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MSimon

I became an aerospace engineer sans degree in '86. I was an early adopter. My education? Books. Magazines. A home electronics lab.

Geoman

"smartphone now has a camera, storage, music player, calculator, alarm clock, and GPS system within it" Guess what killed Radio Shack?

Geoman

I should add, I have an Apple 5 phone. The 6 is better....but why bother?

Again, as I posted before, infinite growth requires infinite needs. And My iPhone 5 pretty much does everything I could ever want. I have a hard time imagining buying a faster, better phone. How many nanoseconds must be shaved from search?

We may be satisfied before we reach the technological limits, which may in turn slow progress and growth.

Geoman

The jobs that will be lost will be on the menial end of things - fast food, truck driving, etc. People don't realize we manufacture just as much as we ever did, but with fewer and fewer people. Offshoring will end once the robots come, but entire factories will be run by a dozen people.

There will become a class of people nobody wants - the unintelligent and uncreative. The only solution I can see is a universal minimum income. Or perhaps a requirement for a certain number of community service hours for each person, in exchange for a paycheck.

I have noticed a distinct rise in blue collar love - shows about people renovating houses, cutting logs, mining. We become ever more jealous of people not slaved to a computer. People who can work with their hands will be considered part of the upper class, while keyboard surfers will be relegated to the soon to lose their jobs....I guess my point is, it doesn't have to be the way most people imagine - the guy fixing a toilet may become the most valuable commodity in an accelerating world...

A valuable commode commodity...

Kartik Gada

Geoman,

People don't realize we manufacture just as much as we ever did, but with fewer and fewer people.

Yes. See Chapter 4, and the '$10 Trillion of output with one person employed' line.

The only solution I can see is a universal minimum income.

Hence the DUES, and the exponentially rising nature of it. Remember that when two gang-member teenagers shoot each other, the cost to the taxpayer is several times more than the two shooters could ever generate in their lives. DUES somewhat reduces that.

We may be satisfied before we reach the technological limits, which may in turn slow progress and growth.

The world is still only at $11,000 per capita PPP, so there is a lot more growth to go on a worldwide basis, even if only to elevate emerging markets to US levels. The question is whether that is the ceiling, and the US is near to it.

To examine that, think of how when a product category saturates, new ones arrive to generate new demand. The desktop PC saturated as you described, then the laptop (which used to be much more expensive), now the phone and tablet. VR is the next big consumer hardware category, and will generate hundreds of billions of $ of new revenue until it, too, reaches a plateau, and so on.

When more health treatments emerge, they will be expensive but the wealthy will spend money on them, as another example of new demand..

I see relatively few wealthy Americans deciding to stop working. The vast majority of them keep on going, long after they have no financial reason to...

Geoman

"I see relatively few wealthy Americans deciding to stop working. The vast majority of them keep on going, long after they have no financial reason to..."

Well, you see the people that make that decision, what you don't see are those that chose not to continue. I know several, including 2 cousins that basically decided at 50 to take up golfing since they had more than enough money to service their needs indefinitely.

Kartik Gada

I know several, including 2 cousins that basically decided at 50 to take up golfing since they had more than enough money to service their needs indefinitely.

That is still uncommon, as a percentage. Plus, don't underestimate how many of them would go back to work if the income tax rate were zero and NGDP was 6-7% rather than 3%. If any of them have any alimony or child support obligations, however small, that further forces a decision like the one you described.

There were tons of books written in the 19th century about how when basic necessities were met for most people, most would stop working (and the definition of basic necessities at the time would seem very modest today). That did not happen.

Plus, you are forgetting :

1) The DUES is not that large for a long time yet. It is only $400/month in 2016, and does not rise to $100,000+ until the mid-2030s.
2) In America, 75% of all govt. spending is already a transfer between individuals. Your complaint has to take into account from what baseline we are starting.
3) Income taxes going to 0% changes everything, incentive-wise.
4) A fear of too many people choosing not to work is mutually exclusive with a fear that too many jobs are being replaced with automation.

Consider the combination of all factors.

fatcat

"I see relatively few wealthy Americans deciding to stop working. The vast majority of them keep on going, long after they have no financial reason to..."
The moment you can have meaningful life extending treatments for the super reach
They can find very real motivation as literally their lifes will depend on their income. Say you can grow an artificial heart/ling/leaver for 10 million dollars. Suddenly, a net worth of 5mil is if not life threatening at least not so comfortable in and guaranteed to cover all your essential experiences

Drew

Re-reading,one thing that leaps out at me is "since education is just another form of information and thus governed by the same forces of transmission as other information technologies" as an incorrect assumption - there was a long emphasis on people reading books and learning from them, but the goal was transformation, even if the more common result was sorting, credentialling and often warehousing people. Sorting and credentialling are information activities, but transformation and warehousing are not. This is the area that we have been waiting for the snap back the longest, and even now, the trouble the higher education industry is not facing is better alternatives, but that credentialling is less useful as it becomes more and more common - and thus contains less useful information.

Drew

*is now facing is not better alternatives

Kartik Gada

Drew,

The process of education has increased in accessibility and lowered in price. However, for some students, college is a luxury consumption good (further confirmed by the recent scandal), so they are not price-sensitive. But the fact that admission was the only hurdle, and even very subpar students faced no risk of not graduating further exposes how decoupled the credential has become from a) education, and b) rigor.

DTM

I like these arguments but I come back to two concerns.

The first is that of limited physical space and resources. We can all have the fancier gadgets, but there isn't room for everyone to have a detached house in the city. Your point about self-driving cars opening up longer commutes and thus more land is a good one, but it brings me to my second concern:

Whatever efficiencies we find to meet a physical-resource-limited need will cause an increase in population such that the per capita need will return to the pre-efficiency-finding level. More land I can commute to, that's good, but once it's all bought up how does that help the next generation who is priced out?

Higher density housing is a practical option of course, but it is a decrease in quality of life, which if I understand right this philosophy doesn't necessarilly call for.

Do you see any natural limits to population, and thus its ability to neutralize the per capita quality of life improvements coming from efficiency gains?

Apologies if you cover this in more detail later in the series.

Kartik Gada

DTM,

Whatever efficiencies we find to meet a physical-resource-limited need will cause an increase in population such that the per capita need will return to the pre-efficiency-finding level.

Excluding SS-Africa, the entire rest of the world combined is at sub-replacement fertility rates.

The US, at least, is nowhere close to this problem. Remember, not everyone dislikes higher density. Single people like it more (more new people to meet), and fewer and fewer people are marrying at all.

Do you see any natural limits to population,

In theory, yes, but as the RoW excluding SS-Africa is already below replacement rate, this is not a worry.

DTM

That is heartening about overall population growth.

I do take your point that some like density, but in crowded tech centers like SF, Boston, and Toronto the demand for less dense housing far outstrips supply. Cities like that by the way are the problematic cases; even if worldwide opulation is plateauing, the populations of those cities are growing because that's where jobs can be found.

Perhaps in the future tech jobs will no longer cluster in a few major cities? I know that tech tends to cluster because employers and employees are drawn to the large available pools of each other, but I've often wondered why some companies don't move to an area with cheaper COL, pay 2/3 as much (with which their employees can live like kings), and proceed to destroy their competition.

Kartik Gada

DTM,

We were having exactly this discussion on the main blog :

https://www.singularity2050.com/2019/12/comment-of-the-year-2019.html

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