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Subject:  Re: Middle Class[Income] Jobs ain't Coming Back? Date:  1/25/2013  5:18 PM
Author:  flyerboys Number:  414317 of 539001

Computers replacing humans in much of what we do seems to me to be inevitable and is also What We Always Thought We Wanted (oooops?!): helot slaves that can be exploited with no ethical qualms or civil perils.

Assuming we can restructure our economies to cope (no one starves or becomes destitute from the resulting unemployment but all turn their attention from survival to simply living), the question becomes starkly simple: What is human life for?

The brilliant Hannah Arendt, especially in her book The Human Condition answers:

Labor (which is never-ending, focused on biological survival, and can be done by slaves)
Work (the creating of artifacts -- new things, which enrich private life) and
Action (great deeds and great works done publicly that create and evolve what it means to be human).

The distinction between Work and Labor is not simple, but can perhaps best be illustrated by the ability of computers to win at championship chess vs. their failings at the seemingly similar game "go" []. Chess, although extremely complex and deep, is at bottom algorithmic, and therefore in a sense is a bizarre form of "Labor" (and also, obviously, as can be any work or labor, a social pastime and body/mind training). "go" at bottom is intensely aesthetic and intuitional, and therefore "Work". I am pushing all my young god-children and relatives to study "go" and look for vocations that embody some of its traits.

I doubt computers will soon become good novelists, gourmet chefs, counseling priests, or research scientists, let alone satisfactory basketball players, gigolos, or wet-nurses.

david fb
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