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Thread: Automation and our future

  1. #1
    RNG
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    Automation and our future

    There have been several threads on the fact that people are losing jobs to machines. This is a hard fact. Deciding if it is a bad thing in the long run is harder to decide.

    It has been accurately pointed out that with each technological improvement jobs are eliminated but throughout history, it has been a short term hurt resulting in an overall better economy. The countries that developed and utilized these advances prospered.

    Another thing that may seem unrelated, but I will try to show why I believe is relevant, is that we may be reaching the population limit the earth can sustain.

    Now that number is very hard to come by. Several factors can affect it significantly. For example, one of the limiting factors is the availability of fresh water. But if the dream source, cold fusion or controlled fusion is ever invented, all that cheap power might make large scale desalination plants viable.

    And widespread application of horizontal farming can increase the food supply. Moreover, if humans quit eating meat, the availability of calories would increase a lot just from that.

    None of the studies I have seen have addressed climate change at all, but most experts feel it is more apt to hurt than help.

    As to the numbers, a couple of studies have concluded that if we expect everyone on earth today to have a Western European lifestyle, we are a factor of 2.5 overpopulated right now.

    Some incredible optimists think over 100 billion would be possible, but I couldn't find their assumption base.

    But the consensus, such as it is, or in fact I should say the over/under of studies say that between 8 and 16 billion is the limit. If it is 8 we're almost there.

    Now, how does that tie in with automation? Two things.

    Previously, automation allowed the growth of the middle class. Less farmers, less grunt laborers more tradesmen, and more skilled labor. It appears to me that now added automation largely increases the wealth inequality.

    Further, the fact that previous introductions of technological advances helped the economy IMO may no longer pertain since much of that in the past has been through the ability to exploit new resources, including land. All the low hanging fruit has been picked.

    So can we look at automation as being a good thing in an environment of dwindling resources and increased pressure on those resources?

    https://na.unep.net/geas/archive/pdf...g_Capacity.pdf
    Thanks from Thx1138 and Havelock

  2. #2
    Galactic Ruler Spookycolt's Avatar
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    If we ever hit the point where we have more people than the earth can support then nature will take care of it.

    Not much we have to do about it.

    You also are not going to stop tech advances no matter how much you want to, or anyone for that matter.

    Someone invents a better mousetrap it will catch on.

    Its also this very technology that will get us into space where are all of the problems you described will no longer exist.

  3. #3
    Bizarroland Observer Thx1138's Avatar
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    I read a book some years ago, "Minerals and Man" that made the assertion that we will never run out of natural resources, and it is economics that make this so.

    For instance, when copper becomes too expensive for plumbing, someone comes along and fills that niche with another material that does the same job in that application: PVC...

    Now, about automation...

    Someone here said recently that automation used to effect one industry or another, but now it threatens almost all industries... and they have a point...

    But that would not be unprecedented... think of all the clerical workers that were displaced by IBM in the 1960s... there was great upheaval.

    And as someone who used to design automation systems, robots often do a job that is too miserable for a human being... "A mind is a terrible thing to waste..."

    At my old company we used automation to compete with cheap overseas labor... and it was neck-and-neck all the way.

    Let's look at the microprocessor chip, it can replace a lot of workers, but do you think that overall more jobs have been created here with the PC revolution?

    All those software jobs, all those billion dollar "apps" that spring up?

    What we need, is the PR revolution, the Personal Robot revolution to foster the next wave.

    Back in the last century they envisioned a "Great White World" where mankind was liberated from drudgery, we were looking at a 20 hour work week for those who chose to work at all.

    The problem is, that's not economically sound... and we have just the opposite, we are slaves to productivity now, people work at home, and use the time they save commuting to... work...

    The thing of it is... there is nothing to "do" about it, automation is going to be here, it will last as long as there is such a thing as "economics."

    Thx

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    Veteran Member Devil505's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spookycolt View Post
    If we ever hit the point where we have more people than the earth can support then nature will take care of it.

    Not much we have to do about it.
    Until then we'll just have to leave it to Trumpcare for population pruning.
    (Psst.....you'll be one of the first ones pruned)

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    RNG
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spookycolt View Post
    If we ever hit the point where we have more people than the earth can support then nature will take care of it.

    Not much we have to do about it.

    You also are not going to stop tech advances no matter how much you want to, or anyone for that matter.

    Someone invents a better mousetrap it will catch on.

    Its also this very technology that will get us into space where are all of the problems you described will no longer exist.
    Without breaking the laws of physics as we know them, space isn't a viable alternative. Getting enough oxygen to Mars in itself would be prohibitively expensive. And other galaxies is a warp drive fed dream.

    And even so, to save maybe a few dozen people?

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    RNG
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    Quote Originally Posted by Devil505 View Post
    Until then we'll just have to leave it to Trumpcare for population pruning.
    (Psst.....you'll be one of the first ones pruned)
    Actually, some of the studies linked in the link I gave have tried to factor in the fact that China and India may run out of food and widespread starvation is possible. That is one of the limiting factors used.

    They do mention but don't even try to quantify the probability of that leading to wars of conquest for food.

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    Franken-Stein DemoKKKrats excalibur's Avatar
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    Stop growing crops for ethanol, and feeding to animals. Sinful waste of cropland.

    Automation makes the case for near zero immigration.

  8. #8
    New Member Havelock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RNG View Post
    There have been several threads on the fact that people are losing jobs to machines. This is a hard fact. Deciding if it is a bad thing in the long run is harder to decide.

    It has been accurately pointed out that with each technological improvement jobs are eliminated but throughout history, it has been a short term hurt resulting in an overall better economy. The countries that developed and utilized these advances prospered.

    Another thing that may seem unrelated, but I will try to show why I believe is relevant, is that we may be reaching the population limit the earth can sustain.

    Now that number is very hard to come by. Several factors can affect it significantly. For example, one of the limiting factors is the availability of fresh water. But if the dream source, cold fusion or controlled fusion is ever invented, all that cheap power might make large scale desalination plants viable.

    And widespread application of horizontal farming can increase the food supply. Moreover, if humans quit eating meat, the availability of calories would increase a lot just from that.

    None of the studies I have seen have addressed climate change at all, but most experts feel it is more apt to hurt than help.

    As to the numbers, a couple of studies have concluded that if we expect everyone on earth today to have a Western European lifestyle, we are a factor of 2.5 overpopulated right now.

    Some incredible optimists think over 100 billion would be possible, but I couldn't find their assumption base.

    But the consensus, such as it is, or in fact I should say the over/under of studies say that between 8 and 16 billion is the limit. If it is 8 we're almost there.

    Now, how does that tie in with automation? Two things.

    Previously, automation allowed the growth of the middle class. Less farmers, less grunt laborers more tradesmen, and more skilled labor. It appears to me that now added automation largely increases the wealth inequality.

    Further, the fact that previous introductions of technological advances helped the economy IMO may no longer pertain since much of that in the past has been through the ability to exploit new resources, including land. All the low hanging fruit has been picked.

    So can we look at automation as being a good thing in an environment of dwindling resources and increased pressure on those resources?

    https://na.unep.net/geas/archive/pdf...g_Capacity.pdf
    Up until about 250 years ago, the most powerful and technologically-advanced nation on the face of the earth was the Chinese empire. And that had been true, arguably, for most if not all of human history. That changed when Europe underwent the Industrial Revolution. There are lots of hypotheses about why that happened first in Europe and not somewhere else. One hypothesis is that China had a significantly larger population than Europe and thus, manpower was relatively unlimited. And all those people needed jobs. So there came a point in Chinese history when there was comparatively little pressure to innovate with respect to sources of power. Thus, no coal-burning steam engines and no industrial revolution. No drive for greater automation, in effect... And the result was economic and cultural stagnation and, eventually, domination by foreign powers.

    Well, that's one theory anyway.

    Cheers.

  9. #9
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    Technology is the cornerstone of our prosperity. In fact, if we actually wanted all Americans to be 'rich' as we define that today, we actually would have no choice but to have technology destroy the need for about half the work we currently perform, just like technological innovations destroyed over 90% of all agricultural jobs.

    At the end of the day, being poor from our point of view is a person with many economic needs and wants unmet. You name it, they have few clothes, perhaps no shoes, lousy housing, sometimes none, poor health, etc. Of course a society with many poor people is a society where many people experience this same grinding poverty. Of course this state is incompatible with a society that is fully automated, or where machines are the cheapest method of producing the things that humans beings want and need. Think about that for a moment because if we get to a point where there's literally nothing for people to do, that is a state that is fundamentally incongruent with a state of poverty. Because if there be a widespread state of poverty, well, then there will be plenty of things for people to do. A world where technological advances/machines/robots are the lowest cost method of satisfying our economic desires, I would suggest that same society cannot be a society with many poor people. In fact, this society will be fabulously wealthy.
    Thanks from BigLeRoy

  10. #10
    Bizarroland Observer Thx1138's Avatar
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    Thx
    Thanks from Southern Dad and MaryAnne

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