Modernization cannot continue

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by darksidZz, Jun 13, 2011.

  1. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    But that's is exactly the cusp upon which we are standing. The largest single use of energy in the developed world is transportation. 25% of America's petroleum is consumed directly by commuting, which does not count its second-order effects such as nannies driving around town taking care of children whose parents never see them awake, fast food eaten by people who can't get home in time to cook, and all the gardeners, plumbers, electricians, etc., driving to the homes of people who have no time for DIY projects.

    You don't have to remind me that America's managers have not yet figured out how to manage people they can't spy on constantly, even though many of them are younger than me and I know how to do it. But as soon as the younger generation, who have grown up with cellphones, FaceBook and MMORPGs, take over the business world, they themselves will refuse to spend two hours moving their bodies from one building with a telephone and an internet connection into another building with a telephone and an internet connection, so they will have no incentive to browbeat their employees into doing it.

    At this point employees will be rated, paid and promoted on the basis of what they accomplish, not the number of hours they spend very cleverly looking busy. (And yes, I too can name one gigantic employer that will have a really major problem with this.

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    And this will cause a drastic decrease in our energy consumption.
    I'm one of the oldest people here and I have happily learned to balance the silicon world with the carbon world. I don't think the kids who would be my greatgrandchildren (if I had any children) will have the slightest problem with the adaptation.

    The evidence is all around you. Record stores went out of business ten years ago, and bookstores are just starting to fold. Brick-and-mortar "stores" of most kinds will eventually become obsolete, as we do more of our shopping online.

    There will surely continue to be places where people gather in large numbers to share an experience and pick up on each other's energy, such as concert halls and sport stadiums. But working and shopping ain't it.

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    The internet is catalyzing that too. Did you not feel a little pang of "at last" when Americans wept over the real-time cellphone videos of Neda Agha Soltan dying in the street in a country that we claim we don't even like very much? Americans wrote songs about her!

    Notice that the only countries that our government feels safe in bombing anymore are the ones that don't have major internet service? Those people are anonymous, statistical abstractions to us, rather than real folks with names and faces and families and hopes and dreams. Once your children have played videogames with their children, it's all over!

    Yes, the Electronic Revolution (which began in 1833 with the first commercial telegraph) has its down side. So did the Industrial Revolution; just read Dickens. But the up side will be worth it.
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  3. Mrs.Lucysnow Valued Senior Member


    But is there time? Look at what is reported, Time Magazine Feb. 2011 in post#120
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  5. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Analysts say that the tipping point for America's automobile culture will be gasoline at $8 per gallon. When that happens there will be tremendous pushback from employees against the obsolete practice of "going to work," for the very practical reason that they will no longer be able to afford it. Even public transportation runs on petroleum and the cost of a bus or train trip will escalate in tandem.

    It will probably take at least three or four years to reach that price, and by then the technology price/performance curve (double the performance at half the price every 18 months) will deliver a webcam with every computer, eliminating the (quite reasonable) objection to virtual meetings that a good portion of our communication bandwidth is in facial expressions and body language. Today's "pass the mouse" virtual meeting software is already almost as good as it needs to be for the slides and charts.

    We will survive the dwindling of the earth's petroleum reserves for another generation or two. At that time we will find out just how responsible our governments are. They should already be building the high-orbit solar collectors that will beam down energy in microwave form. This technology can provide all the energy the population needs, even if the birth rate does not continue dropping. The limiting factor on population size is the rate at which we can dissipate our waste heat into space. As I noted in several other threads, we can add four more zeroes to our head count before we raise the ambient temperature to a level at which people start dying of heat stroke before they reach puberty, which will stabilize the population albeit in a really ugly way.

    If the governments of the future are administered by little children dressed up as adults like today's governments, and they don't build those solar collectors because they won't help them win elections, then your grandchildren can look forward to a proliferation of nuclear power plants. That will probably not be so bad for them because the technology curve will greatly improve their resistance to natural disasters and terrorist attacks. It's your great-great-great-to the hundredth power-grandchildren who will have to live with the nuclear waste accumulated over thousands of years.
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  7. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    That's overstated - it was more like 75%. To get back to 99%, you have to go way back to before the arisal of states, domestication of animals, invention of irrigation, specialization of labor, etc. By the start of the Industrial Revolution, there were already things like miners, blacksmiths, cobblers, etc. But, yeah, it was still a primarily agricultural economy, with most people working on farms.

    Also it's suggested that the Industrial Revolution was itself a product of a preceding Agricultural Revolution, wherein new farming technologies like crop rotation and so on boosted agricultural output drastically. This then allowed further specialization of labor, in particular in the sectors that would then develop key industrial technologies.
  8. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

    While I can certainly observe that stores will change in response to the medium of virtual reality, there will still be need for brick and mortar buildings to produce and store commodities, even if more personal shopping gets done on-line.

    Somehow, I can see on-line shopping having more appeal for men than for women, as we like to do our 'hunting' in person.

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    I can't see Walmart disappearing off the landscape anytime soon. A trip to that establishment is an experience of altered reality in itself, lol...
  9. Me-Ki-Gal Banned Banned

    Don't Know ?? Don"t Know ?? I have meet quite a few woman in the Seattle area that are on-line purchase junkies . They don't hardly leave there house for anything except work and they can't what to get home so they can do some on-line shopping . They are younger women in there 20s and early 30s . I can't even begin to tell you what percentage of market share they are , but it is some kind of trend circulating .
  10. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    No, women are the gatherers. You walk up and down every path/aisle in the forest/store, checking the color of every fruit/package to see if it is ripe/right size, feeling its texture, and then... and then... you put it in your basket!

    Men are the hunters. Me need shirt. Aha, shirts here. Shirt good. Strong, big, worthy of me! Me got shirt. Me drag shirt outside. Shirt dead now. Me go watch TV.
  11. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

    LOL.....I consider myself a 'hunter' rather than a 'gatherer' for the reason that I observe the seasons, I am knowledgeable about my quarry, and I wait patiently for the appropriate time to stalk it, be it animal, vegetable or mineral.

    That I am a more selective hunter than many, I will concede. I am not one of those who goes shopping to fill the time. I know what I want, where to find it, what I'm willing to pay and I can get in and out like a SWAT team.

    When I go looking for bedding plants in the spring......on those missions I fit the description of 'gatherer' for there is much to discern before deciding.

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  12. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

    I do not doubt that you are correct about the younger generation. Personally, I like to examine whatever I intend to purchase, to ascertain that it fits the standards that have been predetermined as desirable for the need or want that it is destined to fill.

    Often enough, I have found items to be mislabeled or sized wrongly, priced in error etc. It is an inconvenience to have to return items and therefore I prefer to buy local and in person.

    The internet is useful for getting consumer reports on new products or big ticket items, IMO. Also for searching out and purchasing specialized or obscure desires that are not to be found in our small city.
  13. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    You've posted all this before and it was just as wrong then.

    We have about 120 million jobs in this country.

    Of them over half you have to be there, there is no telecommute option.
    You can't make a car or an airplane or mine or drill or log from home.

    Of the half the jobs where it's even possible to do without being there, only about half will ever be done that way. For instance, there are 20 million in the Education and Health care industry, but you still need clinics and hospitals and schools, so no matter what you do, more than half of those will be commuting.

    Same with Profesional/Business, Financial etc.

    Which is why, even with a decade of exerience with reliable high-speed internet and cell phones and supporting software, currently only ~4% of the U.S. workforce telecommutes the majority of the time.

    I'm sure we could easily more than double that, to nearly 10%, but getting much beyond 15% (about 4 times as many as today). isn't going to happen by 2030.

    But let's say we get to 20%.

    Well 20% of 25% of our Oil usage is a net reduction of 5%

    Or a reduction in our oil use from 18.9 million barrels a day to 18 million barrels per day.

    Which, considering our population is expected to grow by over 50 million people (~17%) by 2030, then our total use of oil, assuming the new comers only use 1/3 the amount of oil per person as we do today, will easily use more than that 5% reduction from getting 20% to telecommute.

  14. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I'm sure people like you said the same thing 200 years ago when people like me said that the day would come when the majority of the human race would no longer be required to work in the food production and distribution industry, and thousands of new occupations would spring up to employ them.
    But you can do those things with fewer people. It's exactly what happened with agriculture when industrial methods were applied. It's exactly what happened with manufacturing when automation was applied. And it's exactly what happened with "office work" when information technology was applied. No one needs secretaries and file clerks anymore. (Although you might wonder about that if you've ever watched a manager spend half an hour at his workstation trying to center the heading on a report.

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    ) The entire position of "supervisor" is nearly obsolete, as the few people left in the building all report directly to a manager.

    Sure, half of the jobs America has today may not be telecommutable, but 90% of those jobs will be gone in thirty years, and the ones that spring up to take their place will be performed at a workstation.

    I'm sure we've all met a few old-time union members who told their children not to bother getting a good education because they, too, could spend their entire lives bringing home a big paycheck for simply walking into a factory and pushing a button on a machine all day.
    You seem to be a little behind the information curve. In Japan doctors already examine people in the boondocks without having to drive there.

    As for school, you must be joking. Children are more facile with the internet than we are. They will certainly expect to take their classes that way.
    Lots of people in that nebulous category of professions don't go sit in a little box every day. Sure, others of them are still hung up on the body language, facial expression, handshaking aspects that their grandfathers were so comfortable with. But as I already pointed out, there is an entire generation of Americans growing up in a virtual universe and they will not understand your soon-to-be quaint notion that it's important for them to see the people they work/play/study/whatever with in any way except on a screen.

    Sure, I can see this for psychiatrists, diplomats, juries and con men. What percentage of the workforce do they comprise?

    As for building cars, the less people drive, the fewer cars will need to be built. And it will be the price of gasoline that catalyzes that shift. When people literally can't afford to "go to work" anymore, the dinosaur managers who insist on it will either learn how to manage people they can't see, or they will become unemployed. The technology to make it possible will certainly exist by then. Most of it is here now, if perhaps a little large, slow, temperamental and expensive.
    You can blame that on Americans putting the Clown Prince of the Energy Industry in the White House in 2001. During the years leading up to that, there was tremendous support for cutting back on the use of petroleum. The county I lived in was on the verge of passing a law requiring every company with more than a certain number of employees to allow them all to work at home one day a week, and in the county government itself telecommuting was spreading rapidly. Then a couple of weeks after the inauguration, we all got a very short e-mail saying, "The telecommuting program has been suspended for the time being."

    Got to keep the Bush family's hand-holding buddies in Saudi Arabia rich and happy, or the next thing you know they might crash hijacked airliners into our cities.
    I'm sure your great-great-great.....grandfather was the hunter-gatherer standing on the hill overlooking the construction of the first permanent village, saying, "Yeah, this newfangled agriculture stuff looks just great, but it will never really change the world. You'll never feed more than two or three percent of the population by tossing a few fig seeds in the ground and diverting a stream to water them, or by trying to get a herd of goats to stay close to the village."

    You must be older than I am (68) if you can't see the Industrial Revolution happening all over again, only this time about ten times faster.
  15. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

    What we do for a living is certainly going to change, and likely very quickly, IMO.

    Food, water, shelter and infrastructure.

    I fail to see how these needs are going to be met without some 'human intervention.'

    It will be interesting to see where things proceed in the next few years.
  16. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    FR not everything can be done from home, your not going to see ambulance stations for instant disapear in the hope that the ambo sitting at hope is in a stratigic place to be dispatched from

    Ecomically we have to get rid.of the idea that growth is king, we are wrecking everything with our disposable everything, my old CRT TV lasted 15 years, see if you can get that out of a new LCD or Plasma. Mobiles are turned over every 2 years or less and the shear amount of food wasted especially in the west is stagering, thats not just over production (either in supermarket ect or home) but also the fact that we are now raising huge animals for slaughter and wasting everything but the skeletal mussles. We used to eat EVERYTHING and make stock out of the bones

    oil is by no means the only problem we have, people think if we can solve energy then we can continue on as we have but we cant, its killing us AND the planet
  17. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

    Durability has been replaced by 'market share' as the defining value of most manufacturing industries.

    'Wasteful' is the word to define most of the 'developed world'.

    We are rapidly rising to the top......of our own rubbish pile.

    I quite agree with your statement that we have to get rid of the idea that economic growth is the measure of success.

    Dynamic sustainability is the concept I strive for, and I still make stock from the bones......and veggies too.

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  18. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    No, people changed jobs but that doesn't automatically mean that the jobs they took didn't need for them to be there and you throw out TWO HUNDRED years as your yardstick?

    Your original post was dealing with much more immediate time frame, as it has to if we are dealing with the price of oil. Who cares what the world will be like 200 years from now????

    Note I said 2030.

    You know a REASONABLE horizon for discussing these kind of changes.

    And NO, we will not have 20% of our work force working via telecommuting by 2030.

    But we will have 50 MILLION more people.

    And so, NO, telecommuting is NOT going to solve our oil problem.

    And I'm quite aware of all the jobs that have disappeared and changed because of the computer/information/internet revolution, but as I pointed out, we are well into that and have been for well over a decade and we can see the kind of changes they are making in our commute patterns and they are UNDERWHELMING.

    Again BS, the internet is pretty universally used by almost everyone who is working today. I don't know anyone who doesn't have highspeed internet and smart phones and use them all day, every day, but there jobs are pretty much the same today as they were a decade ago and aren't likely to change.

    But we already have largely made that transition.
    We already use Web-Ex for meetings.
    We already collaborate on-line and via video conferences and have been doing so for a long time.
    Not changing how many people have to BE THERE though.

    Dumbest law ever.

    Mechanics can't work from home.
    Grocers can't work from home.
    Dentists can't work from home.
    Manufacturers can't work from home.
    Repairmen can't work from home.
    Painters can't work from home.
    Vets can't work from home.
    etc etc etc...

    Because someone pointed out to them how STUPID the law was.

  19. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    The Information Revolution is advancing far more rapidly than the Industrial Revolution. It won't take 200 years.
    There's no good reason for that. But there is a bad reason: today's managers have no actual management skill, so they merely take attendance. I've taught classes to these people. They think managing is something they can do from a checklist.
    Good thing. We need all those immigrants to prop up the Ponzi Scheme we euphemistically call "Social Security."
    You keep ignoring the elephant in the room: today's managers don't know how to manage. (One would think that would be obvious from the way their companies are failing. The ones that succeed do so by scavenging, not producing.) All they can do is measure the number of hours you spend at your desk pretending to be busy.
    You keep making the same lame argument. "I look around and see people doing the same thing they were doing fifty years ago, so I assume that will go on forever."
    So sorry to hear that you work for one of the companies that is most likely to fail from lack of evolution. I've done plenty of telecommuting and I've attended a great many virtual meetings that were quite successful.

    You might consider looking for a new employer that's a little more up to date. There's no reason for people to commute to a central office in order to use the same technology they have at home.
    And we won't need as many mechanics when people stop driving 15,000 miles a year just to go to work. My current job, as a contractor for a government agency, requires me to put just about that many miles on my car. And I'm a bloody writer! There's absolutely nothing I do in the office that I couldn't do at home, in most cases better and faster.
    That's one of the few legitimate examples you've cited. Nonetheless, you may have noticed that the food production and distribution industry, taken in aggregate, employs a far smaller fraction of the population than it once did.
    Most "dentist" visits are simply the semiannual cleaning. How long do you think it will be before we have automated devices that allow us to do it ourselves?
    Actually a lot of "manufacturing" these days is very short runs on CAD/CAM systems. People in fact do that work at home. Besides, I have no idea what you mean by the word "manufacturer." Factories have far fewer humans working inside them than they once did. The only reason people in Malaysia and Bangladesh have jobs as factory workers is that they can be hired for about two percent of the U.S. minimum wage. Once their economies become more prosperous and their wages rise, their jobs will be automated just like ours. Sure, then they will migrate to Zimbabwe and Turkmenistan, but eventually we'll run out of cheap labor, just about the time when next-generation factory automation doesn't need very much of it.
    People who telecommute have more spare time and can do more of their own little projects.

    That was not hard to figure out. Geeze, you have about zero imagination! Do you work for the government?
    As I already noted, human doctors in Japan have the technology to examine patients remotely. I'd be very surprised if they didn't alpha-test that system on veterinary patients.
    No, it's because someone STUPID got into the White House and he had more loyalty to his foreign friends in the petroleum industry than to the people here who elected him.

    Let me guess: you work for GM, right? Either that or you're older than I am. I've never met anyone else who was quite so clueless about the future of information technology!

    Especially someone talking about it on an internet board.

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  20. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

    On this one, I agree with adoucette, and your reply makes little sense to me Fraggle.

    Construction, maintenance and repair of infrastructure, and distribution of food and goods all remain reliant on physical labor, despite the integration of considerable technology and automation that facilitates many of these tasks.

    Care of the young, the ill and the elderly requires human intervention.

    Emergency measures responders, policing, road maintenance, systems maintenance all require PEOPLE to do the work.

    That's just a few occupations that come to mind.

    Of course, I live in the boonies, so maybe the city people have a different outlook on these matters, IDK.

    I seem to recall that when the sanitary engineers went on strike, things soon got rather rank in a hurry in a populated center.

    Let the power go out or the water system fail and then tell me we won't need people to intervene. :bugeye:
  21. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    This casual assertion shows little faith in the advance of technology, despite its astounding track record. Just as in my day people assumed that there would always be plenty of jobs for keypunch operators.
    Yes of course. But what percentage of the workforce do those occupations comprise? Like the majority of Americans, I live in a city. I observe thousands of people every day. Very few of them do work that requires being on site. For every person doing one of the jobs you list, there are twenty who sit in offices every day doing knowledge work with a computer and a telephone. Yes, they actually do work on site, which is why I observe them as I dutifully commute to and from my own worksite, but 18 of those 20 could do their jobs just as well at home, and in many cases better because they won't be stressed out by the commute, the fast food, the coworkers they don't like and the need to put on a monkey suit.
    That's probably why you don't realize how knowledge work is displacing physical work in the world economy. You're closer to the farmers. Producing food continues to account for more land use than post-agricultural technology, because there's still enough open land that we haven't had to convert to hydroponics. And since the falling birth rate ensures that the population will never reach the fourteen-digit figure which is the thermodynamic maximum for the planet, there will probably always be enough open land to grow food that way. But the majority of the people will do knowledge work, as more and more of the old "hands on" occupations are automated. If you lived in a city and discovered that all but two of your neighbors are employed in offices doing work that your parents couldn't comprehend--and that six of them (the happiest, most productive ones) do that work at home--you'd have a clearer vision of the world's future.
    Yes yes. But your argument conveniently ignores the ratio of the number of sanitary engineers versus the number of knowledge workers. A ratio that will continue to decrease as their tools become more efficient and new types of knowledge work proliferate.
    No one has suggested that there will be no need for hands-on labor. Merely that the percentage of the population required to do those jobs will continue to fall.

    I again advise you to ponder the impact of industrialization on the ratio of farmers to everybody else. Information technology will have the same impact on the ratio of industrial workers to post-industrial workers.

    Or better yet, the impact of the paradigm-busting technology of agriculture on the occupations of hunting and gathering--which once "employed" 100% of the population.

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  22. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

    Interesting that I see things somewhat differently.

    As technology and computing power improves, I would expect fewer people to be needed in this 'knowledge' sector you speak of. The technology will become increasingly automated, even unto diagnostics and repair, possibly even artificial intelligence, that elusive goal.

    Meanwhile, infrastructure will crumble and require repair and replacement.

    Even now, trying to find a skilled trades worker is becoming a challenge. There is no shortage of work for any of the trades people I know in these parts presently.

    There is indeed a paradigm shift underway once again, but I think I'll bide my time in the boondocks while this one plays out.

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  23. kira Valued Senior Member

    -deleted and re-posted in more detail in the next post-
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2011

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