Espritmodel.com Dec 05, 2013, 09:39 PM I despise Oregon’s gas law. I avoid filling up in OR like the plague. Unless the station is empty except for you, it almost always takes longer. If it’s busy, it takes easily twice as long. Dec 05, 2013, 10:18 PM There is an argument, with some truth to it, that your taxes support low wages in the fast food business. Many people who work at low wage jobs also qualify for support from various government programs. Would it be more economically and socially efficient to subsidize living wages through the company, rather [...]
Robert Gordon’s essay “Is U.S. Economic Growth Over?” is very intriguing. His thesis is that technological progress does not always yield the same growth and productivity for each major invention. It could be that some technologies, such as Electricity, Engines, Petroleum and even mundane things such as running water and indoor toilets, may have yielded far greater growth through their introduction that current technologies such as computers and the internet.
These high growth technologies as well as the previous generation of modern agriculture and steam power, were very physical technologies. They took up space and altered space. They needed labor for their development, construction and even use. They reshaped the physical world with railroads, roads, buildings, factories etc.
Are there any new technologies that have this sort of impact? Maybe space travel and genetics, which both could create physical changes in our world (or bodies). New power sources will still be delivered as electricity. Cars may drive themselves, and the design may change, but they are still fundamentally vehicles for personal travel. Factories may become robotic, but will the washing machine they make be fundamentally different?
It does seem in some way that these earlier physical technologies had greater ability to spur economic growth as they required so much labor and capital to develop. Maybe current and future technologies, while exciting, won’t have the same impact on growth.
Robert J. Gordon has a new NBER working paper ‘essay that really should cite Tyler Cowen, since it’s all about a Great Stagnation in U.S. growth. Unlike Cowen, however, Gordon believes that the Stagnation will persist into the indefinite future. The paper is really two essays in one – the first part speculates that most of the big discoveries and inventions have already been made, and the second part identifies social and institutional constraints on U.S. growth. (Here are thoughts on the paper by FT Alphaville and Paul Krugman ). Although there are some parts of the paper with [...]
Great talk by Andrew McAfee who is the co-author of Race Against the Machine. He sees a future where machines are replacing human work at an accelerating rate. It is already happening and will spread to the most unexpected areas of the economy. While it is hard not to agree with his rosy vision of a future where our minds are augmented with digital computing, the hard part is how we get there.
The advent of the industrial revolution was a brutal time of wars, subjugation, immense fortunes and immense poverty as we moved our whole population from agriculture to industry. How can a fundamental change to the economy, of labor providing wages providing consumption, be upended without huge societal upheaval?
Robots and algorithms are getting good at jobs like building cars, writing articles, translating — jobs that once required a human. So what will we humans do for work? Andrew McAfee walks through recent labor data to say: We ain’t seen nothing yet. But then he steps back to look at big history, and comes up with a surprising and even thrilling view of what comes next.
I think Jim Pinto brings up some great points here about the ‘feel’ that people bring to an automated environment. Robots and automated systems are fast and efficient, but they don’t have the adaptability and judgement to handle change and non-standard environments.
What this means for employment is that we increasingly need people who can recognize unusual conditions, react to them and make judgements and decisions. Pushing this down to the factory floor (or the window observatory!) will mean that we need broadly educated and highly capable people. Not a recipe for big employment gains.
While automation typically provides consistent performance, it lacks judgment, adaptability and flexibility under changing conditions. Humans provide the “feel” that makes them the most important element of production and control systems.
Enhanced productivity comes by optimizing the human element. People provide the peripheral vision; they fill in the gaps and create the broader context in ways that machines cannot. This partnership is the man/machine framework.
Summary: The FM website serves to help readers more clearly see the future (it’s an unplanned emergent role). Today we look at one aspect of America’s future, bring both peril and promise: the next wave of automation. It’s already here, but seen by few. Today is not too soon to consider how this might affect your family. Seeing the future Ron Chapple/Getty Images “Fortune favors the prepared mind.”
— Lecture by Louis Pasteur, 7 December 1854 . Our experts fret about decreasing fertility, slowing population growth (we need immigrants! otherwise wages will rise and consumption fall!) and aging populations [...]
Here is Dallas Weaver’s essay, one of three winners in the EconTalk essay contest , comparing Mokyr and Cowen’s vision of the future. A view of the Future Tyler Cowen describes a future where computers/robots become capable of doing many, if not most jobs available today and do them better than the humans they will replace. A root canal or dental implant will be done faster, more accurately and less expensively by a robot than a human dentist. Computers’ proven superiority at games like Chess and Jeopardy is only the tip of the iceberg of the areas in [...]
Here is Eric Mustin’s essay, one of three winners in the EconTalk essay contest , comparing Mokyr and Cowen’s vision of the future. Getting Our Growth Checked Out The podcasts of Mokyr and Cowen both forecast amazing technological growth, but differ on how that growth will impact the American economy and living standard. While Mokyr pounds the table for Tech as a near universal good, Cowen is more cautious with his optimism, and exhibits concerns about stratified social gains.Mokyr claims growth is just starting to rev up. Although entrepreneurs and gradual improvements aid growth, most growth comes from sudden breakthroughs [...]
Here is Scott Atherley’s essay, one of three winners in the EconTalk essay contest , comparing Mokyr and Cowen’s vision of the future. The main difference between Cowen and Mokyr, in regards to the future of the American economy, is tone and emphasis. Average is Over (henceforth AIO ) is anything but techno-pessimism (Mokyr agrees, I think). In fact, it develops a framework to explain how the economy, and specifically the labor market, might develop and change as the capital base evolves to include more machines with more intelligence. Cowen has been regrettably misrepresented – while AIO is often [...]
Visit the website for my new book:
The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future $13.95 at Amazon.com .
You can read the introduction and see the complete table of contents here .
What will the economy of the future look like? Where will advancing technology, job automation, outsourcing and globalization lead? This groundbreaking book by a Silicon Valley computer engineer and entrepreneur explores these questions and shows how accelerating technology is likely to have a highly disruptive influence on our economy in the near future — and may well already be [...]
Another new study is predicting a dire future for U.S. jobs thanks to advances in technology, with this study predicting half of all U.S. jobs could become obsolete in the next 20 years.
The study, ” Impacts of Future Technology,” is a 72-page report written by Dr. Carl Benedikt Frey (of the Oxford Martin School) and Dr. Michael A. Osborne (of the Department of Engineering at the University of Oxford). The two researchers looked at 702 detailed occupation types, using a probability theory and statistics model called “Gaussian process classifier,” according to a report in Staffing Talk .
The study looks [...]
GWERU — The Industrial Development Corporation’s cement manufacturing unit, Sino-Zimbabwe, says it has increased its clinker production capacity by 40% to 700 tonnes per day after upgrading its plant at a cost of $4,1 million.
General manager Derrick Moyo said the plant upgrade was the first of three phases that would largely automate the manufacturing process at the Gweru-based cement maker.
The second phase, also due for completion this year, will upgrade warehousing and storage facilities with further upgrade work planned for 2014.
“The overall refurbishment and upgrade has seen the plant becoming high-tech plant whose demand for manual manpower has [...]
The first crude metal objects, knives for hunting and tools for farming, evolved during the Stone Age. Forged metal (heated, then hammered into shape) was used to make simple blades and hoes. Historical records indicate that metal casting (melting, and then pouring into a shaped mold) was being done around 4000 B.C. Forged copper weapons preceded castings and led directly to the discovery of the casting art.
Liquid metal was discovered accidentally during the forging of hot metal. While metal was being heated for shaping, some of the copper would melt. It followed naturally that the melted metal could be [...]
AROUND the world, momentum is building for increases in minimum wage rates. SeaTac, Washington, a Seattle suburb that is home to a large metropolitan airport, backed a $15 per hour minimum wage law last week. On Thursday of this week fast-food workers around America will strike for one day, demanding a $15 per hour base rate for the industry. A majority of Americans favour increases (even a majority of Republicans), and President Obama has signalled his support for a bill raising the national minimum wage to $10. Germany’s new coalition has backed a national minimum wage of €8.50 ($11.50).