birguslatro: Birgus Latro III icon (Default)
[personal profile] birguslatro
This article, titled "My father-in-law won't become a coder, no matter what economists say", makes its case but doesn't offer any solutions to the supposed coming high rates of unemployment.

The argument against becoming a coder can best be compared to reading and writing, which we mostly all can do, after a fashion. If all our other needs were met, we could spend our days reading and writing. Say, six days a week reading and one day a week writing. Assuming it took a year for each of us to write something of substance at that rate, we'd all have x billions of new writings to choose from each year. Which is quite an abundance of substantive writings. All for the cost of each of us spending a day a week 'working' at writing. At half a day's work a week we might then only have about a billion new writings to choose from, or half a billion if we only work two hours a week.

Programming's not writing, but as with writing, only a few of us would be a good fit for doing anything of substance with such a skill. Hack coders are probably of some use now, but they'd be the easiest to be replaced by software. (Written by good coders.)

The usual question asked about jobs being replaced by automation is who will have any money to buy the goods produced by all that automation? A better question is what will the few high-paid workers (and business owners) buy with their money?

One resource that isn't increasing is land, so they'll be buying that every chance they get. (Such as when the homes of the over-extended who've lost their jobs to automation become available.) Which leaves goods and services. Assuming goods are mostly produced by automation, (arty stuff aside), that leaves services. Or, as they were called in days gone by, servants. People to pamper them. Robots might suffice for some, but I'm sure most will still prefer people.

So, a full-circle most of those who've lost their jobs probably won't much like.

I don't really believe we'll reach very high rates of unemployment, mainly because it wouldn't be acceptable in democratic countries. But I think the above scenario is plausible if a managed response to the stresses of mass automation isn't worked out.
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