Wonderful robots are taking our jobs

This article originally appeared on FIVETHôT.

My estimate is that in the last 200 years, technology has destroyed 98% of all jobs.

In 1813, the population of the world was about a billion people, of whom probably more than 800 million worked: they hewed wood, or drew water, or plowed, or raised chicken. Unlike the lilies of the field, they toiled and they spun: hard, grinding, endless labor.

Using today’s technology, it would take (by my very rough calculations) only 16 million people to produce everything — the food, the clothing, the buildings — that took the entire world to make back in the bad old days. Continue reading


One more law

The San Francisco Chronicle in a rare burst of actual journalism traced the path of a single weapon, a 9mm Hi-Point semiautomatic pistol that was purchased in Walsenburg, Colorado, by Sanae Quiroz-Jones and Jerry Jones. The Joneses gave the gun to their nephew Travis Price, who was conveniently in the gun-trafficking business. Price mailed the gun to his girlfriend Wendy Gardiner in Fairfield, California. Gardiner sold it to a marijuana grower in Laytonville, Mendocino County, California, who sold it to an casino employee in town. The casino employee traded it to a high-school student named Aaron Campbell, in return for a pit-bull puppy. Several months later, Campbell, distraught over the death of his mother, used the gun to kill himself. Continue reading

Going off the deep end

The arguments supporting Luddism, the belief that technology is eradicating jobs and creating unemployment, are getting subtler — but they’re still wrong.

Imagine you and your family are visiting a swimming pool, and the life-guard comes to have a talk with you. Your kids, he tells you, are at one end of the pool, and they are splashing all the water towards the other end.

You apologize for their disturbing the other bathers and tell him you’ll speak to them.

“That isn’t the problem,” the lifeguard continues. “The real problem is, they will pile all the water up at the other end of the pool.” Continue reading

Lousy robots are taking our jobs

Did you think that when Jonas Salk discovered the polio vaccine in 1955, he worried about all the people he was putting out of work? The people who made, sold and repaired iron lungs. The doctors and nurses and attendants for the ill. The morticians. All those children will still die, eventually, but not for decades, and even an undertaker has a family to feed today. Did Salk ever think about that?
Continue reading