Monday 28 November 2022


Conan rendering stellar phenomena using Midjourney. Astronomy is one of his lesser known hobbies.

Free higher education and universal basic income are going to become increasingly important (even necessary) as certain jobs (or entire fields) are made obsolete by automation. 

The largest corporations of the twentieth century employed tens of millions of people. The top five corporations driving the stock market today (Amazon, Google, Meta, Apple, etc) employ a TINY fraction of that. You just don't need tens of millions of coders at Meta.

The idea that creative destruction will continue to merely shift labour to different areas of the economy is breaking down: the new fields being built simply do not require as many labourers. 

That presents some issues.

Many fields are being, or are about to be, heavily impacted by automation. It takes a big investment to set up, but cost savings manifest over time. There are over 4 million people driving vehicles in the United States currently, for example, and robot vehicles are right around the corner. 

On the up side, right now the United States is experiencing the greatest expansion (re-shoring) of industrial capacity since the end of the Second World War. That will be an enormous help, but I also expect manufacturers to automate as much as possible, as US labour is more expensive than in many other nations. Automation may be necessary to make reshoring lower end industries (basic electronics, say) economical, but even so, it is possible there will be a net increase in employment, given the amount of reshoring happening. 

We are also facing a large demographic shift (into retirement, which will be followed by a population drop), which may push the economy into recession. Retirees don't buy as much as new young parents. Baby boomers retiring also takes money out of investment funds, such as in tech start ups. Things are going to slow down and money will be tighter. Maybe it will slow automation down.

We shall see..!

At any rate, education will be a life long endeavour so we can be, and remain, competitive. Universal basic income will be essential in dealing with the dramatic impact and shifts in jobs as automation makes an ever increasing impact in the next few decades.

What is coming has the potential to be mind blowingly awesome... or an abysmal, hellish dystopia.

The last thing we want is to wind up like ancient Rome, with a gutted and desperate middle class seeking salvation as serfs on the plantations of rich land owners, or indolent masses entertained by bread and circuses. 

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