High water at work:
Things are changing; they always do.  I recently watched a comedy.  It seemed naughty but rather innocent.  Mostly it seemed to be set in another world, in some sort of time almost forgotten.  In fact it was only five years old.

Well it looks like things are going to be changing faster, particularly in the job market.  (The Onrushing Wave ECONOMIST vol. 410 no. 8870 January 8, 2014 page 24) It turns out that computers and computer guided machines can do all sorts of routine work.  And work, so far as I know, has always been mostly routine.  They are saying that almost half the jobs now available will be automated in about twenty years.  Maybe some people can make a living starting up things like web based businesses.  But you know that is always going to be a tiny proportion of people, and inevitably those web sites are going to get gobbled up by the giants. 

Ages ago almost all of us spent our time wandering around looking for a berry or trying to nail an animal to eat.  That’s all our working time, of course.  Mostly we just sat and missed the availability of computer games.  Then with agriculture we tended the fields; now that was much more time consuming.  The advantage was that the food always came from the same place, so you didn’t have to walk to be near it.  Up until then everybody who thought about it lived with the knowledge that one day he or she would not be able to keep up with the traveling needs of the tribe and would be left to rejoin the food chain.  A tiny proportion did anything but farm.  Come the industrial revolution, even manufacturing, which had once been a craft practiced by few, became routine.  It was a long time before the increased productivity of the Industrial Revolution was reflected in peoples real wages, but it happened, and there were ultimately more jobs because people could afford more.  Well and good.

The problem is now that there is a question whether the number of jobs will ever again rise to approximate the numbers in the potential work force.  Of course nobody knows.

Well, if we are to survive then we must resume marrying cousins, just as we did all those ages until the past very few generations.  The obvious way to do that is to break up into the social pattern that worked adequately from the beginning: hang out with family.  Yes, that would be inefficient.  (And I’m sure it could be quite annoying if quarrels arose.)  But inefficiency is no problem if there is plenty to go around everywhere.  So call them villages.  Each consists of about a hundred families.  The interenet is effectively infinite; shopping can be done at a key stroke.  Entertainment is available in a flash.  Necessities are plentiful and cheap.  But somebody has to keep track of what’s going out there in the real world.  What everybody could use, even now, is an internet consultant who can steer them to the best places.  Online vendors are known quantities and are eager to do just that.  But there might be a better way to go.

So every village could use an information technology (IT) expert. In fact it would be best to have a number of them.  Somebody spends his career helping shoppers find the best deals.  He’s always cruising the web.  Somebody else is the music guru.  Somebody else is the guru for other entertainment.  Somebody is the medical guide – not a doctor but an expert in finding the right doctor for the particular person.  As life gets more complex – which it will right up until the Great Simplification or whatever you want to call our return to scratching a living out of the earth – there will be more and more different tasks in IT which a prosperous village will want to support a specialists to perform.

Just a thought.

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