Wednesday, October 7, 2015

More on The End of Jobs. What the Hell Will Happen?

MIT has just announced it will allow students to get credit for some of its online courses for free. 

That is merely the latest step toward the conversion of paid teachers to essentially unpaid, as is usually the case with Udemy, Coursera, Udacity, edX, etc. Yet more people moved into volunteer work, just as so many formerly paid journalists must now write for free. 

The reduction in paid teaching is merely the latest bullet into the body of jobs. 

  • Tellers have been replaced by ATMs, supermarket checkers by self-checkout, toll-takers by camera watchdogs.  
  • Waiters, in chains such as Olive Garden, Applebee's Panera, Red Robin, Chili's, and Pizzeria Uno are being replaced by tablets. (Tell the truth, will you miss the waiter any more than you miss the bank teller,  supermarket checker, or toll taker?) 
  • Soon, truck, bus, and train drivers will be eliminated in favor of self-driving vehicles that never speed, take a sick day, nor require health care benefits. The robots are coming. 
  • Offshoring is ever easier and more effective. 
Ever fewer of those high-cost American employees will be needed---a few geniuses at the top, lots more to do janitorial and similar work. What about the huge numbers of other people whom employers are not willing to pay a living wage plus ObamaCare, Social Security, Disability, Workers Compensation, Paid Family Leave, etc? 

What will this evolve or devolve to? Without sufficient work, people go nuts in idleness, not to mention broke, perhaps without basic food, shelter, transportation, and health care.

And with genomic medicine around the corner, we'll be living longer--more decades with not enough to do. 

What is the answer? Certainly not mandated 30-hour workweeks. That merely will cause better workers getting fewer hours and worse ones getting more. Bad, bad. 

Can we count on the creative destruction of capitalism to create enough new jobs we can't yet imagine? Who knows? 

Could this even spawn Armageddon? As WMDs become more miniaturized and powerful (like mutated highly communicable bioviruses), all it takes is one crazy bioscientist pushed over the edge because s/he can't find work to release a vial of the stuff in an international airport's parking lot bus and billions will die. Imagine what an ISIS or other terrorist groups and even countries will be able to do. 

The U.S and Europe appears to be continuing to prioritize civil liberties--worrying about whether we're kind enough to Gitmo prisoners and whether the NSA's review of anonymous phone records violates the Constitution. 

Meanwhile, might terrorist groups and maybe even the Irans and Chinas of the world, less fettered by such concerns, destroy us? 

Anyone have a more optimistic yet realistic vision?


Jardinero1 said...

My inference from your statements is that you view the economy as an exogenous force acting upon us. The economy is not exogenous, the economy is us, and we are the economy. People always make something to do, if they cannot find something do.

Anonymous said...

We are living in the biggest debt bubble in the history of the world.

You think the job situation is bad now, just wait until this bubble pops.

The future will be unimaginably ghastly, an orgy of horror.


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