SOCIETY & JOBLESSNESS
The power of computer-based technology has been accelerating for over 60 years, and its cost has been reducing. There is a breakeven point when the cost of automating some function is the same as the cost of the human labour that is required to do it. As technology reduces the cost of automation further, business will automate the function – and the value of the human labour involved is reduced to that of the automated cost.
Let’s consider a simple example, where a restaurant employs two dishwashers at $10/hour. If an automatic dishwasher can do the same dishwashing function at a cost of $12/hour, then the value of human dishwashing has dropped to $6/hour. Even ignoring the other costs associated with human labour (overtime, vacations, supervision, benefits) the owner of the restaurant can’t afford to pay more than $6.
As technology continues to reduce the value of human labor, most industrial and commercial jobs will be automated. The term ‘paid-joblessness’ is introduced because, even if there are no paid jobs, most people will want to spend their time productively. (Well, maybe not everyone!) Jobs will still exist, but the implication of being paid for the work will disappear, as most jobs will not involve payment of money. In effect, most workers will be volunteers. So the meaning of ‘a job’ will change.
Technology has been automating work functions for centuries, and yet the size of the workforce has continued to grow. The increase is primarily due to:
- Greater demand for the product or service because of population growth and the increased wealth of consumers.
- New technology may eliminate the need for some jobs, but the improved functionality has often resulted in increased employment implementing the new technology, even if it may be in a different geographic area. (For example, jobs lost involved in the manufacturing of tape cassettes in the mid-West of the USA were replaced by more jobs to manufacture CDs in California.)
- More products and services being offered by entrepreneurial activity.
- An increase in government involvement in regulating and taxing industries, and regulating the use of human resources.
So, while the demand for specific skills has changed, there has been a continuous increase in the overall number of jobs being offered. The question is ‘is this time different’? Are we moving to a society in which most jobs will have been automated? The content provided in this website suggests that it is. And it is caused by the confluence of factors, including:
- The internet provides immediate communication access (eliminating the need for intermediary jobs), and opening access to a world-wide employee market (which increases the competition for work, and so reduces its cost), while supplying entrepreneurs with software that eliminates the need to hire support staff. (This last benefit started with the arrival of computers, but has accelerated with the functionality of the internet.)
- Once an area has been automated, the increasing capability of AI and robotics will enable new work functionality (even functionality for new technology) to be automated immediately (eliminating the new technology adoption delay), while robots will be training other robots (as they have already started to do).
- Workers are working for more years as the expected (healthy) life span increases, which adds to the demand for work.
- Current consumption and the overall economy are built on the shifting sands of low-cost money and considerable debt. In the U.S., almost 80% of all workers are living paycheck to paycheck, with less than $400 saved to pay an unexpected expense. Corporate credit ratings are being downgraded at an unprecedented rate, with trillions of bonds coming due in the next few years. We are coming to the end of a 60+ year period of overall economic growth, which will result in major job loss. When the economy cycle starts to recover, many of the job lost will be replaced by automation.
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REVIEW THESE INFORMATIVE ARTICLES - AND READ THOSE THAT INTEREST YOU
Why futurist Ray Kurzweil isn’t worried about technology stealing your job (Job Loss - 2017-09 - Fortune)
Toyota's automation ratio today is no higher than it was 15 years ago (Job Loss - 2017-09 - Fast Company)
Toyota’s automation ratio today is no higher than it was 15 years ago, based on the premise that only people can improve their own efficiency or the quality of their work. Toyota consistently generates industry best profit margins, often 8% or more, by focusing on their New Global Architecture in which material usage is improved making the cars lighter and more fuel-efficient, while the manufacturing process is improved.