18 thoughts on “Buffer Overflow: the Ghastly Future of Work

  1. So own the robots.

    One other quibble. The article says that because we have no military enemies, the military is really unemployment. They have that backwards. Because we have a formidable military, we have no military enemies.

    I have a four figure supply of ammunition, and the fact that I have it makes it likely it will never be used other than for target practice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. RE: “So own the robots.”

      That’s my solution, as well. Wage-based markets have been one of capitalism’s crowning achievements. We need a similar innovation to make owning the means of production equally well distributed.

      RE: “The article says that because we have no military enemies, the military is really unemployment. They have that backwards. Because we have a formidable military, we have no military enemies.”

      True enough, but the non-productivity of defense spending is real whether one uses the military or not. As with your supply of ammunition, it is easy to see the benefit it provides, but harder to see what you gave up to have it.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. “I have a four figure supply of ammunition, and the fact that I have it makes it likely it will never be used other than for target practice.”

      And, of course, you have informed every and eac bad guy thusly?

      “Of course, the whole point of a Doomsday Machine is lost, Dmitri, you keep it a secret!”

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        1. “It’s very noisy when I practice”

          Not to quibble, or even cause you to think I am attempting to denigrate your 2A rights, but didn’t you say previously that you had silencers (suppressors) so as to not bother your neighbors?

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          1. I have ordered a suppressor, but the BATF takes 11 months to process the required $200 tax stamp. It’s the same background check retailers run in about 10 minutes but the BATF dags it out to the legal limit as part of their ongoing harassment of legal gun owners.

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  2. It has been said that if the minimum wage goes up, many employers will automate more. There are automated fast food places now.

    The fact is that companies will automate eventually no matter the wages.

    The difference between today’s automation and factories last century is a concern. In previous times, automation in one industry often meant job opportunities in another. Today, it is the broad based computerization of all sectors. Accounting, legal, medical, journalism, teaching, warehouse jobs, deliveries, retail, produce picking etc. are all cutting back personnel in favor of computers and robotics.

    In an economic model like free market capitalism, the problem is the lack of market. The whole system is simple: buyers and sellers using some method of in kind exchange by universally recognized tender such as money. Buyer without jobs have no money. Sellers without a market make no profit.

    This pandemic will see a return of jobs over time and with some kind of cure or preventative vaccine. But the jobs will be fewer as companies have learned to do without as the labor force was locked down.

    An apocryphal story about UAW leader Walter Reuther and Henry Ford about automation in the auto plants.

    “Henry Ford II: Walter, how are you going to get those robots to pay your union dues?

    Walter Reuther: Henry, how are you going to get them to buy your cars?“

    A rebuttal is that we need people to design, program and repair the machines. True enough. But will a factory that replaced 1000 people need that many to program and maintain the robots? Obviously not or the point of automation is, well, pointless.

    Then we will need an economic system to house and feed lots of unemployed citizens in a way that still incentivized innovation and provides a market of some kind for just that purpose.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. RE: “Then we will need an economic system to house and feed lots of unemployed citizens…”

      The article makes the point that we already have that.

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      1. I disagree with the premise that just basics like food production are the only “real” jobs.

        (The author is dismissive of refrigerators because we can’t eat them. No, but without them food distribution and consumption would be reverting to almost hunter-gather with some prehistoric style agriculture.)

        If you owned a business that made products, you would certainly have janitorial, accounting, personnel, maintenance and other positions that don’t actually make anything. But you could not function without them.

        Same with a nation like ours that is a basis for entrepreneurs and businesses. We need a government to defend, provide infrastructure, adjudicate disputes, public safety, etc. so such positions become integral to growing, harvesting, delivering, processing and selling food, for example. If we eliminated all those jobs, then business would have to spend capital providing them individually. So either way, taxes or business expenditures, it would cost money.

        And service work? Even in the pioneer days of our country, a slew of services sprung up around mining towns that might be deemed “unemployment” by the author.

        In other words dismissing all work that is not food, shelter or a product to facilitate those and comfortable living is a kind of Jeffersonian Disneyland.

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