Robot Doom   (2017Mar16)


Thursday, March 16, 2017                                                3:59 PM

20170306XD-BabySoxMardi Gras, Pi Day, St Paddy’s, Easter… do you get the feeling that people are desperate for a party by the time winter finally starts to end? Yet here we sit, between two snowstorms—snowstorms that didn’t bother us all through January or February. But, hey—power’s back up, no harm, no foul—and who wants the year to go by without a little snow, anyway, right?

Lovely day today, however—sun shining, snow glaring—warm inside and quiet. Got some music I’m working on posting—can’t be too good or I would have done it already. The crossword was pretty easy for a Thursday. I’ve already watched two whole movies today—I can’t watch any more or I’ll get movie-theater-headache.

I could try reading, but that won’t help the headache situation any. Sure could use some new pics from the grandbaby—what a cutey-muffin. She makes me smile. And Jessy says her first tooth is just peeking through—soon she’ll be smiling back.

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Well, shall we talk about the horror-show in our nation’s capital? I don’t know, they change the details, but there’s a sameness to all of this foolishness. They try to lie—the media calls them on it—they call the media dishonest—respected people side with the media—they move on to new lies. It’s frustrating and tiring—but I don’t see them getting much more out of it than we do.

I’m tickled by all the yahoos that say, “He’s elected, get over it”. Like their man, Trump, these people don’t seem to get it—being elected is just the very first thing you do. It is not an achievement—it is permission to achieve, or to fail, for four years. We’ve barely begun his first year and already grandma’s Medicare is on the chopping block—how does that create jobs, again? And about those jobs…are we waiting for a bill to outlaw robots? Because there won’t be any great job market until we put our technology into reverse.

Anyone who can look ahead and extrapolate what’s next can see that jobs are going to decrease, inexorably, down to none, sooner or later. The real issue is not creating jobs—it’s figuring out an economy without labor—how do we distribute wealth when no one works for a living—because no one needs to, because no one can.

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You need to give those people money—otherwise the businesses won’t have any customers. Plus, having millions of unemployed, angry people wandering around—that’s going to cause problems—bad enough they have nothing to keep them busy—they’re also hungry. That is why Socialism is so attractive—Capitalism is based on the assumption that everybody works—it doesn’t function if computers and AI and robots do all the work.

I know it’s—what do you call that?—disruptive, yeah, disruptive. I know it’s hard to wrap your head around. But it’s one of those ‘Sherlock Holmes’ things—once you’ve eliminated every other possibility, whatever’s left, however improbable, must be the solution.

Let’s look at the history of books. The first books were written, and copied, by hand—there were very few books. Then the printing press came along—suddenly, there were lots of books—and no room full of copyists was required. So they were out of a job—they had to find something else to do. Then computers came along, and typesetters were out of a job—they had to find something else to do. Then the internet came along and all publishers and printers were out of a job—they had to find something else to do. But what? An entire industry disappeared—where are those people supposed to find work? And that’s just one industry—it’s not alone.

You can tell yourself that ‘there will always be jobs’—but that is not guaranteed. It is, in fact, unlikely. In spite of its effect on other businesses, the people who invent new computers, AI, and robots are working day and night trying to make better ones. They just invented a machine that picks lettuce, right in the field, cleans it, wraps it, and puts them in a box. How many farmhands just lost their livelihood—hundreds of thousands, maybe? And what’s left? Maybe three jobs, running and fixing the machines. But a lettuce-picker is never going to get hired to maintain the robots—so they don’t have a shot at even those three jobs.

Trouble isn’t just coming—it’s already here. Unemployment remains a problem—but no business is shouting for more manpower—they’re fine—which means we’re screwed, especially if we just sold our souls to the bank to get sheepskins. Might I suggest a degree in computer science?

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