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Friday, February 7, 2014

The cloud no bigger than a man's hand

Enoch Powell used the phrase in prophetic reference to the social breakdown he foresaw as a result of Britain's immigration policies. I think it may apply in the context of robotics as well:
The standard response of conservative-libertarian economist types when they hear warnings about robots putting people out of work is that technology has never put people out of work in the past, people always find new jobs to do.

Their problem is that they deny the truth of HBD. They think that everyone can become an economics professor or do other high-level creative and self-actualizing work. They don’t understand that intelligence is genetic and that most people are not born with genes that would enable them to become an economics professor.

The coming robot revolution will make the labor of people below a certain IQ totally worthless. This is an event never before experienced by humanity.
This foreboding gets dismissed as the Luddite fallacy: that advancing technology creates unemployment, as increasing numbers of people see their skill sets rendered obsolete by machine processes. What actually happens, the economists say, is that the savings captured by technology are re-deployed elsewhere, and people re-tool for the new jobs. Blacksmiths become mechanics, farm laborers go work for landscaping companies.

Lion of the Blogosphere sees something far more comprehensive, with practically all labor below a certain level of sophistication and intelligence quotient rendered obsolete.

Alex Tabarrok says if advancing technology created joblessness, we'd all be unemployed after two centuries of rising productivity. But leisure is valued over work, so with perenially rising productivity why aren't we all just working a few hours a week and spending the rest of our time in self-actualizing activities? There must be some losers in this game, because everybody keeps working away.

When every job that was formerly performed by a skill-set consisting of a strong back and a 10th grade education is automated, what then? I guess we'll find out.

2 comments:

Bob Wallace said...

The average IQ is 100, which means half of people are below 100.

Let's find jobs for them when most everything is automated.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Presumably, they'll be tightening bolts and changing hydraulic fluid but I don't know.