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The race to the bottom in driving labor costs out of business is driving deeper and deeper into white collar territory. Just when you thought you couldn't take "journalism" lower than the work of article chop shops like Demand Media, it sounds like Narrative Science has figured out how to do a good job of having a computer generate timely news stories for sporting events, stock market news, and company announcements.

Throw in self-driving cars, even Foxconn replacing factory workers with robots, automated stock trading, and you have to start thinking about the future of work. Since the cycle of capitalism depends on consumers as well as producers, and consumers are less and less able to find employment, at some point, we're going to have to start thinking about how to put people to work, rather than how to put them out of work.
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Either putting people to work or sharing the wealth in some other manner.
 
an o'reilly conference on work and tech would be interesting...
 
Maybe someday I'll be able to use this technology myself. I can just let some 'bot be me online and I'll just stay home and read books!
 
It's not a problem of work but a problem of economic value add. 
 
Copy and paste approach or pirate translations are still better for blogs. For serious newspapers... the same but you just must be more careful.
 
I think that point is already with us.
 
This could make writing a scientific paper (or maybe a bachelor's thesis?) much easier ;-)
 
I saw this...it may not necessarily be artificial intelligence though.Not as amazing to me as Google translate and there is no intelligence in that either....
 
It is starting to look like the consumer class is no longer needed.
 
And I would add that Google Translate most certainly is AI, and also a case of machine learning.
 
To put it in a historical perspective: 200 years of transfering dull tasks from men to machines have created wealth and prosperity unseen in any century or society before.
 
Does this put a temporary premium on human creativity until the digital revolution gets to the point where computer circuits become more creative than humans?
 
Amazing Google translate is well represented on Facebook ads. You will never gradute 7th grade talking like this.
 
This is a scary cycle that I wish a lot more people would recognize.
 
There will always be things that humans do better than machines at a given time. Throw enough humans at a problem and you can solve things that you couldn't before. People just have learn to adjust to the manual jobs available at the time. If you're not doing an important enough job that it can be automated then you're going to have to deal with this happening.

I doubt journalism is really in danger of this right now. Good commentary is still very important. Analysis is the real value with journalism.
 
After High Frequeny Trading (HFT) will we have High Frequency Writing (HFW)? The only thing that will be missing then is High Frequency Reading (HFR)! Barrages of news that are outdated already when a human starts to read them...
 
Well, If you are think you are ill, no AI could stop you using Wikipedia to find all symptoms including alien abduction :)
 
If the content can be relevant and beneficial, I don't see a problem here. We still have the bottleneck of human's ability to absorb information. I don't think it's fair to suggest a human cannot be enlightened by software.
 
Consider the limit.... What if we had technology such that one person could feed the whole world? Or take care of all material needs? Would that be bad because there's no work left?
 
+Ben Collins Sorta agree. I think machine generated prose should be labeled though (like online advertising)
 
Delicious is about suggesting content not creating it, or I miss something? In fact in many ways all social media including G+ are kind cooperative inteligence, by suggesting news and commenting it.
 
At least we won't have to deal with the machine putting the Main Stream Media's decidedly liberal bias on stories !!
 
I've already encountered radiologists being offshored to places like Pakistan.

I'm wondering when Goldman-Sachs is going to realize that its analysts can be located in Bangalore or, more appropriately, Nigeria, for much lower cost - and much lower bonus levels - than New York City.
 
People need to contribute. If society designs them out of having any meaningful way of doing so, expect the dawn of a new dark ages brought on by the backlash of the disenfranchised cleaning house. With freedom comes responsibility but unfortunately too few step back and take a proper look at the wider effects of taking none.
 
Not sure that kind of sport reporting is a job I would fight to keep.
 
+Randall Powell Yup, Manchester capitalism initially created unemployment and poverty, like the neolithic revolution created famine and starvation. In the end, both led to more wealth for more people, doing easier jobs - at least measured by life expectancy.
Nobody is becoming a journalist to write these kind of articles. But realizing your personal unemployment as just a part of the growing pains of a new era is not too soothing.
 
Creepy, and also perhaps a sign of more to come? Still it's clearly limited to reporting on events with a statistical or analytic focus. I hope they're able to expand this to other kinds of coverage.
 
When the auto-bots start getting a human personality, then i'll be worried. But if they are trying to get a pulitzer prize winning piece, then maybe they already have that part figure out.
 
There are news-driven stock trading bots out there. If bots are making the news and then other bots trading on the news, we have an interesting feedback loop in place.
 
I clicked through to the thing that was written by a computer, and, um, I guess people reading sports reports aren't real readers, because the entire game description appeared to be written in couplets with no joins in between. I would have ascribed it to a rookie reporter. It is definitely (currently) limited to reporting on events that have a lot of numbers/statistics. But then, the decline of journalism started in the 80's when (TV) news was allowed to become infotainment.
 
Andrea it started before that with 60 minutes - that was the end of "news as a public service" and the beginning of news as "info-tainment"
 
May be it is too late for American capitalism to change the direction?

In first 11 years of 21st century USA exported in average 2 millions of "good" jobs and these jobs are not coming back to USA. And please keep in mind that american population is growing but number of "good" jobs is decreasing at the same time!

Basically the stupidity of "global economy" (proclaimed by large corporations for own benefits with disregard of what is good for American people) and lack of government policies to protect American jobs is making Americans less and less "affluent". Rich (1%?) won class war in USA (and may be globally too) and they do not care about other 99%.
 
Future world will be deeply automated ... production jobs won't exist ... basic needs will be provided by the state ... we will learn, research and publish as we explore our artistic and intellectual dimensions ...
 
+Patrick M it seems like you are speaking directly from Asimovs Foundation series - yet I agree
 
+Tim O'Reilly The other option is to figure out how to make automated systems (computer- and robotic-based) to start paying their fair share for global benefits. I of course am being (somewhat) facetious, but there is a societal cost to all this automation.

Businesses gain significant beneftis from all sorts of infrastructure services that human-based consumers and producers pay for (invest in) via taxes. Even though businesses are pushing the humans out of the production end of the equation, they still expect to utilize human-based consumer-financed infrastructure services.
 
I wonder what point of view these computer algorithms will impart to the articles they generate. Political (right, center, left), economic (Keynes, Schumpeter, Friedman, ...), philosophical (...), spiritual (...), ...

I suspect there's room for writers who have something to say. I just hope there'll be people willing to pay for what they write.

We, as consumers of information, may need to step away from the notion that information is free of charge, particularly quality information.
 
The sample story makes me wonder whether this robot is adding much to the reader's comprehension by rewriting a set of data points as narrative sentences. Could the same information be conveyed more efficiently by a visualization? Are these generated texts a compatibility layer for the sake of "legacy readers"?
 
"I think machine generated prose should be labeled".
Yes, I only trust things from a typewriter, but that's a machine too... I should I rely only on information monks have copied on papyrus with a quill pen.

Whether something is AI or not depends on whether it is successful. The moment a technology works its fundraiser's claim it's not AI. It is Optical Character recognition, or voice recognition, or personality simulation... Hence AI's reputation as a collection of technologies that don't work grows truer increasing the stigma.

Journalism's weakness lies in its unwillingness to use or understand numbers, leading to out-of-proportion priorities. This is partly due to the custom of fact-checking numbers, which causes missed deadlines and missed paychecks. Why risk a number when an adjective will do?

I find mainstream media pathetic because "Objectivity" requires equal word count "on both sides" of any issue deemed controversial. Mad-Libs would be better!
 
We are engineering a future with fewer jobs and more people. Perhaps a shift in how we plan our future is in order (or perhaps a shift to planning our future?).

"The course of human progress staggers like a drunk, its steps are quick and heavy and its mind is slow and blunt" -OPIV
 
"...sporting events, stock market news, and company announcements"? Sounds deserving of one of Slashdot's famous "and nothing of value was lost" quips. Those three categories aren't exactly the place I look for insight and certainly not capable writing.
I'm more concerned about the poor quality of material coming out of real news desks. If it gets any worse, we might as well replace them with computers - at least we'll get rid of some bias and sensationalism.
 
I hope this robot could understand our (spoken/written) language also and respond to it, not just these datasets.
 
+Chance Gray , I agree. I don't necessarily see this (or any other) technology/automation as the biggest long-term risk in terms of employment. I'm beginning to think that the biggest long-term risk to strong employment is our unquestioning belief in the 40+ hour work week -- especially for manual labor jobs. Right now, corporations are chasing cheap labor. But what happens when automation takes us to the point where there's just not 40 hours of manual labor per manual laborer in the world? Will 30 hours per week mean fully employed with a good wage? Why not 20?
 
+Brandon Jubar I believe there are countries which already take part in job sharing like that. It does seem like it could be a means of gradually getting off of this need for everyone to have a "job". BTW, check out that article +Chad Walker mentioned.
 
Revolution happened when changes were too rapid and too intense. Digital revolution was mentioned and discussed many years ago, but it was more of an evolution rather than a revolution up to this point in time and in a foreseeable near future.

Will those in the Gen X and Baby Boomers experience a Digital Revolution? This is a very interesting answer to know...

In my understanding, in any Revolution, many people will get hurt... the world just work that way whether you like it or not. It just keep going round and round.
 
This is amazing. The real questions is, what level of quality are these articles? Nonetheless, very cool.
 
The point isn't how good the articles are, just the trend line.

And I certainly don't think that the issue is that there aren't useful or valuable things for humans to do out along that trend line. It's just that our economy is going to be challenged to find and value them at the scale necessary. The "post GDP" world will look very different from this one, and there will be a lot of economic and human pain in the transition.
 
I read an article about the middle age work and that working then was considered as a curse. It is fairly recent that "work", all consuming work is the norm. It is making us sick as a people. There is little sense in working 60+ weeks whether in a startup or struggling for survival wages. In other words, a future paradise may include no work but today, being out of work is a curse and a tragedy. I agree that the transition will be strange. As most people stay out of work there is no money floating around but in the capitalist world and increasingly less and less at that.
 
I'm a firm believer in the pendulum theory. Once it swings too far in one direction (hindsight's 20/20, we know) it has to correct. It can't just hover there.

A perfect example of this to me (I am not getting political, save your flames) was the Tea Party's emergence in 2009. A direct response to not only what they saw as the administration's overreach—that was just the tipping point—but the perceived trend of Washington's disregard for what they, specifically, held dear.

I often wondered how long conservatives would grumble on about their grievances, perceived or real, and in '09 I found out.

This theory seems to hold steady across the spectrum. Barring serious rule-changes, paradigm shifts, etc.
 
Or live in a society which does not require us to work :)
 
I wholeheartedly agree and would only add that there isn't anything new about technology displacing workers. The fact that in this case history is repeating itself should only serve to simplify the issue and reduce anxiety. Pick any problem: education, green power, reducing waste, space exploration, drug addiction, whatever -- there is a lot that needs doing, and business needs to get out of the way of government and let government do what it does best, which is establishing the rules of the game.
 
I think the industrial revolution analogy doesn't apply because the rate of change was much slower- if obsolete workers can retire (a little early) and die out naturally, they'll never become a huge fraction of the workforce and society can absorb the impact of technological change without too much collective forethought.

But if you're looking at massive technologically driven unemployment in many fields in the next 10 or 20 years then realizing that now and being proactive seems very necessary.
 
Beware the knowledge and skills loss... what are we going to end up with? A few wealthy people who can afford the stuff thats made by robots and the likes... and very little in terms of ordinary workers?

So it seems that the Future is now Upon Us? It pales in comparison to the Society at Leisure idea... too much time... enough to spend and perhaps a few places to go to... Will never forget my visit to Morrocco 10+ years ago when a young UK couple joined us in Marakesch -- They were on the doll -- and could afford to holiday... I, in comparison, had to work for months and save up every possible Rand and cent in order to go on to this special!!!

Now we sit with enough workers, no money to spend and no-where to go since we have seen it all...

Legalize euthenasia and commercialise human body spare parts... Is that next?
 
+Randall Powell Can I ask a dumb question? What do you mean by "communities and citizens?" Full disclosure, when I wrote "business" I meant "the GOP." :)
 
Interesting this this post is from the popularizer of Gibson's unevenly distributed future quote. Way way back I used to devour those Popular Science articles that promised us a future of leisure. That future is here, but with a warped allocation of leisure to one group of people, and wealth and jobs to the other.
 
Maybe what we need is a lot less people. You hear a lot of talk about countries like Japan not having enough young people to replace all the old people as they retire. However, maybe this is not a problem after all. There would certainly be many, many benefits to the planet if there were less of us. Of course, that would mean less consumers, too. However, companies seem to making pretty large profits without many consumers these days.
 
Companies with fewer workers pay less payroll taxes, so I guess they can afford a higher rate on their profits. All that money could then be used to pay government workers to do things like build infrastructure, etc. Teachers could get paid a fair wage, which would attract good ones to the field. What about a national healthcare system? How about more basic science research?
 
Lot Less people -- for sure -- See ideas of Prof David Benatar from Univerity of Cape Town, South Africa re 'Its better not to be' (http://bookslive.co.za/bookfinder/ean/9780199549269) also various groups opposing human procreation and attempts to legalise euthenasia; Indeed we need less people -- or then a redistribution of people -- India needs a lid on its rate of procreation for sure... ironically its the highly developed and relatively wealthy that are experiencing declining populations.

Capitalism and the principles of consumerism are all in for big big changes... and we will probably see - in our times - how this whole system gets warped under its own weight.

Well, since there is a call in my country for a white tax (whites must pay a guilt tax for having benefitted from Aparheid -- see Bishop Desmond Tutu's latest remarks and that of Samantha Vice, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at Rhodes University. (http://www.witness.co.za/index.php?showcontent&global[_id]=65063)

So, while on the topic of population redustribution, is there any country out there willing to take on a white bloke with a few qualifications behind his name to fill their declining population? Oh, by the way, Im past the age of procreation so I will not be able add to your population growth
 
I just re-read Kurt Vonnegut's novel, Player Piano. It was published in 1952 but is sadly relevant today. :(
 
+Bill Warner I don't know if Detroit is a fair comparison. Or even if any shrinking population is likely to be a fair test free of confounding data.

My knowledge of industrial america is basically non-existent. But didn't a shrinking local economy cause Detroit's population decline.


I quite like the idea of a 20 hour work week. And I don't even think we need more automation than we have now. If we label an arbitrary point as "good enough", every time the economy grows past that point hand out more vacations and shorter hours to everyone.

The two big problems are of course: Distributing the wealth, and making sure rival economics with 40 hour work weeks don't eat you alive.
 
Now all we need is computer-generated readers. :)
 
A lot of sports journalism comes in two formulaic flavors: the game recaps this software produces, and the articles that fit outcomes to a handful of standard angles (player X finally wins the big one, player Y chokes in the clutch, role players come through for championship team, etc). This is an awesome application of AI but I don't see it eliminating the sorts of insightful sports writing that I like to read. At least not yet...
 
Seriously, adjust the taxation regime so that the productivity gains from automation are shared evenly by consumers and capital, instead of being given completely to capital. Progressive income and capital gains tax with a credit on the lower end. You can call me crazy, but it's inevitable; the only question is how many riots and how much plunging property value due to crime before it happens.
 
I think Foxconn are augmenting with robots, not replacing employees - the announcement where this was mentioned, said that they would add several hundred thousand employees too, not just 1 million or so robots.
 
For the shorter term - such as one lifetime - I am already in a network/community-of-interest that curates & shares information-writing/journalism that is the real thing, via email at present. G+ could be a venue. So could Facebook, actually. Few people use either venue to the greatest extent provided by feature capabilities. I think these kinds of networks will grow & create a distinct & discerning market for the real thing, as compared to ...

@Jann Van Hamersveld - I too think about deep-backup - not only paper archives but the oral-tradition & young colleagues.
 
No computer will ever pander, slant and slander like FOX News can! U-S-A! U-S-A! U ... ah, nevermind
 
+Tim O'Reilly - who are the serious journalists who got into their profession to write the kind of bite-sized, step-wise how-to articles and similar intro-level content that eHow specializes in? (Disclosure: I work for Demand Media, though not anywhere in the content business.) I'm always amazed at the reflexive slamming of DMD for putting journalists out on Skid Row when we've never created a news article, and simply no one who would typically label themselves a journalist would go out of their way to write this:

http://www.ehow.com/how_4487461_clean-battery-terminals-baking-soda.html

or:
http://www.ehow.com/how_2118286_xeriscape-garden.html

I struggle to understand how this is a threat to serious writing or reportage. Craigslist was and is vastly more disruptive to the news industry, and if you want to criticize cheaply-made content that takes clicks and ad dollars away from mainstream sources, why not slam Stack Exchange for paying nothing to authors and using their SEO skills to steal eyeballs from O'Reilly sites? By the logic of those who lament "content mills", Stack Exchange is rapaciously exploiting an unpaid workforce and threatening journalists at hundreds of other tech how-to sites.

I think most of us on this thread understand how untrue that is.
 
The question no one is asking in business or labor is this: What makes Americans desirable as employees? From Detroit to IT, we expect the President to maintain our economic status quo while the world changes around us.

If Unions were competitive instead of bureaucratic and political, we would attract more business not less.
 
Rather than writing sports articles, I see uses for this in summarising tabular data for humans in general. From summarising the highlights of last night's regression test suite run to summarising the day's management accounts to the Board for a large organisation...
 
+Bill Warner I don't deny that population growth has gone hand in hand with economic growth historically. But, that was because there was always more work for more people who spent their money on more stuff. If people don't have jobs or money, I don't think the historical norm holds true. As an aside, I think an economy built upon persuading people to buy stuff they don't need is ultimately unsustainable. Is growth actually necessary for economic stability? There must be another model.
 
+Todd Luger Well, I don't share your belief that history has nothing to say about out situation, but I do think that endless economic disruption is simply that -- disruptive -- and if we don't get people working on our serious problems, we'll be in for a deep deep depression and probably some serious environmental anguish as well.
 
As labor becomes devalued and wages stagnate, so too will the economy continue to decline as well.
 
Inception Gone Singularity?

What everybody said...ditto...

But $10 per article, with prices expected to drop even further? Even a "bot" needs a wee bit of energy to live... The costs of servers, real estate to house them, climate control to keep them comfy—you would need to sell an awful lot of these things to break even.

Let's say that all works itself out. I can see a use for a bot to comb through massive data bases and tell me some interesting correlations.

The really disturbing part for me is how easily game-able this might be.

(from the WSJ article):

"Last fall, the Big Ten Network began using Narrative Science for updates of football and basketball games. Those reports helped drive a surge in referrals to the Web site from Google’s search algorithm, which highly ranks new content on popular subjects, Mr. Calderon says. The network’s Web traffic for football games last season was 40 percent higher than in 2009."

Wow. Now imagine some data that has been seeded with some false information, for example, some financial data. It's a tiny error hidden in the mass, but enough to trigger a line in a bot-written story. The story gets picked up and up and up as search engine algorithms give the story increasingly higher rankings.

Since both the original database and the story are now part of the bot's "historical reference" file, the error also gets amplified in subsequent bot-generated stories.

Small lies become established truths. It's inception gone singularity.

While that seems sci-fi and a significant leap from the kinds of stories Narrative Science is currently producing, it points to one of the basic tenets of good journalism: check your sources and get a second and third confirmation if needed. These are one-source stories.

A legendary curmudgeon of an editor at Chicago's old City News Bureau was famous for scaring cub reporters, growling, "If you mother says she loves you, check it out!"

I wonder if bot-written news ought to be marked as such, kind of like GMO labeling on food...
 
Capitalism is the use of capital and labor to produce more/new wealth. When labor costs nothing, capital would be all and then it would be nothing.
 
Full Employment - Wilton Ivie

Published in: The Northwest Technocrat, 4th quarter 1989, No. 317

FULL EMPLOYMENT has been widely ballyhooed as a corollary of prosperity and social well-being. It is the hope of the politician, and almost full employment is the hope of the businessman and industrialist. It is also a desirable social condition from the viewpoint of the moralist. Furthermore, full employment is in agreement with the social objectives of the engineer, but not in the same sense as for the other three.

The politician in office wants full employment for his constituents. Full employment means that they are all getting an income and are thus able to pay taxes. It also keeps them out of mischief, especially the kind of mischief that leads to social change or even to a change of political administrators. Employment stabilizes people in an area so they do not move around and learn as much about what is going on elsewhere. There is nothing like full employment to tranquilize the people, and a placid population is highly desirable to the politician.

The businessman wants full employment, but not quite. Employed people mean customers with money, and what good is business without customers with money? But the businessman wants just enough unemployment so that he can be choosy about the employees he selects for his business. In other words, if employees are relatively abundant, their price value goes down and there is a wider choice. Few things irk a businessman more than to have a scarcity of available employees, which means that he has to take what he can get and has to pay them high wages.

The moralist wants full employment because full employment means that people are earning a "virtuous" living and have more money to contribute to the collection plate and to the charity drives. But he does not want them to have a very high income, otherwise, they might begin to enjoy this life too much and not look forward with enough eagerness to the hereafter.

Politicians have promised the American people full employment -- in the near future and around some corner -- maybe. This is not, however, an inconceivable goal considering the politician's capacity for creating boondoggling employment. But, we ask, why should upwards of half the working population be employed at jobs that are not socially beneficial? It matters little whether these created jobs are strictly make-work relief projects, whether they are in unnecessary government employment or whether they are in government subsidized enterprise. They are, for the part, socially wasteful occupations financed by government credit. Boondoggling might be considered a socially useful activity only if the welfare of the society demanded that everyone be fully employed. But, if work is considered merely as a means of production, and not as an end in itself, there is not much to be said in favor of boondoggling.

The engineer has a different concept of full employment. To an engineer, full employment means the balanced-load operation of all energy-consuming devices in the area at a high load factor. When the principal energy-consuming device employed to do man's work was the human engine, with a per capita rating of one-tenth horsepower or less, there was something to be said in favor of full employment for the human being. In those days, the only way to produce more was to work more human beings longer. Toil was essential to survival.

But there has been a fundamental change in the type of energy- consuming device used in production and service. The first shift away from the human engine was the employment of other kinds of animal engines, such as horses and oxen. Even the dog came in for a share of this energy conversion. But, so long as men and animals were employed to do the work, it was impossible to concentrate enough power in one place to do a really big job. When such a job was attempted, it usually bogged down in the face of the tremendous task of maintaining the engines, of which fuel (food) was the principal item.

Changes In Operation

With the successful development of the steam engine, the concentration of power was advanced. Much bigger jobs could be contemplated. The cost of maintenance went down. The bulk or mass of the engine per horsepower became less, and the factor of fatigue that plagued the human engine was eliminated.

Something else also happened. This was a change in the mode of production and management. When the human being was the principal prime mover, only a small amount of work gravitated to him. This meant that the typical enterprise was in or around the home. When the steam engine was set up, a larger amount of work gravitated to the site of the engine. As a consequence, factories came into being; and the human engine moved to the factory to serve merely as a secondary energy-consuming device to supplement the work of the principal prime mover, the steam engine. When internal combustion engines and hydroelectric power entered the social scene, man became still less important as a prime mover. Today, he is doing less than two percent of the work being done in manufacturing industries.

As power became concentrated into larger units, industrial enterprises became larger and tended toward monopoly controls. The free individual enterprise of the human-toil era gave way to corporate enterprise which soon began to sabotage free enterprise and individual initiative. Corporate enterprise despised free competition and set out to abolish it. If you doubt these statements, we challenge you to venture forth with the objective of starting up a new enterprise unit in competition with some established corporation. Based on the testimony of numerous disillusioned free enterprisers, these are some of the interferences that you will encounter:

In the first place, the politicians who are in the pay of corporate enterprise, will stagnate you with license fees and permit requirements. Then you will run up against the problem of getting materials, supplies and services, which will be almost impossible to obtain once your more powerful competitor learns of your ambition and uses his influence. Then you will run into marketing difficulties. Distributors will be warned by corporate enterprise not to handle your product. But supposing you survive all these hazards and do threaten to become a successful competitor; you will be bought out by your competitor and thus cease to be competition. That is the main purpose of cartel combines -- the abolition of competition. This is, however, another story and does not concern us so much at this time.

Since the human being constitutes but a minor fraction of the energy-converting capacity of this Continent, he can be all but ignored in the technological design for full employment. As a prime mover, his rating is so low, his cost so high, and his behavior so unreliable that every time he can be displaced by an electric motor or engine an advance in efficiency, productivity and quality follows. So the technological design for full employment would reduce human toil to a minimum and employ more kilowatt-hours.

A high-energy, balanced load operation is the central idea in the technological design of social operations. The engineer would see that energy is utilized in the most efficient way so as to meet the requirements of abundant living for the whole population. Then he would smooth out the oscillations to an even, balanced load, operating 24 hours per day and 365 day per year. Surplus and inefficient equipment would be reconverted into scrap or something else more useful. The human engine, in so far as is possible, would be retired from productive employment.

Thus, we would have full employment of the most efficient energy converters on the Continent. This would result in a level of production which is impossible when a low-power, low-efficiency converter like the human engine is used. More goods and services would be available to the population and the human being would have much more time and opportunity for self-expression and enjoyment of living.

Politicians will not like this form of full employment. Their capacity for control of energy-consuming devices is limited to the control of inefficient human engines. The control of a high- horsepower engine calls for a technician, not a politician. So, politicians would have to fade out of the social picture in fovor of those far more informed and far better qualified.

Businessmen will not like this form of full employment either since business is geared to the distribution of a scarcity. More efficient production would mean the end of scarcity and, hence, of business.

The moralists may not like it, for they would have to develop a dynamic new philosophy of living and place less emphasis on an escapist philosophy based on the concept of misery in this life and abundance and leisure hereafter.

A New Leadership

These old leaders must give way to a new leadership which is already here. The advance in science and technology during the past few decades has completely changed the conditions under which we live. The scientists, the technologist and the engineer must come forth and take the responsibility which social change is thrusting upon them. They must volunteer for this job or the march of events will require that they be drafted.

There are many people who cannot grasp this new concept of full employment, even after it has been carefully explained to them. Their thinking is still stifled with the superstition that man must work "to earn a living." And these people will insist on asking this question: "How will people be able to buy the abundance that is possible if they don't work to earn the money?" It is almost as futile to attempt an answer to this question -- one which the people who ask it can comprehend -- as it is to attempt teaching calculus to a moron. But we shall make an effort.

Our Stake In North America

Work is done in order to provide goods and services for human beings. There is little that can be said for work merely for work's sake. So, work is necessary only that these goods and services may be produced. The more work, the more goods and services available, everything else being essentially equal. Man, himself, cannot do enough work with his one-tenth horsepower to provide more than a minimum standard of living. So, in order to produce enough goods for a high standard of living, technology must be employed. Since technology is so much more efficient than man, it is fitting that man be retired and other engines employed to do the work. That accounts for the production end of the problem.

Since goods and services are of little use unless they are consumed by human beings, the next step is one of distribution to the consumer. Manpower does so little of the work that it would be foolish to attempt dividing up the purchasing power on the basis of the human energy expended. In any case, it would not be adequate to purchase the goods produced by machines, even if much higher wages were paid. Furthermore, it would not provide a satisfactory means of getting purchasing power to all consumers. How about the children, the sick, the aged and the physically handicapped, for example? Obviously, a new basis of distribution must be used.

As North American citizens, we all have a stake in the Continent. This stake entitles us as a right of citizenship to a share of what this Continent produces, in the same way as a stockholder in a corporation is now entitled to a share of what the corporation produces, not on a basis of ownership rights. Things get out of balance when a few successful manipulators are able to accumulate ownership rights over most of the Continent and its produce, while the great majority of citizens are swindled out of their birthright. Therefore, adequate distribution means that equitable ownersuip rights in this Continent must be reestablished for all of its citizens. Then they will be able to draw upon the productive capacity for their respective shares of the produce.

The only problem then is to balance production and consumption -- produce what the people want to consume in the quantities that satisfy their wants -- and distribute it to the places where it is to be consumed. Technocracy's Energy Accounting System is designed to to accomplish these functions.

Technocracy Inc. has produced the only design for full employment, full production and full consumption yet offered to the people of North America. The politicians, the businessmen and the moralists cannot provide any of these. The most they can do is provide full employment for human beings, that is, if boondoggling, waste-work expenditures of human energy can be called full employment. But, they cannot provide full employment for the technology of this Continent. If they attempted it, the productivity would be so great that it would completely ruin the Price System.

We Must Choose

One argument that always comes up is based on the erroneous assumption that "things have been as they are for hundreds of years; so, why don't we keep them that way and let well enough alone?" It would hardly seem necessary to point out that things are not as they were for hundreds of years. The large-scale use of technolopgy is scarcely a hundred years old, and most of it has been developed in the last 50 years. It is this use of energy through technology that is producing social change.

Since Technocracy has the only blueprint for full employment in the only sense that makes any sense, it behooves all North Americans to investigate its program and to demand that it be installed. We do not have the choice of going on as we are. We must choose science and security or political compromise and chaos. The latter, of course, is not a choice but downright social suicide. It is just that serious, and that is why Technocrats are so persistent in their effort to get this knowledge to the North American people.

http://web.archive.org/web/20010718150308/http://www.technocracy.org/periodicals/nwtechnocrat/317/ivie.html


Man-Hours and Distribution: M. King Hubbert Man-Hours and Distribution which was derived from an earlier article, Man-Hours A Declining Quanity in Technocracy, Series A, No. 8, August 1936.

These works along with the Technocracy Study Course also authored by Hubbert formed much of the basis of energy accounting and later biophysical economics models. This also formed aspects of 'natural capital' a concept used in 'systems ecology' and 'industrial ecology'. Hubbert along with Frederick Soddy and Alfred Lotka among others, formed the original basis of the ideas of an energy based economy and the basis of most of the ideas connected later in 'thermoeconomics' in regard to energy accounting, a concept first expressed in the Technocracy Study Course.

These ideas were very different compared to the Keynes type models held by many traditional economists.

Now the very basis of economics may have to shift toward this type of model given that sustainability or sustainable reckoning of the resource base no longer seems possible in a traditional what is referred to as neo-classic Price System type of economic approach.

http://www.archive.org/details/Man-hoursAndDistributionM.KingHubbert
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