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We’re heading into a jobless future, no matter what the government does

Stashed in: Economics!, Robots!, Awesome, Jobs, Singularity!, 3D Printers, Bots, We Are Doomed, Economics, uh oh, Robot Jobs

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Even the Washington Post, in the citadel of government action, suggests that the future will not have jobs for all.

No one knows what to do about this.

In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers reviveda debate I’d had with futurist Ray Kurzweil in 2012 about the jobless future.

He echoed the words of Peter Diamandis, who says that we are moving from a history of scarcity to an era of abundance. Then he noted that the technologies that make such abundance possible are allowing production of far more output using far fewer people.

On all this, Summers is right. Within two decades, we will have almost unlimited energy, food, and clean water; advances in medicine will allow us to live longer and healthier lives; robots will drive our cars, manufacture our goods, and do our chores.

There won’t be much work for human beings. Self-driving cars will be commercially available by the end of this decade and will eventually displace human drivers—just as automobiles displaced the horse and buggy—and will eliminate the jobs of taxi, bus, and truck drivers. Drones will take the jobs of postmen and delivery people.

The debates of the next decade will be about whether we should allow human beings to drive at all on public roads. The pesky humans crash into each other, suffer from road rage, rush headlong into traffic jams, and need to be monitored by traffic police. Yes, we won’t need traffic cops either.

Robots are already replacing manufacturing workers. Industrial robots have advanced to the point at which they can do the same physical work as human beings. The operating cost of some robots is now less than the salary of an average Chinese worker. And, unlike human beings, robots don’t complain, join labor unions, or get distracted. They readily work 24 hours a day and require minimal maintenance. Robots will also take the jobs of farmers, pharmacists, and grocery clerks.

This is potentially very disruptive to society.

Regardless, at best we have another 10 to 15 years in which there is a role for humans. The number of available jobs will actually increase in the U.S. and Europe before it decreases. China is out of time because it has a manufacturing-based economy, and those jobs are already disappearing. Ironically, China is accelerating this demise by embracing robotics and 3D printing. As manufacturing comes back to the U.S., new factories need to be built, robots need to be programmed, and new infrastructure needs to be developed. To install new hardware and software on existing cars to make them self-driving, we will need many new auto mechanics. We need to manufacture the new medical sensors, install increasingly efficient solar panels, and write new automation software.

So the future is very bright for some countries in the short term, and in the long term is uncertain for all. The only certainty is that much change lies ahead that no one really knows how to prepare for.

we'll have to come up with new ways to contribute to one another's lives.

but still, it might just turn into a terrible robot-takeover scene from terminator.  uh oh...

We can contribute to each others' lives but where can we get money from?

well, maybe not all contributions need to be fungible.  maybe we'll go back to a barter system.  or, better yet, a pay-it-forward system of favors that encourage compassion, connection, and happiness!

I've noticed bartering and paying forward seems to happen more often these days. 

it's tax-free and favor-full!  i hope it is a growing trend.

It HAS to be a growing trend, because many people can't afford traditional payments anymore.

"necessity is the mother of invention."  or so the saying goes...

You got that right. Necessity is a mother!

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