Thu Jan 17, 2013, 11:31 PM
Flaxbee (13,019 posts)
A New Industrial Revolution: The Rise of the Robots (Paul Krugman)
So, exploding population growth, religious hysteria over birth control and abortion, climate-induced food production issues, robots putting millions out of work -- wow, what a future!
There are plenty of ways to deal with all of these issues - but religion and the current way capitalism is practiced aren't part of the solution.
It's taken me a while to get around to Bob Gordon's stimulating essay suggesting that the great days of economic growth are behind us. It's not that different from things he's been saying before, and I have in the past had a lot of sympathy for that view. I now believe, however, that his technological pessimism is wrong — or if you prefer, it's the wrong kind of pessimism. But this is definitely a discussion worth having.
Mr. Gordon, an economics professor at Northwestern University, argues, rightly in my view, that we've really had three industrial revolutions so far, each based on a different cluster of technologies. In an essay published in September by the Center for Economic Policy Research, Mr. Gordon writes:
"The analysis in my paper links periods of slow and rapid growth to the timing of the three industrial revolutions: IR #1 (steam, railroads) from 1750 to 1830; IR #2 (electricity, internal combustion engine, running water, indoor toilets, communications, entertainment, chemicals, petroleum) from 1870 to 1900; and IR #3 (computers, the Web, mobile phones) from 1960 to present."
Ah, you ask, but what about the people? Very good question. Smart machines may make higher G.D.P. possible, but they will also reduce the demand for people — including smart people. So we could be looking at a society that grows ever richer, but in which all the gains in wealth accrue to whoever owns the robots. And then eventually Skynet decides to kill us all, but that's another story.
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