What To Do With The People?

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NASA projects that within 50 years just about every job will be replaced by robots, technology and artificial intelligence.  Now first let's put this in prospective.  50 years ago NASA assume we would all be engaging regularly in space travel yet we can't even get flights out of New York City in time.


Still, there is no doubt that jobs at every level are going to going away.  So what to do with the people? Only a small percentage of the population will be needed to do the programming and maintain the hardware.  Technology will drive out cars, robots and online teaching instruction will teach our children while artificial intelligence will do our taxes.


Do we totally transform our society away from work and towards community and family?  How do we compensate people and how we will value contribution to man?  Will we establish a living income while the machines toil away doing what we used to? Millions of years ago work centered around feeding a family.  Then came primary inventions like the wheel and more advanced hunting tools that led to formalized means of work.  Is this another reinvention of mankind?


Or, will 90% of the human race sink into deep poverty unable to properly care for themselves while a select lucky few make a very good living off the machines.  If we don't want a world of massive poor how do we get our leaders to build a better future, particularly when we already see the destruction of economic well being in advanced countries?


A child born today at some point will likely become redundant and obsolete as a worker bee.  Will they live a life of comfort and commitment to others or be mired in extreme poverty?  Will they and just about all others see a much shorter lifespan plagued by hunger, disease and despair?  We already see big increases in middle age people due to substance abuse, stress related diseases and suicide.  Is this a foreboding look at the future?


Minister Peaceful Poet Added Mar 11, 2017 - 1:58pm
Well they did say that computers would save a lot of work, what happened instead was that computers created a lot of work.  All of a sudden everyone wanted reports on things they didn't care about before, and they wanted them right now.
But I believe in the Humanity Party who says that everybody should be given an income for basic housing, medical, food, education and cloths.  If anyone wanted anymore than that, then they can work. That would solve all the problems of hunger, homelessness, overpriced medicine and education.  It might sound like a crazy idea.  When you think that we just spent 7 Trillion on wars.  It is soon realized that this can be done.  But, the first thing we have to do is file bankruptcy. We'll just tell the Rothschild that they are not getting their money back, it wasn't theirs to begin with, they just printed it out.  Close all our bases around the world that we refuse to pay for and just do it. 
You can vote me for me for president in 2020, I'll make sure it gets done.
George N Romey Added Mar 11, 2017 - 3:48pm
The issue MPP is that already there are not enough good jobs for people that want, are trained for and smart enough to handle them. Artificial intelligence along with robotics will continue to destroy even "thought jobs."  Sure most people are going to want a life beyond just the basics but how do they get it if there is no opportunity. Likely no more than 5% of the population would be needed to maintain and program technology.  Some very low end jobs might continue to exist but again the appeal will be limited.  Or are we headed towards extinction and the machines will just continue without us?
Shane Dean Added Mar 11, 2017 - 6:28pm
George, I will tell you what we do with the people.  Two words: Soylent Green...
Louis E Weeks Added Mar 11, 2017 - 6:30pm
I have seen reports of fast food without human beings, even vending machines that make fresh pizza.  I do believe we will get to a point where much of our labor will be taken over by machines so you ask a pretty good question.  This brings to mind the kids movie Wall-E where a future humanity was lazy and fat and existed in a state of constant entertainment by machines.  I think maybe this could be our future, if any.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Mar 11, 2017 - 10:14pm
So what to do with the people?
Global thermonuclear war, disease, famine should bring the population down to 500,000,000 globally. That's what the elites deem best. Compensation? Hilarious. 
Patrick Writes Added Mar 12, 2017 - 8:10am
What do I think? It's every man for himself. As best you can, be as self-sufficient as possible. Put some solar panels on your roof, a wind turbine if you can in your yard. Grow some vegetables. Get some chickens. I know nothing of farming though. If you have a big yard, can you get a goat? They just eat grass. Goat's milk (and cheese) is supposed to be expensive. Jamaican goat curry tastes pretty good. So you can obviously eat them as well as breed them? 
Oh, and find something that you do that rich people will throw some dollars your way to get.

But the author is right. It seems the future is bleak for the common man. What's going to happen to millions of out of work poor people? Is there a precedent for this? 
When the Roman Empire collapsed (broadly speaking), there ceased being free bread provided from the state so people fled into the countryside to work the land of large estate owners. This began the metamorphosis toward Medieval life. But the fall of Rome was marked by intense warfare, death, and destruction as barbarian tribes made mincemeat of the once, great Roman Empire. 
Dino Manalis Added Mar 12, 2017 - 9:12am
Automation won't stop, employer and consumer conditions have to be prioritized to improve labor conditions as well, otherwise, employers could invest in robots and save money long term.  Many dream of not working, but it won't be a rosy scenario, especially for those who wish to climb the economic ladder, the poor and middle class.
Skip Stein Added Mar 12, 2017 - 10:16am
Well, that issues has been kicked around for decades in science fiction but never a solution.  I believe that humanity, as a whole, needs to grow the hell up and stop looking for someone to 'take care of me'!  The entire Christian and many other 'religions' preach, don't worry, there is a 'better place'.  Well, I'm not sure about that and have my own personal thoughts about 'life after death' but that is another discussion.
Humanity has grown lazy from all the subsidies, welfare programs and the rest.  Not to say that sometimes folks don't need a helping hand; not at all.  Shit happens and we should always strive to help others.  
Automation is and will continue to obsolete manual labor, faster as idiot regulations are eliminated to allow for MORE labor saving efforts.  Mankind, as a whole, has to go beyond a pure survival mentality and have a GOAL.  Whether is is Space exploration/colonization or other, we as a species are making ourselves obsolete and unnecessary.
There is a limit to how many people this Planet can support in it's current food choice/plan.  Animal consumption is doing two things:
1. Destroying the environment, natural habitats and polluting the planet.
2. Creating disease and pestilence that, at least in part, is helping to reduce populations. (cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc.....)
IFF populations would begin to actually live healthier lives, it would be better for the Planet and themselves but then when people slow the dying process, there are just more people; many with little to do.
WE must establish GOALS that encourage personal development and growth, stop demonizing Learning and Intelligent pursuits and yes, Stop all the senseless wars (driven to insanity by demonic organized religions).  Focus on promoting intelligent pursuits we may amaze ourselves what we might accomplish.
One last thing, we also MUST cease living in crowded cities.  Rife with crime, pestilence and controlling bureaucratic idiots.  The Planet is mostly EMPTY if you just travel around a bit.  With advances in technology, energy generation and other inventions sure to come, we should ALL be reasonably 'self sufficient' with power, food (hydroponics and others) and communications (planet wide internet+).  There is no reason to cluster in cities, where people don't even know the person next door when communities could prosper and grow in MUCH smaller groups (commune sort of aggregation).
Sorry this has gone too long.  I should do an article....
George N Romey Added Mar 12, 2017 - 12:35pm
Jeffry is probably right. The elites will have us all self abort and then only the top half a million will be needed to program, control and maintain the machines. 
Leroy Added Mar 12, 2017 - 4:07pm
"Jeffry is probably right. The elites will have us all self abort and then only the top half a million will be needed to program, control and maintain the machines."
But, what happens when machines can program, control, and maintain themselves?  Even fewer are needed. Ultimately, only one person is needed, assuming there is a prime directive to not destroy human life.  It would be a better but lonely world, taken to the extreme.  So, no, I don't believe this is our fate.
The most interesting scenario is if we also had an abundance of cheap, free energy.  An army of machines could do our bidding.  There would be almost no limit what we could achieve.  Just as the environment has become cleaner as energy has become cheaper, we would continue along that path.   The world could easily support 10, 1000, or even 10,000 as many people.  Maybe we could even escape this dustball.
George N Romey Added Mar 12, 2017 - 4:23pm
Leroy I'd like to be that optimistic but so far we are not moving in that direction. In the 60s and 70s it was assumed people would work less as technology took over.  Instead?  We have just thrown people to the side.  Since the beginning of the previous decade there have been fewer and fewer good jobs, both in the blue and white collar worlds.  As a result the young with little experience get employed while the older remain unemployed or grossly underemployed.  Look at the increased death rate in age 50-65 from substance abuse, stress related disease and suicide. 
What has taken its place are low value and therefore low paid service sector jobs.  Have you been in a BestBuy lately.  You are accosted by a virtual plethora of young and old people working in "assisted sales", or trying to sell you a device for the manufacturer they supposedly represent.  These are mostly part time jobs, all of which pay little more than $15 an hour.  Does this sound like an economy that is self sustaining.  And of course those jobs will soon get replaced by robotics or kiosks (have you seen the robotic saleswoman in airports?)
This would take a total mindset change and I do not in any way shape or form seeing the private sector rethinking employment.  Now I assume its the 1% that would end up owning and controlling the machines with a tiny fraction needed to maintain the machines.  However, the surviving population would have to contend with disease from dead bodies that are not properly cared for as mammoth famine, violence, war, social unrest, disease and illness and suicide take over the land.
Someone born today not into wealth is looking at a very grim life, unless there is an about face by business, government and citizens. 
Mircea Negres Added Mar 12, 2017 - 4:49pm
George, the sci-fi books I've read fell in one extreme or the other. Some thought the human race would experience freedom from the drudgery of work and live lives of luxury, while others proclaimed a great deal of suffering along the lines of mass unemployment, crime, starvation, despair and suicide from which only those who had enough money before the crisis began managed to emerge. I fall in the latter camp because I don't think human society can adjust quickly enough to absorb the impact of large scale automation. Our governments need to look at this carefully and do something soon since the difference between mass dissatisfaction and war is very slim.
Bill Kamps Added Mar 12, 2017 - 4:55pm
George, Patrick is correct, it will be every man for himself.  It has ALWAYS been that way !  You just didnt realize that was the game you were playing, because in your corner of the world, for 25 years or so, the game accidentally worked for you without you even realizing it.  Now it doesnt work for you, just like for billions of others for whom the game NEVER worked.  Welcome to reality.
Im sure the outcome will vary a great deal by country.  For instance George, while you dont belong to the group that is in the top 1% in the US, my guess is you ARE in the top 1% in the world. Your wealth, even depleted, would make you more wealthy than most in the world.  Traveling overseas many things are not automated, which doesnt say they couldnt be some day, but it will take much longer in most of the world.  Amazon wont be delivering by drones in the 3rd world anytime soon. The drones will get stolen !  So in those places there will still be delivery jobs.
I think one of the keys  will be greater mobility in the work force.  People are too tied to homes that they live in, while the job market has become more fluid.  Remember just a few  years ago they were paying people $50K a year to work in MacDonalds in South Dakota.  Lots of people couldnt afford to move there for various reasons, but a big one was because they owned a home or were tied to a rental lease.  Now some of those jobs are gone, as not as much oil activity is going on.   The oil industry is starting to come back, but the first jobs are not in Houston, they will be international, and require that people move to the job.
We bemoan the service economy, but not all of those jobs pay only $15/hour.  The service economy prospers because we still need people to cut hair, do landscaping, do decorating and many other things, the results of which cant be put into a box and shipped.  Some of those jobs are minimum wage, but in EVERY service sector are high end providers who have figured out a way to charge more for better service.  Do you think ALL restaurants will provide food made by machine ? no, the medium to high end ones will still have a chef, waiters and so on.  Will most jobs be high paying, no of course not, most people will not be rich, because rich by definition is relative.   However, you will still live better than people did in 1875, before indoor plumbing, and electricity.
Jobs exist, and they may not be the kind of job you wish you had.   The economy in 50 years will be different, just like the economy of today is different than the economy of 100 years ago, we dont all live on farms.  What about the people that loved their family farm ? we tried to subsidize that, but we only wound up subsidizing the big corporate farms.  You cant stop progress or change.
I do business with a number of people who work multiple jobs in foreign countries.  These arent people working 60 hours a week, but they are people who work multiple jobs at 1-2 days week, because the jobs pay well for the time worked, but they just arent full time jobs.  They make good money in aggregate.   So maybe that is more of the future, it remains to be seen.
It is no one's responsibility to provide a job for you. Look in the Constitution, is says nothing about providing prosperity and jobs for all citizens.  Every man for himself, thanks Patrick for saying it so clearly.  
George N Romey Added Mar 12, 2017 - 6:14pm
Bill technology is going to take away jobs at all levels, from McDonalds to people that now do complex programming and analysis. It already is.  We are already at a point where the are not enough jobs for those with good skills, training, motivation and capacity.  This will only intensify. 
Mankind has shown some capacity to change.  Slavery which was once widespread, and beyond just African Americans in the US only exists in now very limited form.  We as a species moved away from the idea of owning people as a means to get things done. 
Its not about guaranteeing a job, its about what happens when technology makes the human mind and brain obsolete?  How do we define work then? 
Leroy Added Mar 12, 2017 - 6:23pm
I feel so much better now, Bill.
But, you are right.  No one owes us a living.  That is the catch for anyone that is expecting a living wage from the government for doing nothing.  It just isn't going to happen--not for long, anyway.
We are moving towards the gig economy.  I see it unfolding before my eyes.  It used to be common for employees to retire and then come back as contractors doing the same thing.  A retiree worked on the other side of me.  I hadn't seen him in a while and enquired what happened to him.  The company decided to no longer employ retirees for general engineering and support.  He is an older employee with unique knowledge.  Only he can do certain task.  Sure, others could learn it, but it is the older employees with the knowledge to do so.  The younger employees don't have a clue what OS/2 and PL/M are and have no interest in learning.   But, we are allowed to bring him in for a certain, well-defined task, a gig, in other words.
My days are numbered.  I'll be outsourced.  There's one major project in progress.  When it is done, many will be outsourced or just eliminated.  The youth are moving into management positions.  My boss and his righthand man are both millennials.  Neither have in depth knowledge of anything.   They don't understand the process.  The idea is to contract out everything.  You just hire someone for a gig and the job gets done.  Today, we clean up the mess. 
Those coming into the workforce might as well accept that we are moving to a gig economy with minimum benefits.  If we had moved to a single payer, government provided healthcare system, it would have removed all obstacles.
George N Romey Added Mar 12, 2017 - 7:06pm
All of this will lead to mass social dislocation as most people will live with systematic economic instability. Expect life spans to shorten, birth rates to fall, miss carriages to rise and social unrest to increase. Not a pretty future.
Leroy Added Mar 12, 2017 - 7:35pm
George, I think that is what we are moving towards.  We will no longer have cradle to grave jobs.  We will be hired to come in and do a job and go.  We will probably be paid well for the time we spend. 
You are always living on the edge, but it you can manage it, you can have a better life/work balance.  I'm getting too old to live on the edge, but it would have suited me when I was younger.
The millennial crowd seems to be more social.  They seem to require more of the touchy, feely stuff.  For example, we have a big whiteboard with a question of the week on it.  It's a millennial creation.  Every week it's like, what's your favorite food, what are you doing this weekend, what's your favorite show/movie.  Makes me want to barf.  The workplace, as we know it, may disappear.  I am not so sure how the millennials will deal with that.  
Aaron Johnson Added Mar 13, 2017 - 4:14pm
This is hyperbole. Similar claims were made during the Industrial Revolution when they said machinery would take over our jobs as farming jobs disappeared. Yes, farming jobs did vanish, but more jobs were created elsewhere. That will happen in today's automation too. We just need to ensure our youth and older adults are prepared to change. 
George N Romey Added Mar 13, 2017 - 4:40pm
No it isn't.  Technology is replacing the human element. I've seen it in finance.  Software packages are limiting the need for financial management and analysis.  Ask all the unemployed marketing managers as software packages now track how successful a campaign was.
Aaron Johnson Added Mar 14, 2017 - 6:00am
George, I don't dispute that. There's going to be job displacement as we go through the Technological Revolution. There will be less employment in large firms as they use technology to improve productivity. However, it is much easier to do business start-ups today than ever before. We just have to adapt and use technology to benefit us, rather than wait and have technology gobble us up.
Shane Dean Added Mar 15, 2017 - 5:02pm
Aaron, you really need to start reading more on all the things AI is able to do.  Even areas formerly thought impossible to replicate like telemarketing are being taken over by ever more sophisticated AI.  
Walk into a grocery store, and where 4 cashier lanes once stood, 8 self checkout stands are in place manned by 1 person.  I have seen videos of machines that build an entire bridge with one or two human observers.  Humans are making themselves obsolete in their rush to make life easier.  
I am all for improving tech.  But we need to ensure training matches the pace so we don't have masses of humanity left out in the cold as HAL takes over.  Or SkyNet.
Shane Dean Added Mar 15, 2017 - 5:03pm
George, another well thought article.
Jeff Jackson Added Mar 17, 2017 - 12:55pm
The popular wisdom from long ago like the 1950s was that robots would do all of the work and we would all have tons of leisure time and we could just sit around and enjoy life. I guess not.