A lot of times, people worry about new prosperity, automation, and technology. This is from a Hacker News comment -
"You really gotta wonder how this is gonna turn out. How are dumb people supposed to earn a living when technology makes all the jobs for dumb people obsolete?"
Every time new automation is invented, people think is going to happen. Seriously, this goes back to pre-Industrial Revolution times. Any time part of the labor process is automated away, people think that there's going to be permanent economic damage, and they're consistently wrong.
We'll adapt. There's always new things to be done. Personally, I'm betting on a greater diversity of creative and artistic work happening - people in core industries that are going to remain and grow in profitability (technology, raw materials, energy, consumer goods, construction, etc) will have more surplus income to spend on personalization, customization, different and more unique kinds of entertainment, etc.
We're going to seem a massive boom in people able to make a basic living from pure creative professions enabled. There'll also be more personal services offered. Ideally a lot of ineffective governmental costs can be optimized down, and more of government spending can go to refining and cleaning up the environment too, planting more trees and flora and fauna, things like that.
I think a lot of excellent jobs that don't exist today are going to be created. I also think many more people will learn basic technology skills than perhaps is commonly thought. A few hundred years ago, no one - and I mean no one - would have believed you if you told them what literacy rates would be in developed countries. They just wouldn't think it possible. So, more people will get on the tech bandwagon as time passes and kids grow up with it. Computer literacy will become like language literacy.
Good things are happening man, we're living in the greatest era ever. God damn I'm so optimistic and grateful to be alive right now.
And yeah, that's how I feel things are going to go. People typically panic because they see that the old way of doing things won't cut it going forwards - but it's not clear what all the new options that are going to be invented and created are. But there's always new options - people have been panicking at greater productivity and new inventions for at least a few hundred years now, but it's consistently been wrong. It's a really good time to be alive.
I just went to see a talk today about robotics applied to agriculture (Prof. Simon Blackmore). There are quite a few possibilities there: Use many lightweight robots instead of one heavy harvester controlled by a human. Do more intensive farming. Threat and harvest each plant individually ...
Regarding "dumb people". If the government doesn't bother to preserve universal free education, we will have much bigger problems than employing "dumb people" down the line.
Indeed, it's a great time to be alive - there's so many opportunities, I don't think anyone could go through all of them in their lifetime! Though I'm still amazed at how people choose to see the drawbacks of progress instead of the huge benefits - the last two centuries have clearly been the best in human history.
One important issue today is freedom of information and Net neutrality - the big media and content companies, along with the governments want to control that, saying that digitization of products and file sharing hurts the economy - the most amazing thing is that they've been saying that ever since the printing press (!) has been invented - seriously, that demonic device was supposed to bring about the end of the world :-). Then the same happened with phonographs, VCRs, personal video cameras, cassette and CD players - honestly, how many more times will it take to realize that we'll adapt and everything's going to be fine?
Completely agree with you. In fact, my most recent blog post also addresses the same thing, albeit in a different manner. I postulate how we have gone from choosing jobs to choosing careers to choosing how we live.
Yup. This is my take on it, too.
The question is, is there a limit to what people want that other people can supply, and computers can't?
Well, possibly. But we're many decades, or more likely many millennia, away from it. If such a thing could exist at all.
Better yet, the barest necessities of life (food, shelter, etc) just keep getting cheaper.
I agree, we live in times were things are changing fast. Most of it beyond our comprehension. But if you think about the progress we've made the last 10 years, the positive outweighs the negative. Kevin Kelly wrote an excellent article about deep and radical optimism.
Everyone is going crazy for social stuff online. I think it's really good stuff, and there's lots of room to grow in it, and there'll be more successes and more adoption of current stuff.
However, I think the real winners are building something entirely differently right now. They're building for whatever gets hot after social.
Normally if you read an article like this, they'd make some predictions, most of which would turn out to be wrong. I won't do that. Instead, I'll point you to one of the more interesting industries to look at for this sort of thing - mobile phones.
Phones were interesting for me because I was traveling a lot, and I got to see the sort of phones that were popular in Japan when the Motorola Razr was the hottest phone in the United States.
The Japanese phones were three times larger and much clunkier, but had a lot of features. The Razr was stripped down - it did calls, texts, and that's pretty much it. And it had bad battery life.
I wrote about becoming a pro poker player a couple weeks ago. I was going to write about something else, but two things sap my motivation:
1. I have wicked bad allergies to something, probably the Cedar-Elm, and can hardly focus on anything for more than 15 to 20 minutes before I start rubbing my eyes and sneezing.
2. All I really do now is play poker, so it's on my mind.