but can it mix a martini?

Sometimes the arc of change is like pulling a cart through knee deep molasses on a cold January morning. There are so many structural constraints in place, so many vested interests, so much anxiety over potential changes and add to this the inevitable authority of inertia, throw in remnants of discredited religious thinking, add dollops of junk science, fantasy science fiction and dredge up past traumas of human catastrophe that we might as well grab a front row seat and watch dust accumulate on a window pane. Then, as if watching a long arm wrestling match, someone snaps an arm and its over. And something takes its place. Thinking back to University, the old economics textbook of Lipsey, Sparks and Steiner were projecting a world of machines, automation and systems managed by a few savants with large hordes of the unwashed and the immaculately spiff and proper sitting on the sidelines with little to do except perhaps explain damage control of whether this was a socialist utopia or capitalist nightmare.

( see link at end) Margaret Wente: …We’re both relieved to be at the far end of our careers. Both higher education and the media are facing profound and wrenching transitions. …Not so long ago, everyone believed knowledge workers were generally sheltered from the more dramatic upheavals of the economy. In the past few decades, as middle-class incomes stagnated and good blue-collar jobs disappeared, the professional class did extraordinarily well. Lawyers, accountants, tenured university professors, architects and even the ink-stained wretches of the press have had pretty good lives….

---The Naval Research Laboratory has opened its Laboratory for Autonomous Systems Research (LASR — see what they did there?), what the Navy is calling the “nerve system” for research on autonomous robotics to help the Navy and Marine Corps in their missions and to get new robotic tech to the front line as soon as possible, according to a statement released by NRL today.---Read More:http://venturebeat.com/2012/04/02/navy-robots/#s:robots-desert

But now, global competition, relentless cost pressures and technological change are hitting the professional class, too. Few will be left unscathed….

Michael Ferguson:The world is approaching a true Golden Age, likely to emerge around 2025. However, prior to that we are facing what I call 'the four horsemen of the Industrial Age apocalypse' or, for short, the train wreck. These four horsemen are 1) 20+% technological unemployment, 2) depopulation of Industrial Age cities, 3) the death of the publicly traded corporation and the economic, political and legal structure that supported it and 4) the disintegration of national identity and therefore national unity. Read More:http://thefuture101abstracts.blogspot.ca/ image: WIKI

… Thomson Reuters, one of the biggest information companies in the world, bought Pangea3, a legal-process outsourcing firm with most of its lawyers in India. These lawyers do the grunt work traditionally assigned to junior lawyers in North America – document review, due diligence and contract management. Prestigious North American law firms charge $300 an hour for this kind of work. Lawyers in India charge $30 an hour. These services have been slow to catch on. But now the toothpaste is out of the tube, and revenue at India’s legal outsourcing firms is soaring. Read More:http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/opinion/the-next-job-bubble-to-burst-may-be-yours-professionals/article1939165/

…That’s the outsourcing piece. Here’s the technology piece. Thanks to advances in artificial intelligence, armies of expensive lawyers hired to analyze complex documents are being replaced by software. Legal software has become so sophisticated that it can search documents for concepts as well as specific keywords, and can even detect patterns of communication that point to white-collar crime. Who needs lawyers when your software can whip through millions of pages of paper in a couple of days, and never get sleepy?

Because of the recession, companies have slashed their legal costs. Young lawyers today are far less likely to make partner, and the market for new junior lawyers has tanked. It may never recover. Debt-burdened law students are rightly worried they may never get a decent return on their investment.

…IBM is now collaborating with Columbia University and the University of Maryland to create a Watson-like resource that will summarize a patient’s medical records and help with diagnoses. Doctors are notoriously resistant to the idea that anyone else can do their jobs as well as they can. But do you really need a doctor to renew your Lipitor or tell you that you have the flu? As health-care costs rocket to the moon, family doctors could be replaced by lower-cost physicians’ assistants, drawing on the matchless expertise of Dr. Watson….


Robotic calligraphy for Bible. Read More:http://reflight.blogspot.ca/2009/04/technological-unemployment-cited-in.html

As skills once considered exclusively human are offered by machines, the potential for widespread job dislocation is immense. Remember how fast ATMs replaced bank tellers? Meantime, smart and well-trained people around the world are moving up the job chain. In Sri Lanka, best known for its bloody civil war, accountants are doing financial work for some of the world’s biggest companies. And it’s not just payroll and bookkeeping – they’re doing things such as derivatives pricing and risk management for hedge funds. English is widespread, and the literacy rate is more than 90 per cent. The average annual wage for a Sri Lankan accountant is $5,900….

…The “creative” industries are vulnerable, too. Canada is tops at computer animation. So is Singapore. Five years ago, George Lucas, the genius behind Star Wars, set up an operation there, and now they’re cranking out top-quality children’s programming for the U.S. market. Then there’s my husband, a highly creative (if I do say so myself) television director. When he began his career in the 1970s, he made impressive dough. That was when we only had three channels. Now we have 300, and they’re all full of dirt-cheap reality-TV programming. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he’s still working. He works twice as hard for half the money. TV production – once glamorous and highly paid – has become a sweatshop for knowledge workers.

… The current university model is financially unsustainable, and the students want more value for their time and money. The professors’ unions have made reform nearly impossible, and professors still deliver services much as they did in the Middle Ages. New technologies, new demands and worsening cost pressures will shake these places to the core. In the long run, none of this is bad. Who misses lining up for bank tellers? But if your kid thinks a law degree will make her rich, you might encourage her to think again….Read More:http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/opinion/the-next-job-bubble-to-burst-may-be-yours-professionals/article1939165/

Can we predict where all this is going to go?  If we look at  quantum theory, still generally accepted, it asserts that duality characterizes  the particles that constitute the universe  such as electrons and protons.  The thesis further claims  it is impossible to simultane­ously measure, quantify, the location and velocity of a given  particle with any precision or relaibility, and, importantly,  to predict the behavior of any given particle. The best we can do is establish probabilities, likelihoods,  of its behav­ing in a certain way( think quants and CDO’s in the banking crisis)  As such,  physicists can put into question  the behavior of a particle, and even the very fact of its existence; as it depend on whether the observer possesses freedom of choice, and is therefore not necessarily subject to the laws of nature. The answer of the utopians and the doomsayers, the crystal ball seers and navel gazers is likely to be well, unpredictable.

Why? At one time it was determined that the earth was the center of the universe, with the sun revolving around it, understood in the literal sense. According to theories based on Newton’s classical mechanics these postulations would have been ROFL material and cat memes.  But, given  Einstein’s universally acknowledged ideas of relativity, this view is indeed plausible, if ostensibly unsettling.  Accord­ing to the general theory of relativity, it is not possible to de­termine 100% which body revolves around which, and further,  which one is actually moving and which is static. It is hard to swallow, to accept the potential that in our post-modern context, an idea seemingly archaic and sentenced to the scrap heap of history, an earth standing still, may actually be compatible with science…


As you’ve probably noticed with this idea of technology replacing humans in the workplace there is a giant paradox. For a capitalist system to work people need to submit to employment to raise income, this income is then used to buy goods from firms, and for a firm to produce goods they need to employ people to ensure their production levels are able to meet demand. By removing people from this process and replacing them with technology the people will be unable to raise the income needed to buy goods from the firms. As a result of this demand will fall for the products and the whole system collapses as there is no one to buy the products or services. Technological unemployment by its very nature exposes the fundamental flaws in the capitalist system and as our technology continues to advance at a rapid pace we will see fewer and fewer people in work. As an example, new RFID technology is set to revolutionise the service process in supermarkets and will potentially remove a huge percentage of the number of people required for these supermarket chains to operate. We would be talking about millions of jobs globally under threat by new technologies. Read More:http://thefuturist.co/technological-unemployment

Related Posts

This entry was posted in Feature Article, Ideas/Opinion and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.