When robots take routine middle-class jobs, those workers drop out of the workforce


Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/01/04/when-robots-take-routine-middl.html


Anybody else ever get the feeling that The Jetsons was setting us up with unrealistic expectations of life in the 21st Century?


Likely in just that order too.


Actually, so did The Flintstones, suggesting that working class jobs would survive changes in technology (e.g. quarries going from brontosaurus power* to excavators).

*Yes, I do know.


The Jetsons are among the 1%. The writers floated the idea of having a middle-class family of the future but then one of them presciently pointed out that there likely wouldn’t be a middle class in the future.


We may have automated ourselves out of capitalism. Is it time for a Star Trek economy?




An average viewer might reasonably believe that this means that the Flintstones are living in the past and the Jetsons in the future, but wouldn’t the striking number of similarities instead indicate that the two families are, in fact, living in the same time period? What if instead of a time machine, the families were instead just using some kind of teleportation device that was transporting them from the Earth’s surface to the Jetsons home high above the sky? What if the Flintstones are part of an almost slave labor sub-class who is forced to live in substandard conditions to support the frivolous lifestyle of the upper class living in the sky above them?


That just leads to a road of reliving Victorian England, with soot in the air being replaced by battling nanobots, rich people living in bubble cities above the ocean with artisans making their stuff the old fashioned way because they can. And then it gets weird with underwater cult orgies, orphans starting a revolution using an AI based book, etc.

Or have I just been reading too much Neal Stephenson?


You never saw the awful distopian existence of the ground-dwellers, did you?




‘Robots taking human jobs is just fine’, shows study by RoboEconomist 6.7



I have heard anthroplogists say we were happier and healthier while hunting and gathering.

Perhaps mass-unemplyment is the ultimate outcome of planting that first farm field thousands of years ago.


At least until we died of old age around 50 or so.


Haha, yeah only the rich live on top of those tall platforms. The cartoon never shows you the dystopian mad max like smog filled slum world down below on the surface where they only survive off of the garbage from above.


Noah Yuval Harari makes a great case for this in ‘Sapiens’ (the following quote is not his argument, just a pithy unrelated blurb from an NPR interview).

" It’s today, I think, quite common in the scientific community to acknowledge that the Agricultural Revolution was maybe not such a good idea. On the collective level, it’s obvious that agriculture made humankind far more powerful. But the individual human being probably had a worse life after the revolution than before.

The average peasant, let’s say, he or she had to work much harder and in exchange for all this hard work people actually got a much worse diet. Most of the population got maybe 90 percent of their calories from a single source of food, like wheat in the Middle East or rice in East Asia. On top of that, you had much worse social hierarchies and social exploitation. Very small elites exploit masses of people for their own needs."


That’s brilliant. Would love to see someone cut the two shows together to make this so.


In America we have a double hit of jobs lost to automation and jobs lost to be outsourced to cheaper labor overseas. Makes it hard to maintain the privileged comfortable consumer lifestyles to which we’ve become accustomed.

We need mincome:


the wafer is square out’a of cylindrical can. Awesome!