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Comment: Re: Foxconn Factories' Future: Fewer Humans, More (Score 1) 187

by khallow (#49178307) Attached to: Foxconn Factories' Future: Fewer Humans, More Robots

To be pedantic, it's jobs, not work.

No, I agree with the earlier poster, skam240. Your observation about "There's always plenty of work" just means that capitalism can always be applied, contrary to skam240's assertion that somehow we can run out of work. A job is just some amount of work done by a human.

Reality doesn't conform to your theory. Foxconn is in relatively obstacle free China, with relatively low labor costs, and this story is telling us they too are looking to reduce human jobs.

That's not in the story. What is actually in the story is that they are automating some jobs which are particularly amenable to automation. I imagine the degree of automation is probably being exaggerated as well. But in a fluid society like China, the people who no longer work for Foxconn, can now get work elsewhere. And because they've worked for Foxconn, they're now more experienced and skilled than before.

But in a more static, employer hostile society like most of the developed world, where are the new jobs going to come from when automation replaces jobs? I see this story being misused as a rationalization for not bothering to fix the problems of the developed world where considerable effort to make workers' lives better has backfired terribly. You can't encourage a trade such as employment by heavily favoring one side.

And I think it's only a short jump from idealistic but clueless top-down efforts to attempt to improve workers' lives to the creation of massive, multinational, oligopolistic corporations, the only forms of businesses that can survive such a hostile environment. A centralized mechanism for improving the lives of workers is far easier to derail and corrupt. It also creates a massive economy of scale since huge businesses can exploit such revenue streams to incredible lengths.

Comment: Re: Foxconn Factories' Future: Fewer Humans, More (Score 1) 187

by khallow (#49163337) Attached to: Foxconn Factories' Future: Fewer Humans, More Robots

Or we could figure out a better way to distribute resources. Capitalism works great when there's plenty of work to do. Not so well when there isnt.

Or we could find a way to make plenty of work. A huge part of the problem is the many obstacles thrown in the way of creating new businesses and employing people. I'll take complaints about unemployment seriously, when someone treats it like a serious issue.

Comment: Re: Foxconn Factories' Future: Fewer Humans, More (Score 1) 187

by khallow (#49163279) Attached to: Foxconn Factories' Future: Fewer Humans, More Robots

Or to put it another way, "past performance is not indicative of future results."

There's a big reason this doesn't apply. In the financial world, having a really good year means a higher likelihood of having a poor year next. There's no well above average investment that can stay that way. And that's really the only reason for the caution. After all, nobody will dump money into a losing investment on the hopes that it will continue to lose money.

When we get to technology development, past performance is indicative of future results. The strategies for developing new technology remain more or less the same, the same economics that don't zero out the value of human labor remain in play, and we still have increasing productivity of human labor as a consequence of technology development.

Comment: Re:Good (Score 1) 187

by khallow (#49163189) Attached to: Foxconn Factories' Future: Fewer Humans, More Robots
Another thing to consider here is Jevons paradox which is:

In economics, the Jevons paradox [...] is the proposition that as technology progresses, the increase in efficiency with which a resource is used tends to increase (rather than decrease) the rate of consumption of that resource.

One side effect of increasing automation is that human labor becomes more productive. The above model would then predict that "consumption" of human labor should increase. That actually happens on a global scale despite the relative tribulations of the developed world.

I think the combination of comparative advantage and Jevons paradox explains why the current myths of automation-induced unemployment are so consistently wrong.

Comment: Re:The phrase you're looking for (Score 0) 187

by khallow (#49163139) Attached to: Foxconn Factories' Future: Fewer Humans, More Robots
I don't care what you call it. Sure, it's a race and the developed world is losing it. One of the symptoms is a growing unemployment rate. Another is offshoring. We can keep blathering about how bad this competition is for us, but that doesn't make it go away.

I'd rather win this race than lose it. That probably means a modest decline in my standard of living. I'm comfortable with that since it will mean a better future.

Comment: Re:Foxconn Factories' Future: Fewer Humans, More R (Score 1) 187

by khallow (#49163019) Attached to: Foxconn Factories' Future: Fewer Humans, More Robots

What is interesting though is - robots cost the same price here as they do there. The only advantage Foxconn had was cheap humans...

An advantage which they still have. But they also have relaxed regulations and being in the largest industrial power of today with all the supply chain and infrastructure support that implies. I think a large part of the current economic problems with the developed world is that there is a profound ignorance of economics and what's actually going on in the world.

So not only are places like China great for job creation, they're also great places for the next wave of automation innovation.

Comment: Re:Foxconn Factories' Future: Fewer Humans, More R (Score 1, Informative) 187

by khallow (#49157501) Attached to: Foxconn Factories' Future: Fewer Humans, More Robots

Right, but the conversation that's being had around this is what are we going to do with all these people that we don't need anymore.

Employ them. That's what China will do. The two or three "lost generations" is a developed world problem coming from an uncompetitive labor force.

Comment: Re:Better definition of planet (Score 1) 190

by khallow (#49157433) Attached to: One Astronomer's Quest To Reinstate Pluto As a Planet

I agree that it's a *bit* rare to change terms that are already in wide use. But in this case they had to. Their hand was forced because of all the new KBOs that were found.

Because school kids would be forced to memorize a few hundred planets, if measures weren't taken. There was no reason to care that there were a lot of new planets. That's actual science. Now, our "scientific vocabulary" includes "dwarf planets" that aren't "planets". It's just dumb.

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