Technologists claim that job displacement via automation has been going on for quite some time, but due to the nature of geometric growth, we've only seen the beginning. Job displacement is going to continue at an accelerating pace, until within 100 years everyone's jobs will have been taken away. One hundred years isn't long, it's a single lifetime, and that's the conservative estimate.
Whereas everyone seems to agree that automation is now destroying more jobs than it creates, the convened experts couldn't come up with any answer to the problem and just wandered around aimlessly saying people should 'do more' to help 'alleviate the problem.' Well, sorry, but in a self-interested world no business is going to hire people it doesn't need to hire at a loss, and no inventor is going to scrap his newest computer chip for the sake of keeping workers employed. The only solutions that can possibly occur must come from the government, they must be imposed on the world by force, because they would never come about naturally.
We are looking at a world in which most people are not only impoverished due to their lack of gainful employment, they're also insulted, humiliated, and stripped of their human dignity because they're losers who can't cut it anymore like the employed, rich, powerful people can. When the 1% look down from their mansions and mock all the losers who didn't become entrepreneurs or rock stars or NFL pros or whatever is left to the human job market, 99% of people on Earth are slated to be miserable. They are going to live, at best, off bare minimum government aid like food stamps, while being mocked by their betters on TV, on the street, and everywhere else they go for being a useless mooching parasite. They will be completely unable to find a wife because women aren't attracted to poor, unemployed losers, and therefore they'll also be unable to have children. In fact, the 99% won't live the most basic of human lives that all of their ancestors were easily able to engage in for thousands of years. They won't get a job, they won't get married, they won't have children, they won't raise children, and they'll leave zero legacy behind when they die. A person's self-worth has always revolved around what they contributed to their family and their community, but by depriving people of any value to their labor, they find themselves incapable of contributing anything to anyone, and therefore can't find any value in themselves at all.
A jobs crisis isn't an economic crisis, it's a moral crisis. If we deprive people of their ability to lead meaningful human lives, we've done them a great injury. If the future is going to turn out like this, they all would have been better off living in the past. We owe our fellow citizens a standard of life that conforms to our present level of productivity. We cannot tell these people, "capitalism produces more wealth than 1950's America, or 1900 America, or 1800 America, or 1600 America, so you aren't allowed to go back to those modes of life, all natural resources and capital goods will be devoted to further enriching the top 1%, while the rest of you can just go rot somewhere in the gutters." If someone would be better off as a hunter gatherer or subsistence farmer than the community he finds himself in, then that community has done him an injury, they are directly responsible for his low standard of living. They stole away his means of production and then left him to die with zero compensation. This is something even Thomas Paine understood back in the 1700's, but ever since the invention of robots the issue has become much more imminent and extreme.
Nor is it sufficient to give some table scraps away to the 99% and say they're better than hunter gatherers because they have shacks instead of caves to live in. Part of human well being is emotional well being, it isn't just material comforts. If you do not have some level of status in the community, if you have no chance of getting married and having children, you're clearly far worse off than the people who came before you, who had all of these things even if they had nothing else.
There is only one just response to someone losing their jobs to automation -- commiseration, sympathy, and wealth redistribution. Anything short of that, anyone who calls the guy names or blames the victim, is an aggressor in the equation, making someone's standard of living even lower than it would be if he had simply lived alone as the sole man left on Earth. I am not talking about free food or medical care, but free money, that they can spend for any reason at all. It's part of the gesture of respect we show to someone that they are given the autonomy to buy what they prefer and that we value the person enough that we want to fulfill all of their dreams, not just keep them on life support. And another part of this respect we show the newly unemployed is that we do not cast them as villains, idiots, lazy, criminal, losers, ugly, etc. In the art, in news, in politics, we must stop referring to the people out competed by machine labor, a flood of cheap labor immigrants, or billions of Chinese and Indians overseas working in hellish conditions 16 hours a day for a nickel an hour as 'basement dwellers' or 'whiners' or any other term thought up by the Ayn Randian merciless libertarian crowd.
Let's face it, with 7 billion people on Earth and even more computers, it's absolutely impossible for everyone to have a job. The people who don't have jobs are the victims of this game of ruthless competitive musical chairs, not the offenders. People without jobs should be encouraged to pursue fun hobbies instead, socialize with others who are also out of work, and create their own social hierarchies based on standards completely separate from money -- like kindness, honesty, and temperance. These people should marry and have kids just like everyone else, and they should live out their lives with just as much meaning as the working crowd on 'the other side of the tracks.' The ruthless demonization of the underclass makes it so disheartening to be a member that their only recourse is alcohol, drugs, casual sex or suicide. If we gave them an alternative outlet for their creative energies, perhaps people could lead an alternative manner of living just as happy and respectable as we had in the past, before open immigration, free trade and artificial intelligence. It doesn't help when presidential candidates dismiss 47% of Americans as worthless parasitical bottom feeders on live television. How do you think these people feel when told that they're 'a lost cause' and Republicans have no interest in their well being or lives anymore?
The libertarian idea that there are 'infinite jobs' available just around the corner is absurd. Many jobs are off limits because they are insulting to human dignity. Yes, in the past, many British were employed as chocolate stirrers for a lord's tea cup, or as a guy who would stand at your front door and open it in the case guests ever arrived, or someone who would drive your carriage, or someone who would take care of your horses in the stables, so on and so forth. However, today all of these jobs are off limits because they are demeaning. People are not just servants to another person's needs. We are all equal and therefore it's disgusting for real people, just as good as their employers, to be wasting their entire day away doing meaningless trifling chores that the employer could have all done himself just fine. People with souls and thoughts and dreams of their own should not be used as props just to aggrandize a rich person's show of wealth to his rich neighbors. We are better than the ancient slavery cultures, we've moved on from using people as tools.
Furthermore, it's unacceptable to work at a job that doesn't provide you with a decent living at the end of the day. It's called 'a fair day's wage for a fair day's work.' If someone is going to do exhausting, dirty, unpleasant, hard labor all day, he wants something to show for it at the end of the day. Saying there are infinite jobs if we just eliminated the minimum wage and worked for a penny an hour is utterly ridiculous. For one thing, the minimum wage is already well under what it used to be when inflation adjusted, and we still don't have nearly enough jobs to go around. Secondly, if you can't support yourself either way with the money it's possible to earn, there's no point working, you may as well enjoy the last days of your life freely. Or, in reality, since you're going to die anyway, you may as well go out in a blaze and attempt to rob, rape, riot and murder while you still can. Demanding people work at less than subsistence wages is a recipe for disaster.
In addition, telling people there are plenty of job opportunities if they just created an entire new job field and then met an entire new human desire through their own genius, is essentially the same as saying 'let them eat cake!' when peasants complain they can't eat bread. If they can't even get a job as the local policeman or fireman, why do you think they would instead become the most brilliant CEO of the century? If people can't even compete at the bottom rungs of society, telling them to 'just leapfrog to the top!' is a farce. Are these people even arguing in good faith, or are they just mocking the victims of this hyper-competitive society?
Educating people for skilled jobs fields is another exercise in futility. All jobs have a natural limit, the limit is based on people's demand for that job. There isn't infinite demand for new bridges, so we can't educate everyone to be an engineer. There isn't infinite demand for lawsuits, so we can't make everyone a lawyer. There aren't infinite sick people, so we can't all be doctors. And so on. There may well be some level of shortages in various skilled worker fields, but we are not talking on the scale of billions of people, which is the number of people now unemployed by automation. Education can at best save a handful of people from poverty, and it will come at the expense of other people they outcompete for the job opening. It's a meaningless game of cups with no overall advantage to the community.
Demand is finite, it is bounded. Humans would, if possible, demand an 'omnipotence' drink that would make them Gods if it were ever on sale, but since it isn't on sale there's no demand for the product. Due to this, the idea that there is 'infinite demand' is equally farcical. You can't demand things that don't exist. Of the things that do exist, you can only use so much of it until you're completely saturated.
If you eat too much, it makes you sick, not happy. A large house is useless if you have no use for additional rooms. You only need a car per person to drive wherever you want. You can only wear so many clothes in a lifetime. You can't entertain yourself with more products than covers 16 hours a day. There is a natural limit to all demand, after which point no new jobs are created by people's wants or needs. Once someone, anyone, even if it's a machine, satisfies another's demand, he's no longer interested in hiring you or paying you to satisfy it any longer. The competition for work is just another phrase for the competition to satisfy the finite amount of demand that exists in this world. And what happens when machines start satisfying all of these demands effortlessly?
A house is made of common, cheap materials like wood and concrete. If a house could be 3-D printed, complete with sewage pipes, internet cables, electric wires, and all the newest high tech insulation, glass windows, and so on, by simply inputting the raw materials into the printer and then press 'copy' to churn out another pre-programmed house, boom, you've just lost the majority of the economy. If everyone could be given a free house at the cost of the wood and concrete that went into it and nothing more, why would they hire construction workers, real estate agents, insurers, or anyone else ever again?
Does a 3-D printed house sound fantastic? Sorry, the technology is already available. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/ultratravel/the-next-big-thing/10110195/The-worlds-first-3D-printed-house.html
History is in motion, and it is accelerating. Housing is the single largest consumer expense. What happens when tractors reap wheat on their own? Self driven tractors are now easily available. Remove human labor and farms can simply grow their own crops, then drive them automatically to market, all for free. Food is the second largest consumer expense. The last expense is electricity. So what happens when solar panel shingles are 3-D printed into the roofs of every home for free, and everyone has free electricity, which they can plug in to fuel their electric cars and remove that expense as well? By the way, cars can be made in automated factories too, and then they can just drive themselves to your driveway and deposit themselves for free for you to drive away into the sunset. What can't be done automatically, for free? As products keep becoming easier to make, saturation of demand continues to expand, and the labor pool, which is created via demand for their work, continues to shrink like the Sea of Azov in Soviet Russia.
There's been so much oversupply of labor over the last few decades that the only way anyone is employed anymore is through artifice. For instance, India still has around 50% of its billion+ people subsistence farming, even though it would be more efficient and produce more food if a giant corporation brought all of the land together and just mowed it down with tractors. We could replace 500 million workers with a few dozen people who look after a machine-hive wonderland of technocratic farming tomorrow. The reason India has no wish to do so is they don't want 500 million people out of work, out of hope, and out of dignity, out of the blue. What could the country offer them in return for their lost livelihood? Nothing. So why bother? Just pretend those 500 million people have jobs, and they can pretend to work, and everyone's better off.
The same is true of so many other useless jobs. We don't really need clerks at stores. A simple bar code reading device could notice what products were leaving the store, use facial recognition cameras to identify who was carrying them, and then connect to an online databank which would automatically charge the purchases to the consumer. Every single retail trade store could be unmanned. Why aren't they? Because it offers jobs if we have clerks so we just stick with clerks.
The amount of public employees skyrockets for no known cause, nor can we even identify what the hell those employees are doing. The majority of workers hired by schools aren't even teachers. God knows what they do, but obviously nothing important, because in the past schools only had a single teacher heading the entire school and they did just fine educating the youths of yesterday. We have an enormous army and weapons manufacturing business without even a war to fight in, nor have we been threatened by any serious enemy for decades. The entire military should have been disbanded long ago, including all the trillion dollar weapons programs that equip them, but we couldn't do that because it would mean lost jobs.
What do bankers do except receive free money from the government? I don't even know anymore.
What is the purpose of giving terminally ill patients government health care where they can live a few more painful weeks or months before kicking the can at millions of dollars expense? By all means, research real cures like stem cells or bionic implants, but the medical industry is a giant waste of resources and should almost totally be replaced with cheap, simple morphine-based euthanasia. Once someone has been diagnosed with an incurable illness, just give them a ton of morphine and let them die as soon or late as they please on their own. Paying endless nurses and doctors to watch over them as they futilely fade away is a waste of everyone's time and money.
Basically, everyone employed by the government shouldn't be employed and those jobs shouldn't exist. In addition, too much of the private market is just a game of endless musical chairs. You get people to buy Tide detergent instead of Gain detergent, so people hire you as a marketer and you suddenly start earning $100,000 a year. Congratulations, but don't think you did the people any favors. Your brands are all indistinguishable and all fulfill the same purpose. We have so many companies making different types of pizza and running advertisements on TV competing with each other. Pizza tastes good no matter who you buy it from, who the hell cares? If there were only one pizza company instead of a dozen, no one would notice or care, and their lives would be no worse off than before. The same for car brands or any other type of consumer product. Almost all these jobs are superfluous. All we really need is walmart. I swear. Every other company on Earth should just go out of business already.
If we narrowed private businesses down to just one company to provide for each basic human need on Earth, how much employment would we really have? All the superfluous managers would disappear because you wouldn't need hundreds of separate vertical hierarchies applied to each and every new company. Economy of scale would streamline the amount of employees down to a bare minimum. And there wouldn't be any advertising on the web, TV, or anywhere else, because you would only have one company to buy from in the first place for product X, so all those employment opportunities would disappear.
People with jobs today are basically con artists. They've figured out how to pretend to work while getting paid, while almost never providing any useful end product that meets consumer demand. I give full credit to oil drillers, coal miners, or some other real trade that provides real goods, but this is a tiny portion of today's economy. Strip away all the con artist private jobs, all the superfluous public jobs, all the out competed obsolete jobs, and what do you have? I would say around 10% of people are providing all the necessary work for the entire 100% to live. The other 90% are all parasites, but some have managed to con themselves into well paid jobs, while others are unemployed and on welfare. Between the two, I consider the unemployed people to be more moral, because at least they don't pretend that they're doing anything else but sucking others dry. In other words, automation has already driven us to 90% unemployment. The last ten percent will be joining us shortly, but we shouldn't even be debating this as some sort of 'future crisis.'
The crisis is already upon us. It happened decades ago. We have lost jobs since 2000. And that's counting jobs that really shouldn't even exist in an honest world. If we measured it by 'jobs we actually needed people to do,' can you imagine how the numbers would add up? The crisis is already here, we're already right in the thick of it. The fact that it's only to get worse at an accelerating rate is good news, because apparently PBS and the rest of the government still doesn't take the problem seriously yet, but the issue is totally different from global warming, which says nothing bad will happen for another century. The bad things are happening, they have happened, we can't just wait around and twiddle our thumbs and wonder if corporations can show a little more 'responsibility' by hiring unemployable people at a loss. The situation is far more urgent than such stupidity. We need national, global action now, that says the world is different from what it used to be, different moral standards must now be applied, and that everyone deserves a quality of life at least as good as their savannah roaming spear chucking ancestors, with dignity, family life, status and property of their own. We need the government to get rid of all its fake employment and all its fake programs like the military and health care, and put all of that money into direct wealth redistribution so people can buy real things they really want, like houses, cars, and entertainment. We need the citizen's dividend to have passed yesterday, never mind in a century when the last human worker is unemployed.
It's already bad enough right now. 50% of college graduates can't find a job. It's time to throw in the towel. We have to face facts. The world has changed, and if we would just adjust to this fact, it has changed drastically for the better. Now people will be free to live lives of leisure just like Pascal, Jefferson, and the aristocrats of the past. They can think about anything they want, do anything they want, go anywhere they want, be anything they want, for their entire lives, instead of slaving away at empty, repetitive, thankless tasks like plowing fields every day. This is great news, but only if we spread the wealth due to these technological innovations to everyone. If it stays in the hands of the 1%, then we may as well smash all the machines, kill every last engineer with knowledge of the transistor, and go back to plowing fields. Anything's better than capitalism. Whatever happened to Obama's hope and change? No one's better off than before. We just keep becoming worse off every year, every decade, decade after decade, with no end in sight. When will politics ever become a force for good again, like it was in the 1900's when we demanded shorter work hours and better workplace safety rules? Why can't we make demands like we used to? What happened to the responsive government that cared about our welfare? What happened to voting for our interests and giving the people a voice against the powerful? What on Earth happened? Why did we let it come to this?
40 years and 99% of people's wages are stuck in 1970. Meanwhile the rich have become thirty times as wealthy or whatever. Are you kidding me? How does a democracy produce results like this? And however it does, that needs to be changed. When politics comes to such absurd solutions as 'let's wait around another ten years and see if our employment figures turn around,' while real people are really suffering every day all around us. . .by God. There's something wrong with our politics and it needs to be changed. There's something wrong with our press that refuses to inform people about this issue, and that needs to be changed. And there's something wrong with our school system that creates so many pitiless monsters who think capitalism, sink or swim, and Ayn Rand are the greatest thing since sliced bread when Charles Dickens had already shown how stupid that was in the 1800's. What exactly are we teaching people in our English classes, that they come out monsters who lack empathy for the poor and unfortunate who live all around them? Everything has to change, and the sooner the better. This can't go on much longer. If we don't take political action now, it will just result in violent revolution later. Just like the events in Egypt. People can't just quietly suffer forever. France, Russia, etc. The peasants don't just suffer forever, no matter how bad life gets. Governments need to reform themselves, or they'll be reformed with guillotines, and the 1% will lose not only their fortunes but their lives. To think that the 99% will let themselves be bullied forever is madness. It's never happened before in history, and it won't happen in the future either.