AZspot

blue bits. red rocks.

robotic nation

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Such are the perverse rewards we reap when we permit tech culture to become our culture. The profits and power flow to the platform owners and their political sponsors. We get the surveillance, the data mining, the soaring inequality, and the canned pep talks from bosses who have been upsold on analytics software. Without Gchat, Twitter, and Facebook—the great release valves of workaday ennui—the roofs of metropolitan skyscrapers would surely be filled with pallid young faces, wondering about the quickest way down. World Processor

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It’s not that there’s a labor shortage and we need caretaker robots. It’s that many people would rather buy robots than hire immigrants or the poor. The Third Machine Age Could Destroy Us

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When people confidently announce that once robots come for our jobs, we’ll find something else to do like we always did, they are drawing from a very short history. The truth is, there’s only been one-and-a-three-quarters of a machine age—we are close to concluding the second one—we are moving into the third one. And there is probably no fourth one. Failing the Third Machine Age: When Robots Come for Grandma

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We do not have anywhere near enough human caregivers for the growing number of older Americans. The Future of Robot Caregivers

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Utopian reveries spill forth almost daily from the oracles of progress, forecasting a transformation of Information Age labor into irrepressible acts of impassioned fun. But we know all too well the painful truth about today’s ordinary work routines: they have become more, not less, routinized, soul-killing, and laden with drudgery. The contrast between the glum reality of cubicle labor and the captivating rhetoric of Internet liberation, which once seemed daft and risible, doesn’t anymore; now it’s only galling. In recent years, for instance, the term “creative” has been captured by advertising agencies, who’ve bestowed on it a capital C and made it into a noun, a coveted job title meant to signify Mad Men–style braggadocio. But all this business-card-ready term usually denotes is someone who writes copy for Google AdWords or applies Photoshop filters to an image of an anatomically impossible woman in carnal embrace with a bottle of vodka. World Processor

The age of service is a kind of pyramid scheme where rich people employ individuals to service them in various ways, and then those people are paid well so they can hire slightly less rich people to service them, and so on. But of course for this particular pyramid to work out, the rich have to be SUPER rich and they have to pay their servants very well indeed for the trickle down to work out. Either that or there has to be a wealth transfer some other way. The future of work

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Progressives are stuck with the notion that to cure inequality, to restore demand, we should raise wages and reduce unemployment. These are worthy goals but as technology eliminates more jobs it becomes a Sisyphean task. The Central Paradox of the 21st Century

This paradox between our affluence as consumers and our precariousness as workers poses economic, political, and moral conundrums. If we can produce more with less, and workers become redundant, who will buy the goods? A robot can make a mobile phone but it cannot purchase one. Workers are also consumers. Fire your workers, your profits will rise until the day no one can afford to buy your product. Henry Ford was a visionary for paying his workers enough so they could buy his cars. Ultimately, our production possibilities frontier and so our societal wealth is determined by our level of technology. That keeps expanding. Thus every year we should be richer. Each generation should be better off than its parents. That we are not is a problem of distribution. The Central Paradox of the 21st Century

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Productivity increases boost our societal wealth and so make us all collectively richer but they also make more of us redundant. This is an old story and the traditional answer is that we Luddites should stop complaining and happily give up our handloom weaving gigs because technology will soon find us something even better. Perhaps that is true, in the long run, but try telling it to the children of autoworkers in Detroit or the grandchildren of ship builders in Newcastle. Technological progress today is a job killer and this process is likely to accelerate. Even China is not immune. Today it has fewer manufacturing jobs than it had in 1996 even though it is producing almost twice as many goods. The Central Paradox of the 21st Century

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