Reblog Opinion – The computerisation of European jobs | Jeremy Bowles at Bruegel.org – John Gelmini

Dr Alf is right to reblog this article.

The political classes pretend that everything will go on as before in their public utterances about computerisation, robotics, AI, nanotechnology, cybernetics, 3D printing and RPO. closely followed by educators, college principals and the broadcast media.

They lie by suggesting that this age, like all others, will see predictions of job losses caused by technological advancement are overblown and that “new jobs will be created” at the same or an as yet to be determined rate.

Dr Alf will remember the myth of the “paperless office” and this is often cited as a reason not to worry but until now machines did not possess the ability to learn and go on learning in the form of a geometric progression and until now the concept of “augmented intelligence” and Ray Kurzweil’s “Singularity” was a pipedream.

AI will by 2019, just 1.5 years from now, be equal to human ability to learn and beyond that it will overtake it and pull away.

Singularity 1,2,3 and 4 have already been planned with the idea being taking the brightest workers and executives and implanting nanochips into them containing expert systems with the capabilities and skills they need.

This would mean fewer workers doing much more complicated tasks and robots undertaking all the menial ones such as driving tractors, vertical farming, fruit picking, car manufacture, the physical side of Adult Social Care, practical nursing, train driving, postal deliveries, firing rifles in the military, street cleaning etc.

It follows that for many occupations the need for hours of study, exposure to teachers and lecturers and buildings to house them in all disappears.

Insolvency practitioners at partner level and many basic accountancy and book keeping tasks can be dealt with by expert systems and the same applies in management consultancy, the development of process maps, surgery, law, engineering and operations.

Areas where middlemen proliferate like recruitment consultancy are ripe for disintermediation and frankly who needs human resource professionals to “find the best person for the job” when experience teaches us that 90% of the time they fail to do so and can be bested by neural nets.

Mini robots injected into the bloodstream will be able to keep people healthy by zapping tumours and dispensing controlled amounts of drugs thus eliminating the need for many people to see doctors or for there to be any need for monolithic health services.

By 2037, Oxford University predicts the loss of 50% of all jobs in the world and Eric Schmidt of Google predicts the loss of 50% of American jobs by 2033.

If we look at European and British worker productivity, this would mean 65% and 75% job losses with similar takeup of technology as America.

The Chinese are going with the flow of these developments by replacing workers with robots and then upskilling the displaced workers to deal with more interesting work and they are using robots to patrol city streets, interact with the public and be able to control riots by firing tasers, swarming together to “kettle” rioters and directing real policemen to where they are needed.

These robots can communicate with real policemen and move about at 2.5 miles per hour.

In Japan robots have replaced supermarket checkout staff, warehouse staff, parking attendants, hotel receptionists, care home staff and fast food operatives and in a society with a 25 to 1 differential between those at the top and those on average pay it is possible to easily absorb these changes at least for now.

Here and in much of Europe the differential including bonuses and other emoluments is up to 450 to 1 and widening but the politicians seem unconcerned and have no answers as evidenced by the recent Queen’s Speech which was accurately described by Britain’s” Dave Spart”, Jeremy Corbyn as threadbare.

Yesterday, I went with a friend who had never seen the spectacle before to attend Royal Ascot and observe the phenomenon of plutocrats wandering about in the Royal enclosure versus the proletariat in their fascinators guzzling beer and devouring indigestable food at the other end of the racecourse.

The stark contrasts captured by the spectacle that I observed whilst perambulating about in a top hat and light grey morning suit from Moss Bros mean that technological change cannot easily be absorbed in unequal societies like ours except by the very well heeled and those who are well prepared for the future and have planned ahead.

I see no evidence that politicians, educators or the chattering classes are prepared to even discuss the issue in Europe or the UK other than in Germany where the planning is already underway.

Essentially we have three kinds of people:

(1) The creative and resourceful who produce more than they consume and can undertake tasks which are hard for technology to replicate

(2) Those who are capable of building on innate intelligence through augmentation who can be upskilled

(3) The unskilled but do jobs which others do not wish to do and those who cost more than they will ever produce and through age, infirmity, disabilities, laziness etc represent a growing burden on the other 3 categories.

Deciding on which category people fall into, whether they can be moved from one to another and what to do about those in the last category, who cannot or will not move into even a measure of self sufficiency is difficult but the politicians seem unwilling to deal with these issues honestly or at all.

This is evidenced by bogus figures on jobs creation, unemployment designed to mask the problem and convince uncritical people that all is well when it manifestly is not.

John Gelmini

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