Living in a soon-to-be AI-driven Society (within 15 yrs)

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Re: Living in a soon-to-be AI-driven Society (within 15 yrs)

Postby Mossling on April 16th, 2021, 8:03 pm 

There's a pay wall/data request, any key takeaways from the article?
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Re: Living in a soon-to-be AI-driven Society (within 15 yrs)

Postby charon on April 17th, 2021, 6:25 am 

can't delete, no option
Last edited by charon on April 17th, 2021, 6:28 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Living in a soon-to-be AI-driven Society (within 15 yrs)

Postby charon on April 17th, 2021, 6:27 am 

charon » April 17th, 2021, 11:25 am wrote:Was his economic story too good to check?

By Paul Krugman

Opinion Columnist
April 15, 2021


Credit...Adam Pape for The New York Times

Will Andrew Yang, the current front-runner, become New York City’s next mayor? If he wins, would he be any good at the job? I have no idea, although I’m skeptical about the latter.

My guess is that the mayoral office needs an effective political brawler, not an intellectual, and Yang, who has never held office, owes his prominence largely to his reputation as a thought leader, someone with big ideas about economics and policy.

What I do know is that Yang’s big ideas are demonstrably wrong. Shouldn’t that be cause for concern?

Yang’s claim to fame is his argument that we’re facing social and economic crises because rapid automation is destroying good jobs and that the solution is universal basic income — a monthly check of $1,000 to every American adult. Many people find that argument persuasive, and one can imagine a world in which both Yang’s diagnosis and his prescription would be right.

But that’s not the world we’re living in now, and there’s little indication that it’s where we’re going any time soon.

Let’s do a fact check: Are we actually experiencing rapid automation — that is, a rapid reduction in the number of workers it takes to produce a given amount of stuff? That would imply a rapid rise in the amount of stuff produced by each worker still employed — that is, rapidly rising productivity.

But that’s not what we’re seeing. In fact, the lead article in the current issue of the Monthly Labor Review, published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is an attempt to understand the productivity slowdown — the historically low growth in productivity since 2005. This slowdown has been especially pronounced in manufacturing, which has seen hardly any productivity rise over the past decade.

I made similar points back in 2019, eliciting a furious response from Yang, who decried “incomplete statistics” and declared that “I’ve done the math.” But if he had done the math, he didn’t share it with the rest of us; all he offered were anecdotes. Yes, at any given time there are always some workers being displaced by technology. The question is whether this is happening faster now than in the past. The numbers say that it isn’t.

For what it’s worth, my guess is that Yang started preaching the dangers of automation without ever having looked at economic data; it was a story too good to check.

But even if we don’t think Yang is right about the problem, what about his solution? Is his universal basic income proposal a good idea?

No, it isn’t. It’s both too expensive to be sustainable without a very large tax increase and inadequate for Americans who really need help. I’ve done the math.

First, we really would be talking about a lot of money. The recently enacted American Rescue Plan gave most adults a one-time $1,400 payment, at a cost of $411 billion. These payments make some sense given the lingering economic effects of the pandemic, although other components of the plan, especially enhanced unemployment benefits, are playing a more crucial role in limiting financial misery.

But the Yang proposal to pay $12,000 a year would cost more than eight times as much every year — well over $3 trillion a year, in perpetuity. Even if you aren’t much worried about either debt or inflationary overheating right now (which I’m not), you have to think that sustained spending at that rate would both cause problems and conflict with other priorities, from infrastructure to child care.

Yet these payments would also be grossly inadequate for Americans who actually did lose their jobs, whether to automation or something else. The median full-time worker in the United States currently earns about $1,000 per week.

The point is that for now, at least, the best way to provide an adequate safety net is to make aid conditional. We can and should provide generous aid to the unemployed; we can and should provide aid to families with children. But sending checks to everyone, every month, is just too poorly focused on the real problems.

Now, one can imagine a world in which Yangism would be right. If robots actually were taking all the good jobs and inducing a huge shift of income from labor to capital, it might make sense to offer big universal payments, financed with big new taxes on wealth and capital income. But we’re not currently in that world.

Where, then, is all this hype about robots and other forms of automation coming from? Part of the answer is that it sounds sophisticated and forward-looking, especially if you’re a tech guy. But it’s also, as I argued in that 2019 article, a form of centrist escapism.

The real story of inequality and wage stagnation in America has a lot to do with the decline of unions and workers’ loss of bargaining power; but some commentators are uncomfortable talking about power relations and would rather blame technology.

You could argue that none of this is particularly relevant to running New York City, and in a direct sense that’s clearly right. But if Yang does become mayor, it will be because voters have a vague sense that he’s a man with deep insights proposing smart progressive policies. Unfortunately, that’s not who he is.

© 2021 The New York Times Company

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Re: Living in a soon-to-be AI-driven Society (within 15 yrs)

Postby charon on April 17th, 2021, 6:40 am 

Good article, incidentally, and obviously right.
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Re: Living in a soon-to-be AI-driven Society (within 15 yrs)

Postby Mossling on April 17th, 2021, 7:21 am 

I started this thread in 2017, so we still have 11 years to go yet guys, haha.

However, the forward march doesn't seem to have stopped just yet:

RC Coffee, which bills itself “Canada’s first robotic café”, opened in Toronto last summer. “[T]he barista-to-customer interaction is somewhat risky despite people’s best efforts to maintain a safe environment,” the firm says. When this correspondent visited in January, a gaggle of people stood by, trying to make it work.

Many people expect the pandemic to accelerate automation in industries far beyond coffee. Anecdotes abound of robots being brought in to reduce risks of infection, from automated slaughterhouses to do-it-yourself baggage drop-offs at airports. This wave of automation, some fear, will eliminate jobs, especially for those with less marketable skills, meaning more unemployment and inequality. Jobs in coffeeshops may not pay much, but their demise would be a disaster. “One thing worse than too many low-paid jobs is too few low-paid jobs,” argues David Autor of MIT.


That's from an Economist article this month, titled Robots threaten jobs less than fearmongers claim. I couldn't get the counter argument from that article, though - it seems to be behind a paywall also - does anyone have access? I guess, instead of relying on journalism, we could probably go to the science more efficiently on this topic - I bet there's papers. I have university library access, so I'll try to have a look when I get a moment.

Interestingly, in January of this year, the Economist also published: After years of dithering companies are embracing automation:
the latest sign of a quiet but powerful revolution. “The convergence of software and hardware seen in the carpeted parts of enterprises is now seen on factory floors in every industry we serve,” says Blake Moret, chief executive of Rockwell Automation, a giant of the industry. His firm runs a full-scale manufacturing facility at its Milwaukee headquarters, to prove that automation enables it to make competitive products despite America’s high labour costs. Its share price has risen by 28% in the past year, nearly twice as much as the S&P 500 index of big American firms.


I wonder really if it will be 15 years or 30, though...
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Re: Living in a soon-to-be AI-driven Society (within 15 yrs)

Postby TheVat on April 17th, 2021, 9:29 am 

Three methods:

Hit your stop-load button (usually at top left-hand of folder) when the photo is just done loading and you will get the text. Failing that, keep a dummy email account (just go to yahoo, takes a couple minutes), and give that address when they request one. Usually gets you 3-5 sample articles before the real PW falls. Or: delete your cache and cookies. Almost all news outlets give you one free article without needing to give any data. Most browsers let you have the option to delete cookies just for the past 24 hours, so you don't have to erase long established ones you want to keep. Not that erasing cookies ever really results in a problem (and usually improves your data privacy). Thank you, Charon, for cut/paste of Krugman!
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Re: Living in a soon-to-be AI-driven Society (within 15 yrs)

Postby Serpent on April 17th, 2021, 1:46 pm 

I had one or two issues with it.
Not sure where the assumptions about the future come from.
Not clear what manufacturing is taking place or why the productivity of still-employed workers might be slowing down. (Or why it should have increased if mechanization were proceeding at the pace we might infer from the earlier pages of this thread.) I do know that much of that mechanization is not in the actual production of things (which are made off-shore) so much in their transportation, packaging and distribution. These are jobs where human workers are not measurably productive: they simply help the machines move things around.
To that extent, plus a number of other salient factors not mentioned here, I'm with Yang regarding "incomplete statistics".

OTOH, I'm sure Yang's are incomplete, as well. It's near impossible to consider all the factors that figure into the economic profile of a large and disparate and multi-connected nation.
And I do agree that, BMI is only a temporary measure to stave off mass starvation and revolution, until the whole thing can be restructured. If nobody has the will or capability to make major changes, there's hardly any point in trying to help people out: they'll sink when it all collapses anyway.
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Re: Living in a soon-to-be AI-driven Society (within 15 yrs)

Postby doogles on April 17th, 2021, 4:44 pm 

I can imagine this sort of discussion occurring in 1982 or 1983, according to the attached graph, but aren't things relatively 'normal' at the moment?
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US UNEMPLOYMENT RATE.png
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Re: Living in a soon-to-be AI-driven Society (within 15 yrs)

Postby Mossling on April 29th, 2021, 1:29 am 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/ ... imcook-br5
Since it was unveiled at a hospitality industry fair last month, the world’s first robotic paellero has been causing a bit of a stir. Set the programme, load the sofrito, rice, stock and seafood, leave it alone and the robotic arm, which is hooked up to a computerised stove, will do the rest.

The robot, a joint project between the young company br5 (Be a Robot 5) and the paella stove manufacturer Mimcook, has so far attracted interest from hotel and restaurant chains, as well as a Japanese company.
[...]
The engineer and entrepreneur said he had been surprised at how good the finished dish was – right down to the crunchy crust, or socarrat – when he first tried it.

All too often, said Lillo, easily distracted humans just get it wrong.

“It doesn’t make sense for us to be stirring rice – especially because you’ll be looking at WhatsApp while you’re doing it and it’ll burn. That won’t happen with a robot.”

Step by step, automated arm by automated arm.... The inevitable continues to arrive...

The question right now is, perhaps, when will that significant tipping point be?

I remember all the hype about swipe screens, and then suddenly they were everywhere and made a huge difference. That didn't take very long at all.
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Re: Living in a soon-to-be AI-driven Society (within 15 yrs)

Postby Serpent on April 29th, 2021, 10:41 am 

doogles » April 17th, 2021, 3:44 pm wrote:I can imagine this sort of discussion occurring in 1982 or 1983, according to the attached graph, but aren't things relatively 'normal' at the moment?

That moment was January 2017 - before the twin pandemics.

Normal is measured differently by different agencies, criteria and time periods.
You can say that unemployment is relatively low, but in order to see how that affects standard of living, you'd have to look more closely at the kinds of jobs people have, their job security, pay rate and benefits. Also, how 'unemployment' is calculated: Is it according to how many people are actively seeking employment? because many who would have been in 1980, don't even hope anymore. Then see the cost of living compared to wages, the public services available, the homelessness rate, the poverty line....
Much has changed in the US economy since the 1980's. Automation has a good deal of influence on that, as does off-shoring, outsourcing, 'freelancing' and every kind of deregulation of business practice and employer-worker relations.
The stark percent value doesn't tell you very much - either about the economy or about normalcy.
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Re: Living in a soon-to-be AI-driven Society (within 15 yrs)

Postby doogles on April 29th, 2021, 6:04 pm 

Thank you for the comments, Serpent.

Obviously, you and I are interpreting the graph with different sets of eyes.

I notice that the March 2021 unemployment rate in the USA is 6.0% which I would regard as surprisingly low, considering the circumstances of the last year or so -- https://www.thebalance.com/current-u-s- ... ws-3305733.

You rightly mentioned that the causes of, and measurement of, unemployment rates can be multifactorial and quite variable. AI could be included as one of many factors. But doesn't that graph demonstrate that the biggest factor associated with unemployment over the last 60 years, has been financial recession.

The way I see it, the area we need to keep our eyes on is not just AI; it's National financial management strategies.
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Re: Living in a soon-to-be AI-driven Society (within 15 yrs)

Postby Serpent on April 29th, 2021, 7:09 pm 

doogles » April 29th, 2021, 5:04 pm wrote:But doesn't that graph demonstrate that the biggest factor associated with unemployment over the last 60 years, has been financial recession.

Sure. But that, too, has a number of interactive causes. Overconfidence and overheating of the market, financial bubbles, government action and inaction - and, recently, debt-load. The biggest windfalls to be made are in usury and its related insurance scams. And the debt load on average citizens (taxpayers) grows reciprocally with he disparity of income.
Also, as I mentioned, the % employment rate doesn't accurately depict the working population: it doesn't show the quality of jobs: the standard of living, security, benefits, union representation or safety of all those people who did not tick the Unemployed box on a form, because they're temporarily delivering fast food or disinfecting Covid test stations, in jail, on parole, on the street, or have given up trying.
Some - probably many - of those people used to have steady, well-compensated jobs in industry before they were displaced by automation.

The way I see it, the area we need to keep our eyes on is not just AI; it's National financial management strategies.

Such a strategy would be nice. It would have to include protection of employees from predatory management practices. Not the original subject of the thread, but related. Did you hear President Biden's address last night? He just could might maybe change things.
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Re: Living in a soon-to-be AI-driven Society (within 15 yrs)

Postby doogles on May 1st, 2021, 5:33 am 

Maybe, Serpent, we should keep in mind that citizens protested vigorously when the first Spinning Mills came into existence. They even vandalised the mills. But that was a couple of centuries ago. We have been adjusting to automation, robotics and AI ever since.

For the last 60 years in the USA the main driver of unemployment has been recession. I think that the graph I provided demonstrates that unequivocally.

It’s difficult to find cause and effect science in the field of finance, but the following article seems to put a balance on matters. See https://fortunly.com/statistics/automat ... stics#gref. I’m personally willing to believe the attitude in that article, that we have adapted in the past and that we will adapt in the future. So we may just have to hold different opinions on that.

Causes of recession are another matter.

I have my own hypothesis about that, and it does not involve AI at all.

It seems to me that the common terminal factor in all recessions is a ‘run’ on the Banks and the Shares Market. These ‘runs’ occur as a result of the same mindless mentality that drives people to hoard toilet paper and other goods in Covid pandemics, thus creating an artificial shortage. Whenever it appears that the economy is going to collapse (The first sign is usually a ‘run’ on the Banks), the most sensible thing to do is to take your savings out of the Bank or the Share Market. Cash in a falling economy will not only not depreciate, but it will have more spending power. Unfortunately most of your cash in the bank is tied up in investments by the bank that cannot be liquidated. A ‘run’ on the Share Market results in dramatically falling share values and loss of spending power across the whole economy -- lower spending, lower sales, lower need for manufacturing and lower employment.

I notice that the in the USA the unemployment increased from about about 3.6 with a peak of 14%, finishing at 6% during the Covid outbreak.

Here in Australia, it went from 5.2% to a peak of 6.5% and currently stands at 5.6%. This seems amazing to me, considering we lost our tourism and restaurant industries.

I’m always inclined to ask myself “why?”, and if no official suggestion is available, I’ll invent my own working hypothesis.

I accept that I could be totally wrong, but I have a feeling that we will no longer get a run on the Banks or Share Markets in Australia for the following reason. In the 1990s we commenced a policy of compulsory saving in Australia with the establishment of Superannuation. In lieu of pay rises, it became compulsory for employers to deposit 9% of their employees wages (eventually) into retirement savings. That is now in the process of being increased to 12%. We currently have $2.9 trillion of Superannuation tied up in the Share Markets, but, and this is the difference, that money is not readily accessible. It cannot be touched till retirement and even then, it is available only as a meted out pension allowance on a monthly basis. There cannot be a ‘run’ on these savings. Special circumstances allow people to draw on the funds, and in the Covid outbreak, $32 billion was withrawn. That’s approximately 1%, and it had no significant effect on the savings.

Even in the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, we were affected less than any other country -- see The Australian economy and the global downturn Part 1: Reasons for resilience | Treasury.gov.au -- “The Global Financial Crisis (GFC) was followed by the deepest recession in the world economy since World War II. The Australian economy performed better during this period than other advanced economies on nearly all relevant indicators. Financial conditions were stressed, but the financial system held up remarkably well; the economy slowed, but did not fall into recession; and while unemployment rose, it did so by far less than in many other advanced economies.”

So when I spoke about National Financial Management, I had in mind something like our Australian compulsory Superannuation system. The crux of ‘management of recessions’ seems to be to avoid ‘runs’ on Banks and Share Markets. By law, we just cannot make ‘runs’ on our savings in the form of Superannuation. Much of the financial backing of our industries remains intact, with the effect that those industries can keep on manufacturing and therefore keep employing.
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Re: Living in a soon-to-be AI-driven Society (within 15 yrs)

Postby charon on May 1st, 2021, 7:28 am 

The original premise of the subject is that machines will replace many workers. There's no doubt about that at all, it's happening now.

The real question isn't about money, it's about people, maybe you and I too. What will happen to them? Years of unemployment?

It's all very well talking about re-training but opportunities will be limited and further restricted by the abilities of those seeking non-mechanical work.
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Re: Living in a soon-to-be AI-driven Society (within 15 yrs)

Postby Serpent on May 1st, 2021, 10:03 am 

doogles » May 1st, 2021, 4:33 am wrote:Maybe, Serpent, we should keep in mind that citizens protested vigorously when the first Spinning Mills came into existence. They even vandalised the mills.

They had every reason to be upset. Industrial mechanization took a good many livelihoods away, plunged many thouasnds of people into deep poverty, malnutrition, miserable living conditions, execrable working conditions and utter dependency on a callous employer class (which grew inordinately wealthy on near-slave labour) and invested in more industries, which - at least temporarily - created whole new classifications of onerous, low-paying work, as well as greater demand for natural resources and transport to move them around.
Overall, the standard of living in western industrial societies has been rising over the last 200 years. We indulged in some terrific big wars, which always stimulate an industrial economy and devastates an agrarian one; burned down and strip-mined a few small countries nobody will miss; created several generations of revolutionaries and terrorists; eradicated a geometrically increasing number of Earth's species and rendered vast tracts of land inhabitable by nothing but giant mutant ants. Production has increased and increased and increased, until thousands of ships carrying tens of thousands of giant containers full of stuff are churning up the oceans every single day, and thousands of oil rigs are befouling those same oceans to feed those factories and those ships and billions of tons of plastic waste are in the earth, the air and the water...
Growth is what makes our comfortable adjustment possible.
Is that growth infinitely sustainable?

But that was a couple of centuries ago. We have been adjusting to automation, robotics and AI ever since.

By "we", you mean the beneficiaries, not the victims. They didn't 'adjust'; they starved, suffered, turned to crime or died young. The problem is, 'we' have adjusted our lifestyles to whatever was convenient, while ignoring the fallout (Ship it to the Phillippines), the side-effects (They live in China, so who cares?), the long-term consequences (We're all obese and short of breath; have another pork-rind.) -- and without adjusting the economic structure of our societies.

For the last 60 years in the USA the main driver of unemployment has been recession. I think that the graph I provided demonstrates that unequivocally.

Equivocally, but okay.
In the the biggest recessions, governments were forced to enact some protection for the working class, like pensions and unemployment insurance - most of which is paid-for by the worker himself....
but then 'invested' by an agency, which is to say, tossed into the same pot as Wall Street's Monopoly money and gambled on the - now global - stock market. While bonds are lower risk bets than commodities futures, it's all investment and all dependent on the boom-bust economic cycle.

It’s difficult to find cause and effect science in the field of finance, but the following article seems to put a balance on matters. See https://fortunly.com/statistics/automat ... stics#gref. I’m personally willing to believe the attitude in that article, that we have adapted in the past and that we will adapt in the future. So we may just have to hold different opinions on that.

I don't understand the attitude to which you refer. It seems to be all about what people think or believe or hope. Like: 70% think they'll find higher-paying jobs if they get more training?
How does that work? The employer's objective is to optimize profits - they're not investing borrowed billions in those expensive machines so they can retrain the people and pay them more! Their objective is to fire as many wage-earners as possible, preferably before they're eligible for pension. Which automatically means those ex-employees also lose their health insurance and whatever savings they may have.
What is the standard ratio of skilled work to unskilled work? For each new job created by a mechanical loom, 100 unskilled labourers become permanently obsolete. As AI climbs the economic ladder (performs ever higher grades of skilled, clerical, technical and managerial functions) it displaces another class of employee at each step and eliminates another upgrade opportunity for the increasing number of unemployed.
Sez there, 55% need a BA or BSc to qualify for new jobs. Where are unemployed miners and assembly-line workers supposed to get the tuition fee, even if they're accepted by a college with that many vacancies? Who's going to feed their families and pay their rent and Visa bills in the meantime?

Causes of recession are another matter.

It seems to me that the common terminal factor in all recessions is a ‘run’ on the Banks and the Shares Market. These ‘runs’ occur as a result of the same mindless mentality that drives people to hoard toilet paper and other goods in Covid pandemics, thus creating an artificial shortage. Whenever it appears that the economy is going to collapse (The first sign is usually a ‘run’ on the Banks), the most sensible thing to do is to take your savings out of the Bank or the Share Market.

Mindless or sensible? The operative word there is "terminal". When you see the fin coming, it's too late to outswim the shark. The banks would have to contain savings in order for a run to have any effect on them. But the working-class, and increasingly, the middle class, don't have savings anymore, or not enough to see them through more than a couple of months. Covid lay-offs have wiped out a lot more. Anyway, the money is not in the bank - it's in loans and other investments. When people lose their jobs, they have to use up their savings, can't meet their mortgage payments and default on their loans. This isn't a 'mentality' it's capitalist reality.

Unfortunately most of your cash in the bank is tied up in investments by the bank that cannot be liquidated. A ‘run’ on the Share Market results in dramatically falling share values and loss of spending power across the whole economy -- lower spending, lower sales, lower need for manufacturing and lower employment.

That's not unfortunate; that's how banks make a living. A bank only has to have enough cash to cover its 'anticipated daily transactions'. An unanticipated number of people suddenly losing their income (i.e. the factory closed; the big construction company went bust; the entire town is in crisis) or their confidence (i.e. hearing about a drop in the stock market) will break the bank, too.

I notice that the in the USA the unemployment increased from about about 3.6 with a peak of 14%, finishing at 6% during the Covid outbreak.
Here in Australia, it went from 5.2% to a peak of 6.5% and currently stands at 5.6%. This seems amazing to me, considering we lost our tourism and restaurant industries.

Doesn't that make you wonder how the unemployment statistics are compiled?

I have a feeling that we will no longer get a run on the Banks or Share Markets in Australia for the following reason. In the 1990s we commenced a policy of compulsory saving in Australia with the establishment of Superannuation. In lieu of pay rises, it became compulsory for employers to deposit 9% of their employees wages (eventually) into retirement savings. That is now in the process of being increased to 12%.

Seems like a good idea - except, of course, for people displaced by automation or outsourcing. I'm sure employers don't mind too much, as long as they are not required to contribute. If they are, employers (at least in the US) have clever legal ways to get 'round such measures, just as they get out of having to pay for sick-leave and vacation: use 'independent contractors' and part-time or seasonal or migrant or student intern or illegal workers.

We currently have $2.9 trillion of Superannuation tied up in the Share Markets, but, and this is the difference, that money is not readily accessible. It cannot be touched till retirement and even then, it is available only as a meted out pension allowance on a monthly basis.

That's not savings. That's a retirement fund. Savings is what you can get-at for an emergency, or down payment on a house, or college tuition. And, as you say, it's riding on the stock market, which can collapse. And then the government has to bail out the banks, the industries, the pension funds.... And so the cycle continues. That government goes deeper into debt. Which means the money-lenders are going to reap enormous benefits for decades to come, while we have the privilege of paying higher taxes to buy them solid gold Lear jets.

So when I spoke about National Financial Management, I had in mind something like our Australian compulsory Superannuation system. The crux of ‘management of recessions’ seems to be to avoid ‘runs’ on Banks and Share Markets. By law, we just cannot make ‘runs’ on our savings in the form of Superannuation. Much of the financial backing of our industries remains intact, with the effect that those industries can keep on manufacturing and therefore keep employing.

You know governments can collapse, just like banks and markets. That kind of 'management' works very well as long as the economies of the world keep operating on the same expected principles: there are no sudden mass displacements of tax-base or population, no natural calamities or unchoregoraphable wars, and everybody plays by the rules.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jackkelly/2020/10/27/us-lost-over-60-million-jobs-now-robots-tech-and-artificial-intelligence-will-take-millions-more/?sh=3a474c6e1a52
But for the kind of change 50% unemployment would entail, you need a complete overhaul of the system.

There's nothing wrong with robots doing all the scut-work nobody enjoys, liberating people for creative, enjoyable and socially beneficial activities. There is nothing wrong with a stable AI-based economy.
It just can't function on the same principles, by the same laws or social structures as growth-based capitalism.
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Re: Living in a soon-to-be AI-driven Society (within 15 yrs)

Postby Serpent on May 1st, 2021, 2:53 pm 

Afterthought:
The industrial revolution turned a whole lot of independent artisans and tradesmen into wage-slaves.
Perhaps the AI revolution will turn a whole lot of wage-slaves into artisans and trades-people.

That doesn't help the industrial farming debacle... But then again, it just might turn a whole lot of idle unemployables into rooftop, allotment, parking lot and forest gardeners.

If the ruling elite find their heads before the tumbrils do.
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Re: Living in a soon-to-be AI-driven Society (within 15 yrs)

Postby charon on May 1st, 2021, 3:01 pm 

There's nothing wrong with robots doing all the scut-work nobody enjoys, liberating people for creative, enjoyable and socially beneficial activities.


Sounds wonderful. Such as? Ask any retired but healthy person if they're bored yet. I guarantee they will be whether they admit it or not. We can't just live for our own enjoyment, it doesn't work like that.
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Re: Living in a soon-to-be AI-driven Society (within 15 yrs)

Postby Serpent on May 1st, 2021, 5:35 pm 

charon » May 1st, 2021, 2:01 pm wrote: Ask any retired but healthy person if they're bored yet.

Have you asked any of us? Old people used to die when they couldn't identify with their job anymore. Now they travel, take yoga classes, paint, bake, garden, play golf, learn Japanese... And a lot of us start small-scale home businesses and even more of us do volunteer work in the church or community.
We can't just live for our own enjoyment, it doesn't work like that.

Which is why I said artisan: i.e. one who makes good, beautiful and functional things, like shoes (yes, we might all have hand-made mocs and boots!) and rugs, furniture, crockery and children's toys; trades-people i.e. those who are skilled in the construction, installation, maintenance and repair of functional items, like homes, solar arrays, lawn-mowers and cars and socially beneficial, i.e. teach the children, heal the sick, comfort the bereaved, help the less able. And grow food for themselves and their neighbours.
You know, all that good stuff we just can't afford now.
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Re: Living in a soon-to-be AI-driven Society (within 15 yrs)

Postby charon on May 1st, 2021, 8:35 pm 

So you're just ceaselessly active to fill the gap.
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Re: Living in a soon-to-be AI-driven Society (within 15 yrs)

Postby Serpent on May 1st, 2021, 8:50 pm 

charon » May 1st, 2021, 7:35 pm wrote:So you're just ceaselessly active to fill the gap.

No, I'm just living my life.
What gap? I quit my last salaried job (which I liked very much, btw) in 1984, to open a craft store. Then we moved to the country, built a house and did other things. Who says you have to choose your whole life's work at 18 and never change till you keel over in the traces?

And, with all due respect, your method of data-collection may be flawed.
I guarantee they will be [bored] whether they admit it or not.

Ask people about themselves, but if they don't answer as you expect, assume they are lying.
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Re: Living in a soon-to-be AI-driven Society (within 15 yrs)

Postby charon on May 1st, 2021, 10:57 pm 

Ah, that's different, you have a valid work substitute so your days are productive. So probably you don't have a gap, as you say. You also obviously had the means to move to the countryside and build a house, etc. Excellent.

But when I said 'So you fill...' I was using the impersonal you, not referring to you personally. The thread's about those, now and in the future, who will not be so lucky or have that kind of education and initiative. I'm not sure we can resolve the problems of living by pointing at the all-rights.

So I ask again, if and when technology takes over from a vast number of human beings, what will they do? What will happen to them? More entertainment and amusement? More distractions and escapist activity? Because that's what the majority will do.

It's ironic that we build a technology that can outstrip us so well and then suffer the consequences as it leaves us behind.
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Re: Living in a soon-to-be AI-driven Society (within 15 yrs)

Postby Mossling on May 1st, 2021, 11:21 pm 

charon » May 2nd, 2021, 11:57 am wrote: if and when technology takes over from a vast number of human beings, what will they do? What will happen to them? More entertainment and amusement? More distractions and escapist activity? Because that's what the majority will do.

It's ironic that we build a technology that can outstrip us so well and then suffer the consequences as it leaves us behind.

I think this has already "happened" to us to a degree - with the advent of farming.

It seemed to cause a huge shift in our habitual communal living patterns, and with some communities, like the San bush people of Africa, or 'uncontacted' tribes in the Amazon, preferring to keep their old Hunter gatherer approaches, or gradations thereof.

For the majority, however, it apparently triggered the 'Axial Age' - where, in India, for example, Vedic priests, seeing so much death around them (something like people might be enduring right now in India - a pandemic), could not feel they were able to lead a truly comfortable agriculture-supported existence, and so they went out into the forests and graveyards to bring themselves closer to their mortality - as a kind of 'exposure therapy.'

Out of that, it seems sophisticated yoga and yogic practices were born - a sophisticated 'inner technology' countermeasure to the sophistication of external agriculture.

Will there be an equally significant shift in habitual communal living practices when full automation of essential infrastructure arrives?

For example, will people in countries across the world form 'virtual' nations that they prefer to belong to - with cryptocurrencies favoured over state-controlled currencies?

Who knows. Change is not always bad though. I'm glad agriculture and the axial age happened - it has given this awesome life process the potency to spread to other solar systems and explore more of this incredible universe.

Perhaps along with AI and increased tech, education can happen on computers/smartphones - kind of like it has been on Zoom during the covid pandemic, and the teacher just becomes replaced by Siri's more sophisticated descendants (or equivalent).

In ghetto classrooms, where young teens are sitting at the back trading threats and stopping themselves, as well as their peers from 'learning how to fish' - to fish for lifelong happiness whilst living an average life, let alone fishing for food on the table, they are trapped in a state of perpetuating the existence of their ghetto.

Interrupt that situation by allowing them to find a quiet corner to study effectively - to lift themselves out, and things might be able to change - coupled with all the virtual world extras that will be on offer.

That's not to say cybercrime won't be rife, etc. But that which is currently referred to in there UK (for example) as an 'expensive education' will be made more available to everyone, it seems... That could be a big game changer - for social mobility (and thus 'satisfaction with one's lot'), as well as adapting to a post-work society.
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Re: Living in a soon-to-be AI-driven Society (within 15 yrs)

Postby Serpent on May 1st, 2021, 11:52 pm 

charon » May 1st, 2021, 9:57 pm wrote:Ah, that's different, you have a valid work substitute so your days are productive.

Who doesn't? And why don't they?
It's not a 'substitute' for work; it's just work I've chosen instead of work I was forced to do.

But when I said 'So you fill...' I was using the impersonal you, not referring to you personally. The thread's about those, now and in the future, who will not be so lucky or have that kind of education and initiative.

Why the hell would they need luck to have a decent public education or native initiative?
I bet every assembly-line worker and ditch-digger has secretly dreamed of becoming a guitarist or building a boat or inventing a cure for hay-fever. Everybody has ideas about what they would like to do, what they think they might have the talent for, what would garner them the respect of their peers, what would make them happy. They might be wrong - let them experiment and find out. If they need more education, let them go back to school. Let them attend workshops and apprentice to master craftsmen and refine their skills - there's no rush. What's so far-fetched about making shoes or tables? It doesn't have to be artistic or intellectual: lots of things need doing in a community; lost of things could be better made by hand; lots of things need repair; lots of people need bandages, rescuing and solace. If you have no skills or brains, you can still do a whole lot of good cleaning up some of the mess left behind by the industrial age.

I'm not sure we can resolve the problems of living by pointing at the all-rights.

I didn't. You accused retirees of terminal boredom, just because they couldn't be wage-slaves anymore.
If you can't think of anything useful and fun to do on your own, be one of the 50% that stays employed. We won't laugh, call you names or refuse to let you join in our reindeer games.

So I ask again, if and when technology takes over from a vast number of human beings, what will they do?

I've told you three times and will tell you again: whatever the hell they want to.
What will happen to them? More entertainment and amusement? More distractions and escapist activity? Because that's what the majority will do.

I don't think so. I think a lot of the distractions thrown up by 20th century were trying to fill a deep psychic hole where people had lost their autonomy, liberty, identity and agency.
But if so, so what?

It's ironic that we build a technology that can outstrip us so well and then suffer the consequences as it leaves us behind.

We suffer or enjoy the consequences of everything we build and every decision we make.
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Re: Living in a soon-to-be AI-driven Society (within 15 yrs)

Postby charon on May 2nd, 2021, 1:47 am 

Mossling -

Out of that, it seems sophisticated yoga and yogic practices were born - a sophisticated 'inner technology' countermeasure to the sophistication of external agriculture.


I'm not quite sure of the connection between yoga practices and agriculture. I don't think that was their purpose.
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Re: Living in a soon-to-be AI-driven Society (within 15 yrs)

Postby charon on May 2nd, 2021, 1:52 am 

Serpent -

You seem angry, don't ask me why, it's just a subject.

Well, according to your list and descriptions, AI is no threat whatsoever and there's no problem, we just do whatever the hell we want to do... What's the thread about in that case?
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Re: Living in a soon-to-be AI-driven Society (within 15 yrs)

Postby doogles on May 2nd, 2021, 6:35 am 

Like you Charon, I'm still asking what this thread is about, as I do in the following response to Serpent.
...................................
Good day to you Serpent.

Your comments on my last post were rather pessimistic. I didn’t realise that the world had gone through so much gloom and doom during the last couple of centuries since the Industrial Revolution and that we have all been the 'victims' of capitalism.

You said -- “They had every reason to be upset. Industrial mechanization took a good many livelihoods away, plunged many thousands of people into deep poverty, malnutrition, miserable living conditions, execrable working conditions and utter dependency on a callous employer class (which grew inordinately wealthy on near-slave labour) and invested in more industries, which - at least temporarily - created whole new classifications of onerous, low-paying work, as well as greater demand for natural resources and transport to move them around.”

Where did you get this sort of emotive information? Have you a reference to support it?

If the agrarian lifestyle that people were enjoying before the industrial revolution was so idyllic, why ever did the peasants leave the land to work in the mills?

If the ‘victims’ of this revolution “starved, suffered, turned to crime or died young”, how come the population increased so much from that time?

I’ll have another go at making the point that industrialisation, robotics and AI are not factors in long term unemployment.

At the end of this post I have uploaded another graph of the association between recessions and unemployment in the USA since 1900. It can be seen on this site -- https://www.russellsage.org/research/ch ... 00-to-2002. and with this comment -- "The figure [below] vividly displays the regular ups and downs of economic fortune, as well as the great shock of the 1930s...It is striking that unemployment eventually fell after 1970 even while the labor force continued to grow. Surging immigration, more women going to work, and the maturing of the baby boomers combined to increase the size of the American labor force by 80 percent. —p. 126, Century of Difference” . The last graph I uploaded shows the association of unemployment and recession after 2002.

The way I look at it, industrialisation, robotics, and AI have all been increasing steadily since the late 18th century. If they were collectively having a negative overall effect on employment, shouldn’t the graph show an increasing oblique line? It doesn’t. Therefore, up till the present, industrialisation, robotics and AI have either had no long term effect on employment, or else we have adapted to them. Recessions appear to be the problem.
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Re: Living in a soon-to-be AI-driven Society (within 15 yrs)

Postby Serpent on May 2nd, 2021, 8:50 am 

charon » May 2nd, 2021, 12:52 am wrote:Serpent -

You seem angry, don't ask me why, it's just a subject.

I wasn't tempted to ask. I don't need to know or guess why you say anything or how you draw any conclusion. I certainly wouldn't presume to diagnose your mental or emotional state.

Well, according to your list and descriptions, AI is no threat whatsoever and there's no problem,

At no time did I claim that. What I said regarding automation and AI was that if we restructure the economy and social organization intelligently, it need not be a threat: we could, in theory, manage it.

we just do whatever the hell we want to do...

That was in response - strictly and particularly - to your posed and re-posed question regarding what unemployed people are supposed to do with their time. If people are free to choose their activities, they will choose the activities they prefer and for which they have aptitude: it's not for me to decide.

What's the thread about in that case?

Change. Economic and social change brought about by advancing technology, and the challenges it presents.
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Re: Living in a soon-to-be AI-driven Society (within 15 yrs)

Postby charon on May 2nd, 2021, 9:56 am 

Serpent -

Well, reading it as a sort of sensible person with a decent command of English, your post reeked of impatience if not anger.

Presumably you feel insulted at being classed in with those who no longer work and just fill their time with this and that.

Of course, if you've simply moved from one kind of work to another, which initiative I salute by the way, I wouldn't call you a retiree.

What I said regarding automation and AI was that if we restructure the economy and social organization intelligently, it need not be a threat: we could, in theory, manage it.


That's just it. As usual, since it hasn't actually happened to any vast extent, it's all just speculative. Which is pointless, really. It's non-fact.

But, of course, it has happened in some areas already. What happened to those workers I wouldn't know.

And the point about the Industrial Revolution is valid, that it did lead to increased efficiency, greater profits, and so on, at the expense of ordinary working people. So, if the computer is going to take our jobs then we'll have the problem of increased leisure and what to do with it.

If people are free to choose their activities, they will choose the activities they prefer and for which they have aptitude


Obviously, but living just to please oneself IS a problem whether one recognises it or not. But presumably you became impatient because you appear to have solved it by starting a store.

As for not being a wage-slave, don't forget you're dependent on your customers turning up. I was just wondering how many of your customers were precisely those who are filling their time doing this and that!
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Re: Living in a soon-to-be AI-driven Society (within 15 yrs)

Postby Serpent on May 2nd, 2021, 10:18 am 

doogles » May 2nd, 2021, 5:35 am wrote:Your comments on my last post were rather pessimistic. I didn’t realise that the world had gone through so much gloom and doom during the last couple of centuries since the Industrial Revolution and that we have all been the 'victims' of capitalism.

Pessimism is about the future - and yes, I am. I know we don't have to screw up again, but I'm pretty sure we will.

Where did you get this sort of emotive information? Have you a reference to support it?

Historical reading over many years. I could look for references, but I don't think belong here. I expressed an opinion. If you want to dismiss it as wrong, that's your prerogative.

If the agrarian lifestyle that people were enjoying before the industrial revolution was so idyllic, why ever did the peasants leave the land to work in the mills?

I wasn't comparing textile factories to an 'agrarian lifestyle'; I was comparing it to cottage industry. The independent spinners and weavers were wiped out overnight - and some of them were upset enough to try to destroy the machines.
[fact] I didn't anywhere, ever say that peasant life was idyllic.[/fact]
[opinion] As aristocratic landowners were starting to be taxed, their sons died in wars or gambled away their fortunes; new-rich industrialists, merchants and bankers bought up the land, not for food production - which was increasingly supplanted by imported product, including wool and cottin for the growing textile indusrty - but pleasure and show, many agricultural livelihoods were lost, as well. Tenant farmers lost their homes and jobs and had no choice but go to work in factories, quarries or the railroad. The skilled tradesmen - thatchers, farriers, harness-makers, smiths, etc. soon became obsolete in their turn, as did the butchers, bakers and candlestick-makers in smaller market towns. And so they flocked to the cities in search of work. There, competition for even the meanest job was fierce - if the father couldn't work, the children, who were paid less, had to. This series of events, of course, happened over a much longer period. [/opinion]
[fact]The BBC has made a slew of documentaries on British social and economic history[/fact]

If the ‘victims’ of this revolution “starved, suffered, turned to crime or died young”, how come the population increased so much from that time?

You don't think masses can suffer and be miserable? There are many factors.
Advances in medicine and public hygiene accounts for most of the population increase; the smallpox vaccine was responsible for quite a lot; street sanitation, improved construction methods and public access to water. - a reference on which i was too lazy to improve: https://www.jstor.org/stable/2122638?seq=1)
There is also a smaller component in immigration - the importation of servants, sailors, navvies from various colonies over time. In the early 18th century, mainly the Caribbean, then Asia and Africa, plus the persecuted Protestant minorities from Europe and Irish youth seeking a better life.
[opinion]Industrialization may also have contributed to increased procreation in other ways, such as the crowding of city slums and the intensive use of alcohol [/opinion]
[fact] - but high birth rate doesn't translate to long life: excluding infant and child mortality, the average life-expectancy for the whole country was 57 - and that includes all classes and regions, with a considerable discrepancy between urban and rural, high and low income. [/fact]
- a better reference: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/lifeexpectancies/articles/howhaslifeexpectancychangedovertime/2015-09-09


The way I look at it, industrialisation, robotics, and AI have all been increasing steadily since the late 18th century. If they were collectively having a negative overall effect on employment, shouldn’t the graph show an increasing oblique line? It doesn’t. Therefore, up till the present, industrialisation, robotics and AI have either had no long term effect on employment, or else we have adapted to them. Recessions appear to be the problem.

Noted. So the entire thread has been a waste of time, as it was based on on a misconception?
That can happen.
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Re: Living in a soon-to-be AI-driven Society (within 15 yrs)

Postby charon on May 2nd, 2021, 10:22 am 

This old Jewish guy was dying, surrounded by his family.

'Are you all here?' he croaked. 'Yes, papa' came the answer.

'All of you, even little Jeremiah?' ' 'Yes, grandad' came the answer.

'That's good, that's good' he sighed, 'SO WHO's LOOKING AFTER THE STORE?'
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