could your job be done by a powerful computer?

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And one notable area of consumption that by definition differentiates the classes, that of conspicuous consumption, is going by the wayside. Yes, I believe we are seeing the twilight of the era of conspicuous consumption. Not that Gucci and Chanel are going to go out of business, but for most people that sort of status statement is increasingly becoming irrelevant. No matter what you are wearing and driving, a far better picture of you and your status is just a few clicks away. You don’t have to drive a Ferrari to let everyone know you are rich and successful. If you are driving a Ferrari, what it will convey is that you – who as everyone who cares to Google you knows is running a hedge fund and is worth tons of money – must like a Ferrari.

I'm not sure I buy this, but it's an interesting argument

iatee, Saturday, 14 January 2012 19:37 (4 years ago) Permalink

3 weeks pass...

Law #1: People will get jobs doing things that computers can’t do. Law #2: A global market place will result in lower pay and fewer opportunities for many careers. (But also in cheaper and better products and a higher standard of living for American consumers.) Law #3: Professional people will more likely be freelancers and less likely to have a steady job.


iatee, Tuesday, 7 February 2012 17:22 (4 years ago) Permalink

I predict more adult babies.

Jeff, Tuesday, 7 February 2012 17:28 (4 years ago) Permalink

these arguments have been around since, if not the industrial revolution, then at least the time of the production line, iirc?

Dr Frogbius (darraghmac), Wednesday, 8 February 2012 00:52 (4 years ago) Permalink

i can't remember how it works out, something along the lines of increased leisure time & consumption & existential angst, keeping modern economies running on the triple engines of hbo, ten buck lattes and pyschotherapy.

Dr Frogbius (darraghmac), Wednesday, 8 February 2012 01:00 (4 years ago) Permalink

who will the american consumers be

unless it means machines

that consume americans

quick brown fox triangle (schlump), Wednesday, 8 February 2012 01:31 (4 years ago) Permalink

'american consumers' will be a hit tv show devised by cowell where awful people by crap in front of a crowd then tv viewers vote for the awful person buying the crap they liked the most.

Because we will all have so much leisure time, this will get 3 billion viewers, 24 hrs a day

Dr Frogbius (darraghmac), Wednesday, 8 February 2012 01:34 (4 years ago) Permalink

these arguments have been around since, if not the industrial revolution, then at least the time of the production line, iirc?

yeah but technological change back then is not comparable to the kinda change that's happening now - machines that can replace physical labor vs. machines that can beat people at jeopardy

iatee, Wednesday, 8 February 2012 01:45 (4 years ago) Permalink

Inventing a machine that replaces physical labour has a considerably greater impact on humankind than a machine that wins jeopardy

badg, Thursday, 9 February 2012 19:26 (4 years ago) Permalink

I wouldn't argue w/ that, but that led to a world where people could do service sector jobs, the machine that wins jeopardy doing your legal paperwork or whatever frees up labor but doesn't necessarily create demand for a new type of labor

iatee, Thursday, 9 February 2012 19:30 (4 years ago) Permalink

no, but it'll probably create demand & space for non-necessary labour

Dr Frogbius (darraghmac), Thursday, 9 February 2012 19:32 (4 years ago) Permalink

there's no economic principle that suggests that that demand for non-necessary labor will make up for what's lost

iatee, Thursday, 9 February 2012 19:33 (4 years ago) Permalink

2 months pass...
2 weeks pass...
5 months pass...
3 months pass...

thanks for these links, iatee. it's been interesting watching this subject start to come up in Krugman's recent columns -- by chance it's happening as I'm getting around to reading Norbert Wiener's books on Cybernetics, written in the 40's & 50's. a lot of the work of the Macy Conferences has been sidelined as utopian: in the conclusion of his introduction to 'Cybernetics: Or, Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine', he basically states that the rise of productive machines will prompt a societal crisis which will force us to find an enconomy of time that values a human life in other ways than a wage. Easy to dismiss as hopelessly utopian, and yet too many of the sentences in these books utterly nail everything Krugman's been inching towards in his recent columns.

Been thinking of starting a Gregory Bateson thread, but maybe not yet

Milton Parker, Monday, 14 January 2013 20:13 (3 years ago) Permalink

yeah the subject has def begin to creep into the mainstream economics dialogue lately

krugman's article from 1996:

actually predicted a lot of what's happening tho maybe was too pessimistic about robot plumbers /drivers etc.

iatee, Monday, 14 January 2013 20:23 (3 years ago) Permalink

from the other side of the fence, this hilarious article just posted

Milton Parker, Monday, 14 January 2013 20:24 (3 years ago) Permalink

What's the general crisis scenario look like? Because a workforce that is forced to go on half-time and still get the same real wages due to robot efficiencies seems pretty good to me.

Philip Nunez, Monday, 14 January 2013 20:26 (3 years ago) Permalink

the robot efficiencies don't go to labor, is the crisis

iatee, Monday, 14 January 2013 20:32 (3 years ago) Permalink

blame our workaholic culture; don't blame the robots!

Philip Nunez, Monday, 14 January 2013 20:33 (3 years ago) Permalink

No, & I can prove it mathematically.

I’ll alert Nick Woodhouse.

Allen (etaeoe), Monday, 14 January 2013 20:36 (3 years ago) Permalink

lol at the techcrunch article

This is not true. Everyone is an entrepreneur. The only skills you need to be an entrepreneur: an ability to fail, an ability to have ideas, to sell those ideas, to execute on those ideas, and to be persistent so even as you fail you learn and move onto the next adventure.

iatee, Monday, 14 January 2013 21:18 (3 years ago) Permalink

always felt like the entrepreneur meme was a nice way to rationalize tearing up the social contract. "ehhh, you guys are on your own now ... start, like, a business or something ... worked out for those three guys over there."

Spectrum, Monday, 14 January 2013 21:29 (3 years ago) Permalink

if techcrunch were replaced by a robot you can't tell me all parties involved wouldn't be better off.

Philip Nunez, Monday, 14 January 2013 21:30 (3 years ago) Permalink

St3ve Din3rman

Wow! Just this morning I was sitting here thinking , how in 50 years from now historians will look back on this time and discuss just how wrong we all were by blaming this whole problem of a dwindling middle class on political mistakes by both sides rather then the reality of what really was taking place.The fact is there has never been a better time in the past 100 years to create products and ideas, and get very wealthy doing so..The downside is those that don't realize or are unable to transition to this new world of innovation in technology and thinking are getting left behind, and thus is the reason for the continuing divide between the haves and have nots.Anyone unable to imagine and create will get left behind. Sad but true........

iatee, Monday, 14 January 2013 21:34 (3 years ago) Permalink

what's the end game if we all became entrepreneurs ... would it be a barter system? i can just imagine everyone trying to trade the useless crap they came up with in exchange for more useless crap. "uhhh i'll trade you this vibrating anime woman massage seat cushion for your 'integrated mobile social networking space'. do you have any food or medicine i could have, by the way?"

Spectrum, Monday, 14 January 2013 21:41 (3 years ago) Permalink

B0do H0enen

Good article. But what are your thoughts on what will happen to the 90% of the population that will not follow this advice? How can those that do make it through the end of the industrial age support those that are left behind?

J4mes Altuch3r

When the plane starts to run out of air and the oxygen masks come out you put your own mask on first before you put it on the face of your 2 year old baby. The same thing here. The best way to help everyone else is to help yourself. Then it will become a very natural instinct how you can help the rest. Don't worry about it until then.

Spectrum, Monday, 14 January 2013 21:45 (3 years ago) Permalink

entrepreneurialism as an apocalyptic cult. interesting times.

Spectrum, Monday, 14 January 2013 21:47 (3 years ago) Permalink

just have your 3d printer build a farm-bot and a medic-bot

for the relief of unbearable space hugs (Austerity Ponies), Monday, 14 January 2013 21:50 (3 years ago) Permalink

K3lly McFinn3ly

Thank you for articulating this without economic charts and graphs. I very much need to diversify.

iatee, Monday, 14 January 2013 22:10 (3 years ago) Permalink

nothing new under the sun

caek, Thursday, 24 January 2013 06:24 (3 years ago) Permalink

I work as an admin assistant in the civil service so yes it fucking could

paolo, Friday, 25 January 2013 15:34 (3 years ago) Permalink

1 month passes...
1 month passes...

iatee, Tuesday, 23 April 2013 17:04 (3 years ago) Permalink

Could a powerful computer artificially inseminate goats?

NB: This is not my job at present, but I am merely curious about this in a general sort of way.

Aimless, Wednesday, 24 April 2013 03:46 (3 years ago) Permalink

it could not naturally inseminate goats

we're up all night to eat biscuits (Autumn Almanac), Wednesday, 24 April 2013 03:53 (3 years ago) Permalink

what if they were using nanotechnology?

Aimless, Wednesday, 24 April 2013 03:58 (3 years ago) Permalink

or if the computer was really goat hot?

I have many lovely lacy nightgowns (contenderizer), Wednesday, 24 April 2013 03:59 (3 years ago) Permalink


we're up all night to eat biscuits (Autumn Almanac), Wednesday, 24 April 2013 04:00 (3 years ago) Permalink

i'll get me coat

we're up all night to eat biscuits (Autumn Almanac), Wednesday, 24 April 2013 04:00 (3 years ago) Permalink

It would have to be a very powerful computer

Panaïs Pnin (The Yellow Kid), Wednesday, 24 April 2013 04:11 (3 years ago) Permalink

hahaha i met a bright-eyed young engineer at work who told me he'd come up with a logarithm that "does what you guys do"

screen scraper (m coleman), Wednesday, 24 April 2013 09:39 (3 years ago) Permalink

There are a few recurrent aspects of my job that could totally be done by a script or handful of scripts and it is immensely frustrating to me that they are not. Like, that's what computers are for, surely, to do tedious repetitive tasks. It's 2013. What the fuck.

TracerHandVEVO (Tracer Hand), Wednesday, 24 April 2013 09:42 (3 years ago) Permalink

1 month passes...
1 year passes...

i met a project management guru the other week who is flatly, calmly convinced that robots will replace at least 50% of the jobs people currently have and that it would have happened sooner except no one knows how to replace the lost demand

maybe we can find aliens to buy our products and let the preponderance of humanity starve

TracerHandVEVO (Tracer Hand), Tuesday, 30 December 2014 02:39 (1 year ago) Permalink

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