You Thought It Would Only Happen to The High School Grads, Right?
Bill Quick

Technology: Rise of the replicants – FT.com

If Daniel Nadler is right, a generation of college graduates with well-paid positions as junior researchers and analysts in the banking industry should be worried about their jobs. Very worried.

Mr Nadler’s start-up, staffed with ex-Google engineers and backed partly by money from Google’s venture capital arm, is trying to put them out of work.

Its algorithms assess how different securities are likely to react after the release of a market-moving piece of information, such as a monthly employment report. That is the kind of work usually done by well-educated junior analysts, who pull data from terminals, fill in spreadsheets and crunch numbers. “There are several hundred thousand people employed in that capacity. We do it with machines,” says Mr Nadler. “We’re not competing with other [tech] providers. We’re competing with people.”

Warren – the name given to the system, in homage to investor Warren Buffett – is part of a new army of “smart” machines that are threatening to invade office life. These computers do not just collect and process information; they draw inferences, answer questions and recommend actions, too.

The threat to jobs stretches beyond the white-collar world. Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) also make possible more versatile robots capable of taking over many types of manual work. “It’s going to decimate jobs at the low end,” predicts Jerry Kaplan, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who teaches a class about AI at Stanford University. Like others working in the field, he says he is surprised by the speed at which the new technologies are moving out of the research labs.

It is axiomatic that over the next twenty years or so, almost all jobs currently being done by humans (95% plus) will be done faster, cheaper, and more dependably by machines.

We are entirely unprepared to live in a world like that, and yet it keeps right on coming at us.  You think unemployment is bad now?  Wait till you see it ten years down the road.

Of course by then they won’t be calling it unemployment.  It will be voluntary retirement, or job-unlocking, or livin’ la vida dole.  Doesn’t matter what you call it, though.  Our current culture won’t survive it. 

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Bill Quick

About Bill Quick

I am a small-l libertarian. My primary concern is to increase individual liberty as much as possible in the face of statist efforts to restrict it from both the right and the left. If I had to sum up my beliefs as concisely as possible, I would say, "Stay out of my wallet and my bedroom," "your liberty stops at my nose," and "don't tread on me." I will believe that things are taking a turn for the better in America when married gays are able to, and do, maintain large arsenals of automatic weapons, and tax collectors are, and do, not.

Comments

You Thought It Would Only Happen to The High School Grads, Right? — 3 Comments

  1. In 1940 (guestimate) thousands of mostly women were employed making connections for phone calls. The advent of mechanical switching, and later electronic switching, almost entirely eliminated their work. We weren’t prepared to live in that evolving world.

    Thousands of bank employees now use general rules of thumb to give advice to middle class investors. They will now be put out of work in favor of mechanically applied experience and inference. These are also rules of thumb, but more targeted and numerous. We are not prepared to live in this evolving world.

    We must get rid of the idea that a college degree makes a person smart, worthy of giving advice to others based on rules of thumb taught in expensive classrooms. They will have to find more useful things to do.

    I wish we could convince the public that PH.D’s from Ivy universities don’t make high ranking government econimists smart enough to rule our lives.

    CBO Creates Jobs On Paper
    03/17/10 – Cato@Liberty – Daniel J. Mitchell [edited]:
    === ===
    Doug Elmendorf is Director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). He basically agrees with me, that their employment model simply spits out pre-determined numbers, regardless of what happens in the real economy. The CBO recently estimated that so-called stimulus spending generated jobs and growth.

    Someone asked if the CBO model would be unable to detect whether the stimulus failed. After hemming, hawing, and a follow-up question, he confessed “that’s right”.

    (See this at 39:00 on the C-Span video at the link.)
    === ===

    • Depends, Steve. Unless it is your contention that software remains at a static level forever.

      I know that the code I was writing for mainframes back in 1966 is a different beast than what was being written in 1976, 86, 96, 2006,or will be wrtten in 2016 or 2026. For one thing, a lot of the 2026 code will be written by other code.