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After Your Job Is Gone, by TechCrunch

Stashed in: Silicon Valley!, Economics!, Wealth!, Awesome, Amazon, @hblodget, Jobs, America!, Poverty, Walmart, America, Economics, Robot Jobs

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Wrong tense: the right question is what is happening. Henry Blodget points out “Fewer Americans are working than at any time in the past three decades.” The New York Timesobserves “The jobless rate remains far higher than it typically would be this far into a recovery,” quoting a factory owner: “Because it is automated, we won’t have to add a lot of employees with the upturn in the construction industry.”

It’s the same around the world. Western manufacturing jobs used to go to Chinese workers; now they’re increasingly going to Chinese robots, such as the million new robots that Foxconn is deploying.

Think you’re safe because you don’t work in a factory? Guess again. “In a move that could put millions of teenagers around the world out of their first job, Momentum Machines is creating a hamburger-making machine that churns out made-to-order burgers,” reports Gizmag. A Cornell robot can learn how and when to pour you a beer. Well, never mind food service, how about social services? …Oh. Other robots have been shown “wiping the mouth of a disabled man and adjusting a blanket.”

Retail? Forget about it. Derek Thompson writes in The Atlantic:

Retail now employs fewer people than it did in 1999. And those people work significantly fewer hours, too … Walmart, of course, isn’t the biggest threat facing retail workers anymore. That would be the inexorable growth of e‑commerce … There is a worse scenario, in which the squeeze in retail work intensifies competition for other low-skill jobs, pushing down wages at the bottom and pushing some people out of the labor force entirely. This possibility should not be dismissed too readily.

This is an important article because it clearly points out the ever-expanding gap between the haves and have nots.

The article rightly links to The Other Silicon Valley by Colleen Taylor:

Eye opening and sad. And I'm not sure what to do about it. 

I believe this is an early step towards the Singularity: where the economy starts to no longer require people to operate it.

And I think it's where the whole Singularity thing will break down... b/c psychologically, people NEED something to do every day. We need to work. We need to have some sort of struggle in our lives.


The vast majority of people are unable to be more than simple laborers, and won't be able to cope in the new order, begging the great question of "What do we do?"

Jason, have you read Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut?

I haven't read the piano player. Should I?

Can the work of the post-work era be making YouTube videos, Etsy items, blog posts, editing Wikipedia, voting on Reddit, etc.?

Or is that a ridiculous thought?

much closer to the truth.  some people will go hard sciences. some people will go hard labor.  others will be vanity machines.  others will be internet pandas

and yes.  read the book

Ok, putting it on my to-do list.

Player Piano is set in the future after a fictional third world war. During the war, while most Americans were fighting overseas, the nation's managers and engineers faced a depleted work force, and responded by developing ingenious automated systems that allowed the factories to operate with only a few workers. The novel begins ten years after the war, when most factory workers have been replaced by machines. The bifurcation of the population is represented by the division of Ilium into "The Homestead", where everyone who is neither a manager or engineer lives, and the other side of the river, where all the engineers and managers live.

Player Piano develops two parallel plot lines that converge only briefly, and insubstantially so, at the beginning and the end of the novel. The more prominent plot line follows the protagonist, Dr. Paul Proteus (referred to as Paul), an intelligent, thirty-five-year-old factory manager of Ilium Works. The ancillary plot line follows the American tour of the Shah of Bratpuhr, a spiritual leader of six million residents in a distant, underdeveloped nation. The purpose of the two plot lines is to give two perspectives of the system: one from an insider who is emblematic of the system, and one from an outsider who is looking in. Paul, for all intents and purposes, is the living embodiment of what a man within the system should strive to be, while the Shah is a visitor from a very different culture, and therefore applies a very different context to happenings he sees on his tour.

The main plot line follows the metamorphosis of Paul from being within the system to being against the system. At the beginning of the novel, Paul displays a sense of dissatisfaction with the industrial system and his contribution to society. Symbolically, he reflects on his colleagues' desire to destroy an old building, once a part of Edison's factory, which he saves and instead keeps it alive to store new machinery. Looking for salvation from a yet unknown plight, he gets a knock at his door, figuratively speaking, and Ed Finnerty, an old friend whom Paul has always held in high regard, informs him he has quit his important engineer job in Washington D.C. Paul and Finnerty visit a bar in the "Homestead" section of town, where workers who have been displaced by machines live out their meaningless lives in mass-produced houses. There, they meet an Episcopal minister, named Lasher, with an M.A. in anthropology, who puts into words the unfairness of the system that the two engineers have only vaguely sensed. They soon learn that Lasher is the leader of a rebel group known as the "Ghost Shirt Society", and Finnerty instantly takes up with him. Paul is not bold enough to make a clean break, as Finnerty has done, until his superiors ask him to betray Finnerty and Lasher.

He quits his job and is captured by the "Ghost Shirt Society" he is forced to join as their leader but only in name. Paul's father was the first "National, Industrial, Commercial Communications, Foodstuffs, and Resources Director". As his lengthy title suggests, Dr. George Proteus had almost complete control over the nation’s economy and was more powerful than the President of the United States. Through his father's success, Paul's name is famous among the citizens, so the organization intends to use his name to their advantage by making him the false 'leader' to gain publicity.

Sounds a lot like Brave New World, 1984, or Soylent Green...

I totally agree that we'll have mass unemployment.  But I'm optimistic that a large number of people will end up becoming Makers.  As society becomes more productive, there's been a steady trend to fewer hours worked and I think that continues.

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