Friday, June 28, 2013

Second Crazy Thought of the Day

This is going to annoy Noel.  A lot.


Noel and I have been discussing the Robopocalypse in email for some time.  Carlos, James and Doug have also been participants, for that matter.  However, the basic thought has been whether or not the coming of automata, computer driven automata, will be a problem for people, especially for Americans (the rest of you, too, but we're both yanqi, and somewhat nationalist, so we're viewing our tribe first).

Yes, Virginia, the droids are going to take a lot of jobs.  The argument is whether or not this is a bad thing (Noel, yes.  Me, no).  And whether or not the Singularity style uploads or their equivalent will allow force obsolesce of even the creative class or insight driven jobs (Noel, worried.  Me, not concerned in the least; why is for a post after the holidays).

However, one point Noel makes very, very well is with the Robopocalypse, labor in the sense of manufacturing, construction, many basic service jobs, etc will be going away.  Labor will be replaced by capital.  This helps divorce productivity from population size.  So long as you have the money to buy the equipment, the number of people running it will be quite low and wages will not dominate.  Why send it off to China (originally for the wage differential), when the machines will cost the same here or there and you do not have transport costs for the end goods.

Now, this has some concerns (lower employment for production, even for many, many services) and how to solve that is something to be addressed.  However, that's not the question I am going to address here.  Its not the Crazy Thought.

If it takes $ to buy the machines of the Robopocalypse and it grows the economy greatly, it would seem to follow the more $ you have, the more you are able to build out and have the greater production and economic growth in the sense of lower level services. 

The United States is the wealthiest nation in the world.  Our economy is second to none and the part of the reason we're 'losing ground' to China (and in the future India) is their numerical superiority: if they had the same percentage of middle class, they'd have far, far more folks which to draw their creative class from and work the jobs we have, etc.  And they'll do it for less for some time.

 So.  We're richer.  Those machines cost $.  Those machines negate China's advantage.  or India's.

Seen the crazy thought yet?

If we, as in the United States, wanted to stay on top of the heap in the 21st and possibly later centuries, the Robopocalypse seems like a damned good way.

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