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« Housing crisis | Main | Seen this movie »

Oct 24, 2011


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... they show that there’s been no stagnation in technology — in fact, the digital revolution is accelerating

I'd agree with that from my limited perspective. But then I don't have a drop of Luddism running in my veins. That's probably what allows me to enjoy AI progress.

Bill Yaner  N

What it means is that if one corporation after another is able to generate huge profits with less jobs, then another whole model of income redistribution is needed to maintain a middle class.

"Spreading the wealth around" became the battle cry of conservatives against an Obama who was only laying down the reality of a system that was increasingly distorted towards the tippy top of the food chain.


Our private and public infrastructure has been completely gutted of people who know how to maintain the hard and soft systems now in place.

Anybody who thinks that technology is racing ahead unbridled is wearing blinders. One day without access to the internet and all theses illusions will crumble.

Billy Jones

Technology sucks, there I said it.
If you think that it will help you,
you're fixing to get screwed.
Technology sucks, don't you forget it.
And if you don't like the sound of that,
it could be you suck too.

Bill Yaner  N

That seems a little broad, Billy.

Billy Jones

"That seems a little broad, Billy."

It's out of context and really quite funny when you hear it all.

greensboro transplant

yeah. my friends and i call this the "star trek dilemma". as automation and productivity increase, you need fewer people to achieve the same level of output.

the extreme is star trek: TNG. you have replicators that turn poop into dinner and holodecks that can provide you with any fantasy you can imagine, so what do you need people for? aside from romulan bait for away teams.


Will all those smart computers need to quickly and efficiently create all that stuff if there's no one able to buy it?

David Boyd

Let me get this straight, greensboro transplant. Are you saying that you have friends and you and those friends have actually sat around discussing increases in productivity through advances in technology and have actually named the phenomenon? After Star Trek no less?


Just a thought. Maybe dropping creative subjects (art, music) from elementary curriculums isn't such a good idea.

John Hood

I thought that the chief "Star Trek dilemma" was how to get Captain Kirk on and off newly discovered planets without generating subsequent sexual-harassment complaints. Apparently the secret was to distract him with omnipotent robots and occupy his time with space fisticuffs.

Andrew Brod

When I think of the Luddite nightmare, it's Vonnegut's "Player Piano" that comes to mind. Both halves of the nightmare are realized: not working and being worse off for it.

Not so in Star Trek: TNG. Admittedly, the economy of that imaginary world is hard to discern. All we see are the workings of the equivalent of a navy ship, plus the occasional trip back to the military academy, and of course numerous visits to other worlds. What about good ol' Earth? In the episode in which the Enterprise thaws out and reanimates some frozen people, Picard gives us a clue when he explains to a 20th-century businessman that "material needs no longer exist." The purpose of living is self-improvement. (The hark.com commentary doesn't quite get the scene right.)

Therefore, according to the ST:TNG writers, the problem of scarcity will be solved in a few hundred years. So it won't matter if there's no work to be done in that world. Not working won't lead to poverty, which is the 2nd half of the Luddite nightmare. Life might lack the zetz of having to provide for yourself or else, but there'll be food on the table... or in the replicator.

Back to the real Earth, the thing about technological innovation so far is that it's created as many jobs as it's destroyed. The key is "so far." The thinking now is that the next round of innovations will be different. Maybe it will be, but that's what we've feared about every previous round as well.

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