Re: The Education Function

Dan Clemmensen (
Fri, 11 Dec 1998 18:51:12 -0500

Spike Jones wrote:
> yup. the technical problem of eliminating labor is not all that difficult. the
> only reason we still have labor jobs is that we so desperately need them
> to occupy the laboring class, for their own good and ours. it is much more
> expensive to maintain labor than to eliminate it. i look forward to the day
> when engineers are turned loose on the problem of how to harvest all crops
> mechanically. that sounds like a fun problem to work. spike

Spike, agriculture is one of the most highly automated areas of our economy. from a historical perspective, the job of agricultural automation is roughly 98 percent complete: it used to take 100 peasent farmers to support one non-farmer, and now it takes one farmer to support 100 non-farmers. The remaining chores to automate are bassically marginal. Even so, the land-grant colleges spend a very large amount of time, money and effort on automating these jobs. A great many farming operations are essentially one-person operations, where the one person is the family farmer. This farmer's essential job is decision-making. One measure of the extent of automation is the amount of physical capital per employee. This number is very high for farming.

If you want to increase automation you'll need to look elsewhere. Right now, the service sector is the biggest target, followed by things like transportation and construction. I feel that the retail sector is currently beginning to see a new wave of automation, driven by the internet, Of course, this automation started early this century with the Sears Catalog.

IMO the "technical problem of eliminating labor" is quite difficult in the construction industry.