Yuuuge Milestone for Yours Truly

…And when the radical priest
Come to get me released
We was all on the cover of Newsweek

Paul Simon, in Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard

Okay, okay, it’s not quite on the cover of Newsweek, but my opinion piece, which I think is my best product ever, just went up at Newsweek.com:

AUTOMATION KILLS JOBS AND BRINGS MASS POVERTY. CALL THAT PROGRESS?

I can’t re-post it here, but if you would click through and give it a read, I’d really appreciate it.

15 Responses to Yuuuge Milestone for Yours Truly

  1. Belated congratulations, Bob! It is good to see you rewarded for your efforts!

  2. John Huppenthal

    Keep wall papering your artificial reality.

    You all have never advocated that Bezos even be taxed a penny. You all are perfectly comfortable if his $60 billion plus never gets taxed. Just so long as he keeps sledge hammering Trump on the pages of the Washington Post.

    Bezos has paid less than 5% out in taxes on his massive earnings.

    What you all advocate is to increase taxes to over 60% on small businessmen who create jobs for poor people.

    Your bs hypothesis that automation will destroy jobs is just a poor interpretation of watching a completely untaxed entity grow at an astronomical pace while highly taxed entities wither.

    Same for Apple, Facebook, Tesla, etc. All very lightly taxed entities, able to completely avoid income and capital gains taxes. Warren Buffet intends to never pay a dime of taxes on his wealth.

    None of your policies would ever touch these rich liberal bastards and they know as long as they remain huge bundlers for liberals, they can dance scott free.

    • I can’t say that I speak for anyone but myself, but, yes, Bezos, Gates, Buffett and so forth pay too little in taxes, and I would support policies that shift tax burdens, at least modestly, onto them instead of on small businesses that don’t have armies of accountants to dodge taxes, hire lobbyists to write special exceptions and exclusions into the tax code, and use triple-reverse-inversions or whatever the hell tactics are being employed these days. I think payroll taxes and sales taxes are regressive, and support more steps to shift tax burdens onto capital, capital gains, dividends, and so forth instead of on labor and small businesses. So please don’t strawman or put words in my mouth.

      Rather than raving about things that I’ve never said, why don’t you give your thoughts on how to achieve the goals of more equitably distributing the tax burden so people working minimum wage aren’t paying an effective 20+% in taxes (largely payroll, but a bit of income, a modest amount of sales, etc.)
      while Buffett is paying 15-17%?

      • John Huppenthal

        How do you get that Buffet has paid 15% on his 60 billion dollar fortune?

        That would be $9 billion. My bet is that he has paid less than a billion, possibly less than a million.

  3. So, one thing I would say (either to complement or to expand on what was written) is that the Luddites have so far largely been incorrect. Jobs that were once great sectors for employment have now been largely automated, and other jobs rendered obsolete. Very few people are employed in building old Conestoga wagons, horseshoes, spinning fabric, etc. compared with 200 years ago – any remnant employment is mostly due to the novelty factor more than functionality.

    But there does seem to be a hard limit. So far, we’ve been able to keep people employed by expanding higher-skill occupations, which require more training, more education, and more knowledge and intelligence. And there’s no guarantee that the human brain, wondrous though it may be, will be able to keep up with the current pace of automation and technological innovation. The results have been more required training, higher educational costs, degree (and credentials) inflation, entry-level jobs requiring 3-5 years of experience (sometimes, 5 years of experience in a technology that’s only existed for a year). At some point, something is likely going to have to give.

    • For Sure Not Tom

      Over the next ten years your going to see millions of job go away forever, and unlike in the past, there will not be jobs in another field to replace them.

      Think about the dozens of things your smart phone can do, it’s a camera, alarm clock, calendar, map, flashlight. You can order a pizza or a plane ticket. It’s a newspaper, a book, a magazine, an TV, a radio, no CD’s, no DVD’s.

      Retail is dying, big box stores like Penny’s and Macy’s are talking about closing hundreds of stores, because they can’t compete with Amazon, and without those “anchors” malls will die.

      In March a company in San Francisco “built” a house using a giant 3D printer. It took 24 hours. And that tech is still new.

      A friend had a hip replaced recently, a robot did half the work for the surgeon.

      20 and 30 somethings aren’t even buying cars anymore, they use Uber, and Uber is going to be a bellwether.

      Uber lost 2.6 billion dollars last year. Investors are keeping it afloat, because Uber intends to replace all their drivers with self-driving cars in the next five years.

      Investors love the idea of a company without a payroll department.

      So we’ll all get jobs in tech, right? Nope. I manage giant data centers, and we automate everything we do, too. My environments grow quickly, my staffing needs do not.

      There will be a temporary need for more people like me, until people like me automate ourselves out a a job.

      The Invisible Hand of the Market demands efficiencies, and humans on a payroll is not efficient. Technology has given The Hand its ultimate tool against us.

      Electric, self driving vehicles will crash less, you won’t need as many body shops, upgrades will be done via bluetooth, batteries snap in and out. Since they will have less accidents, and since there are no drivers, you won’t need as many ambulances or insurance companies.

      Self driving farm equipment means no part of the country is immune.

      Automation and robotic workers begin to support each other and won’t need as many of us.

      This should be good news, we’re a generation or two away from a world without want, we could have short work weeks for a few years and then retire early and all learn to play piano or paint or go fishing, but since our politicians are owned by folks like the Walton’s and Koch’s who have no inclination to change the existing system, there is no “plan” for the future.

      The recent saber rattling over religion and nationalism in the US could get lots of stuff blown up, and climate change is going to trash a lot of cities, so I suppose some rebuilding efforts would need some human beings and could slow the pace of change a little.

      It’s probably going to take a revolution, and while I hope it’s a peaceful revolution, history is not on my side.

      I hope that rambling post didn’t sound too gloomy, I’m actually pretty optimistic about the future long term.

      • I agree with you, Tom. Technology is on the verge of pushing people out of jobs almost entirely. It should lead to a golden age for mankind where we could cultural, artistic and socially enrished lives beyond our dreams. Unfortunately, the old saying that idle hands are the Devil’s playground is all too true. Given unlimited leisure, mankind will get in unlimited trouble. I have always thought that scene in “The Matrix” where Mr. Smith explains that the machines originally gave people dreams where their every wish was met but mankind just couldn’t deal with it and got into trouble each time, rang so true. If we don’t have stress and strife, we will invent it. We NEED it. It is how we evolved and it is how we exist. And it is too bad because the technological revolution you and Bob predict could be a good thing.

        • For Sure Not Tom

          This may be your most poorly thought out and to be honest, somewhat creepy post ever.

          First, I predicted nothing, I report things that are happening right now. I do not see into the future, I work in the industry.

          The rule is anything you do more than once you automate. This is much different than the buggy whip analogy, because we are not trading one thing for another, we are removing a thing forever.

          As far as a future with less labor needed, removing the need to sit in a cubicle for 10 hours a day to make a mortgage payment while your body rots from not moving or the need to climb a ladder to lay roofing when you’re 65 because you can’t afford to retire because the economy tanked your 401k plan at the worst time does not mean a life free from stress and strife.

          It means you can choose how to spend your time and what to stress about and what to strive for, and we probably won’t feel the need to invade each other’s countries fighting for resources.

          There is good stress, training for months to make the summit of a mountain or run a marathon, or trying not to scratch when you call eight ball in the side pocket, and there is bad stress, like Jimmy Kimmel saying if your child is going to die and there’s a way to save him it shouldn’t matter how much money you have you save the damn child.

          There would still be natural disasters, there will still be another planet to travel to, there will still be diseases that need cures, there will always be things to overcome or goals to strive for.

          “The Matrix” is a fun movie, and I know you alt-right folks love to quote the movie and babble on about taking the red pill, but seriously, don’t make grand pronouncements on life based on the words of a screenwriter trying to carry a plot to the third act.

          You make it sound like we need war and division as a species to survive, if that’s your point, you speak for yourself, because that’s a decision you’re making, war is learned behavior, war is not humankind’s natural state.

          • Tom…Me? Creepy?? Coming from someone else, that could have hurt my feelings. This message is so full of choice tidbits to respond to I am going to have to carefully pare it down so this message is not too long.

            “…war is learned behavior, war is not humankind’s natural state.”

            Really? You cannot name a period or location in human history when war has not been a major factor in what happened. In those relatively few periods of “peace”, it has been the result of either (1) a stasis created by two major war powers holding each other in check, or (2) a single most powerful war making entity keeping things peaceful under the threat of war. War goes back into pre-history based on all evidence and it is wishful thinking for you to declare otherwise. War is definitely NOT a learned behavior. Watch children from their earliest days and you will see that violence is the first reaction they have to frustration or a desire to be the Alpha child. I would say that peaceful coexistence is a learned behavior based upon parents trying to civilize their children.

            “…don’t make grand pronouncements on life based on the words of a screenwriter trying to carry a plot to the third act.”

            And it would be foolish of you to declare that art has nothing of value to say about life and the human condition. Just because you see something in a movie does not mean it has no relevance and application to the real world. The same goes for literature and art in general. Granted, most of it is not for the ages, but sometimes a jewel comes through. It has always been that way. Make fun of it all you want, but if you ignore it, it is your loss and contributes to your ignorance.

            “…we probably won’t feel the need to invade each other’s countries fighting for resources.”

            You always assume that I am talking about nations against nations. In this case I am not. Warfare does not have to be international. It can be local. It can be state-wide. It can be regional. Do you think that local street gangs don’t pose more of a danger to you than a foreign enemy? When I say that idle hands are the devils playground, I am talking mostly local. Perhaps you and I would find much to keep us happily busy with our new found leisure, but others might not know what to do with themselves. We see it today with unemployed young men who have nothing to do. What I discuss is not theoretical…it exists now. As people are displaced – even if they receive pensions of some sort so they don’t want – many will not know what to do with this new leisure. That is not good.

            “First, I predicted nothing, I report things that are happening right now. I do not see into the future, I work in the industry.”

            You’re funny, Tom. Whether you intended or not, your entire message was a prediction. Yes, you reported what is going on now, and then implied a projection. You don’t have to use the words “I predict” to be making a prediction.

          • For Sure Not Tom

            Wars are based on religion and/or greed. Usually both.

            Pop culture is not a good place to base your philosophy or beliefs on, but then again, the Bible/Torah/Koran are all pretty popular, so what do I know?

  4. Liza and FSNT,

    Thanks!

    And Liza, yes, very few are willing to look that far ahead. And this isn’t the worst aspect of it. There are many who won’t even look ahead to the impact of climate change. If I had to choose between addressing climate change and addressing wealth inequality, I know which one I’d take. Unfortunately, we’ll likely lose on both fronts.

  5. For Sure Not Tom

    Well done!

  6. Congratulations for being published in Newsweek, Bob.

    So I printed this yesterday and read it. I’m kind of new to this subject but I definitely see what is happening in retail.

    As for automation killing jobs, there aren’t that many people in leadership positions who can look that far ahead. That is a sad fact. Look at us now. We have a deranged con artist buffoon in the Oval Office and a Congress dominated by greedy, subhuman knuckle draggers who hate more than half of the people who live in this country. It’s hard to get ahead of the curve when it is going to take all of our resources to stay even and take the power away from these people.

    But, yes, there must be those who warn us of what is to come.

    Great job.

  7. congradulations bob.