Mass Unemployment 2.0 – Luddites Have No Moral High Ground

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Two days ago, I shared this blog article with you and other Finxters:

πŸ§‘β€πŸ’» Recommended: The Return of Mass Unemployment – Intelligent AI Bots, Expensive Capital, and Recession

In the email, I wrote:

“As a business owner, I’d rather hire one skilled prompt engineer than ten graphic designers.”

I already expected to get some pushback here – and I did!

For example, an anonymous Finxter wrote the following:

Not just “no”.Β  HELL no!

I would not do business with you or anyone who would do that to people. […]

You do realize developers will be replaced the same way if we proceed down this route?

What are all these displaced people going to do. Such tools need to be shut down until this issue is figured out,

I am unsubscribing from your mailing list.Β  I can’t support such unethical behavior.

I understand that many feel threatened by the rapid technological acceleration and the changes that come with it.

That’s why I write this daily newsletter to help you stay on the right side of change.

And, of course, anybody not feeling in alignment with our overall optimistic attitude toward technological developments should, in fact, unsubscribe from this email list immediately. No hard feelings.

Now let me make my case:

Our time on earth is limited. Many of us don’t enjoy meaningless work that could be automated. It’s frustrating!

And why bother? We all know that meaningful work exists that doesn’t get done.

So, my general attitude towards automation is as follows:

Every valuable task that can be automated, should be automated.

Politics aside, here are two observations:

(1) Many people don’t want to do the work, and
(2) More and more machines can do the work cheaply, efficiently, and without complaining.

For example, ChatGPT does an excellent job finding examples of how tech advancements impacted certain job roles:

  • Scribes and Illuminators (Post-Printing Press): Before the printing press, books were written by hand, often by monks in monasteries. The printing press made mass production of books possible, drastically reducing the need for manual scribes and illuminators who decorated manuscripts.
  • Weavers and Textile Artisans (Industrial Revolution): The invention of mechanized looms and other textile machinery during the Industrial Revolution significantly reduced the demand for handweaving, impacting artisans who had traditionally woven textiles by hand.
  • Blacksmiths (Advent of Automobiles): The widespread adoption of cars led to a decline in horse-drawn carriages, which adversely affected blacksmiths who were essential in making and repairing horse-drawn carriage components and horseshoes.
  • Lamplighters (Electric Lighting): Before electric streetlights, lamplighters were employed to light gas or oil street lamps every evening. The advent of electric lighting rendered this occupation obsolete.
  • Telegraph Operators (Telephone and Internet): With the advent of the telephone and later the internet, the need for telegraph operators, who transmitted messages using Morse code, diminished significantly.
  • Typesetters (Digital Printing and Publishing): The rise of digital printing technologies and desktop publishing software reduced the need for manual typesetters, who arranged letters for printing presses.
  • Film Photographers and Darkroom Technicians (Digital Photography): The digital photography revolution led to a decline in demand for traditional film-based photographers and darkroom technicians who developed film.
  • Travel Agents (Online Booking Platforms): The rise of online travel booking platforms has significantly reduced the need for traditional travel agents, as people can now plan and book trips themselves online.
  • Bank Tellers (Online Banking and ATMs): The introduction of ATMs and online banking services has decreased the need for as many bank tellers, as customers can perform many banking tasks themselves without visiting a branch.
  • Video Store Clerks (Streaming Services): The rise of online streaming services like Netflix and Hulu has dramatically reduced the demand for video rental stores, impacting the jobs of video store clerks.

I didn’t hire a secretary to make this but paid $20/m to an AI company. Making this list would’ve taken me an hour or two – now it’s just a few seconds.

If you’re on the right side of change, you’ll get attacked for using electric vehicles that drive themselves (no Uber driver!), streaming videos (no video stores!), or purchasing online (no department stores!).

“I can’t support such unethical behavior.”

In the end, of course, it doesn’t matter.

“No force on earth can stop an idea whose time has come.”Victor Hugo

So why bother? There is no moral high ground for not using technology.

In fact, if we don’t adopt new technologies, we’ll die!

Adapt or die.

Be on the right side of change!

πŸ’‘ This is our November 11, 2023 Finxter newsletter. Join us for free here.