Drudge or Producer?

Of all imaginary crises to worry about, the spectre of automation is among the most fashionable and enduring, since the times of Ned Ludd.
“About 35 percent of China’s labor force is in agriculture (compared to 2.5 percent in the U.S.). There are 425 million agricultural workers (200 million farming households) in China. A little over a decade ago China was home to 700 million farmers. They made up about 60 percent of the population.” (source)

In short, China has “lost” 275 million agricultural jobs. Alternatively, some other sectors gained 275 million workers. Is this a good or bad thing? By all accounts, food production is up. People have been freed to do other productive things. People in China are living better, along some metrics, than before. Sure, pollution has increased; but they’re working on that problem too.

Some of us remember when typewriters and secretaries were ubiquitous in every office. They have been replaced with computers, empowering each of us to type our own emails, to gather information, to create reports, and so forth. We’ve become more productive, and now have entire job categories which were previously unimaginable.

Robotics increases our productivity; it enables us to create more of everything which we value.
Increased productivity is not an evil to be avoided, unless we value drudgery for its own sake.

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