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R. Milan Hanson
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Will Work For Free -- program on technological unemployment in the UK. Unlike Martin Ford who simply says "all industries will be affected", Sam Vallely goes through them one by one, starting with High Street retail. Retail is the largest employment sector, but is going away, getting replaced by websites and smartphone apps, leaving a small number of specialist stores. For entertainment products, like DVDs, traditional supermarkets are expanding into entertainment products, and pawn shops are reselling used entertainment products, but the real threats are, digital downloading, and piracy. The failure of these stores is a good thing because of less pollution from DVD cases that fill landfills or are incinerated, producing toxic chemicals. For electronics, online reviews and actually less biased that in-store salespeople. What about clothes? Don't people have to try on clothing before they buy? When Internaçionale launched their website in 2012, the website took in more revenue than all the physical stores combined. Clothing doesn't seem to have an intrinsic immunity to online alternatives. There's self-checkout and vending machines, and new vending machines with i-sample, an optical sensor system that can determine gender and age. Only things like tattooing and hairdressing appear to be immune. Warehouse jobs are being replaced by Kiva robots.

In manufacturing, robots are becoming more adaptive, less pre-programmed and brittle, and more flexible, able to produce new products with less re-programming. Baxter works for about £3/hour. Smartphone apps replace a vast array of paper and electronic products. Entertainment appliances are being replaced by smart TVs that play content off the internet, making the appliances exist in virtual form only. 3D printing in the future will allow people to download and print many products.

2.5% of UK jobs involve driving a vehicle. Self-driving cars are coming.

In the agriculture industry, what jobs are left are being replaced by robotic cow milking, automation of crop cultivation, vertical farming and hydroponics.

Automation is starting to enter the health care industry. Smartphone apps can send your heart rate directly to your cardiologist. A 15-year-old from Maryland discovers a way of detecting cancer that looks like it is 99% accurate, 168x faster, 26,000x cheaper than existing methods. Hospitals are getting robot couriers and telepresence robots.

In the food industry, McDonald's is rolling out kiosks in Europe, and in the US, McDonalds has started replacing drive-thrus with voice recognition systems. Momentum Machines has invented a burger-making machine that can make burgers to order, and FuA-Men Noodles is working on machines to replace chefs completely at restaurants like Panda Express.

Hotels are starting to use automatic check-in. Yotel in New York has motorized beds, and "Yobot" motorized luggage system, that sends your luggage directly to the airport through tunnels. Autonomous vacuum cleaners and window washers exist. But the biggest threat to the hotel industry might be sites like couchsurfing that allow people to bypass hotels entirely. (He doesn't mention Airbnb.)

Sandvik Automine is a system of automated trucks for the mining industry. They have improved drilling accuracy and increased mining production while eliminating jobs. Sandvik says they are confident mining can be 100% automated. Rio Tinto is using huge fully automated Komatsu trucks. Gemesis have made huge progress in producing artificial gem-quality diamonds. Sam Vallely speculates that artificial gold and silver could be made, too, but he's wrong about that -- unlike diamonds, gold and silver are elements (he needs to brush up on his knowledge of chemistry).

The construction industry is a huge source of employment. ISI has developed a contour crafting computer-controlled home construction process where an entire house can be constructed in a 3D printing process.

The education industry can be automated. The "hole in the wall" project in a slum in New Delhi showed kids can be taught by computer very easily without any formal training or adult supervision. Khan Academy consolidates knowledge in instructional videos in all the main academic subjects. University-level classes are offered by Coursera, which offers certificates, which have been used to gain employment.

The arts & entertainment industry will still exist because they don't rely on financial incentives (RSA talk by Dan Pink). For media distribution, Youtube could work better than traditional TV & cable. The film industry is the most profitable, and expensive, part of the entertainment industry, but CGI is getting closer and closer to reflecting reality. Video games are entirely CGI and have much lower budgets than films. Even Blender, the open source 3D modeling program, can produce impressive results.

Legal discovery work is being replaced by e-discovery software. Accounting work is being replaced by online accounting systems, and online transactions don't even need to be manually entered. Translation and interpretation services are being replaced by software like Lingo, Architectural work will be done in CAD systems and 3D printed.

Engineering, computer system design, photography, and scientific research, all fall under the umbrella of "creativity" and will exist regardless of paid employment. Advertising is under threat from online advertising like Youtube. Consulting services can be replaced by advanced voice recognition software.

What about administrative & support services? Computers can automate the typical information processing, filtering, and categorizing that administrative people do, just like how Facebook can pre-fill registration forms. Government information hubs could automate many tasks across industries.

For the finance & insurance industry, he talks about how the fractional reserve banking system is built on an assumption of continuous growth.

Robots still require energy. He thinks the world will switch to solar, rather than nuclear. Solar roads could provide enough energy for the US. He also looks at wind and geothermal energy.

What about machine maintenance? Machines need maintenance largely because of planned obsolescence. Simple things like nanoparticle coatings could prevent water and oils from getting on machine parts. So he doesn't think there need to be many jobs in machine maintenance in the future.

The solution to technological unemployment, he proposes, is a "sustainable economy", though he doesn't elaborate on how that would work. There could be, but doesn't have to be, a period of poverty and destitution, before we transition.

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My nexus 4's battery is swelling too and is losing its charge. I am gonna spring for a new battery rather than get a nexus 5
Spinning my +Nexus 4 on the bulge on the back from the expanding battery

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Why Government Investment Makes Sense Now

I was interested to see what appears to be a Libertarian-leaning author making the case for government spending in the face of the current worldwide economic situation.  Frankly, I wish the US and Europe were investing a lot more in infrastructure right now, and putting idle resources to work on stuff that matters while credit is still cheap.  We'll still have to do that stuff later on, when it will be more expensive, because by then the government will be competing with the private sector for resources.

From the article:

"Governments particularly in Britain and the Eurozone have attempted to fight depressed growth using austerity policies (in the context of expansionary monetary policy). The proponents of austerity theorise that by promising to bring down taxes and spending, they will unleash private sector spending by reducing future expectations of taxes. To me, this has always seemed like a boneheaded and Rube Goldberg-style approach. Simply, the issue of depressed private economic activity is far more complex than future taxation expectations. And aggressive monetary policy has not succeeded in reversing the depression (even if it has probably made the depression less severe). So it has been entirely unsurprising to me to see this approach largely failing. I approach the problem in a far more direct manner. The solution to lowered growth and elevated (and involuntary) unemployment is relatively simple.Eventually someone will start using up the idle resources. This will either be the private sector once it independently gets over its slump in animal spirits, or it will be the government. With such huge volumes of idle capital, interest rates will remain very low until stronger appetite for credit re-emerges. In equilibrium theory, the low cost of credit will by itself start to re-energise borrowing appetite by making more projects potentially profitable. Of course, interest rates are far from the only factor that borrowers take into account when seeking credit, and so it is perfectly plausible that the economy — as it has done — can remain depressed even with very low rates due to deleveraging pressures, low expectations and low confidence, etc. So if the market is ill-suited to taking up the idle resources any time soon — lying as it is in a depressive, irrational strop — the only agent that can do so is the state. The fact of low interest rates allows this to kill two birds with one stone — the state can borrow money (utilising idle capital) to create jobs (utilising idle labour), raising interest rates and bringing down the unemployment rate. And this approach does not require anyone to make accurate predictions about the future. It simply requires a market economy, and a state willing to employ idle resources when they are idle, and to ease off using idle resources when unemployment becomes low and interest rates start to rise.

"Many — including probably Hayek himself — would argue that using up idle resources in such a manner will not allow the structure of production to adjust to the new economic reality. The state, Hayek would argue is a poor allocator of capital because it lacks the informational efficiency of the market. I would mostly agree with Hayek’s objection, and note that I favour a predominantly market-based economy. Government interventions should be kept to a necessary minimum. Yet, in a depressionary environment, the structure of production deteriorates as resources lie idle. Unemployed workers lose skills, lose competitive edge and spend and invest less, further depressing the economy. Capital — factories, buildings, amenities, ideas, etc — deteriorates. Young workers may enter the labour force but never find a job. Crime rises, and shady fringe businesses like loan sharks thrive as the unemployed struggle to pay the bills. The social costs of mass unemployment are exceedingly high. The adjustment occurring in a depression is more like a rot. And it is absurd to rot your way to growth. Instead, by lowering unemployment and using up idle capital (preferably in a mix of state-run infrastructure and technology projects, and lending to new businesses) more businesses can be born into existence. Potentially successful new ideas can be tried out, and may find success in the marketplace. The formerly unemployed get to develop skills, habits and ideas, instead of sitting at home all day doing nothing, or hunting for jobs in a scarce and depressed marketplace. And money will go into people’s pockets, spurring investment and consumption, fomenting more new business growth. This, in my view, is the best shot at getting a depressed and rotten structure of production out of the doldrums and back toward strong organic growth. Sooner or later, of course, the private sector will come back and begin to use up resources. But that could be a very, very, very long way away. If we want the structure of production to adjust to the new world and to continue adjusting as the world continues to change, letting huge quantities of resources sitting idle seems like a bad way to do it. Targeted fiscal policy can change that.

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The IT Crowd solution to the US shutdown.
#TheITCrowd   #ITCrowd  

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Today's #Dailychart shows how incomes have changed for the rich and the rest in America. In 2007 the share of national income flowing to America's top 1% of earners reached 18.3%: the highest since just before the crash of 1929. But whereas the Depression kicked off a long era of even income growth the rich have done much better this time round

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"What we need at this stage is to increase consumption."

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