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Recession, Tech Kill Middle-Class Jobs 586

Un pobre guey writes "'To understand the impact technology is having on middle-class jobs in developed countries, the AP analyzed employment data from 20 countries; tracked changes in hiring by industry, pay and task; compared job losses and gains during recessions and expansions over the past four decades; and interviewed economists, technology experts, robot manufacturers, software developers, entrepreneurs and people in the labor force who ranged from CEOs to the unemployed.' Their findings: Technology has consistently reduced the number of manufacturing jobs for 30 years; people with repetitive jobs have been easy to replace in the past, and task jugglers like managers and supervisors will be likely targets in the future; companies in the S&P 500 have expanded their business and increased profits, but reduced staffing, thanks to tech; and startups are launching much more easily these days. The response to the article includes the dutifully repeated bad-government-is-at-fault and don't-worry-it's-like-the-Industrial-Revolution memes. But what if this time it's different? What if delegating everything to machines is a radical and fundamental new change in the course of human history?"
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Recession, Tech Kill Middle-Class Jobs

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @05:56PM (#42673949)

    No. College != vocational school. If you have a proper education that teaches you how to think then you can devour the technical manual for some new machine in one night, be slow but proficient the next day, and master it in a month or two.

    If you cannot become the type of person that devours the tech manual in one night, then training is just throwing money down a hole. The types of jobs where training consisted of a manager giving you a few simple instructions and leaning over your shoulder for a few days to make sure you have it right? Those jobs are GONE.

  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @06:10PM (#42674127)

    The point of college/university is to teach you how to think not fucking tradeschool. The classes you refer as filler and fluff are the damn point!

  • Re:André Gorz (Score:3, Informative)

    by Torvac ( 691504 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @06:10PM (#42674133)
    his later books show ways to get around some of the problems he predicted. totally worth reading.
  • Re:As intended. (Score:5, Informative)

    by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @06:11PM (#42674135) Homepage Journal

    reduction of people in manual labor jobs is intentional or if not intentional then the intentional GOAL of progress. that's what enables us to have droves of scientists, armies of professional athletes and more artists per capita than ever in every field. just a hundred years ago most people were occupied on producing basic necessities like food - now pretty much everyone in developed countries is fed, yet very few of us work in food production. that's on purpose.

    doesn't have much to do with feudalism though. quite the opposite. you want feudalism, you keep everyone on manual labor, you keep everyone on leash - you don't just set them free to do whatever they please with all the information in the world. you pay few to tax them to feed the masses.. that's more akin to socialism and the star trek goal there is to eventually have just very, very few of us toiling on food production and have everyone else do research and production of whatever gimmick devices they want.

  • if he won't (Score:5, Informative)

    by nten ( 709128 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @06:23PM (#42674285)

    I will go ahead of the AC won't. During the depression progressives froze wages, business responded by offering incentives like health care and dental to work around the wage freeze when recruiting talented workers. It became an expected benefit, and then a codified one.

  • Re:Specificity? (Score:4, Informative)

    by CohibaVancouver ( 864662 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @06:29PM (#42674391)

    What jobs exactly are even considered middle class seems to be highly contentious and subjective.

    Depends how far back you go, I suppose. If you go back 35 years, you'd find lots of people working in manufacturing (autos / ships / whatever), steelwork etc. who were 'middle class.' They owned a car and a house, raised a family, maybe went to a ballgame on the weekend. Those are the jobs that are gone.

  • Re:André Gorz (Score:4, Informative)

    by radtea ( 464814 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @06:37PM (#42674503)

    Rises in productivity due to automation are incompatible with a culture that values 'work' on a moral basis, and associates it with a persons identity.

    This is the critical thing, in much the same way that decoupling wealth and power from land ownership during the Industrial Revolution was incompatible with a culture that valued landed estates on a moral basis, and associated them with a person's identity (at least for the gentry, who were after all the only people who counted as "people", back in the day.)

    It took something closer to centuries than decades for a relatively small and educated class to come to terms with that (my Scotish friends tell me England is still struggling with it.)

    Today, we have a system of distribution of benefits from social producitivity [*] that depends on "work", while automation is rapidly eliminating jobs while maintaining productivity (and therefore profits for owners.)

    It is of course completely indeterminate how this is going to end, but we can be pretty sure that a hundred years from now the status quo of the past century in which paid corporate employment has been the common basis for the distribution of wealth, won't be the norm, and more than the leasehold farming and villiage life that was the norm in England in 1750 much resembled the average English life in 1850 (Male Employment in Agriculture/Industry = 1760: 52.8%/23.8%; 1840: 28.6%/47.3%).

    [*] if you don't think social goods like the rule of law in general and the Companies Act in particular are absolutely necessary, though admittedly not sufficient, for "private" corporations to exist, much less thrive, you might be a libertarian lunatic

  • by joss ( 1346 ) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @04:28AM (#42678393) Homepage

    You ain't seen nothing yet. There's a short story about where all this is going.. [].. two models of the future in there, but I only find one plausible.

All seems condemned in the long run to approximate a state akin to Gaussian noise. -- James Martin