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Your job was outsourced… to a machine.

A couple of days ago, I went to Home Depot, and a robot checked me out.

That's right, A robot. Where once there had been four checkout counters, staffed with live check out clerks, there are now machines that read the labels on my merchandise, told me how much I had to pay, added the tax automatically, and took my money via a plastic card.

Five human checkers, five jobs, taken by robots. Just because they don't look like mechanical people doesn't mean that they're not real and effective. If you were thinking that the world was going to be taken over by mechanical monsters, you're behind the times. It's already happened, and they're not monsters. And, of course, five people out of work.

Five people out of work, replaced by five robot checkers and one human supervisor. And you think that we're outsourcing our jobs to India. That "Immigrants" are taking our jobs. That the jobs will come back if we lower the pay rates.

Guess what? The jobs are GONE. Killed off by our desire for convenience, and our desire for lower prices. These days, an industrial robot that does the job of a man on an assembly line costs about $20,000, requires no food, no healthcare, no house, no retirement benefits, can work around-the-clock without a break, and cost his boss much less than human worker. What's not to like?

We've been talking about this for years; now it's here, and what are we going to do about it? But the much bigger question is, if these jobs that once were done by humans are done better and more cheaply by machines, shouldn't we look at the whole "An honest days work for an honest dollar" paradigm differently? Because this reality is here right now. Five human checkers were put out of work by five robots, and it's so convenient that you may not even have noticed.

And this brings us to a much more important societal milestone; when a person's job is outsourced to a robot, how does this person eat? This is a very urgent question, because it's happening right now. Robots are simply cheaper and more reliable than humans for a lot of jobs. They don't call in sick; they don't go on strike; they don't have to eat, drink, rest, breathe, and all the other messy things that humans have to do. All they require is electricity, and some maintenance. When their usefulness is over, they don't need a pension. They can be taken apart and recycled, which is not something that you can do with human beings.

So what are humans to do when a machine can do their job better and cheaper? In Switzerland, people are going to receive a minimum income, whether they work or not. Several other countries are considering that. Here in the United States, with our Puritan mindset, we have a hard time conceiving of "free money". The people that run the country’s businesses think that somebody who doesn't work and receives money is a "welfare queen”. Well, we're going to be seeing a lot more of them soon, Because the jobs done by those four robot checkers at Home Depot are never coming back, unless we actually regress to a pre-machine age, which is unlikely.

This is going to be one of the greatest societal challenges of our age. Go ahead, ignore this. Keep recommending diaries about political kabuki, and watch as your job disappears. Right now, I'm writing this without pushing a single typewriter key. That 1950s secretary, the one who looked like Bettie Page (Always my favorite) and who knew what you really meant when you said “Miss Page, please take dictation" is gone, replaced by an app. And it's happening faster and faster.

Have a nice day.

Update. The rec list? what an honor! And I wrote so many better diaries! I guess, in the words of that dentist in Brooklyn, "Oh! Did I hit a noive?" Thank you.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (164+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    One Pissed Off Liberal, Cassandra Waites, Crashing Vor, Man Oh Man, Richard Lyon, Lawrence, abbysomething, potato, art ah zen, HeyMikey, Thutmose V, marking time, kharma, doh1304, terabytes, shaharazade, Sun Tzu, yoduuuh do or do not, Jarrayy, myadestes, nickrud, zerelda, LibrErica, genethefiend, AJayne, Involuntary Exile, liberaldregs, Dodgerdog1, BlueJessamine, Buckeye Nut Schell, bleeding blue, johnel, appledown, Aureas2, Deward Hastings, bsmechanic, TracieLynn, unfangus, prettygirlxoxoxo, splashy, Mr Robert, LillithMc, Spirit of Life, Whatithink, this just in, Matt Z, fumie, greycat, HedwigKos, dRefractor, reginahny, YucatanMan, Front Toward Enemy, BlueDragon, wader, PsychoSavannah, Most Awesome Nana, SherwoodB, Jim P, LABobsterofAnaheim, maggid, Santa Susanna Kid, maryabein, legendmn, shopkeeper, beemerr, geebeebee, Unca Joseph, dotdash2u, MartyM, radarlady, histOries Marko, JVolvo, solesse413, LeftieIndie, Chi, eyo, EastcoastChick, Glen The Plumber, ChasMac77, Catte Nappe, Shelley99, Hayate Yagami, Fox Ringo, letsgetreal, roses, Miss Bianca, radical simplicity, isabelle hayes, page394, puakev, NoMoreLies, srkp23, Sherri in TX, Brecht, ctsteve, greatferm, Statusquomustgo, deepeco, flowerfarmer, triv33, MJ via Chicago, leeleedee, Jbearlaw, Nulwee, Cat Servant, Tonedevil, unclejohn, WhizKid331, doingbusinessas, karmsy, BeerNotWar, fToRrEeEsSt, chimene, global citizen, KansasNancy, skymutt, anodnhajo, defluxion10, Eyesbright, joegoldstein, Cliss, carpunder, StrayCat, Shockwave, deeproots, Gowrie Gal, AoT, SpecialKinFlag, blue aardvark, LakeSuperior, Annalize5, blueoasis, operculum, Alumbrados, PapaChach, ItsaMathJoke, Bluesee, mookins, rapala, Laurel in CA, slowbutsure, ModerateJosh, ladybug53, Hatrax, Galtisalie, eeff, eagleray, lady blair, chantedor, maybeeso in michigan, k9disc, lucid, clinging to hope, wasatch, Throw The Bums Out, George3, sawgrass727, Apost8, Calamity Jean, Eric Stetson, EthrDemon, NBBooks, jhop7

    Focus on the love! The Republicans can keep the disco.

    by Mr Horrible on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 08:02:32 AM PST

  •  I never use the machines for that very reason. (66+ / 0-)

    Not at the grocery store, nowhere. On the occasion that there is no alternative, I leave my items on one of the closed conveyors and go look for a manager.

    Sometimes I leave without my items, but it's worth it to me.

    "The right is correct on one thing...we really are a bunch of easily outraged nitpickers."

    by potato on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 08:21:25 AM PST

  •  This is the reality that is facing (40+ / 0-)

    a "post industrial" world. I've posted a few diaries on the impact of robots and automation. They always draw a chorus of people telling me that it is just not true.

    •  "It's just not true" (16+ / 0-)

      That's what they said at the Buggywhip factory. Richard, you and I are just ahead of our time.

      Focus on the love! The Republicans can keep the disco.

      by Mr Horrible on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 08:24:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think about this all the time (26+ / 0-)

        In listening to the "debate" about extending long-term unemployment benefits for another three months, I want to pull my hair out, because while I agree that the benefits will be helpful in an immediate way and are worth the cost, they truly won't do anything to fix the structural problems we've created in our economy and in our culture.

        Robots don't just eliminate workers - they eliminate consumers too.  Robots never make any purchases from any stores, unlike employees. They never buy houses or cars or even a pack of bubble gum. Automation eventually causes the complete destruction of economic activity. Think in terms of Kant's categorical imperative - do only that which you would will should become a universal law. If every job were outsourced to a robot or computer, there would be no one left to buy anything the robots produced.

        And for people who think that intellectual work can't be done by computers and computerized robots, boy are you in for a surprise. Accountants, financial planners, writers, graphic designers - you are all replaceable, you will soon find out.

        So, what can we do about it?

        Well, the main thing that has consumed my thoughts lately is a legislated reduction in the number of hours considered full time work (without a reduction in pay).

        For example, if I work 40 hours a week for $250 net today, then in my proposed scheme, I would work 30 hours a week for $250 net.  This would have the effect of increasing my hourly pay rate, it would cause employers to need to hire approximately 25% more people to cover the same number of production hours, and it would give people more free time in which they could either engage in a hobby, take care of children, or work a second job if they wanted to -- there would be a lot more such jobs available. If an employer and employee both wanted to continue with a 40-hour work-week - fine - just pay time and a half for hours above 30 per week.

         What is stopping us from doing this?

        Basically, the top .1% who primarily own the means of production are not willing to take any cut in their income, in spite of having more money than God or good sense would allow.

        Women do 2/3 of the world's work, receive 10% of the world's income and own 1% of the means of production.

        by LibrErica on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 09:23:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not sure that our current high unemployment (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mr Horrible, wader, LibrErica, Cliss

          is structural. Six years of contractionary fiscal policy plays a big part, too.

          •  Except that 3% unemployment used to be the norm (7+ / 0-)

            And now we're (or at least the FED is) thinking that 7% unemployment is okay enough. They said the economy was showing signs of sustained strength. (I bet they would not say that if they weren't all sitting around with great, fat wallets.)

            The acceptable level of unemployment edges higher and higher.

            We've been having "jobless recoveries" for decades now.

            To some extent, it's structural and will only become more so.

            As far the the owners of capital are concerned, there's at least 10-20% of the population that's "superfluous" -- or not needed in order to produce all the goods and services that the population requires/demands. I don't see that changing, absent some kind of population fall off, which I would not wish for on general ethical principles.

            Women do 2/3 of the world's work, receive 10% of the world's income and own 1% of the means of production.

            by LibrErica on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 10:52:18 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  The structural problems in our economy are worse (10+ / 0-)

              than I stated above.

              In addition to automation making people more and more obsolete, (diminishing peoples' ability to earn a basic living) we've also converted away from making things and we have this enormous sector of the economy (Finance) that makes money by gambling and arbitrage and actually sucks money OUT of the real economy.

              The only solution to that aspect of it is to re-regulate the finance industry (which we would already have done if they didn't own our government) and imo, outlaw high speed trading.

              Women do 2/3 of the world's work, receive 10% of the world's income and own 1% of the means of production.

              by LibrErica on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 10:57:23 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  The problem with regulating is (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                joegoldstein, AoT, mike101

                that the capitalists just buy the regulators and the regulations.

                The economy is doing just fine for the capitalists. What we need to do is restructure the economy so that it does fine for people. I can promise you that as long as the capitalists are in control, that won't happen.

                If you don't like the word "capitalist", replace it with "the 1%".

                We cannot win a war crime - Dancewater, July 27, 2008

                by unclejohn on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 02:47:39 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  I think a large part of it is (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Some is bad policy, yes.  But I really believe that even under the best circumstances a lot of people would just have no job - because so many jobs disappeared into the tech vortex, never to return.

            •  It can be done... (0+ / 0-)

              The problem succinctly is it does not take as many people to make and distribute the same stuff as it used to.

              So, shorten the work week, increase vacation time, and increase pay.  This does a few things.  First, it creates a few more jobs directly.  But, in addition, people are getting paid more which means more disposable income which is nice.  But, we also add more free time.  Which means people will have time to do stuff with that additional income.

              That last of additional free time and doing stuff is important from an environmental stand point in my opinion.  There are physical resource limits to making more stuff.  If we just increase employment and income without adding free time, I think people will tend to direct the income towards more stuff.  But, with more free time I think the income might get directed more towards doing things which I think is less resource intensive and probably creates more jobs.

              For example: A nice sit down restaurant meal involves power for the restaurant and food to serve.  But, your lights are off at home, a well made professional meal might have smaller portions than a home cooked meal and therefore use less food. So, in the end resource wise a good restaurant meal might be a wash and several people are employed due to people having the time and pay to have that meal.

              I might also add lower the retirement age and increase the public pension (Social Security).  Essentially, the younger generation makes money taking care of the older generation in the knowledge the next generation will do the same for them.

      •  It's not even that cut and dried (11+ / 0-)

        The automobile, unfortunately, came along about 100 years before "Fifty Shades of Grey."  

        On the other hand, horse and buggy manufacturers had the best period ever.  Originally, car makers didn't have any bodies to put the engine in.  So they hired coach makers.  As car companies accounted for more and more of their business, they began to increaingly redesign their "coaches" to be suitable automobile bodies.

        Until the 1980s, every GM car had, on the door sill, a picture of a little buggy and the notation "Body By Fisher."  The Fisher Body Works was a Detroit buggy maker who got the GM contract.  By the by, they were acquired by GM, but were still called the Fisher Body Works until the advent of unibody vehicle architecture.

    •  It's very true. (23+ / 0-)

      It's not just robots, but also technological innovation, like you said. The drive to squeeze every dime out of a process will almost invariably prove a detriment to working folks.

      I work in the printing business in the area now known as prepress. I'm one of the lucky ones; I was able to make the transition to a completely new process- technological revolution!- not once, but twice. I work with computers and machinery to complete assigned tasks in preparing jobs to go on press. When I started in the trade 35 years ago, the volume of work that I now produce would have taken a crew of 12-15 people. Those jobs are gone, never to return, and I'm one guy, in one printing plant. I would hazard a guess that this affected tens of thousands of workers.

      •  In my college years, ALA was a strong proud union. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mr Horrible, johnel

        The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war. ♥ ♥ ♥ Forget Neo — The One is Minori Urakawa

        by lotlizard on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 10:28:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly (6+ / 0-)

        And all those people that would have previously worked with you moved on, working elsewhere - filling jobs that would be filled by others.

        Multiply that  by other examples of tech downsizing, predatory cheap labor outsourcing, and bad policy and you have a game of musical job chairs, where more and more chairs are disappearing, never to be replaced.

        Eventually the music will stop and there will be a whole gaggle of people standing.  Then what will we do?

      •  The up side of technological innovation (0+ / 0-)

        is that in a economy run for humans, that leaves them more leisure time to pursue other activities than earning a living. The more machines do the work, the cheaper goods can be and the more can be produced.

        As a result, middle class people today live much, much better than royalty did before the machine age.

        We cannot win a war crime - Dancewater, July 27, 2008

        by unclejohn on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 02:51:53 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Only if they have income. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          As a result, middle class people today live much, much better than royalty did before the machine age.
          If people are impoverished by having their work done by a machine, they won't be living better.  

          "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." -- Sen Carl Schurz 1872

          by Calamity Jean on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 12:52:04 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  If the work is done by a machine, (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Andrew Lazarus, JeffW

            there is less work that needs to be done by humans to fulfill their needs.

            The catch is that capitalists insist that their products and services sell at a profit. Without that impediment, we can easily create an economy where people do the work that needs that machines can't do, and the wealth is distributed according to need.

            The only thing in our way is that capitalists make the rules.

            We cannot win a war crime - Dancewater, July 27, 2008

            by unclejohn on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 05:14:31 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  "Critical Path," by Buckminster Fuller. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Read it.

      Regulated capital serves the people, unregulated capital serves itself.

      by Alumbrados on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 03:42:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yes, this is the key social issue of the 21st (37+ / 0-)

    century, imo.

    Ownership of robots needs to be spread amongst the entire population and we need a guaranteed basic income for all.

    Next in line to be outsourced are truck drivers.  Automatic trucks are going to be cheaper, safer, and more efficient than human drivers.  Think it's not coming soon?  Be prepared for a big surprise in the next ten years.

    Tipped and recced because this topic definitely is not being discussed enough.

    "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

    by Lawrence on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 08:22:41 AM PST

  •  Your diary could be (and has been) written by a (20+ / 0-)

    variety of people starting from at least 19th century and probably earlier.

  •  Then the next move: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mr Horrible, Unca Joseph, white blitz

    To China to make spare parts for the robots.

    Suggestion for Facebook: 50 free "starter friends" automatically as soon as you sign up.

    by dov12348 on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 08:32:22 AM PST

  •  they pulled those machines out of my (15+ / 0-)

    local grocery store.

    because theft went up considerably.

    -You want to change the system, run for office.

    by Deep Texan on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 08:34:47 AM PST

  •  old, old story - but no less true (20+ / 0-)

    bank tellers
    gas station attendants
    data entry clerks

    it started with manufacturing - but job elimination has been going on for a long, long time.  And you're right - they won't come back.  They aren't moved to a lower cost labor force - they're gone.

  •  Switzerland: not yet. Joseph Stiglitz. (13+ / 0-)
    A date hasn't been set yet for the vote. It's not obvious that the Swiss support the proposal. And even if they do back it, parliament would then take years to draft legislation before the law took effect.

    Nobel economics winner Joseph Stiglitz agrees with you on the impact of automation, so you're in good company. Stiglitz also notes offshoring has similar effect. THIS IS ESSENTIAL READING:

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 08:39:11 AM PST

  •  The difference is (18+ / 0-)

    that now automation is not replacing human muscle power, but human information processing.

    We are entering a new world, and we are entering it blindly.

    "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." Bertrand Russell

    by Thutmose V on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 08:40:23 AM PST

  •  asdf (7+ / 0-)

    those self checkout things aren't going over well. A lot of people are 'forgetting' to ring up items.
    usually higher ticket items.
     they lose more money in 'shrinkage' than the savings on poverty wage employees.
     Consumers aren't trained cashiers, You can't charge someone with shoplifting for not checking out correctly.

  •  Dont' use them... (13+ / 0-)

    I urge everyone.  It gives me satisfaction to stand in line behind three customers using a human and to see three robots twiddling their hard drives.

    If debugging is the process of removing bugs, then programming must be the process of putting them in.

    by kharma on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 08:43:22 AM PST

  •  the transition will be very messy (4+ / 0-)

    and there will be unforeseen consequences. For example: what is the ratio of how much money credit card fees take from the economy to the stimulus package? I's not quite 1 to 1, but it's close. There are lots of hidden factors, and since we won't or refuse to see them coming they will all work against us. This is especially the case with "Convenience".

  •  Dean Baker (5+ / 0-)

    Robots Don't Cost Jobs, Bad Economic Policy Does

    .................expect us......................... FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

    by Roger Fox on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 08:50:15 AM PST

    •  It's both. And it is as clear as can be (6+ / 0-)

      that automation has cost millions of jobs in this country.

      I'm old and used to work as a policy typist at an insurance company.  Travelers, to be exact.  When it was just an insurance company and not under some huge umbrella corporation, like now.

      15 of us typed policies.  8 hours a day at $6.00 an hour which was damn good money back then.  We used carbon paper.  It was relatively mind-numbing work, unless you got put in the claims department for a while and had to transcribe claims statements.  That was always kind of fun.

      Anyway, maybe 1 of those jobs is still around.  GIven that there were thousands of insurance companies at the time with an equivalent typing pool, do the math.

      Your insurance policy is done on a computer now, smart phone apps makes claims statements unnecessary.  The list goes on.

      When you stop and think about it for even a minute, you can see, right in front of you, the jobs that have gone away already, nevermind what the whiz-bank world of technology has in store for us.

      Listening to the NRA on school safety is like listening to the tobacco companies on cigarette safety. (h/t nightsweat)

      by PsychoSavannah on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 10:50:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  How do you address this problem, though? (7+ / 0-)

    In history, each advance in technology that has brought about an industry-wide displacement actually resulted in a net increase in jobs.

    It remains to be seen if this will be the case here, but a few thoughts:

    1. Robots need programmers.
    2. Robots need mechanics and repairmen.
    3. Robots need to be designed.

    These are all tasks that would be performed by humans, and they would all be well-paid jobs. Will this replace all the tellers? I'm doubtful.

    A theory I've tossed around with friends is that we're one generation removed from a return to the reintroduction of the Downton Abby style service sector: Rather than working at restaurants or grocers, most of the service sector will serve people in their homes- nannies, maids and cooks. The top 10% will be able to afford it, and the bottom 30% will desperately need the jobs.  

    •  It is one thing to take a long view of history. (9+ / 0-)

      It is a rather different thing to pay the rent at the end of the month. Jobs are being eliminated by robots just as they were by steam powered looms. The impact of that on lives is real and immediate.

      This round of automation is occurring in the context of a world that has a far more globalized labor force than has ever existed before. What has happened in the past is not a guarantee of what will happen in the future.  

    •  But (10+ / 0-)

      I work for a technology company - and they are off shoring our programing and support jobs at a record pace.  We still have some support in the US but most of the manufacturing is done in China and the programming done in India.

      Most of the jobs at this company are 'contract' positions - meaning that there might be 3000 jobs in RTP but only about 1000 are actual 'employees' the rest are contractors/vendors that cost the company less.  

      The same time that the company was doing another lay off - the CEO  got an  80% raise via a massive stock award AND  a salary boost to $1.1 million from $375,000.

      Why do Republicans Hate Americans?

      by Caniac41 on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 10:38:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  This is why shortchanging... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mr Horrible, akeitz, itsjim

      .....our El-Hi educational system will really fk us up.

      Nice mention of Downton Abbey, where in the last episode the cook was pissed off that an electric mixer was purchased (because it saved labor and she didn't want to be made surplus).

      Misconduct by the government is by definition NOT a government secret.

      by Doug in SF on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 10:55:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Robots need programmers? (0+ / 0-)

      Not after the program is written & debugged. At least, not much, not often, & not many. (And only until they learn to write their own code.) And one program does for as many robots as you build, maybe with minor tweaks.

      So when you field 100,000 automated checkout scanners, you put at least 200,000 cashiers out of work (since the scanners don't mind working double shifts) while providing work for maybe 50 programmers and 1,000 repairmen.

      The situation with software is analogous to performing arts: Once you record a performance to high enough fidelity that it can be reproduced in sufficient quality (i.e., well enough that the audience can't tell the difference) using hardware that isn't outrageously expensive, everything and everyone involved in that performance become superfluous. "Live" performances continue as places to see & be seen (or to score drugs) rather than to hear or see whatever is being performed. No such luck with the checkout line.

      The greatest trick the GOP ever played was convincing the devil they had a soul to sell.

      by Uncle Cosmo on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 12:02:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The thing that makes this time different (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BramP, katiec, Calamity Jean

      is that you only need a small team of programmers to write the software for an army of robots.

      Also, most code is reusable.  So say some team of programmers writes a routine for scanning a barcode, anytime someone needs their bot to scan a barcode they will just reuse that code either as is or slightly modified.

      This wave of change is creating shrinkage instead of the traditional expansion.

  •  you just saw em? (16+ / 0-)

    Those machines have been there for years now. Heck, years ago my local library replaced most of the librarians with self-checkout machines.

    Wait till they replace all the cashiers at Walmart with the same machines.

    Heck, McDonalds and Burger King have already experimented with replacing their counter help with a self-serve machine--you enter your own order.

    Better yet, they've experimented with eliminating the order-takers in the drive thru---your order goes by data line to a center in India, then routed back to the kitchen where your order is pulled. One person can now handle a dozen drive thru's.

    I'm sure most folks are already aware that Amazon has replaced many of its warehouse workers with automated robots that use scanners and GPS navigation to pull your order and deliver it to the shipping department.

    It's bad enough that all the high-paying jobs have been replaced by low-wage shit jobs--but now even those are disappearing at an accelerated pace.

    The good part, though, is that it will ultimately lead to the death opf capitalism and the "free market".  Our entire economy is based on income from jobs.  If there ARE NO jobs, then there is no income, and the entire economy collapses. We as a society will be forced, whether we like it or not, to devise a system of economic distribution that is NOT based on job income, which allows people to obtain their necessities of life whether they have a job or not.

    There is a name for that type of social distribution system . . . . .

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 08:52:58 AM PST

    •  I Just NOTICED them (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and realized their implications

      Focus on the love! The Republicans can keep the disco.

      by Mr Horrible on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 09:08:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Some of the chain sit down restaurants (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mr Horrible, katiec

      are experimenting with tablets at the table. You enter your own order and (eventually) a server brings it to you. No need to socialize with one of those waitresses.
        I'm sure that a gratuity will still be added to the bill, though.

    •  and then, stagnation of the species (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mr Horrible

      If nobody can afford anything, what'll be anybody's motivation to produce anything?  

      Capitalism isn't great, especially in the corrupted form it's in now, but it's one of the few things that's motivated people to do anything.

      With no way to work, people will just be sitting around with nothing to do.  Maybe they'll make arts and fucking crafts, but who'll be able to buy 'em?  And hobbies won't be much fun if you can't spend any money on 'em.

      A society where no one has any disposable income is a society that'll be unmotivated, stagnant, bored out of its mind, having no reason to seek knowledge, and regressing.  And that usually leads to violence.  Humans are awful, awful animals.  When we have nothing better to do, we tend to get fucked up and start killing each other.

      The destruction of work will not lead to Utopia.  The population's far too blown up for that anymore.

      "Glenn Beck ends up looking like a fat, stupid child. His face should be wearing a chef's hat on the side of a box of eclairs. " - Doug Stanhope

      by Front Toward Enemy on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 10:59:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Agree (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      isabelle hayes, Calamity Jean
      Our entire economy is based on income from jobs.  If there ARE NO jobs, then there is no income, and the entire economy collapses. We as a society will be forced, whether we like it or not, to devise a system of economic distribution that is NOT based on job income, which allows people to obtain their necessities of life whether they have a job or not.
      We are going to be forced to learn a new way of being whether we like it or not.
  •  Here's what I don't get... (22+ / 0-)

    ...about progressives' complaints about automation replacing labor.

    Human beings are gloriously complex, creative, interesting creatures, capable of incredible feats of imagination and beauty. Each and every human being has the potential for tremendous creativity and marvelous ideas.

    Robots are machines that do what they are programmed to do, again and again, and nothing more (at least until SkyNet becomes self-aware). A robot's potential is limited to that which human beings design or program it to do.

    I find it somewhat ridiculous that some progressives define it as a good thing that a gloriously complex, creative, interesting creature should be employed at mundane and repetitive tasks that could be performed more effectively by a robot, and suggest that those of us who support the automation of such tasks are opposed to progress.

    I agree that the automation of mundane and repetitive tasks has, in the past, led only to more wealth on the part of the powerful, at the expense of the masses.

    But I don't think that the solution is to ask more human beings to perform mundane and repetitive tasks instead of machines.

    Instead, I think we should work for a world in which the benefits of the automation of mundane and repetitive tasks are shared throughout humanity rather than enjoyed only by the few.

    "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

    by JamesGG on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 08:56:09 AM PST

    •  I quite agree. (16+ / 0-)

      I'm totally in favor of full UN-employment.  Let the machines do all the work.

      But in the meantime, people need to eat, and are totally dependent upon job income to eat.  And we have no provision at all for providing food to large numbers of people who will never have a job because there are not any jobs left anymore . . . . . .

      The transition will be a wrenching one.

      In the end, reality always wins.

      by Lenny Flank on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 09:14:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Some people are either not suited for more (5+ / 0-)

      than simple, mundane, tasks, or are perfectly happy to do such work and enjoy their creativity on their own time.

      •  I reject the first notion entirely. (7+ / 0-)

        The idea that some people "are not suited for more than simple, mundane tasks" seems to me to be suggesting that there are some people who are inherently incapable of creativity, learning, or imagination.

        Not only does that devalue them in completely dismissing their potential, in my opinion it also robs the work they do of much of its dignity; if the only reason one hires a person to do something rather than having a machine do it is that they think the person is incapable of doing anything else, then employment becomes a form of pity and charity, something done out of the kindness of one's heart rather than because one needs the employee to get the job done.

        I believe that even those who have intellectual or physical disabilities that make them incapable of learning certain kinds of things or performing certain complex tasks can find some outlet for imagination and creativity, particularly if we reject the notion that maybe it just means they're suited to mop floors or run grocery checkouts.

        As for those who prefer to do mundane tasks, I can see the appeal on some level to that; as someone who gardens and cleans his own house, I think there's absolutely a value to choosing to perform those tasks for myself even when a machine could do them. But that is my choice for my time, not a necessity of my economic condition.

        If we were to distribute the benefits of automation evenly so that everyone had the means to survive and thrive without needing to work, those who still wanted to perform simple and mundane tasks for personal reasons could do so by choice. Meanwhile, those who didn't want to do them would be free to not do them, rather than being forced by economic necessity to take a job they don't want.

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 10:24:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Having worked with the LD folks (3+ / 0-)

          You are right, they often don't like the menial tasks they end up doing when they do work. They would rather do something creative.

          Women create the entire labor force.
          Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

          by splashy on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 10:59:57 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  The problem with your argument.... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mr Horrible, Sparhawk

 that the vast majority of the interesting, complex peoples' ideas will have been thought of by someone else first, or those ideas will be interesting without being marketable, or there will be too few ideas per person that are marketable to sustain a reasonable income.

          Misconduct by the government is by definition NOT a government secret.

          by Doug in SF on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 10:59:59 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  So dump the "reasonable income" from the equation. (6+ / 0-)

            I write above about distributing the benefits of automation throughout society, in part because I believe we are already at the point where most if not all of humanity's needs can be provided for with substantially less than 40 person-hours per week of labor from every able-bodied adult.

            Technologies like 3-D printing and advanced digital production are making it more and more possible for people to realize their ideas without needing to pay a tool-and-die shop or buy $10,000 in editing equipment in order to make their ideas a reality; imagine where those things will be in 20 years.

            So what if we were to remove "reasonable income" from the equation, if people were free to try out their ideas without having to worry about whether they'd be able to feed their families?

            "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

            by JamesGG on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 11:08:15 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Fair enough, (0+ / 0-)

              however your argument states that we should go ahead with technology because the most good ideas will be utilized (and probably a lot of bad ones too). This may be a good argument and a worth goal, but it doesn't address the problem that the vast majority of people do not and will not come up with enough ideas to sustain themselves. I think we're actually not too far apart on this one, to tell you the truth.

              Misconduct by the government is by definition NOT a government secret.

              by Doug in SF on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 03:23:41 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  Vincent Van Gogh died in poverty (7+ / 0-)

      in spite of his creative genius.  

      Creativity, per se, isn't rewarded as much as, say, wearing lingerie on stage, simulating sex and singing bad songs.

      L'enfer, c'est les autres....Jean-Paul Sartre

      by Keith930 on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 10:16:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  And how many would-be Van Goghs... (6+ / 0-)

        ...have toiled away at a checkout counter or a dish basin all of their lives never having the free time to learn or practice painting, or the energy to convert their visions into art?

        How many Mozarts' and Einsteins' genius have we wasted by putting them to work mopping floors or putting them on an assembly line?

        Van Gogh didn't live in a world where the benefits of automation were shared among humanity either. Perhaps if he had been, things might've turned out differently.

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 10:32:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The expression of Mozart's genius was largely (0+ / 0-)

          an outcome of his father's desire for money and social status, not 5-year-old wolfgang's desire to sit endless hours at the harpsichord.

          To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

          by UntimelyRippd on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 02:37:34 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Heh- I spent a big chunk of my 20's (0+ / 0-)
        wearing lingerie on stage, simulating sex and singing bad songs.
        Admittedly, I'm a guy with a beard, but I don't remember it paying all that well.
    •  human beings are not that nice (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mr Horrible
      Human beings are gloriously complex, creative, interesting creatures, capable of incredible feats of imagination and beauty. Each and every human being has the potential for tremendous creativity and marvelous ideas.
      Not everyone is fucking lovely.  They also are capable of great depravity and violence, and have a potential for tremendous destruction and horrible ideas.

      Do not have so much faith in your fellow man.   For every nice person, there are at least a dozen total assholes who'll kick the shit out of that nice person just for fun.

      Remember, prisons are societies where nobody has to work.  And life isn't a whole lot of fun inside 'em.

      "Glenn Beck ends up looking like a fat, stupid child. His face should be wearing a chef's hat on the side of a box of eclairs. " - Doug Stanhope

      by Front Toward Enemy on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 11:04:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  So production lines and grocery checkouts exist... (0+ / 0-)

        ...because we've got to give the total assholes something to do?

        We should intentionally limit and restrain human potential because we've got the potential to do terrible things as well as wonderful things?

        I don't make any pretensions about human nature; nobody who sees what is going on in the world today can operate under the illusion that human beings aren't capable of some seriously depraved, selfish, violent things.

        But the real question is whether you think the good in our potential outweighs the bad—if, over time, you think the balance will lean towards people doing the right and just thing, or the wrong and unjust thing.

        If you think that it'll be a net positive, as I do, you do what you can to unlock human potential and do what you can to mitigate, limit, or undo the damage done by the bad.

        If you think it'll be a net negative, though, I don't see how that's not an ultimate argument for some kind of voluntary human extinction, asking people to stop reproducing until the species eventually just dies off. Some people truly do go in that direction. I find it completely hopeless.

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 12:08:15 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  the wrong and unjust thing (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          But the real question is whether you think the good in our potential outweighs the bad—if, over time, you think the balance will lean towards people doing the right and just thing, or the wrong and unjust thing.
          Sorry, but in both my personal experience and in observing what goes on around the world, human beings are far more apt to do the wrong and unjust thing than they are the good.  I'm not sure what nice part of the world you've been living in, but where I've been, people tend far more toward the nasty side.

          And when humans are unmotivated and given too much free time because they have nothing important to be doing, a lot of 'em tend to get much worse.   Most people are simply not very creative, and a lot of 'em are flat-out stupid.  If they're left with nothing to do, they're not going to write symphonies and great novels and make great paintings (which nobody'd be able to afford, anyway, since nobody'd be making money) -- they're going to look for some kind of stimulation and a lot of the time it's going to take very negative forms.  Like I said, look at prisons.  They have a lot of time on their hands, little to do, and so they abuse each other, and whatever substances they can get their hands on.  

          Look at poverty-stricken countries.  Nobody has to work, because there's no work to be found.  Are great works of art coming out of Somalia?  Did Cambodia build a Utopia?  Is Darfur building a bridge to a bright and awe-inspiring future?  It's just misery, exploitation of the weak, and not much future for anyone.

          It's a nice idea that people would create wonderful things if their time was freed up, but it's not a very realistic one.  The thing that motivates people is usually the need to make a living, and to earn some reward in the form of financial success.  That's what makes them be innovative.  I know that's not ideal... but, this world is not ideal.  It's not even close.  And, humans being what they are, it never will be.  There is no realistic reason to believe that the history of human nature will suddenly reverse itself just because people become more enlightened.  We've had wars, injustice, and misery for all of our history, and we've been getting smarter all the time... and all we've really done with that is get better at war, injustice, and exploiting each other.

          It's ugly, and it spits in the face of every ideal, but it's who we are.  If that makes you feel hopeless... then maybe hopeless is appropriate, because, sorry, but it's the only real path when humans are involved.   I look for what good I can find among people on a small, individual level.  You can find that, and it's best to try to be content with that much, because the species, overall and as a whole, is never going to be something to put much faith in.

          As for voluntary human extinction... I wouldn't take it as far as extinction, but if a whole lot more people would quit breeding, that'd be wonderful.  We have far, far more people than we'll ever need already, so a little negative population growth would be a great thing.

          "Glenn Beck ends up looking like a fat, stupid child. His face should be wearing a chef's hat on the side of a box of eclairs. " - Doug Stanhope

          by Front Toward Enemy on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 12:46:33 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Prisons are full of people (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mr Horrible

        who are there because we insist on tying labor with income.

        And these people choose the wrong kind of labor to supply their income.

        If everyone was able to eat, sleep in a nice warm place, and have a little entertainment without labor, we would have alot less thieves, robbers, drug dealers, con artists and the like.  Then prisons would have plenty of room for those who are truly antisocial and dangerous.

        I know, this isn't Star Trek and all but I'm just sayin'.

        •  you can't stop human nature (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          It'd be nicer if no one was hungry, sure.   But someone would always have more than someone else, and you'd still get crime.   There's no stopping that.

          Being poor in the U.S. is usually like being well-off in many areas of the world, and yet we still get more crime, because it's not human nature to just be content with what you have.  A lot of the people in jail weren't as poor as a lot of the honest people who are walking the streets.

          Letting robots do all the work isn't going to stop humans from the evil things they do.  It's just going to give them less motivation, more boredom, and more time on their hands to do the wrong thing.  It's who we are as a species.  

          I mean, I'd love to be wrong, but so far less employment hasn't helped any society.  Look at Britain under Thatcher.  Unemployment was high but lots of people were still fed and housed by being on the dole... and crime, violence, and discontent went up.  And it wasn't half as bad then as it will be when technology replaces almost all available jobs while our population keeps increasing unchecked.

          Ideals are nice, but they aren't realistic.

          "Glenn Beck ends up looking like a fat, stupid child. His face should be wearing a chef's hat on the side of a box of eclairs. " - Doug Stanhope

          by Front Toward Enemy on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 01:22:39 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Agree (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      isabelle hayes
      Instead, I think we should work for a world in which the benefits of the automation of mundane and repetitive tasks are shared throughout humanity rather than enjoyed only by the few.
      And like several people have noted upthread we need to decouple labor from income.  People should be able to feed their families and live  a normal life - not on the fringes of society (homeless, shelters, etc) but as full members of it without the requirement of making widgets or moving papers from one pile to another.

      Yes, let the robots do that shit.

    •  I agree, in much the same way... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joegoldstein, Calamity Jean

      ...that the computer revolution should be [b]made[/b] to serve the lower classes, not the upper classes. By this, I mean we should all be earning living wages by working ten hours a week. Instead, the upper classes have used computer technology to make us do the work of four people in forty hours.

      But when PC's first came on the scene, all you read about was how much leisure time we would have as a result. But the greed heads decided that tech should be used to drive up productivity of the laborer and profit for themselves.

      As I posted up thread, in [u]Critical Path[/b] by Buckminster Fuller, he talks about how society is going to have to fundamentally change due to automation replacing labor. The questions we need to be asking ourselves as Liberals isn't how do we keep people working when automation is taking over; Rather, it's how do we share the profits more equally so people can have a good life as automation replaces labor.  

      You should also note that the problem we're going to have with how this effects our society isn't as much a question of work and a division of power. It's actually a question of sustainable living and the division of power. Because this issue is less about working and more about power and who has it. Work is just their current primary method of exerting that control.

      Regulated capital serves the people, unregulated capital serves itself.

      by Alumbrados on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 03:50:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Totally true, I walked into a CVS and saw the same (6+ / 0-)


    That's right, A robot. Where once there had been four checkout counters, staffed with live check out clerks, there are now machines that read the labels on my merchandise, told me how much I had to pay, added the tax automatically, and took my money via a plastic card.
    The move from workers to machines has been so swift the entire layout of these stores is antiquated. They no longer need long counters with 6 registers. I expect a wave of renovations as companies migrate to these machines, keeping a few workers on hand to help folks learn how to navigate the process.

    And, then, they'll be let go too.

  •  Guaranteed Minimum Income! n/t (12+ / 0-)

    When we talk about war, we're really talking about peace.

    by genethefiend on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 09:10:53 AM PST

  •  The best solution over time... (10+ / 0-) declining fertility and having fewer, more educated, people.

    Under that kind of a model, living standards increase sharply while natural resource consumption falls.

    Or we can keep having more kids who are destined to be unemployed and demanding minimum income guarantees. With a smaller population there is no need.

    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

    by Sparhawk on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 09:12:44 AM PST

  •  The only hope of stopping this (12+ / 0-)

    Is for consumers to refuse to cooperate.

    I NEVER use the automated checkout at my local supermarkets.  I always go to a register with a human teller, even if I have to stand in line longer.  I do that for two reasons: (i) I have a visceral dislike for dealing with machines rather than humans, and (ii) more important, just as the diarist says, these machines directly take jobs away from human beings.

    Of course, they're cheaper than hiring a person -- as long as they work smoothly and consumers accept them.  That's why we have to resist.  To quote a former first lady, "Just say no!"  

    "[W]e shall see the reign of witches pass over . . . and the people, recovering their true spirit, restore their government to its true principles." Jefferson

    by RenMin on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 09:20:08 AM PST

    •  So where do you draw the line? (6+ / 0-)

      75 years ago, when you wanted to make a phone call, you didn't just pick up the phone and dial in a number; you picked up the phone and spoke to an operator, and the operator would manually connect you to the line you wanted by literally moving a wire on a switchboard from one place to another.

      Of course, now all of the phone switching is automated, and the job of telephone operator is all-but-nonexistent. On landlines you punch the right sequence of numbers and the appropriate party is automatically called; on cellphones, you just pick the contact from your list and click "Call."

      So when you pick up the phone, do you just hit "0" and ask for the operator to connect you, or do you take advantage of the automated replacement of workers to dial up the number yourself?

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

      by JamesGG on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 09:52:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I miss the living shit out of "information" (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        isabelle hayes, sagansong

        on the telephone.  Now, it's fire up the computer, wait for it to boot up, open up Bing and try to find your number, IF you can navigate through all the motherfucking ads everywhere.

        No thank you.  Give me a human who has ad-free access on THEIR computer, who can give me the number I want, not the one at the top of the list because they paid the most money to be there.

        Listening to the NRA on school safety is like listening to the tobacco companies on cigarette safety. (h/t nightsweat)

        by PsychoSavannah on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 11:45:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  My very first job was (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          PsychoSavannah, Calamity Jean

          as a switchboard information operator in Santa Monica.

          In 1966, there was no internet, just banks of thick phone books to frantically leaf thru as fast as we could.

          There were jobs for everyone who wanted one and even a full time menial job would pay for an apartment and groceries.

          Either we revert to a barter system or find a way to convince our government to implement a baseline income for everyone or our economy will crash- is crashing, slow motion but still crashing.

          People are desperate and no one in DC cares.
          How many pitchforks and torches will it take?

          'A scarlet tanager broke the silence with his song. She thought of the bird hidden in the leaves somewhere, unseen but nevertheless brilliant red. Nevertheless beautiful.' Barbara Kingsolver/ Prodigal Summer

          by flowerfarmer on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 03:04:20 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  This issue has been around for decades, centuries (8+ / 0-)

    From the advent of the industrial revolution in the 1700s to the early 1900s, the process played out according to the Karl Marx playbook.

    At that point, industrial slums were so bad (and the amount of private debt used to stimulate consumption so difficult to control), that the economy and society in general started flying apart.  Faced with the possibility of a "worker's revolution" (we know how that worked out in Russia and China), the capitalists themselves -- having read Marx and understood the part about capitalists selling the proletariat the rope to hang the capitalists, decided that this was a bad idea.  As a result, and at the considerable distress of traditional social conservatives, they began to improve conditions.  Ultimately (in France in the 1930s -- which ran large deficits and managed to hold off the worst of the Depression -- and later and more reluctantly the US) the outlines of Keynesian fiscal policy and the welfare state began to emerge.  This was, in fact, a wild success by any secular measure.  Part of this was a huge reduction in the size of the labor pool through shorter work weeks and paid vacation, retirement at 65 via social welfare systems, and a large growth in consumption that offset the demand for fewer workers.  Oh, yes, population growth dropped as well, even before the widespread availability of reliable contraception.

    This was anathema in the United States (and, really, elsewhere as well) to traditional conservatives.  In general, it is an article of faith among religious conservatives that affluence among the masses is responsible for moral decline (a point of view that dates back to the Middle Ages).  What with the rise of the religious right in the 1970s, social democratic capitalism was declared un-Christian.

    So the obvious things to counteract the decline in the labor content of the economy (earlier retirement, shorter work weeks, higher pay and subsequent aggregate demand, not to mention footing the cost for externalities like global warming) all were stopped by the new conservative consensus.  And the rest is history.

  •  even the machines themsevles keep being overtaken (6+ / 0-)

    by new machines and technologies.  A few years ago, a company in Australia introduced the "book kiosk". This was a machine, about the size of a large photocopier, that kept thousands of books stored in its memory as PDF files--you used a screen to select the book you want, and the machine prints it and binds it right there, to order, cover and all. It was assumed that the "bookstore", as a big place with lots of bookshelves, would be dead and gone, replaced by a row of small machines spitting out one finished book at a time.

    Well, bookstores are now essentially dead and dying, but not because of the book kiosk---instead, technology made "books" themselves obsolete. Today all you need is a smartphone and a Kindle app, and you can download and read any book ever published, no matter where you are, and carry thousands of books around with you in your pocket.

    The next big step will be an advanced 3d printer that allows you to print out your own smartphone instead of buying one.  Already, we have 3d printers that make other 3d printers.

    The 21st century is gonna look COMPLETELY different from the 20th, just as the 20th was completely different from the 19th.

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 09:21:11 AM PST

    •  I've said this before, and I'll say it again: (0+ / 0-)

      You will never print a phone on a 3-d printer.

      Never, not ever.

      To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

      by UntimelyRippd on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 02:42:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes you will, especially once 3d printers (0+ / 0-)

        become full blown universal constructors* that can build anything assuming they are fed sufficient quantities of the raw elements required (either in raw elemental or compound form).  Yes, that includes fully sentient adult human beings with all the memories and personality traits of the original (at least once non-destructive mind state uploading becomes readily available).

        *A univeral constructor is (ok, will be) an advanced nanofactory that uses microscopic robots to assemble pretty much anything you can imagine given the pattern and raw materials.  In fact, the only difference between a UC and a matter replicator like they have on Star Trek is that a UC can't transmute one element into another.

        You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

        by Throw The Bums Out on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 09:51:34 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, you won't. (0+ / 0-)

          Not ever.

          To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

          by UntimelyRippd on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 05:02:21 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Of course you will. Once the whole bootstrapping (0+ / 0-)

            problem is solved (as in how do you efficiently build new nanobots without existing builder nanobots) we will have 3d printers that can make anything given the appropriate raw inputs by building it atom by atom and molecule by molecule if necessary.  The universal constructor will be the greatest breakthrough in the history of humankind assuming someone doesn't use it to end all life on earth (hint: what stops them from being programmed for infinite self replication?) before there is a defense against it.

            You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

            by Throw The Bums Out on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 10:30:34 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  No, you won't. (0+ / 0-)

              This is a fantasy.

              It would be an hilarious fantasy, if so many people like you weren't convinced it was going to happen some day.

              It will never be physically possible to do the things you're talking about doing. NEVER.

              To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

              by UntimelyRippd on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 08:09:28 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  And by the way, the greatest breakthrough in (0+ / 0-)

              the history of humankind was the idea of ethics.

              To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

              by UntimelyRippd on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 08:11:28 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  My job has not been outsourced to a robot. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mr Horrible

    I am a roboticist. As a young child I figured robots would be doing almost everything. I figured learning how to design, build and repair robots would ensure a place for me. (Also I just loved C3PO and R2D2). My aim is at designing robots for work that humans can't do or is dangerous. The last project I worked on was deploying bomb decomisioning robots.

    I also teach, struggling to help this generation stay current with the math, science, and technology they will need to survive. I am helping a local high school start their robotics club.

    As far as the self-checkout registers go, they don't replace one to one. It still requires one cashier to oversee the 4-5 self-checkout lanes. Every time some one buys a dangerous controlled substance such as paint or glue, the cashier is needed to verify the age of the purchaser. Also they are supposed to help with the shrinkage issue. The machines jam and have other problems the cashier needs to fix.

  •  I came across... (19+ / 0-)

    ...a nifty anecdote about Walter Reuther, who headed the UAW back in the day, on one of the internets a few years back.  Ruether was being shown a robotic assembly line at one of the auto factories.  "Take a look, Walter," the exec said, pointing to one of the robots.  "It never takes a coffee break."

    Reuther replied, "It's never going to buy one of your cars either."

    And that's the situation in a nutshell.

    When you punch enough holes through steerage, the first-class cabins sink with the rest of the ship.

    by Roddy McCorley on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 09:36:26 AM PST

  •  It doesn't make sense to try to preserve the jobs (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wisper, FG, Mr Horrible, isabelle hayes

    The people, yes, but not the jobs.  These particular functions can now be done better, faster, cheaper.  Similar shifts have happened many times in our past.

    Computer used to be a job title, for instance.

    We should definitely be concentrating on figuring out what to do when a large class of jobs is eliminated.  There should be ways to bridge the gap to a new career or to keep people occupied productively until retirement.

    But wishing the robots were less efficient or pining for the days when your checkout clerk did all his calculations by hand (or just pushed buttons to let the computer do the important calculating) is silly.

    "Don't be defeatist, dear. It's very middle class." - Violet Crawley

    by nightsweat on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 09:45:08 AM PST

  •  This is the new reality (11+ / 0-)

    That many don't seem to realize.

    We really need to rethink the basic premise that if you want to survive you have to have a job. It's not going to work any more.

    Science fiction writers saw this coming a long time ago, and proposed that we make sure that everyone has free birth control (including abortions whenever wanted) to lower the population numbers and make sure that everyone has everything they need to survive without having to work.

    Work would be done to get more, or to help out society to improve, or to be creative to improve yourself. It would be separate from survival needs.

    Women create the entire labor force.
    Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

    by splashy on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 09:51:40 AM PST

  •  It's our choice. (8+ / 0-)

    I specifically refuse to use 'self-check out' lines.  If there are no human checkout people, that's the last time I visit that store.  The only way to prevent exactly these sorts of job losses is to make retailers lose business if they switch to 'self-checkout'.

  •  An 'economy' (6+ / 0-)

    that serves what purpose? How will this work? It seems to me that any society's 'economy' has to work in meat space and needs to provide humans with work and a way to make a living. If this is the way forward  the giant vampire squid on humanities face envisions and implements they have entered the twilight zone. Humans are social animals and a world where robots, gadgets and apps replace human workers just won't work. The economy is already unhinged from ordinary people so just who in the hell do they think will be able to buy both these machines and the groceries or big box wares?

    Shades of Blade Runner where  large swaths of society must develop a way to exist outside the brave new world these high tech 'entrepreneurs' and suave businessmen envision. I was reading an article about refrigerators who talk and tell you what you need to buy you will be able to use your app at the store if you forget to talk beforehand to your fridge. lol. On top of the destruction to jobs and a functional economy who wants to live in a world where being a human and living is replaced by machines.

    Perhaps the outcome over time would be that people's brains would cease to be able to grasp the concept of opening the refrigerator and figuring out that the cupboard is bare and they need to forage for food. On a level other then economic we all need the human touch. Bill Gates may think this is progress or the future but he's a well known madman who's brave new world has no place for human interaction, our common good or the human touch.

    I know, I've just gotta get out of this place
    I can't stand any more of that mechanical grace
    Though you say, it's only industrial squeeze
    It looks like luxury and feels like a disease

    Oh, give it to me, give it to me
    I don't want to know much about much
    Give it to me, give it to me
    I need, I need, I need the human touch

    Elvis Costello - The Human Touch


  •  Ned Ludd was right (7+ / 0-)

    The Luddites were not afraid of technology. They were against replacing skilled labor with machine labor.

    Quick: how many people can make lace today?

    How many people can weave?

    Wherever there are "self-checkout" counters, stand in line behind the persons. If a shop or store only has "self checkout" counters, shop elsewhere. Ensure that the checkers have people and that the "self-checkout" machines stand empty. Stand with people.

    At the local Mal-Wart, the automatic self-checkers stay empty even when the lines for the checkers are eight and nine deep. Perhaps people don't trust the machines, but more than a few people have said what I've said: "I want a person."

    Everyone's innocent of some crime.

    by The Geogre on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 10:06:47 AM PST

    •  It's not a necessary skill. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mr Horrible, Sparhawk, FlyingToaster
      How many people can weave?
      How many people need to know how to weave?

      The reason weaving was a skill that more people had 200 years ago wasn't because it's so much fun; it was because having someone in the family who could weave was a necessity, so they could make the cloth that would clothe the family.

      And learning how to weave took time—time that is now used to learn algebra, or history, or engineering, or literature, now that people no longer have to spend years learning and perfecting something that can just as easily be performed by a machine.

      You prefer to deal with a person at the checkout counter. That's wonderful, and I would never deny you that choice. I, however, prefer the self-checkout, because it means that I'm in and out of the store more quickly, and moving on to things I want to do.

      I don't judge you for your preference, or tell you that you should be using the self-checkout instead; I ask only that you offer me the same courtesy.

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

      by JamesGG on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 10:48:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's a necessary skill, period (0+ / 0-)

        When we tell the Triumph of Technology history, with its teleological laudets for homo superior, we speak of the development of string as one of the great elements. The development of weaving was a necessity for human life.

        I'm no survivalist, but it's a bit weird when the entire first world lives without a basic skill for survival. This is not the loss of the buggy whip we're talking about.

        Also, by the way, the weavers had algebra quite well, and literature. (Honestly: read E. P. Thompson's "Weavers" chapter from The Making of the English Working Class -- it focuses on an earlier period, but it shows the degree to which it was grinding poverty, but in which home-based artisanal work was superior to what followed in the factory based work and why the weavers had a legitimate reason for uprising.) Where labor was so horrific that laborers had no time for even basic school was in the fields. We saw no real protests over threshers coming along, no protests over plows, no problems with harvesters.

        As I say, examine the assumptions: not all labor saving redistributes productivity's gains back along the labor chain. The Luddites were making a reasonable protest, as it turns out. We're overdue for similar protests, as American workers, in particular, have been squeezed to unimaginable productivity and seen wage deflation as a result.

        Everyone's innocent of some crime.

        by The Geogre on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 11:26:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  So what's the solution, then? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sparhawk, Alexandra Lynch

          Break the machines and make us all learn to weave our clothing by hand? Are you seriously suggesting a Luddite revolution of sorts, where any "skill" task done by a machine is now done by a person?

          What other basic skills for survival do you propose we all learn instead of having specialist humans or machines do? Are we all to return to subsistence farming as well? To digging and pumping our own wells?

          "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

          by JamesGG on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 12:25:20 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Instead of? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            flowerfarmer, joegoldstein

            I'm suggesting that we be conscious.

            It is not the role of industry to be conscious of the price of technology on society. It is the role of industry to make a profit. Therefore, if we rely upon the gods of the market for our technological guidance, we will end up with larger accumulations of capital, but not good social organization or healthy societies.

            I point to the loss of the essential skill of weaving simply as a caution. When we plunge ahead because of profits, we inevitably replicate prior moments that we did not anticipate and obsolete technologies that we never imagine could be lost. From the point of view of the textile maker, it's no concern. From the point of view of a society (and therefore public intellectuals or, if necessary, a state), it matters.

            (We can learn to weave again from books, obviously, until those are all electronic.)

            Everyone's innocent of some crime.

            by The Geogre on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 01:54:43 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  How many people need to make lace? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mr Horrible, Alexandra Lynch

      How many people need to weave?  Let the machines take the McJobs and let people keep artisan hand crafts alive as a hobby.  Of course, that's socialism...

      Politics means controlling the balance of economic and institutional power. Everything else is naming post offices.

      by happymisanthropy on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 11:16:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hardly (5+ / 0-)

        Turn off the power, and how many people know how to get clothing?

        No, this is not some survivalist fantasy. It's just that MacLuhan was right: each technology obsoletes another and carries within it its own reproduction of an archaism. It's a little strange to have an entire high functioning world that must have trans-oceanic trade to have clothing, isn't it? It's a little weird when NAFTA must exist if we're to wear clothes. It's a bit peculiar if the electric grid "must" go on at full production or else there is neither food nor clothing, because such "rudimentary" skills as yarn making are for boutiques and hobbies.

        What employs the people productively? When labor is saved, is the labor compensated? Just ask those questions. Assuming that invisible hands and structural forces will, in a few generations, "create" workers who will match demand is religion.

        Everyone's innocent of some crime.

        by The Geogre on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 11:30:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  At what point do you stop walking it back? (0+ / 0-)

          Intead of a factory weavcing, it should be persons. Using technological aids, like  spinning wheel. Or not.
          Instead of a computer we should put our ideas on paper. With hand set type, maybe. Or calligraphy. Or hieroglyphics?

          “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

          by Catte Nappe on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 12:38:36 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Task Obsoletism is nothing new (3+ / 0-)

          How many people know how to distill liquor?  That used to be a common homesteading skill and died out long before the ebil NAFTA!11!1 done stoled all our jobz.  Bread baking.  Seamtressing.  Automobile maintenance.  Putting up a tent.  Proper Handwriting.  Silver Polishing.  Sailing.  Film Developing.  Clock Winding.  Straight-Razor Shaving.  Reading a Barometer or Tide Table.  CB/HAM Radio Operation.

          All of these are still readily available for anyone that wishes to learn them for fun or savings/profit.  ..but they truly aren't needed anymore in the general public.  I know how to several of these because I wanted to learn and have zero interest in the rest.  

          Nafta doesnt need to exist to have clothes, it needs to exist to have CHEAP clothes.  You could easily start a textile/apparel company in the US; hell there are idle facilities all across North Carolina that would LOVE for you to try.  ....good luck making a profit though since the cost of making them in the US will be uncompetitive to the general public.

          Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

          by Wisper on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 12:51:55 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well, some of us still (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AoT, Alexandra Lynch

            can and DO spin yarn, weave, make herbal medicines, sew, split wood, cook on a woodstove, bake bread, make clothing and knit mittens.

            HAM radio would be a nice hobby for those who don't have other homely skills.

            When everything goes to hell, we Luddites will be worth our weight in gold!

            'A scarlet tanager broke the silence with his song. She thought of the bird hidden in the leaves somewhere, unseen but nevertheless brilliant red. Nevertheless beautiful.' Barbara Kingsolver/ Prodigal Summer

            by flowerfarmer on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 03:30:56 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Exactly. (4+ / 0-)

              My husband's hobbies are blacksmithing (he is journeyman rank in the national organization), woodworking, and what he terms "messing around with engines."  He wants to get into casting, and he'd love to take a gunsmithing course. We make wine a couple of times a year,  I bake bread and make pies on a regular basis, and have been keeping myself and my husband looking genteelly poor with my mending skills for the past three years. In fact, I am going to make a wool cape lined with heavy cotton for someone for cash next week. I quilt, I bake, I plain and fancy sew, I crochet, and I'd like to learn to knit.

              When you come to find how essential the comfort of a well-kept home is to the bodily strength and good conditions, to a sound mind and spirit, and useful days, you will reverence the good housekeeper as I do above artist or poet, beauty or genius.

              by Alexandra Lynch on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 05:50:32 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I worry alot about the 20-40 age group (0+ / 0-)

                of people who focused on tech and never learned to do or make anything- most don't even cook or bake.

                My biggest regret is not to have learned mechanics- being able to tear down an engine to bring a dead car back to life is such a great skill. Love those gearheads.

                Alexandra, i would love to be your next door neighbor!
                The difficulty in knitting is mostly just getting accustomed to holding the needles.

                Check out you-tube videos or a beginner course at a yarn store for some basic techniques.

                It is so satisfying to be able to provide basic necessities for oneself- it is a security that goes beyond having a bank account.

                'A scarlet tanager broke the silence with his song. She thought of the bird hidden in the leaves somewhere, unseen but nevertheless brilliant red. Nevertheless beautiful.' Barbara Kingsolver/ Prodigal Summer

                by flowerfarmer on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 05:14:21 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  This is not realistic! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wisper, isabelle hayes, flowerfarmer

      People such as myself, when I'm in a store where the cashier checkouts are so undermanned that I will use a self-checkout, will use them. I do. I was a cashier, so I understand the nuts and bolts of using a self-checkout. I'm also honest and believe in paying for what I am purchasing.

      Think about those examples, lace making and weaving, it freed us to make other things. This is the way of the human mind. The human mind is endless in what can be created, designed, produced.

      So the question is, what will we replace these lost jobs with? With a society that has a guaranteed check? For what? Think about that. Money is the root of jobs and everything else, but it never was the reason for original creation. Mankind created and dreamed and produced long before money was invented and adopted.

      We as humans, don't NEED money. Business needs money. Think about that as well. You can go do any amount of volunteer work. They don't need to pay you, that's why it's volunteer work, and you enjoy it (hopefully). The only reason you NEED money is to pay your bills... to whom? To business.

      Used to be at time, really not so long ago in human history terms, where we traded services and ideas instead of money.

      It is every person's obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what they takes out of it. - Albert Einstein (edited for modern times to include everyone by me!)

      by LeftieIndie on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 12:29:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Real problem is low private sector growth (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    happymisanthropy, Mr Horrible

    For workers just to stay even, GDP growth needs to be 1-2% for population growth plus an additional 1-2% for productivity growth.  When GDP is lower than this, workers don't do that well, when GDP is higher than this workers do well with real increases in compensation.

    After the great recession ended 5 years ago, we never had the rapid snap back in employment and GDP that has been the case after each recession.

    Increases in productivity is how general living standards improve over the long term, so opposing productivity growth is not the solution to weak wage growth.

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 10:10:30 AM PST

  •  There really isn't anything new in the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mr Horrible

    technology - your diary reminds me of a shocked George Herbert Walker Bush on seeing a "robotic" check out apparatus more than 20 years ago.

    What you are describing is simply the merchants replacing somebody they hired to operate "the robot" with you.

    Just saying, your ire seems somewhat off target.

  •  I've never subscribed to the idiotic idea that (6+ / 0-)

    the reason people are unemployed is because they are lazy and don't want a job.  

    People here are jobless because:

    1. many jobs went to China or elsewhere


    2. many of the remaining jobs have been eliminated

    I doubt very many people are VOLUNTARILY jobless.

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 10:19:03 AM PST

  •  Many jobs are never coming back (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mr Horrible, eyo, Wisper, flowerfarmer

    Not just because of outsourcing, but because of efficiencies and productivity from technology.  I have been asked to run reports today that I can do in minutes that when I started in IT could take me half a day or more.

    This trend will not change.

    What we have to do is help make sure that new and better jobs are created for people to do, and that they get the help in transitioning to these new jobs.

    •  "This trend will not change" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Nor should it.

      I wouldn't wish the work I used to spend HOURS doing just a few years ago on anyone. this day the mere sight of green/white striped dot-matrix paper causes me to wince.

      And the people of generations past were working CONSTANTLY to try and come up with better/faster/cheaper ways to accomplish mundane tasks so their children wouldn't have to do to the work they did.   ..and now we're lamenting the fact that tasks are not labor-intensive enough in the 21st century?  Whatever.....

      Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

      by Wisper on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 12:55:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Robots aren't the problem (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mr Horrible

    As I explained just yesterday.

    None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

    by gjohnsit on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 10:35:48 AM PST

    •  Thanks a great dairy link (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mr Horrible, isabelle hayes, MKSinSA

      however automation of 'the service industry' and robotics are just another aspect of a global economy that does not count humans or our common good as part of the equation. The inevitable brave new world is unhinged from real life. If ordinary people have no way to make a living who is going to buy their gadgets apps and have money enough to even shop in the automated big boxes. This seems to me to be just another mad assault on human societies that function to support life. Ass backwards and so anti human it boggles the mind.  

  •  technology is killing retail (7+ / 0-)

    ...and people are letting it happen because their neat little gizmos seem so nifty and fun.  And it's killing jobs like crazy.

    Think about it:

    The music industry: done.  When's the last time you saw a record store?  Thanks, downloading!  CD's still exist 'cuz of old luddite hardliners like me who aren't gonna pay for shit that I won't actually own, but, the clock's running on 'em.  And all that downloaded shit?  You can get 90% of it for free looking around Google blogsearch or bit torrent sites.  Everything music-industry related, from being in a band to talent agents to distribution to anything else in the record business, that's fading out as a way to make money.

    Bookstores?  Going.  All because of those shitty Kindles.  And everything connected to the publishing industry. And literature itself is turning to crap because since anybody can upload anything onto a Kindle, it's like taking the firewall down on your computer -- every kind of horrible, talentless garbage can flood right in, and you'll have to pick through 1000 pieces of glorified fanfic for every decent book you might turn up, and that effort's gonna be too much for a lot of people and they'll just give up on reading anything new.  Vanity presses were already doing that damage, though.  I try giving them a chance, I've bought a ton of self-published stuff, but 95% of the stuff that hasn't been bought by a publisher and looked at by an editor honestly is awful, amateurish dreck that should've never been allowed on the fucking market, and, in the old days, wouldn't have.   And, again, a lot of those books are showing up for "free" on bit torrent sites, and writers are getting pirated right and left.  Soon that'll be a job that very, very few will be able to make a living doing.  And then it'll be dead.  Open access for all seems like a good thing, but the sorry, sad fact is, a lot of people simply don't deserve to be read.  They're not good, and there was a reason they weren't being published back in the days of the traditional publishing industry.  They kept 'em out because they were protecting the literary environment.  Now the sewer runs right into the stream.  The quality of writing is already suffering from it, and it's just beginning.

    The video industry?  Video rental places are gone.  And now Netflix is killing DVDs and Blu-Rays off.  They'll narrow down what you can watch, what the quality of it will be, and you'll have to just settle.  And, again, piracy will run rampant.

    Amazon is working hard to kill off actual physical retail.  They're pushing a false narrative that e-shit is better.  They do little tricks like "selling" Kindle books for free and counting that as a "sale" so they can claim e-books are outselling paper.  They also now give free e-versions of a lot of books when you buy a paper copy, so they can say the e-book "sales" match the paper ones.  And when you buy CD's, "AutoRip" downloads you a copy so they can keep download sales matching the physical sales, thus negating them.    They push streaming video like crazy.

    Their goal, basically, is to no longer have to sell you an actual product, just access to a file.  That way, they don't have to maintain warehouses, don't have to pay people to work in them, don't have to pay to get them delivered... don't have to pay anybody to do anything.  Hell, half their warehouses are manned by robots now, already, and they want to deliver stuff by drone, just to cut more humans off the payroll.

    All this technology is "neat," but it's killing jobs, big-time, all the way across the board.  

    People are horrifyingly short-sighted.  They just think this shit is "neato" and they don't see what it's doing, and how much worse it's going to get a few years down the road.  

    I admit, I'm a luddite, but there's a good reason to be.  The population is going up, up, up, and the number of jobs available for actual human beings to do is going to keep going down, down, down.  And that's going to end really, really ugly for the species.

    "Glenn Beck ends up looking like a fat, stupid child. His face should be wearing a chef's hat on the side of a box of eclairs. " - Doug Stanhope

    by Front Toward Enemy on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 10:39:40 AM PST

    •  This is what many in retail (3+ / 0-)

      management and above are very concerned with, as are university and college presidents. That is, no need for buildings and employees when everything can be handled from home via the internet. I heard about the retail bit groom my own big box store manager.

      •  From not groom n/t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Front Toward Enemy
      •  Retail "show rooms" (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FiredUpInCA, Front Toward Enemy

        A new model for retail is to have brick and mortar show rooms where you can see the merchandise, but you have to order it for delivery. It's happening at both ends of the spectrum.
        E-tailers are opening physical show rooms where you can see and try on stuff

        Retailers start online and migrate to the real world, where customers can touch, taste, and try on their goodies.

        A few weeks ago I had to buy a new appliance. We went to a nearby strip mall with a small Sears showroom. Checked out the various models, and then they submitted our order electronically. They had no product there at the "store" that we could load up and take away with us.

        “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

        by Catte Nappe on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 12:30:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Frankly I think its a better system (0+ / 0-)

        Not because I'm an evil corportist or because I revel in taking people's jobs, but being able to buy things at home is much much simpler and easier for me.

        I despise few things as much as having to drive to a retail outlet and deal with traffic, parking, crowds, sales people, sales gimmicks, pressure, lines, loading/unloading the car, etc.

        I can buy things online on my own time, at my own pace, from anywhere I want, I can shop around, I can look for things 2nd-hand, I can consider buying through an auction, I can read reviews, compare specs side-by-side, etc. and then the item is shipped right to my door.

        If I could buy everything in my life this way, I would.  ...with the possible exception of food.  But even then, I use CSAs for local produce and grocery delivery services for staple items so I guess even in my most sacred-area of purchases (my kitchen), I'm already part-way there.

        Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

        by Wisper on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 01:09:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  that's great. but . . . (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          flowerfarmer, Front Toward Enemy

          when your job gets automated too and you have no income anymore, what did you plan on using to pay for things online with . . . .

          In the end, reality always wins.

          by Lenny Flank on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 01:52:37 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The money from my new job (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I've spent the last 21 years working in IT and the last 20 years and 364 days of that time trying to keep a step ahead of the obsolescence curve.

            The skills I had to break into this field wouldn't qualify me for a minimum wage job now. ... hell the skills I used to get promoted only a few years ago wouldn't get me an interview now.

            I'm not saying its easy, but I'm not lining up (literally) to use some out-moded system of transactional commerce when there are infinitely better/cheaper/faster options available to me just because I don't want to see job displacement.

            Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

            by Wisper on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 02:27:42 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  that's great. but . . . (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Front Toward Enemy

              what about all the other people who won't get a job in IT since there aren't enough IT jobs for all of them.

              And what did you plan on doing when your IT job gets sent to India where someone will do the same work for one-third of your pay.

              In the end, reality always wins.

              by Lenny Flank on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 02:29:52 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  I hate e-books with the heat of 10k suns (4+ / 0-)

      just to touch on a few points of your post: The simple fact "they" can remotely and without your knowledge or permission take back a book off your device that you've paid for? Eff that. That would never happen with a physical book. I also hate the license paradigm they're trying to force on to libraries.

      Same with music and movies/tv shows. If there's a problem with that file, too bad, buy it again. Or worse, you only get a license to use it for a period of time and it expires. If you buy the actual disc, at least you always have that.

      Give me physical stuff, they can keep their nebulous, file-based goods.

      "Watch what you say or they'll be calling you a radical, a liberal, fanatical, criminal..."-7.75, -5.54

      by solesse413 on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 01:40:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  yep, libraries are held hostage now (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Calamity Jean

        E-books are seriously screwing over libraries.  Unfortunately, most librarians seem too naive and stupid to see what's happening to them.

        EBSCO and other retailers of e-journals are "embargoing" access that's already been paid for, resulting in lots of angry patrons.  Despite that, libraries keep over-investing in e-journals.  And every year the price of those e-journals keeps going up, and up, and up, and serials budgets have to keep being raised just to keep access to things they've supposedly already bought.  In the old days if you stopped a subscription to a journal, you still had your backlog.  Now you can lose access to things you already bought by stopping the subscription.   And libraries have to cut monograph budgets to maintain the serials collection... which doesn't grow.  It actually shrinks, because it's too expensive to maintain.

        Libraries are getting screwed bad.  And Amazon is aggressively trying to start "lending libraries" just to sell more Kindles... which, effectively, is Amazon trying to take over the jobs of libraries.

        There's bad stuff happening and people just don't want to see it.   And they think these "e" things they're buying aren't going to be outmoded by format changes.  In ten years, people filling their kindles with books won't even be able to access the stuff they bought anymore because the newer versions of Kindles won't be able to read that formatting anymore.  It's one big house of cards.

        In any case, I'm stockpiling all kinds of physical media, while it's still available.  My house is full of paper books, CDs, DVDs.  I know at least I'll be able to use the books in the future, for certain.  And the CDs and DVDs as long as they still make devices that'll play them...

        "Glenn Beck ends up looking like a fat, stupid child. His face should be wearing a chef's hat on the side of a box of eclairs. " - Doug Stanhope

        by Front Toward Enemy on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 05:04:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Lets bring back the elevator operators! (7+ / 0-)

    I'm outraged that so many people were fired from respectable corporations that suddenly expected the public to just step up and push their own buttons every time they use an elevator.

    When I was a kid, one of my best friends got his first job in the working world at a VHS Tape Rental store.... think kids today have that option?  Hell no!  Those jobs are gone and NEVER coming back.  Now if you want a movie its up to YOU to go browse out to it your damn self and press all the clicks and buttons to do the download and streaming.  

    No more operators to connect our phone calls from one human being to another.  No more ice delivery men.  No typing pools.  No Lamplighters walking their routes at dusk.


    Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

    by Wisper on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 11:02:07 AM PST

  •  I've had the same thought (5+ / 0-)

    Like others have pointed out, I know that technology has replaced workers in the past and new jobs has sprung up in their place. However, this isn't guaranteed to go on forever. I believe that we're now entering into a time where there will be less and less work for people to do.  I don't believe that machines will completely replace the need for human workers.  There will always be a need for some people to do work.  However, I think, over time, we'll see less and less work available to the less skilled workers.  Everyone but high-skilled knowledge workers will be slowly transitioned to part-time/temporary work.  

    To accommodate this shift we have several options.  Some have suggested a shift back toward an artisanal / hand-made economy.  Others have suggested (as you did) the introduction of a Guaranteed Income (or Negative Tax, it has several names).  Others have suggested that the government create jobs for people with a "Job Guarantee"--sweeping streets, forestry, construction, etc. to fill the gap.

    I think that, regardless of the strategy we pursue, we at least need to decouple benefits like healthcare, retirement, etc from employment.  We need to declare that things like healthcare, food, shelter, retirement, education are basic human rights (maybe even amend the constitution?) and ensure they are provided to everyone regardless of their employment situation.

  •  The first self-driving truck (3+ / 0-)

    is going to be a target of a lot of truck drivers, many of whom are armed and desperate.

    If those trucks are truly self-driving with no human riding along, I predict that the truck will have a bunch of tires shot out. Quick.

    •  The second one will come with cameras (0+ / 0-)

      And GPS to tell police where to find the shooters.

      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

      by Sparhawk on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 03:19:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Doesn't matter. The way things are going people (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Calamity Jean

        will be begging the police to arrest them (or even kill them) just so they can get three hots and a cot which beats starving to death because pretty much all the jobs are gone having been replaced by robots.  Like it or not, most people are not willing to just lay down and die quietly like they should.

        You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

        by Throw The Bums Out on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 09:58:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Vile Birds of Prey . . . (0+ / 0-)

      Do you not know that since WWII thanks to greedy, inhuman vulture capitalists the ilk of a Willard Romney, over 40 million good paying Union JOBS with full benefits have been shipped overseas?  
       It is impossible to know the exact number . . .
       America has regressed from being a land of near 84% industrial and manufacturing JOBS, to near 84% of menial, low paying service JOBS!

  •  Are you talking about the self checkout aisles? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Because those have been around for a good 10 years, man.

    The future is in freelancing and independence. There is no point in complaining about jobs going away. I do think we will have to implement a minimum income sooner or later... but I see that as a step between moving to a post-money world. It WILL happen (assuming we don't set ourselves back another hundred or thousand years) because there is literally no other outcome to the road we are on. You can't enslave 10 billion+ people for very long. Think about it.

    Yes it sucks we are losing jobs and our old society, but its a painful transition. We need to be (and should have been for decades now) encouraging people and alerting them of the importance of being technologically alert... of not becoming a Luddite.
    Inevitably we will get through this. It'll be especially painful for the folks who refuse to be forward looking though.

    My style is impetuous.
    My defense is impregnable.

    by samfish on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 11:46:20 AM PST

  •  Welcome back checkers (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Front Toward Enemy

    My local grocery store went with a set of four of those automitic self check out systems, and discontinued them quite awhile ago. .  

    “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

    by Catte Nappe on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 12:14:26 PM PST

  •  Pragmatically speaking - there are too many humans (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    isabelle hayes

    And not just from an overpopulation/environmental perspective, our current civilization can be sustained with a lot less people.  

    The 1% are helping solve this problem through massive global austerity measures (global war seems to be a little too problematic to accomplish without destroying everything), deregulated pollution and resource extraction and other lethal (but legal) means.

    Obama: self-described Republican; backed up by right-wing policies

    by The Dead Man on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 12:18:03 PM PST

  •  I used to be a travel agent. Preach it. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NoMoreLies, Front Toward Enemy

    It was a great job with decent pay and benefits, and I loved it. Then the internet came along, with Travelocity, Orbitz, etc, and that all went away. Where there used to be 25 or 30 travel agencies in our area which easily employed hundreds of people, perhaps thousands, - mostly women -, now there are like 3. One of them is AAA, which only has 2 desks for travel agents. Some call that progress and say good riddance to unnecessary middle people. In a perfect world, sure, but good luck trying to talk to a human if you have any kind of issue or problem, the's of the world only help so much. And with so many conflicting reviews of things, it's hard to know what's real and what's a paid sock puppet.

    Not much over a hundred years ago, it was possible to live off the land rather than having a  "job" where you went to work for an employer every day. Now you can't live off the land, and the jobs are only going to get more scarce. How will the masses earn a living to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table? Just basic survival is getting harder. And should we be satisfied that that is all there is to life, just work-eat-sleep to pay our bills and repeat monotonously every day? What about thriving instead of just surviving? I don't know where it's all going, it makes my head spin just trying to logic it all out.

    "Watch what you say or they'll be calling you a radical, a liberal, fanatical, criminal..."-7.75, -5.54

    by solesse413 on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 12:18:51 PM PST

  •  In related news 19% of American homes.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    isabelle hayes, NoMoreLies

    ...are still deeply under water. One in five. Today. When the meme is that the Great Recession is largely over.

    Failure to Publicize Acts of Hatred Only Allows Them to Fester and Metastasize.

    by BoxerDave on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 12:25:31 PM PST

  •  Don't be a sucker! They are getting customers to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Front Toward Enemy

    do, for free, what they used to pay their employees to do!

    I don't work for Home Depot. Even if I did, I wouldn't work for free!

  •  I know this 'robots tuk er jahbs' is a popular (0+ / 0-)

    argument, but when entire industries move to Mexico and China, putting people out of work en masse, to say that the situation is caused by technology is absurd. A fully modern factory with all available automation still employs a large number of people, these things don't run themselves. As to the automated checkout lanes, yes they are ran by one person, but that person has to frequently assist, to the point of it being no more efficient than employing 2 more cashiers. TBH it's a gadgetry scam - if it were studied I'm sure the results of the new 'efficiency' would be laughable. It's all about corporate palm greasing. Bosses have meetings to convince themselves that they need new gadgets because someone's son owns the gadget warehouse.

    The pickle we're in wrt jobs is really more connected to NAFTA and all of the ideology that went with it; the 'hey if we can't double our profits in Mexico, let's try China' which has become every publicly traded company's line.

    Maybe you have to be working class to have seen it with your own eyes. I come from a region dotted with auto plants and auto parts plants, and the running joke was which one would be shut down next. And this was 15 years ago. AND THE FACTORIES ALREADY HAD ROBOTS.

  •  Zen Mastery (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I have heard it described that one of the abilities a Zen Student should strive to obtain is the ability to hold opposing ideas in their mind simultaneously and without conflict.

    I like reading diaries like this the same day I read about how Tesla is breaking through regulatory barriers about being able to sell their cars directly to customers in states that require a licensed dealership.

    Yay for cutting out the middlemen!!!  .....except when we nostalgically love the middlemen.

    Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

    by Wisper on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 01:12:38 PM PST

  •  This is a common fallacy. (0+ / 0-)

    Automation actually create more and better jobs that replace the menial labor jobs.  This has been true for over 100 years.

    Cheaper goods produce more demand.  More demand puts more people to work.

    In addition, who do you think manufactures and maintains automation machines?  and programs them? and sells them?

  •  Way back in the 60's (0+ / 0-)

    Warning:  Old Fart talking about the 60's...

    All the elevator operators in my office building disappeared.

    I thought, at the time, the the elevator operators should own those jobs. They should continue to own the paycheck that went with those jobs until they found a better job, or maybe forever.

    I still think that would work.  Politically impossible, of course...

    They can have my "promote the general welfare" when they pry it from my cold dead hands.

    by greatferm on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 01:52:22 PM PST

  •  The only reason robotization is seen negatively (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tonedevil, Calamity Jean

    instead of for how wildly successful its been in making our lives better, is because of the widespread belief that We can run out of money. Our nation makes Our own money. We can always afford to have full employment. But when people believe that "if its not profitable, its not productive" because they fear the "debt" and deficit monsters thinking issuing T-bonds is the same thing as going into hoc to a credit card company, they worry about things they otherwise wouldn't worry about.

    The private sector loses 5 low wage cashier jobs to robots, hire 10 well paid scientists at NASA. Company's move 1,000 jobs to India, then hire 2,000 contractors to repair bridges or install solar panels and wind farms.

    Sounds like a no-brainer right? Not if you think "how are we going to pay for it all?" What does that even mean? We the People through Congress are responsible for creating the modern dollar out of nothing back in 1913 and have been issuing them ever since with no negative effects.

    Worried about the number of T-bonds in existence? Than support the Fed's zero % rate policy. Do you know what the interest expense on $20 trillion is at 0% ZERO DOLLARS!!! Thats why we spend less money on interest today than during Clinton's presidency

    "The Earth is my country and Science my religion" Christiaan Huygens. Please join our Kos group "Money and Public Purpose". The gold standard ended on August 15, 1971, its time we start acting like it.

    by Auburn Parks on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 02:02:28 PM PST

  •  It's 2014. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    We simply don't know how this is going to play out. But the trend is on the radar of every single intelligent, realistic person, and for all the reasons you give.

    Thanks for the diary.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 02:28:44 PM PST

  •  There's much more wrong with the economy than (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NoMoreLies, bink, joegoldstein

    just the robots.

    Capitalism has been so successful in generating capital that there is now a vast overstock of capital seeking investment opportunities. This trend started in the late 60s, and it has just gone from bad to worse since then.

    There is plenty of productive capacity to satisfy the needs of consumers who can pay for the goods and factories that need machinery and parts. So, there aren't very many opportunities for productive investment.

    That's why we have been suffering from gambling bubbles since the Savings and Loan Crisis that started during Reagan's second term. The only way to make a dishonest buck now is to pull off a sting.

    The other consequence of this structural problem is that capitalists are trying every trick imaginable to privatize public property and the commons. School vouchers and charter schools provide investment opportunities that have absolutely nothing to do with educating children. You can be sure that if one of these for-profit schools fails to make a profit, your kids will be thrown out on the street along with their teachers. It already happened recently at a Phoenix University campus.

    You can count on capitalists to try to buy up publically-owned utilities, turn a profit, raise your rates, run them into the ground and give poor service. Maggy Thatcher did that to British Rail and the private owners made such a hash of it that train passengers who arrived safely at their destination were popularly known as "survivors".

    The capitalists want your retirement savings and your pensions, and they aren't shy about thievery. It's part of their proud heritage. The way to get rich is the way JP Morgan did it: He bought faulty rifles from armories during the civil war at about $3 each and sold them to generals in the field for $22.

    The best thing to do is to bar private investment in any area where people's lives and safety can be sacrificed to the bottom line: health care, food production (contaminated chicken, now?), transportation, housing, utilities, education, add your own to the list.

    I might, with reservations, trust a capitalist to produce CDs, but you can count on them to wreck anything important that they touch.

    We cannot win a war crime - Dancewater, July 27, 2008

    by unclejohn on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 02:39:06 PM PST

    •  "financialism" is a better word than (0+ / 0-)

      "capitalism" for the phenomenon in question.

      To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

      by UntimelyRippd on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 02:55:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually not (0+ / 0-)

        Financialization of the economy is a consequence of capital's need to grow. So what you call financialism can only occur in a capitalist economy that has evolved to the point where it can no longer survive by being productive.

        We cannot win a war crime - Dancewater, July 27, 2008

        by unclejohn on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 03:01:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  financialism can occur anytime and anywhere (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          that the capitalists are given control of the financial system, which is what has happened. why work to grow "capital" at 3% per year when you can grow phony financial wealth at 20% per year?

          either way, the system is unsustainable -- even 3% per year cannot be sustained for more than a couple of centuries, nevermind the 10% that the capitalists arbitrarily think of as their due, never nevermind the 20, 40, 80% rates possible via financialism.

          To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

          by UntimelyRippd on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 05:16:41 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Seems its how you look at it (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mr Horrible

    I see more people needed to maintain machines.
    I also see Machines doing more like cleaning up the ocean.
    it's just a change, like it was for the local blacksmith, shoeing all the horses.

  •  Post-Scarcity Economy (4+ / 0-)

    We are on our way, at a deliberate pace, towards the "Star Trek" -style economy in which no labor is required to manufacture anything. While people with advanced skills can perform many functions better than robots (well...except for Mr. Data....ruh roh!) things are made completely via automated processes in the future depicted in Star Trek.

    This is problematic when the economy is predicated on the notion of a person's income being based upon their productivity. In our economy you (theoretically) take in goods and services in an amount equal to the value of what you produce. But if people aren't required to produce anything we need a new way of determining the amount of value to which you're entitled.

    We are at the point where a new way of organizing the economy is necessary. Scarcity is soon to be a thing of the past and the old ways of distributing goods will need to change. Whether it's a minimum income, or shared ownership of the means of production, who knows. But we must begin designing a system that is equitable, or the one we will get will be decidedly not that.

    There's a difference between a responsible gun owner and one that's been lucky so far.

    by BeerNotWar on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 02:41:52 PM PST

  •  There is a fairly old (now) concept of... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joegoldstein, Apost8

    technological unemployment when taken to its extreme means that in the future (far or not?) humans won't have to 'work' at all because machines will be able to do everything we can do, but better and cheaper.

    In a sense this is a 'Utopian' concept with a high likelihood of one day being true. While machines have been replacing humans for some time now, its mainly been in a raw 'labor' manner. We are now on the threshold of them being able to do so in a mental and even dexterous manner potentially replacing all forms of labor.

    The long term implications of this are incredible with even the most vivid imagination overwhelmed by the concept of no person having to ever work again ever. Unfortunately the transition is going to be horrendous for those generations that have to live through it.

    We are the first of those generations...

    The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function [Albert A. Bartlett]

    by fToRrEeEsSt on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 03:00:34 PM PST

  •  I refuse to use those automated checkouts (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Front Toward Enemy

    and sometimes I tell people in line with me why I don't use them and they agree with me but I don't tell it to those using them though I would if it wouldn't cause a "scene" in the stores,just think how many people would have jobs if Self-Serve Gas Stations hadn't taken over,even now Convenience Stores could have at least one group of pumps with someone/someones to pump the gas for people and maybe check the fluids and tires for them and that alone would put lots of people to work again.

  •  Someone has a job building those robots (0+ / 0-)

    Someone programs them.
    Someone delivers them, installs them, maintains them.

    Some unskilled jobs gone, some other skilled jobs created. The ratio is not one for one, and in fact the total pay for the skilled jobs is doubtless less than for the unskilled (otherwise what's the point?).

    But the point of the diary is apt: how will we provide a source of income for people who aren't technologically savvy?

    I'm on a mission! Testing the new site rules.

    by blue aardvark on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 03:32:31 PM PST

    •  Robots build the robots (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Front Toward Enemy, joegoldstein

      And one person programs them and then they're programmed, done, no more job. When we have a constant increase in productivity then it means people need to work less, unless we're going to increase consumption by the same amount as productivity. But that's unsustainable.

      The constant refrain after NAFTA was that we'd have more high skilled jobs and that certainly didn't happen. It's a myth. Just because some jobs go away doesn't mean that new jobs will be created. There may be new jobs created, but there may not be.

      If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

      by AoT on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 04:38:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The overarching question is how will (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AoT, Front Toward Enemy

    humans survive in a post-human-centric economy.  When all goods and services are produced and performed by automated means, only a few humans will be truly required to service the machines.  And that's only until they are smart enough to service themselves.

    At that point there will be no requirement for humans at all.

    My response to techno-centric capitalists would be: I don't think you've thought this through very well.

    Unless, of course, their end game involves the elimination of 99% of humanity.

  •  My Thoughts on That (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AoT, Mr Horrible, Lawrence, Apost8

    I kind of resonate with Doug Stanhope, who said something like "Why are politicians promising 100% employment? I would run on 0% employment!" (to paraphrase).

    Seriously, why push for convenience, labor-saving devices, automated calculating, etc, etc, if it doe not improve our standard of living?

    If we were to reap the benefits of all the labors of our ancestors, rather than 1%ers, we could all live lives of artistic introspection, with a minimum of tedium, meaningful lives dedicated to the pusuit of the muses Science, Art, Music...

    ...and XBOX...

    If you ask me, that's the future: a billion slackers burning fatties and playing XBOX and World of Warcraft.

    In fact, in some places, one might claim that the future is here now!

  •  A good SF book that takes this to an extreme (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    is David Brin's (who is also a Kossack) Kiln People.  Without giving too much away, it shows a society where the minds of people can be quickly dubbed into shells, thus allowing, say, one copy to go to work, one to run errands, while the original person enjoys the museum, and at the end of the day the memories of the copies are merged back into the original.  The societal problem the book presents is massive unemployment, which will only get worse as the technology's next step- dubbing over long range- is solved, because then, say, the best accountant in the world can make 10,000 copies of him or herself and be hired to do 10,000 jobs worldwide, leaving 9,999 other accountants out of work.  

    Odds and ends about life in Japan:

    by Hatrax on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 04:16:59 PM PST

  •  This is why we need to find our own jobs (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that can't be outsourced.  This dark future has the opportunity to show a great silver lining... imagine a future with a guaranteed minimum income where there are people who can thus be freed to pursue their own specialties without fear of ending up living in a cardboard box.  How many carpenters, woodworkers, soap makers, writers, jewelry makers, fabric artists, etc. etc. etc. are there who are stuck in crappy service jobs to make ends meet who would otherwise be able to bring theior skills to the world?  We could have that SF world where the drudge jobs are done by robots and more people are free to pursue the things they really want to.  

    Of course, for this to happen, we need to first get rid of the idea that a GMI is a "handout" (it isn't... it's an investment) and we need to pry some of the money to do it from the grasping, short-sighted hands of the 1%.  With it, we could build a world to benefit everyone.  

    Yeah, right.  But it's a goal worth pursuing.

    Odds and ends about life in Japan:

    by Hatrax on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 04:30:37 PM PST

  •  I refuse to use them (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    They tell me they will show me how.

    I tell them I want a person at the cash register to make a living !
    They know me so well now at these stores that they quit asking me. At Harris Teeter they open a lane


  •  I'm not sure I get this diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    Personally, I love the self checkouts and hate using a cashier.  They're faster, I put all my stuff in one bag (or no bag) instead of getting a whole bag for practically each individual item.  And did I mention they're way faster?  

    I remember our local grocery store had installed a four-pack of self checkouts next to the normal lanes.  Being a college student, I did most of my shopping after 11 pm.  After 10, no one was trained to run the self checkouts so those were shut down and they had one freaking cashier on the normal lanes and the line always stretched out 15-18 minutes.

    There'll always be a need for normal cashiers to help people who don't want the self checkouts, but for the rest of us they're an improvement in the shopping experience.

    The tone of this diary is unnecessarily anti technology and a bit disingenuous.  One could assume that lower value jobs are being replaced with fewer but higher value jobs in product engineering, programming and maintenance for creating the machines in the first place.  Why aren't you complaining about cars?  Just think, if we got rid of cars imagine all of the extra stable hands, hoteliers, saddle makers, leather makers, horse breeders, street cleaners, blacksmiths, trainers, etc. that we can employ, not to mention horses run on a renewable resource unlike cars.  And almost all the jobs created will be local jobs that can't be exported!

    Now, your point about how to keep people employed and fed is a different point.  We can start to solve that problem by actually paying people what they're worth to society and start paying them for the productivity gains businesses have enjoyed.  Most people are severely underpaid (including you, the person reading this) and it's time people start waking up to that fact.

    I like the concept of a minimum income, but you're never going to see it here until people start focusing on the fact that they're underpaid by their company instead of complaining that someone else is getting free money that they, "The True Hard Workers" aren't getting.  

    It was pretty sad listening to some of the non-partisan call-in radio talk shows over the past few weeks while everyone was talking about raising the minimum wage.  Instead of being all for it, people were calling in saying, "I'm a highly trained machinist making $17.50/hr.  Why should a burger flipper get to make $15.00/hr?"  The host is always like, "yeah, I hear ya" instead of asking the caller, "if a burger flipper is worth $15/hr, then why are you letting your company underpay you?  You obviously have way more value to the company than $17.50."

  •  Think introspective, local, & global & get smart. (0+ / 0-)

    Nothing new. People have been faced with the gains and losses of progress since the beginning of time. Were there people planning careers as checkers? Were checkout jobs a strategic element of the nation's economy?

    What are we going to do is secondary at best given the best reasonable expectations we can have for 21'st century US  "government" is to start fewer wars and borrow less.

    Don't even bother planning to sell robotic checkers for a living for long because soon they'll be replaced with smart thresholds that crossing triggers deduction from your banks accounts the cost of your items. It's progress, the rate of change is rapid, and people need to plan their educations and livelihoods to afford life in their communities, in this world, globalized and local, and certainly long before having children.

    The allocation of wealth, food, resources and governance need to be, let's generously say "modernized" just to catch up with today...the jobs issues and complete failure of planning, policies, and performance are pathetic given the easy, affordable solutions and the advantages we waste every day in this country.


  •  would love to see a photo (0+ / 0-)

    is this going on at other stores, too?

  •  Even analytical jobs are at risk (0+ / 0-)

    We had a company come in and pitch some software to my boss that would essentially replace thw work of analysts in reviewing and making a determination on complex laws and regulations.  Fortunately, they were turned down.  Someday, that won't be the case.

    We need to start the conversation NOW about how we will transition to this new paradigm.  

    "Give to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself." - Robert G. Ingersoll

    by Apost8 on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 09:37:46 AM PST

  •  Where did all the agricultural workers go? (0+ / 0-)

    Displacement is scarcely a new phenomenon. What's new, I suppose, is that it is reaches groups that can see it coming, and can blog about it.

    I don't like hot weather very much; I suspect I am much better off not living in a society where half of the population worked in agriculture, which was the case when my grandfather was born.

    Oddly, my experience with self-checkout has generally been bad: thinks I am placing items in bag without scanning, doesn't read bar code, etc. I wonder if that will turn out to be a poor use of robots, at least until the technology gets a major upgrade.

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