Automation is not a 'bleak' future

Automation will cut short the necessary labor hours of everyone, while providing most commodities such as food, water, and energy for free. Here is the big picture: Automation WILL succeed in replacing about 80% of the current workforce. All non-creative jobs have the possibility of being replaced by machines in 10 years.

We're looking at probably the biggest economic change since the invention of agriculture. Maybe in human history, period. We're in the transition stage at the moment. First, corporations are using processes to conform job roles and remove human agency (choices, options). Second, by removing agency, the corporate processes create homogenous performance. Third, once agency is removed and performance is homogenized, it is an easy, logical next step to use machines to replace workers. In the past, when human workers were displaced by technology it also created new kinds of jobs that the world had never seen before. But what happens when the day arrives when computers and robots can do almost everything more cheaply and more efficiently than humans can?

Maybe this:


In the future, many doctors will be replaced by smart medical computing platforms because computers have better memory and solid analytic performance. All the system would need is a nurse or other 1st line care takers to input data and then let the smart medical platform to do the rest i.e. imaging, blood tests, etc then come up with right diagnosis. Only the really sick then will get to see doctors or surgeons for advance care.


Future medical care will be very cheap and very affordable. One will just go to a local affordable clinic Walmart style which includes everything you need for basic care. I can see a lot of internal medicine jobs going away. Surgeons too will mostly be replaced once we get very good robots. You will just need two or so surgeons in each department to act as a supervisor.


We hear the term Big Data used in various contexts; when applied to health information it will likely be the smart integration of massive data sets from the ‘Internet of things’ with the small data about your activity, mood, and other information. When properly filtered, this data set can give insights on a macro level – population health – and micro – ‘OnStar for the Body‘ with a personalized ‘check engine light’ to help identify individual problems before they further develop into expensive, difficult-to-treat or fatal conditions. This is what my company SyNeural is working on.


So Doctors will be replaced by smart medical computing platforms in the future. But you can also say goodbye to the horde of government bureaucrats, accountants, bus drivers, stockboys/girls, delivery men, and so on. Say goodbye to the paralegals, the farmers, the miners, the lawyer who does research for the partner, all manner of people in finance (yes that means you Mr. Trader and Mr. Analyst), and one day, the auto-mechanic, even the engineer. The days of these careers are numbered. Those who rely on 9-to-5 standard employment arrangements for subsistence are likely to suffer the most in the automation wave. Those who are entrepreneurially minded, and apply creative solutions using automation and technology, are likely to continue to thrive as economic activity becomes increasingly digitized. The few jobs for humans that will remain are those are inherently valued for their human component -- artists, ambassadors, therapists, sex workers etc.


But what about China, the place where all the manufacturing jobs are supposedly going? True, China has added manufacturing jobs over the past 15 years. But now it is beginning its shift to super-robotic automation. Foxconn, which manufactures the iPhone and many other consumer electronics and is China’s largest private employer, has plans to install over a million manufacturing robots within three years. Thus, in reality off-shoring of manufacturing will eventually be replaced by human-intelligent super-robotic automation. The pursuit for lower and lower cost production that relies on slave wage labor will eventually run out of places to chase. Eventually, "rich" countries, whose productive capital capability is owned by its citizens, will be forced to "re-shore" manufacturing capacity, and result in every-cheaper robotic manufacturing.


We have to prepare economically for the transition when ANY automate-able job that does not demand HUMAN interaction is replaced more cheaply and efficiently by a machine. Capitalism, like any other economic model, meets two fundamental economic needs of society: the need to motivate the production of wealth, and the need to distribute the production of wealth. Capitalism meets these needs through two mechanisms. It links work to pay, and ownership to profit. As we increase the rate of technological advancement, we displace workers and break the first of those two mechanisms. But our system is not setup to motivate production or distribute wealth effectively through the ownership/profit pairing, instead counting almost entirely on the work/pay pairing, and so without a change in our economic model, we cannot rely on the ownership/profit mechanism as a fall back.


While I'm no socialist, the only viable economic system for in an automated system is a moderate form a socialism. Less hours worked, maybe 20 or so to spread out existing jobs. A base wage provided by taxing producers and a market approach that allows people to be rewarded for work and education on top of the base wage. Aggregate demand would diminish and it is hard to justify excessive profits to people who employ automation to provide goods and services. Socialism doesn't work in a pure form because it doesn't motivate education, efficiency or any form of extra effort. Machines do not need motivation and keeping capitalist principles and shorter workdays could keep the economy advancing.


Through a (relatively) minor correction in our economic model from publicly traded stocks to cooperatives -- a model which is already represented in the current economy but not widely embraced -- we can move from the unfortunate concentration of wealth to the egalitarian redistribution of wealth without raising taxes or violating any of the property rights we hold so dear as a culture -- i.e. without stealing from anyone. The key principle which distinguishes cooperatives from publicly traded stocks is that each person can hold at most one share in a company, and each share has equal weight. This forces dividends and control to be more evenly distributed, which counteracts the natural accumulation of wealth and power under the current system.


There would of course still plenty of room to amass wealth, but this would be done through the building up of a private company and, optionally, the subsequent public offering of cooperative shares -- a fundamentally creative and productive act on the part of the founder of the company -- as opposed to how wealth is currently amassed, by merely capturing assets and using them to leverage the capture of additional assets, which is nothing more than an empty exercise in strategizing which inappropriately favors those who already have wealth, rather than those who actually earn it, in the competition to acquire more wealth. 


Technology is the path to eliminating toil work and thus far fewer people will be needed to the produce the consumable goods of society. Thus, to ensure income distribution we weed to broaden individual ownership of the productive capital assets created in a growth economy and thus ensure that increasingly people will earn fully-paid dividend income through their ownership shares in the corporations producing our GDP.