Re: [SL4] AI --> Jobless Economy

From: Dani Eder (
Date: Tue Mar 02 2004 - 08:45:23 MST

--- James Martin Luther <>
> On Feb 28, 2004, at 11:27 PM, Yan King Yin wrote:
> > My point is, *IF* the singularity does not happen,
> then
> > a very natural scenario would be to replace human
> jobs
> > with AIs starting from the computationally easy
> ones
> > first, and gradually progressing from there.

The replacement of human _labor_ has been going on
since antiquity - sails replacing oars, water
powered mills replacing hand grinding of grain,
up to the more recent introduction of tractors
in farming which allows 2% (and still decreasing)
of the workforce to feed us all.

My local supermarket has replaced half the
checkout counters with self-scan stations, cutting
the number of cashiers from four to one.

The largest machine tool maker in the US, Haas,
operates it's factory three shifts a day, but only
one is manned. The other two run on robots and

So the issue is not whether human labor will be
displaced by artificial labor. That's been an
ongoing development throughout history and there
is every reason to believe it will continue.

One issue is whether people can adapt fast
enough as the nature of a "job" changes. My
father was a machinist, but he never worked
with computerized machine tools. So the skills
he was taught in trade school in the late 1940's
were useful his whole working career.

In my own career, I've had to learn new skills
on a continuing basis to stay current. If we
reach a point where people have to spend most
of their time training for new skills, there won't
be much time to actually do work.

Another issue is how to distribute products if
you only need a small number of highly skilled and
highly paid people to make the stuff. I don't
know how best to do that.
> If capitalism isn't fast enough to deal with the
> forces set loose by
> the AI, a successor will emerge which is.

You don't need AI of the type we discuss on this
list to create social disruption. Automation and
robotics of the type already available is sufficient,
it's a question of how fast it will be introduced.
If fast food restaurants and retail stores
rapidly replace their human staff with robots
because the economics reaches a turning point,
you might have a big problem domestically.

If automation and robotics can do work cheaper
than the cheapest human labor in the poorest
countries in the world, you might have a huge
problem worldwide.

Charitable organizations may take to distributing
replicating robotic factories rather than food
to 3rd world countries to alleviate destitution.


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