[FoRK] Making robotics a priority

Gregory Alan Bolcer greg at bolcer.org
Tue Jul 12 21:43:46 PDT 2011

In the year of Keynsian revivalists, I just thought it was funny that 
nobody remembers Keynes' greatest prediction in the 1930s:  that a rise 
in productivity would result in a large increase in leisure during the 
next 100 years. He speculated that the central problem for humanity 
would be using its abundant leisure time in a meaningful way.

All these dingbots are crying wolf about automation hurting employment, 
when in fact the economics of the past 100 years prove that automation 
has resulted in the amount of leisure time per capita staying steady, 
but real wages have increased steadily because of it.


On 7/12/2011 9:08 PM, Stephen Williams wrote:
> Why would there necessarily be fewer people working in the economy? And
> if there were, why is that necessarily a bad thing? You are assuming
> many things in that thinking that do not necessarily hold true.
> Work is not only about surviving. It should seldom be much about that at
> all. Ideally, work is about making yourself useful. Maintaining a
> workforce that is less efficient than currently possible, especially for
> the sake of keeping people busy, is a waste of human life and extremely
> myopic.
> One definition of post-scarcity might be that nearly all work falls into
> the "making yourself useful" category rather than "I have to do this to
> survive". Watching the tomatoes grow is not much of a challenge for most
> humans. We only have humans picking strawberries because we've been lazy
> about automating it. Don't like pesticides? Automate debugging using
> nothing but a tiny pair of scissors and good eyes. (From a nanopunk
> novel.) There are endless examples.
> Can't find a job for everyone? Really? Everyone has a "full" education?
> They're prepared for the future? Cover the basics efficiently, and we'll
> figure out something to do to keep busy, just as we have with almost no
> farmers, almost no factory workers, almost no one to tend to the horses
> or firewood (equivalents).
greg at bolcer.org, http://bolcer.org, c: +1.714.928.5476

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