The power of automation

A significant point of debate in the 2016 United States presidential election was the loss of various blue collar jobs. One narrative is that globalist economic policies, such as free trade agreements, have caused companies to move these position overseas where labor is cheaper. Another narrative is that these jobs are being replaced by automation. Machines don’t get tired, they have the same level of performance, and they never are rude. They will break down, of course, but then companies can hire someone to fix them.

Automation, like many technological advances, has the power to cause a Luddite reaction. People tend to talk about the limitations of machinery much more than the benefits. Greater automation means a worker can spend his time on more valuable tasks, such as planning and design. At a company I recently worked at, the pitch for automating various networking tasks was that it allows senior networking engineers more time to design and analyze networks as well as train junior engineers.

We must implement automation wisely. More machines mean less need to for workers, so people will be out of a job. What are we do about this?

On one hand, greater financial literacy is needed so people aren’t so reliant on living paycheck to paycheck. That require us to tackle both retirement, health care, and education, since those are most peoples’ biggest expenses.

We need more than financial stability, we also need to rethink what we mean by leisure. We translate the words skole and otium as leisure. Skole forms the basis or the word school. The meaning is clear, the classical Greeks, who’s philosophy and politics formed the bedrock of Western civilization considered leisure a time for a person to be free of obligation and to engage in meaningful activities that build skills and increase.

Less Facebook, more books.

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