💻 Part one of my conversation with economist Michael Mandel about Silicon Valley and America's technology sector
Not to worry. There will be riots.
The problem is not technology eliminating jobs. The problem is technology plus cheap energy eliminating physical jobs.
Human work can be categorized into at least 3 types: physical labor, calculation, and idea generation. There may be more, but this is the bulk of it. Obviously, many jobs contain combinations of these three. Product managers spend a lot of time generating ideas. Warehouse work is mostly physical.
Engineers used to do calculations. Now they use their idea generation skills to set up problems for a computer to solve.
Mechanized work eliminates tasks from the list of those performed using human physical labor. For the time being, we are constrained by the cost of energy to power the machines as well as the energy to generate the manipulate the raw materials needed to build a machine. Once someone has invented the design, most of the remaining costs boil down to energy and whatever human labor must still be performed. Therefore, cheaper energy leads to more machines leads to less need for human physical labor.
While I might want Dilbert's garbage man to generate ideas or do calculations for the society I live in, the same can not be said for most of the people whose jobs are preponderantly physical. What will they do? I am not sure, but it will not be physical labor, calculations or idea creation. I suspect they will riot.