Refuting the Luddite Fallacy

BookContenderI read three long articles this week, authored by journalists from the Associated Press.  Normally, I scoff at FUD, especially as it pertains to technology, and specifically computers.  I’ve spent the lion’s share of my life in communion with bits and bytes.  I’m extremely comfortable with my digital BFF.

But these three articles, under the AP Impact brand, presented a disturbing picture.  If the facts as presented are to be believed, I don’t really need to worry about my job being outsourced.  Instead, it will simply vanish.

AP IMPACT: Recession, tech kill middle-class jobs via the Wichita Eagle

Practically human: Can smart machines do your job? also via the Wichita Eagle

Will smart machines create a world without work? again via the Wichita Eagle

According to these three articles, not even doctors, lawyers and IT  (the latter two of particular interest to my circumstances) will be immune from this trend.

In modern usage, “Luddite” is a term describing those opposed to industrialisation, automation, computerisation or new technologies in general.

If only I were a decade older.  Then I probably wouldn’t feel any stress concerning this developing situation.  I would be that much closer to retirement (and/or death).  Can I be nimble enough to survive?

The Luddite fallacy addresses the idea that technological advances can have adverse effects on structural unemployment. Most mainstream economists agree that the benefits technology provides to the economy as a whole (i.e. increased aggregate demand due to falling prices) outweigh the costs of the temporary displacement of particular workers, who can find other work as technology fuels economic growth.

“In Contemporary Thought” Wikipedia Luddite article

Am I making a mountain out of a mole hill?  Lord knows I have enough stress in my life to keep me up most nights already.  But I can’t help mulling it over.

If we eliminate jobs (is that a Republican’s wet dream?), what’s left to drive our consumer economy?  You can’t sell a house or a car to a robot or a computer.

On the other hand, I don’t want to protect or regulate jobs just to keep people employed.  The flip side (for the Democrats) being that most if not all people would be employed by the government.  How does this different from places like Communist China?

Neither extreme appeals to me.  Always before, technology has improved lives and provided replacement jobs in innovative initiatives.  It seems now that we’ve reached the zenith and the point of diminishing returns looms ahead (unless it’s already here).

I don’t even  have to blame SkyNet for our destruction.  We’ve done it to ourselves.