Quote of the day—Chris Knox @ChrisKnox_AZ

The minimum wage is a subsidy to the robotics industry.

Chris Knox @ChrisKnox_AZ
Tweeted on January 16, 2022
[That a great way to put it. And that subsidy is getting larger every day as the price/performance tradeoff keeps dropping.—Joe]


19 thoughts on “Quote of the day—Chris Knox @ChrisKnox_AZ

  1. If your job can be done by a robot, it will be done by a robot. Why would any purely economics-driven business make any other decision?

    We’re gonna have to get over the notion that we exist to have jobs. We’re only a couple decades away from a world where a large percentage of the “work” can be automated inexpensively, and humans won’t be necessary for production of most goods or services.

    I view that as a good thing, but folks are going to have to figure out how to reorganize society to deal with all the robots making all the money and giving it to Bezos.

    • You view that as a good thing? Really? As indeed it has driven those same billionaires to view humans as a messy and unneeded problem. The reduction of unneeded population being the cure. You down for that to? Bill Gates with the divine right of king’s economy?
      I think it was Henry Ford that said he wanted to make a car that the man on his factory floor could buy. Thus insuring sales growth.
      It seems to me the business model of robotic replacement of humans is very short sighted. And will get old quick.
      Bezos eats prime rib, while you get a bug meat happy meal?
      I know how I would deal with that. But how your g-g-generation handles it is going to be funny.
      Maybe it will sound like this. “Actually, it doesn’t taste that bad.”
      The only robotics industry with true growth potential is in sex. Fem-bots are the future. And a minimum wage to keep up with the latest model.

      • Yes, it’s a good thing. The days of physical labor (and even a lot of mental labor) are numbered. Humanity’s big brains are better used for complex things, not menial tasks or soviet style bureaucracies.

        As for billionaires, you’ll note that I called out Bezos in my OP as the bad guy, not the good guy. To they extent that they want a world for them and nobody else but their servants, I predict they’ll find out the hard way that never really works.

        • Most people can’t do that kind of work. It’s not their fault, they just can’t.

          I could never be good at software, and I am quite a bit smarter and quite a bit more logically/mathematically minded than the average bear. But I’ve got nothing on the people who do that for a living.

          You are proposing that we all live in a world that has no place for probably 90-95% of the people in it. Nothing for them to do. No way to support them. No one wants to be kept as a rich man’s pet. This will not end well.

          • On the contrary, most people are quite capable of far more than we currently give them opportunity for. Education is a wonderful thing, and the vast majority of the population would be just fine not picking fruit and doing something more interesting instead. Imagine a world where everyone had the opportunity to learn everything they ever wanted to learn about an area they find interesting? What would they do then? Doesn’t mean it’s nuclear physics. Doesn’t mean it’s even a task. Could be wilderness navigation. You’re being overly proscriptive if you assume it’s something technical and/or task based.

          • I want no part of the future you are describing. It will not end well. People don’t work that way.

          • If you think the mass of people are incapable of finding purpose in their lives outside their employment by others to do menial tasks, I question who’s really the robot here….

          • I, for one, am not entrepreneurial and am generally lost without the structure in my schedule that a job provides. I hate my job, but I’m good at it where most people couldn’t begin to do it. I don’t do it because it’s “meaningful,” I do it because it pays the bills, provided the structure I need so I can rebel against it, and keeps my mind engaged.

            There are places where I don’t live, because people on UBI (I.e., “welfare”), occasionally start the apartment building on fire because they got bored.

            Plenty of people are very happy to be doing menial jobs for a lot of reasons (ok sure, they probably want and deserve a raise), and the rest of society goes that much better when they do their jobs.

            This is real life. I would suggest getting out and meeting/talking to a much wider variety of people.

          • Spot on Publius. Right around the time Al Gore invented the internet. Him and Bill came up with the idea they forced on America calling for a high-tech, high paying economy. (Sound familiar?)
            Then had to import more cheap labor to do all the wet-work. (sweat and blood).
            Instead of just making sure that people could naturally find a level of comfort in life. Pursue a little happiness now and then. And just generally leave non-criminals to their lives?
            We got the master-class trying to master-mind us.
            Which was first tried at the tower of Babel. (And were seeing similar results.)
            Life is messy for a reason, John. Your doing good-think, but it’s not going to help.

          • Speaking as someone in the technology industry, specifically working on machine learning methods for automating menial and not-so-menial tasks, I can tell you that you may not like the future of robots (in software or hardware form), but they’re coming (and to a great extent already here). That much I know for a fact. Prepare accordingly (as Joe would say).

    • As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
      I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market-Place.
      Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall.
      And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

      We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn.
      That water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
      But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision, and Breadth of Mind,
      So we left them to teach the Gorilas while we followed the March of Mankind.

      We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
      Being neither clud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market-Place;
      But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
      That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

      With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch.
      They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch.
      They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings.
      So we worshiped the Gods of the Market Who promiced these beautiful things.

      When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promiced perpetual peace.
      They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
      But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
      And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: ‘Stick to the Devil you know.’

      On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promiced the Fuller Life
      (Which started by loving our neighbor and ended by loving his wife)
      Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
      And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: ‘The Wages of Sin is Death/’

      In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
      By robbing selective Peter to pay for collective Paul;
      But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
      And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: ‘If you don’t work you die.’

      The the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tounged wizards withdrew,
      And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to belive it was true
      That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four—
      And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more

      As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man—
      There are only four things certain since Social Progress began:—
      That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her mire,
      And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;
      And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
      When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
      As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
      The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return! ~Rudyard Kipling

      Any man may exist without a ‘job’. He gathers his own roots and berries. He snares and roasts his own squirrels. He sleeps in a lean-to or dugout of his own making. He hollows out wood with sharp stones to make his own bowls and cups and scoops water from creeks to drink. He is riddled with diseases and malnutrition, always one bad injury from being unable to make a minimum daily calorie intake, and if he lives to 35, he is accounted an old man among others of his inclinations. He would nevertheless be honorable for not demanding from others what he is unwilling to give in equal or greater measure, and being content with what he provides for himself with his own level of effort.

      • Thanks Tirno! That Kipling is a classic that never goes out of style. Human nature writ large.

  2. Sorry, I somewhat miss-read your OP John. But with hat in hand. I’m compelled to say labor is going nowhere near full automation.
    The nature of humans with to much time on their hands has proven the destruction of said notions.
    As Tirno timely quotation of Kipling proves.
    We start by loving our neighbor, and end by loving his wife. Strive is the future of man. Always is and will be.
    Japan tried in the 70’s to adopt a policy of only using machines to help man. Not replace.
    Now they get everything from China to.
    Communism tried to break away from human nature also. We see how that’s working.
    America has the highest standard of living the world has ever seen. And it’s becoming???? More civilized?
    No, we see the fool’s burnt finger, go waffling back to the fire.
    It’s good and necessary to have dreams. One is always compelled to remember that’s all they are.

  3. Y’know what? If the counterperson cares more about learning my pronouns than getting my coffee order right, I don’t feel “welcomed in the store,” I feel like I’d be happier dealing with a coffeebot.

    I suspect the main thing holding back a 90%-fully-automated ersatz Starbucks is the prospect of building a vandal-proofed dispenser system for city stores, versus the actual coffee brewing and mixing system.

    The problem, though, as noted above really is going to be human nature. Without challenges that have meaning, we stagnate – as individuals and as a species. Joe Haldeman explored this a bit in “The Accidental Time Machine,” as have many others in many works.

  4. ”The minimum wage is a subsidy to the robotics industry.”
    And labor unions, who funnel money back to politicians.

  5. In my working career I designd and implemented lots of business automation systems, from fairly simple to mind-boggling complex.

    My recommendation to (whatever passed for) the client’s management was “use computers for the simple, stupid repetitive stuff and shift your humans for the complex, highly variable, or value-add processes where human ingenuity and flexibility adds the greatest value.” That often required restructuring business operations, sometimes massively so.

    Business, unfortunately, has largely devolved into a vastly increasing number of those “simple, stupid repetitive stuff” types of processes to the exclusion of what humans are best at and can add value to.

    I’ll continue Boris’ thought (above) by very generally comparing two organizations; Macdonald’s and Starbucks. At “Macdonald’s University” there is a continuing very strong effort to maximize efficiency to simultaneously speed processes, improve quality *, and lower cost. Were Starbucks to follow that business model Boris’ coffee vending machines would already be here, producing quality coffee ** in more locations and at a lower cost than their storefront locations. I’m confident that somewhere, someone who is not Starbucks is working on that very thing.

    * For various values of “quality” and the definitions thereof within the scope of Macdonald’s-type fast food operations, where “quality” is primarily related to “reliably repetitive high consistency”. As of yet, humans are non-excludable components of the “fast food operation,” at least for certain layers of it. That will not always be the case.

    ** Also for various values of what people consider “good coffee”

    • Well said, but there is another component of “quality” in a product, which is human interaction. There are those who go to Starbucks, and other places, to have a brief human interaction. Depending on the customer of course, and on the salesperson, that can be very important, to not important, to irrelevant, to a negative influence on business.

  6. Some people prefer repetitive tasks, while others abhor them, and surely there is a spectrum in between the two extremes.

    Looking at which occupations have the healthiest populations would be in order here. I’ve heard, but can’t prove it, that the servants of the rich (gardeners, groundskeepers, household handymen, etc.) generally lived longer, healthier lives than the people they served. It seems plausible.

    But it seems, here in comments, that we’ve run up against the notion of central planning. In a proper world, it wouldn’t matter what “we” think. It would only matter what each individual thinks about what he wants to do, which opportunities he wishes to pursue, etc.

    And opportunities are always changing. I may wish to start a business making buggy whips, for example, but the automobile has limited my ability to make a living at it. Not that making buggy whips is a complete and utter loser of an idea though, people still use buggy whips, but my potential customer base is very small. Likewise, people still use steam engines, and many other anachronistic technologies. And that’s only looking at existing concepts. The best entrepreneur creates a new concept, something no one else has thought of, and the existence of robots can never change that.

    And anyway, a new technology typically results in new industries which are created after the fact so as to serve or improve that new technology. How many tire, muffler and break shops were there before the advent of the automobile for example, or custom motorcycle parts fabricators?

    We were just talking here about the “pet rock” phenomenon back on the 1970s. The guy that came up with the idea became a millionaire from selling them. No one ever thought of that, until he did.

    The overall point here is, it’s not our business what other people do so long as they’re not violating our rights. IN a free world, it’s either your business or it’s someone else’s business, and technology alone isn’t going to hurt you without some evil bastard doing the hurting through his technology. Guns don’t kill people, people do, right?

    And so rather than talking about what “we” are going to do about this or that specific technology, we should be thinking about the conflict between good and evil and where we as individuals stand on the issue (to whom or to what we have given our allegiance).

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