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Discussion: (4 comments)

  1. Todd Mason

    As only the Economist can, a cover in Jan posed the Thinker as a stinker and asked what’s been invented lately that’s had the impact of the flushing commodes the statue graced? (Or more specifically products with an instant mass market.) Not much was the answer, and therein lies the real problem with technology. The Internet is less important for what it does than what it allows us to do without. Tax preparers for example. Or DMV clerks. Or the Post Office. College classrooms. printing presses. This is no myth.

  2. juandos

    The Financial Times reports the US has lost almost 2 million clerical jobs since 2007 “as new technologies replace office workers and plunge the American middle class deeper into crisis.”“….

    Is the Financial Times also carrying on about buggy whip makers, blacksmiths, and drovers?

  3. Memo to Jim P.: What you call “technological unemployment” is actually an increase in value. If a company can produce more with less, that means the company has greater worth than it did before. That frees up capital for more productive uses. Conservatives should be happy whenever technology allows us to do things more efficiently. Ultimately, it would be great if no one had to work — ever. This is very basic free-market stuff.

  4. From with permission:

    We all want to cheer every time a robot puts someone out of work. Work should be optional given the productivity gains we are seeing and the cost of living. Our governments should be spending more of our tax-dollars on something many seem to want. I’m for robotics that are owned by all of the citizens of a country. Fully automated robotics factories, with self replicating robotic arms. Highly automated renewable energy, windmills or underwater water mills. Highly automated steel production. Highly automated chip manufacturing, and Linux. I’ve seen some automated building manufacturing companies starting up as well. Other prerequisite products can eventually be manufactured as well. All source code and blueprints have to be fully owned with rights to an infinite amount of use. All owned by the citizens of the country concerned. Small factories at first, with all of the bugs worked out, so that it largely builds itself in the end. It should be affordable, I’m an economic conservative. Eventually the complex can produce consumer goods besides steel, energy, chips, buildings, and robotics. Charities and the open source community can help as well. I support liberal licensing agreements of source code and blueprints, to allow royalty free replication. Surpluses could be sold to pay for additional engineering by those ambitious. Revenues would be paid to those citizens who have invested. Continued exponential self-replication would eventually lead to true post-scarcity, for every citizen of a country.

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