Has America ever been great and why?

Demiurge

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so America was great for some people, I guess.

And that part of it is really the issue. Even in the worst parts of human history, there was probably someone thriving and maybe profiting. I wonder if we're actually progressing/regressing or simply just trading-off custody of the bully pulpit all this time.
 

AxeHappy

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We can say that it is not acceptable ethically, and I agree, but how many of us are willing to step up and pay for first world made goods? Doing so is like taking a 50-90% reduction in purchasing power.

I know I have mainly US and Japanese made guitars, but I'd be pissed if I had to pay 3,000+ for a US made iPhone or iPad.


Fortunately making things in the developed countries in a less exploitive way wouldn't actually increase prices that much:

https://9to5mac.com/2016/06/13/iphone-made-in-usa-cost/
 

narad

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Fortunately making things in the developed countries in a less exploitive way wouldn't actually increase prices that much:

https://9to5mac.com/2016/06/13/iphone-made-in-usa-cost/

That's surprising!

Though I wonder how many jobs the "assembly-only" option would actually bring. In a discussion between some silicon valley tech leaders in some immediately post-trump article I was reading (sorry for the complete not-cite) they were talking specifically about how microprocessor jobs were never coming back to the US because China had already invested so much into the necessary infrastructure and was churning this out with a cheap labor force and a close connection to all the necessary components. This article talks about labor costs and distribution, but for all the parts that could be manufactureed here, I wonder if they're including the costs of essentially reconstructing the entire facilities necessary to do so.
 

fps

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Might have been mentioned, I recommend Rose of the Robots as a business book on the issue of automation.
 

McKay

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Yes and here's why it's going to stay that way barring nuclear war.

 

bostjan

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I wish I had a link to it, but some years ago, there was a special report on NPR about how $20 jeans make it from the cotton fields to Walmart. It was something crazy where the cotton pickers, material weavers, dye colourers, tailors, and everything in between were being paid fractions of a penny, then the factory sold them to an import/export holding company in China for $0.75 per pair, and then that company would sell them to Walmart for something more like $17 per pair, and Walmart would mark them up a tiny margin to cover taxes and fees and make a small profit. When the media exposed the deplorable conditions in these textile and garment factories, after one of them literally crumbled apart during a work shift, the factory owners said that there's no money for them if they do simple building repairs, because, if they raised the price of the jeans to, say, ninety cents per pair, the Chinese companies would simply get them someplace cheaper.

So, all of the outrage, at the time, was along the lines of ~why don't they go ahead and raise the price to $0.90 per pair and do building repairs and if the Chinese company doesn't want them anymore, someone else will step in to make the huge margin minus the fifteen cent difference. The world does not work that way. If the Chinese company doesn't buy the $0.90 jeans from the Bangladesh factory, they'll buy them from Zimbabwe or Mongolia, or wherever.
 

flint757

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Supposedly the chemicals they use to do things like acid wash on jeans is a serious health risk as well, on top of the crap pay the workers receive. There's chemicals floating in the air and the water is polluted by the chemicals turning the nearby waterways blue.
 

bostjan

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Supposedly the chemicals they use to do things like acid wash on jeans is a serious health risk as well, on top of the crap pay the workers receive. There's chemicals floating in the air and the water is polluted by the chemicals turning the nearby waterways blue.

Look at the southern coast of Bangladesh on Google Earth. Is that dye flowing into the Indian Ocean, or some natural phenomenon?
 

CapnForsaggio

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Might have been mentioned, I recommend Rose of the Robots as a business book on the issue of automation.

Is the "rise of the robots" going to replace more jobs than the steam engine?

I hope so.

It's almost like we have been through this before....

How many of you are still upset about not being a sharecropper?

The first industrial revolution produced the modern world as we know it, and ALLOWED us to move our workforce into more meaningful jobs, that utilized the human brain....

Here's to more of that stuff! If you are worried about being antiquated by a robot, you have no one to blame but yourself....
 

estabon37

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Is the "rise of the robots" going to replace more jobs than the steam engine?

I hope so.

It's almost like we have been through this before....

How many of you are still upset about not being a sharecropper?

The first industrial revolution produced the modern world as we know it, and ALLOWED us to move our workforce into more meaningful jobs, that utilized the human brain....

Here's to more of that stuff!

I mostly agree, with the exception of the bit in bold. The following video by CGP Grey explains why I make an exception.



In short, we really haven't been through this before. In the US alone, there are 4.4 million people whose job is to drive people and goods from point A to point B. Driverless vehicles are absolutely going to be the death of jobs in that industry, because vehicle repair is a sector that already exists, already modernises with every new innovation in transportation, and moving 4.4 million people into administrative / maintenance roles within the industry is just not an option. That's without factoring in that an automated vehicle doesn't require sleep, unlike human drivers, so any company could essentially run fewer vehicles for more hours, or the same amount of vehicles for significantly improved productivity.

Obviously, not every sector will experience this drastic a change. But it seems that the sectors that will be most effected are heavily populated by low-skill workers. Retraining or redirecting millions of people will be very difficult, and it's unlikely that the private sector will show much interest in footing the bill, preferring to leave it up to individuals to take on thousands of dollars worth of debt to train for an industry that might not have a job for them. Speaking of which...

If you are worried about being antiquated by a robot, you have no one to blame but yourself....

There's obviously a limit to how many people any sector can reasonably employ. I work as a teacher; a job that is difficult to automate, though not impossible. I used to work in transportation, but about seven years ago I decided to retrain because I saw a brighter future in a higher-skilled sector. It seems that thousands of people saw the same thing at the same time. In the state I live in there are significantly more teachers than there are jobs. I think many teachers, parents, and even students would argue that smaller class sizes would benefit everybody, so hypothetically you could create work for those teachers very quickly, but the sector isn't willing to foot the bill for the significant expense of building those extra classrooms / schools and paying those extra salaries when the existing system is at worst sufficient and at best quite effective. Also, it's not likely that demand for teachers will increase, considering Australia's fertility rate over the last 30 years (which, for the record, I think is a good thing).

Don't get me wrong. I'd rather see us elevate ourselves culturally (and as a species in general) by taking on more meaningful work. That's why I did it. I just don't think it's possible on the scale we need / want unless we drastically change the way we redistribute wealth and resources.
 

CapnForsaggio

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I think you are underestimating how dramatic the change from horses to rails and trains was.

And how dramatic things like automtic harvesters were...

EVERYONE used to work manual labor jobs.

In 100 years, everyone will be working at more meaningful jobs. We won't miss the truck drivers anymore than we miss the stage coach operators....
 

bostjan

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Also, what is the alternative? Economics drives the economy. If something is invented that is more economic than the old way, how long do you think the market will support the old way? Furthermore, what do you think someone like you or I can do about it?

Self-driving vehicles are basically a given, at this point. There may be some bugs to work out over the next several years, but there is no way to stop this from happening.

And technological progress is scary, and it displaces people's jobs. But in the grand scheme of things, it makes things better. Innovations like public transportation, automatic elevators, and self-driving trains, and even self driving cars are all making things safer and more convenient in the long run.
 

buffa d

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As much as I like the United States, I've recently come to realize that I just don't understand the country. Gun obsession, racism, over-the-top patriotism... It just does not sit with my own views at all. I'll keep trying though since my wife is American :D

To me the whole "make America great" or "America first" issue is never going to happen. The whole modern idea of capitalism is based on cheap goods that the consumers can afford to buy more and more. And it's not going to happen if the products are made in the states. Additionally, the system supports a certain greed that makes moving factories abroad very tempting. I mean why wouldn't you want to make more profit by cutting production costs?

Also, whether you want it or not, we live in a global market. And refusing to deal with others is only going to hinder your own market.
 

AngstRiddenDreams

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^Ueah but good luck telling someone they're bat sh1t crazy and having them take it well. That's the problem. People are too set in their ways and afraid of cognitive dissonance that they'll never accept their ideologies as incorrect no matter how insane. The sheer amount of idiots connected on the internet allows them to validate each their as well.
 

PunkBillCarson

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I personally believe that full on automation is a ways off. Even the simplest jobs in where I work have so many nuances that have to be accounted for. The most minor defects such as chips in the paint, wrong color, dents, leakers... Man, I'm not saying it's not coming. But they are going to have to build some accurate machines and bring some people in to supervise the machines. Machines break down every single day and those are the ones that are run manually, not automatically. The automated lines where I work tend to break down and when they do, it's usually enough to cripple the line for a couple hours. This has been happening for over 50 years in my plant alone.

Even if they do automate many of these jobs, you're still going to need the human element in one form or another. And personally, I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Keep training our people. Offer them schooling to do these new jobs.
 

narad

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^^ The automation of the future is not rooted in big machines that do specific tasks, that break down, and need constant human intervention. It's in software that can perform super-human levels of highly skilled mental tasks. Future production is 3d-printing. Future transport/distribution is drones and autonomous vehicles. But more importantly, the future of customer service, data analytics, medical diagnosis, financial advisement and paralegal is all artificial intelligence. That's major distruption.
 

PunkBillCarson

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Off tangent here, but what do you think about the thought that we are essentially just organic androids with perceived actual intelligence, but may instead be just a high form of artificial intelligence?
 

narad

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Off tangent here, but what do you think about the thought that we are essentially just organic androids with perceived actual intelligence, but may instead be just a high form of artificial intelligence?

There's no difference. We use artificial intelligence to refer to intelligent behavior arising in non-biological systems, but intelligence, both in us and machines, is just a point on the spectrum.
 

Spinedriver

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Also, what is the alternative? Economics drives the economy. If something is invented that is more economic than the old way, how long do you think the market will support the old way? Furthermore, what do you think someone like you or I can do about it?

Self-driving vehicles are basically a given, at this point. There may be some bugs to work out over the next several years, but there is no way to stop this from happening.

And technological progress is scary, and it displaces people's jobs. But in the grand scheme of things, it makes things better. Innovations like public transportation, automatic elevators, and self-driving trains, and even self driving cars are all making things safer and more convenient in the long run.

The problem of the 'self driving' cars is that they are being primarily developed by companies in California. Here in Canada, with all of the potholes, snow, ice & salt/dirt they put on the roads in the winter, there's not a chance in hell those sensors will work. Not only that, how much will fares cost because all of the tech involved will NOT be cheap.

Automation may be the wave of the future but it'll be only for those who can afford it.
 

narad

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The problem of the 'self driving' cars is that they are being primarily developed by companies in California. Here in Canada, with all of the potholes, snow, ice & salt/dirt they put on the roads in the winter, there's not a chance in hell those sensors will work. Not only that, how much will fares cost because all of the tech involved will NOT be cheap.

Automation may be the wave of the future but it'll be only for those who can afford it.

The tech isn't that expensive -- hobbyists have built self-driving cars themselves for less than $3k. It's the software that's the obstacle here. It doesn't work via some aggregation of sensors. It works, like you, from visual information straight-on. Nvidia's tech demo videos on youtube will give you a pretty good idea of what's up. It's, frankly speaking, better at analyzing road scenes and detecting hazards than humans are.

And regarding Canada, I'm sure heavy snow conditions will require some additional engineering, but more and more of the training for autonomous vehicles is being done in a virtual reality setting. These things are not hard to simulate to the point where the system is 90% there, and then tested in real world conditions.
 


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