• Bret Bernhoft
    124
    Marc Andreessen can be quoted as saying, "...software is eating the world...". Another way of stating this is to say that automation is downsizing jobs across the planet. This is obviously a problem for a lot of people, especially those who become and remain unemployed because of software, Artificial Intelligence and automation more generally.

    With that said, is it ethical for technological automation top be stunted, in order to preserve jobs (or a healthy job marketplace)?

    This is, in my humble opinion, one of the more important dialogues that our modern society needs to be having. In some ways, we already are having this dialogue; not just here, but throughout our cultures. Technology is advancing, and people are beginning to push back. This is a tough one.

    1. Is it ethical for technological automation to be stunted, in order to preserve jobs? (15 votes)
        Yes
        53%
        No
        47%
  • Vera Mont
    313
    With that said, is it ethical for technological automation top be stunted, in order to preserve jobs (or a healthy job marketplace)?Bret Bernhoft

    Couple of problems with that. What 'healthy job marketplace'? First, what's a job marketplace but people selling their time and strength and skill to other people? How does one assess its state of health? Why assume it's healthy or can remain so with more automation? Second, what is technological automation? To whom does it belong? What purpose does it serve? What is its ethical standing? In what social organization? Some unexamined assumptions under there that need considering before any ethical standard can be applied to the question.

    And then: What else happens when automation eliminates jobs? More goods are produced, faster. More resources are used up faster. more waste is produced and released into the air, water and land faster. It literally eats the planet. Meanwhile, the people who have no jobs have no income. So who's buying all that product? Does it go straight from the factory into the landfill, like the packaging it comes in? People have to clean up the waste. They have to be paid for that, so they can afford the goods the machines produce. That's usually done from public coffers, not private ones, so the people that are hired to clean up the waste are also the ones paying the taxes that pay their own salaries. Where is the surplus value that buys government services?

    That's just the unaccounted logistics. Ethics are still waiting in the hall.
  • universeness
    3.5k
    I don't think there is a binary yes/no choice here.
    Going back a bit in time, you might ask was it ethical to produce the horse and cart which meant that a lot fewer people where needed to move goods around?
    I think there is a simple moral answer. If the excess people involved can be given other more interesting work to do or/and they can still access the basic needs of survival, then the tech should be brought in.
    If not, then the new tech should be slowly phased in, and the old system should still be used until it is assured that any changes will allow the workers to experience zero reduction to their social or economic status.
  • Vera Mont
    313
    then the tech should be brought in.universeness

    then the new tech should be slowly phased inuniverseness

    By what agency? Who is in charge of deciding and carrying out these policies?
  • T Clark
    10.3k
    Is it ethical for technological automation to be stunted, in order to preserve jobs?Bret Bernhoft

    It's ethical, but probably impossible or at least infeasible. Science will be science. Technology will be technology. The solution may be something like universal basic income.

    On the other hand, the unemployment rate is low and demographers say there won't be enough workers in the future as birthrates decline.
  • universeness
    3.5k
    By what agency? Who is in charge of deciding and carrying out these policies?Vera Mont

    Democratic agency. The consent of the majority of all of the stakeholders involved or the consent of the majority of their democratically elected representatives under a very robust set of checks and balances.
  • universeness
    3.5k
    The solution may be something like universal basic income.T Clark

    :clap:
  • universeness
    3.5k
    More goods are produced, faster. More resources are used up faster. more waste is produced and released into the air, water and land faster. It literally eats the planet. Meanwhile, the people who have no jobs have no income. So who's buying all that product? Does it go straight from the factory into the landfill, like the packaging it comes in? People have to clean up the waste. They have to be paid for that, so they can afford the goods the machines produce. That's usually done from public coffers, not private ones, so the people that are hired to clean up the waste are also the ones paying the taxes that pay their own salaries. Where is the surplus value that buys government services?Vera Mont

    Everything you type here is accurate when it comes to the current state of affairs. You identify that we cannot have production techniques which cause dangerous environmental/ecological impact. I would rather such tech was not brought in until it could be brought in without any such impact.
    Recycling must also be as close to 100% as we can make it or else the tech should be delayed.
  • SpaceDweller
    464
    With that said, is it ethical for technological automation top be stunted, in order to preserve jobs (or a healthy job marketplace)?Bret Bernhoft

    Available jobs don't go down due to technology, what happens is that some jobs are replaced with technology, however new kinds of jobs also pop out.

    One difference is that those new jobs require more skills, ex. higher education, while old jobs are usually those requiring raw workforce with no special education such as high school.
  • Athena
    2.3k
    Marc Andreessen can be quoted as saying, "...software is eating the world...". Another way of stating this is to say that automation is downsizing jobs across the planet. This is obviously a problem for a lot of people, especially those who become and remain unemployed because of software, Artificial Intelligence and automation more generally.

    With that said, is it ethical for technological automation top be stunted, in order to preserve jobs (or a healthy job marketplace)?

    This is, in my humble opinion, one of the more important dialogues that our modern society needs to be having. In some ways, we already are having this dialogue; not just here, but throughout our cultures. Technology is advancing, and people are beginning to push back. This is a tough one.
    Is it ethical for technological automation to be stunted, in order to preserve jobs?
    Bret Bernhoft

    That depends on taxation and government spending. Our potential is to let people die in poverty or provide public assistance so everyone has a decent standard of living. Of course, if government subsidizes its population it needs revenue. If people are not working, they can not pay taxes, so now where does the government get revenue?

    In the past, revenue was taken from people who had income-producing property. Income taxes came very late in the game of civilization. The computers and robots are all property. That could mean a return to taxing property simply by redefining what that means.

    When the 1958 National Defense Education Act was implemented, a high school teacher explained to the class that we should plan for a future when people did not work 4-hour jobs because automation would replace the workers. Well, here we are in the automated brave new world and we are no more ready for it than we were in 1959.

    Some may argue, we must not tax automation because that would retard our growth. To that, I will say industry is supported by the government. If we are not working together for the good of all, things will get very ugly, and allowing that to happen may be the best use of human intelligence.

    On the other hand, employment is extremely important to ordering our lives and I am not advocating leaving people unemployed! In my later years I am experiencing the shortage of people willing to help the elderly stay in their homes. I also see a lot of environmental work that can be done and the arts could absorb a huge working force. We need new ideas for a new reality and it is very exciting to think about the civilization we could have, verses the human suffering and cruelty of our past.
  • Joshs
    4k
    Is it ethical for technological automation to be stunted, in order to preserve jobs?
    — Bret Bernhoft

    It's ethical, but probably impossible or at least infeasible. Science will be science. Technology will be technology. The solution may be something like universal basic income.

    On the other hand, the unemployment rate is low and demographers say there won't be enough workers in the future as birthrates decline.
    T Clark

    I generally agree that it is infeasible to significantly throttle down the pace of automation. Universal basic income may be one temporary solution, but ultimately a shrinking of the population will ensue because we simply won’t need as many people as we have now. That shrinkage is supposed to produce all kinds of dire economic effects but I think ma y of these analyses are flawed.
  • Vera Mont
    313
    Democratic agency. The consent of the majority of all of the stakeholders involved or the consent of the majority of their democratically elected representatives under a very robust set of checks and balances.universeness

    Utopia!
    You identify that we cannot have production techniques which cause dangerous environmental/ecological impact.universeness

    In a capitalist world, you cannot have any other kind. Nor have we had any other kind since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

    I would rather such tech was not brought in until it could be brought in without any such impact.universeness

    How, where, when and how fast new technology is used is controlled entirely by the owners of the means of production - who also control the terms and conditions of employment. They can be regulated by government and mitigated by collective bargaining - unless they also own the government, which, in capitalist societies, they mostly do.

    Available jobs don't go down due to technology, what happens is that some jobs are replaced with technology, however new kinds of jobs also pop out.SpaceDweller
    In what proportion? For every 1000 jobs made obsolete, how many are created? What happens to the 999 people and their children?

    On the other hand, employment is extremely important to ordering our lives and I am not advocating leaving people unemployed!Athena
    But does it have to be employment in the old sense of working for a boss who takes half or more of the value of your work as profit and does whatever he wants with the product? Might 'work' not be re-imagined so that independent people spend part of their time pursuing their creative endeavours, part of their time in co-operative efforts that benefit the whole community and its environment, part of it in games, social activities and entertainment, and part in solitary contemplation?
  • universeness
    3.5k
    We need new ideas for a new reality and it is very exciting to think about the civilization we could have, verses the human suffering and cruelty of our past.Athena

    Fantastic, hopeful, encouraging words that our next generation so badly need to hear as they can make it happen.
  • universeness
    3.5k
    Utopia!Vera Mont

    No, just a better way of living.

    In a capitalist world, you cannot have any other kind. Nor have we had any other kind since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.Vera Mont

    So, you agree, we need to change that and reject the capitalist world?

    How, where, when and how fast new technology is used is controlled entirely by the owners of the means of production - who also control the terms and conditions of employment. They can be regulated by government and mitigated by collective bargaining - unless they also own the government, which, in capitalist societies, they mostly do.Vera Mont

    So, again, you agree we need to change the owners of the means of production and their control over the terms and conditions of employment?

    I support a non-party based politics with no presidential style elections, no monarchies/aristocracies/autocracies/cults of personality/cults of celebrity/plutocracies or theocracies. No money or some money but a universal basic income to keep such under control and balanced.
    A democratic socialist/humanist administration which implements a resource-based economy.
  • universeness
    3.5k
    Might 'work' not be re-imagined so that independent people spend part of their time pursuing their creative endeavours, part of their time in co-operative efforts that benefit the whole community and its environment, part of it in games, social activities and entertainment, and part in solitary contemplation?Vera Mont

    YES!!! and a UBI would support this!
  • SpaceDweller
    464
    In what proportion? For every 1000 jobs made obsolete, how many are created? What happens to the 999 people and their children?Vera Mont
    for that we need statistics.

    People seeing negative things and ignoring positive things is nothing new.
  • Vera Mont
    313
    So, you agree, we need to change that and reject the capitalist world?universeness

    Of course! They're killing us all, right alongside the trees and butterflies.

    A democratic socialist/humanist administration which implements a resource-based economy.universeness

    Sounds utopian to me
    , by every standard of Utopia with which I'm familiar. Hell, I invented one of 'em.

    YES!!! and a UBI would support this!universeness

    Obviously. It's an essential first step toward sane self-governance.

    for that we need statistics.SpaceDweller
    Here's a start:
    :
    Worldwide, a billion people could lose their jobs over the next ten years due to AI...
    45 million Americans could lose their jobs to AI automation...
    AI will create 58 million jobs, and by 2030...
    Companies deploying automation and AI say the technology allows them to create new jobs. However, the number of new jobs is often minuscule compared with the number of jobs lost.

    I keep hearing as how "we" need to retrain displaced workers and make sure people enter "the job market" with higher academic credentials.... the very thing the grand old party of American Business, rah,rah,rah opposes with all its might.
    House Republicans passed these deep education cuts today despite clear opposition by tens of thousands of residents over the past few months who spoke out in support of our schools at town hall meetings and rallies across the state. In a recent survey, 53 percent of residents said education funding should be the last place lawmakers cut, according to Michigan State University’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research.

    People seeing negative things and ignoring positive things is nothing new.SpaceDweller
    It's true. Neither is people seeing positive things and not supporting their claims.
  • L'éléphant
    883
    First, what's a job marketplace but people selling their time and strength and skill to other people? How does one assess its state of health?

    And then: What else happens when automation eliminates jobs? More goods are produced, faster. More resources are used up faster. more waste is produced and released into the air, water and land faster. It literally eats the planet. Meanwhile, the people who have no jobs have no income. So who's buying all that product? Does it go straight from the factory into the landfill, like the packaging it comes in? People have to clean up the waste.
    Vera Mont
    A while back, if someone asked me the same question in the OP, I would have said that automation will carry us all to the sunrise and a happy ending.

    Man was I wrong in that thought!

    You nailed it when you said that a marketplace is full of people selling their skills and strength. The Earth should be taken care of by people who see a future and hope in their own abilities to affect their surrounding. You take those out of people and you get instead a shell of cogs walking around and thinking nothing but paycheck or the next gig or the next short term assignments. We would be full of people who now must constantly metamorphose according to the latest technology, no matter how useless this new technology is, how cost-prohibitive, and how short-lived its appearance into the limelight because there's always the next best thing to come out of the showroom.

    We would be a bunch of followers of the "cool", with the name of the billionaire attached to its logo, and no longer able to understand what it means to be connected to the earth.
  • Vera Mont
    313
    We would be a bunch of followers of the "cool", with the name of the billionaire attached to its logo, and no longer able to understand what it means to be connected to the earth.L'éléphant

    Yeah, that's a depressing state of being. (We have mass-produced pills for that!) Not being connected to your work - what you figured out, what you devised, what you designed, what you crafted, what you made - that may be even more intimately soul-parching. TS Eliot had a pretty good take on it.

    (We could do better than this!)
  • Bitter Crank
    11.2k
    The problem isn't software. Software and machinery have no agency. They are tools. Whether the tools are deployed for collective benefit, or very individual benefit makes the difference. In the present world, collective benefit seems to be more accidental than intended. Mostly enterprise is directed toward corporate profit.

    An axiom of Marxism is "labor creates all wealth". If substituting software and machinery for labor also creates wealth, we could -- if we so wished -- distribute the wealth created by machines among the laborers who lost their jobs.

    Labor is an essential part of us; in a myriad ways, the work we do defines us -- positively as well as negatively. I have performed tedious detail work that I would have given to a machine in a flash, had one been nearby. On the other hand, creative work I have performed (not "art") was immensely fulfilling.

    In a phrase: People over profit.
  • universeness
    3.5k
    Sounds utopian to meVera Mont

    The nefarious few are most happy when the abused majority believe that any real improvement is utopian, beyond their reach and a forlorn hope. So, those sounds you are hearing are capitalist signals.
    Stop thinking in the exact way the nefarious few want and need you to think.
  • Athena
    2.3k
    But does it have to be employment in the old sense of working for a boss who takes half or more of the value of your work as profit and does whatever he wants with the product? Might 'work' not be re-imagined so that independent people spend part of their time pursuing their creative endeavours, part of their time in co-operative efforts that benefit the whole community and its environment, part of it in games, social activities and entertainment, and part in solitary contemplation?Vera Mont

    I am glad you gave how we might use our time, some thought. If that is what we want then we have to change two things.

    I believe capitalism is best for some things but not Laizefair capitalism built on the autocratic model. We can retain capitalism and replace the autocratic model of industry with the democratic model. I am confident the democratic model would strengthen families and reduce all social tensions because it is about being cooperative to achieve shared goals. Also, it prepares everyone for advancement increasing equality.

    The second change would be replacing education for technology with the Athenian model of education that we once used. The focus of this education is good citizenship and lifelong learning. Its goal is well-rounded individual growth.

    Before 1958 we used the Athenian model for education. There are two ways to have social order, authority over the people or culture. Our choice for democracy also meant liberty that was protected by education for good citizenship. In 1958 the US replaced that with education for technology and left moral training to the church. The US is now in very serious trouble!

    Education for good citizenship was also education for good moral judgment. We could do that without the Bible by using literature exactly as the church uses the Bible for making good Christians, but secular literature does not depend on religious superstition. As Athens did, we created American mythology with American heroes and we destroyed those heroes and that culture when we replaced the past education with education for technology that prepares the young to be products for technology and consumers and makes them dependent on "authority and the experts". We stopped transmitting the culture that made our liberty possible. Now Christians think they created democracy! They have no understanding of democracy.

    I must defend that last statement. Knowing the characteristics of democracy does not equal understanding democracy as rule by reason and what science has to do with good moral judgment. Democracy is about knowing truth and that requires education for logical thinking, not reading the Bible, and being ignorant of everything else including the transmission of a deadly virus.
  • Athena
    2.3k
    ↪Bret Bernhoft The problem isn't software. Software and machinery have no agency. They are tools. Whether the tools are deployed for collective benefit, or very individual benefit makes the difference. In the present world, collective benefit seems to be more accidental than intended. Mostly enterprise is directed toward corporate profit.

    An axiom of Marxism is "labor creates all wealth". If substituting software and machinery for labor also creates wealth, we could -- if we so wished -- distribute the wealth created by machines among the laborers who lost their jobs.

    Labor is an essential part of us; in a myriad ways, the work we do defines us -- positively as well as negatively. I have performed tedious detail work that I would have given to a machine in a flash, had one been nearby. On the other hand, creative work I have performed (not "art") was immensely fulfilling.

    In a phrase: People over profit.
    Bitter Crank

    ""we could -- if we so wished -- distribute the wealth created by machines among the laborers who lost their jobs. Yes, that is what I said, and will add to that, replacing the autocratic model of industry with a democratic model and preparing our young for reality, not superstitious myths. Never a God nor technology is going to save us.

    It is not just industry working for profit, but all our bureaucracies are working for the power of the bureaucracy, and this crushes individual liberty and power. We used to laugh at communist Russia because their paperwork clogged the system making it hard to get anything done and leaving a train filled with food to rot on the tracks because no one had the required authority to move it. Now, this is a US problem with things that took 5 minutes to resolve, not getting resolved for several months.

    I am trying to help a gentleman who has severe brain damage in part because of a stroke and in part because of being a victim of a crime. In over two months he still does not have a social worker, and now proving his social security number is his social security has set us back for at least another month, meaning someone who needs help could freeze to death this winter. In the past, this would have been resolved in a couple of days at the most.

    I have started talking about the beast. It is a great analogy. What has changed is our bureaucratic and business organization. Now we have shortages that we never had before, and a huge homeless problem while at the same time employers can not find workers? It is like Covid turned our world upside down and dropped us causing everything to break down. Our faith in technology and failure to value our human potential and trust each other, is a huge mistake!
  • PantagruelAccepted Answer
    2.2k
    The question could have been couched in more general terms. I would say the question is, Do some technologies have negative impacts on society at large? The answer to this question is yes. In which case those technologies need to be regulated. And yes the case you put is a good example.
  • Athena
    2.3k
    Fantastic, hopeful, encouraging words that our next generation so badly need to hear as they can make it happen.universeness

    They can not make it happen without better information. How many people here know about autocracy versus democracy, instead of left and right, and that democracy is a social order? Autocracy is also a social order. There are social, economic, and political ramifications of replacing education for good citizenship, with education that is preparing our young to be products for industry. How many of our young have a good understanding of democracy and leadership?

    We destroyed our heroes in the US and stopped transmitting the culture we had. We educated for a technological society with unknown values. Now may the biggest liar win and if that fails, pull out the weapons of destruction and call yourself an angel of death doing the work of God. So much for dropping education for good moral judgment and leaving moral education to the church.
  • Vera Mont
    313
    I believe capitalism is best for some things but not Laizefair capitalism built on the autocratic model. We can retain capitalism and replace the autocratic model of industry with the democratic model.Athena

    I can't quite picture that - unless you mean something different by capital than I do. This may not be the venue for an exhaustive discussion of capitalism. Suffice that I believe it's entirely surplus to requirements - an unnecessary complication of and drain on the economy.
    The focus of this education is good citizenship and lifelong learning. Its goal is well-rounded individual growth.Athena

    Sounds good. Teachers would be on board with that. Most of them would be thrilled to teach to the student's need and ability, rather than the board's, state's industry's, universities', parents' and church's competing demands; would rather spend more time with the children than the paperwork. Why not just make all schools a fusion of Waldorf and Montessori, with a dash of Lyceum mixed in when they get older?

    Now Christians think they created democracy!Athena
    Christians have as many self-delusions as Americans - and are about as accurate in the use of words.

    Stop thinking in the exact way the nefarious few want and need you to think.universeness

    I have, some time ago. I do not use the term pejoratively; I wear it with proper humility: I'm a utopian pastoral socialist by conviction, though I cannot live up to the ideal. I'm also on the brink of extinction. If I were younger and less tough, some jillionaires would make a fetish of serving my flesh in their exclusive club restaurants.
  • Bret Bernhoft
    124
    The question could have been couched in more general terms. I would say the question is, Do some technologies have negative impacts on society at large? The answer to this question is yes. In which case those technologies need to be regulated. And yes the case you put is a good example.Pantagruel

    You make some great points here. I appreciate your comment.

    There are indeed some technologies that have a negative impact on society. And those technologies should indeed be regulated. As to whether automation is detrimental to society, the answer depends on where one is stationed.
  • Benj96
    1.3k
    Jobs can always be created. Is the job "telecommunications manager" or "website designer" available to people of the 13th century?

    When we automate something such as trains (which used to require coal shovellers for the furnace) jobs become obsolete but new ones emerge based on the new technology (electrical engineer specialising in trains).

    All of humanitarian endeavours cannot be automated unless humans no longer existed. So long as humans exist, human problems will be adressed by humans (not automated). If we became automated ourselves (uploaded our consciousness to computers) we would as a robotic race still face robotic limitations that require workers to resolve - even if we left our organic human bodies behind.

    In essence, whatever progress we make (automation), there will always be more Progress, advancements to be made (work to be done).
  • universeness
    3.5k

    It's certainly true there is still a great deal of work to do before we achieve a better global human society.
    I think today's youth are up to the task and I agree they will still need all the help they can get.
    I don't concur with all of the reasons you cite for why we are where we are now but that's not as important as the fact that you do your best to be part of the solutions and that's about as much as anyone can ask of any individual.
  • universeness
    3.5k
    I have, some time ago. I do not use the term pejoratively; I wear it with proper humility: I'm a utopian pastoral socialist by conviction, though I cannot live up to the ideal. I'm also on the brink of extinction. If I were younger and less tough, some jillionaires would make a fetish of serving my flesh in their exclusive club restaurants.Vera Mont

    This has too much personal depth in it for me to accurately unpackage. I can run it around in my head, but I am sure that whatever interpretations I come up with will not match your intent closely enough.
    You would need to explain your logic and the emotional drivers behind the imagery you invoke.
    If you simply mean you now feel you are too old to be an effective warrior in your quest for a better world, then you would be better having a PM exchange with @Athena on that stuff as you could probably both be a support for each other imo. I am 58, I don't know how I will feel about fighting the good fight, when I am a lot older. That's if I ever reach 'a lot older.'
  • Vera Mont
    313
    Jobs can always be created. Is the job "telecommunications manager" or "website designer" available to people of the 13th century?Benj96
    None at all, among the world population of 0.35-.40B. And how many of those jobs are available to the 6.5B of today's world? I'm not sure how many of the factory workers in Bangladesh can relocate to the head office in New York and take over management of communications. If if two of two or three of the others get a chance to learn web design before their families starve.
    The Ready-Made Garments (RMG) industry is the main source of manufacturing employment in the country. However, according to government's a2i project and International Labour Organisation (ILO) around 60 per cent (5.38 million) of garment workers in Bangladesh will become unemployed by 2030 and be replaced by robots due to automation in the RMG sector.]The Ready-Made Garments (RMG) industry[/url] is the main source of manufacturing employment in the country. However, according to government's a2i project and International Labour Organisation (ILO) around 60 per cent (5.38 million) of garment workers in Bangladesh will become unemployed by 2030 and be replaced by robots due to automation in the RMG sector.
    The wall one hits is always the same one: proportions. The reason automation benefits owners is that they have to spend less on wages. It's the only reason they do it: to make more profit, not to make better jobs.

    So long as humans exist, human problems will be adressed by humans (not automated).Benj96

    There is only so much service anyone needs, and private enterprise won't pay for most of it. If you're not earning, you can't afford a tennis coach, a geriatric nurse, a dog-walker, a plastic surgeon, a butler, or a masseur. If the Republicans are in charge long enough, all personal services will be available to the wealthy alone - including elementary school for their kids....
    Of course, that's short-sighted: when enough of the incomes dry up, people default on loans, repossessed homes and cars sit empty and consumption bottoms out at subsistence level. The whole economic system breaks down, requiring either massive government intervention and reorganization or the grandfather of all social upheavals (because, this time it's global). But I think short term is all they're planning for now.

    This has too much personal depth in it for me to accurately unpackage.universeness
    It basically means I reject the charge of thinking the way the exploiting class wants me to and that I don't consider 'utopian' a bad word.
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