Does more technology equal fewer jobs?

Electronic books don't need retail salespeople, and web-based newspapers don't need printers or delivery people. Are we "teching" ourselves out of jobs?

Perhaps, according to the story, "How Computers Are Creating a Second Economy Without Workers," in the The Atlantic. This "Second Economy" has been embraced by corporate America, as one computer talks to another, or sensors update monitoring equipment, all without a person involved. Why? Money. Walmart's sales are about $100,000 per employee, while Amazon's is over $800,000 per employee.

Just over two years ago, Singularity Hub's "Martin Ford Asks: Will Automation Lead to Economic Collapse?" focused more on robotics. In The Lights In the Tunnel, Ford argues lower skilled workers will be replaced by automation, as will some well-paid careers such as research lawyers and radiologists. Fewer jobs mean people can't buy the products automation creates, depressing the economy.

Job? What job?

And they're coming for warehouse workers too.

Kinny G. Villacorta S. on theatlantic.com

But there’s been a lot of technological growth in the last 25 years, and our workweek hasn’t shortened, and unemployment on average hasn’t skyrocketed.

turtles_allthewaydown on singularityhub.com

Technological unemployment is real and is here already. We can't all be programmers, and even if we could, there aren't enough programming jobs anyway.

RobertSF on theatlantic.com

The end result is that a lot of jobs that needed manpower simply don't anymore.

cube13 on news.ycombinator.com

Management goals

It is not going to reverse as profit for companies overweight what the people need.

Barb The Artist on theatlantic.com

That what tries to displace me becomes my enemy. I’ll try kill it.

Khannea Suntzu on singularityhub.com

I'm pretty sure people said the same thing when Gutenberg developed the printing press. There's no "Second Economy".

ekianjo on news.ycombinator.com

Answers

Among the most viable of all economic delusions is the belief that machines on net balance cre­ate unemployment. Destroyed a thousand times, it has risen a thousand times out of its own ashes as hardy and vigorous as ever.

danbeaulieu on singularityhub.com

It is possible that successful automation will eventually outpace the ability of the masses to retrain and adapt.

flatline on news.ycombinator.com

Yea it's all fun and games until Skynet activates. (Next year by my calculations...)

Jacob Ford on theatlantic.com

Did computers and email eliminate the secretaries that filled every office in the 1960s and 1970s? Or did they liberate the women (statistically, secretary meant female) to get better jobs?

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