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Humans Need Not Apply

CGP Grey · Youtube · 116 HN points · 103 HN comments
HN Theater has aggregated all Hacker News stories and comments that mention CGP Grey's video "Humans Need Not Apply".
Youtube Summary
Support Grey making videos: https://www.patreon.com/cgpgrey

## Robots, Etc:

Terex Port automation: http://www.terex.com/port-solutions/en/products/new-equipment/automated-guided-vehicles/lift-agv/index.htm

Command | Cat MieStar System.: http://www.catminestarsystem.com/capability_sets/command

Bosch Automotive Technology: http://www.bosch-automotivetechnology.com/en/de/specials/specials_for_more_driving_safety/automated_driving/automated_driving.html

Atlas Update: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SD6Okylclb8&list=UU7vVhkEfw4nOGp8TyDk7RcQ

Kiva Systems: http://www.kivasystems.com

PhantomX running Phoenix code: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAeQn5QnyXo

iRobot, Do You: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=da-5Uw8GBks&list=UUB6E-44uKOyRW9hX378XEyg

New pharmacy robot at QEHB: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ql1ZHSkUPk

Briggo Coffee Experience: http://vimeo.com/77993254

John Deere Autosteer ITEC Pro 2010. In use while cultivating: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAPfImWdkDw&t=19s

The Duel: Timo Boll vs. KUKA Robot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIIJME8-au8

Baxter with the Power of Intera 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKR_pje7X2A&list=UUpSQ-euTEYaq5VtmEWukyiQ

Baxter Research Robot SDK 1.0: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgQLzin4I9M&list=UUpSQ-euTEYaq5VtmEWukyiQ&index=11

Baxter the Bartender: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AeTs9tLsUmc&list=UUpSQ-euTEYaq5VtmEWukyiQ

Online Cash Registers Touch-Screen EPOS System Demonstration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yA22B0rC4o

Self-Service Check in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OafuIBDzxxU

Robot to play Flappy Bird: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHkMaWZFePI

e-david from University of Konstanz, Germany: https://vimeo.com/68859229

Sedasys: http://www.sedasys.com/

Empty Car Convoy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPTIXldrq3Q

Clever robots for crops: http://www.crops-robots.eu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=62&Itemid=61

Autonomously folding a pile of 5 previously-unseen towels: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gy5g33S0Gzo#t=94

LS3 Follow Tight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNUeSUXOc-w

Robotic Handling material: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pT3XoqJ7lIY

Caterpillar automation project: http://www.catminestarsystem.com/articles/autonomous-haulage-improves-mine-site-safety

Universal Robots has reinvented industrial robotics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQj-1yZFEZI

Introducing WildCat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wE3fmFTtP9g

The Human Brain Project - Video Overview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqMpGrM5ECo

This Robot Is Changing How We Cure Diseases: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ra0e97Wiqds

Jeopardy! - Watson Game 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDA-7O1q4oo

What Will You Do With Watson?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_cqBP08yuA

## Other Credits

Mandelbrot set: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGMRB4O922I&list=UUoxcjq-8xIDTYp3uz647V5A

Moore's law graph: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:PPTMooresLawai.jpg

Apple II 1977: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxJwy8NsXFs

Beer Robot Fail m2803: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4Lb_3_NMjE

All Wales Ambulance Promotional Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=658aiRoVp6s

Clyde Robinson: https://www.flickr.com/photos/crobj/4312159033/in/photostream/

Time lapse Painting - Monster Spa: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ED14i8qLxr4
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Hacker News Stories and Comments

All the comments and stories posted to Hacker News that reference this video.
Obligatory CGP Grey “Humans Need Not Apply” spruiking: https://youtu.be/7Pq-S557XQU

Deals with the issue of why current types of automation are different to industrial automation an why we won’t be creating new “machine fixer” jobs when the new machines take our old jobs.

May 01, 2019 · 4 points, 1 comments · submitted by lawrenceyan
lawrenceyan
Fun anecdote: The company that made the Baxter Robots you see in the video actually went bankrupt and no longer exists anymore.
Yeah, unfortunately it's fairly easy to rebut this paper. I only had to read the abstract and the first paragraph. The last line of the first paragraph:

> ... the more advanced a control system is, so the more crucial may be the contribution of the human operator.

This is absolutely true. The human operator working with an automation system needs to be way more skilled, more educated, and smarter compared to a human working as a cog in a sweatshop.

But this still doesn't support the thesis that it expands the problems associated with human operator, for the very simple reason:

You are replacing 1000 low-skilled sweatshop workers with 5-10 (or less) highly-skilled engineers and experienced technicians. And at the same time increasing the throughput of your production system by an order of magnitude or more. It's a complete win.

And I didn't even need to invoke the role and/or potential of modern AI (i.e., one based on ML/DL/DRL/CV etc, etc), which is going to take the automation to the next level.

Highly recommended watch: CGPGrey 'Humans Need Not Apply'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

(in the video just look at the human labor chart regarding agriculture, at 15 second mark, and you'll understand what I'm saying).

lm28469
> You are replacing 1000 low-skilled sweatshop workers

> It's a complete win

Complete win for who exactly ?

How do you reconcile automation and the current economy of consumption ? As far as I can tell they don't work hand in hand very well. These 1000 workers will still want their part of the cake, to do so you'll have to get them new jobs. I wouldn't be surprised if every time we go through a cycle of automation we also go one layer deeper in the "bullshit jobs" creation.

It's all fun and games until you have to take into consideration the soci-economical aspect of automation.

"Automation, the most advanced sector of modern industry as well as the model which perfectly sums up its practice, drives the commodity world toward the following contradiction: the technical equipment which objectively eliminates labor must at the same time preserve labor as a commodity and as the only source of the commodity. If the social labor (time) engaged by the society is not to diminish because of automation (or any other less extreme form of increasing the productivity of labor), then new jobs have to be created. Services, the tertiary sector, swell the ranks of the army of distribution and are a eulogy to the current commodities; the additional forces which are mobilized just happen to be suitable for the organization of redundant labor required by the artificial needs for such commodities." - The society of spectacle.

2019ideas
>Complete win for who exactly ?

The sweat shop workers, the company, the customers.

Sweat shop workers are losing their ability to do mindless labor, next up, they will be using their brains to make low skill decisions where automation cannot. Think Amazon Turk.

Customers get lower cost, likely higher quality products.

Company gets more reliable workforce.

>It's all fun and games until you have to take into consideration the soci-economical aspect of automation.

This has already happened in history. You COULD make it illegal, but then your countries technology will be out performed by another country.

---

Its easy to disagree, its harder to come up with your own solutions.

lm28469
What would be the end goal of such a system ?

Looks to me like a rat race.

2019ideas
Higher standards of living. Less starvation, better environment, etc...
pixl97
Only if there is a taxation function that takes money from the top and distributes it, which gets derided as full on communism on HN. One of the big issues with automation is it tends to concentrate wealth with a few big players
lm28469
That's an honourable goal but automation was supposed to deliver* us in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s etc ....

It never happened and will never happen with the current world economy. These things are mutually exclusive.

https://hbr.org/2016/02/todays-automation-anxiety-was-alive-...

https://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/SPT/v7n3/hong.html

https://timeline.com/robots-have-been-about-to-take-all-the-...

* or destroy, depending on who you listen to

fizixer
I'm sorry. Allow me to qualify my claim and restate it:

It's a complete win for everyone except for the morons in charge, and their so-called expert economic advisers, who think the functioning of the society has to depend upon everyone needing to work 9 to 5, Monday through Friday in order to have food, shelter, clothing, health, education, justice. (Even if it means creating more and more bullshit jobs).

If your pathetic obsolete-jobs-are-always-replaced-with-new-kinds-of-jobs economists cannot update their worldview and their economic policy in light of technological progress, that's not a problem with technological progress. (Only a handful of economists, Erik Brynjolfsson, Andrew McAfee, Robin Hanson, to name a few, have a realistic view of what's coming in terms of socioecononmic impact of tech progress).

lm28469
I genuinely can't tell if you're passive aggressive and referencing the author of the quote as "pathetic economists", I'll give you the benefit of the doubt.

Either way, look at the past 40 years of so of technical progress, it's mostly driven by personal power/wealth quests and has nothing to do with bettering society. People are still working as much as before (actually, society as a whole is working more), but instead of working for survival they're doing it for an enhanced form of survival which mostly consist of buying (gadgets) and consuming ("culture").

The need of buying an iphone n+1 keeps you going day in, day out while the new netflix show distracts you just enough to keep you sane until your next shift. IG / FB reminds you that "if you keep going you'll make it, eventually, maybe. Oh and btw don't forget to buy these new shoes that _influencer_xyz_ talked about". Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Netflix, Instagram, are enabler / distributer of mindless consumption, be it physical or "cultural". They're not bettering the world in any way.

Meanwhile people in the US, one of the most powerful country/economy don't have a proper public health system and have horrendous working conditions. Keep in mind that as tech workers we're relatively immune to most of these things, we're generally above the daily struggle of the _true_ working class (flexible work hours, chill offices, good salaries, job safety)

The entire world economy is based on work<>consume, if you remove half of the equation thinking that the system is going to self-regulate I doubt you fully grasp the issue.

But hey, everything that's not full blow neoliberalism has to be communism, right.

fizixer
> I genuinely can't tell if you're passive aggressive and referencing the author of the quote as "pathetic economists", I'll give you the benefit of the doubt.

I'm not. I'm referring to today's mainstream economists who have their heads in the sand when it comes to analyzing, assessing, diagnosing, and advising on the effects of tech progress.

> Either way, look at the past 40 years of so of technical progress, it's mostly driven by personal power/wealth quests and has nothing to do with bettering society. People are still working as much as before (actually, society as a whole is working more), but instead of working for survival they're doing it for an enhanced form of survival which mostly consist of buying (gadgets) and consuming ("culture").

That's a problem of politicians and economists, not technology. You should understand something about technology. It's a force of nature. There's a factor of inevitability in play here.

It is not the case that every year a bunch of greedy, cigar smoking, capitalist billionaires gather in a lavish, dimly lit, oak-wood room and decide how they're going to advance technology and screw over the population.

That's not how it works.

Technology and innovation comes from the garages, from the workshops, from the basements, whether they belong to big corporations or to the parents of a bunch of geeks. It doesn't matter. Technology happens because people are creative. And they're constantly thinking, and they're coming up with new ideas. What are you going to do to stop this deluge of creativity and innovation? Have some kind of thought control. Ban innovative technological ideas? Even if you are able to do it, what makes you think it won't come from outside. If US doesn't innovate, China will. If Chine doesn't, Russia will. If Russia doesn't, the rest of the world will.

When the time for agricultural revolution had come, there wasn't much hunter gatherers could do about it.

When the time for industrial revolution had arrived, there wasn't much the kings, queens, peasants, and luddites smashing the looms could do about it.

When it's time for artificially intelligent automation and complete elimination of human labor, there won't be much you or I or anyone else will be able to do about it.

The best we can do is adapt. And we won't adapt if we don't understand the world around us for what it is.

TeMPOraL
Never underestimate the individual and organizational ability to cut corners. If your system depends on supervision of a highly-skilled and highly-trained human, better be sure it has a solid process around it that enforces the supervising human is actually skilled and trained.
detaro
It'd be helpful if you argued against the contents of the paper and not some idea you got from the first few lines of what you think it is about. You seem to be mostly talking past it, and it contains counters to your "very simple reason", even if we assume all systems fit that example (which they clearly don't, e.g. which 1000 unskilled workers does a plane autopilot replace?)
cm2187
Agree. Which is also I think a key argument against "AI will replace everything". You will still need operators to create and maintain the algorithms, and these will have to be pretty skilled and costly. There will be many applications where the cost is simply higher than a few blue collar workers (or white collars!).

In essence it's not new, software has replaced many tasks, but there is a huge amount of manual tasks that could already be automated righ now with non-AI code but where it is simply uneconomical to maintain a highly skilled dev team.

Also there are many domains which are so obscure and complex that really only specialists can write software for it. For some professions it does happen (engineering, finance) some others it doesn't (accounting, law).

fizixer
> Which is also I think a key argument against "AI will replace everything".

Thank you for agreeing with me, but I'm sorry I did not make an argument against "AI will replace everything".

When 990 of the 1000 previously fully employed workers are now all of a sudden put out of work, yes "AI/automation does replace pretty much everything". It creates a massive disruption in society.

Again, in the video I linked, during the whole of 20th century tens of millions of people in the US were put out of work, and only one new kind of job was created (computer programmers) that resulted in more than a million new jobs. Even then it's 30th in rank (in terms of total jobs), after 29 types of jobs that were there even in the 19th century.

I don't understand how you can see a comment that links to CGPGrey's 'Humans Need Not Apply' and conclude that the commenter is making a point against 'AI will replace everything'

logifail
> this still doesn't support the thesis that it expands the problems associated with human operator

In some circumstances it might. Look at Air France Flight 447 and the role of the co-pilot in stalling the aircraft.

"Neither weather nor malfunction doomed AF447, nor a complex chain of error, but a simple but persistent mistake on the part of one of the pilots" [0]

An aircraft like that has so many highly automated systems it is impossible for the human operators to fully understand them.

[0] https://www.popularmechanics.com/flight/a3115/what-really-ha...

lmm
> An aircraft like that has so many highly automated systems it is impossible for the human operators to fully understand them.

The aircraft was stalling because the pilot kept the flight stick pulled all the way back. Nothing automated or complex about it - a wood-and-canvas biplane would have had exactly the same problem.

detaro
If I remember correctly: Due to sensor issues the plane dropped out of autopilot and switched into a different control mode ("Alternate law").

The pilot had to suddenly take over and had a wrong mental model of the state and configuration the plane was in, and likely didn't realize the consequences of the different control mode, among which is that it doesn't provide the same level of automated stall protection as the normal case. Since automation normally works, the pilot wasn't trained or experienced in flying in this mode.

While in the end the operator made the wrong decision, these automation ironies fit very well contribute to why he made those decisions or wasn't prepared to make the right ones.

lmm
> While in the end the operator made the wrong decision, these automation ironies fit very well contribute to why he made those decisions or wasn't prepared to make the right ones.

Not at all convinced. Hauling back on the stick and just keeping it there would never have been the right decision under any circumstances. At the same time it's a reasonably common panic reaction, and was long before any kind of cockpit automation.

A pilot who had been in tense situations before would have been more likely to make the right decision, sure, and modern automated systems may well mean that the first truly deadly situation occurs later in a pilot's career than it might otherwise. But by definition there's no safe way to test how a pilot will handle genuine danger.

logifail
>> Hauling back on the stick and just keeping it there would never have been the right decision under any circumstances.

From the BEA report [0]:

"The horizontal bar then indicated a slight nose-up order compared with the aeroplane symbol."

and

"Nevertheless, the PF was also confronted with the stall warning, which conflicted with his impression of an overspeed. The transient activations of the warning after the autopilot disconnection may have caused the crew to doubt its credibility.

Furthermore, the fact that the flight director was advising a nose-up attitude may have confirmed the PF’s belief that the stall warning was not relevant"

(my highlight)

[0] https://www.bea.aero/docspa/2009/f-cp090601.en/pdf/f-cp09060...

renox
I'm not sure what's your point: the human was in charge because the automated system failed. Yes, one pilot made an error which crashed the plane but IMHO the designers of the "airplane UI" are guilty too: one pilot is pushing, the other is pulling: why isn't there some big warning displayed? Both pilots are supposed to do the same action..
There's some hype, but there's also good reason to be wary if you're occupying a job that can be automated in the short- or mid-term.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

Dec 11, 2018 · 1 points, 0 comments · submitted by happy-go-lucky
This material and repository goes well with the Youtube video: Humans Need Not Apply https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU&t=424s
skgoa
This is one of his worst videos. Shallow fearmongering based on long debunked popular myths. Really sad how far he has fallen from his previous days of making quality content.
None
None
unixhero
Are they debunked? Oh that's fantastic. Where can I read more?
bspammer
I mostly agree, but his latest two videos have been a bit of a return to form. He's always been at his best on historical/geographical topics rather than philosophical ones in my opinion.
Nov 07, 2018 · 3 points, 0 comments · submitted by LinuxBender
There is also a really good video on this topic: [1]

[1] - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU "Humans need not apply."

Funny you mention horses, as it is a common analogy in these discourses. The horse population actually declined as they became less necessary thanks to transportation innovations. CGP Grey explained this well: https://youtu.be/7Pq-S557XQU?t=212
adventured
It's the exact same thing that is going to occur with the human population. The current popular calculations for global population growth and the reduction of that growth, are wildly wrong. The reduction in growth and eventual decline is going to happen sooner and will be far more aggressive. The horses were replaced, the humans will be replaced.
crdoconnor
>The horse population actually declined

No shit. There's fewer typewriters these days too.

rohit2412
Everyone in the world used to be a farmer. Now, only 1% of the population in developed countries farm. This time it's different?

Actually, I can agree that there had been reduction in global jobs as world gets slowly automated. But there won't be a sudden takeover of all jobs by some super sentient AI leading to mass unemployment. And neither are the current problems of inequality, debt, low wages a result of an increasing productivity, but rather increasing globalization.

It's offensive to claim that you know what's better for someone than the person living the life.

Humans Need Not Apply is an interesting perspective on some of these issues. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

I was hoping for a bit more in-depth material - allowing the experts to explore their topics a bit more and potentially talking about potential solutions? Where is the call to action for the viewer? What now?

It's good for non-technical folks to watch, but nothing really new since the 'Humans need not apply' 15 min documentary [0]

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU (2014)

Edit: added link to humans need not apply

There is a video called Humans Need Not Apply [1] that explains the risk around mass unemployment and validates some of the concerns.

In this case, simply replacing a few tedious and error prone tasks probably won't get us to 45% unemployment.

[1] - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

No one owes you food, shelter, medical attention or any other products of labor of other people. You can either work for it, or choose not to. This is what justice looks like.

It's worth internalizing this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

As technology specializes us, humans will become as obsolete as the horse. This is inevitable. Humans are not horses, but many may as well be.

This is an offensive thought, but it doesn't change its truthiness. What will the workhorses do? You saw what happens when coal miners become upset.

This will only worsen over time.

You do owe people food, shelter, medical attention, and everything else. People are alive. They are people. You owe them as much as you owe your parents. We're all connected.

Except for one minor nit: this logic doesn't scale. No one can possibly care about others that much. So it will be "interesting" to see what happens.

golergka
> This is an offensive thought, but it doesn't change its truthiness. What will the workhorses do? You saw what happens when coal miners become upset.

Die out, hopefully.

> You do owe people food, shelter, medical attention, and everything else. People are alive. They are people. You owe them as much as you owe your parents. We're all connected.

Uhm, no. I don't owe anything to anyone unless I took it upon myself as a voluntarily obligation. I don't have any sympathy for other people just for their sake of being people - it's not that much of an achievement, really.

Oct 27, 2017 · 1 points, 0 comments · submitted by LinuxBender
CGP Grey has a video that discusses the automation issue, including the "Why is it different this time?" question.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

Obligatory related post of "Human need not apply"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

I really think this time will be different. I agree it will take a decade, but those jobs aren't coming back.

One trend to consider: each "mega successful company" for the past 100 years or so (maybe longer?) has been extraordinary because of how few people were required to start the company, and how much profit per employee they generate. The unspoken side effect is "we need fewer people" (and they're hard to find AKA "90% of the people we talk to can't do the job"). As companies focus on these types of efficiencies, they're creating more value while providing fewer jobs. I think this is OK, but that's what's happening. So take this to its logical limit and you have mass unemployment. Now add A.I. as an accelerator to that and you have what will actually happen.

This is a very accessible video with a similar argument and much better examples: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

We're just going to have to start thinking about a society where 50% of the "eligible workers" are out of work at any given time. The way we're setup now, it'd be chaos. But there's a lot that can be done ahead of time to prepare, like expanding welfare until it looked more like a basic income and was socially acceptable.

In such a world, most people will have to be on the dole at some point in their life, and that will be OK. As opposed to now where our society thinks that's very much not ok and will punish you in various ways for it. Most people are simply not going to be economically useful and no amount of forcing them to be re-educated is going to change that.

stagbeetle
> In such a world, most people will have to be on the dole at some point in their life, and that will be OK.

I don't think so.

If "most people are simply not going to be economically useful" for what reason, besides an appeal to utopianism, is it a good idea to strain the country's resources in chase of an ideal?

Basic income will pave the way to cementing this feudalistic class-inequality we possess today. Extremely simplified: Those who believe in virtue through "self-fulfillment" (leisure) will intermingle and breed with the same, and so will those who believe in virtue through industry.

The first will mimic the lower classes (maybe even the proletariat) and be "left behind," degenerating over the years into nothing more but grazing animals.

The second will mimic the higher classes and continue to consolidate power and seize freedoms for themselves.

Basic income is an idealistic idea, both impractical and separated from human nature.

dave_sullivan
> If "most people are simply not going to be economically useful" for what reason, besides an appeal to utopianism, is it a good idea to strain the country's resources in chase of an ideal?

Two very practical reasons.

A) People need to buy groceries. What will you do when they're at your door with pitchforks, pissed because you told them to "go eat cake"?

B) For the larger economy to function, there has to be bottom up purchasing pressure at the consumer level. Walmart has to be making lots of money so they can buy cool stuff from startups (some of which eventually turn into large companies buying from startups themselves). If you just give people money to spend, that will drive the economy at the bottom. It's basically like the opposite of trickle-down economics and I think it's much more sustainable.

Also, there's growing awareness that sociopaths aren't good for society, so arguments along the lines of "oh quit whining and suck it up you pussies" are starting to get a lot more pushback.

stagbeetle
> A) People need to buy groceries. What will you do when they're at your door with pitchforks, pissed because you told them to "go eat cake"?

It's a good thing I have the police and military under my thumb to quell all uprisings. If I were smart, I would elevate them to the upper class and remove their current class loyalties.

But a more practical answer: What's stopping those with (economic resources) from continuing their views that those without aren't human. That they're causing upheaval in society and their plight is baseless. That they should be locked away, or worse.

> If you just give people money to spend, that will drive the economy at the bottom. It's basically like the opposite of trickle-down economics and I think it's much more sustainable.

This goes against your first point. Basic income is assumed to mean "just enough income to buy vital products, services, and utilities." Commodities don't drive the economy and innovation. Unless, you propose a "workless wage" where the average person gets something like 70k just for being alive.

Which then, why work? The average joe doesn't care about the same things most HN users do. They'll simply stop producing the labor that serves as the foundation for so many "innovative" and "cool" companies.

So on and so forth, the economy crashes.

> Also, there's growing awareness that sociopaths aren't good for society, so arguments along the lines of "oh quit whining and suck it up you pussies" are starting to get a lot more pushback.

I fear it's a similar situation to drug addicts. Crack-down hard on the, relatively, low-level crime, instead of starting from the top. Similarly here, crack down on the most obvious, and less intelligent, of the pack and you're just strengthening the sociopath's genome.

dave_sullivan
> It's a good thing I have the police and military under my thumb to quell all uprisings.

Famous last words!

> If I were smart, I would elevate them to the upper class and remove their current class loyalties.

Until they realize they don't need you, kill you, and take control. See history of the Praetorian Guard. Or KGB.

> Basic income is assumed to mean "just enough income to buy vital products, services, and utilities."

It means a lot of things. Notice I said "expand welfare" because that's a lot easier and clearer than "introduce basic income". Basically financial security is high and will continue to increase, so the question is about solutions to that.

> Commodities don't drive the economy and innovation.

Actually, they kind of do because you have to look at b2b startups and how they really represent most of the interesting companies (and value) being generated by startups these days; if you're innovative and an entrepreneur and all that, odds are high that you might find yourself starting something in the b2b space. You'll be trying to sell to large enterprises that sell stuff like electricity, cell phones, food, etc. Commodities. The commodities that drive the economy.

You know who the biggest ad buyers in the US are? Procter and Gamble. AT&T. Comcast. Verizon. Commodities. And every ad agency is a b2b startup. Not to mention "ad tech".

Enterprise margins/profits are up now because of gains from automation, and they're driving the startup boom (plus an unhealthy amount of free money pumped into the top--instead of bottom which is what I'm proposing). Eventually, that will run out because bottom up consumer demand will drop (and free money will stop). That will cause a crash. Unless measures are introduced to give people money to spend so they can jumpstart the economy from the bottom up.

> Which then, why work? The average joe doesn't care about the same things most HN users do. They'll simply stop producing the labor that serves as the foundation for so many "innovative" and "cool" companies.

You can still get rich with a cool innovative company. But yeah, if you're not doing something interesting, why work? My answer to that is, "You shouldn't, and the cheapest solution to your resulting financial insecurity is for the government to give you money to go buy things."

> Similarly here, crack down on the most obvious, and less intelligent, of the pack and you're just strengthening the sociopath's genome.

Yeah, people have been doing that for generations and are starting to see the problem, therefore looking to the top.

stagbeetle
> Until they realize they don't need you, kill you, and take control. See history of the Praetorian Guard. Or KGB.

Keep them at arm's reach and content, and their greed will keep them loyal. I've known of the Praetorian to assassinate emperors, but only those unwieldy that didn't indulge them.

> Actually, they kind of do because you have to look at b2b startups and how they really represent most of the interesting companies (and value) being generated by startups these days; if you're innovative and an entrepreneur and all that, odds are high that you might find yourself starting something in the b2b space.

You're conflating B2B startups with B2B businesses. One is a Remora fish and the other is a Shark. The first, aides the second and gets a little in return. The second, takes the lions-share (or should I say sharks-share?) of profits.

> You'll be trying to sell to large enterprises that sell stuff like electricity, cell phones, food, etc. Commodities. The commodities that drive the economy.

They do not drive the economy. They keep it running. The basic electricity, cell phone, food, etc. are just that: basic.

> You know who the biggest ad buyers in the US are? Procter and Gamble. AT&T. Comcast. Verizon. Commodities. And every ad agency is a b2b startup. Not to mention "ad tech".

You're stretching the term commodity too much here. AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon are not commodities companies.

> Enterprise margins/profits are up now because of gains from automation, and they're driving the startup boom

To be blunt, this is another leap of logic that isn't true. Enterprise profits may be up, but they're not funneled directly back into VC cash (or equivalent) for startups.

> Eventually, that will run out because bottom up consumer demand will drop

Why do you suppose this?

> That will cause a crash. Unless measures are introduced to give people money to spend so they can jumpstart the economy from the bottom up.

I'm not quick to insult, but this flies in the face of all economic theory (all the above as well) and is exhausting to refute. The economy does not need a jumpstart via cash infusion. The economy will not crash because of perpetual deflation (which you are arguing will happen via "cash running out").

> "You shouldn't, and the cheapest solution to your resulting financial insecurity is for the government to give you money to go buy things."

Where do you suppose this money will come from? What plane of the astral aether will this money come from? Value is perpetually created and destroyed everyday, if you implement a "workless wage" you will crash the economy by devaluing your currency.

dragonwriter
> Unless, you propose a "workless wage" where the average person gets something like 70k just for being alive.

> Which then, why work?

The same reason people already making 70K working a certain number of hours with a certain degree of effort expend additional effort to make more if they can do so: because wants are unlimited.

Of course the level of universal income an economy support varies by the degree of automation and other factors (including cultural factors), so it's best to start small, and set it up so it scales smoothly and naturally with the capacity of the system to support it rather than simply targeting a particular (basic or otherwise) level.

stagbeetle
> The same reason people already making 70K working a certain number of hours with a certain degree of effort expend additional effort to make more if they can do so: because wants are unlimited.

Wants are theoretically unlimited, however in practice people have a few set of wants they need to have fulfilled to be "content." See: new video games, new computer specs, new car, etc.

You don't have a majority of spendthrifts among the labor-producing class.

Have you seen CGP Grey's video "Humans Need Not Apply"? Nearly every profession is vulnerable, even software development.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

The difference is that this time, there is no alternative. We'll be dragged there, kicking and screaming.

Normally, it's easy to dismiss statements that are all-or-nothing propositions. Usually the person making the statement lacks imagination. Isn't there some alternative?

Unfortunately, there seems to be a >90% likelihood that the answer in this case is no: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

Once you accept that there is no choice other than giving people money to survive, the focus can shift to accomplishing that goal rather than dwelling on whether it might lead to economic collapse.

http://blog.samaltman.com/technology-and-wealth-inequality

> However, if we cannot find a new kind of work for billions of people, we’ll be faced with a new idle class. The obvious conclusion is that the government will just have to give these people money, and there’s been increasing talk about a “basic income”—i.e, any adult who wanted it could have, say, $15,000 a year.

> You can run the numbers in a way that sort of makes sense—if we did this for every adult in the US, it’d be about $3.5 trillion a year, or a little more than 20% of our GDP. However, we’d knock out a lot of existing entitlement spending, maybe 10% of GDP. And we’d probably phase it out for people making over a certain threshold, which could cut it substantially.

what do you say about the argument put forward by this video?

https://youtu.be/7Pq-S557XQU

Why is this time different?

CGP Grey explains it best in "Humans Need Not Apply": https://youtu.be/7Pq-S557XQU

Yes but this time it's different. Throughout history, until the past 50 years or so, the new technology has typically replaced a mechanical function humans were performing. The coming evolution of software and robotics will start performing the mental work humans, until very recently, were the ONLY thing on the planet capable of doing.

For the past 3000 years of "modern humans", we have had a monopoly on the human brain and creative intelligence. That monopoly is coming to an end. What will the average worker do when a robot that can out-wit them? You cannot just handwave this problem away saying "it always creates new jobs!!11".

This problem is well-summarized by this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

twoodfin
I'm pretty sure travel agents believed they were doing "mental work".
This article just leans on the same historic analogies that don't hold up to scrutiny. These answers fall way short of the effect of automation and AI will have. You are not replacing the job with another, you are replacing the human brain!

I always refer people to this video to explain what it will be like, and it debases almost all the points made in this FAQ:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

All these historical analogies fall flat on their face when it comes to an AI being trained to do your exact job. This is not another case of farmers moving to different higher skilled jobs. We are the employed horses of the 1800s about to be made unemployable by the advent of cars.

apsec112
In reply to that particular video, see eg. this discussion on /r/badeconomics:

https://np.reddit.com/r/badeconomics/comments/35m6i5/low_han...

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slaveofallah93
Terrible video. Even the creator admits he was probably wrong with the points that he made. Low quality youtube video that doesn't hold up when you actually look at the points he's making. Humans are not horses.
None
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apsec112
"We are the employed horses of the 1800s about to be made unemployable by the advent of cars."

The article explicitly addresses that:

"Q. How about timescales longer than ten years? There was one class of laborers permanently unemployed by the automobile revolution, namely horses. There are a lot fewer horses nowadays because there is literally nothing left for horses to do that machines can't do better; horses' marginal labor productivity dropped below their cost of living. Could that happen to humans too, if AI advanced far enough that it could do all the labor?"

"A. If we imagine that in future decades machine intelligence is slowly going past the equivalent of IQ 70, 80, 90, eating up more and more jobs along the way... then I defer to Robin Hanson's analysis in Economic Growth Given Machine Intelligence, in which, as the abstract says, "Machines complement human labor when [humans] become more productive at the jobs they perform, but machines also substitute for human labor by taking over human jobs. At first, complementary effects dominate, and human wages rise with computer productivity. But eventually substitution can dominate, making wages fall as fast as computer prices now do.""

"Q. Could we already be in this substitution regime -"

"A. No, no, a dozen times no, for the dozen reasons already mentioned. That sentence in Hanson's paper has nothing to do with what is going on right now. The future cannot be a cause of the past. Future scenarios, even if they seem to associate the concept of AI with the concept of unemployment, cannot rationally increase the probability that current AI is responsible for current unemployment."

"Q. But AI will inevitably become a problem later?"

"A. Not necessarily. We only get the Hansonian scenario if... (etc, etc.)"

Surprised I haven't seen CGP Grey's Humans Need Not Apply[1] video posted up in any of these automation discussions.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

Anyone who thinks that automation isn't a big deal want to respond?

I'm also curious how we assume with such confidence that everything will be fine since we survived the Industrial Revolution when there was an order of magnitude less people on the planet in the 19th century?

I feel this short (but worthwhile) video explains the problem best. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU
pdkl95
I recommend also watching Mark Blyth's brief overview[1] of how this problem has already affected the political landscape over the last several decades. Significant changes need to be made immediately to handle the changes technology is forcing on the economy.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWMmBG3Z4DI#t=792

The relevant quote from the CGP Grey video linked above: "Better technology makes more better jobs for horses"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

Many of the folks here like CGP Grey's video on this topic, "Humans Need Not Apply" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

But you should watch that in contrast with one of his newest videos, "The Rules for Rulers" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rStL7niR7gs

> The more the wealth of a nation comes from the productive citizens of the nation, the more the power gets spread out, and the more the ruler must maintain the quality of life for those citizens. The less, the less.

> Now if a stable democracy becomes very poor, or if a resource that dwarfs the productivity of the citizens is found, the odds of this gamble change, and make it more possible for a small group to seize power.

imaginenore
That's why basic income is inevitable. We simply don't have enough jobs for everyone.
nine_k
The keystone of democracy is distributed production of value. Basic income is redistribution. Certain Arabian countries have basic income: they redisitribute a part of the oil rent to all citizens.

These places are utterly undemocratic, though, being monarchies with few limitations. This is because it takes a rather small clique to control the oil wells and pipes that produce, say, 80% of the national budget. Once they are in power, other citizens have little to do to limit their power. The next guy to depose them is tempted (and usually yields to the temptation) to build the next version of the same regime. The countries that buy the oil (or gold, or whatever the single key product is) don't care about democracy in these countries; they care about stability of their supplies, and thus stability of the regime in the country.

Now replace oil wells with robotic factories plus a few key power stations. If all of this requires a small amount of people to operate, and is as easy to physically control as oil wells, you might have the same situation. 90% of population are suddenly irrelevant, living on a whim of the small group of rulers who control 80-90% of GDP.

wycx
I wonder, to transition from a democracy with widely distributed production, to a non-democratic regime with concentrated production, without initiating revolution, is it necessary to prepare by destruction of community at the local level and reduction of population's level of education, given educated, connected citizens are more likely to revolt than disconnected, starving, illiterate peasants. That is not something that can be done overnight.

However, I am not sure it is likely that western democracies with diverse economies can regress to sufficiently concentrated ownership of production to facilitate a dictatorial regime. In the case of the US, 0.1% of 350 million is still 350,000, so there are a lot of highly motivated rich people who would like to avoid losing in a winner takes all dictatorship. A government that supports the rule of law, property rights etc. is a necessary 'evil' if you are one of the 0.1% who might lose out in the dictator scenario, as that rule of law is all that prevents the 0.1% from turning into <0.0001%. I think it is easy to facilitate dictatorship in an undeveloped, poor economy, but less so in a diverse, developed economy, even one with significant wealth inequality. The more diverse the economy, the more keys to power.

There is some interesting (and somewhat relevant) commentary on historical thought about paying for government in Mark Blyth's talk at google[1], which contains the following conclusions:

-Democracy is Asset Insurance for the Rich

-Redistribution and Debt is Reinsurance for Democracy

-Austerity is Anorexia for the Economy

His comments on Brazil in the Q&A after the talk are also relevant.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQuHSQXxsjM

TheSpiceIsLife
Reminds me of this quote, or some version of it, attributed to various people by various source...

Democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.

ethbro
Curious about the largess comment in light of US politics. There seems to be a broadly supported movement against government payouts.
Qworg
The barely middle class was turned against the poor. The former is the movement against payouts, even though they're one bad incident away from being part of the latter group.
ethbro
If you look at the red/blue voting patterns, I don't think you can justify calling most of rural America "barely middle class." Census would put a lot of those people in the lower class bracket.
Qworg
Reasonable. Maybe a perception that they're lower, not middle class? Much of the rhetoric from Trump voters in this election revolves around how poor they feel/hard they work.
ethbro
I think it's definitely more nuanced in the US than "poor vote for welfare, rich vote against." Unfortunately, I'm not sure what a more fitting summary would be.

I think you're absolutely right that Trump supporters' motivation seems to be "I work my ass off and don't have anything to show for it" (born out of wage stagnation in real terms). But the question would still be "Then why didn't they simply support a candidate that promised welfare increases?"

Part of the answer is that Clinton didn't lean on redistribution as her narrative to the degree Sanders did, probably to prevent Republican attacks. The optimist in me also likes to think that there is something in the American zeitgeist about work earning rewards. Which I think is confounded by two modern trends: free trade / automomation depressing or eliminating low and middle wage jobs, and a growing realization of wealth disparity and work effort disparity (e.g. myself making many multiples more than someone breaking their back building infrastructure).

End result being someone comparing their work effort to what he or she sees on TV, then comparing their rewards to what he or she sees on TV. And feeling depressed and angry as a result.

Bombthecat
Sounds like Germany right now.

Next year we will spent around 25% on refugees. I wonder when the point of an emergency budget arrives.

ethbro
I thought one of the reasons Germany was accepting refugees more so than other countries was because they had a demographic / labor problem that refugees would help fix?
Bombthecat
No labor problem. What is missing are highly educated or experienced IT people.

What a problem is that germans arw too expensive. Back when germany invited the turkish people they at least admitted they wanted cheap labor.

Now they are just lying. Or completely ignoring that in ten or twenty years those people will be useless and sit at home because a ton of those jobs will be automated.

ethbro
When you've got a negative population trend, it's hard to argue against migration under any circumstances. Maybe capital and automation take the place of younger workers, but that's a pretty serious bet to gamble social welfare program solvency on.

http://www.latimes.com/world/europe/la-fg-germany-refugees-d...

https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2016/jan/06/refuge...

chopin
25% of what? Do you have a source?
Bombthecat
http://www.bundesfinanzministerium.de/Content/EN/Standardart...

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/budget-battle-be...

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-europe-migrants-germany-co...

http://www.zeit.de/wirtschaft/2016-02/fluechtlinge-haushalt-...

interestingly, German sources like Zeit estimates / writes about 50 billion for 2017, while all English sources low ball here. (or don´t cite the source) Zeit is a pretty well known source.

As we both know, projects and estimations are are hard! Very hard! So I guess it will be around 60 billion :)

Tax revenue plans around 230 to 300 billion. Hence the 25% and my guess that they will announce soon or later an emergency budget to cut costs (we have a law, basically saying: we must go to our black 0, at all costs) Cutting costs hits the usual targets (I guess):

https://www.iwkoeln.de/en/iw-news/beitrag/german-budget-why-...

http://www.dw.com/en/sch%C3%A4uble-clings-to-black-zero-feti...

Social services Infrastructure School and education

etc.

Interesting times are ahead :)

kilroy123
You're describing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anacyclosis

A very old idea from the ancient greeks. I completely agree with this theory. Sadly, I'm often treated like a conspiracy theorist when I tell people about it.

The idea is simple, there are seven stages of governance for people.

1. Monarchy, 2. Kingship, 3. Tyranny, 4. Aristocracy, 5. Oligarchy, 6. Democracy, and 7. Ochlocracy

The cycle just endlessly repeats itself through time.

revscat
You underestimate the power of partisan ideologues. Many millions will die before that comes to pass.
daenz
...or the notion of what a job is changes. Unless machines can literally provide everything that humans can want (including art, interaction, companionship, etc), then there will always be something for humans to do to make money.
intended
Which are all relatively poorly paying.

Art is a log scale when it comes to compensation - and many of the best paid are dead.

The issue is not job loss, its job replacement with worse paying service sector jobs which act as a barrier to upward social movement (because lower pay means less access to various positive network effects)

stevetrewick
>Which are all relatively poorly paying

Relative to stuff we place higher utility on than art, because opportunity cost. But as the price of that stuff approaches zero due to mass automation of production so does the opportunity cost of art.

tiglionabbit
Like in The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson. You can make anything in the matter compiler for free, so long as you've bought the intellectual property rights for the design.
up_so_floating
I think you are missing another potential implication: as less wealth is generated by productive citizens, and more from automation, there is less incentive for the ruler to maintain or improve quality of life.
dublinben
In democratic states, the people themselves are sovereign. They simply won't stand for the level of unemployment that mass automation will bring.
cmurf
How did the Great Depression happen, and continue to happen before democracy kicked in?
up_so_floating
Absolutely, and let's hope we find ourselves in a democratic state at such a time.
chiefalchemist
Exactly. The shift is already on. So I guess that means the democracy is done. Given the election that might be true.
nine_k
How exactly they "won't stand"?

For instance, they won't allow automation of this kind on their ground. As Ned Ludd would have it, they will keep the machines out and the humans in.

Suddenly their production is much costlier that what the robot-running neighbors produce. They can't export it (nobody would buy), but they can still locally consume it. But for that they need to limit the imports of the same thing to keep the prices up.

As the list of robot-produced goods grows, more and more import restrictions are added, and things cheaply available abroad become dear and inaccessible in the country.

I don't think a democratic government with a policy like that will last too long.

It looks more interesting to think how to distribute the ownership, a share in a huge robotic factory so that it is not easily falls under control of a single person or a small group. It might be an interesting game-theoretic problem.

intended
Well there a version of shared ownership under communism, but I don't think people are happy to consider that line of ideas
vertex-four
Once they're dying under an automated society which should be able to give them everything they need, social ownership over the means of production (some form of socialism, most likely) might seem a lot more palatable.
nine_k
The problem is that under communism, it's usually not ownership. You can't take away or sell your "share". All "communist" states I know about degraded to bureaucracy-run states.

Truly communist institutions, e.g. some monasteries, just abolish the notion of propery. They need unusually and highly motivated people to operate, though, that are few and fail to be mass-produced.

yaur
Welcome to the industrial revolution 2.0 where we once again have to wrestle with the question of who owns the means of production. Its an interesting problem and one that has been study a lot but not solved.
ethbro
Competition of democratic labor against automation is an interesting way to look at the current US popular support for tariffs and trade barriers.

Popular wisdom seems to look at China / Mexico manufacturing as supported by low labor costs, but in reality they're more and more supported by capital-intensive automation (enabled by the systems engineering expertise at running the low-labor cost plants originally).

damptowel
There's a lot of decent comments being downvoted. Really mature.
dfabulich
I used to think this, but I no longer do. If we get mass automation, I think we're going to get one of these outcomes:

1) Individuals have their own robots. For example, everybody gets their own automated hydroponic garden, enough to provide them with sufficient calories.

2) A dictatorship seizes control of the automation and lets the people starve.

I think it's very unlikely that we'll have a welfare-capitalist society where major corporations own mass automation, where the government taxes the corporation so highly that government can pay for everyone else to survive.

Taxing mass automation to pay for basic income is just too fragile. If the people themselves aren't providing wealth through productive labor, then at some point, somebody will try to starve them instead of feeding them, and they'll succeed.

intended
Bingo.

I've always held that the people on HN are more of builders than profit maximizeds. As a result you don't hear or encounter people who think in a different manner.

In particular you don't hear people say "why should my factories/effort/investment go to subsidize people who do nothing." Or a variety of similar arguments which have different starting assumptions.

Essentially the BI+automation arguments largely depend on a milk of human kindness in a world where the incentives for a large number of people and nations is not so aligned.

People will always make choices on the margin and the betterment of humanity usually comes a distant last to personal welfare. To balance this out means a huge number of taxes/laws/incentives to prevent that outcome.

You guys (Americans) are going to be fighting over your basic assumptions of society (capitalist with caveats vs "socialists" with caveats) very soon.

But all of this assumes that automation happens and takes away jobs. it likely won't, it will most likely replace well Paying jobs with less well paying jobs.

At this point economists will talk about retraining people but that's bs - there physical limits to how fast neurons can be retrained and that's if you don't have any other time demands/financial issues/health issues/aptitude issues.

astrodust
It depends entirely on how democratized the robotics are, plus the food.

What if in the future all food's patented? What if due to climate change the traditional stocks don't grow, or due to regulation you can't grow it. Maybe actual cows are illegal, but you can vat-grow beef-like food.

This is why having open-source, affordably licensed technology is imperative. Affordable for some people might mean free, which makes certain licenses absolutely paramount.

If we can build our own robots, design our own food, we're no longer wage slaves. If we can't, if we must feed into some system that extracts heavy taxes from all of us, the opposite is true.

This is why I don't care about using proprietary software. So long as I have options which aren't proprietary I'm content, and if those options are threatened it's worth defending them. This is different from trying to destroy proprietary software.

stale2002
You've missed one possibility.

Do you pay for the air you breath? Does the government tax corporations to provide a basic air income for people to ensure that everyone gets their fair share of air? No. Why not?

The reason you don't pay for the air you breath is because air is so immensely plentiful, so easy to get, so impossible for anyone from stopping you from getting, that of course it doesn't cost anything.

Imagine if things like food were the same.

kwhitefoot
See George England's Air Trust: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/12826
mercer
I hope that's what happens, but the crucial (potential, but I think likely) difference between air and automation is that air is not owned by default. Automation will be, and I can't imagine whoever owns it is excited about sharing the gains.
icanhackit
3) Workers who felt their livelihood threated by automation flung their wooden shoes called sabots into the machines to stop them. Hence the word...
noobermin
Can you explain your reasoning? I don't get where you obtain "somebody will try to starve them instead of feeding them" from "If the people themselves aren't providing wealth through productive labor."
dfabulich
Did you watch the "Rules for Rulers" video? The tl;dw is that rulers who need productive citizens promote their well-being; rulers who don't need their citizens to be productive don't.
damptowel
> Taxing mass automation to pay for basic income is just too fragile.

No no no no. Souvereign investment is not income constrained, taxation does not even need to enter the picture.

vatotemking
With #1, Do you think it will become some form of modern feudalism, with wealthier and powerful individuals owning the local community?
cmurf
3) 2), except they don't succeed. Reference: Guillotine, France, 1792.
zizee
Some throwaway thoughts:

Having all production automated will result in falling prices, including the cost to automate something. This should result in a lot of competition, driving prices down even more. In this scenario, it is difficult to imagine someone having a monopoly on production for long, unless they are already a dictator.

Dictators tend to have to keep at least a portion of their population happy, otherwise they lose control. A large portion of the population with nothing to loose (as they are starving) tends to result in revolution. If the cost of production (or cost of imports) is close to 0, what motivation (beyond bond style villany) does a dictator have to make their population starve?

If everyone is out of work, no one has any money to pay for the products of the capital owners. What's the point of that?

chongli
Dictators tend to have to keep at least a portion of their population happy, otherwise they lose control.

This portion might end up being very small: i.e. a small, highly automated, robotic military, an automated surveillance/intelligence apparatus, and a few elites who own all the big corporations along with their top AI designers, weapons designers, etc. You could probably wipe out 99% of the population and still pull this off.

zizee
Bit late replying, but another couple of points:

If a class of resource is cheap and abundant, evil dictators/1%ers don't really have much motivation to prevent people accessing those things, unless they feel it somehow undermines their control.

I also think there would be less motivation to become a dictator if you didn't have to fight everyone else for limited resources.

It would also be much harder for the warlord type to motivate others around them to do their bidding if those others are well fed/clothed/housed.

chongli
For as long as the world population continues to increase, land will continue to become more scarce and expensive as a result. Land is scarce even in the so-called utopia depicted in Star Trek. We may reach a point where everybody has an apartment and unlimited food, clean water, medical care, and cheap entertainment (books, TV, video games) but what about access to nature? The ability to go hiking, canoeing, fishing, and camping in a pristine wilderness is rapidly disappearing. At what point do we all end up in a sprawling, dystopian mega-metropolis so commonly depicted in cyberpunk? For many who live in Asia, we are already there.
BWStearns
>> A large portion of the population with nothing to loose (as they are starving) tends to result in revolution.

The typo just triggered the tritism in my head: a person with nothing to lose has a lot to loose.

madaxe_again
Solzhenitsyn - when you take everything from a man, and can take nothing more, that man is no longer in your power - he is free again.
dfabulich
> Dictators tend to have to keep at least a portion of their population happy, otherwise they lose control.

The portion can be very small. It has to include the military, and it has to include the people involved in creating GDP, but if production is centralized (e.g. because the nation's resources are in digging stuff out of the ground), then the masses can be kept very poor.

Watch the "Rules for Rulers" video I linked above. Resource-rich dictators don't need to provide public education or adequate roads, say nothing of adequate food. "The people stay quiet, not because this is fine, or because they're scared, but because the cold truth is: starving, disconnected illiterates don't make good revolutionaries."

So can production be centralized in the face of mass automation? I think so. Look at farming. Seizing control of all of the farms in the 1880s would be a massive operation spanning the entire North American continent. Seizing control of today's Big Farming conglomerates would be relatively straightforward for a modern dictator.

Which is to say, we'll get through this if the automation is decentralized, but if it's like farming, where a few expensive machines make all of the food for hundreds of millions of people, then we're on a path to ruin.

henrikschroder
> we'll get through this if the automation is decentralized

I'm following the 3D-printing and makerspace movement because of this. It's imperative that blueprints for vital objects to be 3D-printed aren't locked up by copyrights.

ilaksh
For a more pessimistic view see "Obsolete".
dfabulich
Do you mean the book by Anna Jane Grossman? Or something else?
ilaksh
Documentary on Amazon.
dfabulich
https://www.amazon.com/Obsolete-Aaron-Dykes/dp/B01MQ0XD20/ for the curious
mdpopescu
I liked the first video, it's well made. I think it misses the mark really badly - close to the end, the author realizes that the bots will create a lot of things very cheaply, and yet he doesn't realize that having lots of things very cheaply is NOT a problem :)

We don't want jobs; we want lots of things (and services), very cheaply. Jobs are the traditional way we were getting them. If there's another way of getting them, that will be fine.

One thing I learned from Julian Simon: things always get better. One thing I learned from Christianity: people love to predict the end of the world.

I didn't watch the entire second video; when he started explaining how the taxes are lower in a democracy compared to a dictatorship I just got annoyed.

fredrik-j
Where will your money, which you have to have to buy the incredibly cheap things or services, come from when you do not have a job any more?

We already have a job market where a significant number of people have become permanently unemployable because their competences are not wanted.

Now imagine mass unemployment not only in blue collar work but also in white collar work due to automation. If unemployed white collar workers cannot get jobs and blue collar workers cannot migrate to white collar jobs because both job types are replaced by automation and AI, where will they get an income?

visarga
You won't need money, in the long run. Just automation. And automation could self replicate cheaply, especially if it doesn't require rare materials.
ZenoArrow
You will need money if resources and the means of production are concentrated in the hands of the few. For example, there's no guarantee that access to housing will be democratised.
visarga
It will be open source versus closed source. Automation lends itself to being computer driven and people will be desperate for a way to share in the benefits, so they will rebuild from scratch and open source their own automation tools. It's already happening with the Fab Lab Network[1].

[1] https://www.fablabs.io/

ZenoArrow
You can't 'open source' more land. Whomever controls the natural resources will control how they're used.
mdpopescu
The amount of unused land in the world is mind-boggling. The amount of unused land in the most populous countries in the world is mind-boggling.
ZenoArrow
Just because it's unused doesn't mean it's not owned by someone. Besides, what happens when all land is owned, what about the generations that follow?
mdpopescu
I think it's a bit early to try and solve all future problems. Those poor people who will have no jobs need something to do, right? :)

[I agree that "it's owned by someone" can be a problem more than "there's not enough land". Unfortunately, that's politics so I have no quick solution.]

ZenoArrow
"there's not enough land" wasn't my original point, it was about control of that land, I'm glad you agree it's a problem.

As for what happens to the poor in future generations, it depends on bringing out the best in those with the power to choose. I don't think the alternative is helpful to entertain at this point. The only question is whether we can mature as a race to share without force, or whether balance will be made using force (government coercion, etc...). It's a question about how much faith we have in the human race to grow up quickly.

fredrik-j
That argument is skipping straight to the "Profit!" point. A somewhat distant Star Trek future where resources are distributed evenly among all. I'd like that to happen, but I'll believe it when I see it.

Meanwhile the argument ignores the not so far away reality where automation is available to the people who already have resources and jobs today, leaving even more people who currently have little without jobs and automation.

A job is not a right today, it is a responsibility. Our society assumes that everyone, or at least a large majority of all that can, has a job. How do we prepare for a future where the majority cannot get a job?

The most promising answer currently seems to be Basic Income. Though that leaves me asking too. How will we convince people and corporations that have to give up more of their income and accept taxing their property, to redistribute all resources to a huge mass of people that have not money, nor influence? It seems very easy as long as it isn't your own money. Paying taxes, few say that they enjoy that.

> If we continue to refuse (as many have since the 1970s) addressing the labor shortage problem with our established institutions, people like me will be forced to address it technologically ...

What would keep you from addressing it technologically even when it is addressed with your so-called established institutions?

- When tractors were widely available and cheap, did land-owners refuse to buy them, and kept hiring farm employees?

- Did they ask for established institutions to help them out, instead of buying a bunch of tractors, hiring a fraction of the previous number of employees for driving the tractors, and never having to look back?

- Are there farm owners out there who still long for the days established institutions solved their labor shortage problems so they don't have to buy tractors?

Have you seen CGPGrey's Humans Need Not Apply? (link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU)

emblem21
> What would keep you from addressing it technologically even when it is addressed with your so-called established institutions?

A fantastic question. Socialist protectionism can absolutely drive the cost of human labor down well beyond competitive price points of even the most cheapest and sophisticated robotic labor. Cuba is a fantastic example of this. (Which I suspect will be the last place to embrace robotic labor) The Castro's have established strict price controls, which means doctors or janitors can get $6 a day while bread costs a few pennies. They have the material utopia... which sounds good, until you realize the Castro's offer their nation's labor at $20 an hour to Europe. With a 48 hour work week, the Castro's pocket $19.375 dollars PER WORKER PER HOUR while the worker takes home $0.625 per hour. They've established a familiar aristocracy under the name of actual, functional socialism. Never underestimate the power of political organization to drive human value to subslavery price points.

> When tractors were widely available and cheap, did land-owners refuse to buy them, and kept hiring farm employees?

> Did they ask for established institutions to help them out, instead of buying a bunch of tractors, hiring a fraction of the previous number of employees for driving the tractors, and never having to look back?

For tractors to be widely available and cheap, this implies a juxtaposition with a time in which pre-tractor farming was expensive. The industrial age ultimately rendered traditional slavery too expensive compared to the common laborer due to unique combination of clever agricultural engineering, the birth of modern financial capitalism, and robust land availability via new gains in military conquest. Be it a slave, an immigrant, or a vagabond, the final price points didn't significantly affect yield, thus, the real cost of slavery (maintenance, security, lobbying, administration, etc.) was exposed and was no longer competitive. America, a major cotton exporter, fought a bloody civil war to protect that exporter status against Egypt and India, so yes, institutional assistance to preserve the previously profitable model was absolutely involved in both the enrichment of successful labor practices and replacing it with something more GDP efficient.

This transition took place in a world where the first steam tractors in the 1870s weighed 30,000 pounds![1] The technical maintenance of these beasts was impossible for the average farmer. It wasn't until Ford and the gasoline revolution that tractors finally took off and were make cheap enough. By then, human organization was also in the midst of the electric light bulb, doubling human productivity, and the steel highrise, linearly scaling the productivity of a parcel of land. This massive surge of productive capacity, when paired with growth-oriented industrial capitalism, created a tremendous labor shortage. Peak tractor production didn't occur until 1951, well after America established itself as the world reserve currency. I'd be suspicious of using the tractor as a valid analog for artificial intelligence.

When productive capacity skyrocketed due to these three technological innovations, farm owners did hire more employees, as did the rest of the aggregate productive forces of society.

> Are there farm owners out there who still long for the days established institutions solved their labor shortage problems so they don't have to buy tractors?

I believe you call them “southerners” and they are solving their labor shortages with institutional mandates (via globalization and NAFTA) that allow immigrant labor to be cheaper than native labor.

> Have you seen CGPGrey's Humans Need Not Apply?

I have. I'm deeply familiar with Baxter and it's ability to augment FoxConn. Notice I said augment, not replace. It's response times are still too slow, and even if it got a CUDA-powered GPU neural network, China can always engage in protectionist legislation that render all technological advantages moot. CPGrey doesn't address the ability of the Cuba's and the China's of the world to socially absorb actual labor costs due of political paranoia. I recommend studying the tale of William Lee[2] to see just how far back the political fear of automation goes.

[1] https://eh.net/encyclopedia/economic-history-of-tractors-in-...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Lee_(inventor)

fizixer
I'm sorry you had to do such a long write-up and yet you seem to have made utterly unconvincing arguments.

You make a nice mention of 'socialist protectionism'. Essentially what you described, looks like Cuba is a giant factory full of slaves instead of a country, and EU is its customer.

First of all, you had to pick the worst of the worst implementation of an economy (Cuba) to make your point. Does my question look like I was asking for a counter-example, no matter how horrible or remote? If that's the goal then I have an even better answer "Sadism would keep a farm owner from using technology to do farming". I hope it's clear that that's not the kind of answer I was looking for.

Not only that, I just checked 'Economy of Cuba' wikipedia page and it has to import 70-80% of its food. So your worst of the worst example is still not good enough to make manual-farming labor cost-effective.

Later, you use phrases like "unique combination of" and "clever" and what not. Really? Was the industrial revolution so unique and clever that something similar will never ever be repeated? Have you looked at the daily science and technology innovation news around yourself?

"response time are too slow" and even if not, back to "social protectionism".

Sorry I've completely lost you. I don't even know if you're saying whatever you're saying as a socialist or lassez-faire capitalist or what, so I could at least put your point of view in perspective. What I do know is that every passing day, my conviction keeps getting stronger that politicians and economists love to get lost in the word-soup of archaic ideas, and completely miss the mark that the technologists are making on the world one day after another.

emblem21
> Does my question look like I was asking for a counter-example, no matter how horrible or remote? If that's the goal then I have an even better answer "Sadism would keep a farm owner from using technology to do farming"

The point was to show the lengths of insanity humanity can endure just to protect itself from automation, thus, answering your questions. Cuban food importing is due to it's economic distribution to allowing populations to grow well beyond what that island can naturally sustain. If anything, that's actually a sign of it's economic effectiveness to bypass resource shortages.

> Was the industrial revolution so unique and clever that something similar will never ever be repeated?

Yes. The mathematical formulations that powered that revolution are now known by the whole of humanity. Barring an apocalyptic calamity, the discovery of statistics that allowed for mastery of nature through chemistry and atomic theory and mastery of mankind through economics will never be repeated because our entire system has been designed to maximize the gains from that mathematical discovery. The next mathematical revolution, which I suspect will be Bayesian inference, will reveal new things about nature and human behavior, and our economic engines will tilt to maximize those discoveries.

> "response time are too slow" and even if not, back to "social protectionism".

Again, all of your questions were trying to draw absurd conclusions that somehow, only through technological prowess can every single problem of AI be resolved. I'm here to remind you that William Lee, and Cuba, and China, and Venezuela, and political protectionism are real reoccurring things that can completely crush any "technology always wins because Silicon Valley" hope you have.

That protectionism is what "refusing to address the labor shortage problem with our established institutions" actually looks like.

Some reasons to believe that this time, it is different:

Humans Need Not Apply (a CGP Grey video) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

Oct 13, 2016 · 2 points, 0 comments · submitted by obi1kenobi
Rawr rah, mandatory link to Humans Need Not Apply:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

I wonder if President Obama has seen it yet, because while his wording obviously has to be steeped in establishment rhetoric, its not a matter of "if" the automation comes for our jobs, but that we are already dealing, will continue to deal, and how we will deal in the future with the reality that for decades now automation of varying degrees has been eroding the market for human mental labor.

It is exactly like climate change. It is not a future problem. It is a now problem, but the progress is so slow and the symptoms variable enough you don't obviously see the underlying trend already taking place, so nobody regards it with the urgency it deserves. Social stratification, growing wealth inequality, growing partisanship, growing radicalism, and growing unemployability is already expanding globally in response to the ongoing obsolescence of the human mind. The first step is to recognize that it is happening.

CGPGrey's "Humans Need Not Apply" video addresses precisely that question: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

EDIT: Bah. Too late.

thecrow1213
Hehe I think you might have actually been first!
It's different this time around. Video that can explain this far better than I ever could: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU
I could give you my take but I think CGP Grey really explains it best: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU
Well, if this video [0] is anything to go by, most of the other jobs will be automated as well. And although I have no foresight to know how it will pan out, it looks like advances in technology (which have produced previously unimagined jobs for humans - hello, Android dev), advances in technology in this new age will only create new jobs for automatons, not for humans.

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

xapata
Until we hit the singularity, programmers can always get more meta -- thinking about how to do the job rather than doing the job, no matter what the job is. It's infinitely recursive.

In the not-so-distant future, nearly all jobs will be programming jobs. That or shaking hands and smiling.

None
None
If you haven't seen the short (15min) documentary "Humans Need Not Apply", then I highly recommend it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

A hundred years ago 'horseless carriages' replaced a lot of horses, and in the next couple decades we're going to see 'driverless trucks' are going to replace a lot of humans.

Sep 11, 2016 · ZenoArrow on Enough with Basic Income
> "Should I even bother to continue reading after that? After all, what we actually know is that technology creates jobs, like the ones that I and a large number of people I know have had."

For an alternative view, I like the horses example in this video...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

Robotic automation will replace the majority of human related services in the next 50 years, much like vehicles replaced the need of horse for travel.

Any society that fails to embrace this future risks isolation and most likely, economic failure relative to those that do.

For more on the topic, see "Humans need Not Apply" on YouTube:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

Farming and other types of automation that put people out of work in the past used technology to amplify and/or replace physical labor. Now we are learning how to use the general purpose computer to replace mental labor. These are different types of automation that will have fundamentally different effects on society. While we have many examples of new technology replacing physical labor, automation of mental labor is new. I suggest watching CGP Grey's explanation[1] of why "this time is different."

> went into other endeavors

We are automating away entire classes of jobs, so this will require retraining. How, exactly, do you propose to send half[2] of the workforce to college for retraining in a highly technical field? Assuming this was even possible and assuming there will be jobs for all of these new programmers/etc, is this retraining cheaper than UBI or other plans? It is relatively easy for a farmer to learn another trade that requires primarily physical work. Retraining drivers for unautomatable technical work is a lot harder and more expensive.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

[2] Driving is the largest category of jobs. The next handful of job types (e.g. retail sales, various clerical work, customer service/support) are also being automated away. Together is very roughly half of all jobs.

TL;DR - just watch [1]

sverige
>Assuming this was even possible and assuming there will be jobs for all of these new programmers/etc, is this retraining cheaper than UBI or other plans?

That's assuming that programming won't be one of the first categories of jobs to be automated away by AI. Think of the cost savings! But thankfully we don't have to worry about what all those poor programmers are going to do since it's progress for humanity.

brianwawok
A few jobs I feel pretty safe will still be here in 50 years. They include robot repair, nurses, and computer programmer. Maybe not in 100 years but I won't care then.
sverige
If robots can do surgery, surely they can do nursing. And repair themselves. And write programs. And even new and better programming languages that humans can't understand.
brianwawok
So surgery is a mechanical thing. Take a heart like X, make it look like Y. I can see robots being able to get there at some point.

Nursing, at least part of it, is about empathy and care. If someone is in the hospital getting robot heart surgery, someone has to help guide them through the practice. I do not see robot empathy in the next 50 years. Same reason I do not see robot counselors on the horizon ;)

goda90
Why repair robots when you can just disassemble them the same way you assembled them(automatically) and reuse the functioning parts and recycle the rest?
nitrogen
You say that like it's a bad thing.
rakpol
Thus the reason I know carpentry :3 but, having programmed for a while, it seems like the hardest problems are converting plain english requirements to source code. At the point that that becomes trivial (and doesn't fall into WYSIWYG editors or graphical languages, which already exist and haven't brought about the apocalypse), wouldn't you just ask the computer to make itself smarter over and over? Or ask it to automate any other profession with stupendous ease?
xbmcuser

  I think specialisation in software will be the first to go not programing itself.
  I expect machine learning software to get very good at finding and fixing software exploits in the next few years. Google used deepmind and machine learning to optimise their energy use. How long before (maybe they are doing it already) put it to work on optimising their software code like chrome and android etc to find to speed it up or find exploits.
brownbat
I can see how the brain vs. brawn distinction could be pernicious, because mechanical robots can do one thing, but a robot that's smart like a human can do anything. Something about that formulation feels like an oversimplification though.

We've had technology replace mental labor before too.[0]

Spreadsheets democratized accounting and while making the work easier, also put a tax prep firm on every corner in the US. It vastly increased the number of people performing some sort of accounting. Some are small business owners that do it themselves, and can now hire a few extra employees.

We've had AI that can write beautiful music for ages, now it can duplicate the style of any composer,[1] but we largely don't care and still have pop stars. And composers.

The work Taylor Swift does for her millions of dollars probably involves layers of cultivating a story about a real person, responding correctly to paparazzi in different scenarios, and judging when to capitalize on interactions on Twitter between other celebrities. This probably sounds like I'm saying she's calculating, but really it has to be an enormous amount of instinct, because it's all probably not reducible to any series of tasks that can be enumerated or even perhaps knowable. Several people have tried to analyze her success, I'm not sure anyone actually understands it.[2][3]

More important for ordinary employees, we still have people compose film scores for some reason. Maybe because even if you can emulate other composers, someone has to decide which composer to emulate, which means having some ability to guess at another artist's as yet unexpressed artistic vision. Once you have the decades of training and experience to do all that, might as well write the thing yourself. Maybe recommendation engines could get there, but I'm not sure those work with novel creations, and I'm not sure we're even interested in perfecting those anymore for areas where they're proven (more or less) to work.[4]

Maybe the weird thing about mental assistants is that they expand the workforce, rather than reducing it. Robots are set up to run automatically, but all the AI we develop is driven by humans to solve day to day problems.

It's like if instead of robotics we built programmable exoskeletons or mechs. The number of employees would explode. There'd still be people building everything, inside the machines. That's what we're doing with computers in a lot of fields. Software is most often like a suit our brain wears to think faster or more reliably.

On the other hand, there are also examples of muscle jobs that haven't yet been perfectly replaced.[5]

The lack of a sewing robot (or ubiquitous clothes folding robots as another commenter mentioned) illustrates that we tend to overgeneralize. Some brawn problems are easy, and some are hard. Same for brain problems. Some problems will stick around, either stubbornly unable to be mechanized, or just not worth the cost.

Also, feedback systems kick in to ensure that labor force participation bounces between reasonable extremes. A lot of the recent downturn in the LFPR can be attributed to retirees.[6] It seems to be leveling off or even heading up again, but regardless the US rate remains well within historical norms.[7]

Sorry this turned out super long and rambly.

[0] http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2015/02/25/389027988/episo...

[1] http://newatlas.com/creative-artificial-intelligence-compute...

[2] https://blog.longreads.com/2014/07/07/taylor-swift-is-a-musi...

[3] http://www.gq.com/story/taylor-swift-gq-cover-story?currentP...

[4] http://www.slashfilm.com/happened-netflixs-recommendation-en...

[5] http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2016/08/03/488611449/episo...

[6] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-01-19/why-labor-...

[7] http://data.bls.gov/generated_files/graphics/latest_numbers_...

I can't seem to export the BLS page I generated. Basically fully expand the range of this page to see the entire history: http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS11300000

tuna-piano
I watched the video, and I have to say it had pretty poor arguments. Too many to name, but I think the core is this:

If any conceivable software was free, required no human labor, and instantaneous: Would the world be a better or a worse place? (although I'd need to find something else to do)

If computers replace doctors, and I get better care for cheaper, aren't I better off?

...If every job was automated, and you can press a button to have robots make software or do medical tasks, that is the ultimate UBI for every person on earth. Everything is free, and then everyone can do whatever they want to fill their days.

P.S. - I want my own clothes-folding coffee-making robot.

P.P.S. - One tiny thing the video said, that is a piece of incorrect common wisdom: Auto insurance companies will not be helped by automated cars, they'll be hurt greatly. If accident rates decrease, premiums decrease, and so the insurance companies margins (and float) decrease, making less revenue and profits.

botty_throwaway
The common wisdom of autonomous transportation being lucrative for auto insurance companies may be correct, albeit for some not-so-common reasons.

As an analog to Wirth's law I'd suggest that in the transportation industry, technological advances in mitigating damage risk are offset by increased risk tolerance in seeking higher throughput / lower latency in the transport of goods and people.

So while the absolute accident rate will go down and the number of meatbag casualties will be reduced by automation removing human error, the _severity_ of catastrophic failure damaging _property_ will increase due to the incentives to push more autos through the pipes in less time: extreme tailgating, hyper-dense cargo, excessive velocity, and bountiful heterogeneity.

Really this is about a transition from (mainly) insuring against loss-of-life to (mainly) insuring against destruction-of-property. Of course, humans will still die even in 'negligible' quantities. But an actuary's loss-of-life liability assessment doesn't need to discriminate between fatal blunt trauma and fatal atomization.

AJ007
I thought the reaction on hn to a population aging story a few days ago was interesting. No one mentioned AI or robots. ( https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12225518 )

Some aging countries will face a severe loss in standard of living if they fail to automate huge parts of the economy. Presumably the worlds population will not continue to grow infinitely and at some point labor shortages will be a big problem.

One of the most destructive outcomes could come from poor government policy during an economic transition. Socialist or capitalist is one thing, but policies which are in direct opposition to another is another ( e.g. Venezuela, Zimbabwe.)

There are also big AI existential risk issues, but I think that is separate from the labor impact.

altcognito
There will always be scarcity of some sort or another, and there will always be want of something. There is also a predilection to be the person with the most stuff, and robots only accentuate that those with capital are the ones who are winning.

Maybe at some point people will just throw up their hands and start to embrace higher taxes on capital and UBI, but I'm not holding my breath.

ausvisaissues
> If computers replace doctors, and I get better care for cheaper, aren't I better off?

Doctors have a state-guaranteed monopoly that is created via lobbying. That is why, in many countries, doctors are extremely expensive -- even though most of the miracle of healing is done by medicine.

In the future it will probably be a doctor owning and "supervising" the machine. Patients use the machine (paying $XXX). A doctor will take 30 seconds to one minute to look at the results, sign it and your prescription and then charge you exactly the same as before.

The only way the general public will benefit is from more accurate prescriptions. But I sincerely doubt that the cost of a doctor's visit will be reduced significantly. But don't worry, the laws will the there for your own good.

PS: MYCIN was already developed in the 70ies, and showed higher accuracy than doctors. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mycin

Which skills, for example, are harder to automate? You may have already seen this YouTube video as its a couple years old, but its premise is that we need to start thinking about what to do when large swaths of the population find themselves unemployable through no fault of their own (since over 45% of the workforce holds jobs that are easy targets for automation in the near future).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU&app=desktop

Jun 20, 2016 · 2 points, 1 comments · submitted by doener
selmat
I think there is missing one critical point. If majority of nowadays jobs will be replaced with automation ... people will loose jobs = loose regular income. Who will buy staff produced by automated systems? Who will pay for services provided by automated system? Business needs to pay automated systems. Automation is not cheap and ROI is quite long.
this video effectively explains your point very succintly and well! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU
Trade offs between "wildness" and "functional" are fine unless the schools degrade to a point at which the innocence lost is no longer worth the meager functional value provided to society or the individual. We're all aware of the position of Americas schools relative to other industrialized nations. Where is the cutoff?

Put differently, in a society of the future where "humans need not apply"[1] perhaps we might find a little more wildness to be of some redeeming value.

1. https://youtu.be/7Pq-S557XQU

Nothing, C P Grey had this argument: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

Before the industrial revolution we had lots of horses for horse power. Then we made engines which replaced horses. Horses didn't change jobs, they couldn't.

nostrebored
The thing that you're missing here is that the "ai revolution" is not going to be the singularity. We're not going to magically, one day, have robots that outperform humans at all tasks.

Low hanging fruit here is education, tradespeople (AI will not be repairing your car for a while), managerial and oversight tasks, QA engineers, blah, blah, blah. There are plenty of things that humans will be doing better than AI, and from those we'll probably continue specializing and be more ready to handle when automation of more complex tasks does eventually happen.

Those historical examples are about the automation of physical effort. The ability to automate tasks that require mental effort is fundamentally new to humanity.

For a better overview, see CGP Grey's explanation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

slededit
Calculators automate at least some "mental effort" and have existed since 2000BC. Perhaps you mean creativity? But even in that case automating composition of music was experimented with as early as the 1960s.

Certainly our ability to automate is much more refined than in the past, but I fail to see the fundamental shift you describe.

detaro
If you count variants of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musikalisches_W%C3%BCrfelspiel, "composition" with less mental effort is even older.
murtnowski
There have been plenty of historical examples of automated mental effort from Wall Street trading, to telephone switching, to legal research, to librarians, record keeping, accounting, logistics management, forestry overwatch, security, safety regulation, meter reader, parking enforcement, communication, art, banking, many examples throughout history.
barrkel
Sure; but the things you describe are levers, not automata.

We are approaching the point where there are humans who are not needed physically, and not smart enough to do something that can't be automated. It's a slowly rising tide.

Related video: Humans need not apply https://youtu.be/7Pq-S557XQU
I think you linked to an incorrect youtube video, though those GeoOrbital wheels look cool (and heavy!).

Actual link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

therockhead
Whoops - thanks for the correction.
Then again, teachers are probably on their way to being (at least semi-)automated as well...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

randyrand
Let's hope.

Even free services such as Kahn Academy blow many teachers out of the water in terms of really teaching things.

The nanny aspect of teachers will be hard to replace though.

Apr 19, 2016 · 1 points, 0 comments · submitted by vinchuco
Mar 09, 2016 · 1 points, 1 comments · submitted by gauravgupta
unusximmortalis
noise
> the Senate [is] charged with preventing this from happening. But the Senate was gutted

There is a gradual drift over time; most complex systems accumulate errors, imbalances, and unexpected problems over time. However, there is another problem happening right now that I've only seen mentioned[1] by Dan Geer. He suggests that technology has changed the balance of powers:

    The central dynamic internal to government is, and always
    has been, that the only way for either the Executive or the Legislature
    to control the many sub-units of government is by way of how much
    money they can hand out.
    ...
    Suppose, however, that surveillance becomes too cheap to meter,
    that is to say too cheap to limit through budgetary processes.  Does
    that lessen the power of the Legislature more, or the power of the
    Executive more?  I think that ever-cheaper surveillance substantially
    changes the balance of power in favor of the Executive and away
    from the Legislature. While President Obama was referring to
    something else when he said "I've Got A Pen And I've Got A Phone,"
    he was speaking to exactly this idea -- things that need no
    appropriations are outside the system of checks and balances.
The "power of the purse" doesn't mean much when technology drives prices towards zero. This is made much worse by the "humans need not apply"[2] shift in jobs from humans to automation.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nT-TGvYOBpI#t=625 http://geer.tinho.net/geer.blackhat.6viii14.txt

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

th0waway
Some group has to run the technology - Congress can simply remove funding for the group to run the technology.
DanielBMarkham
Yes. This.

As much as I like ranting about the security and surveillance state, the real problem with automation is that even if you somehow implement it perfectly according to our traditional values, it takes all the slack and human judgment out of the middle tiers of the system. You've got just one guy at the top at the steering wheel.

We're already in a situation where we're all guilty of felonies; it's simply a matter of whether the executive wants to go to the trouble of enforcing the law or not. Now imagine a scenario where the proof of our guilt was automatically generated. Where we're all observed, tried, found guilty -- all without any cost at all.

That makes the executive for all intents and purposes a modern day absolute ruler, a king. (I know it's popular to accuse the executive of being a king as part of political rhetoric, but I'm talking about real, objectively-measurable political power.)

When I look at the lack of any real third party challenge, the absence of real policy changes no matter who takes control, the regular, almost clockwork change of power at the executive level between parties, and the apathy both parties seem to feel when they lose big at the polls? This may already be reality. It's just the common man hasn't felt the stick yet.

ADD: You want a real nightmare scenario, imagine President Bozohead walking around with a set of VR googles hooked into a national surveillance system. He could walk up to anybody, point at them, and the system would review that person's previous decade's worth of records. Speeding tickets that were never given. Misstatements on tax forms. When they picked up that rock to take home on their trip to the Grand Canyon. The pond that formed in their backyard due to poor drainage. The time they fudged the truth about whether or not they were camping to that park ranger -- remember, lying to a federal employee is a felony.

He could just point at the guy, think the right thought, and the appropriate subpoenas and summonses would be electronically generated, and auto-signed by a judicial official. Or perhaps it's all administrative. Hell, they can always pick you up for 24 hours just on good measure -- the automated system can figure out everything you've done while you're cooling your heels. With ten years of detailed records, the government can create trouble for you faster than any team of lawyers could hope to defend.

Add in a little civil asset forfeiture if you want to complete the picture. Do you really need that house?

This puts the president, and his agents, completely outside the law. The only thing preventing abuse in such a scenario is public opinion and the personality of the guy in office. And there are lots of ways to deal with public opinion.

Scary stuff.

ADD2: Might be a good time for some science fiction writer to re-do Kafka's The Trial, this time with the crime hidden by computational complexity. (We could tell you, but there's actually 4,749 charges, 117 of which your AI thinks we could get lifted....)

There's one very simple reason that general-purpose robots have failed to become economically viable: robots have to compete with humans, and humans are really cheap.

I also think that not enough thought has been put into the question of: if we do manage to replace unskilled workers with robots, what do we do with all the people who are only capable of unskilled work? Not everyone has what it takes to become a coder.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

kiloreux
I don't understand what you mean by humans are really cheap, you can't upgrade a human , you can't make him faster, you can't install latest update or add some components, the main disadvantage of robots nowadays is that we have not yet achieved a human level AI that gives us the abilitiy to replace humans by robots, but if we ever do that or even achieve just good advancement in it, I strongly doubt that any "unskilled" human worker would be better or compete on the job.
zo1
Well, the cost of the capital outlay for reasearch and components, along with the ongoing maintenance costs for the robotic replacement should outweigh the cost of training, hiring and paying the human worker for the same job/task. That is what is meant by the "general purpose worker" as a human being cheaper than a robotic one. And is also why most robotic replacements, as far as I'm aware, have been very specialized and in extremely repetitive tasks that require minimal "visual cues".
lisper
> I don't understand what you mean by humans are really cheap

Seriously? I can rent a human for $7.50 an hour. In other countries they're even cheaper. If you want to sell me a robot to clean my house, that's your competition.

kiloreux
That was not a real statement, I just meant that it made contradiction in my mind, not speaking on short run, but in my country and european countries, you need to pay a lot of money to hire someone that includes health insurance something similar to US 401K beside so many things, so it seemed to me like on the long run, robots are much more cheap.
potatolicious
> "so it seemed to me like on the long run, robots are much more cheap."

Yes, in the very long run, assuming relatively unchanging tasks and capacity demand.

But most jobs aren't like that - industrial robotics are dominated by robots that are purpose-designed with a singular task in mind, with a narrow envelope for deviations. A human can be re-trained to do something completely different than before, whereas a robot would likely have to receive completely new hardware. A welding robot cannot become a precision fan-balancing robot, but a human can be retrained from one task to another.

It's cheaper to train a large group of humans to do something different than it is to upgrade the hardware & software on the same number of robots.

This means that some jobs (see: automotive manufacturing) lend themselves easily to robotics - the throughput is steady, the capacity requirements are stable (i.e., you don't suddenly need 5x more cars in July than in March), and even between different models the general process is the same.

Other jobs (see: warehousing, shipping) do not lend themselves to robotics easily - the job changes regularly as processes evolve, the capacity requirements are chaotic (i.e., you need to scale to 10x your normal throughput during Xmas), and there is significant variation in process requirements (e.g., Japanese retail warehouses that run vertically instead of horizontally).

Robots are also still astonishingly expensive and largely made-to-order with long lead times. This means that it takes many years to break even on a robot (whereas you can fire the human when you don't need them), and you can scale easily with humans (it's much quicker to find a human than it is to order and receive a robot).

ghaff
That's basically the theme of The Second Machine Age. There are a lot of people around here who IMO are way too optimistic about the timelines for fully autonomous robocars. But if/when such a thing actually arrives, the effect on employment will be huge. Even if it may well still make sense to have a human present for, say, package delivery, the number of people whose job is primarily to be a driver is huge.
You're right to be unsure of (1); it is often claimed and simply isn't true. Of the top thirty jobs in the United States, 29 existed in some form or another 300 years ago. Only number thirty (computer programmer) is new.

I've linked https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU many times and I'll do it again.

Recently I've been coming to the conclusion that whilst free market capitalism deals very well with a fairish distribution of scarce resources, it doesn't deal very well with abundance (or rather, it deals ruthlessly with it - the price drops to near zero). We're facing an abundance of labour, and I don't think things are going to end well if the market rate for that ends up so low that labourers can't eat.

mark_l_watson
Thanks for posting the video link. I haven't looked at that in a while so I watched it again and shared it with a few friends.
kapnobatairza
CGP Prey is great, hadn't seen that video before but he does a great job of articulating why this time really is "different".
This reminded me of the "Humans need not apply" video, which I strongly recommend, if you haven't already seen it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8172461

vlehto
According to Marx, everything of value is produced by human. Some humans (like engineers and programmers) can just produce more valuable stuff than others.

If we believe Marx and that jobs are going to disappear, that requires either rich people not using money or money disappearing from the system. Currently inflation encourages rich people to use money in some way or another. And we have no reason to expect deflation.

Where is money going to disappear?

This video discusses horse unemployment and more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU&t=3m32s
ThomPete
Oh wow hah. Nice!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

The canonical introduction to why "better technology makes more better jobs for horses^Whumans" doesn't make sense.

Sep 29, 2015 · scrollaway on Amazon Flex
And people who refuse to see it are usually blind...

The supermarkets I go to have greatly reduced their cashiers. In most cases by at least half, especially in small shops (3 cashiers has become 2-3 machines and one human).

As for bakers, they don't just make bread and cake.

Excellent video on the subject: CGPGrey - Humans Need Not Apply: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

ekianjo
> As for bakers, they don't just make bread and cake.

yet it's still their main product and they are stopping making it even though industrial bread is cheaper. So your point is ?

scrollaway
My point is it's a pretty terrible example for you to pick. Baking is not a low-skill menial job. It's certainly not first in line in the "jobs that will get replaced by a machine" domino line.
ekianjo
It's actually a pretty good example because bread making can be completely automatized starting from ingredients mixing, to baking, packing and delivery to your supermarket.

yet bakers do not disappear. What's not valid about this example?

TeMPOraL
> yet bakers do not disappear. What's not valid about this example?

They transform. "Bakeries" become just a pick-up point, where you buy bread that was baked in scale (probably in industrial ovens) and delivered to the store. Bakery employees nowadays have less to do with baking than McDonald's employees with frying fries (they still do something to them).

ekianjo
Well probably you don't live in Europe (or have not lived there either).
TeMPOraL
In fact I do. I write from Poland.
scrollaway
You seem to be under the impression that baker and industrial bread maker are the same job. They are not. And the latter has long been (mostly) done by machine.

This seems relevant: "There isn’t a rule of economics that says better technology makes more, better jobs for horses. It sounds shockingly dumb to even say that out loud, but swap horses for humans and suddenly people think it sounds about right."

ekianjo
> This seems relevant: "There isn’t a rule of economics that says better technology makes more, better jobs for horses. It sounds shockingly dumb to even say that out loud, but swap horses for humans and suddenly people think it sounds about right."

Except that it does not make sense at all.

Take 200 years ago, most folks were farmers. Take 100 years ago, there were now much more folks working somewhat qualified jobs (where they needed some actual skills) in industries. Take 50-60 years ago, with the creation of the service industries and all the jobs that came with it. And now for the past 30 years, hipsters are getting coding jobs and getting pretty good salaries despite the fact we have been living in a past century of technological revolutions.

And we are far, very far from 100% unemployment.

So your horse analogy has no ground in reality. For the most part, humans have been getting more, and better jobs on the whole, and most people commenting here are holding such higher paying, better jobs around. Thanks to technology.

TeMPOraL
> Take 50-60 years ago, with the creation of the service industries and all the jobs that came with it. And now for the past 30 years, hipsters are getting coding jobs and getting pretty good salaries despite the fact we have been living in a past century of technological revolutions.

The qualitative difference between now and 100 years ago is that those hipsters gave brains to the machines. The shift to service industries occured because machines replaced human muscle power. The hipsters started with replacing human precision, and now they're replacing human cognitive capabilities. Services sector is not safe.

It's also important to note what kinds of jobs are being created nowadays. A lot of them are "bullshit jobs" - make-believe work or elements of zero-sum-games like (big part of) advertising industry. Work has been disconnected from benefit it brings, we're literally (although usually indirectly) inventing nonsense tasks because we need to have something for people to do and not starve.

ekianjo
> It's also important to note what kinds of jobs are being created nowadays. A lot of them are "bullshit jobs" - make-believe work or elements of zero-sum-games like (big part of) advertising industry. Work has been disconnected from benefit it brings, we're literally (although usually indirectly) inventing nonsense tasks because we need to have something for people to do and not starve.

You think bullshit jobs are something new ? Of course not, they have always existed. Even some coders have bullshit jobs - there is probably only a fraction of jobs that actually directly bring value, among a massive amount of noise from other jobs that support the other or have indirect value to the said business.

But on the whole, there are way more "non-bullshit" jobs that there were ever before, that's why I claim you are missing the big picture. There were no scientist jobs before. There were no engineer jobs 150 years ago. There were few doctors (very few) in the same time range as well.

> that those hipsters gave brains to the machines.

and

> now they're replacing human cognitive capabilities.

No, computers are still very much stupid, there is no autonomous AI in sight - we have just been able to make them do some specific tasks very very well and much faster than humans (deep learning and the like), but in terms of flexibility and learning abilities the most advanced computer program and hardware is far behind any life form on Earth. Are you not a member of the Singularity Church ?

> because we need to have something for people to do and not starve.

People don't work anymore to bring food on the table. Food has never been cheaper. Even homeless folks have smartphones these days - the amount of excess cash that people get out of work far exceeds the money needed to get food.

Minecraft - especially modded[1] Minecraft - is not just good for education; I believe it gives first-hand experience in on of the most important lessons for the future, which is the value of automation. In a future where "humans need not apply"[2], knowing how to automate tasks is one of the best skills you can have.

In modded Minecraft, some of the fancier equipment has very high resource costs. Most people figure out very quickly that manually mining for several thousand iron blocks and hundreds of diamonds is a waste of time, so they learn to instead invest in the automated quarry robots. Later on, when their chests are overflowing, the Applied Energitics[3] "(literal) storage area network" becomes a priority. Some of the more recent mods require things like "8x compressed cobblestone" (9:1 compression, requires 9^8 = 43,046,721 cobblestone) which are so expensive they are not actually possible to make without automation.

Learning to say "lets build a machine to do that" when faced with a repetitive task may be one of the few jobs that exists in the future, and I've seen quite a few youtube videos where people of all ages discovered the lesson on their own by playing Minecraft.

[1] An archetypal example might be Jadedcat's "Agrarian Skies" modpacks ( http://ftb.gamepedia.com/Agrarian_Skies:_Hardcore_Quest ), which are empty "skyblock" maps where you start with a minimum set of items (e.g. a dirt block and a sapling) and grow those into silly amounts of automation that can build just about anything in the game.

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

[3] http://ae-mod.info/About-Applied-Energistics/

/* and if you want to take this to a silly and frustrating extreme, try GregTech */

FloNeu
Agreed, these are things you can take away from playing minecraft... and we are on the same page, if we both think computer-games are an awesome way for explorative learning and creative development.

But still this doesn't change anything in the way our educational system works... Even if you see it as a new tool... i highly doubt you can build traditional courses around minecraft ( because some will love it and use it, while others will not see the potential and would just use it as another internet-surfing course. ) But as our educational systems fail more and more, bores us to death... motivation towards autodidactical styles of learning rise... and i think this is what we see in the sometimes incredible outcomes of minecraft games.

As it seems the empty canvas and creative outlet for people ( i admit i never played it and therefore can't fully understand the hype around it ).

baerga
I'm not sure it would be new courses; but it would be new manners to do projects and present, much like PowerPoint was introduced decades ago. It's right there alongside the course, like a chem lab is right behind the desks in chemistry class.
Vexs
Minecraft can be an immensely powerful learning tool, but it has to be carefully curated and controlled by a teacher- having played a lot of modded MC, most kids just do the bare minimum, or follow some tutorial online to get what they want. Of course, some branch out and do amazing things, which is what you want. Schools will fail to understand this (and fail to understand mods) so when the whole thing falls apart it will get ignored and cast off as "not workable" when in reality all that was needed was a teacher that understood.

Unfortunately, (especially in public schools) the teachers that end up teaching these are coaches that find out what they're teaching the month before school starts.

And likely most skilled labor as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU (Humans Need Not Apply)
api
Personally I think the first "white collar" casualty of automation will be law.

90+% of law involves things like contract law and analysis of legal documents. All of that can be replaced by natural language processing, machine learning, etc. I envision "contract compilers" that produce contracts based on compact specs and other things in the near term (5-10 years out) followed by total replacement of most lower-level legal work with AI/ML in the 15-30 year time frame.

In the end you will still have lawyers, but only to appear in courtrooms and do very high skill specialized legal analysis that involves a lot of conceptual thought. That will be a much smaller number of people than are employed in law today.

That's a lot of well-paying jobs that are going to vaporize.

Aug 25, 2015 · 3 points, 0 comments · submitted by miralabs
Aug 18, 2015 · klez on Not a Luddite fallacy (2011)
On the same tone: "Humans need not apply"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

Jul 07, 2015 · moe on The abolition of work
why would these robots be willing to work for free?

For the foreseeable future robots will be machines and have no will.

Robots don't need to be nearly as intelligent as humans in order to replace us in many areas. Nearly 100% robotized factories are already a reality[1].

Self-driving vehicles are at the verge of removing 3.6 million jobs[2] from the US transportation industry.

The dumb, slow, reliable "general purpose robot" (e.g. car mechanic) and his cousin the specialized, "intelligent appliance" (e.g. self-driving car) will change our world long before any kind of robot-consciousness might become technologically viable.

[1] http://www.scmp.com/tech/enterprises/article/1786484/buildin...

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

This is a major question that has no real answer but can potentially be a big problem. Robots and "the future" are great and all but what is in store for a society that has no work/purpose to do? Some of this stuff I feel requires a closer look with regulation and maybe some checks in morality and weighing what's the greater good.

CGP Grey had a decent video explaining some of the points: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

Some parts of the text look like the author just made a transcript for CPG Grey Video "humans need not apply" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU)
This brings to mind the central premise of "Humans Need Not Apply", which I'm happy to bring up as worthwhile viewing whenever the discussion trends towards dramatic lifestyle changes from automation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU
The article title and the contents don't match up. If you're interested in how technology is and will be replacing most jobs we have now see "Humans Need Not Apply" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

I believe that we will need to make some structure that allows for people to work who want to earn more, and still support a considerable number of people who just aren't employable in the future. There don't have to be just winners and losers like this article posits, it isn't us versus them, and technology shouldn't be vilified.

ackalker
>I believe that we will need to make some structure that allows for people to work who want to earn more, and still support a considerable number of people who just aren't employable in the future. There don't have to be just winners and losers like this article posits, it isn't us versus them, and technology shouldn't be vilified.

I believe what you're hinting at is the idea of "(unconditional) basic income". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_income

Interest in this is rising, there are some scientific studies, and several pilot projects have been run around the world, with generally positive outcomes.

Apr 19, 2015 · polymatter on The Machines Are Coming
I highly recommend CGP Greys video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU) for a good overview of the issue.

See https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9341055 for similar discussion.

blumkvist
There is a serious wrong assumption in that video.

His claim is that there weren't any new job types after industrialization. The number of new job types is irrelevant. The change was in percentage of the population doing knowledge work vs. manual labor.

It will shift just the same way now. Yeah, we won't magically think of new types of jobs. We will just shift from knowledge to creativity and improving service level like in education and healthcare, for example. A teacher on every 5 kids? Yes, please!

Apr 14, 2015 · 1 points, 0 comments · submitted by candybar
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

"Humans Need Not Apply" (by CGPGrey)

In case someone hasn't seen it yet, this is prone of better overviews on the problem we need to start solving now, now that automation has started making many of the remaining jobs obsolete,

CGP Grey covered a few of your points in his video 'humans need not apply'[1]. The main argument against new jobs filling the void as it were, was the prevalence of the kinds of jobs that most people currently perform and the lack of any industry requiring millions of people in the future.

[1]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

snowwrestler
I find these arguments incredibly short-sighted. A typical American in 1850 could not have conceived of most of the jobs that employed a typical American in 1950. And a typical American in 1950 could not have conceived of most of the jobs that people here on HN hold.

The idea that "this time it's different" seems so vain to me; like somehow NOW we're able to reliably predict the future of society, when we've proved terrible at doing that for thousands of years.

What an amazing coincidence it would be if we all just happen to be alive at the time when all the surprises were over in human society!

The founding premise of the market economy is that we can't predict the future, so we set up systems to be flexible in the face of changing technologies and cultures. Is that really all over now?

That feels like an extraordinary claim, so I'd want to see extraordinary proof, and I'm not seeing it. Employment is actually on the upswing in the U.S. right now, and there are hiring shortages in "jobs of the future" type fields like programming, data analysis, genetic analysis, engineering, etc.

Employment will change, and our training and education systems need to change too. But I think it's way early to declare the end of specialization and employment.

Mar 12, 2015 · 2 points, 1 comments · submitted by numo16
thomasfl
The problem isn't more automation but more concentration of wealth, making more people use more time restlessly searching for income instead of relaxing and reaping the benefits of more automation.
Mar 07, 2015 · 2 points, 0 comments · submitted by BrandonMarc
You seem to be coming from the opposing view of that of the article, that coding 'is' the new literacy. I was more challenging the article's claim that modeling is the new literacy, which I think isn't.

As to whether coding is the new literacy or not, I'd say we really need to ask what is the purpose of education. If the purpose of education is enlightenment, then yes, a child should learn how to code, but also how to paint, how to play a musical instrument, and so on and so forth. But then some children have the aptitude for one thing, some for another thing.

But I think the purpose of education as a means of making the individual economically viable is becoming more and more futile with increased automation. (In this regard I strongly adhere to the views expressed in the video 'Humans Need Not Apply' by CGPGrey[1], and TED talks by Jeremy Howard[2], Erik Brynjolfsson[3], Andrew McAfee[4]).

As to the need for coding so that humans could interact with machines, I think in the long run, this is also going to progress to the point where the machine would be aware of the abilities of the human it's dealing with and make it easy for the human to interact with itself. (EDIT 1: I should also add that interacting with machines is already happening at a massive scale when everyone has a smartphone in their back pocket. And yet when the software goes wrong, the inability of an average user to fix it is not the result of that user not being coding literate, but rather the insurmountable complexity of the code behind the easy-to-use interface, even if we ignore the hidden nature of proprietary codes).

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4kyRyKyOpo

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sod-eJBf9Y0

[4] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXQrbxD9_Ng

efuquen
> As to the need for coding so that humans could interact with machines, I think in the long run, this is also going to progress to the point where the machine would be aware of the abilities of the human it's dealing with and make it easy for the human to interact with itself.

And when is that long run going to play out, in the next 50, 100, 500 years? A lot of the learn to code movement is about economic empowerment, providing an avenue for economic advancement for children and adults, especially children and adults that wouldn't have thought coding as a career was possible for them or have had the access to resources to really pursue it.

Yes, automation is eliminating jobs, but still creating new and well paying technical ones. Whether and when we'll reach some technological singularity is all based on a lot of conjecture, and how that ultimately will pan out with how we structure our economy is impossible to predict. In the mean time we have the current reality, one that most likely will result in tech providing plenty of well paying jobs for at least a few more generations. The idea of coding as literacy, as has been stated before, isn't that everyone needs to become a software engineer. It's that as a person coming from any background you at least get the opportunity to see if it's a career you would want to pursue, and if not at least give you more insight into how technology works and make you a more well rounded citizen.

Feb 16, 2015 · mdlthree on The Software Revolution
Video by CGP Grey on a similar topic - Humans need not apply - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU
Counter argument, beautifully illustrated.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

Obligatory link to "Humans Need Not Apply": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU I highly recommend giving it the full 15 minutes if you haven't already seen it.

We as a society need to figure out how to handle a future where the majority of people are no longer compatible with the economy.

JetSpiegel
That video always get trotted out and it's very strange, it's just a rehash of the technoutopia that was parodied in The Jetsons, 50 years ago. Go read something like Paleofuture[1] and come to the real world, where people have been saying that for hundreds of years and it's all vaporware.

[1]: http://paleofuture.gizmodo.com

crdoconnor
There's a political imperative to tell this story this time. A lot of people are angry that finding a decent, well paid job is hard in 2015 and they want to know why. It wasn't that hard in 2007.

Techno-utopian futurism about us not needing menial labor any more because robots provides a believable "safe" explanation for that meaning that the real, "unsafe" reasons (trade policy; steady de-unionization; financialization of the economy) that are politically contentious can be more easily concealed from the public eye.

blumkvist
I watched the video before and from what I remember argues that this hasn't actually happened before and cites that very few jobs were invented since industrialization.

It's not about inventing new jobs. It's about shifting the workforce to other jobs. Doesn't matter if they are new or we had people doing it before. Did we have mathematicians, professors, teachers, doctors, etc. before the industrialization? You bet! Total percentage of the population working those jobs?

sqrt17
There's a thought error in here: "the economy", as an unmovable construct, does not really exist. As an example, a good shirt does not cost thousands of dollars anymore, because we have automated weaving looms and a whole textile industry. We're not poorer from it, though, because we shifted from weaving shirts to doing construction work or working in finance.

If we can automate simple manual labor, people will shift to different tasks; the non-beneficial changes is that now the energy needed for that task is consumed directly by the machine, and also the investment that has been done to get the machine there in the first place. Beyond that, people who did simple tasks before may perform tasks that require conscience or risk-awareness (for example, machines injuring or killing humans cannot be fired or fined, so someone has to be responsible), that require empathy and human attention; or people will resort to being burglars or robbers or revolutionaries or salesmen.

None
None
gnaritas
> If we can automate simple manual labor, people will shift to different tasks

You aren't understanding the scenario, you're presuming there's always other tasks to switch to because you're presuming a labor based economy. This must change as AI will ensure there aren't other tasks to switch to, not enough for everyone anyway.

The scenario everyone else is discussing is what happens when there are more people than available jobs. That's the scenario you need to address; the answer is not just do another job.

chii
> We're not poorer from it, though, because we shifted from weaving shirts to doing construction work or working in finance.

the video specifically has a refutation for the argument you made - that technological improvement is not necessarily always augmented by better jobs that people could do. Their example with the horses and automobiles is quite pertinent.

The point about jobs that require human empathy is moot - if the cost of hiring the human is much higher than a machine, the machine will win.

sqrt17
You're arguing from a frame where there is a demand for a constant set of things ("jobs") and people capture the money that can be exchanged for that set of things. This assumes that a number of parameters in the market are fixed, and that you can "create" or "destroy" jobs with economic actions that are partly independent of the non-economic world.

Looking at historical economics, another way of looking at this is to see an economy as things going in (sunshine, non-renewable resources consumed, loot acquired in wars) and things going out (people eating, garbage produced, etc.), and the ways of distributing the flow between these.

It turns out that you can have a "surplus", when you suddenly have more money/resources than you had before. There are different means of getting rid of surplusses, including wars, social programs, or simply population growth (consider how New York's area used to sustain about a hundred people).

Looking back at the demise of weaving and spinning as jobs, you see that the immediate effect of that was a higher concentration of wealth in the hands of some individuals, which (in Europe) led to counter-movements involving democratization and social issues.

The real problem is not that it's possible to find more effective ways to do some jobs than employing people for it, the real problem consists in the readjustment of power relationships that becomes necessary when you remove resposibilities from lots of people and put them in the hands of relatively few people.

Maybe some governments institute a robot tax, which augments the cost of robots by a percentage not high enough to consider other alternatives (e.g. moving off-shore, which has been possible with production jobs but not with manufacturing jobs), and use these funds towards things that society as a whole regards as beneficial (such as building nice parks, everyone getting a university degree, or every city having an opera and a theater, or war or terrorism or spying on your citizens, if those are what a society thinks it wants).

Standard "capitalist" economic doctrine wants us to believe that surplusses always belong to the innovators or those taking associated risks, and both historically and currently this has only been partly true. Maybe those surplusses will just be destroyed in the next "AI" bubble, maybe they will be used to create a post-democratic oppressive state, maybe they will be used to create a modern-day utopia. We don't know yet what will happen, but we sure should not let others reframe the issue as technocrats-vs-luddites, because that is not what it is.

This video basically shows them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU
It's not just Uber that will kill jobs. This video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU - explains how many others jobs will be eliminated.

Re this article, I think the numbers are a bit drastic, but using less drastic numbers does not weaken the central point of the argument.

Jan 17, 2015 · 3 points, 0 comments · submitted by joeyespo
thommusicman
What will happen to average people who cannot afford to specialize or an upgrade in education? So does this mean we will eventually end up jobless and useless?
Jan 14, 2015 · chii on The More Fungible Worker
it hasn't hit quite yet, but when self-driving cars arrive, it's going to turn into a shit-storm, as predicted by this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU
There's a great 15 minute video by CGP Grey introducing the same set of concepts that technology will contribute to unemployment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

Its a bit pop-sciency, but its very approachable and well explained.

jholman
That was good, yes. And link-browsing from there led me to this feller's site, which so far is also relevant and interesting.

http://federicopistono.org/

ExpiredLink
It sounds like the technology forecasts in the 50ies and 60ies but with a pessimistic instead of an optimistic undertone.
josephschmoe
In all fairness, most desk jobs that existed in the 50's and 60's are now heavily consolidated (it now takes one journalist and Google what it used to take 10 to do). And most factory work is either also heavily consolidated or moved overseas.

Would the words "service economy" even make sense back then?

nradov
Some simpler financial news articles are now written by zero journalists. A program just extracts numbers from data feeds and plugs them into a template.
detaro
Sports as well. You can't have journalists cover all lower league games, but an aide has to write a log about plays, which you can use to generate some metrics and generate something that fits roughly the right tone. (example that does advertise it: http://statsheet.com/ does this for basketball)
digi_owl
And now there are headlines about automating low tier jobs in the legal and medical professions. The old refrain about getting a degree being a ticket to a steady income is long gone.

Never mind that the latest in assembly line robotics are as flexible as humans in their movement, and can be programmed by demonstrating the basic movements a few times. You can pretty much tell Joe to walk away from his station, and roll this robot into the same place.

api
Pessimistic because we now live in an "I've got mine, screw you" society where the means justifies the end.
jaredhansen
I'd be interested to see historical examples of any other kind. Human nature hasn't significantly changed over the past several millennia, as far as I can tell.
scrollaway
CGPGrey himself says the video is neither pessimistic nor optimistic: it's neutral. The video talks about something that has started happening and is almost certain to keep happening at ever faster paces.

It takes some effort to start thinking out of the box, seeing things from a much farther point of view and realize none of this is bad. The human race keeps advancing, progressing, and very often the leaps we make from decade to decade radically change the way our society functions. Cars changed society just as smartphones changed society. These changes force us to adapt and while sometimes it costs people their job, there just isn't that much room for these concerns, as cold as that may sound.

For example, digital distribution cost thousands of people their jobs in retail. Yet are we arguing digital distribution is a bad thing? Only those whose current income depends on the status quo not changing ever really make that point.

I haven't looked at the stats, but I'm certain that cars cost thousands of people in the horse industry their jobs as well.

This is very parallel to the "Would you sacrifice yourself to save 10 people?" moral question. In other words: "Would you sacrifice your own comfort to improve the lives of others?".

And I'm not judging. I've never been in the situation where I had to make the choice... but if I were, I would have very little actual input on the outcome. Nor should I.

You might be interested in CGP Grey's 'Humans Need Not Apply' video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU
Easier said than done. What are they going to retrain to? As AI continues to advance, more and more jobs will necome redundant. CGP Grey did a great video on this[1]. Even if you can't completely replace humans, often times, obe person will be able to do the job that used to take several. Where do those others go? What will we as a society do if for example AI-based Expert Systems make 90% of accountants and office clerks redundant? We can't retrain all of them to become doctors and scientists, can we?

[1] http://youtu.be/7Pq-S557XQU

I agree with the original poster. Until now, when coding intersects with other fields, the approach has been for someone skilled in coding to come up-to-speed on whatever field needs automation. In the course of my career, I've had to learn to basically be an appraiser, employee benefits broker, pharmacist, dentist and auto mechanic. And while I learned a lot about these fields, there's no way that I can know these fields as in-depth as someone trained to do that actual work. This pattern is unsustainable and leads to software that is superficial and never truly meets the needs of the domain. But as we create more and more abstractions between programmers and the underlying hardware, coding will become more accessible to people with less background in software development and the desired balance between domain knowledge and programming knowledge will shift away from coding ability.

There will always be a need for people who understand computer science, but those engineers will be like compiler engineers or hardware engineers are today...enabling a much larger group of programmers to produce the software that provides value to users. And as we're able to provide improved layers of abstraction to make software development easier, we'll see computing become more accessible to more programmers who will build software with a much richer understanding of the domain.

So I'm torn about initiatives like this. I see coding as the new literacy...it will be a skill required by almost every professional who is an expert in his or her domain. But they won't be coding in today's languages and coding will be significantly easier than it is today. So we need to find a way to teach children to develop using tomorrow's tools today. And that means extracting the part of programming in today's languages that is intrinsic to programming while doing our best to avoid the part of coding that is just pain inflicted by today's limited abstractions. That separation may be difficult (or even impossible) to achieve, but that doesn't mean we should try. Because anyone who doesn't learn how to instruct a computer to accomplish tasks is going to be automated out of a job (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU)

grayclhn
> I see coding as the new literacy...it will be a skill required by almost every professional who is an expert in his or her domain.

That is an extremely unusual definition of "literacy."

"Coding is the new literacy" implies that coding will be necessary for anyone who wants to interact with modern life, not just for experts. Imagine trying to use the freeway system if you could not actually read streetsigns, for example. i.e. if you were illiterate.

curun1r
> implies that coding will be necessary for anyone who wants to interact with modern life, not just for experts.

That's the whole point. Computers and robots are creating a world in which there really isn't room for anyone who isn't an expert. We've already automated the low-hanging fruit...we've got a fraction of the manufacturing jobs because computers and machines can do that work faster, cheaper and more effectively. Google and such are working on less low-hanging fruit (people who drive automobiles for a living, lawyers...there's a bunch of examples in that youtube clip). That bar for offering utility beyond what can be automated is steadily rising.

If you're not an expert in something, you're going to be pretty useless in the world we're creating.

Relevant, from earlier this year: [Humans Need Not Apply](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU) (15:00)
To add to your point and take it a couple steps further. The continuous automation of physical muscle and mind muscles will reduce white and blue collar work.

Humans Need Not Apply:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

Human obsolescence wasn't on Huxley's mind.

Instead of Deltas, Gammas, and Epsilons doing awful labour, they will do none.

While CGP Grey has a very consumer-oriented view, it's quite compelling. www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

Oct 20, 2014 · hsuresh on The third great wave
CGPGrey did a video on this subject recently https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU. But even this video isn't too optimistic about the number of jobs left to humans.
Copying a comment of mine from a few days ago, seems relevant:

I encourage everyone to watch Humans Need Not Apply, a mini-documentary by the excellent CGPGrey:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

I suspect most of what is said in there is well known to the HN crowd, but it's all put together in a very pleasant video and is a nice thing to link to people who don't understand just how far along we are in the process of automating a lot of people's jobs.

Oct 06, 2014 · 9 points, 1 comments · submitted by mw67
dang
https://hn.algolia.com/?q=humans+need+not+apply#!/story/fore...
The HN title is

"The digital revolution has yet to fulfil its promise of productivity and jobs",

but the economist title seems more realistic:

"The digital revolution has yet to fulfil its promise of higher productivity and better jobs".

The problem seems to be that we haven't figured out what to do with people that are no longer relevant once their jobs are automated (e.g. factory workers). That sort of thing is only going to accelerate - take a look at this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU (Humans Need Not Apply)

privong
I guess that is a case of the 80 character HN limit making it a little difficult to write a useful but accurate title.
aidenn0
I'd get rid of "its" and "and" before getting rid of better
dang
Good idea. Thanks. Edit: come to think of it, we can just get rid of "the".
> On the other hand, the question of what all those folks will/should do once their economic value plummets...

We as a society need to figure this out quickly. There's a video called Humans Need Not Apply that everyone should see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

This video by C.G.P. Grey is, at least for me, thought-provoking on this matter:

http://youtu.be/7Pq-S557XQU

iammyIP
nice video, i think its pretty much spot-on.
I encourage everyone to watch Humans Need Not Apply, a mini-documentary by the excellent CGPGrey:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

I suspect most of what is said in there is well known to the HN crowd, but it's all put together in a very pleasant video and is a nice thing to link to people who don't understand just how far along we are in the process of automating a lot of people's jobs.

The US of 2014 doesn't have 25% unemployment. When we get back to that point, I think we'll develop more tolerance for socialist policies. And just in case anyone doesn't think our unemployment will get that high, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU
There's a small bit about this in the video "Humans Need Not Apply". Go to the ~10 minute mark.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

A huge portion of the workforce will be unemployable in our lifetimes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

By the time the technology comes around the revive the cryopreserved, the rest of technological advancement will change the dynamic of human interaction so much we cannot estimate what the world will be like, but we can assume that with technology advanced enough to repair the damage from the freezing process, you would probably be entering a world of almost any possibility.

raverbashing
Yes, this video is great, I saw it too
Aug 25, 2014 · 1 points, 0 comments · submitted by ucha
Aug 15, 2014 · 2 points, 0 comments · submitted by davidiach
Aug 15, 2014 · 2 points, 1 comments · submitted by Chinjut
Chinjut
Hm... I tried submitting this once and was taken to a thread where it was already being discussed. I lost the thread, and resubmitted hoping to be taken to it again, but... it went through. Perhaps I misunderstand how the dupe-filtering on the submissions works here.
CGP Grey recently put out a video along very similar lines. Worth 15 mins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU&list=UU2C_jShtL7...
vanderZwan
He blatantly ignores the issue of energy constraints, more specifically the concept of embodied energy[0], which in the near future will be a very real very limiting factor that right now goes unnoticed because we're burning up energy reserves the earth has built up for hundreds of millions of years.

If we do look at this from an energy spending point of view.. this robot/AI revolution is gonna have a few interesting twists and turns along the way. One has to remember, the evolution of life has been a constant "economic" struggle for limited resources, with energy being the most limiting factor. Right now our economic development is largely based on a temporary liberation from that. However, that won't last, and energy-wise, life is far more energy-efficient than machines for most tasks[1] (I'm not entirely sure how this translates to robotics and computers, but for now I doubt they win). Energy spending also scales sub-linearly for living things[2], and I'm not sure if that holds true for machines.

[0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embodied_energy

[1] http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2014/03/how-sustainable-is-di...

[2] http://peakenergy.blogspot.se/2011/07/geoffrey-b-west-why-ci...

bsgreenb
Technology could be used to solve the problems that it's causing. E.g. better utilization of existing resources (self-driving cars), alternative sources of energy, and perhaps even space colonization.
yen223
"However, that won't last, and energy-wise, life is far more energy-efficient than machines for most tasks"

I really have to question this. Humans are notoriously inefficient at converting nutrition to usable energy.

vanderZwan
Even if you calculated as embodied energy instead of just looking at the energy spent directly on a task? Because a large part of the "inefficiency" of living creatures is physical maintenance of the body. If that is included for machines as well, I'm not so sure if they're better off. For now, of course - as soon as we realise energy is a real constraint, we'll surely start optimising for it.

The third link I posted references Geoffrey West who has an interesting high-level physics approach to this issue, but it doesn't really do justice to his points. But I figured posting this 40 minute one, which is much more comprehensive, would be a bit much to ask:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFFVSvAr7Wc

(also has a lot more phycisist's arrogance in the form of cursing, which I find entertaining myself)

Actually, given that city energy spending also grows sublinearly, robot and AI networks probably would as well. So that argument likely won't hold against it.

Ma8ee
> life is far more energy-efficient than machines for most tasks

I'll be blunt and say that that is just bullshit for quite obvious reasons. Your [1] does not support the claim.

sitkack
Might be better to just point at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basal_metabolic_rate
vanderZwan
"Obvious reasons" is not a very convincing argument, and and I am quite curious why you are saying that a link that literally states things like:

"A human-controlled punching machine is 25 to 35 times more efficient than a laser cutter when producing a standard part"

"Fibre laser cutters are more efficient than CO2-laser cutters, but their power consumption is still 10 times larger than that of a slower but equally powerful human-controlled nibbling machine"

... and has tables like:

http://krisdedecker.typepad.com/.a/6a00e0099229e8883301a73d8...

(which is per item, by the way)

... is not supporting the claim that manual labour is more energy efficient for many tasks.

Ma8ee
A human-controlled punching machine is not a living thing, a human-controlled nibbling machine isn't a living thing. Thus none of the sentences support the notion that "life is far more energy-efficient than machines for most tasks".

There might be some manually controlled machines that are more energy efficient than some automatic machines, but that would be a very very different fact, and I don't see any reason to believe that it would hold in general. For example the table you linked to doesn't say how much that is produced per energy unit, which would be the relevant measure, and it doesn't take into account that the operator uses a lot of energy. With your kind of arguing I could show that a hand saw was infinitely more efficient than a chainsaw because the hand saw in itself doesn't use any energy at all and we don't count the operator.

A human in standby (resting) consumes about 80W power, and a human that does any kind of work much more than that. Humans use extremely inefficient fuel that takes many times more energy to produce than it makes available to do any kind of work. For most physical work it is easy to find a machine that does the same work using much less energy. In those areas where computers can replace humans they also do the same work using much less energy but also much faster. And then we haven't even taken into account that the human only works for 40 hours per week, need a house that keep her warm and uses a shitload of energy every day just to get back and forth to their workplace.

SiVal
There is enormous energy "embodied" in uranium, too. If (when?) the time comes that we can no longer sustain our economies on fossil fuels, we will increasingly turn to nuclear power, which should last us for several more generations.

I'm not promoting this; I'm just predicting it. The sustainability of fossil fuels will be reflected in prices. More demand, political restrictions, and fewer new discoveries: prices go up; conservation, carbon sequestration/removal tech, and growing efficiencies supplemented by new sources such as fracked gas: prices relax. At some point (you say "very near", I say no one knows), hydrocarbon prices will go so high that the developed world will either have to voluntarily undevelop (not going to happen politically) or pay what it costs to solve some nuke problems and live with others, and we will continue to grow our use of energy.

The spread of robotics will proceed apace.

vanderZwan
Good points - and note that I wasn't saying robotics and AIs were not going to happen, just that it will have some added plot twists - but I would argue that this is not true:

> (you say "very near", I say no one knows)

Given that our energy spending grows exponentially, it's certainly going be sooner than later.

bduerst
There is some serious bias with this video.

For example, within the first few minutes they show this graph: http://i.imgur.com/IDXYI9Y.png

But the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows this: http://i.imgur.com/BPNyjM8.png

They've excluded other industries in forming their basis and it's clearly cherry picking to fit a narrative. I like the idea of a fully-automated utopia as much as the next person, but jobs are simply not going to disappear - they're going to shift industries.

burkaman
What is the discrepancy you're seeing between those two graphs?
AndrewKemendo
Those graphs look pretty spot on
Chinjut
Those graphs aren't in any conflict; of course if the proportion of workers in one industry goes down, the proportion of workers employed in some other industry must go up, mathematically (the BLS graph being percentage of the total workforce, rather than percentage of the total population).

I see your objection that to consider agriculture's decline indicative of the future of labor in general could be considered cherry-picking, but I think the video at least attempts to respond to this charge, explaining why its author does not feel other industries will "pick up the slack" in the same way in the future as happened in the past for jobs lost to automation.

[For what it's worth, while enamored of the dream of leisure-society utopia, I am quite skeptical of the author's assessment of the current state of progress on various forms of automation (and thus, a fortiori, of the projected speed at which such automation will take off as ubiquitous in the near future). But I did want to defend them against the charge of not even considering the idea that jobs will simply shift to other industries.]

zokier
I found it surprisingly shallow in that it didn't really delve into post-scarcity economics. With stuff like basic income or negative taxing the loss of jobs will not look as severe societally.
3rd3
Grey said on reddit that he purposely didn’t include possible solutions in the video.
bottled_poe
The point of the video is that robots will soon exceed humans as workers in every conceivable way. "Post-scarcity economy" is obviously incompatible with free market capitalism. I can see how one might believe that prices could decrease towards zero as the efficiency of technology increases, however there still needs to be an incentive for production. At the moment, the incentive is profit. But if nobody can afford a loaf of bread, then what is the incentive to produce loaves of bread? Good will? Government mandate? What happens when companies possess more power than the government? Google for one appears to be positioning itself as a contender. Interesting times ahead.
electromagnetic
It's definitely going to be interesting how things play out, and honestly I think China will adapt to the change far easier than the US will.

The US has major political dogma against communism and socialism. The only way out of this is going to be with major socialist programs. The only way to avoid civil unrest over unemployment rates will be literally paying people off. Basic income is inevitable.

The issue is, how long will companies be allowed to hold on to control. What happens when we start automating out jobs with AI. What happens when even the CEO is replaced, and investors are just AIs representing a portfolio. I find it highly doubtful the public will allow billions of dollars and control of corporations to sit in the hands of AIs with the intent of profiteering.

So how long until companies are taken over by the government. You said what happens when companies possess more power than the government, but I don't know any corporations with 10 aircraft carriers in operation. Eminent Domain seizures will be the way the government retains control.

How long after basic income would it take to see grocery stores become seen as a public utility? Or housing construction? When everyone can afford a house, we can't afford not giving people houses.

It's going to be interesting to see how much of our traditional practice's remain.

JoachimS
The big question is being able to finance basic income when a large and growing part of the population is unemployed. Where is the tax base?
zokier
> Where is the tax base?

In corporations?

justincormack
Or on robots?
JoachimS
More plausible since it directly connects to the problem at hand. But when you replace humans with algorithms how do you determine what to tax and how much?
justincormack
Value added taxes/sales are plausible if they are selling stuff.
JoachimS
Corporations can move out of the jurisdiction with corp tax much easier than humans. And judging by Apple etc, they are pretty good at getting tax brakes, buy legislation.
anigbrowl
The capital-intensive entities that own all the robots and whose revenue comes from human consumption.
JoachimS
Human consumption hinges on the fact that the humans have income to buy stuff to consume. Are you saying we shall tax the company profits in order to pay people basic income to provide means needed to consume stuff to create these required profits. And that the profits are staying in the tax jurisdiction as well as not getting tax breaks the owners lobbied for using previous profits.
Dewie
I think that part was deliberately omitted as kind of beyond the scope of the video.
Ygg2
In all honesty, it would be a really bad video if it included it. Because we have no knowledge what post-scarcity economics will look like.

At best he could write about his ideal of an utopia or his vision of a dystopia.

robertfw
I can't recommend this video highly enough - it does a great job of showing the science fact instead of contemplating science fiction, illustrating how technology that we have in development NOW is going to impact our economy.

I have a feeling that this is an issue is going to creep up on us quickly, and I worry that our governments have proven themselves completely incapable of driving the discussion and making the decisions that need to be made.

furyofantares
I don't understand why the video goes through the history of technology reducing the need for types of labor and doesn't acknowledge that we keep thinking of new things to do. The closest he comes to making an argument that we won't keep making new jobs is that we didn't keep making new jobs _for horses_ which seems to me like arguing that we didn't keep making new jobs for spears and hammers and pencils.

I have concerns about this myself, but I don't find that video remotely convincing.

AndrewKemendo
he actually directly addresses this by stating the standard argument that low skill/resolution jobs are replaced by higher skill/resolution jobs.

The issue is not that there will not be new jobs, the issue is that the automation of these new jobs is accelerating - so people cannot adapt fast enough to be able to competently take these new jobs as their old jobs become obsolete.

Siecje
In the video he says that the new jobs we have created do not make up a significant portion of all jobs.
furyofantares
He starts the video exactly the opposite -- he pointed out that all humans used to be involved in food production and now almost none are and briefly summarized thousands of years of history of humans creating new things to do when the old things became unnecessary. That's a long timescale of course... on a shorter timescale I can't think of many jobs that existed 100 years ago that still exist today, at least not as a significant percentage of the current job force. Of course then he says "but this time it's different" before he starts on all the poor, and I think dishonest, logic.

So then, yes, he listed a lot of jobs that will go away, insinuated it's basically all of them (with which I agree, but no argument was made), and then took the strawman "well maybe you think creative jobs won't go away" and then defeated that strawman by incorrectly assuming creativity is limited to artists, poets, directors, and actors and said "there can't be such a thing as a poem and painting based economy", which I think is what you are referring to. That's just as dishonest as the horse analogy. It assumes without argument that creative people won't look at the new robotic world around them and find new things to create, or at the humans around them eager to work and find new ways to utilize them, all with the assistance of AIs and robots.

Dewie
He addressed this by talking about how there really aren't being created many new kinds of jobs, and that the large bulk of employment these days are in professions that have had a long history already.
Afforess
CGP Grey went through the analogy of horses and the history of technology to emphasize the line of thinking that the invention of new technology will lead to the creation of new jobs is a fallacy and false.

In the past, new technological changes lead to the demise of horses. There were no "new" jobs that horses could fulfill. So it will be with humans.

Joeri
The analogy is itself a fallacy. The jobs that were displaced were not those of horses, but of horse breeders, trainers, keepers and drivers. The horses in this story were not the laborers but the tools. Those people, unlike horses, could retrain to do a different kind of job which was in-demand. Horse traders could become car salesmen. Horse drivers could become car drivers. The replacement of horses by cars led to an increase in jobs, not a decrease.
furyofantares
Horses, to my understanding, do not have a seemingly insatiable desire for novelty and to create a new world. Horses have never created their own jobs using their own ingenuity. We do not as a society place value on the employment rate of horses. Our economy does not depend on horses purchasing goods and services. Or social structure does not depend on horses feeling a sense of meaning in their lives.

We didn't react to horse unemployment by finding new things for horses to do because, aside from the horse owners, we did not value the employment of horses and the horses did not create new jobs for themselves because... they are horses.

Without necessarily disagreeing with the conclusion, the analogy comes off as extremely silly.

I do in fact agree that we need to think about what society we are building as we approach machines that rival humans on all levels, so it's frustrating to see a video that pretends that the employment of horses is at all similar to the employment of humans.

Afforess
Analogies are not meant to be perfect representations of an argument, but rather a facsimile that helps the reader compare and contrast. Your complaints are mostly irrelevant.
coryrc
In this case, the GP clearly points out why that facsimile is not helpful in understanding the issue.
evv
> Horses, to my understanding, do not have a seemingly insatiable desire for novelty and to create a new world.

Dark as it may seem, many people would say the same about most human consumers in this country. Looking at the most successful creations in the past century, most are made by corporations. While people have been spearheading those efforts so far, the whole novel creation process would be automated if and when it can be. (The "if" in this case is weather or not you believe in "the singularity")

> We do not as a society place value on the employment rate of horses.

.. but a society of horses sure would. We, as a society of humans, are worried about the future of human jobs. Our human society and social structure is in for one hell of a shock, but the world will move on.

> Our economy does not depend on horses purchasing goods and services.

And our economy barely relies on humans anymore. As long as there is something with money to spend, the economy doesn't really care. Look at the banking industry. Look at all these B2B partnerships.. who cares about humans in those relationships? Robots are getting better and better at deciding how to spend money.

Is the analogy really that silly? I love it because it helps wake people up to the reality we live in: we are the horses in this new age, growing ever more irrelevant. The world economy couldn't care less about humans.

This is getting depressing. I'm gonna go listen to "Dog Days are Over" by Florence and the Machine...

bcoates
Uh, it's only depressing if you agree with the nutjob elitists that think everyone else is a horse that needs their constant guidance to do something with their life.

Do you have any idea how the banking industry and B2B operations work? People. Lots and lots of people. Way less automation than low-margin retail junk, which itself is way less automated than most people think it is.

You have it exactly backwards: It's not that the economy is run by robots that are not interested in you. Robots are not interested in the economy, but the economy is very interested in you -- money is just a way of keeping score.

Ygg2
Economy is interested in you as long as yoy have money. If you don't have any money you might as well as not exist.
aivosha
In the video, the analogy between horses loosing out to cars and humans loosing out to AI is false. Humans are the ones building the AI. Horses however did not build the cars. Its a very important distinction we are not at a liberty to dismiss.
Afforess
Analogies are not meant to be perfect representations of an argument, but rather a facsimile that helps the reader compare and contrast. Your nitpick is therefore irrelevant.
aivosha
I did not say the analogy is not representative. I said its wrong. Now if horses were building cars and being worried about their future, I'd say fine. But its not the case. Here horses are not in the same position at all as humans. So its not helping to "compare and contrast", its building up a wrong mindset, wrong premise.
GrantS
It is never made explicit in the video but imagine that corporations are the current dominant super-organism on which the economy depends. Humans are only designing and building cars because corporations have no better way of getting that job done. Thus, humans are used by corporations just as horses were used by humans before the corporation became the dominant economic species on the planet. Corporations may not always need humans to survive.

Just as cars replaced horses for the benefit of human masters, robots may replace humans for the benefit of corporate masters.

You may still disagree with the analogy but I think this is at least the proper analogy to be arguing about.

phaemon
I think that's an excellent analogy for what's occurring at this stage in humankind's development.
evv
You're missing something. Horse-like animals actually did develop cars. They only had to evolve into humans and build up a technological base before they could do it.

Over a very long period of time, animals developed cars. Now that same development process is remarkably faster, and robots are being developed. The horse analogy is perfectly valid.

sitkack
I really hope we dont let the bottom half of our economy fall before we strive for the restructuring we will need. Because when we let stuff fail, billions or trillions in value will vanish with it.
ModernMech
As a roboticist, this video made me very angry. This is not a great showing of science fact, but a strange distortion of the current state of robotics to fit a particular narrative. By the end, it definitely ventures well into the realm of science fiction. I'll point out some of the most egregious examples. This is a pretty long post, but if you spent 15 minutes watching the video, the least you can do is spend 15 minutes to read the following counterpoint.

Self-service checkout – “What used to be 30 humans is now 1 human overseeing 30 self-service check outs” – At all the grocery stores I’ve been to in my area, there are still ~30 human-staffed checkout lanes and 4 – 6 self-service machines, which replaced maybe two rows of check outs and still employs a human for oversight. However, these self-service checkouts allow the stores to operate 24/7, because after 10:00 they are the only lanes open. Now the store is open longer so it can make more money, whereas before they closed at 10:00. More money for the store means perhaps a whole new store opening, employing more people than would have otherwise been employed without self-service lanes.

Self-driving cars – “They are not the future, they are here and they work” – For narrow definitions of "here" and "work". There's a big difference between being developed in a lab and driving up and down the coast in sunny Cali, and being deployed to millions of consumers around the globe in multitudinous climates. He lists some things self-driving cars do better than humans, but fails to mention that self-driving cars lack the complex decision making, cognition, and communication abilities that are required in every-day driving. Self-driving cars are low hanging fruit for roboticists because we have a set of rules governing transportation, and that’s prime material for automation. Take the rules, code them up, done. Problem is, the rules are broken constantly, and in a way that driving a million miles up and down the west coast won’t solve (How many miles exactly has the Google car driven in snow?). Self-driving cars will come, but as long as there are still human drivers and weather, they will not live up to the hype they are currently generating. Take it from someone who actually engineers these types of robots.

Law Bots – He claims that bots will replace the bulk of lawyering because they can sift through a million e-mails quickly. And what happens when the bot is done? The lawyer gets back to work. It sounds to me like the bot is making the lawyer more efficient. Instead of spending weeks going through e-mails, he can use a computer to help him, and do his job more efficiently. So maybe we need fewer lawyers? The only reason we needed more in the first place was because of the amount of e-mail and electronic documents created by computers. To say we shouldn’t use a computer to fix a problem caused by computers is beyond ridiculous.

Doctor bots – He says that knowing the reaction of every drug between every other drug is beyond the scope of human capability… sounds like a great job for robots then! Again, this is an instance of a robot augmenting the capabilities of a human, not replacing one. He goes on to say that the doctor bots will be able to read the latest research, understand it, and then go on to implement the knowledge. First, one has to wonder how the research is being generated if human doctors are being replaced by robots. Second, as long as we’re assuming an AI advanced enough to read a research paper, generate inferences and implications based on that research, and act on that new knowledge, we might as well assume that all disease has also been cured, eliminating the need for doctor bots in the first place.

Creative bots – Finally, and most egregiously. Creativity is right up there next to sentience in the totem pole of AI capabilities, and is well into the realm of science fiction. The (only) example he gives, Emily Howell as a source of machine creative music is a complete joke. Here’s what the inventor of the bot has to say about it:

> Professor Cope argues that Emily Howell’s music is still predominantly created by humans. “Computers are not separate things,” he said. “The computer is human-made. The program itself is human-made. The music in the database is human as well. There’s so much about this that is human. There’s just a lot more humans involved in making this than usual.”

Emily Howell is a program designed by a human to output a specific kind of music. It may be music that has not been written before by any human, but it is not creative. In the end, the music is the result of an algorithm, designed by a human. In my view, a creative machine is one that performs a task, on purpose, it was not programmed to perform.

So those are the big problems I have with what he showed. What is even more aggravating is what he left out. What about robots that do things humans can't do. What about a robot that can fit into a 1/2" pipe, or one that can fly (we call them drones), or one that can go into a nuclear reactor or the bottom of the sea. Those robots are taking away 0 jobs, and create hundreds (if not thousands) of jobs for those that design, engineer, manufacture, repair, sell, program, manage, and use those robots.

Finally, robots are great at replacing some tasks that can be automated, but not so great at others. We've had robot receptionists for a while now. They are so terrible, that having a human receptionist is now a competitive advantage for some businesses. I think the general point that this video misses, is that robots are terrible at interfacing with people. Any human-facing occupation, even if it has aspects that can be automated, will probably still exist no matter how pervasive robots become in our lives. When robots can interact with humans well, we're probably talking about a future that is too far out for us to accurately predict.

zecho
Thank you for taking the time to write this.

Regarding the doctor bot portion, I found the claim that knowing the reactions of a cascade of drugs is beyond the scope of human capability to be an absolutely ludicrous position to take. That right there is a huge portion of internal medicine. Pharmacists, nurses, doctors and respiratory therapists, etc. all spend years learning these matrices before even entering practice. Maybe knowing the totality of all drug combinations is difficult, but it ignores the fact that most—if not all—drugs are prescribed under known, common patterns, often now with the assistance of programs to make sure they don't accidentally prescribe something that will interact poorly with other meds. Medical professionals end up specializing and work with only subsets of the matrix anyway, but I really doubt a robot will ever be able to replace a doctor in this area, let alone all of medicine. If recent history is a decent guide, robots and software will only augment a doctor's capability to work accurately and efficiently.

With the creativity bot, I also wondered about this. With creativity, a bot creating sound based on rules isn't a musical genius, let alone "creative." They're a performer. They'll have difficulty 1) creating new genres of music and 2) creating music that is popular or meaningful to people. Technical performance and creativity are two very, very different things. We tend to think of the rule breakers as the geniuses of creativity. Hard to do that when the act of telling a machine to break the rules is itself a rule. How boring.

Lastly, we've found that a robot that plays Jeopardy! against humans to be an interesting gimmick, but nobody would suggest a game show where robots continually compete against other robots. Who would find it entertaining?

Houshalter
He's not saying that robots are going to take literally every job ever. Only the majority of them.

I believe I read that stores don't encourage self-checkouts very much because having humans around significantly decreases shoplifting. This may be less necessary if we get better AIs for monitoring security cameras.

I've never read anything about self-driving cars being impossible in bad weather, only that no has done it yet. Machine vision systems are not as vulnerable to this btw and that has been improving in leaps and bounds over just the last 10 years.

Lawyers still searched through documents tediously before computers. It was probably even harder then, not easier.

It's at least theoretically possible create a robot that can diagnose and prescribe treatments for a patient just like a doctor. All the video claimed is that they can do statistics and search the relevant research a lot better. Which is definitely true, and see IBM's Watson.

Arguments about what "creativity" means are never useful or productive. But AI that generates music well already exists and is going to continuously get better.

JoachimS
Lawyers used to have support staff doing the sifting and collecting. Those jobs are the ones being replaced by tech first.
zecho
I don't consider a self-checkout lane to be a "robot" in any sense. It's a customer doing the job of a once trained employee. If you've ever been behind someone new to one of these things, they're slow and annoying experiences.

The main reason for them is reducing workers necessary during slow sales periods (like overnights, or weekday mornings).

And anyway, the job wasn't replaced by a robot in this case. The job was replaced by a customer.

JoachimS
No they aren't robots but tech that as a consequence reduce the number of employees.

In Sweden there has been quite a big reduction in number of people working at the checkouts. And even if they are freed up to do other things in the stores, there has been a net reduction in number of employees.

SiVal
Yes, "robot" isn't the point. "Non-human" is the point. Non-humans replacing humans probably began with animal domestication technology and has accelerated dramatically since then. Once a non-human replaces a human, the switch tends to be permanent, so all human jobs will eventually be replaced unless technology stops progressing (only if there's a global holocaust) or if humans can forever invent new jobs (that humans do better than non-humans) at a rate that matches the takeover of old jobs by non-humans.

Since the takeover is apparently accelerating, humans aren't significantly improving, and non-humans are, it's going to be a difficult race.

devonkim
One thing that strikes me as peculiar about the self-service checkout argument creating more wealth is that it assumes that the store would not have received the revenue if they weren't open at the time. Perhaps this might work in certain urban areas, but even still some places culturally abhor the idea of shopping for anything 24/7. I've heard that Germany doesn't have that many stores open very late because the purchase can probably wait until the next day and people would both plan their days better and allow for more leisure time away from chores and work accordingly. Assumptions about consumer behavior should be researched and tested first especially when entering new markets.

Also, let's not forget that we now have a human needing to supervise these 24/7 bots. Graveyard shift work in any industry regardless of pay is not a pretty thing to witness with really high turnover rates and the health ramifications for encouraging it are probably not positive in the aggregate. Of course, we could employ remote workers to oversee machines in their regular time, but this usually results in the loss of the on-site job and the creation of lower-value jobs in developing markets due to geographic limitations for one of the obvious end results.

But good criticisms overall about the robot revolution alarmists on many common arguments. I can't help but agree given I'm a strong AI skeptic given what I've learned about AI through research and the tendency of the AI community to overestimate itself on achieving human-like behaviors grossly for decades with no exception while so much progress (and more importantly for continued investments in modern economies, immediate value) has been achieved with weak AI. The comparison that's most accurate is that we achieved human flight, but nobody would say that an airplane is "superior" to a bird's capabilities. A Jetsons like future has been dreamed of in various capacities since human being realized they could make machines to do work, but the nature of work just adapts with all of these inventions.

JoeAltmaier
Its about if even one store is open late, then every store has to be. Because people go where the store is open. The closed store will absolutely lose those sales.
anigbrowl
Some people go where the store is open. I have a Safeway near me that's open until midnight, but it would have to be something of unusual urgency to make me go there late in the evening. Generally I just wait and go to my preferred supermarket a day later.
runeks
> I've heard that Germany doesn't have that many stores open very late because the purchase can probably wait until the next day and people would both plan their days better and allow for more leisure time away from chores and work accordingly.

Or maybe it's because they've had a federal law for 60 years that regulated open hours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shopping_hours#Germany

justincormack
In the UK we do have shops with only self service checkouts (convenience stores, not the larger supermarkets, so far).

Receptionists are an odd case, as telephone access to people has either been removed (use a web interface), or goes direct to where you want. Redesigning the interface.

Law bots will only change if the law changes to be more computer friendly.

sitkack
I don't think you and Grey are in disagreement. The content of the video is generally correct and points to where things are going, not specifics of implementation.

The presenter isn't attacking robotics, but outlining the increases in capabilities.

dfabulich
> To say we shouldn’t use a computer to fix a problem caused by computers is beyond ridiculous.

I think you may have misunderstood the purpose of the video. The video doesn't say, "hey, we need to turn off these computers because they'll make us obsolete."

He's arguing that we'll inevitably use computers to solve a problem created by computers, and that a lot of people will be unemployable as a result, and that's something we need to think about as a society.

The video doesn't suggest any concrete solutions at all. (Basic income/negative taxation seem like obvious candidates; walking back technology itself is probably not a good candidate, though some people will certainly try.)

3rd3
That video was actually briefly on the HN front page. I’m still wondering why some people apparently flagged so that it was quickly relegated to page 3 or so.
tachyonbeam
Might have been bots. There seem to be people using hostile bots to downvote things on reddit, for example.
dang
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8172461

No one flagged it.

3rd3
Ah, thanks for clearing it up. I was just surprised seeing it with 13 points off the front page the second time I checked it. Looks like I have to eat my words.
fred_durst
I'm very glad this video talks about the most likely first to be removed.

I'm so confused why everyone thinks the least expensive to purchase(low skill labor) will be replaced first when it requires the most expensive version of AI(robots).

Some more insight on this is research into why Wal-Marts did not cause as much employment loss as feared, but instead removed "community leaders" from the area. Because Wal-Mart did all of it's professional services back at corporate headquarters, the area it moved into lost all of those people. The first line of true AI will be very similar to a WalMart moving into town.

Aug 13, 2014 · 1 points, 0 comments · submitted by eie
Aug 13, 2014 · 75 points, 15 comments · submitted by hugofirth
netcraft
We already have an issue in the united states with not enough jobs to go around, if this dystopian outlook is truly inevitable, what are our options for mitigating it, or at least coping with it?

I have thought quite a bit about autonomous vehicles and how I can't wait to buy one and never have to drive again, how many benefits it will have on society (faster commutes, fewer accidents, etc), but I hadn't considered how much the transportation industry will be affected and especially how much truck drivers in particular would be ideal to replace. The NYT ran a story the other day (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/10/upshot/the-trucking-indust...) about how we don't have enough drivers to fulfill the needs, but "Autos" could swing that pendulum swiftly in the opposite direction once legeslation and production catch up. How do we handle 3.6M truck, delivery and taxi drivers looking for a new job?

I haven't read it yet, but I have recently had recommendations of the book Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies (http://smile.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00LOOCGB2/0sil8/re...) which I look forward to reading and hope it might be relevant.

hugofirth
Agreed. I'll have to have a look at that book.

I personally just hope that for once, governments, organisations and media outlets around the world can tackle something proactively and responsibly.

With social shifts as large and potentially difficult as those suggested by this video, we need a mental, moral and legislative framework for coping as soon as possible. Preferably before they are necessitated by the negative consequences of inaction.

rthomas6
I don't buy the "this time it's different" argument. The reason to automate things is to make more money, right? If you believe the video, nobody will be able to afford the stuff that is being made cheaper through automation.

If we're making everything faster, cheaper, and more efficient, the overall wealth for humans can only go up, not down. The question is who will get that wealth. My guess is it'll be the same as it always is: A small group of people will get most of it, and everyone else will get a little bit. In other words we'll all be better off, I think. To assume the destruction of the middle class means that the upper class will lose all of its buyers. Economics has proven time and time again that over the long term, improving efficiency makes everyone better off.

grinnbearit
Buyers are irrelevant if you can already produce (or demand) everything you need. Money is credit for value in the future, not value itself.
rthomas6
But this assumes finite human greed, and people to be perfectly content with their current standard of living.
grinnbearit
Its not only about what I can produce but what you can provide. Why would I give you money to trade for goods I own, seems like a losing proposition.
rthomas6
Oh, I see what you're saying. You mean that wealthy individuals will someday be able to use technology to completely automate out the need for goods and services from others. That seems farfetched, even in a mostly automated economy. Somebody's still got to produce, upgrade, and repair all those bots. Not to mention greet people on the phone, give haircuts, make sales, and do other jobs that benefit from a human touch.

Now if those bots can produce, upgrade, and repair themselves, and do jobs in a "human" way, that's approaching strong AI. At that point if everything is automated top to bottom from mining raw materials to a finished product, why wouldn't it all be free for everyone? That sounds like a post-scarcity economy to me, so it would seem pointless to hoard at that point. Backing up, the reason why I disagree with you and the video is because I think that over the long term, the more things get automated, the cheaper they'll be, for everyone, and therefore overall everyone's real wealth has gone up, on average.

It is easy to say that this may result in a greater concentration of wealth, and that will probably be the case. Where I disagree is that it will result in the "everyone else" group being worse off than they are now. At the very least I think their/our quality of life would remain the same. I don't think overall wealth will increase slower than the concentration of wealth, if that makes sense.

bjz_
Great work as always from CGP Grey. Be sure to check out his other videos - they are well worth the watch.
hugofirth
They are fantastic. This video represents something of a departure in form for him (in style, not quality), but I enjoyed the longer format.
pkfrank
I enjoyed it as well. This definitely feels like his most substantial video to date. It was less fun-fact-filled and quirky than his usual videos; instead, it was more serious/thorough, and focused on a major trend. Really quality stuff.
nanomage
I read about this 10 years ago, from a book published in 1998 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Theory_of_the_Leisure_Class
Joof
The real question is what to do about it. As a species what will happen to us when we completely obsolete ourselves?
courseeplus
Wow Nice Story
dpatriarche
I particularly liked one of the points that Grey made towards the end: what do we do about all of the people who will be "unemployable through no fault of their own"? Right now our economic system is predicated on rewarding those who deserve wealth (as judged by ability or hard work). The converse of that is that we as a society accept that the undeserving (stupid and/or lazy) will be punished economically. We rationalize this because we convince ourselves that it was their own fault, therefore it's "fair" . But what happens when intelligent, hard-working -- and therefore deserving -- people are unemployable? It's going to be a massive shock to people and to the system. (Or we will enter a state of mass cognitive dissonance and convince ourselves that the majority of the population has become stupid and lazy and so is getting what they deserve.)
deciplex
>Or we will enter a state of mass cognitive dissonance and convince ourselves that the majority of the population has become stupid and lazy and so is getting what they deserve.

A lot of people have already convinced themselves of that. Everyone is a part of a persecuted minority now, which has the simultaneous benefits of justifying the suffering of others (i.e. they deserve it), and providing a nice scapegoat for their own suffering (it's the goddamn liberals, red-staters, intellectuals, Hollywood, christian fundamentalists, etc. etc.). It allows people to be angry about their situation (which is unavoidable) while keeping that anger totally impotent. So goes the theory, anyway.

So you can oppress pretty much everyone, and present it to each group a little differently, and as long as you keep them at each others throats they will accept it.

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