The Next Stage?

Friday, July 20th 2012

Is the capitalist compact that has existed since the end of World War 2 coming to an end?

I think it is.

Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee write:

When you consider that the overall population [of the USA] has grown, the lack of job creation is even more troubling. The population of the United States grew by 30 million in the past decade, so we would need to create 18 million jobs just to keep the same share of the population working as in the year 2000. Instead we've created virtually none, reducing employment to a population ration from over 64% to barely 58%.

(Race Against The Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy by Erik Brynjolfsson, Andrew McAfee)

Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee say that technnology is eliminating jobs and the resulting profits are going to:

  • highly skilled workers,
  • superstars: "Many industries are winner-take-all or winner-take-most competitions, in which a few individuals get the lion's share of the rewards. Think of pop music, professional athletics, and the market for CEOs. Digital technologies increae the size and scope of these markets. These technoogies replicate not only information goods but increasingly business processes as well. [...] Meanwhile good, but not great, local competitors are increasingly crowded out of their markets."
  • capital.

The point being best summed up as:

Man is the lowest cost, 150 pound, nonlinear, all-purpose computer system which can be mass produced by unskilled labor. (A 1965 NASA, man-in-space report)

You could also put it another way:

Automating complex tasks once reserved for people is what technology is all about. But people usually find new work by creating further complexity on top of our technology too.

But humanity's collective ability to create new complexity using technology will, at some point, stop keeping pace with technology's capacity to handle complexity.

So the essential problem is that most people exchange their labour for cash. And the value of labour is going down. To the point that human labour, just perhaps, is starting to look like the labour of the horse.

Wassily Leontief: “the role of humans as the most important factor of production is bound to diminish in the same way that the role of horses in agricultural production was first diminished and then eliminated by the introduction of tractors.”

(source)

Ways we've coped with the collapse in earnings:

  • increased borrowing;
  • women entering the workforce;
  • increased working hours.

Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee's essential point is that the stagnation in median income is not due to lack of technological of social progress; the very opposite. Exponential growth in computational power dematerialises more and more of the workforce.

I've written about this before, of course. Something of a hobby horse ;-).

But I am starting to see what is coming along to replace the old system.

Mega Overmind

Thursday, July 19th 2012

Mega Overmind

Manifeld Kurtikon

Wednesday, July 18th 2012

Manifeld Kurtikon

Suscrutcheon

Tuesday, July 17th 2012

Suscrutcheon

Polgaz

Monday, July 16th 2012

Polgaz

Blue and Evil

Saturday, July 14th 2012

Joe Bonamassa is a great guitarist!

Here he is playing "Blue And Evil" Beacon Theatre November 5th 2011.

(Check out the brutal drummer)

Here he is as a 12 year old:

Here he is discussing his rig:

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