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wonderpup

The Luddite Fallacy Fallacy

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It's a given in Economics that technological unemployment is at worst a transient effect- the argument being that as jobs are automated prices will fall, creating more disposable income and leading to the creation of new jobs to replace the old.

This idea rests on an interesting dichotomy that is never questioned- the idea that technology is one thing and labor another thing- that the two are fundamentally different and cannot be viewed as fungible.

But is this really true? After all- one way to describe the process of automation is as the transformation of labor costs into capital investment costs- so by replacing our worker with a machine we have in effect demonstrated that labor and capital are indeed fungible- we have transformed our labor supply problem into a capital investment problem. In short replaced labor with capital.

Another way to frame this is to regard the human worker purely from the utilitarian viewpoint- as an applied technology with a given set of advantages and disadvantages- just like any other applied technology.

So what happens to any applied technology when a better solution comes along? It is discarded.

To suggest that human labor-as an applied technology- is uniquely irreplaceable in some absolute way is to confuse economics with a sentimental attachment to the idea of human beings as uniquely blessed- an idea more akin to religion than economics.

The luddite fallacy is in fact a quasi religious or philosophical idea rather than an economic idea- in reality there is no reason to suppose that the applied technology of human labor is any more immune to large scale obsolescence than the equine labor of the past when thousands of horses were employed to pull the carts and carriages of the pre internal combustion age.

So the luddite fallacy fallacy is to posit the assumption that the applied technology we call human labor occupies a unique territory that-while it's borders can be temporarily shifted- can never be colonised to a meaningful degree by any other competing technology- an appealing idea that belongs in the same category as the idea that only human beings are possessed of immortal souls.

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The question IMO is not why we have unemployment, but why has purchasing power been so decimated.

Automation destroys jobs, but it should also deliver lower prices. Who cares if you only get 3 days work a week if it, as it should, gives you a very comfortable lifestyle.

A lot of it is govt trying to fight job destruction. Politicians always go on about job creation, which should not be governments role. By assuming that role they merely force the destruction of purchasing power instead.

Everyone in soviet russia had jobs after all...still had to queue around the block for a loaf of bread and wait years to take delivery of your car.

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As a child in the seventies I remember the likes of Tomorrow's World saying that in the future, we'd only need to work 15 or 20 hours per week as machines took over much of the work that, up to that time, only people could do. Are we anywhere near that point yet?

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As a child in the seventies I remember the likes of Tomorrow's World saying that in the future, we'd only need to work 15 or 20 hours per week as machines took over much of the work that, up to that time, only people could do. Are we anywhere near that point yet?

We would be if productivity translated into higher wages (unlikely) or lower prices (likely) - both should have the same net result.

Unfortunately its been stolen by inflation by banks and hoarded by the parasitic city of London. That and government costing about 3 times what it should do.

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As a child in the seventies I remember the likes of Tomorrow's World saying that in the future, we'd only need to work 15 or 20 hours per week as machines took over much of the work that, up to that time, only people could do. Are we anywhere near that point yet?

...but that could have happened if people were paid enough to live working 15 to 20 hours.....some do of course but some choose to earn double by working twice the hours, whilst others have to compensate and work twice or longer hours earning less than half to scrape by.....'the hard working people working more on less than half the living wage'. ;)

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Have these threads been automated by machine yet? I fear you may soon be redundant.

Its a new branch of research: "Artificial Stupidity" - the greatest minds of our age are working furiously to work out how to dumb down computer to emulate wonderpups boneheadedness.

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As a child in the seventies I remember the likes of Tomorrow's World saying that in the future, we'd only need to work 15 or 20 hours per week as machines took over much of the work that, up to that time, only people could do. Are we anywhere near that point yet?

Yes. We even have zero-hour contracts.

We are all Eloi living in the idyll now.

I recently noted that James Burke is still spouting this futuristic nonsense.

The future belongs to the owners of the machines, they regard the proles as useless eaters.

Edited by happy_renting

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Yes. We even have zero-hour contracts.

We are all Eloi living in the idyll now.

I recently noted that James Burke is still spouting this futuristic nonsense.

The future belongs to the owners of the machines, they regard the proles as useless eaters.

Didn't even realise he's still alive! One for the celebrity death sweepstake thread coming soon.

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As a child in the seventies I remember the likes of Tomorrow's World saying that in the future, we'd only need to work 15 or 20 hours per week as machines took over much of the work that, up to that time, only people could do. Are we anywhere near that point yet?

Maybe that's because technology has created laborious non-work - like 200 emails per day, most of it just copies of stuff sent to other people, but totally irrelevant.

I am sure The Mighty Micro forecast a five hour week by 2005.

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As a child in the seventies I remember the likes of Tomorrow's World saying that in the future, we'd only need to work 15 or 20 hours per week as machines took over much of the work that, up to that time, only people could do. Are we anywhere near that point yet?

The problem is that 15-20 hour weeks really aren't feasible for most people. It might be OK if you're an interchangeable factory worker in a country with an oversupply of labour, because they can hire twice as many people working half as long, but not so much in fields like software development, where you'd spend much of that 15-20 hours explaining what you'd done that week so the other guy could take over and do the other half of the work. You'd probably need three times as many people just to compensate for the inefficiencies.

Plus, of course, in the real world, you wouldn't find twice as many people able to do the same work, so people would end up working two jobs.

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The future belongs to the owners of the machines, they regard the proles as useless eaters.

The left claim they want the workers to own the means of production, yet they whine about the very machines that will eventually allow the 'workers' to do that.

Competition in the future will be over resources, not the machines to turn them into useful stuff.

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The left claim they want the workers to own the means of production, yet they whine about the very machines that will eventually allow the 'workers' to do that.

Competition in the future will be over resources, not the machines to turn them into useful stuff.

I think it will most likely be a bit of both, and the people who can be the most frugal with the resources will win, and those who can be most inventive to DEVELOP use for previously useless(or so thought) items will be main beneficiaries.(the arabs down in the ME complain about it being their oil etc, but until WE actually created uses for it and MADE it such a valuable commodity, it would still be sitting under a few hundred feet of sand basically doing nothing.)

so the problem down in the ME now is basically threefold.

1) hardline arab turf war to control religeon(and also oil)...they see their battle plan for world domination as outbreeding everybody

2) hardline marxist wanting energy hegemony..their gameplan is to set islam and christendom against each other, then mop up after

3) corporatist elements of the west trying to stop them because they need the oil down there.

makes sense really.....when you have maybe 3 or 4 billion basically illiterate people who cannot develop the means to be efficient with what they have, then they will be fighting over every scrap they can get, and it will get very,very messy.

in fact, throw the religeous/cultural element into the mix and it will be a bloodbath.

so we need to get smart and INNOVATE new ways to become independent of all of the above......it requires a bit of personal responsibility too, like if you have a spare £100 go and build yourself a wind turbine..

a bit of plastic and a scrap car alternator is a start.....don't rely on government handouts...remember the corporatist element of the west ALSO want control over everything.

so look independent

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Have these threads been automated by machine yet? I fear you may soon be redundant.

I continue to post in the hope that you might one day actually address the content.

But I like the fact that you take the time and trouble to let me know just how disinterested you are in my ideas- it makes it all worthwhile.

So do you actually have a view on the validity of the luddite fallacy concept? Why not live dangerously and actually try to engage with the subject of my posts- it won't hurt- the brain has no pain receptors.

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I continue to post in the hope that you might one day actually address the content.

But I like the fact that you take the time and trouble to let me know just how disinterested you are in my ideas- it makes it all worthwhile.

So do you actually have a view on the validity of the luddite fallacy concept? Why not live dangerously and actually try to engage with the subject of my posts- it won't hurt- the brain has no pain receptors.

+1

And if you don't mind, I'll quote this fine post next time anyone frivolously ignores/ridicules one of my posts ;)

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