Post-Work Society?

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Post-Work Society?

#1  Postby lpetrich » Feb 11, 2017 2:45 am

As automation gets better and better, it presents a serious problem. It becomes more and more able to compete with human mental capabilities that have been difficult to automate. This difficulty has been a big problem for artificial intelligence: Moravec's paradox. As Hans Moravec himself has stated, "it is comparatively easy to make computers exhibit adult level performance on intelligence tests or playing checkers, and difficult or impossible to give them the skills of a one-year-old when it comes to perception and mobility." But that difficulty is gradually being overcome. What will happen if computers and robots get good enough to put nearly everybody out of work?


It's been called The Post-Work Society (Adam Lee blog entry).

However, it’s always been taken for granted that most people had to work to produce the total quantity of goods and services that society demanded. Even when we became more productive, our wants increased to match, so there was a balance. What would happen if that were no longer the case? What will happen if we become so productive that, say, 50% or 25% or 10% of people working is all that’s necessary to satisfy everyone’s material desires?

That may well be possible: High income improves evaluation of life but not emotional well-being at PNAS. Emotional well-being levels off at $75,000 for typical Americans, meaning that satiation may well be possible at a present-day upper-middle-class income. However, reported life satisfaction continues to incerase as one's income increases.

Adam Lee is skeptical about a Universal Basic Income, though he thinks that working less would be a good solution. I tend to agree in principle, though I think that it has limits. A UBI has the problem that the sources of its money may feel that they are makers being exploited to support all those takers around them.

A World Without Work - The Atlantic
Describes Youngstown OH's economic collapse from its steel industry shutting down. "Depression, spousal abuse, and suicide all became much more prevalent; the caseload of the area’s mental-health center tripled within a decade."

What does the “end of work” mean, exactly? It does not mean the imminence of total unemployment, nor is the United States remotely likely to face, say, 30 or 50 percent unemployment within the next decade. Rather, technology could exert a slow but continual downward pressure on the value and availability of work—that is, on wages and on the share of prime-age workers with full-time jobs. Eventually, by degrees, that could create a new normal, where the expectation that work will be a central feature of adult life dissipates for a significant portion of society.

But something more positive may happen.

But Lawrence Katz, a labor economist at Harvard, sees the next wave of automation returning us to an age of craftsmanship and artistry. In particular, he looks forward to the ramifications of 3‑D printing, whereby machines construct complex objects from digital designs. ...

The Columbus Idea Foundry is the country’s largest such space, a cavernous converted shoe factory stocked with industrial-age machinery. Several hundred members pay a monthly fee to use its arsenal of machines to make gifts and jewelry; weld, finish, and paint; play with plasma cutters and work an angle grinder; or operate a lathe with a machinist.


Living in a “post-work” society - Salon.com
He concludes:

Although it’s pitched in a kindlier, New York Times-friendly tone, Douthat’s argument is reminiscent of Charles Murray’s argument that the working class needs the discipline and control provided by working for the boss, lest they come socially unglued altogether. Good moralistic scold that he is, Douthat sees the decline of work as part of “the broader turn away from community in America—from family breakdown and declining churchgoing to the retreat into the virtual forms of sport and sex and friendship.” It seems more plausible that it is neoliberal economic conditions themselves—a scaled back social safety net, precarious employment, rising debts and uncertain incomes—that have produced whatever increase in anomie and isolation we experience. The answer to that is not more work but more protection from the life’s unpredictable risks, more income, more equality, more democracy—and more time beyond work to take advantage of all of it.

Good idea, though it may take a big struggle to make it happen.

Fully automated luxury communism | Guardian Sustainable Business | The Guardian

At a time when robots crowd factory lines, algorithms steer cars and smart screens litter the checkout aisles, automation is the new spectre. The robots, they say, are coming for our jobs.

Let them, reply the luxury communists.

...
“The demand would be a 10- or 12-hour working week, a guaranteed social wage, universally guaranteed housing, education, healthcare and so on,” he says. “There may be some work that will still need to be done by humans, like quality control, but it would be minimal.” Humanity would get its cybernetic meadow, tended to by machines of loving grace.

I agree on the increasing feasibility of "luxury communism". Those who crave individual ownership may want to consider a similar solution, what I call the "Solaria solution", after the inhabitants of planet Solaria in Isaac Asimov's novel The Naked Sun. In it, everybody has their own army of robots to take care of them.

My main problem with that is that it's likely to be grotesquely duplicative, so there will have to be some way of sharing some of the production facilities. Joint ownership may do it, but it is a departure from the principle of individual ownership in the direction of collectivism.
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Re: Post-Work Society?

#2  Postby lpetrich » Feb 11, 2017 2:46 am

▶ Humans Need Not Apply - YouTube -- CGP Grey on this subject
File:PPTMooresLawai.jpg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia -- on the dramatically dropping cost of computation
Humans Need Not Apply — CGP Grey -- has a transcript
H.I. #19: Pit of Doom — Hello Internet -- that pit will be where not enough people will be able to make a living

Changes in the Horse Industry - HW37.pdf -- the US horse population peaked in 1920, because engine-driven vehicles were starting to put them out of work

New Wave of Deft Robots Is Changing Global Industry - NYTimes.com - "... 128 robot arms do the same work with yoga-like flexibility. Video cameras guide them through feats well beyond the capability of the most dexterous human. One robot arm endlessly forms three perfect bends in two connector wires and slips them into holes almost too small for the eye to see. The arms work so fast that they must be enclosed in glass cages to prevent the people supervising them from being injured."

Oranges and mandarins are inspected using artificial vision -- research into distinguishing fresh from rotten oranges using hyperspectral imaging, infrared and ultraviolet light, and other such techniques.

Armies of Expensive Lawyers, Replaced by Cheaper Software - NYTimes.com -- not the annoying kind, but lawyers involved in litigation discovery.

On ‘Jeopardy!’ Watson Win Is All but Trivial - NYTimes.com

Robot Soccer Goes Big Time - YouTube -- non-American football

America Has Hit “Peak Jobs” | TechCrunch

Researchers claim many jobs at risk for automation. Here's what they missed. -- Carl Frey and Michael Osborne at Oxford University conclude that something like 47% of US jobs could be automated out of existence in the next 20 years. Perception and manipulation they consider somewhat vulnerable to automation, and creative intelligence and social intelligence the least vulnerable. Report Suggests Nearly Half of U.S. Jobs Are Vulnerable to Computerization | MIT Technology Review has more. "In the first wave, we find that most workers in transportation and logistics occupations, together with the bulk of office and administrative support workers, and labour in production occupations, are likely to be substituted by computer capital."

How Technology Is Destroying Jobs | MIT Technology Review suggests that that is already happening, that automation has been destroying more jobs than are being created.

$50,000 strawberry-picking robot to go on sale in Japan | Crave - CNET

The AI Revolution Is On | Wired Magazine | Wired.com noting Automated Material Handling Order Fulfillment System — Kiva Systems -- warehouse robots that move around and pick up and carry stuff

Robots Could Take Over Fast Food Jobs - Careers Articles and Minimum Wage Jobs Won't Be Replaced With This Robot Anytime Soon -- an industrial robot arm that was programmed to make pancakes

China’s Troubling Robot Revolution - NYTimes.com -- China getting into industrial robots

Hey Boss, The Robots Are Coming For Your Job Too | The Daily Sheeple noting Hitachi Hires Artificially Intelligent Bosses For Their Warehouses | Popular Science -- seems like a lot of middle-management work is vulnerable to automation

Manufacturing Matters… But It’s the Jobs That Count - ewp-420.pdf -- "... the income level of peak manufacturing employment fell from $33,994 in 1970, to $9,576 in 2010. Thus, deindustrialization sets in sooner than in the past."
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Re: Post-Work Society?

#3  Postby lyingcheat » Feb 11, 2017 3:19 am

I already posted Bertrand Russell's essay 'In Praise Of Idleness', in this thread. It's even more appropriate here.

As I said then, it was written, presciently, in 1932. Russell was surveying a different kind of automation then but he could see the writing on the wall and argued for a redistribution of both wealth and work.

Modern methods of production have given us the possibility of ease and security for all; we have chosen, instead, to have overwork for some and starvation for others. Hitherto we have continued to be as energetic as we were before there were machines; in this we have been foolish, but there is no reason to go on being foolish forever.


'In Praise of Idleness'
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Re: Post-Work Society?

#4  Postby tuco » Feb 11, 2017 9:38 am

Well researched OP. Let me add this thread: http://www.rationalskepticism.org/gener ... 46417.html

Just a couple of notes because its reoccurring:

- automation is not necessarily problem, less so serious one, but can be an opportunity, challenge, or even solution to social problems
- since most of us here live in democracies, nobody can put us out of business as we set the rules
- the OP done work by researching and writing OP. Its not paid work but its work.
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Re: Post-Work Society?

#5  Postby lpetrich » Feb 12, 2017 9:37 am

tuco wrote:Well researched OP.

Thanx.
- automation is not necessarily problem, less so serious one, but can be an opportunity, challenge, or even solution to social problems

I agree. I think that it is ultimately good, but it can cause trouble if not handled very well.
- since most of us here live in democracies, nobody can put us out of business as we set the rules

In principle, maybe, but it will take a *lot* of activism.
- the OP done work by researching and writing OP. Its not paid work but its work.
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Re: Post-Work Society?

#6  Postby lpetrich » Feb 12, 2017 10:28 am

Now for parts of an economy, to see what is most easily automated.
Sectors of the Economy - Primary, Secondary, Tertiary, Quaternary
  1. Primary. Extraction and harvesting of resources. Farming, mining, fishing, ...
  2. Secondary. Manufacturing. Including construction and refining of metals and the like.
  3. Tertiary. Services. Sales, transport, food preparation, entertainment, news media, tourism, finance, medicine, law, protection, religion, ...
  4. Quaternary. Intellectual activity. Education, research, libraries, info tech, ...
  5. Quinary. Leadership and management. Political, organizations, ...
#5 is often considered a subset of #4, and #4 a subset of #3.

In human societies, the main occupations have been primary-sector ones, first foraging and then farming. The latter made it possible for some people to specialize in the other sectors. Here are some of the earlier ones to emerge. Secondary: smiths, spinners and weavers. Tertiary: soldiers, priests. Quaternary: scribes. Quinary: leaders. But non-primary workers did not become common until the Industrial Revolution.

For the United States, I've found numbers in these sources:
These sources reference other sources for several of their numbers.

From the first reference's first graph, the fraction of the US population engaged in farming:
  • 1800: 74%
  • 1840: 67%
  • 1900: 36%
Approximately linear in between. From its second graph on male occupations, divided up into primary, secondary, and tertiary sectors (including quaternary and quinary sectors?):
  • 1900: 42%, 38%, 21%
  • 1998: 4%, 38%, 58%
Primary declined almost linearly to 5% in 1970, then stayed close to stable. Secondary peaked in 1960 at 50%. The second reference's numbers are similar, with similar trends. I've found numbers for some other nations, and they also follow these trends. Fall of primary, rise and then stagnation or fall of secondary, rise of tertiary.

All this happened because of increasing mechanization and automation. Much farming is highly automated, with only a few tasks continuing to require manual labor, like picking fruits and vegetables, and even those will eventually get automated, I'm usre.
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Re: Post-Work Society?

#7  Postby tuco » Feb 12, 2017 11:02 am

Such comprehensive OP puts posters out of business as there is not much to add ;)

I suspect that the Moravec paradox will not be a paradox no more in not so distant future. Where AI/robots will probably have difficulties will be fields where empathy and ethics are required.
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Re: Post-Work Society?

#8  Postby lpetrich » Feb 13, 2017 11:26 am

tuco wrote:I suspect that the Moravec paradox will not be a paradox no more in not so distant future. Where AI/robots will probably have difficulties will be fields where empathy and ethics are required.

That's a bit of the Moravec paradox.

From that half-the-jobs-lost article,

The authors believe this takeover will happen in two stages. First, computers will start replacing people in especially vulnerable fields like transportation/logistics, production labor, and administrative support. Jobs in services, sales, and construction may also be lost in this first stage. Then, the rate of replacement will slow down due to bottlenecks in harder-to-automate fields such engineering. This “technological plateau” will be followed by a second wave of computerization, dependent upon the development of good artificial intelligence. This could next put jobs in management, science and engineering, and the arts at risk.

I think that that is an artifact of the two Oxford researchers' methods. They used a classifier that was trained on only two values: 0 and 1. But dividing up by numbered sectors, in their first stage, the primary and secondary sectors will continue to shrink and the tertiary sector will shrink somewhat. Then in their second stage, all five sectors will become vulnerable. These include the quaternary and quinary sectors, sectors which have been nearly invulnerable so far. This stage will likely involve strong AI.

But I suspect that the progress of AI will be more continuous than that, with AI gradually getting stronger and stronger, as we have been seeing so far.
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Re: Post-Work Society?

#9  Postby lpetrich » Feb 17, 2017 5:30 pm

As to what everybody would do all day in a post-work society, we have some hints from history from people who did not need to work very much to survive.

Would a Work-Free World Be So Bad? - The Atlantic
At times, developed societies have, for a privileged few, produced lifestyles that were nearly as play-filled as hunter-gatherers’. Throughout history, aristocrats who earned their income simply by owning land spent only a tiny portion of their time minding financial exigencies. According to Randolph Trumbach, a professor of history at Baruch College, 18th-century English aristocrats spent their days visiting friends, eating elaborate meals, hosting salons, hunting, writing letters, fishing, and going to church. They also spent a good deal of time participating in politics, without pay. Their children would learn to dance, play instruments, speak foreign languages, and read Latin. Russian nobles frequently became intellectuals, writers, and artists. “As a 17th-century aristocrat said, ‘We sit down to eat and rise up to play, for what is a gentleman but his pleasure?’” Trumbach says.
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Re: Post-Work Society?

#10  Postby crank » Feb 17, 2017 8:34 pm

Cory Doctorow's novel Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, available for free, as are all of his works, on his web site, craphound.com, has a few interesting ideas about this. The main one is something I can see happening, something to replace what get's valued in a society:

Whuffie, a form of digital social reputation, replaces money and is a constantly updated rating that measures how much esteem and respect other people have for a person. This rating system determines who gets the few scarce items, like the best housing, a table in a crowded restaurant, or a good place in a queue for a theme park attraction.


I think I just posted about this recently somewhere here.
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Re: Post-Work Society?

#11  Postby cavarka9 » Feb 17, 2017 9:18 pm

there will be those too powerful who shall mooch all the good luking girls for themselves, have a harem, leave the men & others to fight like gladiators of old, winners get killed as well, but ppl r told they were given freedom. this is one possibility. we shall all live in a new hierarchical society bcos those in power stay in power for ever, those with wealth stay ahead for ever. there is no space for the common man than simulation, basic stuff to eat, etc. Its a shitty life. its all gone to the dogs. yes. I had a dream of this kind of future. but who knows?
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Re: Post-Work Society?

#12  Postby cavarka9 » Feb 17, 2017 9:19 pm

there is but one truth, there are no happy endings. not in this universe.
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Re: Post-Work Society?

#13  Postby tuco » Feb 21, 2017 3:42 pm

The robot that takes your job should pay taxes, says Bill Gates

It’s a striking position from the world’s richest man and a self-described techno-optimist who co-founded Microsoft, one of the leading players in artificial-intelligence technology.


No, its not.

In a recent interview with Quartz, Gates said that a robot tax could finance jobs taking care of elderly people or working with kids in schools, for which needs are unmet and to which humans are particularly well suited. He argues that governments must oversee such programs rather than relying on businesses, in order to redirect the jobs to help people with lower incomes. The idea is not totally theoretical: EU lawmakers considered a proposal to tax robot owners to pay for training for workers who lose their jobs, though on Feb. 16 the legislators ultimately rejected it.


[snip]

https://qz.com/911968/bill-gates-the-ro ... pay-taxes/
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Re: Post-Work Society?

#14  Postby crank » Feb 21, 2017 11:48 pm

There's a real troika of disaster possibly in the works here. You've got medicine closing in on defying aging, robots taking over most work, and the climate possibly about to cull a large chunk of the population. There is the possibility of the few very powerful folk getting the anti-aging and denying it to anyone else, one reason being the population would become ridiculous very quickly, and no 'unwashed masses' needed any more due to robots, and the climate can take out all those inconvenient aging peasants. It's a new world!
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Re: Post-Work Society?

#15  Postby Galactor » Feb 23, 2017 4:21 pm

crank wrote: ... one reason being the population would become ridiculous very quickly ...


Not necessarily, according to Aubrey de Grey.
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Re: Post-Work Society?

#16  Postby tuco » Feb 23, 2017 6:15 pm

From the article:

Google-founded Calico recently forged a $1.5bn agreement with drug manufacturer AbbVie to help research solutions to ageing and age-related diseases. After the announcement SENS CEO Mike Kope issued a statement saying the deal highlights the “potential astronomical scale” of an anti-ageing industry.


Indeed. Businesses, the very few powerful folks, want nothing else but astronomical scale of industry. It makes little sense for businesses to have robots producing stuff while having no customers to sell it to.

btw how will climate change cull a large chunk of population? By forcing them to migrate and then drown in the Mediterranean Sea? lol oh wait!
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Re: Post-Work Society?

#17  Postby crank » Feb 23, 2017 7:05 pm

Galactor wrote:
crank wrote: ... one reason being the population would become ridiculous very quickly ...


Not necessarily, according to Aubrey de Grey.

Actually, as the quote below shows, he didn't say anything about the population not increasing dramatically, only that we could handle it with new tech:
“For example we will have much less carbon footprint because we will have things like better renewable energy and nuclear fusion and so on, so that it will actually be increasing the carrying capacity of the planet far faster than the defeat of ageing could increase the number of people on the planet.”


As far as I'm concerned, the population is way the fuck too high already. It's the P's and the Q's, too many People result in too long Queues.
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Re: Post-Work Society?

#18  Postby crank » Feb 23, 2017 7:14 pm

tuco wrote:From the article:

Google-founded Calico recently forged a $1.5bn agreement with drug manufacturer AbbVie to help research solutions to ageing and age-related diseases. After the announcement SENS CEO Mike Kope issued a statement saying the deal highlights the “potential astronomical scale” of an anti-ageing industry.


Indeed. Businesses, the very few powerful folks, want nothing else but astronomical scale of industry. It makes little sense for businesses to have robots producing stuff while having no customers to sell it to.

btw how will climate change cull a large chunk of population? By forcing them to migrate and then drown in the Mediterranean Sea? lol oh wait!

Well, there's war and famine, likely in the coming years, and displacement, which will help lead to the former two, that's a pretty good start. Environmental change will not be without impact, some of the worst case scenarios even project to unlivable conditions, so If that came to pass, that's a severe culling. But that's a good point about robot production having no buyers, because it is those who empty the shelves that produce the jobs. Was it Cat's Cradle???, I think it was Vonnegut, where factories ran full tilt all the time to ensure employment, and a large percentage of the output was just sent to junkyards to be destroyed. Hopefully, we can come up with something more better than that, but then we elected Trump, so all bets are off about anything requiring a positive view of future performance.
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Re: Post-Work Society?

#19  Postby tuco » Feb 23, 2017 7:37 pm

That is probably because, to paraphrase a classic, you try to solve think about the problem with the same thinking that created it.

---
edit: unlivable conditions where? In Africa? See my previous post. Over here, if temperature raises lets say 3C there will be changes to ecosystems but nothing close to unlivable. In fact, we could probably grow more, crops, than now.
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Re: Post-Work Society?

#20  Postby crank » Mar 04, 2017 10:33 am

tuco wrote:That is probably because, to paraphrase a classic, you try to solve think about the problem with the same thinking that created it.

---
edit: unlivable conditions where? In Africa? See my previous post. Over here, if temperature raises lets say 3C there will be changes to ecosystems but nothing close to unlivable. In fact, we could probably grow more, crops, than now.

Belated, very, reply, sorry, been busy. There are [worst case] predictions of much larger final temp increases, something like 6-7 C I think, and along in there you run into conditions that make life for humans virtually impossible. I don't have time to go find the source, if you reply and ask me again, I'll go find, right now it ain't gonna happen, again, I apologize.
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