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Automation and the human worker

ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
edited November 2008 in Debate and/or Discourse
So I was thinking of something the other day. Automation has been the name of the game in many industries for some time, and it's almost always been a good thing on balance. The jobs lost for unskilled labor are replaced by skilled jobs maintaining (and designing) the machines doing the automating. It pushes our economy more towards one of skilled labor than one of unskilled labor, and makes a lot of lines of work obsolete or at least less desirable, but the same can be said of most any technological advancement. Old means are displaced by new means, the world moves on and adapts. Plus, robots are bitchin'.

But what if we carry this to its (logical?) conclusion? Robots are getting more advanced. As they become more advanced, it stands to reason that, like any other technological innovation, they will become cheaper. We will develop machines that can do more and more, and the machines will become cheaper and cheaper. These machines will be able to displace more and more normal human jobs.

What happens when we develop a robot that is, for all intents and purposes, as capable as a normal human person, both physically and "mentally"? At first, it would be expensive, and buying one to replace human labor would be pointless. But what about when they begin to drop in price (which they almost certainly would)? A robot wouldn't need health benefits. It wouldn't need perks. It wouldn't care about benefits, it wouldn't strike. If a robot is as good as a human, and you can acquire one for the same cost as human labor, why not? At first, it would be the high-paying jobs that people don't want that would be replaced - dangerous jobs, miserable jobs requiring skilled labor. As technology became cheaper, lower and lower paying jobs would be taken on by machines.

What happens when the acquisition and maintenance costs of a robot become cheaper than the salary of a minimum wage worker?

You can, of course, wave away the argument by saying that robots will never be as creative as humans, will never truly be able to replace all of human labor. I'm skeptical that this is the case on a long enough time scale, but you can merely suppose that robots are capable of cheaply performing all functions that don't require much creative thought - which is a huge chunk of our economy. How would society adapt to this?

To properly frame this discussion, I'm not thinking "OMG robots will replace humans in ten years!" I'm thinking more along the lines of hundreds of years from now, or perhaps thousands. How would society change? How would it adapt?

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Posts

  • BurtletoyBurtletoy Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Player Piano by Vonnegut...is that you?

    Burtletoy on
  • PodlyPodly you unzipped me! it's all coming back! i don't like it!Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    My big problem is that automation is abstraction. Humans rarely interact with real, honest to goodness things. Their economy (literally from the greek oikein, to dwell) is second degrees or third degrees from production, and they seemingly deal in simulations of work.

    Podly on
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  • Robos A Go GoRobos A Go Go Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    I think people would boycott companies that employ robotic workforces without offering a satisfactory number of human jobs as well.

    Robos A Go Go on
  • Dunadan019Dunadan019 Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    robots may not require health care but they would definitly require maitenence which may or may not cost the same as health care.

    also. since human beings are in very large supply (and would be more so in the future that this takes place), human labor would be cheaper than robot labor (discounting regulations). even then, the economy would probably collapse.

    Dunadan019 on
  • JamesKeenanJamesKeenan Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    If production is cheap as hell, goods will be cheap as hell.

    The closer we get to robots doing everything for humans, it almost seems the closer we'd get to a kind of socialism that might work.

    JamesKeenan on
  • monikermoniker Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    We'd either have a lot of anti-machine riots and legislation, or enter into a communist paradise of sorts where people would be free to do what they want rather than having to settle for less in order to meet some basic necessities (food, shelter) that a lot of lower skilled jobs essentially function as. You wouldn't need anyone to sweep the floors or grow the food or what have you, but you'd still benefit from the labour of sweeping and picking.

    Until they turn on us. Then you had better have a policy with Old Glory Insurance.

    moniker on
  • JamesKeenanJamesKeenan Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Dunadan019 wrote: »
    robots may not require health care but they would definitly require maitenence which may or may not cost the same as health care.

    also. since human beings are in very large supply (and would be more so in the future that this takes place), human labor would be cheaper than robot labor (discounting regulations). even then, the economy would probably collapse.

    The better and cheaper a machine is, however, the less work it will take to maintain it, and subsequently the fewer works a company needs to have on staff. A sufficiently advanced machine, for instance, could replace ten human workers, while one human worker could in turn simultaneously maintain ten machines.

    JamesKeenan on
  • TaximesTaximes Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    If we had robots capable of doing everything for us, humans wouldn't need jobs.

    From a survival-only standpoint, we need jobs because we need money to buy food/shelter. We need money for those things because we have to pay everyone who worked to get them to us.

    If robots replace every step of the process - and they do so essentially for free - then we don't have to worry about it. The entirety of human civilization would mirror the elite levels of Roman/Greek/etc. cultures where the rich had slaves to do everything for them.

    Of course, at that point you need to consider: can you make a robot that equals human capability without equalling human intelligence, emotion, and self-awareness? And in that case, how is it right to enslave them all to do our bidding?

    Taximes on
  • PodlyPodly you unzipped me! it's all coming back! i don't like it!Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    The closer we get to robots doing everything for humans, it almost seems the closer we'd get to a kind of socialism that might work.

    This is an assumption rooted in western metaphysics. It assumes that we exist as a subject, either for thinking or for pleasure. There is no reason to think that we do not exist to work, because the way in which we know things is through their presentation in work, in DOING things.

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  • SarksusSarksus ATTACK AND DETHRONE GODRegistered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Education is an important consideration. It's often argued that as robotics replaced more and more of the economy people would be free to pursue their own interests, do what they want to do, and hopefully make a living off of it. In order for this to happen, however, you would need to make education available for everybody. As robotics replace unskilled labor and perhaps beyond the human beings being displaced would have to be trained and educated to fill other parts of the economy.

    When I think of robots replacing human workers, I think of a largely automated economy where people work because they want to, and others pursue their educational goals. I don't know how you would create a society like this, though. It seems like the value of money would have to be reduced, so that it plays less of a role in acquiring or providing goods or services.

    Sarksus on
  • Dunadan019Dunadan019 Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Dunadan019 wrote: »
    robots may not require health care but they would definitly require maitenence which may or may not cost the same as health care.

    also. since human beings are in very large supply (and would be more so in the future that this takes place), human labor would be cheaper than robot labor (discounting regulations). even then, the economy would probably collapse.

    The better and cheaper a machine is, however, the less work it will take to maintain it, and subsequently the fewer works a company needs to have on staff. A sufficiently advanced machine, for instance, could replace ten human workers, while one human worker could in turn simultaneously maintain ten machines.

    yes but then that one person would be making an increased salary compared to the economy which would surely decline.

    what do all the people that get their jobs replaced do to contribute to the economy? maybe they all become salesmen, telemarketers or help desk employees. everyone else would be either management, technician, engineer, businessman or scientist.

    well that would kinda suck. i do think you would see a premium on "the human element" though. hand made items would be far more expensive.

    Dunadan019 on
  • monikermoniker Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    The closer we get to robots doing everything for humans, it almost seems the closer we'd get to a kind of socialism that might work.

    This is an assumption rooted in western metaphysics. It assumes that we exist as a subject, either for thinking or for pleasure. There is no reason to think that we do not exist to work, because the way in which we know things is through their presentation in work, in DOING things.

    How does a functioning and true socialist state preclude doing things? No one would suddenly become incapable of working simply because the metal ones are faster and cheaper at the same task.

    moniker on
  • Evil MultifariousEvil Multifarious Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    My big problem is that automation is abstraction. Humans rarely interact with real, honest to goodness things. Their economy (literally from the greek oikein, to dwell) is second degrees or third degrees from production, and they seemingly deal in simulations of work.

    Would automation really make this any worse?

    The problem with automation, as I see it, is that it can replace everything except the more abstract duties. If there are no more minimum-wage jobs, because they're all automated, what will high school students and university students work at to pay their way? What will uneducated or unlucky people resort to?

    This question is tied to the results of automation as well - will automated work on that level make our production more efficient and productive? Will our wealth make it easier for people to live without those low-wage jobs? Will low-wage jobs requiring human abstract thinking fill the void?

    Evil Multifarious on
  • QuidQuid Definitely not a banana Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    moniker wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    The closer we get to robots doing everything for humans, it almost seems the closer we'd get to a kind of socialism that might work.

    This is an assumption rooted in western metaphysics. It assumes that we exist as a subject, either for thinking or for pleasure. There is no reason to think that we do not exist to work, because the way in which we know things is through their presentation in work, in DOING things.

    How does a functioning and true socialist state preclude doing things? No one would suddenly become incapable of working simply because the metal ones are faster and cheaper at the same task.
    Word. People build, farm, cook, etc all the time just for the sake of doing it.

    Quid on
  • QuidQuid Definitely not a banana Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Dunadan019 wrote: »
    robots may not require health care but they would definitly require maitenence which may or may not cost the same as health care.
    Maintenance robots.

    BAM.

    Quid on
  • Dunadan019Dunadan019 Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Quid wrote: »
    Dunadan019 wrote: »
    robots may not require health care but they would definitly require maitenence which may or may not cost the same as health care.
    Maintenance robots.

    BAM.

    of course then you need to make robots that can make the maitenence bots.

    all of which are made by one master-bot.

    i guess we could just program the robots to give us stuff and have our economy based on gambling.

    Dunadan019 on
  • PodlyPodly you unzipped me! it's all coming back! i don't like it!Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    moniker wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    The closer we get to robots doing everything for humans, it almost seems the closer we'd get to a kind of socialism that might work.

    This is an assumption rooted in western metaphysics. It assumes that we exist as a subject, either for thinking or for pleasure. There is no reason to think that we do not exist to work, because the way in which we know things is through their presentation in work, in DOING things.

    How does a functioning and true socialist state preclude doing things? No one would suddenly become incapable of working simply because the metal ones are faster and cheaper at the same task.

    And this is an abstraction, that people would be capable of things. What would they actually be doing? I understand that automation could lead to a breakthrough in society. Though I don't see that happening.

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  • JamesKeenanJamesKeenan Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Quid wrote: »
    moniker wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    The closer we get to robots doing everything for humans, it almost seems the closer we'd get to a kind of socialism that might work.

    This is an assumption rooted in western metaphysics. It assumes that we exist as a subject, either for thinking or for pleasure. There is no reason to think that we do not exist to work, because the way in which we know things is through their presentation in work, in DOING things.

    How does a functioning and true socialist state preclude doing things? No one would suddenly become incapable of working simply because the metal ones are faster and cheaper at the same task.
    Word. People build, farm, cook, etc all the time just for the sake of doing it.

    Well, yes. This is all true.

    But the assumption that we exist for pleasure is a bit off from what I was getting at. I'm not trying to make any claim as to what we exist for doing. But what it seems people like to do is what pleases them. With less necessity to work the laborious jobs, those people will be freer to relax, pursue other things, or just live out their days in general peacefulness.

    JamesKeenan on
  • Evil MultifariousEvil Multifarious Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    The closer we get to robots doing everything for humans, it almost seems the closer we'd get to a kind of socialism that might work.

    This is an assumption rooted in western metaphysics. It assumes that we exist as a subject, either for thinking or for pleasure. There is no reason to think that we do not exist to work, because the way in which we know things is through their presentation in work, in DOING things.

    Automation could potentially free us to do the work that we desire or find fulfilling, or at least work that is moreso than the automated labour would be. Humans will always work, but it would be better if they didn't have to work at flipping burgers.

    Evil Multifarious on
  • QuidQuid Definitely not a banana Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Dunadan019 wrote: »
    Quid wrote: »
    Dunadan019 wrote: »
    robots may not require health care but they would definitly require maitenence which may or may not cost the same as health care.
    Maintenance robots.

    BAM.

    of course then you need to make robots that can make the maitenence bots.

    all of which are made by one master-bot.

    i guess we could just program the robots to give us stuff and have our economy based on gambling.
    Or just one standard kind of robot that is equipped with the necessary tools and software.

    Quid on
  • monikermoniker Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Dunadan019 wrote: »
    Quid wrote: »
    Dunadan019 wrote: »
    robots may not require health care but they would definitly require maitenence which may or may not cost the same as health care.
    Maintenance robots.

    BAM.

    of course then you need to make robots that can make the maitenence bots.

    all of which are made by one master-bot.

    i guess we could just program the robots to give us stuff and have our economy based on gambling.

    The economy would simply cease to exist as we know it. We'd be neither Adam Smith nor Karl Marx, we'd have evolved beyond that thanks to the machines. True recycling would make supply and demand immaterial, and the means of production would basically cease to exist.

    It'd probably be one of the many pushes towards the colonization of space since other concerns would stop being as heavy.

    moniker on
  • Evil MultifariousEvil Multifarious Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    If automated machines did ALL the work we didn't want to do, though, what would be the end result?

    I mean, you guys have seen Wall-E, right?

    What's to stop us from just becoming indolent and lazy?

    Evil Multifarious on
  • ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited November 2008
    I suspect a lot of it would depend on how these robots actually function and are designed. Do they function Matrix-style, where you inject knowledge into them instantly? Or is it possible they'd be designed such that they require an organic learning process that is non-instantaneous, and basically learn just as people do? At least at first, I can imagine the processing power required to make a machine that thinks like a human precluding things like instantaneous learning. Imagine learning a new fact as something like installing software. It's not instantaneous, it requires a very real time commitment. Perhaps making the necessary internal changes happens at something like the rate at which a human learns. Maybe even a sort of stupid human.

    What we'd essentially have then are a breed of human-lites who can think and act but don't feel and aren't programmed to have desires or aspirations outside of doing what they're ordered to do.

    I guess now we have a moral element, too.

    ElJeffe on
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  • JamesKeenanJamesKeenan Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Who the fuck thinks "Well who will maintain the maintenance robots?!"

    The other goddamn maintenance robots will!


    Anyhow, even if that doesn't suit you, why not go with what I said earlier.

    Better robots = fewer workers.

    One good robot = 10 humans. And one maintainer can maintain 10 robots. In effect, one human replaces 100.

    JamesKeenan on
  • Dunadan019Dunadan019 Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Quid wrote: »
    Dunadan019 wrote: »
    Quid wrote: »
    Dunadan019 wrote: »
    robots may not require health care but they would definitly require maitenence which may or may not cost the same as health care.
    Maintenance robots.

    BAM.

    of course then you need to make robots that can make the maitenence bots.

    all of which are made by one master-bot.

    i guess we could just program the robots to give us stuff and have our economy based on gambling.
    Or just one standard kind of robot that is equipped with the necessary tools and software.

    i dont know, if theres one thing nature has taught us its that diversification is good.

    the thing is by the time the had this level of automation, people will probably have devices that can activate the pleasure sites in the brain...

    maybe people would all just be wired together to a giant human brainstormer for work where the entire idea was to build more kinds of robots.

    Dunadan019 on
  • ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited November 2008
    If automated machines did ALL the work we didn't want to do, though, what would be the end result?

    I mean, you guys have seen Wall-E, right?

    Oh shit, we'd all turn into immobile CG blobs!

    ElJeffe on
    I submitted an entry to Lego Ideas, and if 10,000 people support me, it'll be turned into an actual Lego set!If you'd like to see and support my submission, follow this link.
  • monikermoniker Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    moniker wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    The closer we get to robots doing everything for humans, it almost seems the closer we'd get to a kind of socialism that might work.

    This is an assumption rooted in western metaphysics. It assumes that we exist as a subject, either for thinking or for pleasure. There is no reason to think that we do not exist to work, because the way in which we know things is through their presentation in work, in DOING things.

    How does a functioning and true socialist state preclude doing things? No one would suddenly become incapable of working simply because the metal ones are faster and cheaper at the same task.

    And this is an abstraction, that people would be capable of things. What would they actually be doing?

    They would do as they wish or best saw fit.

    moniker on
  • Evil MultifariousEvil Multifarious Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    If automated machines did ALL the work we didn't want to do, though, what would be the end result?

    I mean, you guys have seen Wall-E, right?

    Oh shit, we'd all turn into immobile CG blobs!

    I was actually saying that any time we stood up, the music from 2001 would play

    and that it would be awesome.

    but yours is a good one too.

    Evil Multifarious on
  • PodlyPodly you unzipped me! it's all coming back! i don't like it!Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    moniker wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    moniker wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    The closer we get to robots doing everything for humans, it almost seems the closer we'd get to a kind of socialism that might work.

    This is an assumption rooted in western metaphysics. It assumes that we exist as a subject, either for thinking or for pleasure. There is no reason to think that we do not exist to work, because the way in which we know things is through their presentation in work, in DOING things.

    How does a functioning and true socialist state preclude doing things? No one would suddenly become incapable of working simply because the metal ones are faster and cheaper at the same task.

    And this is an abstraction, that people would be capable of things. What would they actually be doing?

    They would do as they wish or best saw fit.

    The thing that is most widely distributed amongst mankind is laziness: society, as a rule, tends to hold itself to the lowest degree of expectations.

    Podly on
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  • monikermoniker Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    moniker wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    moniker wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    The closer we get to robots doing everything for humans, it almost seems the closer we'd get to a kind of socialism that might work.

    This is an assumption rooted in western metaphysics. It assumes that we exist as a subject, either for thinking or for pleasure. There is no reason to think that we do not exist to work, because the way in which we know things is through their presentation in work, in DOING things.

    How does a functioning and true socialist state preclude doing things? No one would suddenly become incapable of working simply because the metal ones are faster and cheaper at the same task.

    And this is an abstraction, that people would be capable of things. What would they actually be doing?

    They would do as they wish or best saw fit.

    The thing that is most widely distributed amongst mankind is laziness: society, as a rule, tends to hold itself to the lowest degree of expectations.

    That's nice.

    moniker on
  • ToyDToyD Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    This is simply an abstraction of the same argument people had for automated production factilities already. People said, "Omg, dey took ur jobz!" But, it turns out that the robots only took the menial, repetitive jobs that no one really wanted anyway.

    A robot will never get to the same mental level as a person with being, in effect, people themselves. Unless you program a machine to learn and abstract the way a person can, and then endow them with a lifetime of experience, it simply won't happen. That or you'll get HAL 9000.

    I don't think it's a viable argument to have simply because so very much would be required to end up with a capable robot with a decent AI. I think it'd be too expensive to waste on menial human jobs and you'd end up with robots like that doing very dangerous, delicate work. Say space repair.

    ToyD on
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  • Evil MultifariousEvil Multifarious Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    moniker wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    moniker wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    The closer we get to robots doing everything for humans, it almost seems the closer we'd get to a kind of socialism that might work.

    This is an assumption rooted in western metaphysics. It assumes that we exist as a subject, either for thinking or for pleasure. There is no reason to think that we do not exist to work, because the way in which we know things is through their presentation in work, in DOING things.

    How does a functioning and true socialist state preclude doing things? No one would suddenly become incapable of working simply because the metal ones are faster and cheaper at the same task.

    And this is an abstraction, that people would be capable of things. What would they actually be doing?

    They would do as they wish or best saw fit.

    The thing that is most widely distributed amongst mankind is laziness: society, as a rule, tends to hold itself to the lowest degree of expectations.

    are you suggesting that shitty jobs and dehumanizing, alienated labour are in part positive forces that build character through adversity?

    Evil Multifarious on
  • QuidQuid Definitely not a banana Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    ToyD wrote: »
    This is simply an abstraction of the same argument people had for automated production factilities already. People said, "Omg, dey took ur jobz!" But, it turns out that the robots only took the menial, repetitive jobs that no one really wanted anyway.

    A robot will never get to the same mental level as a person with being, in effect, people themselves. Unless you program a machine to learn and abstract the way a person can, and then endow them with a lifetime of experience, it simply won't happen. That or you'll get HAL 9000.

    I don't think it's a viable argument to have simply because so very much would be required to end up with a capable robot with a decent AI. I think it'd be too expensive to waste on menial human jobs and you'd end up with robots like that doing very dangerous, delicate work. Say space repair.
    See, this argument applies to every single other scientific advancement ever. New stuff is always expensive and hard to do at first and not even necessarily useful.

    What I'm saying here is, people saying X will never happen in regards to legitimate scientific advancements are always wrong.

    Quid on
  • SarksusSarksus ATTACK AND DETHRONE GODRegistered User regular
    edited November 2008
    It seems like in an attempt to reduce costs and maximize profits companies would be responsible for their eventual destruction. If robots make up much of the economy and people spend their time doing what they want, even if it's doing what they want for money, there's not going to be a lot of money floating around. The government is going to have a bigger presence in everyone's lives, because they would have to support this new lifestyle, where everyone is being retrained or spending time educating themselves. I don't think a gigantic new industry is going to pop up for the displaced workers to fill. Maintenance, for example, can be automated. People are either going to be poor or the government will see that they live comfortably, but these people aren't going to have a great amount of money and money probably won't mean as much at this time. No one will be able to actually afford the products these companies were creating.

    Sarksus on
  • ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited November 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    The thing that is most widely distributed amongst mankind is laziness: society, as a rule, tends to hold itself to the lowest degree of expectations.

    If people have more free time, I think you'd see pretty much the same breakdown of what they do with it as you see now. Some people would sit on the couch and kill brain cells to the drone of Survivor: Phobos. Other people would learn hobbies or other more enriching past-times, just like people do now. The difference would be that those producing and enriching themselves would produce more and enrich themselves further. If the wave of machines did result in people having more free time, you'd likely see a lot more art and the like.

    One interesting side effect could be an increased polarization between the educated and the ignorant. Those who like to learn and create can only do so much with the time they currently have. If suddenly everyone had more free time, those who liked to learn and create would wind up more productive and better educated. Those who didn't would remain ignorant, unproductive lump-people. You may wind up with an underclass defined not by wealth but by education and propensity to create.

    ElJeffe on
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  • Evil MultifariousEvil Multifarious Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    The thing that is most widely distributed amongst mankind is laziness: society, as a rule, tends to hold itself to the lowest degree of expectations.

    If people have more free time, I think you'd see pretty much the same breakdown of what they do with it as you see now. Some people would sit on the couch and kill brain cells to the drone of Survivor: Phobos. Other people would learn hobbies or other more enriching past-times, just like people do now. The difference would be that those producing and enriching themselves would produce more and enrich themselves further. If the wave of machines did result in people having more free time, you'd likely see a lot more art and the like.

    One interesting side effect could be an increased polarization between the educated and the ignorant. Those who like to learn and create can only do so much with the time they currently have. If suddenly everyone had more free time, those who liked to learn and create would wind up more productive and better educated. Those who didn't would remain ignorant, unproductive lump-people. You may wind up with an underclass defined not by wealth but by education and propensity to create.

    People would have nothing left to do except work to spread this automated prosperity to others, in this optimistic view.

    I think that once automation hits this point, it almost becomes a cultural talisman. I think it is entirely possible that "valuable" uses of your time will become partially or completely automated. If a machine can read an image out of your mind and put it on paper, why bother with paint brushes or graphics tablets? Why bother typing out a paragraph when you can say to the computer, "give me a paragraph in the style of my former paragraphs describing a typical 12th century Chinese domicile." If this happens, is art lost? Do we become passive observers of a facsimile of creativity? Is there a solid barrier where technology cannot penetrate the human mind, even if it is only observing its patterns and functions without making any abstract judgments or decisions?

    Also, education is a strange value. Currently, our culture pays lip service to knowledge for its own sake, but functionally, education is prized because it provides power, prestige, and opportunities/capabilities. If education serves no actual purpose for personal material gain, it will become one of many possible pursuits. Why get an education in medicine when a robot can instantly assess your physical status and prescribe the required medication (that's not even taking into account our systematizing and encoding into the very roots of production our biases in various fields, like pharmaceutical treatment in medicine)? Why bother getting a degree in philosophy at all, if it will do you no more good than just sitting down and wasting your time on pabulum that, most likely, will not even be produced by humans but rather by bots with entertainment algorithms?

    Evil Multifarious on
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    edited November 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    The thing that is most widely distributed amongst mankind is laziness: society, as a rule, tends to hold itself to the lowest degree of expectations.

    This attitude is especially rich coming from you, given that historically only a tiny fraction of the human race has ever had the safety, security and leisure time to enjoy the art, music, literature, and other culture that you blithely take for granted. Your condescension sickens me.

    Jacobkosh on
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  • monikermoniker Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    The thing that is most widely distributed amongst mankind is laziness: society, as a rule, tends to hold itself to the lowest degree of expectations.

    If people have more free time, I think you'd see pretty much the same breakdown of what they do with it as you see now. Some people would sit on the couch and kill brain cells to the drone of Survivor: Phobos. Other people would learn hobbies or other more enriching past-times, just like people do now. The difference would be that those producing and enriching themselves would produce more and enrich themselves further. If the wave of machines did result in people having more free time, you'd likely see a lot more art and the like.

    One interesting side effect could be an increased polarization between the educated and the ignorant. Those who like to learn and create can only do so much with the time they currently have. If suddenly everyone had more free time, those who liked to learn and create would wind up more productive and better educated. Those who didn't would remain ignorant, unproductive lump-people. You may wind up with an underclass defined not by wealth but by education and propensity to create.

    People would have nothing left to do except work to spread this automated prosperity to others, in this optimistic view.

    I think that once automation hits this point, it almost becomes a cultural talisman. I think it is entirely possible that "valuable" uses of your time will become partially or completely automated. If a machine can read an image out of your mind and put it on paper, why bother with paint brushes or graphics tablets?

    I'm pretty sure something similiar was said when photography was introduced. Then once again when Xerox came along. Yet I still love to wander around the Art Institute. Even though I have La Grande Jatte as my desktop image.

    moniker on
  • Dunadan019Dunadan019 Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    The thing that is most widely distributed amongst mankind is laziness: society, as a rule, tends to hold itself to the lowest degree of expectations.

    If people have more free time, I think you'd see pretty much the same breakdown of what they do with it as you see now. Some people would sit on the couch and kill brain cells to the drone of Survivor: Phobos. Other people would learn hobbies or other more enriching past-times, just like people do now. The difference would be that those producing and enriching themselves would produce more and enrich themselves further. If the wave of machines did result in people having more free time, you'd likely see a lot more art and the like.

    One interesting side effect could be an increased polarization between the educated and the ignorant. Those who like to learn and create can only do so much with the time they currently have. If suddenly everyone had more free time, those who liked to learn and create would wind up more productive and better educated. Those who didn't would remain ignorant, unproductive lump-people. You may wind up with an underclass defined not by wealth but by education and propensity to create.

    People would have nothing left to do except work to spread this automated prosperity to others, in this optimistic view.

    I think that once automation hits this point, it almost becomes a cultural talisman. I think it is entirely possible that "valuable" uses of your time will become partially or completely automated. If a machine can read an image out of your mind and put it on paper, why bother with paint brushes or graphics tablets? Why bother typing out a paragraph when you can say to the computer, "give me a paragraph in the style of my former paragraphs describing a typical 12th century Chinese domicile." If this happens, is art lost? Do we become passive observers of a facsimile of creativity? Is there a solid barrier where technology cannot penetrate the human mind, even if it is only observing its patterns and functions without making any abstract judgments or decisions?

    that kinda borders on 'can machines ever be sentient?' art is in the eye of the beholder regardless of the creator.

    also this thread keeps reminding me of the matrix....

    Dunadan019 on
  • Evil MultifariousEvil Multifarious Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    moniker wrote: »
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    The thing that is most widely distributed amongst mankind is laziness: society, as a rule, tends to hold itself to the lowest degree of expectations.

    If people have more free time, I think you'd see pretty much the same breakdown of what they do with it as you see now. Some people would sit on the couch and kill brain cells to the drone of Survivor: Phobos. Other people would learn hobbies or other more enriching past-times, just like people do now. The difference would be that those producing and enriching themselves would produce more and enrich themselves further. If the wave of machines did result in people having more free time, you'd likely see a lot more art and the like.

    One interesting side effect could be an increased polarization between the educated and the ignorant. Those who like to learn and create can only do so much with the time they currently have. If suddenly everyone had more free time, those who liked to learn and create would wind up more productive and better educated. Those who didn't would remain ignorant, unproductive lump-people. You may wind up with an underclass defined not by wealth but by education and propensity to create.

    People would have nothing left to do except work to spread this automated prosperity to others, in this optimistic view.

    I think that once automation hits this point, it almost becomes a cultural talisman. I think it is entirely possible that "valuable" uses of your time will become partially or completely automated. If a machine can read an image out of your mind and put it on paper, why bother with paint brushes or graphics tablets?

    I'm pretty sure something similiar was said when photography was introduced. Then once again when Xerox came along. Yet I still love to wander around the Art Institute. Even though I have La Grande Jatte as my desktop image.

    A good point, but a photographer is still selecting and customizing and fine tuning the image he produces. If you can have automated machines select and produce images for you, you don't even have to make that choice. Decorating your home, for example, would not require humans to produce art, nor would it require you to do any decision-making of your own - that's all hard work that should be automated, after all.

    My concern is that the idea of "the work we don't want to do" might be fluid and continue shifting upward as each layer becomes automated.

    Evil Multifarious on
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