Re: A Challenge To All Extropians/Free Martketeers

Paul Hughes (
Fri, 24 Apr 1998 23:02:48 -0700

Dan Fabulich wrote:

> See my post earlier today (4/24) on the "abolition of work." Jobs would
> only vanish if supply outstripped demand. This does not seem likely in the
> near future. Even as output keeps increasing thanks to increased
> automation, demand for labor keeps increasing at least as fast, if not faster.

I would love to read your "aboliton of work" post, but I just re-joined this list
a few hours ago. Could you re-send it to me?

Wow, as for the rest of your post, it is very well written and thought-out.
However, perhaps I'm missing a key element to your argument, but I somwhow missed
how it addresses the trend of increasing automation. My concern will take some

Here are some job sectors that will most likeley no longer require humans over the
coming years:

1) The Retail Sector: This sector employs 10's of millions of people. With the
advent of e-commerce and online stores, retail store fronts will find it
increasing difficult to compete with online direct channel lines - they are
cheaper because they cut out the costs of physcial store infrastructure and
distributor chains. Car dealers are a good example of a punishing buying
experience that most people would rather avoid.

2) The Service sector - online banking and automated tellers will almost
completely obsolete the need for phyical banks and human tellers. Banks are just
itching to jump into the online e-commerce revolution. Consider the demise of the
postal service, as
telecommunication is taking hold.

3) Industrial Workers - of course this sector is an obvious one that has already
succumbed to automation. Either manufacturers will resort to automation as it
becomes increasingly cheaper or rely on cheaper and cheaper labor in desperate
third-world countries. Whichever is cheaper. However automation is getting
cheaper and more sophisticated all the time.

So here is my question:

With the 100's of millions to be displaced by this sophisticated automation, what
kinds of jobs will they be able to do instead? Are you suggesting that eventually
all of us will become doctors, sceintists, engineeers, designers, artists and
writers? Because those are the only types of jobs that I can see that will be the
last to succumb to automation.

Paul Hughes