Re: Productivity and unemployment

From: Dani Eder (
Date: Thu Apr 08 2004 - 12:35:11 MDT

> May be, but I project MASSIVE white-collar
> unemployment and social disruption on the way,
> At some point an economic crisis will result from
> too
> few people actually being able to earn money to buy
> products ...
> wonder whether this economic disruption is going to
> interfere with AGI development.
> Tom
We've gone from 90% farmers to 2% farmers since
the industrial revolution, and 33% manufacturing
employment in 1950 to 11% today. Lately the
fastest growing sectors of personal consumption
have been medical care and recreation. So the
issue isn't whether a massive shift in occupation
can be handled. That's been done several times
already. The issue is whether the shift in
employment patterns will be too fast for society
to adapt.

If we get to the rioting in the streets level
again (the mid 1960s was the last time in this
country), I would expect another 'War on Poverty',
that would address the problem by taxing the
well off to placate the not so well off. I
would also expect actions like reductions in the
standard work week, job sharing, etc. to spread
the available jobs more evenly.

I also think the assumption that you need a job
to earn money to buy stuff may become invalid in
a high-automation society. In my area (N. Alabama)
it is common to have customer-owned electric
cooperatives to provide electricity. I can
imagine customer-owned 'stuff' factories, where
the customers pitch in some work time for the
non-automated tasks, and get a share of the

Our present social structure comes from the fact
that everyone is better off if people specialize
in one task each, then trade for the other stuff
they need. But if productivity gets high enough,
then small groups or individuals can be productive
enough to live decently without external trade.
In that case you don't need a conventional job.

So, the unanswered question is whether the rate
of job shifts caused by technology, offshoring, etc.
will outpace the rate of absorbtion by job
growth in new fields, by political action to
redistribute things, and by developing other ways
of getting by besides the traditional wage type


Do you Yahoo!?
Yahoo! Small Business $15K Web Design Giveaway

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:46 MDT