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Monday, January 28, 2013

Day 284: The End Of Work?

http://www.witness.co.za/index.php?showcontent&global[_id]=94722

http://bigstory.ap.org/interactive/interactive-great-reset - Check this out for a very impact-filled visual display

THEY seem right out of a Hollywood fantasy and they are: cars that drive themselves have appeared in movies such as I Robot and the television show Knight Rider.
Now, three years after Google invented one, automated cars could be on their way to a freeway near you. In the U.S., California and other states are rewriting the rules of the road to make way for driverless cars.
Just one problem: what happens to the millions of people who make a living driving cars and trucks - jobs that have always seemed sheltered from the onslaught of technology?
"All those jobs are going to disappear in the next 25 years," predicts Moshe Vardi, a computer scientist at Rice University in Houston.
"Driving by people will look quaint. It will look like a horse and buggy." If automation can unseat bus drivers, urban delivery people, long-haul truckers, even taxis, is any job safe?
Vardi poses an equally scary question: "Are we prepared for an economy in which 50% of people aren't working?"

An Associated Press analysis of employment data from 20 countries found that millions of mid-skill, midpay jobs have already disappeared over the past five years, and they are the jobs that form the backbone of the middle class in developed countries.
That experience has left a growing number of technologists and economists wondering what lies ahead. Will middle-class jobs return when the global economy recovers, or are they lost forever because of the advance of technology? - The Witness


The 2 links above are for two different aspects of the same story, the story being how our economic system is unsustainable, unjust, unfair, abusive and downright cruel. The first link to The Witness article (the excerpt is taken from this article) considers the reality of technology taking over jobs - a lot of jobs. This may not be a problem in a perfect world which would then allow humans to work less and enjoy life more, but we have certainly not created the perfect work. What has happened in the past is that new discoveries and advancements opened up new 'opportunities' for the workforce. I suppose one's definition for the word opportunities is subject to one's own view of the economy: for the average middle class family, opportunities is generally a positive word implying more opportunities for employment, most of the time in better conditions. Unfortunately, the middle class is only a part of all people in the world and there is also something called the lower class (oops, I mean low income earners) and then the poverty-stricken scum class below them (oops, I mean the no income leeches of society). Things rarely get better for the lower and no income earners, especially in countries where human rights are only applicable to a certain class of people (most definitely not the low and no income classes). So a lot of these technological advancements come at a price of more people working in dangerous conditions for longer hours, trying to keep up with the demands of the middle and upper classes.

More recently though, these technological advancements have not been followed by a large surge in new opportunities - some, yes, but not on the same scale as in the past and most certainly not enough to recuperate the losses in jobs caused by the technological advancements in the first place. We have not considered the consequences for all our "progress" - how will we feed the families who have lost their incomes to some new "smart" machine? What our current path in technological advancement in this current system has indicated is that we have no real interest in improving our own or others' lives, all we want is the next new fad. How many times in one year will people lose their income because of some new and improved technology? What will we do for these people? Some say that they should keep up or fade away, but this statement is purely one coming from a delusional person who does not keep in regular contact with reality. All that is needed to realise that there simply is no choice for so many people is for us to take a look around, in the news, on TV, on the internet, on our streets, in the shopping centers and within our own accepted natures and allowances. What part of homelessness is acceptable? What part of children living on the streets is an acceptable part of our system? We have most certainly not considered the consequences of our current path, nor have we even considered solutions to ensure that those who lose their incomes to machines will be taken care of by the system. Our system should be one of support, not one of conviction and punishment.

I will continue tomorrow...

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