7.25.2005

 

Layoffs are telling us something

On Friday it was noted here that large layoffs are becoming noticeable. This article in Saturday's paper notes the same thing:The fascinating paragraph in the article is this one:The title of the article is also interesting. The layoffs do not "defy" an upbeat Wall Street -- they propel it. When a company announces large layoffs, it HELPS the stock. Firing people is good for a company's stock price. This fact is one of the many things that will propel us toward the Robotic Nation.

By replacing employees with robots, companies become more profitable and their stock prices go up. There is no law that says that companies have to employ people. As robots get more versatile and more intelligent, companies will continue dumping people onto the unemployment roles. See Robots taking Jobs for details.

Comments:
With all their robots and automation, the Jetsons never had massive layoffs. Fortunately for them, their automation needed human cognition! My school’s AI project automated an expert’s procedures/calculations that took her 4 hours to do. This logical AI performs in a partially observable and stochastic environment, solving problems and give solutions in a little over 1 seconds! Poor George Jetson would need stipend payments in our world. Where’s ours?
 
Marshall,

Your fundamental thesis is undeniable.

One other approach that may work with it is this: once an economy borrows money, it MUST advance technology and productivity to pay it off. America is a debtor nation: people defended this debt by claiming that as long as we grow fast enough, we can have our cake and eat it too. See? Locked in. We MUST develop AI just to be able to have enough productive power to sustain the political system with its never ending population growth.

If the technology train slows down, or is intentionally stopped for social reasons, we will face a future far worse than robotic nation.
 
I don't think Robots will put Americans out of work. We're doing that much more quickly with CAFTA and all the rest.
 
There are political reasons for the layoffs - left wing commentators predicted that your president's policies would lead to them and they were right. No-one needs to be surprised - the layoffs are bascically a product of class warfare and market economics.

Basically, it is cheaper to have a near-slave in a poor country manufacture goods than to have a well paid, unionised American. New technology does play a part - it is said that it is a lot easier physically to set up a factory than it used to be - but most goods are still made on staffed production lines that would be recognisable to someone from the 1930's.
 
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