back to article Crazy idea but hear us out... With robots taking people's jobs, can we rethink this whole working to survive thing?

The adoption of industrial robots in France makes manufacturing businesses more productive and profitable but at the expense of jobs, according to a recent paper presented by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a private, non-profit, non-partisan research organization in America. In a paper titled "Competing with Robots …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

    Seriously, how many centuries has this exact debate been going on? There will always be jobs for people who want to work, even if what people do changes. Society is really good at finding things for people to do.

    The next time your washing machine breaks down and you have to do your laundry by hand in a tub, think about all those (usually badly paid or unpaid) jobs washing machines replaced.

    1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

      Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

      The issue is not that there are no jobs, it is, as this article plainly said, that the replacement jobs are generally lower quality than the old jobs. Hence, the stagnation or retreat of standards of living for most of the population, and the increase in income for technologists and investors who either design and make the automation or generate an increased return on the capital invested in labor-replacing automation.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

        Hence, the stagnation or retreat of standards of living for most of the population,

        Funny, it seems a lot higher now for most people than it was before the industrial revolution that created and automated all the factories, and most jobs today are of considerably better quality than minding a loom in a cotton factory for 6 12-hour days a week.

        As the article says, it's not a simple situation. Automating some jobs creates job losses in that field, but the additional wealth creates other fields, and other jobs. The pizza delivery is a case in point, 50 years ago that job wouldn't have existed because the average person didn't have the disposable income to pay for fast food to be couriered to their home. Today they have the money (due to good jobs) which allows that standard of living, and so the service jobs which it enables also get created. Some are low-paid, like pizza delivery, but those pizzas are made in restaurants which also employ staff at various pay levels. We're even seeing the appearance of ludicrous services like home delivery of gin & tonic kits, for those with an excess of cash. I'm sure the suppliers and their staff make a tidy income from that. It's far from the case that all the replacement jobs are lower-quality.

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

          @Phil O'Sophical

          I like the inverting of the superstore model. At first a single place for everyone to go to reducing travel costs, time buying different products and the cost of the products. Now these huge warehouses of goods people travelled to offer the personal service of delivery to your door.

          I do wonder at the amazing progress we have

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

            Exactly....

            When my father was a boy the family would pass an order to the local shop and it'd get delivered.

            Now I pass an order by the web and it gets delivered.....

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

              "When my father was a boy the family would pass an order to the local shop and it'd get delivered."

              In a rural setting when I was a boy a local business (I'm not sure they even had a shop) sent a salesman round to take orders which were delivered by van a couple of days later. A number of businesses were based on simply going round districts with vans - a cousin of my Dad's ran a mobile greengrocery. Once the private car has been hounded out of existence it's a model that can make a come-back.

        2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

          Yes, the jobs lost are replaced by new jobs - but in the majority of cases the new jobs created are menial, minimum wage jobs. Thus what is happening is an increase in the gap between rich & poor because the medium skill jobs are disappearing (taken by automation), leaving only the high-skill, high-pay jobs and the low-skill, low pay jobs.

          Plus, while the average standard of living has increased steadily since the industrial revolution, that is true only up to the end of the last century. For the past 20 years or so the average standard of living has been steadily decreasing in the UK except fot the richest 1%, who have enjoyed a faster increase in wealth.

          1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
            Pirate

            Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

            Don't fret about all those minimum wage unskilled jobs. The Robots will soon be doing them rendeing us bits of water and bone redundant.

            With no income we'll all be on the breadline (or in the new workhouses) unable to afford replacing even the clothes on our backs.

            Buy hey! that's Progress. We the plebs get screwed while the rich get richer.

            We are doomed I tell ye, doomed!

            1. ICL1900-G3

              Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

              I think the time to rise up and eat the rich comes ever closer.

          2. Dave314159ggggdffsdds

            Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

            "Plus, while the average standard of living has increased steadily since the industrial revolution, that is true only up to the end of the last century. For the past 20 years or so the average standard of living has been steadily decreasing in the UK except fot the richest 1%, who have enjoyed a faster increase in wealth."

            Fortunately, that's just neo-Nazi propaganda, and not actually true.

            1. 96percentchimp

              Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

              You Godwinned yourself out of the discussion at the first hurdle, but I'm curious to know if anyone less mouth-frothingly dismissive can tell me by what criteria that information qualifies as neo-Nazi propaganda?

              1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds

                Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

                It's _literally_ neo-Nazi propaganda. It has no relation to the truth whatsoever. It's a lie that comes from neo-Nazis, who are well aware that to get any traction they have to persuade people they're getting less than their share.

                1. Kiwi Silver badge

                  Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

                  It's _literally_ neo-Nazi propaganda. It has no relation to the truth whatsoever. It's a lie that comes from neo-Nazis, who are well aware that to get any traction they have to persuade people they're getting less than their share.

                  Perhaps you have some evidence of this? Perhaps you have some evidence that only they claim this and no one else does?

                  Nazis also practice and promote the breathing of air, and many promote keeping fit and healthy. I am told several of them use electricity and consider it to be beneficial.Do you need to stop breathing, using power etc because they also do it?

                  Is the fact that the Nazis happen to agree with certain things your only argument against those things, or do you have a stronger argument?

                  Just because a vile piece of trash utters a truth, that does not change the truthfulness of what they say.

                  1. Fluffy Cactus

                    Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

                    Well, bring up the Nazis as a subject of discussion is always a bit "iffy"...

                    There are those who benefited from the economic upswing in Nazi Germany, specifically between

                    1933 and 1939, what with a) rebuilding arms of all kinds, b) which brought about jobs for many, c) having some technical advantages from building a VW, a Volksempfaenger (an fairly cheap radio made to get the German government channel in the best possible way, d) building of the "Autobahn" (a freeway system intended first and foremost to move troops in the fastest and most efficient way)

                    All this was paid for with "printed and borrowed money", ... funny how that reminds one of the British, the European Union, Japan, as well as the USA of today. Read all about it! It must be news to you!

                    Yes, I am that old!

                    The thing about propaganda is that "many times numerous things that people like and agree with" are

                    used as a "wrapper around the various big lies".

                    Can you find the big lie in this picture?

                    Let's put it another way: "just because you like an "autobahn system" does not mean you have to agree to a "slavery-prison-work-camp-and-murder-and destruction-system". You see?

                    It's one thing to approve of what you are allowed to see, and another to "sort-of-well-dont-wanna-know" put up with what your don't see and what you don't really want to know about.

                    That's the Nazi system in a quick summary. But, look around you right now, and ask yourself how many "Nazi-like" systems you see, and you don't complain, because it does not concern you directly,

                    and - tadaaa - there we go again, repeating history like a bunch of idiots.

                    Is that sort of thinking a problem to you? Or are you just in the "same old evil mold" of "whitish-beige people" vs "brown-people"?

                    A reasonable, fair and kind person would say: It's enough! Stop the angry, mean, ignorant, indset. But how many angry, mean,ignorant people are there? Is it possible to change them to kind, despite the many true and problematic issues they face?

                    Personally, I have problems. Job problems. Financial problems. But I do not blame them on people that have nothing to do with my problems. That's the difference! Do you want an easy scape-goat, or

                    can you accept that your problems are simply your problems?

                    I know that reason does not work in many situations. In many cases, people have been wronged so many times, that a blind "lashing out" is almost to be expected.

                    Just to make you think.

            2. Fluffy Cactus

              Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

              On average, if a person stands with one foot on a hot stove, and with the other on a big ice cube, government statistics will always report that they ought to feel just fine. On average!

              By the same token, if the standard of living of a bunch of billionaires went up, and it went down for everyone else, there will, sure as hell, be a government report to tell us that the "economy is doing just great".

              Except, who believes that sort of stuff?

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

            Plus, while the average standard of living has increased steadily since the industrial revolution, that is true only up to the end of the last century. For the past 20 years or so the average standard of living has been steadily decreasing in the UK

            That is not true. For the period 2005 - 2015 it grew more slowly (about half the rate) that it grew from 1995 to 2005 (data from the OECD) but it has not fallen.

            1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

              Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

              "Standard of living" != "Amount of income"

              In the middle-earning area, since about the 1980's fewer and fewer people can afford to buy their first house, and a higher percentage of people have had to give up luxuries that they had enjoyed before. Annual or bi-annual overseas holidays, a night out once a week to see a show or dine at a good restaurant etc. In the low-earning area, more & more people have had to make use of food banks Etc, and the number of people who cannot afford basic necessities has increased.

              Just ask anyone in their 50's whether they had a better lifestyle in 1990 than they do today, and most will say that they did (younger people may have enjoyed some increase due to increased income during the early years of starting work)

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

                since about the 1980's fewer and fewer people can afford to buy their first house

                That is largely due to house prices which have increased by substantially more than inflation. It's a problem that needs to be solved, but is unrelated to wages.

                and a higher percentage of people have had to give up luxuries that they had enjoyed before.

                Do you have a source for that? It doesn't fit with the figures I've seen.

                the number of people who cannot afford basic necessities has increased.

                No, it has not. Look at the OECD data.

                Just ask anyone in their 50's whether they had a better lifestyle in 1990 than they do today, and most will say that they did

                I'm in my 50s. In 1990 I had a mortgage to pay, today I do not. Even without that (I'm investing an equivalent amount of money for retirement) I have a far better standard of living than I did then.

                1. Kiwi Silver badge
                  Facepalm

                  Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

                  since about the 1980's fewer and fewer people can afford to buy their first house

                  That is largely due to house prices which have increased by substantially more than inflation. It's a problem that needs to be solved, but is unrelated to wages.

                  Except it has everything to do with wages! In 1990 a friend purchased a house worth a little over $50,000 NZ. On even a 10 year mortgage he barely noticed the payments. Same house is nearly $500,000 now, but the wages have not risen to match.

                  Rentals are also very high. In the Hutt Valley alone it is difficult to find a 2 bedroom place for under $350/wk, and forget it for 3 or more bedrooms - generally $450+/wk for the worst places (and they get hundreds of applicants each). Yet most couples are still on less than $1000/wk between them. I know many people who have had to move in with someone else/take someone else in, and if one party leaves the other party won't have enough income to cover the rent.

                  There are no other options within the Wellington region, save for rare country places

                  and a higher percentage of people have had to give up luxuries that they had enjoyed before.

                  Do you have a source for that? It doesn't fit with the figures I've seen.

                  You didn't do much reading before posting did you? Try pretty much any newspaper, food bank, economist (yes even they sometimes get some minor stuff right), budget advisor, shop owner, supermarket owner, butcher/greengrocer, ice-cream seller... There's a lot of cheap stuff that does hide the full impact , but the information is so readily available it'd be hard not to see it.

                  the number of people who cannot afford basic necessities has increased.

                  No, it has not. Look at the OECD data.

                  [citation needed]

                  Here's one that (on a brief skim read) shows otherwise. I've just been to DDG and used the term ""number of people unable to afford basic necessities UK" and grabbed the first result. The information is NOT hard to find.

                  Perhaps you can provide a citation for this "OECD data" that you claim shows otherwise?

                  Take a look around at the % of the population who do go out for a movie/show each week (if you can find any theatres left) or even each month - the numbers have dropped considerably (the total number going may be up, but that's due to population growth NOT an overall improvement in the standard of living). The % dining out (even basics like "fish and chips" or cheap joints that claim to sell burgers).

                  Look at the schemes to provide food to kids in schools because the parents can't always afford to provide them with lunch. This was almost entirely unheard of in 1990 for a kid to not have lunch available, yet today it's fairly common.

                  Just ask anyone in their 50's whether they had a better lifestyle in 1990 than they do today, and most will say that they did

                  I'm in my 50s. In 1990 I had a mortgage to pay, today I do not. Even without that (I'm investing an equivalent amount of money for retirement) I have a far better standard of living than I did then.

                  I'm not in my 50s, and I had a much better standard of living back in the 90s, and the same can be said for most people I know even among some of the well off. I'm better today than I was in the earlier 2000s, but that's due to changing to a more relaxed job and doing 'outside work' when I can, plus some blessings that I'm afraid I can only blame God for (including things like the space, knowledge and inclination to grow veggies)

                  If you look at the figures back then and compare them to today you will see the big issues like not being able to save for your deposit - in the 90s I could get a mortgage with a 0% or at most 5% deposit, while also much lower prices. So a $60,000 3brm house + decent yard, 5% deposit is $3,000. Despite the lower wages at the time, I could've put away nearly $100/wk so I could easily have the deposit in a couple of years.

                  Today, we have a minimum of 20% deposit in NZ, and average prices around $500,000 IIRC - but will work on $400 ,000. That deposit is now $80,000. The house won't be as good, and even if I can save $400/wk it'd be nearly 4 years before I have the amount - but very few people can save $40/wk let alone $400.

                  Given the level of your research, and your "I'm one of the lucky ones so no one else matters" last paragraph, I'm not surprised you posted AC!

                  1. CBM

                    Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

                    How would low wages increase house prices? There is a housing shortage, demand exceeds supply, people are paying as much as they can to get into a tight market - increase the amount of money they have and the price will instantly jump to compensate.

                    Increase wages by 10x and wake up in the morning to find house prices up by 20x in anticipation.

                    Combined with stupidly low interest rates and a belief you can't lose in property (based on seeing current bubble) people are driving house prices to insane levels by borrowing as much as the bank will let them. Here in Australia 80s interest rates were in the teens (of percent)... that would fix prices pretty quickly (but home owners don't want to lower prices... and they vote).

                  2. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

                    Except it has everything to do with wages! In 1990 a friend purchased a house worth a little over $50,000 NZ. On even a 10 year mortgage he barely noticed the payments. Same house is nearly $500,000 now, but the wages have not risen to match.

                    Wages in general track inflation. From OECD data, average wages have increased from NZD 31K in 1990 to NZD 68K in 2019 in NZ (2.2x), and £14K to £36K (2.6x) in the UK. Over that period UK consumer prices increased by around 2.4x.

                    Over that same period average house prices (in USD for convenient comparison) have increased from $25K to $126K (NZ) and $21K to $115K (UK), in both cases a factor of approx 5x. The problem with housing affordability is not related to wages, it is related to house prices increasing well beyond inflation.

                    You didn't do much reading before posting did you? Try pretty much any newspaper, food bank, economist (yes even they sometimes get some minor stuff right), budget advisor, shop owner, supermarket owner, butcher/greengrocer, ice-cream seller... There's a lot of cheap stuff that does hide the full impact , but the information is so readily available it'd be hard not to see it.

                    I did plenty of reading, which is why I posted facts from the OECD, not hand-waving arguments like "ask an ice-cream seller".

                    [citation needed]

                    All the data you need is at https://data.oecd.org/

                    Here's one that (on a brief skim read) shows otherwise.

                    So, you went to a web site for an organization that relies on showing high poverty levels, and found a statement that claims increasing poverty. Hardly surprising.

                    The information is NOT hard to find.

                    Indeed, or at least the facts aren't. If you look for them.

                    Perhaps you can provide a citation for this "OECD data" that you claim shows otherwise?

                    Try the OECD, it's the obvious place to get OECD data! For example this chart has many variants which show that poverty levels in the UK are stable, or even decreasing.

                    Look at the schemes to provide food to kids in schools because the parents can't always afford to provide them with lunch. This was almost entirely unheard of in 1990

                    Hardly. When I went to school in the 60s and 70s we took our lunch money in each week to get canteen tickets, and we all knew which kids qualified for free meals.

                    Take a look around at the % of the population who do go out for a movie/show each week (if you can find any theatres left) or even each month - the numbers have dropped considerably

                    Hmm, so when it's hard to find a theatre, fewer people visit them. No shit, Sherlock!

                    How many of those 'poor' people don't go because they prefer to use their Netflix subscriptions to watch on their 60" flat-screen TVs at home instead?

                    I'm not in my 50s, and I had a much better standard of living back in the 90s, and the same can be said for most people I know

                    That's unfortunate for you, but it isn't the case for most people I know in that age group, who have better cars, better holidays & more meals out than they did in the 1990s.

                    in the 90s I could get a mortgage with a 0% or at most 5% deposit, while also much lower prices. So a $60,000 3brm house + decent yard, 5% deposit is $3,000.

                    Yes, I bought my first house for £30K in 1985, with a mortgage that was around 2.5x my salary. Today it would be much more difficult, but that's because house prices have far outstripped inflation so even my good salary today would make it less comfortable. That is a housing problem, not a wages problem.

                    Given the level of your research, and your "I'm one of the lucky ones so no one else matters" last paragraph, I'm not surprised you posted AC!

                    Would it really have made a difference if I'd posted as "Ben Jones", or as "Alphonse Colquhoun-Smythe"? If so you should perhaps rethink your own preconceptions.

                    As for research, I've done plenty, over many years. I always prefer to post from facts, not from tabloid hearsay.

        3. Muppet Boss

          Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

          >>Hence, the stagnation or retreat of standards of living for most of the population,

          I thought this comes from smartphones??? Seriously, any proof available?

          >Funny, it seems a lot higher now for most people than it was before the industrial revolution

          Mate I have no idea why you have been so heavily downvoted for telling the truth but have an upvote from me.

          As if the French managed to destroy their robots in protest, the jobs would miraculously stay in France... The businesses are just trying to stay globally competitive which also means employing people in France and paying taxes in France... rather than Asia or elsewhere.

          The employment problem is not unique to the Western world. I spoke with a Chinese colleague someday about people toiling at Chinese assembly factories. Those reported to have harsh worker conditions etc. He said true, but these people come from the villages. No education, no qualifications. Can easily be replaced with a machine but then they have no jobs and create tensions in the society. So jobs are created for them to keep them busy and keep the social cohesion even if the machine is cheaper. Same approach in other Asian countries, employ low-skilled people in often redundant roles to keep them occupied and feel needed. Very different from the Western approach but for them feels very effective.

        4. Marshalltown

          Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

          The change in quality of living is partially dependent on the region. In the US, while superficially there are visual indications of a "higher standard of living," those indications are purely material and are essentially funded by retreats in funding elsewhere. The declines are quantitative and largely barely discernible to individuals. Things like an increase in in infant mortality for example, levelling or diminishing life spans, increased mortality among poor women, or nearly stagnant levels of health care, which despite the mythology are pretty bad. It's great to have choice, but only if the choice is meaningful. If you are a member of of some sort of health maintenance system, you are a source of income and every possible effort is made to be sure you don't become a "cost." Collectively, one of the very few ways the US is "better off" is the long term and continuing decrease in violent crime. Which almost no one seems to even suspect, especially with the media hand waving about mass shootings, which are extremely uncommon even with the help of the media to popularize the practice. The pizza delivery person can afford the cell phone because they lack healthcare, and their employers don't issue company cell phones, so they have to pay enough for the "help" to afford the phone, that is required by the employer for the job. It really is not a simple situation.

      2. JetSetJim Silver badge

        Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

        Taking the argument to the extreme, if every job can be performed by a robot, Then why should we work beyond making more robots to address a new need.

        Equally, at this point nothing has any value, so money should be killed off and everyone gets what they want. Wishful thinking, no doubt

        1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds

          Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

          It isn't wishful thinking. If the robots take over doing and making everything, we won't need jobs. If they don't, we will still have jobs.

          "In Naughton’s nightmare scenario the robots are doing all the work and we humans are just appendages to the automated economy. Those who own the machines hoover up the economic gains until capital has a 100 per cent share of the economy and the rest of us are left with only a tiny slither.

          "What happens here as inequality soars? Fortunately, last year’s joint winner of the Nobel Prize, William Nordhaus, has crunched the numbers. He calculates that in this doomsday wages would go up by a cool 200 per cent. Triple every year that is. No, really, every December, we workers are three times better off than we were the previous January."

          https://capx.co/is-there-really-a-problem-with-robots-taking-our-jobs/

          The real problem is that in general we don't do nearly enough to help people whose jobs vanish, because that happens all the time. People often need retraining, or to relocate, in response to innovation and changing economic conditions. It's bonkers to refuse to spend the relatively small sums needed to keep them working.

          1. JetSetJim Silver badge

            Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

            > No, really, every December, we workers are three times better off than we were the previous January

            And what happens to the cost of living in this scenario? The linked article doesn't say anything about this

            1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds

              Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

              That's what it's talking about. Cost of living and real wages are very closely linked. Purchasing power will increase by 3x per year.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

                Have you read the paper, or are you just regurgitating what was in that page?

                I would think you would have read it and understood if you are talking about it.

                But lets just have a look at the assumptions, you have read it so you will know what they are, right?

                The first is amazing, considering what his Nobel prize is in, and pinning it on a hope and well we saw it with computers so should apply to everything else.

                The second, well, which side is it that you want to be on, if there would actually be a side?

                The third, they aren't free in reality.

                The forth, depends upon the first being true.

                Fifth and sixth, there's a movie (6 actually) about that, I even referenced it in one of my other comments, that's where all the jobs go, especially if there is no side in the second.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

            Even now you can't escape Worstall...

            1. codejunky Silver badge

              Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

              @AC

              "Even now you can't escape Worstall..."

              Lucky for the reg since he wrote some of the really good articles worth reading on this site. Between his blog and ContinentalTelegraph he is still writing and linking to his work elsewhere.

        2. Getmo
          Facepalm

          Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

          Every single "post currency" utopia argument always falls apart under any type of scrutiny.

          And why shouldn't it? Currency is an extremely useful, probably essential tool to all modern society, invented way back when bartering was a thing.

          This silly idea comes from a simple, yet fundamental misunderstanding most people have. In general, they think, "money is the root of all evil." That's incorrect. The correct quote is, "the *love* of money is the root of all evil." I.e. greed, jealousy, etc. Money is just a tool. By itself it's not good or evil, it's only how people interact with it that make it one way or the other.

          Usually, the "post currency utopia" argument is just for fancy communism, which all the pros/cons for are well-documented already. If the debater still insists however that it's not, the argument can always be broken by just making unreasonable requests.

          Me: "What if I want something that's not automatically provided? I want a pool in my backyard/garden." *yes/no* Me: "I want a gold-plated pool." Eventually: "No, you can't have that..." Me: "So this utopia does not allow [gold-plated pools]?" "It does, but that's extra. You won't get that for free automatically. You'll have to work extra hard to get it." Me: "Cool, so I'll go volunteer at the YMCA for 4, maybe 5 hours, work extra hard, then I'll get the pool?" "No, you'll have to work more than that. And you can't just pick the easiest jobs." Me: "Wait, then how will I know when I've worked 'enough' to afford what I want? And which jobs count as 'easy'?" "Well, there could be a system of credits that you can save from doing different work..."

          Very simple to break the "we don't need currency!" argument. It's a silly wish anyway, born from hatred of the entirely wrong thing. Currency is an extremely useful tool. It's like saying "in my future utopia, there will never be any hammers, ever!" because his mother was killed with a hammer. It's a silly argument, born out of hatred for the wrong thing, and nearly trivial to prove through a short debate, that yes, this future society will still need hammers, even if they're called by an entirely different name.

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Megaphone

            Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

            A corollary or two:

            a) money is the measure of the value of a thing or of work being done.

            b) things that are worth MORE cost more money

            c) Jobs that are WORTH MORE pay more money.

            d) paying someone MORE than a job is worth is ridiculous, and that job will go away, either being subcontracted out to people who can do it cheaper, or a robot will do it.

            e) a job is NOT an entitlement, a right, or anyone's responsibility other than the employer and the employee. It's a voluntary exchange of work for money.

            it's really just that.

            1. BGatez Bronze badge

              Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

              So no living wage, cool. Mop your own damn floors.

            2. JetSetJim Silver badge

              Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

              The problem here is that "worth more" can be pretty subjective in a lot of cases

            3. Kiwi Silver badge

              Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

              b) things that are worth MORE cost more money

              Explain diamonds then :)

              c) Jobs that are WORTH MORE pay more money.

              Can a brain surgeon work in a theatre that has not been cleaned? Can a heart surgeon perform open-heart surgery with tools that haven't been properly cleaned?

              Many "unimportant" jobs underpin the economy. If people stop doing them, a lot of other things stop as well. Try shopping at your supermarket without shelf stackers, using any public service without the low-paid assistants in the back room, or use roads without the previously low-paid work crews.

              And there are many things some people who currently feel rich enough simply won't do.

              I do understand the utility of having people start at the bottom and work their way up, especially school-leavers with little or no experience. The stuff I do today didn't come about naturally, I had to learn it and while I was learning my output wasn't as fast as someone with years more experience. But, as the apprentice, it was also my job to make the tea/coffee, clean the toilets, vacuum the floors etc. If I didn't do that someone else would have to, so my doing that job was worth half the hourly rate of a fully qualified person, maybe more (I'm taking into account 2 people were involved, but when you think about it - the FQP wouldn't be able to do their high-earning job while mopping the kitchen floor)

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

            Every single "post currency" utopia argument always falls apart

            Obviously. The very definition of Utopia is a perfect world that does not exist. Utopia is derived from Greek, it means "nowhere".

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Possibly one of the worst examples you could have chosen. Washing machines did not replace anyone's job. There was no army of laundry ladies going house to house to do the laundry, it was the housewife doing the laundry.

      Washing machines gave the housewife a bit more time to do the other chores, such as cleaning and cooking. No jobs were lost, and jobs were created because you had the people repairing the things that didn't exist before.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        "There was no army of laundry ladies going house to house"

        I wonder how old are you. There were actually women (usually) doing the very hard washing jobs for others (who could afford it, of course). Where do you think the term "laundress" comes from?

        Just washing machines took away a very hard job most people were willingly to let disappear. Now machines could took away jobs people may be still willingly to do, because they are less hard and better paid.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @LDS - Re: "There was no army of laundry ladies going house to house"

          ...and all those women learned Python and took a well paid job at Google, Amazon, Facebook and pals. Retraining and willingness to relocate to Silicon Valley, simple as that!

          However, something tells me those (mostly) poor women were not quite happy that their meager source of income would disappear.

          1. whitepines Silver badge
            Unhappy

            Re: @LDS - "There was no army of laundry ladies going house to house"

            However, something tells me those (mostly) poor women were not quite happy that their meager source of income would disappear.

            Thing is, those (mostly) poor women themselves may have disappeared. Very few civilizations are kind to the poor.

      2. Thoguht Silver badge

        There was no army of laundry ladies going house to house to do the laundry, it was the housewife doing the laundry.

        Depends on how far back you go. Until the widespread availability of running water in homes, people often used to take their laundry to other people's houses to be washed. I know this because my great grandmother was a laundry woman, among other things.

        But actually, you'll know things are getting really bad when reports like this are written by AI.

      3. steelpillow Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        "There was no army of laundry ladies going house to house to do the laundry, it was the housewife doing the laundry."

        There is an old saw about poor communities where the women "earned a precarious living taking in one another's washing." It is a joke, not a historical observation.

        Mr. Toad in The Wind in the Willows famously impersonated a washer woman in order to escape from prison.

        As habits of cleanliness spread In the 19th to mid-20th centuries, sending clothes and bedlinen to a commercial laundry became common among the middle classes. Of course, the upper classes have always had their own laundries staffed by servants - I forget which Shakespeare character hid in the laundry basket.

        To be ignorant of history is one thing, but to fail to read Kenneth Graham's classic, or even to watch one of its dramatisations, is unforgivable.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

      You say, the next time your washing machine breaks down.... (usually badly paid or unpaid)... But what did these things replace, they didn't replace badly paid jobs, they replaced repetitive jobs, they replaced jobs which could be done cheaper with machines. There is the key word, cheaper. The current automation trend is to replace repetitive tasks with machines, ones that would be cheaper to run than to pay a human. The only way to then have a job would be if you were paid less than what it would cost to replace you with a machine.

      This leaves 3 types of jobs, intellectual jobs, extremely dynamic (requires adaption, but will be automated at some point) and extremely poorly paid jobs.

      In the paper they go on about the gig economy, what is currently the most talked about gig economy job right now? Taxi, deliveries etc, what sector is currently having billions poured into it? Automation of cars, so taxis and deliveries can be automated. It even says, that these are not as well paid as what they had and these are also trying to be automated.

      Automation will push down the wages of people that still have jobs. At some tipping point, it will cause an economic collapse if nothing is done, as there will be such a big divide between those that have money and jobs and those that do not, that the industries will no longer need to produce anywhere near what they used to, as no one can afford to by any of it.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

        This leaves 3 types of jobs, intellectual jobs, extremely dynamic (requires adaption, but will be automated at some point) and extremely poorly paid jobs.

        What do you consider an "intellectual job"?

        I'd say there's a far great range of jobs than that. Where does footballer, or actor, or other entertainer fit in your scheme? Or robot designer/builder? Or plumber?

        In the paper they go on about the gig economy,

        Which is just a new name for a very old idea that's never gone away. Pre-industrial revolution, agricultural workers used to go to hiring fairs, where landowners would bid for their services for harvetsing, etc. More recently, shipyard workers like my grandfather would line up outside the gates each morning to see if there was work for that day. Today it's Uber.

        Automation will push down the wages of people that still have jobs.

        There's no historical basis for that statement. Certainly, a mechanised loom might push down the income of a hand-loom weaver, but it creates a whole new industry of skilled loom-makers & repairers. In turn they look for ways to spend their money, and ironically we end up in a situation where people who can will now pay more for hand-made goods than for those made on industrial machines. Even in the realm of foodstuffs people will pay more for hand-made bread & cake, which has spawned a whole industry of "artisan bakers". The market adapts.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

          > Certainly, a mechanised loom might push down the income of a hand-loom weaver, but it creates a whole new industry of skilled loom-makers & repairers.

          Yes. In the meantime, the 50-odd-year-old hand-loom weaver who cannot reasonably reskill into a loom repairperson before retirement age does what, other than tick the circle that says "tangerine" because that one lies (just like all others on the ballot), but at least acknowledges he exists?

          1. CountCadaver Bronze badge

            Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

            Thats if you can afford to do the retraining or even get on a retraining course "our courses are aimed at those already working in the industry, governing / oversight body membership is a pre-requisite for course entry and accreditation"

          2. whitepines Silver badge

            Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

            It's rare that I suggest this, but the Star Trek DS9 episode "Past Tense" is interesting, not least for accurately predicting the rise of homelessness in major American cities.

            The question is, will we all go to the extremes shown there to purposefully forget about the "deskilled" people, and if we do, what then?

        2. jmch Silver badge

          Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

          Rather than "intellectual jobs" I would say any job that requires creative intelligence - not just 'brainy' intelligence (science / engineering, trade, law, accounting) but also emotional intelligence (counsellors, psychologists, teachers, artists, sales and marketing), physical intelligence/dexterity (hairdressers, sportspeople, entertainers) etc. All those jobs are (relatively) safe from automation.

          Regarding "Automation will push down the wages of people that still have jobs.", it's a balancing act. Automation deflates earning for those jobs that can be automated and increases earnings for those jobs that are required to produce the automation. But it isn't linear, and there are many people suffering because they get caught "in the wrong place at the wrong time".

          The other thing is that historically, there have been so many jobs that could be automated that there were many jobs to create on the 'automator' side. Now we are reaching a point where 'automator' side jobs also start to be automated until there will come a point that more jobs are automated than can be created. So BEFORE we reach that point there needs to be an adult discussion about how wealth is distributed, otherwise it WILL end up with 0.01% owning everything.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Rather than "intellectual jobs" I would say any job that requires creative intelligence

            and the ratio of those "creative intelligence" jobs to "the rest" is rather extremely unbalanced. You won't have 8 billion people doing creative jobs. Not even 10% of them, and most probably, not even 1%. So what do you do with the 99.9% or more? Gas them?

        3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

          Certainly, a mechanised loom might push down the income of a hand-loom weaver, but it creates a whole new industry of skilled loom-makers & repairers. In turn they look for ways to spend their money, and ironically we end up in a situation where people who can will now pay more for hand-made goods than for those made on industrial machines.

          In fact the introduction of the power loom lowered the price of woven cloth; cottons in the NW of England, worsted & then woollens in my part of the world and linen in Belfast. The consequence of that was that the size of the market increased and employment in weaving rose.

          The question, similar to that raised in the article, is to what extent this displaced employment elsewhere. In England the West of England and East Anglia seem to have suffered (worsted takes its name from and East Anglian village) and there may well have been an impact elsewhere in the world. The ROTW got its revenge, of course, as manufacturing moved abroad from the old UK centres.

          Another factor to consider is that there are limits to growth. The regular reports of doom and gloom in the computer and phone markets as replacement cycles grow longer is an indication of that. So although historically there has been a growth of jobs with mechanisation it hasn't necessarily lasted, at least not in its original locations.

          1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

            So although historically there has been a growth of jobs with mechanisation it hasn't necessarily lasted, at least not in its original locations.

            That is the key point. What matters isn't the impact in the mechanised industry, but the overall impact. As mechanisation reduces job availability in one place, other, different, jobs appear elsewhere. Historically the net result is more jobs, and more wealth.

            Certainly, that's no consolation for the person whose specific job has been replaced, and who cannot, or will not, retrain, but that's a separate problem. A healthy society needs to consider that, and provide help, but it shouldn't block the progress just to avoid the problem. That way lies stagnation, and eventual collapse as other societies deal with the problem constructively.

            1. big_D Silver badge

              Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

              Except we now have a global economy, so the jobs are disappearing in America and Europe and re-appearing in China, India and other parts of Asia, where the cost of living is a fraction of what it is in major western cities, so automation + lower wages for those that maintain the equipment or put on the finishing touches the machines can't (yet) do.

            2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

              "Historically the net result is more jobs"

              I'm not sure whether that was true of the mechanisation of the textile industry or not. It increased jobs in the N of England and Belfast. I'm pretty sure it must have destroyed a lot of jobs world-wide but I don't know what the balance was; I doubt anyone does.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

          "I'd say there's a far great range of jobs than that. Where does footballer, or actor, or other entertainer fit in your scheme? Or robot designer/builder? Or plumber?"

          I'd say some of them would move to the automated (CG) side of things, actors for example, replaced by creatives (intellectual). If everyone is to become a football, actor, plumber, electrician, then what happens to those industries, the value of each worker is reduced (over supply), wages go down. There is a limited amount of money that goes to each sector, each sector wants profit, if you are to employ more, the wages go down, if there is an over supply, wages go down, unemployment in that sector goes up.

          "Which is just a new name for a very old idea that's never gone away. ... Today it's Uber."

          And where are these shipyards and fairs doing this now, no where, why, because these people were replaced with more reliable and cheaper machines. Yes today its uber, which is planned to be replaced, and each and everyone that comes after will be, as it is cheaper to have a machine do it. There are no unions, no strikes, the machines don't care, it can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear! And it absolutely will not stop, ever.

          "There's no historical basis for that statement. Certainly, a mechanised loom .... The market adapts."

          Also there is no point in history where we have come so far in automation abilities, with machines that can try and fail until they get it right, no point in history has that happened so can not compare with.

          So when the looms appeared, all these weavers, they got jobs maintaining these looms and building them, these jobs had higher wages did they? No, they were put out of work, the companies that made the looms would have less employees. Lets move that to today.

          Weaving industry, moves to automation. Weavers out of job, small percentage stay on to operate the looms. But hey, looms are to be made, more fabrics made, they need transporting, sales, advertising etc. I can be in any of those industries, they would need lots of people.

          I will be a loom maker, sorry, we only need a few to keep the machines running that make the looms, we already have them, if we double capacity, we may need a few more people.

          I will be a delivery driver, sorry, we have just completed our automated delivery system, that requires no drivers, we have auto loaders at either end, we only need people to maintain these, and we already have them and are planning to automate some of that way too.

          I will be in sales, sorry, we sell online only, we use the 'cloud' now and out sourced the work to India.

          I will be in advertising, well that's all online now so sorry, we just pay google, and an ad broker to do that, all ready full.

          1. holmegm Bronze badge

            Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

            Right ... and antibiotics killed us all because bacteria evolved and defeated everything, and all feedback loops are always negative and never moderate and doom is inevitable. You've noticed how we are all dead, right?

            That's not how anything has ever worked.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

              ".. and antibiotics killed us all because bacteria evolved and defeated everything".

              If you used it on every bacterial infection it would, as every bacteria would become resistant to it and all the deadly ones, or people that are immunocompromised would die as there would be no effective antibiotics.

              That is why they now restrict the use you know, there is an important word there, you see it?

              "and all feedback loops are always negative and never moderate and doom is inevitable"

              There is the word that has been said needs to be done here, you see it, it something which companies will not do willingly, as it affects their bottom line.

              "You've noticed how we are all dead, right?"

              We are, it just depends upon your perception of time.

              Answer to the first 2 : restrict and moderate.

            2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

              "You've noticed how we are all dead, right?"

              Nobody gets out of here alive.

          2. CountCadaver Bronze badge

            Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

            and in ref to plumbers and electricians, if your not 16-20 then your locked out of the industry in the UK as no one will give you an apprenticeship and you need that to get a trade card to work on building sites and to join the oversight bodies (gassafe, NICEIC, STROMA, NAPIT etc etc), which you then need to sign off work

            Its protectonism at its worst,I've even heard to talk of banning the sale of electrical fittings (swtches, sockets etc) to the public and supplying them only through trade only merchants and only on production of the "correct" level trade card - worse still the person suggesting this was invited to address a parliamentary committee about electrical safety and spent his blaming DIYers, retrained workers etc for any and all problems with electrical safety in the UK...like the 1950s all over...soon said same people will be demanding workplace demarcation be brought back - "Oh I can't do that, I only install sockets, I don't do light switches or install the cabling, you'll need a light switch installer and a cable puller to do those jobs, governing body would have me strung up if I touch that"

            1. Evil_Goblin

              Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

              "Not my job" never went away, it is still alive and well, particularly in most large scale construction sites, except it is now justified by badly applied H&S policies.

              Adult apprenticeships are alive and well, 3 or 4 former office based colleagues (all 30+) have gone out and are doing 3 days on site and 2 in college to become sparks and plumbers, none had any relevant qualification before...

        5. big_D Silver badge

          Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

          Where does footballer, or actor, or other entertainer fit in your scheme?

          If nobody is earning enough money to go to the cinema/pay for streaming, go to the football etc. they become pizza delivery drivers as well, just probably driving a Bentley or Lambo for the first few weeks...

        6. Dave314159ggggdffsdds

          Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

          "Certainly, a mechanised loom might push down the income of a hand-loom weaver, but it creates a whole new industry of skilled loom-makers & repairers. "

          If that took as many workers as the looms did beforehand, there's no point automating. The idea is that we can instead get the stuff that the handweavers used to make, and whatever else people who don't work as handweavers find to do.

          The agricultural revolution meant that we no longer need 95% of us standing in mud to produce our food, more like 5%. We don't have the 90% making tractors, and so on, just a small proportion of them. The NHS employs roughly 10% of the population, which simply couldn't have happened when 95% of us worked in the fields: the benefits of the agricultural revolution aren't food - we had that already - but things like the NHS which people can now do instead of producing food.

        7. CountCadaver Bronze badge

          Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

          Yet 50% of graduates are doing non graduate level work, stuff traditionally done by a school leaver with minimum qualifications now demands "an exceptional individual, with a first or upper second honours degree, though a masters is desirable"

          The skilled technician roles are all but dead, those that remain are trained inhouse to the bare minimum knowledge and skill to stop them jumping ship to a competitor or starting out on their own...

          Turning technical colleges and polytechnics into universities was a bad move, creating a whole legion of new universities, some good, many terrible and often allowing them award first class honours to students who would have struggled to get a third in a traditional university.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

            "Yet 50% of graduates are doing non graduate level work"

            That's largely a feature of Blair's idea that 50% of school-leavers should go to University. Was there any chance that there's be that number of traditional graduate jobs? Of course not. But it massaged youth unemployment figures nicely and, in typical Blair/Brown financing, the costs were postponed by student loans.

        8. overunder Silver badge

          Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

          "There's no historical basis for that statement."

          Yes there is, Toyota Motors. People had jobs, the robots came in, the few jobs that were left, they took a paycut. That's a fact dude.

          I don't imply knowing history, but I know you really don't know it either. In the end, robots do lower wages, but also the same companies using the robots take more jobs than people like to address. For example, Exxon has been in robotics for a very long time, but all those robots haven't lowered more wages or taken more jobs than Exxon's decision to do away with the serviceman who pumped the gas. He vanished overnight causing a downward ripple in the average mechanic's pay. Robots had nothing to do with that, but same intention of using robots exists... greed. It's not the robots, it's the greed.

      2. NiceCuppaTea

        Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

        Automation will push down the wages of people that still have jobs. At some tipping point, it will cause an economic collapse if nothing is done, as there will be such a big divide between those that have money and jobs and those that do not, that the industries will no longer need to produce anywhere near what they used to, as no one can afford to by any of it.

        At which point it will become cheaper to get a person to do the work rather than invest in a robot.... if "Company A" now only has to make 500 widgets instead of 6 million because 500 is all they can sell then it would be cheaper to get a person to build the widgets than invest millions in an auto widget maker.

        Guess the scales are just tipping more towards automation at the moment but there will come a tipping point where automation just isnt worth the investment.

        1. Kiwi Silver badge

          Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

          At which point it will become cheaper to get a person to do the work rather than invest in a robot.... if "Company A" now only has to make 500 widgets instead of 6 million because 500 is all they can sell then it would be cheaper to get a person to build the widgets than invest millions in an auto widget maker.

          I don't think it would work like that.

          With things like some of the nicer CNC machines and 3D printing (which has come a long way in recent years), instead of several big companies making big runs of things you'll see the number of items per run reduce, but as it's trivial to feed a set of designs to a production line, load feedstock into the plant, and let it do the rest automatically, one company could do lots of small runs of a few hundred items.

          This is already possible to a degree now, and the systems will only get better as the tech is refined and new methods/materials are developed. It is reasonable to expect we could see a time when there is very few manufacturing plants left, most people no longer work (unless we get a big drop in population numbers), and we either have some form of a "universal income" or a hell of a lot of starving homeless people.

          A lot of stuff is getting cheaper and better as well. Today I'd say the replacement cost of my tools would be less than $NZ5,000. I have a couple of items that 10 years back would've been a big portion of that (if not more) on their own, including some cheap USB devices which can allow a smartphone to "also do" things that used to employ a fairly large and specialist computer cabinet. This is just a small sign of what is happening to manufacturing. Methods have improved, and things that were made at a rate of 10 a month by a team of specialists are now pouring out of a single machine at a thousand an hour (numbers pulled out of a certain non-sunlit orifice but may not be that far from reality).

          And that machine is so well designed now that it can easily be reprogrammed to make other things instead, in minutes. In the time it takes me to change a drill bit it can change the whole line to make something very different.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

            Much the same way that cars managed to replace horses even with their higher upfront costs: simply because they were much too versatile and had much lower upkeep (no need for hay, stables, muckwork, etc.).

            Even if a run is pretty small, it'll still be cheaper to run an automated factory than to hire human workers with their limited hours, their need for food, water, medical care, etc.

      3. Paul Cooper

        Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

        You say, the next time your washing machine breaks down.... (usually badly paid or unpaid)... But what did these things replace, they didn't replace badly paid jobs, they replaced repetitive jobs, they replaced jobs which could be done cheaper with machines. There is the key word, cheaper. The current automation trend is to replace repetitive tasks with machines, ones that would be cheaper to run than to pay a human. The only way to then have a job would be if you were paid less than what it would cost to replace you with a machine.

        This is very apparent when you visit somewhere like Hong Kong, where the lowest salaries are very low indeed. There is a minimum wage, but it isn't very much. The result is that jobs like cleaning shopping malls are done by an army of people with dustpans and brushes rather than one person mounted on a vacuum/floor-polishing machine. Indeed, on one of my first visits there I accidentally dropped a wrapper or some-such, and naturally bent to pick it up. My wife stopped me, saying that the cleaners would see it as taking away their living!

      4. holmegm Bronze badge

        Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

        "At some tipping point, it will cause an economic collapse if nothing is done, as there will be such a big divide between those that have money and jobs and those that do not, that the industries will no longer need to produce anywhere near what they used to, as no one can afford to by any of it."

        This is the part where you need to show your work. It has always been predicted, and never happened.

        There's a rather obvious moderating effect here as when *fewer* people can afford to buy (or as people in general become *less* able to afford to buy) that producing gets less profitable. This is not a static system, nor are the variables binary.

        Not saying that what you foresee *couldn't* happen, just that it hasn't, and that there are reasons to think that it won't.

        1. whitepines Silver badge
          Alert

          Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

          Not saying that what you foresee *couldn't* happen, just that it hasn't, and that there are reasons to think that it won't.

          Are you absolutely sure that the cascade of "Free!" services (that then make money from other megacorps by selling your private data) aren't an early sign of this cascade failure?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Seriously, how many centuries has this exact debate been going on?

      since 1st industrial revolution, methinks.

      (btw, I'm already out of my professional job due to automation / ai, and yeah, can't wait re re-qualify as a moped rider)

      1. Dabooka
        WTF?

        Re: Seriously, how many centuries has this exact debate been going on?

        It's somewhat disturbing to see how comparisons are being made between working and living conditions today and a 100+ years ago, as if that means anything. So some people should be grateful we're not employing boot blacks and sending kids up chimneys so shut up and take this Deliveroo Subway? Crikey.

        Personally I go to work for more than just wages. Am I really that alone in wanting to be challenged, with a sense of contribution and progression? Yes money and benefits are important but there are not the only driver behind us all taking the jobs we do. Having to go back in time to think we should be grateful is not a reasonable thing to do. Progress is unstoppable and we here, on these boards, are in one way or another often intrinsically linked to it FFS.

        The AC above highlights the challenge well.

        1. theblackhand Silver badge

          Re: Seriously, how many centuries has this exact debate been going on?

          "It's somewhat disturbing to see how comparisons are being made between working and living conditions today and a 100+ years ago, as if that means anything."

          We navel gaze at the future where AI will automate people out of jobs while installing computer systems that allow one person to do the tasks of many or write code or reports that allow businesses to operate more efficiently.

          So yes, history means a lot...those that are aware of history are aware of the significant changes that have happened over the last 200 years to get the standard of living above "you'll probably die soon" to "you better plan for old age, you've got a lot of years ahead of you".

          I suspect it may also be part of the current generational gap - those brought up in cities where everything is available as long as you had money versus those from rural areas or before much of the current service industry was available who can make do with alternatives or without...

          And yes, I'm an old grumpy git before my time.

          1. Dabooka

            Re: Seriously, how many centuries has this exact debate been going on?

            History is important, I'm not suggesting otherwise, but using it as a barometer against today's employment opportunities is bonkers. I mean look how things have gone over the last 30 years or so and we can see a few seismic changes in employment patterns in the UK alone.

            We all know that the roles needed in society change and automation and AI (whatever that means in reality) drives this. I'm on about the concept that as we're better off than 100 years ago we should be grateful that we have Deliveroo and Amazon Fulfillment Centres to take care of our employment needs.

            Or is that just for the proles?

            1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds

              Re: Seriously, how many centuries has this exact debate been going on?

              The worst jobs today are massively better rewarded than the worst jobs even just twenty years ago, let alone thirty or forty. Purchasing power matters more than anything else here, and that's what automation boosts. The poor see by far the biggest benefits from cheap stuff, since the rich could always afford expensive stuff.

              1. Kiwi Silver badge

                Re: Seriously, how many centuries has this exact debate been going on?

                The poor see by far the biggest benefits from cheap stuff, since the rich could always afford expensive stuff.

                Not quite so much as you think.

                For many who are on a very tight budget, a $5 trinket makes a difference to how much food is in the house, or it might mean having a couple of cold dinners to keep the budget balanced. Skipping a shower saves $1 on the power bill, and that could be the difference between being totally broke at the end of the week and having an extra $1 in the account.

                For some, something that was $2,000 but is now just $20 is still unobtainable. There are a lot of people who have to think carefully about things even that cheap.

                Things might seem cheap, but that does not mean they're affordable. 15 years ago I was living comfortably on $500/wk income. I could've taken extra hours but why? I had enough cash to travel, I had enough to save, buying hardware/toys wasn't done on the basis of "what can I afford" but "what do I have room for?". And the family kids got expensive Christmas and Birthday presents each year. Wish I'd saved much more of that when I had it!

                I earn a fair bit more than that today, but I have to work extra hours (usually making/designing something for someone - hence the growing collection of interesting tools!) if I want to go away for a weekend, even just a couple of hours away. Travel to Auckland? That's months of savings, not a "Yeah what the hell, I'll be on the next plane/drive up tomorrow" like I used to. My income hasn't doubled, but petrol costs are more than twice as much, bike registration costs are somewhere near 5x the amount, many rents have seen more than a 5x increase (not quite 4x in my case, $110/wk is now very nearly $400/wk - but I am very lucky). Power prices have rocketed, petrol went from little over $1/L to over $2/L. Some food prices are similar, some cheaper, many have gone up - some of that blamed on fuel/land/ingredients etc prices. And higher wages...

                Older relatives of mine have had to keep downsizing houses to remain ahead. Their homes are freehold, but due to the costs of living they'll sell a bigger home and move into a smaller one, putting the rest into the bank. As medical, vehicle and just trying to keep somewhat of a comfortable lifestyle eat into what they save, they have to plan for it again and again.

                When you're tight for cash, an extra $5 can make a huge difference, and something that costs $5 could still be to expensive to consider buying. I see this around me all the time, and I've been there myself.

                1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds

                  Re: Seriously, how many centuries has this exact debate been going on?

                  You're the rich, not the poor. Which is why you can't see stuff getting cheaper for you - you could already afford it.

                  Clothing and food have got massively cheaper in recent decades, as have consumer electronics etc. which despite the name are actually often tools for living like vacuum cleaners.

            2. Tinslave_the_Barelegged

              Re: Seriously, how many centuries has this exact debate been going on?

              >History is important, I'm not suggesting otherwise, but using it as a barometer

              > against today's employment opportunities is bonkers. I mean look how things

              > have gone over the last 30 years or so and we can see a few seismic changes

              > in employment patterns in the UK alone.

              Somewhere I have a book on IT, written in the 1960s. There is at least one chapter in the book worrying about how IT would cause fewer jobs to be required (this must have been the day of the 10s of thousands of people working calculators in huge offices) So the book speculated about the problems of the 1980s as we would all have so much leisure time on our hands, we wouldn't know what to do with it.

              Same with today's speculation.

              1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

                Re: Seriously, how many centuries has this exact debate been going on?

                "

                So the book speculated about the problems of the 1980s as we would all have so much leisure time on our hands, we wouldn't know what to do with it.

                "

                Fortunately solved by the invention of video games and social media.

            3. theblackhand Silver badge

              Re: Seriously, how many centuries has this exact debate been going on?

              "History is important, I'm not suggesting otherwise, but using it as a barometer against today's employment opportunities is bonkers."

              Then I would suggest re-examining post-WWII history (you can go back further if you want but this is likely to be sufficient to see details) to see just how far we have come and how many jobs have changed or disappeared completely.

              "We all know that the roles needed in society change and automation and AI (whatever that means in reality) drives this."

              Yes...and in general, society as a whole has improved on the back of change. And generally change has improved both the lives AND jobs of the less well off. Look at jobs that had high accident rates 10-50 years ago and how they are done now - machines have replaced people and the people manage the machines with a subsequent increase in rates of production with less injuries.

              You look and see Deliveroo and Amazon Fulfillment Centres and I would suggest both are likely to become more automated in the future as the human acts as as a robot. And there are questions around safety/injury.

              What I see is an increasing requirement for human education and knowledge and the potential for that to drive future change.

              Will people still be left behind by this? Yes and the aging population is likely to require a lot more social care as cheaply as possible. At least until we figure out how to automate that.

              Will society as a whole benefit? I believe so. Based on history. Trying to retain the status quo has been where society crumbles and revolution is needed to move forward again. When there is change, those at the bottom have something to strive for. And technology revolutions tend to be a lot gentler than political revolutions.

              1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                Re: Seriously, how many centuries has this exact debate been going on?

                "Will society as a whole benefit? I believe so. Based on history. Trying to retain the status quo has been where society crumbles and revolution is needed to move forward again. When there is change, those at the bottom have something to strive for. And technology revolutions tend to be a lot gentler than political revolutions."

                But in the meantime, what do you do with the rejects...who often have family who still care for them? The moment someone says, "dump them," they will immediately be asked, "Including your own parent or child?"

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Seriously, how many centuries has this exact debate been going on?

        well, at least as a moped driver, if you clock around 60 - 80 hrs of work per every 24 hour, you'll be able to keep up with mortgage repayments!

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Seriously, how many centuries has this exact debate been going on?

        "since 1st industrial revolution, methinks."

        Yes, but you do need to look at circumstances. Growth can't go on indefinitely. At some point it becomes unsustainable. It may well be that we've already over-shot.

    5. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

      "There will always be jobs for people who want to work, even if what people do changes. "

      My what a sheltered life you've had.

    6. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

      alternative: your job is done in China or India or Africa or Vietnam or ...

      I have a suggestion: learn to fix robots. They do break down now and then. And I bet you'll get better pay, too! better than inserting tab 'A' into slot 'B' all day...

      1. whitepines Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

        I have a suggestion: learn to fix robots.

        You seem to be assuming some kind of third party repair service will be allowed by the robot manufacturers. This is not guaranteed. Yes, I think legislation needs to be passed, but it's right to repair type legislation and that's not got anywhere really.

        Otherwise I see no reason the disposable parts and cryptographically locked firmware model that Silly Con Vally loves so much won't apply to robots (RaaS?), given the basic driver of automation (corporate greed).

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: They toooock ewre joohbs!!!

          Plus, what's to stop someone inventing a robot to fix other robots...including each other, to answer the "who watches the watchmen" question?

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Universal basic income is the answer, even Nixon considered it. Here's an interesting read on the subject with it's history,

    Basic income bill

    1. EBG

      I agree

      The present benefits system is just a way of the Big State buying dependency and control, and sustaining an unnecessary chunk of public sector apperatus. Universal basic income and flat tax.

      1. horse of a different color
        Trollface

        Re: I agree

        Ayn Rand, is that you?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I agree

          Do you even know who Ayn Rand was?

        2. EBG

          read the link

          the bloke who scuppered it was quoting Rand.

      2. CountCadaver Bronze badge

        Re: I agree

        The DWP likely costs more to the public purse than fraud would cost if we just abolished it entirely and gave everyone a basic income with disability addons paid out after supplying letter from doctor/ hospital specialist citing that you have x disease known to cause affects on daily living ability - pay disability support payment (PIP and ESA combined) that meets cost of living for disabled people (current system in no way pays the actual extra costs of being disabled)

        1. Evil_Goblin
          Trollface

          Re: I agree

          But then all those people currently employed directly or indirectly at the DWP would lose their jobs...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I agree

            I know thats a joke icon but I'd cry over that as much as I'd cry over SS members being shot "I was just following orders" didn't work as an excuse in 1945 did it?

    2. Kiwi Silver badge
      Pint

      Universal basic income is the answer, even Nixon considered it. Here's an interesting read on the subject with it's history,

      Basic income bill

      Thanks very much for that. Definitely an interesting read.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    more productive and profitable but at the expense of jobs

    a shocking revelation

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    violently agree (...) that the effect of technology on employment is ambiguous

    wtf...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A person on a moped delivering meals generates less revenue

    omg, another piece of Wisdom, in the yeah but no but yeah but no but fashion, because, wait for this:

    It doesn't mean the job is less valuable but with lower productivity you expect pay to be lower.

    WTF... how do you compare productivity of a moped rider (and their pay) with productivity of an MP twittering furiously at work, for instance...

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: A person on a moped delivering meals generates less revenue

      What about the knock-on effects? As one line put it, "Without teachers, where would doctors come from?"

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The constant mistake..

    ... Is to think of jobs as a scarce resource. Jobs are not a resource, they are the consumption of a resource. That resource being human labour.

    Automation is the use of less of that scarce resource in order to achieve the product. More efficient production raises the effective wages of all consumers.

    We'll only run out of new "jobs" - or demand for human labour - when we run out of new things to want. That's not an imminent concern.

    The thing that holds back creation of jobs - or demand for human labour - is almost universally state over-interference. Leave people as free as reasonable to produce and consume what they want, and jobs will happen.

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: The constant mistake..

      @grimmriffer

      Well said

    2. jmch Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: The constant mistake..

      "The thing that holds back creation of jobs - or demand for human labour - is almost universally state over-interference."

      Yes, those pesky things like minimum wage, food safety standards, consumer safety standards, universal healthcare... who needs those right?

    3. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: The constant mistake..

      Automation is the use of less of that scarce resource in order to achieve the product. More efficient production raises the effective wages of all consumers.

      It reduces the cost of living, and increases the effective purchasing power. The percentage of wages being spent on food for instance has fallen hugely in 200 years.

      This is however offset by the fact that the cost of living includes housing costs. These to be frank by historical levels are outright absurd and housing costs currently occupy the position that wheat did about 200 years ago today. This means that only a relatively privileged few actually have any significant disposable income.

      The reason we have an economic crisis in the west is that disposable incomes are so pathetically low as to prevent the majority of people from doing much more than pay for the requirements of life.

      1. jmch Silver badge

        Re: The constant mistake..

        "cost of living includes housing costs. These to be frank by historical levels are outright absurd"

        Housing is expensive because, as someone else pointed out, land is cheap, but land with planning permission is enormously expensive. Why? Supply and demand. Supply is restricted by valid environmental concerns, but also by NIMBYism (not wanting new developments close by) and jealousy (why should someone else make millions off their land while mine is worthless?).

        Increase the supply, the price will fall. All that is required is a few strokes of a pen. And opposition can be overcome by fair dealing (combine planning permission grants with a windfall tax on landowners whose previously worthless land is now worth millions, thus spreading around the value to the whole community)

        1. CountCadaver Bronze badge

          Re: The constant mistake..

          There's also builders "banking" land, buying farmer's fields dirt cheap and then spending 5 to 15 years lobbying (by legal and illegal means) local councillors, council officers etc to amend the local plan to include the fields they have purchased and to permit them to be rezoned from arable land / greenfield to development land and then building tiny numbers of poor quality disposable homes to keep market prices high

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: The constant mistake..

          House prices are high because interest rates have been determined by cost of living indices that exclude them. The result has been cheap money that's gone into bigger and bigger loans. The credit crunch should have drawn finance ministers' attention to that folly. Did it? No, of course not because cheap money is a vote winner as long as the voters don't connect it with their escalating house prices.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @grimmriffer - Re: The constant mistake..

      You're absolutely right! Slavery is the way! Productivity hits the max since you can freely overwork people while paying them 1$ per month. And if you use a whip, they can go into overdrive, for a limited time of course. This will create a lot of jobs in new sectors like barb-wire fencing, ergonomic shackles manufacturing, 24h surveillance and so on. I know of few large countries which tried this before and it worked pretty well.

      1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds

        Re: @grimmriffer - The constant mistake..

        Economics was called the 'dismal science' for explaining why slavery is uneconomic. Productivity is much lower, obviously, because slaves have to be forced to work, and the costs of enforcing compliance - overseers, whips, hunting down escaped slaves, etc - are high. Overall, it's cheaper to free your slaves and employ them.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: @grimmriffer - The constant mistake..

          Unless human capital is glutted. Then, to quote someone from Louisiana's infamous Angola State Prison: "One dies, get another."

  8. demon driver
    Thumb Up

    "Rethink this whole working to survive thing" indeed

    But there's an intrinsic economic issue in there. Trying to seriously assess it would open a can of worms, so noone does. It's not only that the distribution of income changes through productivity increases, it's that the value of things (as in market value, not in value-in-use), and, similarly, the value of money slowly drops. The less people work for the things a society produces, the less value the society generates and the less money is there to either give to the people or to finance the whole society, i.e. health, education, security, infrastructure.

  9. JulieM Silver badge

    The Future

    We'll all be waiting for a beep from our mobile phones, letting us know that there is a bicycle available for hire to do a delivery job. Whichever of us wins the scuffle that inevitably breaks out hopes to earn enough to cover the bike hire fee, a visit to a toilet and maybe have some left over to put towards a sleeping pod for the night. We will listen incredulously to stories of the days when people owned their own homes and their own vehicles.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Future

      Wow, I bet you're a laugh at parties.

      Do you realise that you're describing the situation of around 100 years ago, and that we moved FROM that TO the state of owning our homes and cars today?

      1. Joe Harrison

        Re: The Future

        UK home ownership consistently falling for 25-40 age group. This isn't because people have stopped wanting their own home.

        There is an annoying example of anti-automation at all my local supermarkets with petrol stations. The automatic car washes are all permanently not working, to avoid taking work from an army of blokes with buckets in the car park.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The Future

          "UK home ownership consistently falling for 25-40 age group. This isn't because people have stopped wanting their own home."

          This is because house building is over regulated. Planning permission is required, and not enough is being issued. A hectare of brown field costs about £10k. A hectare of brown field with planning permission costs about a million. That alone adds about 70k to a house price.

          On top of that, requirements to sell a portion of new build housing at a massive loss to provide "affordable houses" simply pushes up the cost of the remaining portion.

          And then there's stamp duty...

          1. tiggity Silver badge

            Re: The Future

            The big builders have huge land reserves, its in their interest to dribble out houses below demand so they can charge more.

            Artificial scarcity. Basic economics and although never proven, very much cartel like similar behaviour.

            Plenty of small builders looking to build houses (& better ones than the bland boxes the big builders do), they tend to lose out to big boys in bidding for the land though.

            Disclosure: A mate of mine is a builder and would love to build more houses if he could afford to outbid the big building companies on land. Main house building he does is the occasional house on small plots that are not worth it for the big boys to bid for.

          2. JulieM Silver badge

            Re: The Future

            Houses are too expensive is the problem. Houses have become so expensive, mortgages have had to get cheaper!

            In 1996, I bought a two-up, two-down terraced house for £30 000 -- the equivalent of 40 months' paycheques from the job I was working at the time. (Ten years earlier, prices for that type of house in that area had been in 4 digits -- but still more than my parents paid in the 1970s for their three-bedroom detached house).

            In 2010, I paid the last instalment on my mortgage. In the meantime, I had switched jobs and my monthly salary had approximately doubled; meanwhile, the value of my house had more than trebled. And that's the problem.

            There is no good reason why a three-bedroom semi-detached house should cost more than £50 000. Somebody is being greedy.

        2. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: The Future

          @Joe Harrison

          "UK home ownership consistently falling for 25-40 age group. This isn't because people have stopped wanting their own home."

          One thing that gripes me with this is the party attitude. The kids want to live the lifestyle of their parents but without the working up to it. The amazing amount of money that these kids can be separated from for phones, coffee, data, holidays abroad, virtual items in freaking games ffs, nice cars and credit cards to splash the cash. The parents worked their lives building wealth to live as they do now and the kids incomes are large enough (and access credit) to live the same lifestyle then wonder why they have no money.

          If you dont give your money away to someone else (especially debt and leasing) then you have that money to save and invest. If you want to buy a house you can do it on a freakishly bad mortgage plan or you can save some of that actually great income and put some down as a deposit.

          There are political issues such as how long it takes to get approval to make houses and the costs from the regulation of building but some kids actually do only start saving when they decide they want a house (then cry how long it will take to save).

          1. Peter2 Silver badge

            Re: The Future

            My parents managed to buy their first home for what I believe was a mortgage for around 3.5x my dads income, with 6 months salary saved for the deposit.

            Somebody today is required to spend 5.5x the combined salary of themselves and their partner, and have ~36 months worth of combined salary saved if you happen to live anywhere near a transport route that goes to London.

            Telling people how easy it was for you to save just a few months worth of salary for a deposit isn't helpful, it's an patronizing incitement to riot.

            1. codejunky Silver badge

              Re: The Future

              @Peter2

              "Somebody today is required to spend 5.5x the combined salary of themselves and their partner, and have ~36 months worth of combined salary saved if you happen to live anywhere near a transport route that goes to London."

              And your parents interest rates were? Much higher than now I expect. Yes there are places like 'London' but you live where you can afford and the luxury house is gonna be expensive. Maybe your parents or grandparents can tell you about the room sharing that went on when it came to living arrangements. It isnt some rosy they had it good and we got it bad.

              "Telling people how easy it was for you to save just a few months worth of salary for a deposit isn't helpful, it's an patronizing incitement to riot."

              Easy for me? Grow up. I put some money aside every month (I could afford) and didnt spend every penny I had. When I had to buy a house I had a deposit for a cheap house in an improving area. Many people have this facility yet still get into debt for clothes and holidays and other stupid stuff.

              There will be people down on their luck or unable to do this due to circumstances. So what about all the rest? It should be a simple enough concept to spend less than you make, live within your means. You should aim to keep your income above your expenses and going out every night, latest IPhone/PC/fashion accessory is not a necessary expense. Instead of blowing however much at costa and starbucks save that money and make your own coffee.

              Simple things people dont want to do yet that is how you save some money. I am not telling you how easy it is for me, I am telling you how easy it is. Screw the Joneses they are probably broke too with too much month at the end of their money (wonder if anyone recognises that quote).

              1. jmch Silver badge

                Re: The Future

                " It should be a simple enough concept to spend less than you make, live within your means. You should aim to keep your income above your expenses and going out every night, latest IPhone/PC/fashion accessory is not a necessary expense."

                What bubble are you living in? Do you have any idea how many people don't have the latest iPhone, don't go out every night or indeed at all, live in crappy housing, have to make use of food banks and local charities etc to eat, and still spend as much as they make because their income is a pittance?

                Yes, saving money is probably easy for anyone with an IT/Engineering degree or a lifetime of IT experience like, I suspect, most people on this site do. For many others, not so much.

                1. codejunky Silver badge

                  Re: The Future

                  @jmch

                  "Yes, saving money is probably easy for anyone with an IT/Engineering degree or a lifetime of IT experience like, I suspect, most people on this site do. For many others, not so much."

                  Such stinking bull there. That is the same garbage that claims the minimum living wage is £15 and everyone needs to have it or its the end!

                  Lets think of the typical body leaving school. So what do they do? If they get a job what expenses do they have? If they go into education while working what expenses do they have? They start a career what expenses do they have?

                  From what I have seen people find ways to spend their income so their expenses meet or exceed it. Kids with credit cards! Why? So they can shop. Keep up with the Joneses as they did in school on their parents dime with their brands. Take up smoking. Take up drugs. Take up drinking. Hell where I worked during college even some of those who had left education seemed to work to buy car parts and party. If they didnt do all that they could have been loaded!

                  Then starts a career where a nice shiny car is apparently required (some idiot I worked with leased his! Fresh out of college driving a fancy family vehicle). Get a partner and want to move together so rent as close to their budget as they can! Even buy pets! A coffee every morning, regular nights out even take out nights. Everyone else is having a baby so have one of those too. Oh yeah and want a house but not there and not there and bigger than that etc.

                  For a lot of people more money will only make them spend more. Doesnt matter if they have that IT degree, they do it too. And its not to poke fun at them, its a horrible situation to be in and it sucks explaining to someone why they are in that situation as they struggle.

                2. CountCadaver Bronze badge

                  Re: The Future

                  Even those with an IT degree often don't work in IT due to a lack of entry level positions due to offshoring, those in middle roles not wanting to move up the ladder and blocking promotion of those below or worse cannot move up the ladder themselves

                  The chances of someone starting on the shopfloor and working their way up as many did in the late 40s and 50s are non existent now, if you are born poor you will likely die poor, no matter how smart, hard working and entrepreneurial you are.

                  Whereas if you are born into wealth and go to the right schools, you can be as lazy and stupid as possible and still walk into a highly paid role and rapidly climb the executive ranks because "your face fits"

                  Highlighted recently that many firms would rather take a graduate from a upper middle class family and a public school background with a poor lower second class degree than a graduate with a good first from a working class background justified by waffle about "not fitting in" Didn't realise it was still the Napoleonic War period...

                3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                  Re: The Future

                  "What bubble are you living in?"

                  That's easy. A house price bubble driven by money poured into the housing market.

            2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: The Future

              "Telling people how easy it was for you to save just a few months worth of salary for a deposit isn't helpful,"

              It wasn't easy. It never has been and I'm sure it never will be. But house prices (and they determine land values, not the other way around) are driven by how much money is available to put into them. Mortgages depend on combined income? Of course. Back in the day it was more common for there to be a single wage-earner; now there are two that means more money to go into the housing market so the prices go up.

          2. J. Cook Silver badge
            Mushroom

            Re: The Future

            OK boomer.

            1. codejunky Silver badge

              Re: The Future

              @J. Cook

              "OK boomer."

              The Baby Boom generation is most often defined as those individuals born between 1946 and 1964

              Not even close.

          3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: The Future

            "a freakishly bad mortgage plan"

            When I had a mortgage interests rates were much higher than now. It's the low interest rate/cheap money policy that's driving house prices up.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: The Future

              No, what'd driving prices up is a cornered market. All the viable land for building has already been taken up by the mega-buyers who are banking on artificial scarcity (as well as enough spare change to "bribe" the government to keep them from taxing land holdings) to make an absolute killing. In their position, overpopulation is to their benefit.

              IOW, how do you build when there's nowhere left to build and no one's selling enough land to cover?

      2. SVV Silver badge

        we moved FROM that TO the state of owning our homes and cars today

        The point of the article is that today is not a fixed state. Home ownership has declined markedly for generations younger than the "we" that you are talking about. Change is the only constant, and there is no guarantee that tomorrow will be as prosperous, as competetiveness ebbs and flows depending on a whole range of factors. I'd rather there was a wide and thoughtful debate about how to evolve successfully with changes and innovations that we cannot completely control, rather than desperate attempts to grip onto nostalgia for imagined past golden ages or currently declining advantages.

      3. jmch Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: The Future

        "describing the situation of around 100 years ago, and that we moved FROM that TO the state of owning our homes and cars today?"

        If the 100 years you refer to are from around 1880-1980, you're spot on. Ever since then, lower and middle class incomes in 'western' have stagnated or declined, while many in poor-ish nations particularly in Asia and Latin America increased correspondingly. Those 2 probably about balance each other out, however almost all of the 'new' wealth created has gone to the 0.001% of international ultra-rich.

        Not coincidentally, this occurred during the period where 'western' nations went all-out into the 'trickle-down' theory of economics, the idea that a rising tide floats all boats. But what has really happened is that the ultra-rich have used their wealth and power to influence legal process (particularly around trade agreements and international / corporate tax), so effectively they created locks (containing their mega-yachts) around the wealth creation that blocks as much trickle-down as possible, so the rising tide effect was seen only in their locks while everyone else's (row)boat is stuck on the open ocean.

        Apologies for the metaphor-mixing!!

        1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds

          Re: The Future

          Every claim you make there is just a flat out lie. A Nazi lie, to be specific. Are you a Nazi, or just one of their useful idiots?

          Hint: if someone writes about 'the international super-rich', they're using a not very subtle codeword for this book - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_International_Jew

          "what has really happened is that the ultra-rich have used their wealth and power to influence legal process"

          And that's literally a conspiracy theory - one straight out of the above book, with the only difference being a substitution of 'ultra-rich' for 'Jews'.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: The Future

            I assume you haven't seen President Trump in action. If that isn't a textbook example of what you've just described, then you're rejecting reality and substituting your own, in which case it's no use arguing anymore (another point in the discussion: political parties have become so polarized they--honestly and truly--start seeing the other side as subhuman enemies of the universe).

      4. CountCadaver Bronze badge

        Re: The Future

        Already the transport sub committee in the house of commons mandated banning car ownership in favour of car usership aka MaaS (Mobility as a service - the car manufacturers utopia) with membership costs that are currently in the region of £400-500 per month, plus user fees charged by the minute, I wonder who put that idea in their heads? Justified by the old chestnuts of "tackling congestion" "enabling a modal shift onto public transport" and the new catch all "tackling the climate emergency" (ignoring that Britains emissions are just over 1% of global emissions and dropping year on year.....

        Houses are shrinking (Britain already has the tiniest homes in Europe), gardens are becoming postage stamps more than ever, thats if you get a garden at all, prices are ridiculous even in rural areas where people have lower pay, houses that were selling for less than £30K less than 20 years ago are now being sold for £80-£125K or more....

  10. Unicornpiss Silver badge

    A nation of takeout deliverers..

    For some reason this story reminded me of one of Neal Stephenson's early novels, "Snow Crash"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A nation of takeout deliverers..

      and so few delivery recipients.... this calls for yet another "disruptive", "ground-breaking", "revolutionary", "gig-e-conomy" scheme, i.e. virtual-real moped-gladiator "platforms", for those lucky few to be able to afford paying for a pizza delivery.

      And if you think it's crazy, such platforms have been in place for the last several years. Obviously, the lowest-price bidder scoops the lucky sod to pay him / her peanuts for the job. Obviously, when you pay peanuts, you get monkeys, but unlike the pizza which suspiciously smells of vomit, the bidders do _not_ care about quality of what they're getting. As long as it doesn't _totally_ smell of vomit, it's allright. But then, the irony, even this market is quickly disappearing, because ai-supported equivalent of lowest paid sods, is much faster, much cheaper, and still, no worse so... bye-bye humans.

      btw, a pretty accurate picture was presented in that (generally poor) bbc dystopian future series "years and years". But hey, it's gonna be allright, cause industrial revolution, see, no big deal! Only that soon, you know, it'll be an industrial revolution's on ai steroids and across the whole economy, across the whole world. Who's gonna pay income tax? Who's gonna buy all this shit people keep producing because "GDP growth must go on!"?

  11. scrubber
    Terminator

    Economic Basics

    Comparative advantage. Labour vs Capital. These are not new concepts and neither is capital replacing labour. What we have now though is an opportunity to seriously consider what to do with the excess returns on capital and whether a UBI or similar might enable a better standard of living for the vast majority rather than a temporary move to slave wages by those displaced by automation.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Economic Basics

      I'm not sure it's worth trying to talk economics here anymore. There used to be an economist on the staff, but it seems economic literacy didn't align with the register's new direction.

      1. Alistair Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Economic Basics

        @grimmriffer:

        Libertarianism has been hammered to death. Many of us here on the boards have read the manifesto, looked at Wall Street, and puked our guts out in revulsion. Uber and AirBNB are *symptoms* of what you want. I'd suggest thinking logically for yourself, if not for your friends and associates.

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: Economic Basics

          @Alistair

          "Libertarianism has been hammered to death. Many of us here on the boards have read the manifesto, looked at Wall Street, and puked our guts out in revulsion."

          If you puke at libertarians then you must surely have severe revulsion for socialism and communism and facism? Globalisation, free trade, capitalism and free markets have reduced the worlds actual poor to approximately 10% from whatever insane majority it used to be.

          1. jmch Silver badge

            Re: Economic Basics

            "If you puke at libertarians then you must surely have severe revulsion for socialism and communism and facism?"

            You know there IS a middle ground between communism and fascism right? Look at the social models of Scandinavian countries, Germany, Netherlands etc. It's perfectly possible to live in a fair, free society with good education, free press, affordable healthcare, open political debate, and a reasonable standard of living for most combined with a good environment for both big companies and startups, and rich people.

            US-style libertarianism has produced healthcare that is both more expensive and worse than any other 'western' country. It has produced the most poisonous political polarisation of any 'western' country. It has the biggest divide between rich and poor of any 'western' country. What was once the 'land of opportunity' has among the lowest social mobility of any 'western' country.

            And I believe it should be possible to lift the poorest people of the world out of poverty without simultaneously appropriating their resources on the cheap, stripping their environments bare and polluting their air and water.

            1. codejunky Silver badge

              Re: Economic Basics

              @jmch

              "You know there IS a middle ground between communism and fascism right?"

              Not much. both are the state direction of resources, the difference is communism takes nationalises them while facism directs the private enterprise. Both competing against each other on the far left as competing theories.

              "Look at the social models of Scandinavian countries"

              Interesting models with increased privatisation and more redistribution which has been shown to work on a homogeneous grouping although suffering the distinct damage caused from high tax which greatly reduces their growth causing them to ride on the backs of others. An interesting observation being the lack of change in class (social mobility) which the social models effectively entrenched.

              "US-style libertarianism has produced healthcare that is both more expensive and worse than any other 'western' country."

              Amusing but no. It is the worst of western countries. It is also the pioneer of a great deal of the technology, drugs, therapy and advancements even though the government interferences have inflicted an awful insurance system which they managed to even make worse. Yet the 'solution' proposed on the left is more gov cockup into the process. The last such intervention (Obama) leaving people without insurance (even people preferring no insurance!) and higher premiums in a woefully underfunded package.

              The Scandinavian one showing private healthcare isnt the problem.

              "What was once the 'land of opportunity' has among the lowest social mobility of any 'western' country."

              Amusingly and supporting you is the observation that the US is less freemarket than Scandinavia.

              "And I believe it should be possible to lift the poorest people of the world out of poverty without simultaneously appropriating their resources on the cheap, stripping their environments bare and polluting their air and water."

              And you would be wrong. Its a nice sentiment and I get that desire but where has that happened? Its been tried, communism and its various other socialist incarnations showing how much worse it can be.

            2. Dave314159ggggdffsdds

              Re: Economic Basics

              You know the middle ground you like so much is actually economic libertarianism?

              "US-style libertarianism has produced healthcare that is both more expensive and worse than any other 'western' country"

              Bollocks. The US healthcare system has far and away the best outcomes in the world - while also costing a fortune. That's why those who can afford to fly from poor countries to the US for treatment, not to Europe.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Economic Basics

                Well, that's also because procedures and drugs that have not been approved in Europe are approved in the US.

                Why is that? Could be for many reasons, one could be, its more profitable to push through things for approval that are risky, but does have a chance of succeeding, which people who have no real alternatives then seek those out.

              2. Charles 9 Silver badge

                Re: Economic Basics

                Then why are Americans flying to India for seemingly basic treatments? Could if be it's actually cheaper that way, airfare included?

                See, medical tourism is running BOTH ways.

          2. BGatez Bronze badge

            Re: Economic Basics

            Libertarians = I got mine

            1. codejunky Silver badge

              Re: Economic Basics

              @BGatez

              "Libertarians = I got mine"

              Authoritarians = Give me yours

  12. Lomax
    Flame

    Productivity

    Am I the only one who's noticed that the least productive jobs are often the best paid? How "productive" is a wealth fund manager? A film star? A footballer? A patent troll? When it comes to providing a basic standard of living for as many people as possible - which surely should be the main function of our economy* - their contribution is insignificant compared to that of the teacher, the nurse, the binman, the factory worker - all of which tend to fall in the lowest wage bracket. In fact, one could argue that rather than contributing the first category represents a net drain on the economy, while the working poor pull far more than their fair load.

    *) I.e. make sure everyone has a roof over their head and food on the table before worrying about the rights of billionaires.

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: Productivity

      @Lomax

      "How "productive" is a wealth fund manager?"

      Millions to billions providing for a large audience of people from rich to middle class.

      "A film star?"

      Entertainment to billions.

      "A footballer?"

      Entertainment to millions + endorsement value by becoming a brand.

      "A patent troll?"

      Depending on the patent and its application to the population it can be incredibly valuable.

      vs

      "the teacher"

      Maybe 100 per yr? Provided little autonomy to teach in the pre-college years while providing a service increasingly poor in quality.

      "the nurse"

      Hundreds of people in an industry overstaffed and over desired. Removing the training grants for training here still caused more applicants than spaces to train. Plus a massive reserve of qualified people available world wide.

      "the binman"

      A well paid job requiring less work as increased regulations put more work on the customer and political stupidity around recycling has caused a mix of useful and wasteful application of the binman.

      "the factory worker"

      Increasingly automated out of repetitive, low skilled and undesirable jobs.

      " In fact, one could argue that rather than contributing the first category represents a net drain on the economy, while the working poor pull far more than their fair load."

      Nope. Not even close.

    2. CountCadaver Bronze badge

      Re: Productivity

      I wouldn;t say teachers are amongst the lowest paid, they have a good union representation in the UK, generally secure work unless they do something REALLY terrible, their pay is often well above the median for the communities they serve.

      How often do you hear "my child's teacher is utterly hopeless" "complains about my kids writing but theirs is a chicken scratch" etc? Yet you very rarely if ever hear of bad teachers being sacked or dismissed from their posts.

      Personal experience, my secondary school in the 90s, half the teachers were < 5 years from retirement and most if not all had just given up, one proudly wrote how many days till retirement on the board at the start of every lesson and gleefully announced he could do whatever he wanted, even not bother to teach at all, he made constant mistakes, ridiculed pupils who pointed them out and yet no action was ever taken about him....then again the school consistently finished bottom of the county school list, even vs schools that served more deprived areas. Poor management didn't help either, the headmaster was also close to retirement, allowed discipline and uniform to entirely collapse on his watch and disruptive pupils to run rampant

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    EU Common Automation Policy

    As with the Command Agricultural Policy before it, I'm sure the EU will come up with a Common Automation Policy, which will involve every family in the EU being taxed a couple of thousand Euro's a year to ensure that some French assembly line workers are kept in a job.

  14. BGatez Bronze badge

    lotsa jobs

    At first many jobs lubricating robots until they make robots to do that. Finally everyone's job will be to order crap from Amazbot.

  15. BGatez Bronze badge

    Soylent green will even replace funeral directors

    1. CountCadaver Bronze badge

      Or perhaps "Soylent Majority"

  16. John Savard Silver badge

    Focus

    The problem isn't that technology exists. Or even that it is being applied to make things more cheaply, or diminish our burden of labor.

    The problem is that some people stop having skills that are badly enough needed that they can use them to bargain for a good rate of pay for their work.

    We got into this fix because of the free market system, though. That means we don't want to get rid of it, because it produces technological progress, prosperity, and political freedom. Yet, it seems like anything we do to fundamentally reduce people's dependency on the market value of their labor will come into conflict with the free market system.

  17. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    We have probably reached saturation point

    As automation is used increasingly, at first it results in mass-produced goods that are cheaper to make and therefore cheaper to buy. More and more people buy the goods in question - and the increase in the number of goods in use generally creates a whole new sector of jobs. When the motor car was something that only the extremely rich could afford, there were few in existance. As automation drove down the cost, more and more people could afford one, and this created a market for better roads, petrol stations, motor repair garages and motor accessories. Creating far more jobs than were lost when cars no longer had to be individuallt hand-made. The same is true of many other things. Desirable items became affordable and so more and more people had them.

    But we are close to, if not past the stage where everyone now has just about everything they need that can be mass-produced. So the tactic of marketing is to try to convince people to throw away what they have and buy a later model (which usually provides little or no increase in standard of living over the older model). And this tactic does not create any new jobs - on the contrary, the "new normal" of replacing goods rather than repairing has led to a decrease in the number of repair & servicing people needed. Supply exceeds demand, so factories have to scale down and manufacture far fewer widgets per day than they could easily make.

    So what we essentially have is a situation where the total material needs of everyone in the UK can be supplied by just a fraction of the population. We do not *need* more work to be done. If we want to retain our present economic model whereby everyone has to earn money by doing reasonably paid work, then if the amount of necessary work decreases the logical thing to do is to share the work more evenly. Employ twice as many people to do a job, but each working half the number of hours (for the same pay). The problem is that that will double the company payroll bill. So halve the income tax and provide government subsidies to help companies absorb the increase. The government will not lose out. Firstly half the tax from twice the number of people is break-even. Secondly there are far fewer people on state benefits if everyone is in a reasonably paid job, so the government saves money there.

    But there are alternative economic models that do not require everyone to have a fixed job and take home a salary. There is no reason why a suitably qualified person could not be a road sweeper one day a week and a surgeon 2 days a week followed by a 4 day weekend. Where the road sweeping job (and other non-skilled menial but necessary tasks) is a mandatory government requirement that everyone must do 1 day per week, and the surgeon is the chosen work. Some of the 4 day weekends could be used to attend trade schools or universities to become qualified so that a different "by choice" type of work could be undertaken. Plenty of other economic models will also work, but require major changes that will not be easy to achieve without major disruptions, so it will take some hard thinking to figure out how to make the change in easy stages.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We have probably reached saturation point

      Never happen

      1) govt loses out due to providing the subsidy to the company and from halving the tax rate

      2) I'd suggest massively upping the number of surgical course placements, thus pushing down the ability of the GMC to command 6 figure salaries for their membership due to "scarcity" and thus run operating theatres 24/7, thus getting people treated sooner and lowering long term support costs.

      3) Protectionist bodies / unions / membership schemes would lobby like mad to artificially constrain training numbers and protect their entry routes...

  18. ecofeco Silver badge

    My god the sheer ignorance of most of these comments

    See title.

    Jobs do not grow on trees. Re-training guarantees nothing. Education guarantees nothing. I know far too many people with incredible credentials who can never find permanent employment. Oh they work, but it's always temp or contract and without benefits and paid time off. I'm talking about people with STEM degrees and experience.

    After the last recession, the majority of new jobs in America were, and still are, low paying temp jobs.

    Jobs do not grow on trees. There are not infinite positions. Education, training and experience guarantee nothing and recessions put millions of people back to square one.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: My god the sheer ignorance of most of these comments

      So what do you propose? Every solution proposed seems to include a direct or indirect cull, which is instantly turned into, "They're gonna kill your mum!" Or "They're gonna kill your kids!" Or even, for the totally orphaned, "They're gonna kill YOU!"

  19. RunawayLoop

    Automation heaven

    Can we please start by automating politicians. I for one cannot wait to be rid of this particular class of 'people'.

  20. fishman

    De-Globalization

    Extensive automation could have the effect of reducing the globalization of trade. One of the drivers of globalization is cheap labor. If labor costs are slashed through extensive automation then other costs, such as transportation or energy could drive where items are produced.

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