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Is Technology Eroding Employment? 544

First time accepted submitter Idontpostmuch writes "The idea that technology cannot cause unemployment has long been taken as a simple fact of economics. Lately, some economists have been changing their tune. MIT research scientist Andrew Mcaffee writes, 'As computers and robots get more and more powerful while simultaneously getting cheaper and more widespread this phenomenon spreads, to the point where economically rational employers prefer buying more technology over hiring more workers. In other words, they prefer capital over labor. This preference affects both wages and job volumes. And the situation will only accelerate as robots and computers learn to do more and more, and to take over jobs that we currently think of not as "routine," but as requiring a lot of skill and/or education.'" Note: Certainly not all economists agree "that technology cannot cause unemployment," especially in the short term. From a certain perspective, displacing labor is a, if not the, central advantage of technology in general.
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Is Technology Eroding Employment?

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  • Player Piano (Score:4, Informative)

    by schneidafunk ( 795759 ) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @04:42PM (#42279143)
    This reminds of 'player piano' by Kurt Vonnegut. It was his first book published and one of the best.
  • by DrEasy ( 559739 ) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @04:57PM (#42279427) Journal

    Look no further than in agriculture. Just a century ago, what percentage of people used to work in the farms? What's that percentage now? People then moved into the manufacturing industries, but work there has also been replaced by machines to a great extent, and cheaper labor in other countries.

    It doesn't take a lot of human labor to fulfill our basic needs anymore, and so people have been trying to create needs we didn't think we had. This is why so much rides on advertisement these days. Is there a point where the incremental improvement in our comfort is no longer worth the money we'd spend to get it? That's when we'll probably face major unemployment issues...

  • Re:Modern Luddites (Score:2, Informative)

    by agm ( 467017 ) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @05:44PM (#42280191)

    Consider the fact that your government confiscates ever greater amounts of your pay and savings via inflation.

    The government doesn't confiscate your money via inflation. Inflation is a natural consequence of supply and demand. The government confiscate your money via *taxation*.

  • Re:Modern Luddites (Score:4, Informative)

    by Vaphell ( 1489021 ) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @06:06PM (#42280555)

    wtf? tell that to the Weimar Republic or Zimbabwe
    when govt/central bankers conjure money out of thin air, they transfer a chunk of purchasing power distributed among the existing money to that new pool. They had nothing before, now they have some purchasing power to spend. Magic? If you keep it simple, taxation is about transfering purchasing power to the govt and both legit taxation and inflation fulfill these criteria.
    Actions of govt bodies have nothing to do with supply and demand and everything to do with central planning.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982