What will the future look like, culture/career-wise?

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delfts
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What will the future look like, culture/career-wise?

Postby delfts » Sun Jun 19, 2011 1:10 pm UTC

I was wondering what the future would look like, assuming technology continued to advance, we got better at solving our problems, we didn't destroy the environment or Earth, etc. Would we ever get to a point where we decide, "Okay, we've basically colonized everything within a reasonable distance of our galaxy, let's just relax now and not spend the time or effort advancing anymore"? (Perhaps robots would be doing all our work for us; in that case, this decision, or one similar to it, wouldn't seem as radical).

Well, let's assume that we have to keep working. What would happen to all our jobs? Many if not most would become automated, meaning that there would be basically no demand for store clerks, construction workers, or other such jobs. So, what would we do? Which jobs would stay around, and which would vanish completely? We'd still need to figure out how to get energy and how to do science, but wouldn't that all eventually just be automated? What about entertainment? Would robots become so good at understanding human emotions and feelings that humans wouldn't need to make games/TV shows/porn anymore? Would there ever be a point which robots couldn't pass in terms of their abilities/intelligence (i.e. doing science or understanding our emotions for us)? In that case, would the only two remaining industries be science and entertainment?

Discuss.

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Re: What will the future look like, culture/career-wise?

Postby aoeu » Sun Jun 19, 2011 4:05 pm UTC

We will become better and better at producing stuff, so it's how we distribute that all which matters.

A thing to consider is at what point the advancement of technology will start to cost more and more resources, or if the cost will go down forever. If it's the former then presumably hedonism will take over at some point and we will stagnate, if it's the latter then something unpredictable will happen.

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Re: What will the future look like, culture/career-wise?

Postby JamesP » Sun Jun 19, 2011 7:46 pm UTC

Either we implode and kill ourselves by using up all the resources or we, not unlike Dwarf Fortress, get to the point where 1% of the population can do everything for everyone else.

I just hope that, not unlike Dwarf Fortressm we then decide on a species-wide megaproject. I vote we either colonise mars or build an adamatium space-cock that moonlights as a space-lift.

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Re: What will the future look like, culture/career-wise?

Postby CorruptUser » Sun Jun 19, 2011 8:51 pm UTC

Scientists will have the ability to resurrect extinct species. They will finally be able to tell just how ancient man actually is as a species, by testing whether or not we are capable of producing a viable offspring with a proto-man*.

Well, dark humor aside, as everything becomes more automated, traditional 'hard labor' jobs like lumberjacking and farming will be altered or replaced entirely by robots. The people in economic control of the world will be the engineers who design the robots, various artists who create the non-physical wealth**, and those who can negotiate their way to the top***.

JamesP wrote:Either we implode and kill ourselves by using up all the resources or we, not unlike Dwarf Fortress, get to the point where 1% of the population can do everything for everyone else.

I just hope that, not unlike Dwarf Fortressm we then decide on a species-wide megaproject. I vote we either colonise mars or build an adamatium space-cock that moonlights as a space-lift.


I like to build special ships to explore the Great Magma Sea, filled with only the elite of my Dwarf Society (nobles), and launch the ships to explore new places for my dwarves to colonize. They must've found something so wonderful they weren't willing to return to tell me about it.

*Yes, we will clone and have sex with neanderthals, for science!

**Though, listening to radio, I wouldn't be surprised if robots already took over the music industry. Seriously, how hard could it be to create a program to make semi-random sounds along a quasi-random beat, and create 'music', then have groups of people listen to it to pick only the 'acceptable' songs?

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Re: What will the future look like, culture/career-wise?

Postby Steroid » Mon Jun 20, 2011 2:03 am UTC

There's nothing wrong with engineering perpetual production and taking advantage of it. The tricky bit is designing it so that it doesn't break down and need repair from people who no longer know how it all works. And most engineers don't believe in building to "never-fail" standards, so there's that.

But if you could, and particularly if you had an entropy reversing device, then we could all become hedonists who exist only to consume in quantity and diversity. Probably complex interrelationships would break down, since if there's no need to associate, and if associations tend to cause abrasion from difference of opinion, there's no reason to put up with those differences anymore, when we can all just go home to our automated entertainment and free stuff.

Personally I think it's an excellent ending to the human story, and anything I can do to help I will. Certainly it beats how the dinosaurs finished.

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Re: What will the future look like, culture/career-wise?

Postby KnightExemplar » Mon Jun 20, 2011 3:55 am UTC

As far as practical matters are concerned, 10-year outlooks are created by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

http://www.bls.gov/oco/

Obviously, tech jobs are expected to rise... but retail salespeople are actually expected to grow as fast as average. ( http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos121.htm ). No matter how many robots you put out there, you'll need a human to unpack boxes and put them on the shelves. (At least, there aren't any machines that can do that yet...)

A quick check, and various construction jobs seem to be growing as fast as average or faster than average. http://www.bls.gov/oco/oco1009.htm . True, construction workers will become more automated, but instead of losing jobs, people tend to build bigger and more complicated buildings. Plus, current buildings need to be upgraded to be more "green", so in the near term, it seems like construction is a reasonably safe job to go into.

-------------

If you're talking about the far far far future, when everything becomes automated... well, thats called post-scarcity. And thats really in the realm of Science Fiction. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post_scarcity
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Re: What will the future look like, culture/career-wise?

Postby A_pathetic_lizardmnan » Mon Jun 20, 2011 4:44 am UTC

~10-25 years: Computers will become more powerful. Much, much, much more powerful. There will probably be a computer like Deep Blue or Watson that is optimized for a similarly specific goal to a level far above humans in quite a few areas once thought impossible: composition of music and poetry come to mind.
>25 years: No idea

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Re: What will the future look like, culture/career-wise?

Postby CorruptUser » Mon Jun 20, 2011 5:04 am UTC

I wonder what people thought when someone first came up with the idea to domesticate animals. 'Animals are eliminating people's jobs!', 'Hunting is best done by men and not dogs!', 'We should ban the use of oxen to plow fields, to keep jobs available for farm workers!'

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Re: What will the future look like, culture/career-wise?

Postby lutzj » Thu Jun 23, 2011 8:31 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:I wonder what people thought when someone first came up with the idea to domesticate animals. 'Animals are eliminating people's jobs!', 'Hunting is best done by men and not dogs!', 'We should ban the use of oxen to plow fields, to keep jobs available for farm workers!'


Probably wasn't an issue then, since land was basically unlimited. The main bottleneck was labor, and animals helped widen that. Nowadays, we have an overabundance of labor and bottlenecks in things like raw materials and arable land, so additional labor creates annoying competition.
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Re: What will the future look like, culture/career-wise?

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Jun 24, 2011 3:30 am UTC

lutzj wrote:Probably wasn't an issue then, since land was basically unlimited. The main bottleneck was labor, and animals helped widen that. Nowadays, we have an overabundance of labor and bottlenecks in things like raw materials and arable land, so additional labor creates annoying competition.


Quite sure that land was still a scarce commodity even back then. People went Every species on earth goes to war over territory all the time. Every species with exponential growth very quickly fills up all available space. Just that animal labor made land use incredibly more efficient, allowing a lot more people to live on the same amount of land.

Oh, we have enough raw materials, at least if we recycle. The amount of materials you have is equal to the base amount of materials, divided by the percentage not recycled. So if we recycle 95% of paper used, 5% is wasted, 1/.05 = 20; we have 20 times as much paper in the system.

We also DO have a labor shortage. Western (and Japanese) governments are worried about the declining birth rates resulting in a shortage of labor in the next few years. Just not the kind of labor people are offering. We need lots of nurses, especially to care for the elderly, and other things. We just don't have lots of people trained for nursing. A large portion of the people who were laid off recently were construction workers, who don't have many skills outside construction.

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Re: What will the future look like, culture/career-wise?

Postby Zamfir » Fri Jun 24, 2011 6:43 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Just that animal labor made land use incredibly more efficient, allowing a lot more people to live on the same amount of land.

I am not sure that is true as a general principle. For example, most accounts of historic differences between Europe and East Asia note that East Asia had higher population densities on comparable land, even when compared to the densest parts of Europe. And a main difference is that East Asian agriculture used more human labour and more human manure, allowing them to reach similar (and higher) yields, which could then sustain more people since the field fed less animals. And this was an on going process: as population densities increased, animal labour was ever more replaced by human labour.

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Re: What will the future look like, culture/career-wise?

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Jun 24, 2011 1:58 pm UTC

Rice is the big staple crop in East Eurasia*, compared to Wheat in West Eurasia. Rice farming really doesn't have a use for animal labor. Wheat requires heavy plowing, which animals are used for. Also, animals were used for milling, until the windmill/watermill was invented. Plus, in areas of East and Central Eurasia where rice didn't grow well, animals did outnumber people (sheep and goats just eat whatever is on the hills). The Samoyeds had more sled dogs than people (yes, those dogs). Mongolia had virtually no farmland, and you lived and died by the milk and meat of your herds. 'Your' being only loosely defined of course.

Anyway, my original point being that people probably resisted new developments in technology back then as they resist today.

*I always had trouble seeing Europe as a separate continent.

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Re: What will the future look like, culture/career-wise?

Postby KnightExemplar » Sun Jun 26, 2011 6:50 pm UTC

A_pathetic_lizardmnan wrote:~10-25 years: Computers will become more powerful. Much, much, much more powerful. There will probably be a computer like Deep Blue or Watson that is optimized for a similarly specific goal to a level far above humans in quite a few areas once thought impossible: composition of music and poetry come to mind.
>25 years: No idea


You mean... like weather prediction? Understanding Protein Folding? Searching the Internet for Information?

Hell, I'd argue that the Wikimedia Cluster (which runs Wikipedia) is arguably a supercomputer. Not a top-500 supercomputer, but look at the size of that cluster! Each of those little marks is a different computer, with the purpose of reading, updating, or searching the Wikipedia databasse.

25+ Computers dedicated to searching.
50+ Computers for caching in Florida. Another 50+ in Amsterdam.

True, these are small numbers for supercomputers in general... but go back about 10 years and the processing power behind Wikipedia would definitely be a supercomputer IMO. :-p Well, actually, I think just the idea of organizing several hundred computers to perform a single task of "Serve Wikipedia" is just awesome. I know every website probably does this today, but still, its interesting to me...
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Re: What will the future look like, culture/career-wise?

Postby Chad.Boudreau » Sun Jun 26, 2011 8:00 pm UTC

Wouldn't the robot overlords encourage their human subjects to educate ourselves as repairmen?

Actually, wouldn't our robot overlords encourage us to go keep busy, much in the same way I send my 4 year old nephew to put 30 screws in a board when I'm trying to make something?

That's where most of our post-scarcity jobs would come from, and also how the system would maintain itself through entropy. By making sure repair and design skills were as widely circulated among the humans as possible, along with any other thing which amuses the robots, most of us could have low stress jobs which take ~15-20 hours a week...

Also, we would be less likely to rebel against them.

I wonder if the computers would allow us to explore the galaxy, or would they sneer at the competition?

Most importantly, what does an amused or sneering computer look like?
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Re: What will the future look like, culture/career-wise?

Postby elasto » Sun Jun 26, 2011 9:29 pm UTC

Once we have full sense holographic playgrounds, 'busy work' won't be needed after we reach post-scarcity.

I expect both 'holodecks*' and post-scarcity to be with us within a century. Might be a bit rough prior to that point, though, with software (eg Watson) taking over traditional jobs with increasing ease over the coming decades.

(*holodecks will probably be just skullcaps or surgical implants in practice rather than actual physical rooms; More eXistenZ than Star Trek.)

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Re: What will the future look like, culture/career-wise?

Postby Xeracles » Mon Aug 15, 2011 11:20 am UTC

Chad.Boudreau wrote:Wouldn't the robot overlords encourage their human subjects to educate ourselves as repairmen?
I'd say so, I suspect our main value to the robots would be as a backup.

Example: code is a backup for what it generates. If humanity became extinct, a functioning biosphere would with any luck spawn another intelligent species, eventually.

Similarly, if something caused the robots to go splat, we humans would be more than just repairmen, we have the potential to develop robotics all over again. To that end, I imagine the robots would encourage humanity to avoid becoming a race of socially-inept eternal videogamers.

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Re: What will the future look like, culture/career-wise?

Postby AvatarIII » Mon Aug 15, 2011 12:20 pm UTC

elasto wrote:Once we have full sense holographic playgrounds, 'busy work' won't be needed after we reach post-scarcity.

I expect both 'holodecks*' and post-scarcity to be with us within a century. Might be a bit rough prior to that point, though, with software (eg Watson) taking over traditional jobs with increasing ease over the coming decades.

(*holodecks will probably be just skullcaps or surgical implants in practice rather than actual physical rooms; More eXistenZ than Star Trek.)


so basically you are describing The Matrix?

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Re: What will the future look like, culture/career-wise?

Postby mojacardave » Mon Aug 15, 2011 12:22 pm UTC

AvatarIII wrote:
elasto wrote:Once we have full sense holographic playgrounds, 'busy work' won't be needed after we reach post-scarcity.

I expect both 'holodecks*' and post-scarcity to be with us within a century. Might be a bit rough prior to that point, though, with software (eg Watson) taking over traditional jobs with increasing ease over the coming decades.

(*holodecks will probably be just skullcaps or surgical implants in practice rather than actual physical rooms; More eXistenZ than Star Trek.)


so basically you are describing The Matrix?


What could go wrong?

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Re: What will the future look like, culture/career-wise?

Postby AvatarIII » Mon Aug 15, 2011 12:28 pm UTC

mojacardave wrote:
AvatarIII wrote:
elasto wrote:Once we have full sense holographic playgrounds, 'busy work' won't be needed after we reach post-scarcity.

I expect both 'holodecks*' and post-scarcity to be with us within a century. Might be a bit rough prior to that point, though, with software (eg Watson) taking over traditional jobs with increasing ease over the coming decades.

(*holodecks will probably be just skullcaps or surgical implants in practice rather than actual physical rooms; More eXistenZ than Star Trek.)


so basically you are describing The Matrix?


What could go wrong?


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Re: What will the future look like, culture/career-wise?

Postby TrlstanC » Tue Aug 16, 2011 1:54 am UTC

The history of human progress has really been about figuring out some of the most important steps in the complicated biological processes that we've used to survive, simplifying them and then reproducing them. Decoupling important tasks from the humans that used to do them means we can improve their efficiency, or at the very expand their reach and numbers. There are certain "good ideas" or "good memes" that originally evolved through nature, but that we've been able to figure out, and then improve on. I'd put the important milestones we've passed something like this:

1. Writing - being able to store information without having to rely on human memory can improve the precision and longevity of information storage.
2. Using stored energy - for most of earth's history most energy came from the sun, was captured in plants, and we could only use it by eating the plants, feeding it to animals (or eating the animals). Fire was the first step, but charcoal and eventually fossil fuels allowed us to tap in to much more energy than we could capture directly from the sun, and would be the catalyst for the industrial revolution.
3. Printing press - copying information quickly and efficiently
4. Telegraph - now information can travel faster than a human (or horse or pigeon) can carry it.
4. Computation - Computers used to be people that did math, and machines did work. Then we figured out how to make machines to do the math for us.
5. Nuclear power (and weapons) - this might not actually be viewed as progress in the long term, since it's most immediate impact is to allow us to wipe out all human life very quickly, but it is another source of energy that was previously only tapped inefficiently and with difficult in the form of geo-thermal.

You could probably make a case for the internet to be the latest revolution, but it's really the latest result of externalizing information storage, transfer, computation and of course energy to power it all.

I think the next three big breakthroughs might be something like (who knows about the order):

AI - we'll make a machine that's as smart as a human. And once we have one, we'll end up making a lot eventually. At first this will just mean that computers can do more of the tasks we need humans for now, but that will be just the first step.

Life extension - we understand the human body enough now to keep us alive up to the biological limit, but at some point we'll probably figure out why and how we're designed to only last 100 years or so, and then do something to increase that number. Perhaps by a lot. Even with our huge capacity to store and transfer information physically, one human brain still stores an amazing amount of knowledge, extending the amount of time that that information can be used and shared will have a big impact. It will also have a huge impact on our limited resources as this would allow the population to grow dramatically.

Direct conversion of solar energy - this of course already exists, but at some point we'll hit a tipping point of cost and/or efficiency that will allow wide scale deployment. And then at some further point we'll start capturing energy equivalent to, or exceeding, the amount that hits the earth. By this point we won't have resource problems anymore.

Consciousness - we'll figure out how the brain creates the representation of reality that we all experience. This may allow things like shared human consciousness’s, or machine-human consciousness. The real trick will be to figure out how our brain creates the feeling of pleasure. If we haven't completely changed our society by this point, this will certainly be the thing that does it. Right now everything we do, we do to get some pleasure (in either the short or long term, or at least we hope to) and have to use inefficient means to get there. We have to go out and change the world, and then interact with the world in specific ways to get some combination of neurons to fire and reward us. If we can instead just do anything and get the same pleasure from it, then we would be free to do anything. Of course, free to do anything would really mean something like "design a stable society that can make and maintain the apparatus necessary to make sure that we can continue to power or pleasure converting machines (or drugs/robots/holograms, whatever it ends up being). Smart humans or smart computers will be able to realize the importance of long term planning, and that the end point of world wide conflict could be wiping out everything. A better understanding of what makes us conscious and most importantly what motivates us may be the best thing to keep us from destroying ourselves one way or another.

There's obviously a lot of ways that any of these changes could end up wiping out life as we know it, but there's also the chance that the underlying pattern of long-term progress will win out. There are some patterns in nature, and ultimately in humans and human society that spread very well and are very robust. Any improvements in our understanding of the universe, use of and ability to transfer energy and information will only speed up the process of these "good ideas" becoming more wide spread. I think co-operation and expansion might be the too most powerful, or at least the two with the greatest potential for growth. I have no idea what the technology will look like, or how society will be organized, but I think the end goal maybe for the inhabitants of earth to work together to spread to the solar system, and then possibly beyond.

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Re: What will the future look like, culture/career-wise?

Postby Griffin » Tue Aug 16, 2011 5:28 am UTC

We also DO have a labor shortage.

Overall, we have a pretty huge labour surplus. Of course this isn't true in many individual industries (we don't have perfect prediction, training, or hiring procudes)

However, I think its mostly BS, industries complaining about labour shortages. I know the tech industry complains about it endlessly, but what they are really saying is "There's a shortage of people with 5+ years experience with whatever technology we use, and we are not willing to train or otherwise invest in our employees for various reasons, so we've chosen to go without, but it would be REALLY nice if someone who magically had the skills we need would suddenly appear. There's a line out the door of people willing to slave away mastering whatever we need them to master for a pittance, but then we'd have to train them, so... nah. We'll just complain."

The issue isn't a shortage of labour, its a shortage of skilled labour (and very few companies willing to put in the work to acquire it)
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