Friday, August 24, 2012

Rick Bookstaber — Will the Unemployed Really Find Jobs Making Robots?

Whatever analogue there is to the Industrial Revolution, workers do not play much of a role in it. It is interesting that to this point much of the displacement from computers has been in the mid-level jobs, like bookkeepers. These medium skill jobs that focus on rote but quantitive tasks are the easiest for a computer to do. Replacing workers doing relatively unskilled, manual tasks is actually more difficult. But the rubicon is being crossed. For example, Meyakawa Manufacturingis shipping robots that can debone chickens at the rate of 1,500 per hour, replacing ten human workers. As one commentator put it, “if you can do that, you can do most anything.”
Will the Unemployed Really Find Jobs Making Robots?
Rick Bookstaber

Human beings are becoming expendable economically. What consequences will this have?

14 comments:

Clonal said...

Rodger Mitchell had some excellent thoughts on this issue. He thoughtfully argues for a smaller work week and for a Basic Income Guarantee.

Tom Hickey said...

I think we need to think more creatively. The goal of increased productivity is increased leisure. Most economists confuse leisure with doing nothing. As Joseph Pieper observed leisure is the basis of culture. We need to recapture the value of leisure as the basis of creativity and spirituality, which then gets expressed as culture and its artifacts. Creative people with leisure don't just f* ck off as is imagined. Our culture in its focus on the material is stifling culture. The US has become a billboard culture.

One of the most important philosophy titles published in the twentieth century, Joseph Pieper's Leisure, the Basis of Culture is more significant, even more crucial than it was when it first appeared fifty years ago.
Pieper shows that Greeks understood and valued leisure, as did the medieval Europeans. He points out that religion [as spirituality or the inner life, rather than dogma, ritual and observance] can be born only in leisure-a leisure that allows time for the contemplation of the nature of God [intrinsic value]. Leisure has been, and always will be, the first foundation of any culture. He maintains that our bourgeois world of total labor has vanquished leisure, and issues a startling warning: Unless we regain the art of silence and insight, the ability for nonactivity, unless we substitute true leisure for our hectic amusements, we will destroy our culture-and ourselves. These astonishing essays contradict all our pragmatic and puritanical conceptions about labor and leisure; Joseph Pieper demolishes the twentieth-century cult of "work" as he predicts its destructive consequences.

Leisure, The Basis Of Culture by Josef Pieper (Author), Gerald Malsbary (Translator), Roger Scruton (Introduction)

Matt Franko said...

Clonal,

I believe Prof Wray thinks everyone will stay at home and smoke pot if there is a BIG.....

rsp,

Leverage said...

More "leisure" = more progress. The government forcing people into jobs = bad.

I'm all for a voluntary JG for social purposes (offer programs planned by local governments). I'm not for forcing people into work. BIG & JG both at the same time are the way to go (maybe offer a bigger incentive through JG), and people will still find ways to employee theirself and do creative things besides of the government.

Dependency on the government to force people to work is awful and an other economistic thinking artefact. I still have some faith in humanity (although may be gone in a few years if we dig deeper into the future hell we preparing to ourself).

Also JG as usually planned fails to address many many problems, like people with different aptitudes and skill sets getting the right job and all the potential into work (and I doubt a burocratic machine can solve that, programs would have to be much more organic and develop their own 'chains of command').

Tom Hickey said...

I believe Prof Wray thinks everyone will stay at home and smoke pot if there is a BIG.....

A lot will, but I know a lot of people that are stoners who are very productive either creatively or in business. WAll Street runs on coke, and it was pervasive among Congressional staff decades ago.

Drugs are now similar to alcohol in our culture. ON the same reasoning a lot people will just go fishing and drink beer.

The point is that, first, most humans can only take some much recreation and then they start getting antsy to actually do something. That's was hobbies are all about as well other amateur pursuits.

The way to culture leisure creativity is by redesigning the education system away from chiefly preparing people for "careers," which are thing of the past anyway, and train them to tap their spectrum of potential as human beings both horizontally and vertically, inwardly and outwardly. Part of this is putting people in information and emotion rich environments and providing them with resources to explore, depending on their inclination.

All this has been explored and is well-known in education. We are just not doing it. As a result we are depressing the level of collective consciousness instad of expanding it. Fortunately, the digital technology and the Internet has come along to make up for it. So many people are progressing in spite of dismal formal education.

Tom Hickey said...

Leverage I'm all for a voluntary JG for social purposes (offer programs planned by local governments). I'm not for forcing people into work. BIG & JG both at the same time are the way to go (maybe offer a bigger incentive through JG), and people will still find ways to employee theirself and do creative things besides of the government.

Yes, and.... I see an enlightened JG as providing more than a job and compensation package but creative opportunity not possible alone and unlikely either voluntarily because of the expense or by business due to lack of profit. So that leaves non-profits and the govt, and of course non-profits funded by govt as a combo. This way people could have access to resources for creativity that would otherwise be unavailable. For example, Bucky Fuller suggested groups of a thousand on the model of Bell Labs. Turn creative people loose and the output, while it cannot be predicted, would be on the order of the output of Bell Labs.

The ancient university model and its modern development in terms of infrastructure is also a model. Put a bunch of people together in an information and emotion rich environment outfitted with resources to explore and see what happens.

We need to create the conditions to explore options and to do these we need to experiment with alternatives. The "choice" between a make-work JG and a BIG where everyone goofs off is a false choice. It's due to thinking with blinders and also being unaware of decades of scientific research, creative thinking, and actual models that have been tested.

Matt Franko said...

Tom,

"Go fishing and drink beer" or "play golf", etc...

Somebody still has to brew and distribute the beer and cut and maintain the golf course. maintain the boat and patrol waterway safety,....

Transportation to/from the venues, etc... still PLENTY of work to do....

rsp,

Tom Hickey said...

"Go fishing and drink beer" or "play golf", etc...

Somebody still has to brew and distribute the beer and cut and maintain the golf course. maintain the boat and patrol waterway safety,....


Yeah, but the complaint is that while some are working, others are getting paid to play.

The only way this will work is if there is a choice to "work" or "play" and there are indifference curves based on some satisfaction.

For example, people could be required to pay to purchase a job, for example, so that leisure would be the normal state, with a job a more desirable good that people would be willing to pay for. What would such a market look like?

paul said...

Yeah, but the complaint is that while some are working, others are getting paid to play"

Imagine yourself as the last person left working. You would have a massive number of people to blame for your predicament.

Ryan Harris said...

There remains an enormous amount of work that needs done to deal with education, environment, infrastructure, health, housing, urban blight and so many other collective social needs. Its hard for me understand how a person can pontificate about a lack of need for low skilled labor as our nation slides into 2nd world status compared to our trading partners. Go visit Canada and drive into New York or the UK or Singapore or Australia. It looks like you are coming into a third world nation when you come back here. Even in relatively prosperous parts of the country like California they have 10% unemployed but won't pay for landscaping or litter pickup along their beautiful landscapes near highways. Please be realistic about lack of demand for labor. Even our most basic needs for basic low skill labor aren't being met today. We need tons of work done, we just don't value anything that isn't science, technology or engineering. So called 'investments' in Democrat party speak. The investments that matter to 'middle class voters'. Those voters turn out and want 'good' middle class jobs. Not the ones that help society, but the high skilled ones that pay fat paychecks with little benefit to society. They want comfy positions that let people sit in chairs on their tuches in the air conditioned high rises complaining about the world and while producing nothing tangible for the world.

Matt Franko said...

Ryan,

I have been traveling a bit with the family this summer up/down the east coast and the infrastructure is suffering from neglect....

Grass on side of highways 3' tall, no shoulders, tree canopy creeping in on the sides cutting longer distance traffic view widths, potholes, endless construction projects that MUST be understaffed... 3rd world status approaching!

It's embarrassing... rsp,

reslez said...

First, "too much leisure time" will never be a problem. The parasitic grasping elites and their enablers in the 99% will see to that.

Second, human beings have an innate need to be useful to their social group. If somehow cursed with leisure time they will find a way to use it to contribute to their peer group. We cannot even imagine what form that might take.

Wekasus said...

As one commentator put it, “if you can do that, you can do most anything.”

I guess I'll start becoming concerned when robots either start killing people and/or start helping people become 'better'. IMHO these points could represent divergences between society.

Tom Hickey said...

I guess I'll start becoming concerned when robots either start killing people and/or start helping people become 'better'. IMHO these points could represent divergences between society.

Drones v. robotics in medical technology. We are headed there.