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What'll we all do?

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/206bb2e2-847f-11e3-b72e-00144feab7de.html?siteedition=uk#axzz2rJzxe4JZ

Three possible outcomes:

1) Less humans, more robots, same output for less energy dissipation

2) More humans doing hitherto undiscovered genuinely wealth creating activities.

3) Society gets too complex, breaks apart and most robots die off. People die off too but more machines die than people. Rinse and repeat some centuries into the future.

My money is on the outcome being (1), playing out over the space of the next one to two centuries.

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You mean less humans working or just less humans in terms of population?

The problem with robots doing all the work is how do people who don't work pay food/shelter etc... Will people buy shares in factory robots so the robots work whilst you sit a home relaxing?

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You mean less humans working or just less humans in terms of population?

The problem with robots doing all the work is how do people who don't work pay food/shelter etc... Will people buy shares in factory robots so the robots work whilst you sit a home relaxing?

Buy to let robots, its the next big thing

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What'll we all do?

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/206bb2e2-847f-11e3-b72e-00144feab7de.html?siteedition=uk#axzz2rJzxe4JZ

Three possible outcomes:

1) Less humans, more robots, same output for less energy dissipation

2) More humans doing hitherto undiscovered genuinely wealth creating activities.

3) Society gets too complex, breaks apart and most robots die off. People die off too but more machines die than people. Rinse and repeat some centuries into the future.

My money is on the outcome being (1), playing out over the space of the next one to two centuries.

1 or 3 for me. There's no way the elite will allow a sharing of resources be it money or robots. Labour will be phased out, welfare will be phased out. A new disposessed class will emerge, now they will either revolt and force society to come to terms with its current contradictions and order or it will collapse. Or the new under class will be sterilised and we see a smaller population served by robot labour.

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What'll we all do?

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/206bb2e2-847f-11e3-b72e-00144feab7de.html?siteedition=uk#axzz2rJzxe4JZ

Three possible outcomes:

1) Less humans, more robots, same output for less energy dissipation

2) More humans doing hitherto undiscovered genuinely wealth creating activities.

3) Society gets too complex, breaks apart and most robots die off. People die off too but more machines die than people. Rinse and repeat some centuries into the future.

My money is on the outcome being (1), playing out over the space of the next one to two centuries.

Why less humans in 1? If we have 100% robots and free access to the fruits of production, the big problem would be controlling a population explosion IMHO.

That aside, I'd say 2 will be the excuse/lie used to avoid some variant of 1, which will lead to 3...

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1 or 3 for me. There's no way the elite will allow a sharing of resources be it money or robots. Labour will be phased out, welfare will be phased out. A new disposessed class will emerge, now they will either revolt and force society to come to terms with its current contradictions and order or it will collapse. Or the new under class will be sterilised and we see a smaller population served by robot labour.

Robots would be far more powerful than human armies or police forces. They could keep order quite easily.

For example, nanobots could be scattered about like dust and made to replicate. Once done, they could consume the rebelling humans by using them to replicate, or more elegantly, they could get inside the human's brains and change their structures so they no longer "want" to rebel.

Edited by blackgoose

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You mean less humans working or just less humans in terms of population?

I mean less humans period.

My view of the dynamics here is that we should consider the "population" as being all the key constituents of human civilisation that draw down form the global energy budget, not just people. To some extent the slider that sets the ratio of machinery to meatware in our civilisation can be moved about without necessarily affecting the overall available energy budget which powers the whole thing.

Also, I missed a 4th outcome:

4) Recent rapid progress in labour automation is about to hit a plateau as moore's law tails off (processors aren't getting faster, they are just adding more cores on each chip - problem is they are very difficult to program).

I would say 4 is equally as likely as (1). The other two are IMO unlikely.

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We're going to be less human or fewer of us?

Fewer of us alongside more machines is bound to make us less "human" as we know it. Being "human" is very much defined in terms of relations with other humans, and once many such connections are mediated by machines, well....

Bear in mind the definition of Cybernetics (as per Wikipedia)

Cybernetics is a transdisciplinary[1] approach for exploring regulatory systems, their structures, constraints, and possibilities. Cybernetics is relevant to the study of systems, such as mechanical, physical, biological, cognitive, and social systems. Cybernetics is applicable when a system being analyzed is involved in a closed signaling loop; that is, where action by the system generates some change in its environment and that change is reflected in that system in some manner (feedback) that triggers a system change, originally referred to as a "circular causal" relationship. Some say this is necessary to a cybernetic perspective. System dynamics, a related field, originated with applications of electrical engineering control theory to other kinds of simulation models (especially business systems) by Jay Forrester at MIT in the 1950s.

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http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/3a7190a2-84df-11e3-8968-00144feab7de.html#axzz2rKE1c17m

January 24, 2014 12:02 pm

Technology era needs committed leaders, says Lawrence Summers

Lawrence Summers warned on Friday that the world lacks political leaders who could help ease a painful transition through the technological revolution.

The economist and former US Treasury secretary, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos at the launch of a Microsoft report on personal technology, said the advance of technology “was one of the greatest things that will ever happen to humanity”, but it was not an “unalloyed good”.

The former economic adviser to President Barack Obama likened the benefits – and the disruption – to those brought by the industrial revolution, but, referring to leading politicians of the late 19th and early 20th century, he said: “We don’t yet have the Gladstone, the Teddy Roosevelt, or the Bismarck of the technology era.”

A majority of people, particularly in developing countries, believe personal technology will improve economic wellbeing, says the survey conducted for Microsoft. Nine out of 10 people in developing countries think technology is “making the world a better place”, while in China, Mexico, Russia and India more than 80 per cent believe it helps bridge economic gaps.

But a fierce debate is under way about the risks involved in rapid transition to a digitally connected world, because of its potentially negative impact on traditional jobs, and the implications for poorer members of the community.

On Thursday at Davos, Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google, warned that a broad range of jobs could be wiped out by technological advances.

Concern among policy makers, economists and political advisers gathered in Davos has also focused on lagging governmental efforts to cope with the impact of digitisation and automation.

Mr Summers recommended some combination of policies on education, taxation and social protection to help cushion the effects of the tech revolution but he conceded that it was far easier to lay out such a prescription than to implement it.

Mr Schmidt and other technology executives at Davos have pointed out that the rise of innovative, entrepreneurial companies, particularly if they can scale up, should fuel economic growth.

Bill McDermott, co-chief executive of SAP, the enterprise software group, told the Microsoft briefing that “innovation is key to creating jobs and wealth and opportunity”, while technological tools would help improve transparency and efficiency in the public sector.

Edited by AvidFan

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1) Less humans, more robots, same output for less energy dissipation

Whilst religions are followed and economists walk the planet, this will never happen, as it contradicts their models that require exponential population growth, at any cost.

Edited by DarkHorseWaits-NoMore

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Whilst religions are followed and economists walk the planet, this will never happen, as it contradicts their models that require exponential population growth, at any cost.

its already happening.

"Stage Five and/or Six

See also: Aging of Europe, Aging of Japan, and Evolutionary psychology

United Nation's population projections by location.

Note the vertical axis is logarithmic and represents millions of people.

The original Demographic Transition model has just four stages, but additional stages have been proposed. Both more-fertile and less-fertile futures have been claimed as a Stage Five.

Some countries have sub-replacement fertility (that is, below 2.1 children per woman). This should be 2.1 because it replaces the two parents, and adds population for deaths with the added .1 child. European and many East Asian countries now have higher death rates than birth rates. Population aging and population decline may eventually occur, presuming that sustained mass immigration does not occur.

In an article in the August 2009 issue of Nature, Myrskyla, Kohler and Billari show that previously negative relationship between national wealth (as measured by the Human Development Index (HDI)) and birth rates has become J-shaped. Development promotes fertility decline at low and medium HDI levels, but advanced HDI promotes a rebound in fertility.[14] In many countries with very high levels of development fertility rates are now approaching two children per woman — although there are exceptions, notably Germany and Japan.[15]

My contention is that the upward fertility tick seen recently in developed countries is more a bubble-related anomaly than a trend (or equivalently the usual kind of step-response overshoot familiar in cybernetics etc)

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The key issue we see before us is not 'robotics' but the communications that have allowed jobs to be arbitraged across the world whilst being able to charge the same prices and free access to markets.

I don't think so - supermarket checkouts in the UK cannot be staffed by people in China, but they can be and are staffed by robots.

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What'll we all do?

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/206bb2e2-847f-11e3-b72e-00144feab7de.html?siteedition=uk#axzz2rJzxe4JZ

Three possible outcomes:

1) Less humans, more robots, same output for less energy dissipation

2) More humans doing hitherto undiscovered genuinely wealth creating activities.

3) Society gets too complex, breaks apart and most robots die off. People die off too but more machines die than people. Rinse and repeat some centuries into the future.

My money is on the outcome being (1), playing out over the space of the next one to two centuries.

The whole premise is poppycock.

The problem facing us now is massive over-supply of labour thanks to the population explosions in Asia. Labour in these regions has become almost below cost in abundance - robots are expensive and difficult to run/maintain.

As the jobs and wealth drain out of the west the ability to advance machinery will also whither.

I mean less humans period.

My view of the dynamics here is that we should consider the "population" as being all the key constituents of human civilisation that draw down form the global energy budget, not just people. To some extent the slider that sets the ratio of machinery to meatware in our civilisation can be moved about without necessarily affecting the overall available energy budget which powers the whole thing.

Also, I missed a 4th outcome:

4) Recent rapid progress in labour automation is about to hit a plateau as moore's law tails off (processors aren't getting faster, they are just adding more cores on each chip - problem is they are very difficult to program).

I would say 4 is equally as likely as (1). The other two are IMO unlikely.

Not true. I am an expert in multi-threading/parallel programming but can't get the work. Employers want to pay Indian wages for it, not western wages.

Globalization is the problem - not automation.

Schmidt is a crook who built his business on government money that is being used to spy on us.

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The whole premise is poppycock.

The problem facing us now is massive over-supply of labour thanks to the population explosions in Asia. Labour in these regions has become almost below cost in abundance - robots are expensive and difficult to run/maintain.

As the jobs and wealth drain out of the west the ability to advance machinery will also whither.

Well, yes... but whether it's robots or a massive over-supply of labour, the end result is the same - not enough means of INCOME for a population to support itself.

Of course, it all depends on the cost of living. You can get by on $10 a week if the essentials of life only cost you $9 a week.

In this country, the essentials cost you a lot more. At a rough guess I'd say most people need between £500 and £1000 a month just to live - assuming they're paying themselves for a roof over their head, food, energy, transport etc. (Obviously it's less is some of it is covered by the state, i.e. with housing benefit).

So if incomes decline due to a lack of the sources of income (i.e. jobs), then the cost of the essentials must also decline, or else we gradually decline into a "third world" country.

I suppose a Citizen's Income would mitigate this, but it seems the premise of CI is that enough taxation revenue would be raised to pay for it. If 90% are reliant on CI, clearly there wouldn't be enough of a tax base to make it happen!

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If 90% are reliant on CI, clearly there wouldn't be enough of a tax base to make it happen!

If I read this as "90% of all required labour is performed by robots", why not?

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If I read this as "90% of all required labour is performed by robots", why not?

Good point - the CI would not need to be as high if the cost of living was lower, which it *could* be if robots are building us homes, growing our food, and transporting us around.

That said, a lot of vested interests would be squealing in the process :D

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My contention is that the upward fertility tick seen recently in developed countries is more a bubble-related anomaly than a trend (or equivalently the usual kind of step-response overshoot familiar in cybernetics etc)

Obviously, one should never extrapolate from anecdotes, but it's been my experience that a lot of women are having babies either due to recent unemployment or escape possible cutbacks at work. Making a pregnant woman, or one on maternity leave, redundant can expose the employer to legal problems which many simply choose to avoid. I know of one who has successfully timed both of her children and avoided cutbacks while a sharp knife has been taken to the rest of her team.

Edited by StainlessSteelCat

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I love the thread title.

Not got much to add, but the mention of energy gets me wondering; should I welcome or fear a future with abundant energy supplies?

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......could be that in developed countries populations would become flat say 1.2 per person, reason being people will become more responsible, different policies will dictate this.....more leisure time, less working time, more automation, fewer consumer choices for more people but the basics will be available to all, shelter, food, water, fuel and gadgets......leisure time will see any extras got in own time with own work. ;)

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The question is - why is it falling apart?

/quote]

We don't, IMO, have the energy budget to maintain it all and feed/clothe/heat/entertain the whole population at what is considered an acceptable level of quality and at the same time maintain what is a normal and stable level of inequality.

People tend to confuse/conflate the energy-abundance/labour-abundance/robots debates from what I can see. A trend of automation and technological unemployment is certainly something that makes perfect sense alongside a shortage of energy.

In order to have the energy budget to fix failing infrastructure, we need to remove energy expenditure from elsewhere in the economy. Clearly one way of doing that is to make people more productive via automation, but this is not a net energy gain if the people's labour which has been replaced still need to be clothed/fed/entertained etc.

Then again, if we had a lot less people much of that infrastructure would not be needed anyway (rather, the required infrastructure is that which is required for sustenance of the employed machinery and the educational infrastructure required to maintaining the remaining human population at a level of capability such that the level of complexity doesn't become too much).

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I love the thread title.

Not got much to add, but the mention of energy gets me wondering; should I welcome or fear a future with abundant energy supplies?

I would fear it because we would rapidly heat the earths surface to un-livable temperatures if we had genuinely abundant energy (not global warming, simply waste heat from energy dissipation).

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Globalization is the problem - not automation.

What allowed the Globalization of work was in part the advances in technology like the Internet. Also when the 'product' of your labor is digital information that can be moved around the world at virtually zero cost it should have been obvious to the people advocating a 'knowledge economy' solution to western unemployment that this was going to lead to wage arbitrage because it really does not matter if computer code is written in India or the UK.

so I would argue that Globalization of work and skills is really just a symptom of the broader impact of technology and some of the outsource workers will eventually be displaced by technology themselves. We are already seeing a reversal of manufacturing as the new automation allows factories to be cost effectively brought back to the west- but these new factories don't employ a lot of people.

Edited by wonderpup

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What'll we all do?

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/206bb2e2-847f-11e3-b72e-00144feab7de.html?siteedition=uk#axzz2rJzxe4JZ

Three possible outcomes:

1) Less humans, more robots, same output for less energy dissipation

2) More humans doing hitherto undiscovered genuinely wealth creating activities.

3) Society gets too complex, breaks apart and most robots die off. People die off too but more machines die than people. Rinse and repeat some centuries into the future.

My money is on the outcome being (1), playing out over the space of the next one to two centuries.

Robots might work faster, but same output for less energy? Don't think so. Robots needs fabrication and assembly. Parts and consumables need fabricating..from stuff that needs to be mined, refined and transported. The existence of complex machinery like this needs a complex society which is reliant on high energy consumption to maintain. And don't forget robots need power from somewhere too, not just something that grows in sunlight.

1 or 3 for me. There's no way the elite will allow a sharing of resources be it money or robots. Labour will be phased out, welfare will be phased out. A new disposessed class will emerge, now they will either revolt and force society to come to terms with its current contradictions and order or it will collapse. Or the new under class will be sterilised and we see a smaller population served by robot labour.

Totally off. Products need customers - with no customers who is going to buy the crap the elite grow rich off? OK maybe the elite somehow create a robotopia where every aspect is not only fulfilled by automation but that automation is entirely self repairing and maintaining without any input of materials or skills from outside the system. Total ********, but lets say they managed it - whats to stop the other 99% of society going about their day leaving this freakish gated community to their pointless lives. Oh you mean they'll want to auto-robot-control the entire world from their automated communities because... yeah...badass. Why? No-one has anything they want and they already have everything they could want in robotopia.

Robots would be far more powerful than human armies or police forces. They could keep order quite easily.

For example, nanobots could be scattered about like dust and made to replicate. Once done, they could consume the rebelling humans by using them to replicate, or more elegantly, they could get inside the human's brains and change their structures so they no longer "want" to rebel.

Yeah go write that book man, l'll be sure to check it out. l'd like to think we'd have other issues to deal with once we are that advanced. What you are describing is a horrific risk to all concerned even if it could be done - and think about what you are saying. Something that could replicate from not particularly useful raw material like human tissue, could build anything from anything. Why would we still be trying to control eachother in a world you just described as basically Star Trek.

I love the thread title.

Not got much to add, but the mention of energy gets me wondering; should I welcome or fear a future with abundant energy supplies?

Abundant energy supplies = end of war and conflict. Human race can get on with more interesting stuff than fighting over the last pile of firewood no?

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I suppose a Citizen's Income would mitigate this, but it seems the premise of CI is that enough taxation revenue would be raised to pay for it. If 90% are reliant on CI, clearly there wouldn't be enough of a tax base to make it happen!

It depends what you are taxing. For example it's entirely possible to view demand itself as a resource- why not? What commercial enterprise could survive if they could not access sufficient demand.

So instead of taxing a dwindling collection of wage earning workers we could create a tax based on market access- this would prevent those companies who are highly automated and thus pay no wages from getting a free ride on the back of those companies who do pay wages and do create demand.

The real scarcity in a highly automated economy is not supply but demand- and like all scarce things access to this demand could be taxed to recapture some (not all) of the gains made by replacing wages with capital in the form of automation.

The revenue from the 'demand tax' could them be channeled into providing a CI or for directly employing people in those areas where the market might not reach but still require attention, like elderly care or environmental improvement.

This would also create further demand thus creating the virtuous circle between income and production that our system requires.

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