Are Robots Job Creators?
. . . as usual.
"Automation, driven by technological progress, has been increasing inexorably for the past several decades. Two schools of economic thinking have for many years been engaged in a debate about the potential effects of automation on jobs, employment and human activity: Will new technology spawn mass unemployment, as the robots take jobs away from humans? Or will the jobs robots take over release or unveil—or even create—demand for new human jobs?
The debate has flared up again recently because of technological achievements such as deep learning, which recently enabled a Google software program called AlphaGo to beat Go world champion Lee Sedol, a task considered even harder than beating the world’s chess champions."
Mass jobs are a relatively new phenomenon. Prior to the industrial period there was little need for employees, and so there were few. Most of these jobs were performed by slaves, or people who would not be confused as an employee. Today, mass jobs are common, plentiful, and essential to the economy. So, people like the author, and the people arguing about this issue seem to fail to understand that if this is a phase shift, it will likely do away with jobs as the mechanism by which the new economic model distributes wealth through society.
I am unsure whether the outcome of the massive shift we are now undergoing will necessitate a phase shift including the elimination of jobs, but if it does it will result in a fairer, wealthier, more prosperous, and more inclusive economy, not an economy which will see more segregation, and wealth inequality. Although just as the shift from the agricultural phase to the industrial phase brought some temporary wealth inequality, so it is likely will any phase shift in the economy. This happens simply because some see the way to the new economy, and this brings great wealth, while other attempt to conserve the old economy, and this destroys wealth. In this divide tech is bringing wealth, while the blue model, unions, and the like are destroying wealth.
"Ultimately the question boils down to this: are today’s modern technological innovations like those of the past, which made obsolete the job of buggy maker, but created the job of automobile manufacturer? Or is there something about today that is markedly different?"
This is the wrong question. The question is will these innovations change jobs to better jobs, or will it eliminate jobs? That I cannot answer.
"It may seem easy to dismiss today’s concerns as unfounded in reality. But economists Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University and Laurence Kotlikoff of Boston University argue, “What if machines are getting so smart, thanks to their microprocessor brains, that they no longer need unskilled labor to operate?'"
These people are worrywarts fretting about things they do not understand, and likely cannot understand. They need to follow Niebuhr's prayer. "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Reinhold Niebuhr Quotes at BrainyQuote.com" The do not, and instead they fret, stew and harumph over issues they cannot change.
"As the decoupling data show, the U.S. economy has been performing quite poorly for the bottom 90 percent of Americans for the past 40 years. Technology is driving productivity improvements, which grow the economy. But the rising tide is not lifting all boats, and most people are not seeing any benefit from this growth. While the U.S. economy is still creating jobs, it is not creating enough of them. The labor force participation rate, which measures the active portion of the labor force, has been dropping since the late 1990s."
This is unadulterated bullshit, or evidence that the people saying this have no understanding of what life was like in the 1970s, 1980s, or 1990s. The authors statements demand substantial proofs not mere hot air and blather.
The unemployment rate today is at a national average below 5%.
Labor force participation prior to 1970 averages about 58%, it was only after the equal rights, and the women's movements demanded their inclusion in the workforce in great numbers that we saw the labor force participation rate skyrocket to absurdly high levels. There is no evidence that Americans actually wanted this level of labor force participation. We know they did not historically. Now that we are far wealthier than we were in the 1940s, -1980s it seems likely that the LFP rate shift is due to the desires of fewer family members to work, and participate more deeply with family needs, children's needs, old age adult needs, and the like. Statements like the ones made here need extensive proof. They have none, and the author clearly has no understanding of LPF rate changes over time. Yet another piece of detritus to ignore.
The poor today live all but infinitely better than the middle class of the 1950s, 1960s, and likely even the 1970s.
Air Conditioning, Cable TV, and an Xbox: What is Poverty in the United States Today?
The poor and the average of today have a similar spectrum of amenities, although the poor do have fewer.
How Poor Are America's Poor? Examining the "Plague" of Poverty in America
"The typical American defined as "poor" by the government has a car, air conditioning, a refrigerator, a stove, a clothes washer and dryer, and a microwave. He has two color televisions, cable or satellite TV reception, a VCR or DVD player, and a stereo. He is able to obtain medical care. His home is in good repair and is not overcrowded. By his own report, his family is not hungry and he had sufficient funds in the past year to meet his family's essential needs. While this individual's life is not opulent, it is equally far from the popular images of dire poverty conveyed by the press, liberal activists, and politicians.
But the living conditions of the average poor person should not be taken to mean that all poor Americans live without hardship. There is a wide range of living conditions among the poor. Roughly a third of poor households do face material hardships such as overcrowding, intermittent food shortages, or difficulty obtaining medical care. However, even these households would be judged to have high living standards in comparison to most other people in the world."
If you scroll to the bottom there is an instructive chart on US versus international housing conditions of which only three countries even compare with the US poor's housing conditions, based on Floor Area per Person:
Country (City) Floor Area per Person Persons per Room
US Poor 439 .54
Australia (Melbourne) 545.73 .69
Norway (Oslo) 452.09 .50
Canada (Toronto) 442 .50
After this all of the entries are below the US Poor
Sweden (Stockholm) 430.56 .56
Remember this compares the US POOR with these other nations (cities). If one takes the time to compare the amenities the US poor have to the amenities the average person in Europe has it is shocking how much better the lives of even poor Americans are than the average European. This includes medicine.
CDC - Cancer Survival: The Start of Global Surveillance
The CONCORD-2 study is well worth your read. Remember that the figures for the US include our uninsured. It is impossible to believe that the European countries do not beat the US in every category since pretty much everyone in these countries is covered by a national health care plan. But they commonly do not, and even more surprisingly the US commonly beats many of these countries for the majority of the cancers, especially the more esoteric, even with our uninsured cohort.
Five-Year Survival Rates for Patients Diagnosed with Five Common Cancers in Seven Countries, 2005–2009
Country Female Breast Colon Lung Prostate Childhood Leukemia
Canada* 85.8 62.8 17.3 91.7 90.6
France** 86.9 59.8 13.6 90.5 89.2
Germany 85.3 64.6 16.2 91.2 91.8
Italy 86.2 63.2 14.7 89.7 87.7
Japan 84.7 64.4 30.1 86.8 81.1
Kingdom* 81.1 53.8 9.6 83.2 89.1
States 88.6 64.7 18.7 97.2 87.7
Comparing the amenities the poor have today with the past is eye opening, but I will leave that mostly to you. I don't remember most Americans in 1970 having a cell phone, a computer, internet, air conditioning, a microwave, color television (at all), cable or satellite TV reception, a VCR or DVD player, or a stereo. Food issues were rampant among the poor, as was hunger, and medical care was a problem as well, both in availability and the care available. Medical care today is far advanced from that of 1970.
No, the average poor person today lives better than the average person of 1970, and of everyone living in 1920 or before.
The New Republic should be ashamed of itself for publishing this tripe.
"While manufacturing output is at an all-time high, manufacturing employment is today lower than it was in the later 1940s. Wages for private nonsupervisory employees have stagnated since the late 1960s, and the wages-to-GDP ratio has been declining since 1970. Long-term unemployment is trending upwards, and inequality has become a global discussion topic, following the publication of Thomas Piety’s 2014 book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century."
This is bullshit, and nonsense. It is not the actual wage which matters but what the wage can purchase, and wages today, stagnant or not purchase more than they did in the past, and they purchase higher quality goods. Plus, non-wage benefits have risen, and when accounted for, this answers the wage stagnation "riddle" nicely. Failing to evaluate all the evidence, and misunderstanding that product price deflation, and quality improvement also answer much of the question.
Stagnating Middle-Class? - Cafe Hayek
Dead Wrong with Johan Norberg - Stagnant Middle Class
The New Republic has attempted here to pull off the difficult Triple Lindy of squaring the progressive economic canard. It cannot be done, or if it is, it requires advanced forms of pretzel logic to pull off, because the facts simply do not support the progressive theories.