Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Work or lack there of
I really wonder if we haven't become too efficient for our own good. I think back to a time when the average work day was from sun up to sun down or roughly 12 hours. And back then there was no such thing as a 4 or 5 day work week. It was six for everybody. Some years back I worked seven days a week but that wasn't for too long. I can't imagine doing a six day week for very long now. But back then I could recover with just a few short hours of sleep. Age catches up to you.
What has happened in the last ten or twenty years? With strides in efficiencies there is less of a need for workers. I may have said this before but in just a short period what used to take two dozen workers now takes six or eight. And time schedules have been cut in half or more. A little insight into that though. You see highway projects always seeming to be done ahead of time and under budget? A little trickery there is at work. As the estimate for bid goes through the chain of command, hours get added with each passing hand. It's all a game. Once signed the paperwork makes it back down to the supervisors and foremen but not before the hours mysteriously disappear. If a job takes two weeks to finish the bid gets pushed to three. The workers are told the job must be finished in a week. When that isn't possible they are told they'll get an extra day or two but the new artificial deadline must be met. When the job gets done ahead of schedule management is patting themselves on the back while telling the workers the company lost money on the job. This strategy backfires when workers have enough experience to know exactly how long a job will take. When pushed too far or too fast they will however slow down to make up for lost time and wages.
The though had crossed my mind sometime way back in the 1970s. What if humans or at least most of their labor became unnecessary? What would we do? Never did I think we would come so close to the current situation in my lifetime and yet there is more to come. ATMs, robot welders and auto floor vacuums are but the tip of the iceberg. There are drones and land cruisers that can act autonomously. Artificial intelligence the next frontier of computers and machines is the next blessing or worry. They already have cars that park themselves so why would I even bother going in the first place. I could just send my robot clone. In congress we have clowns, but maybe someday that is if we can pry the cash out of their bought souls, we could have clones. Low on maintenance easily controllable that is if the majority get a turn and maybe something might get done. Just keep the extremists away from the joy stick.