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AI Technology

If I Had a Hammer 732

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Tom Friedman begins his latest op-ed in the NYT with an anecdote about Dutch chess grandmaster Jan Hein Donner who, when asked how he'd prepare for a chess match against a computer, replied: 'I would bring a hammer.' Donner isn't alone in fantasizing that he'd like to smash some recent advances in software and automation like self-driving cars, robotic factories, and artificially intelligent reservationists says Friedman because they are 'not only replacing blue-collar jobs at a faster rate, but now also white-collar skills, even grandmasters!' In the First Machine Age (The Industrial Revolution) each successive invention delivered more and more power but they all required humans to make decisions about them. ... Labor and machines were complementary. Friedman says that we are now entering the 'Second Machine Age' where we are beginning to automate cognitive tasks because in many cases today artificially intelligent machines can make better decisions than humans. 'We're having the automation and the job destruction,' says MIT's Erik Brynjolfsson. 'We're not having the creation at the same pace. There's no guarantee that we'll be able to find these new jobs. It may be that machines are better than that.' Put all the recent advances together says Friedman, and you can see that our generation will have more power to improve (or destroy) the world than any before, relying on fewer people and more technology. 'But it also means that we need to rethink deeply our social contracts, because labor is so important to a person's identity and dignity and to societal stability.' 'We've got a lot of rethinking to do,' concludes Friedman, 'because we're not only in a recession-induced employment slump. We're in technological hurricane reshaping the workplace.'"
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If I Had a Hammer

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  • by Adam Jorgensen ( 1302989 ) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @05:27AM (#45948915)

    Why don't we have 95% of the population exploring one branch of science or another? Why can't more books be written? More movies be done? More people help those who need help?

    Would it be so bad to live in a world where there is 0% NEED to work and everyone just decides whether they want to be a medic, or an astrophysicist, or a script writer, or...

    Only amazingly lazy people believe everyone would stop "working" if it was voluntary. Even if the only payment was respect by the society, joy, or simply to fight boredom, most people would do something.

    You're ignoring the fact that 99% of the populace are too stupid to do anything other than make-work.

  • by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @05:41AM (#45949001)

    Let me guess: the way out is an outdated system from the 19th century that was discredited again and again in the 20th, and yet is inexplicably popular among university professors of the 21st.

    sure lets go off the deepend here lets imagine a sort of


      where there's enough automated production to support people doing whatever they want; so it becomes entirely viable that some will pursue art, others will pursue getting high, and others will pursue science, research, and increasing the efficiency of the already automated means of production... not because they need to survive, but because they want to.

    Everyone gets a home. Everyone gets food. Everyone gets medicare. Doesn't matter what the fuck they do. Theres enough automated production to meet that demand.

    Then you can go earn whatever you want beyond that however you like tax free, if you like... or you can live in a basic home, on a basic food stipend, with your free medicare and get high for the rest of your life... or read bad star trek fan-fic while dressed like a romulan stripper... whatever floats your boat.

    Its not "tax and redistribute" because the base means of production for that base layer was realized entirely by automation. They took that production from the "robots". Not from you.

    All that has to happen is that there be enough of a national infrastructure to ensure that theres enough publically owned robotic production to meet the basic needs of the population, and the political will to ensure it isn't dismantled.

    Utopian fantasy? Hard to say. But if, as you argue, technology brings ever more production per human then at some point its almost inevitable that it would be very achievable. Our basic needs are relatively inflexible in the face of a means of production that is growing without bound. Do the math.

  • Dear PhD AI worker,

        How come you're not being paid 2x what you are now? Yes, 2x. Productivity of the worker has gone up 2x in real terms since 1973. Yet your pay is less than that, even YOURS, Dr. AI worker.

        Suppose most jobs are automated, and the few remaining jobs have many highly qualified people who need that job. What happens to the price of labor? Market forces push wages down--people underbid you just to work. THAT is why your pay doesn't match your productivity. And the trend is accentuating.

    Those high paid high level creative jobs you like to imagine? They ONLY exist if there is market for them, i.e., if the 1% (or whoever controls the resources) decides to allocate resources for them.

      And they're not, hence the depressed wages ACROSS THE BOARD. I've got a PhD too, doing creative non-automatable work, and I SURE WOULD like to be getting paid 2x as much. But I'm not, and it's flatly because the rest of the labor market is depressed.

        I'd sure love to keep doing creative non-automatable work, but I can only do that if it pays, which in turn depends on how many creative non-automatable jobs the 1% wants to devote resources for. And guess what: the 1% is apparently deciding that research and technology investment needs to drop because it is a "cost". Government investment is declining too. So capital (the 1%) thrives on productivity increases and everyone who must labor, is, frankly, slowly starving to death.

        At least in the USA.



  • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @09:54AM (#45950145)

    Here's an article [] that's relevant to your point.

Loose bits sink chips.