also find the timetable given by the futurists Pelletier mentioned overly optimistic.  In that regard I agree more with George Dvorsky that most of those technologies (in particular a reverse-engineered brain which would allow human and machines to connect if I hear you guys correctly) probably won’t mature until 50, 75, or even 100 years from now.”


It’s up to people your age, Chris: the world is dominated by old-timers; unfortunately (for us) they will live longer if they have the willpower to match their resources—which means… well, you can figure it; their old-fashioned ways continue to dominate for decades, and this may be what you want. Yet you shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking a majority or plurality will want the old-fashioned ways.
Sure, too bad we can’t be like Christ and forgive our enemies and all live an eternal and abundant life. Wouldn’t that be something.. where do we sign up for it, where’s the contract?                   





Nah, not so!

Haven’t you guys ever noticed how repetitious everything is.

Nature rules!

After maybe some factor of say tens of thousands of years all life on earth is destroyed.
This usually happens via a Commit, Asteroid hitting the earth and causing all sunlight to be blocked out. Or possible, all of the ice melts at the poles causing mass floods that kills off all life. Or maybe, there are massive volcano explosions,  massive storms like hurricanes, tornadoes tsunamis, etc. etc. that destroys all life.

Not to worry!

Again, after tens, maybe millions of years, earth’s climate starts to warm bringing about a rebirth of life. Then eventually we get back to the human being development. We gradually get back to creating all of the phases of human existence and eventually back to the robot stage, and then the destruction of all life. This goes on and on until the sun explodes and destroys our solar system.

However, there are other black-holes that explode and form new galaxies and new solar systems to again start the evolution of forming the numerous life forms that are created from the micros that fills infinite space.

All this goes on and on forever!!

THAT’S NATURES WAY!!!

However, humanity can interfere with the natural cycle of nature by developing weapons of mass destruction, following destructive life styles leading to extinction of all life forms. This is humanity’s was. But, not to worry, natures rules and its natural cycles bring things back into its normal states of evolution.

ON AND ON FOREVER!!





Nature? Universe? Mind? Brain?

Actually we will probably be able to PREVENT a big crunch, enhance mind/brain, and live forever….. that is natures way as well - we ARE nature. Information IS nature. technology IS nature, its all nature.





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