[ExI] retrainability of plebeians

Dagon Gmail dagonweb at gmail.com
Wed Apr 22 05:27:05 UTC 2009

2009/4/21 Rafal Smigrodzki <rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com>

> 2009/4/21 Dagon Gmail <dagonweb at gmail.com>:
> >> ### Marshall Brain has no idea. Structural unemployment of the
> >> able-bodied non-insane persons is a side-effect of government
> >> regulation, and it has nothing to do with technology.
> >
> > I declare this statement ideology, almost as silly as stalinist rhetoric.
> > Worse it
> > is a dangerously naieve ideology - what you say is:
> <snip>
> >
> > But - in the real world technology will have unprecedented effects. We
> had
> > mass
> > migrations of millions (in the US) based on cotton picking machines.

Amazing, you spasm back in faith based thinking.
YES when millions of blacks became superfluous in the US south they had to
leave or
face severe consequences. Many did die, but many more ended up in squallor
in ghettoes
and poverty. Many moved north, to find jobs and found miserable factory
jobs. You need
only look at the state of blacks in US society now that even after a century
these people
are still largely a loathed underclass, especially when they still live in
the projects. Just
a few flame wars ago on this list did I read sentiments very close to
wanting these people
forcibly resettled, again, or worse, by armed bands of vigilantes. "Take
back the city" was
the motto. I label this "blaming the victim".

But even if you can retrain the labor reserves, the question is on how fast
you can retrain,
again a topic which you conveniently scurry away from.  Do you really have
the near-papal
faith that markets can re-integrate, without massive coercion, squallor,
statism, trauma
millions of people in under one or a few decade?  Thats what will happen. If
robotics achieve
take-off in competetive edge, that very day McDonalds orders a million of
these machines
and the day after fires a million workers. Or as close to that as it can get
away with. One
such "simple repetitive work" industry needs to - and it then opens the
store 24/7, at lower
overhead, cleaner, more hygenic, safer and with more predictable products.

Listen I know you probably will be safe. You will probably have a job
that'll last decades
before some machine starts pushing you out. But can you feel safe, or do you
*care* if you end up in a society where economic value ends up in a small
minority (even
if you are in it...) and the majority has less economic value than it takes
to lead a
humane life (or ... buy basic necessities??), Are you sure your unswerving
zealous faith
in free markets will not produce a society with abundance in one places and
favella ghettoes a fewhundred meters away from that?

I say this will happen FASTER in free markets than in any alternative.

> ### But did the cotton picker cause structural unemployement? People
> dying of hunger? No, it didn't. A few million people had to retrain
> and moved to better circumstances, everybody else got to wear cheaper
> clothes, all self-regulating processes without any government help.
> Nice you give an example in support of my "dangerously naive"
> statement.

> > And what if all available food costs money?
> >
> ### Well, how does that differ from today?

Oh good grief that is ignorant. Billions of people are caught in this trap.
You have 10 dollar
Food for one costs 8 dollar.
Living for one costs 8 dollar.
Health care costs 6 dollar.
Education to have a chance at something better costs 20 dollar.

What will you end up with? many people on top of one another in a ghetto.
Eating inadequately and (ironically) becoming obese.
With little or no expectation of improvement.

>  And nobody is willing to hire
> > any of the
> > precious labour so you cant buy food?
> ### Can you try to think your way through the scenario and describe
> how something like that could happen? Imagine - there is an abundance
> of everything (produced by robots), i.e. the food and shelter needed
> to keep a person alive cost an infinitesimal fraction of the resources
> available to the average person, and somehow nobody is willing to hire
> anybody to cater to their needs? How is that possible in a free
> economy?

It happens in most of the third world. The end result is millions of people
living on top of each other, in miserable,
crowded, violent conditions. Worse, we have examples it happened in Russia,
in the 1990s. People fell back from a
livable existence and (through external change) lost most economic power
they had and fell back to a level of
misery. Poeple living in the most expensive city of third world pensions and
incomes. Very limited health care.
As a result - massive desperation and drug abuse.

> I am asking because I think you are not grasping the mechanism of
> allocation of resources by trade, and you are coming up with bizarre
> results, completely at odds with historical experience and its
> extrapolations. Remember, aside from the speed of change and the sheer
> stupendous abundance of resources, there is no difference between the
> robot story and the cotton picker story. Try to describe the
> mechanistic details of the mental model you are using to predict
> allocation of resources, and maybe you will be able to spot the
> missing link.

I have examples of societies that do NOT cope and where many are effectively
left excluded and on subsistence
levels. People who do not have economic power can not buy goods. As a result
markets start catering to those
who do. Black markets fill up the gap, and criminal organizations thrive.
You assert, for some reason, that people
will always have oportunities.  I agree - even in the worst of
southamerican, african, russian, asian sprawls
the poor locked in the societal lock-out are getting by with odd-jobs. But
even you should notice that economic
traffic on consequence completely bypasses them.

Look I know I am violating your sacred beliefs by stating that baby jesus
doesn't exist and never has. You will
swear and protest and find arguments that the bible is in fact true. It is
faith based reasoning you do, and reality
is remarkably at odds with your convictions. But I sure hope you wont find
yourself on the receiving end of this
cycle of abuse and exclusion.

> ---------------------------------------------
> If this does not compute you are so
> > decadently
> > divorced from reality you may need therapy - in the form of having to
> visit
> > at least
> > several third world countries and having to live a week as a poor person
> in
> > each.
> ### Do you think that third world countries have market economies? You
> may be divorced from knowledge of the economy.

Aha ! There pops up the convenient support theory construct that keeps you
from realizing baby jesus of market
economy is a lie. Yes I insist there will be market economies everywhere
where people are given half a chance,
and politicians will corrupt any system if given half a chance. As opposed
to you I consider criminals and
corruption a part of the cycle of supply and demand. There IS a demand for
Yakuza. And I also consider unions
and wellfare and democracy a part of the cycle of supply and demand. There
IS a demand for societal insurance
against poverty, even if these are elected to be obligatory for all members
of said society.

In a perfect world these are arranged as in a civilized country - if people
are left too excluded, the percentage
left out votes for socialist political parties. Wellfare levels rise. Deceny
right wing politicians then do what it takes
to make sure the economy, education levels increase, and push back wellfare,
to keep the country competetive
compared to other countries.

 > Big mistake. I am not a Luddite.
> <snip>
> When people like you
> > start
> > suffering any consequences in terms of acute misery, then we will finally
> > see
> > some change.
> ### Just like a Luddite you see machines as a source of problems (they
> wanted to break machines, you seem to want to ... well, actually I
> don't really know what you want). But increasing productivity of
> capital is a *solution*, not a problem, and there is nothing anybody
> needs to do get hysterical about. "Acute misery", yeah, sure.
> And why would like *me* personally to suffer acute misery (here and in
> the paragraph on the third world countries)? Are you holding a grudge
> or something?

No I am not holding a grudge. I am convinced these machines will come. And I
am convinced these machines will push
out people from dehumanizing, worthless jobs they shouldnt have been doing
anyways. As a result people will be unemployed
in quantities far greater than societies can afford. This will create a
self-amplifying underclass.

In your world these people are left to fend for themself.

In my world these people organize in unions and political parties and vote
to TAX the part of society that does make money
and TAKE that money to spread the wealth more evenly around. Wat I would
propose is create a maximum income - above'
which taxes are 99% - linked by constitution to a minimum income (I say
about 50:1) and a basic income (about 100:1 or
so). There is supply and demand for you.

>  But my claim is that massrobotization AND A.I.
> > and nano will be just too much, too fast to handle. Many people will go
> > unemployed and really pissed off really fast.
> ### Again, you claim it will happen, but how? What is the mechanism by
> which robotization is supposed to cause mass sustained unemployment
> and poverty? No rhetoric please, just mechanisms?

People have limited skills and ability to do meaningful work.
There is a limited demand for complex and highly rewarded work.
People are left doing simple jobs and as a consequence cannot improve
Large amounts of people are doing machinelike jobs.
Machines become available, in the span of a decade (2015-2025) than can
replace simple jobs.
Simple jobs are replaced by machines.
Pay for jobs decreases below the value of having machines do the job.
People who do simple jobs can not find jobs that pay them enough to live
humane existences
US and EU society stratifies into a "rio de janearo model"
Many will claim, like people always did "something like that will never
happen here"
Rightwing and "free market" ideologies blame the unemployed to secure their
value systems.
Left wing and "socialist" ideologies start implementing statist, wasteful
Black markets fill the gap and large criminal syndicates develop.
Society dehumanizes. We end up in a world where I do not want to live.
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