Re: Replacing humans [was RE: Hardware Progress: $319/GF]

From: Dani Eder (
Date: Thu Sep 05 2002 - 13:37:13 MDT

--- Samantha Atkins <> wrote:
> And what do you believe will or should happen to the
> people
> whose skills are replaced or made obsolete by
> technology?
> - samantha

Historically, technology changes were slow enough
that people could migrate to other careers or simply
carry on what they were doing until they ended their
careers. For example, the transition from
to tractors for farming occurred over about 2
generations. So the transition from having half the
workforce being farmers to less than 4% today was
managed partly by people leaving the farms for the
industrial cities, and partly by farmers (or their
heirs) selling out to consolidate properties into
larger units that can be worked by machines.

We used to have a typing pool and a graphics
department at Boeing when I started 20 years ago.
Now we have Word and Powerpoint. Those people
now are training coordinators or web page maintainers.
You train and adapt, or you can end up working
at WalMart.

The issues I see are:

(1) What will happen when large swaths of low-level
jobs get automated? I mean the things like stock
clerks and cashiers, that typically have lower skill
levels. If you end up with lots of people who can't
or won't upgrade their skills, what are they going
to do with themselves?

(2) What happens when the pace of change outpaces
peoples' ability to adapt by learning new skills?

Whether these issues matter depends on how long they
will exist before the Singularity hits. In the short
term, they can be managed by redistributing the
fruits of productivity. This can be done privately
(the well off get servants again) or publically
(some form of welfare).


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