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

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!


It’s not about the years in your life, but the life in your years. :grinning:


Take this for what it’s worth (a few electrons):
High infant mortality for hunter gatherers, but after that a reasonable life expectancy. In early agriculture, fine if you were one of the upper or middle classes but the great majority had a much shorter life expectancy, especially when the population density was high enough for epidemics.
Under feudalism the villeins had to work 50% of the time for the baron, but productivity was rather low in many places. When the Crusaders established their fiefdoms in Palestine, they were actually able to reduce taxes on the peasants (thus improving their popularity) because they were themselves used to a lower living standard than the Muslim overlords due to the lower productivity of Europe.
I recall seeing records produced by the water companies from around the turn of the 19th/20th centuries. The Lake District, which had a low population density and a lot of agricultural workers many of whom had cottages (i.e. smallholdings) had a life expectancy of about 60. London had a life expectancy of around 30. Infant mortality comes into this quite a bit but both my sets of grandparents lost one child, one to diphtheria and one to smallpox. I know, anecdote is not data etc. etc.

It may be, in fact, that middle class jobs were an artefact of a developing civilisation that will almost completely disappear as we revert to a Spartan model: Helots and aristocrats. Why will we need the helots? As Huxley suggested in Brave New World, because aristocrats have to have inferiors to boss around, fight wars with etc. They don’t want middle class helots who argue back.


[quote=“TheGreatParis, post:14, topic:92251”]
I have heard anthroplogists say we were happier and healthier while hunting and gathering.[/quote]

[quote=“Brainspore, post:15, topic:92251”]
At least until we died of old age around 50 or so.[/quote]

Keep in mind infant mortality skews the numbers for historical lifespans. Oh, I see @Enkita has already hit that.

The thing that skeeves me about pre-agricultural society is parasites. I mean sure, agriculture brings in slavery, tooth decay, and a host of other ills, but eventually after 4 or 5 thousand years of territorial war and gender oppression you get anthelmintics, which means no more squirmy things coming out of your bodily orifices and waving at you.


And the way things are going, we will have them for less than a century before they become unaffordable to the majority of the population.

(Anthelminthics - reminds of me of working as a student for a company that made them. They were marshmallow flavoured. At this time we were getting immigrants from Italy due to a general labour shortage, and some of these were turning up on the production line.
Anyway, one of them decided to taste these big, candy-looking tablets, and as it tasted of marshmallow she ate a couple. Not long after she needed an emergency toilet break. After half an hour she was still in there, and occasionally screaming. Eventually a first aider went in there to find out what was happening.
The woman was relieving herself of an enormous tapeworm. The first aider said it must have been twenty feet. Allowing for exaggeration, that’s still a hell of a tapeworm.)


Computer programming and operating started as a mainly female job. Real men didn’t operate typewriters.
It will be interesting to see if the same sociological pattern happens - i.e. men gradually realise this is a well paid job with prospects and move in on it - for healthcare.


You mean the Flintstones?


Barring bear-related complications.


This has always been my prediction.

Mid-20th century sci-fi and futurist-prediction was awash with futures where robots did lots of work and the middle class enjoyed a more leisure-oriented lifestyle of plenty. But that’s a pipe dream which doesn’t fit with the realities of our capitalist system.

As more work can be done by robots – robots owned by the corporations they work for – it heralds an era where huge swaths of the working class are relegated to poverty. Without some sort of Universal Income, mass robot workforces don’t mean more leisure, they mean more wealth concentrated in the hands of the most powerful.


Universal Basic Income should be paid as an expanded form of the food stamp programme.

Given that all the wealth in the world is going to accumulate in the hands of the 1%, what is needed is a new currency for the proletariat, allowing them to fulfil their basic needs whilst never advancing their situation.

I propose a new dollar (the sub-dollar) that is offered as a wage by companies to workers and that can be only used to buy perishable, rented or licensed goods.

Thus, you will work for Trump Corporation or one of its subsidiaries, and receive your monthly allocation of sub-dollars that you spend on your rented home and on food, hire of transport, entertainment, clothing, etc.

Incentives to work would still operate: it should be possible to live a precarious if comfortable life on a job that pays a sufficient number of sub-dollars, or to live just above starvation on the UBI component.

The transfers of sub-dollars caused by people leading their lives would allow the corporations who handle the actual wealth to transfer actual dollars between their accounts at the end of each month.

Importantly, the sub-dollar would not be legal tender able to be used to:

a) purchase land
b) instruct lawyers
c) purchase education
d) invest in stock markets


I have a magnet for that.


We have to remember that the threshold of when regular people can get automation working for them is coming down with the advancement of these robots. What I mean is if robots can replace a lot of more difficult jobs why can’t it then replace a person in cooking/cleaning/maintaining a household even growing food and harvesting it for that household? You combo that with tech to gather and store energy, 3D printing for parts and finally grown meat (it’s coming) why can’t we have one or both or the income earners (assuming a dual income house hold) cut back hours or stop working altogether? That would create a shit load of jobs and also reduce the needed work force size.