Comments on: Rise of the machines Sun, 28 Jul 2013 14:34:09 +0000 hourly 1 By: drewfield Tue, 21 Feb 2012 21:27:07 +0000 Thank you for causing me to get The Fear Index. I’m enjoying it. And thanks for introducing Brian Arthur’s “The Second Economy.”

You are one of the very few published thinkers today who understand that the political economy is not all about “job creation,” that there will never again be enough jobs to provide a decent standard of living for all Americans. As Brian Arthur’s essay put it:

“This suggests to me that the main challenge of the economy is shifting from producing prosperity to distributing prosperity.”

Ways to accomplish this shift are described in my online work, “Bypass Wall Street,” at, particularly the sections “Direct Routes Open Now for Bypassing Wall Street,” and “Proposals for Change/Broadening the Ownership of Business.”

I look forward to your next postings and emails.

Drew Field

By: JohnMetz Tue, 14 Feb 2012 19:14:15 +0000 You should read Vonnegut’s “Player Piano”. Written in 1952, it is directly about your concerns of technology displacing labor.

By: samuel_c Mon, 13 Feb 2012 15:29:34 +0000 Its the simple things that make it scary. Technology is all about doing things more efficiently with less people. Machines don’t need insurance and can be turned off when demand slacks off.

In spite of what most optimists want to believe when you automate a factory you don’t create as many jobs as you destroy. I keep reading a lot of editorials by very bright people talking about how the future is getting everyone a high quality education and the right skills so they can be in the top part of the work force that makes decisions or does the higher end technical work.

Assuming this future is what is coming, that means that all the average and below average people on the bottom 2/3 thirds of the bell curve will be unemployable in that future. Even if they do get a college degree.

Low end Artificial Intelligence is within reach and someday we’ll have machines that can make complex decisions. Then basic programming can be done by machines, help desks can be run by machines, basic legal work and probably even medical work can be done by them.

It’s scary stuff to think about. What happens to society when technology disenfranchises more people than it helps? What happens when 2/3rds of society is unemployable and not buying anything?

By: sniknej Mon, 13 Feb 2012 02:50:30 +0000 Chrystia is an off-shore apologist. Nothing more. She got to where she is because she runs cover for those companies shipping their manufacturing to China. She doesn’t give a hoot about ghost towns like Dalton, Georgia or any town in North Carolina. I remember when the mayor of Peoria put her in her place when she said that overall the loss in manufacturing jobs didn’t matter. He simply said, yes, in a classroom where you belong, theoretically it doesn’t matter, but to folks losing their homes and livelihoods, it does matter.

By: steve1987 Sun, 12 Feb 2012 22:25:20 +0000 99 against 1. There’s some space for a bloody revolution.
And there’ll be few Anonymous robots to work? Fine job.

By: Curmudgeon Sun, 12 Feb 2012 20:38:16 +0000 You are spot on, Chrystia. Today the US produces more steel than it did 30 years ago, with a third of the workers. And most of those workers are different – educated and controlling industrial machines through computers, rather than shoveling coke coal into a furnace.

It used to be that having a strong back and willingness to work was enough to get into the middle class; not any more. Possibly the biggest challenge going forward is to productively employ the millions of people that used to work assembly lines and mills. The industrial products still exist, but thanks to automation, it requires far fewer, and somewhat more educated people to make it happen.

By: LouVignates Sun, 12 Feb 2012 19:06:50 +0000 It should be no surprise that human beings use any technology to cheat, control, subject other human beings. That is what human nature is all about.
That is why we have a bill of rights in our Constitution. That is why it is fully necessary to use laws to thwart the manipulators. That is why the manipulators use their ill-gotten gains to control elections so they can control the laws.

By: ptiffany Sun, 12 Feb 2012 18:11:55 +0000 Since the majority of stock trades are now originated by computers, there is is big concern – NOW. The goals of these trades have nothing to do with “investment” in the tradition sense of seeking to bolster promising companies and profit thereby. This conflict in motivation – human defined – is what is dangerous. IT has nothing to do with artificial intelligence, but a battle between excessive greed through gambling and capitalism.

The plug should be pulled on these computers instead of the exchanges actually encouraging this profligate gambling!

By: jambrytay Sun, 12 Feb 2012 17:31:46 +0000 We actually work fewer hours today compared to100 years ago. 5 1/2 to 6 day work weeks very common 100 years ago. Paid time off was also very rare 100 years ago.

Some folks seem to enjoy wringing their hands over the rise of machines and how workers are being replaced by machines. The truth is, in a mature economy such as ours (with small population growth) about the only way to grow the economy is through increases in productivity. Machine, robots, software, etc allow us to create more stuff per unit time. Productivity is how you get raises and increases in standard of living.

Bring on the machines!

By: Nullcorp Sun, 12 Feb 2012 17:00:20 +0000 Yes, it’s amazing how much human labor one can discard with a $30/month broadband connection. I hope the second economy doesn’t bring monthly internet costs of $500/month to compensate. Imagine, a “broadband tax” that goes to supporting those who are not information workers, freelance internet consultants, or homebound day traders.