June 26, 2014

Why technology is going to destroy middle class professions

Posted in Irish Independent · 94 comments ·
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“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me”.

This beautifully poetic denunciation of the cowardice of the German intellectual class in the Nazi period was penned by Pastor Martin Neimoller, who was initially a supporter of Hitler but became disillusioned early on, created an opposition to Hitler amongst German clergy and spent the war in Dachau.

At its root, this notion of not speaking up for others can be applied in all sorts of situations even situations, including some that are much less terrifying than the Nazi persecution.

Today I am going to talk about the nature of work in the years ahead. This is a critical question and it’s the one that so many Irish parents are faced with when advising their children what to do in life. We often think the jobs that paid well in our day or in our parents’ day are still the ones to go for. But is this the case? And what if many of these jobs haven’t even been imagined yet?

In this article, I will contend that in the past 20 years the industrial working classes in Ireland and elsewhere have borne the brunt of economic change, but even as this was happening underneath our noses, few spoke up for them.

Worse still, the decimation of the working classes and skilled manufacturing classes of Ireland, America and Britain has been called “progress” by those whose lives were unaffected by the closure of factories (such as Waterford Glass), shipyards and mines.

The industrial class was undermined by both technological change and globalisation, but rather than lament this, many people who were unaffected by this social catastrophe labelled what happened from 1980 to 2010 as the “inevitable consequences” of global competition.

However, the next great dislocation will be different.

Changing technology means that the middle classes are about to get it in the neck and it will be interesting to see how they react. The public sector will change forever and the returns to many professions that are now the bastions of the Irish middle classes – such as solicitors, accountants and doctors – will be destroyed by disruptive technology in the years ahead. I wonder will anyone speak up for them? Or will the rest of society be silent as the broad middle class was when the industrial class was decimated here?

The major agent for change will be mobile phones, or at least the emergence of personal computers on our phones and tablets, which will bring technological change into everyone’s back pocket. The instrument of change will be apps which will allow ordinary individuals to do lots of stuff for themselves that in the past had been the preserve of experts from one guild or another, such as the Law Society. Why would you pay for a lawyer to advise you about contract law, for example, when you will have an app to do this for you?

Lots of work that we term “professional” is in fact mind-numbingly dull, repetitive and eminently suited to being cannibalised by machines. Think about the paperwork and form-filling which constitutes lots of legal work, of the tedious spreadsheet-based grunt work that is the bread and butter of many accountants. Could these jobs be done by machines? Absolutely. And it will be cheaper, without doubt.

What about medicine? In a few short years we will have widely available apps that will be able to diagnose our medical ailments much more accurately than the opinions of our local GPs. Will we use these machines? Damn right we will.

Obviously there will always be a need for some medics because lots of us want to talk to a doctor with a good bedside manner because we want them to manage the message about our health so that we “feel” better. But the basics of medicine, the ‘what’s wrong with me’ and ‘what will heal me?’ questions, these are questions that are answerable by machines which will be more accurate than the doctors maybe because doctors are humans with feelings and as a result many find it difficult to tell us what we don’t want to hear.

The world of work is changing and will change yet more.

Estate agents, brokers and professional middlemen of all classes will disappear or at least will have to change what they do to make a crust. Will they go the way of travel agents, record shops and Xtravision?

Remember Blockbuster, the US video rental superstore?

In 1994, Viacom (CBS) purchased Blockbuster for $8.4bn (€6.2bn).

In 2000, the company turned down a chance to purchase the still fledgling Netflix for $50m (€37m). Today Netflix is worth $26bn (€19bn) and Blockbuster is gone.

I am not saying that all traditional professional jobs will disappear in 10 years, but the idea that you will go into a smart respectable office just because you have a few degrees and will be able to ensure a decent living for yourself, as your dad might have done, that’s over.

Interestingly, the jobs that were displaced initially by globalisation – the jobs where people made things – are coming back into vogue precisely because they are hard to do. The master builder, the skilled tradesman, the mechanic who can actually fix things and who can redesign and customise, are now among the safest jobs you can have right now. What used to be dismissed as manual labour, such as a good carpenter, isn’t manual at all. Building a table is actually extraordinarily cerebral involving a myriad of decisions, opinions, techniques and contacts.

Interestingly, our CAO points system reveals a preference on the part of Irish parents. The higher the points, the more kids want to do these degrees and the higher priority those kids’ parents put on these jobs. We still see medicine, law and accountancy high up there, yet these are the professions that may be at risk from technological change in the future.

Who will speak up for the professional class when disruptive technology comes looking for them?

 

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  1. sirganya

    This is uncannily similar idea to Jaron Larnier’s who owns the future
    http://www.jaronlanier.com/futurewebresources.html

  2. Lius

    A very good article David.

    However the Professional classes do not need the middle classes to speak out for them, they have a direct line to the people in charge, to Holy Enda and Happy Gilmore. They can have any technology legislated against using data protection or some other BS argument.

    The professions are untouchable with the current political system, however with direct democracy they would be wiped out by the middle class disgust for their corrupt greedy ways.

    • Gearoid O Dubhain

      On the contrary, the lady solicitor who handled the sale of my houses recently handed me back the deeds of the house saying as she could no longer even afford the professional indemnity insurance for the Law Society, she had closed her practice, was no longer working as a solicitor and was unemployed..like thousands of professionals in Ireland.

  3. Mick Regan

    So is the view that the current ‘working class’ will be the future’s middle class? As someone once said, without a middle class there will only be revolution.

    And pray what of economists. Not meaning to sound derogatory but will Artificial Intelligence prove a worthy adversary?

    • Gearoid O Dubhain

      The stock in trade of economists is interpreting facts, with or without bias, giving opinions and making future predictions as to the behaviour of humans. Artificial intelligence would never be so flexible as to fill this role particularly as even economics is accepting that humans do not act as rational beings as traditional economics has always assumed. Nor has traditional economics recognized the power of social media to actually influence and alter the policies of Governments ! The age of the widget has gone and has been replaced by the age of Social media.

      • Mick Regan

        Ah, but given the advent of social media machines can now monitor trends. Couple that with the technical ability to match patterns and technology has a fighting chance of predicting outcomes.

        • Gearoid O Dubhain

          I am afraid Irish politicians are so inherently irrational, so prone to maipulation by non accountable and powerful individuals and organisations and the Irish media so supine that the result is the kind of chaos so unpredicable that any technology would find it difficult to cope with. For example, what was the irish Minister for Agriculture doing at the recent Bilderberg conference ? What did he say there, what representations were made to him and by whom ? Did he discuss irish policy there and did he make any commitments as to future irish Government plans and policies ? The answer is that we the people who pay him and who he is supposed to be accountable to dont know !

          • Mick Regan

            hi Gearoid, let’s put the AI question to one side for the moment (i still think it will develop along the lines i’m thinking) and have a think about the SC invitation to the Bilderberg conference.

            My take as follows:

            a. He was invited so that others could assess if he was ‘on board’ as far as their longer term strategies are concerned.

            b. If so they will facilitate in whatever way possible his future appointment as leader of FG.

            c. If he is the most compliant party leader, and party policies are broadly inline with their own agenda, they will seek to influence a future GE in FG/SC favour (via media etc).

            SC may well have some powerful interests backing him as things progress.

            Given the secrecy I can’t think of many other reasons for his invitation, unless fisheries and agriculture etc are of particular interest to them.

            Probably not a bad bet to put a few bob on Leo getting invited next year.

          • Gearoid O Dubhain

            Mick, I am sure your analysis has much merit ! But such an analysis will never see the light of day in the irish mainstream !

          • 33square

            “Agriculture minister Simon Coveney has said it is likely that Irish beef producers will be exporting beef to the United States by October”

            That’s what they were doing at Bilderberg! Talking about beef. Damn my suspicious mind!

          • Eagle

            maybe when we eventually get a grip,we can get around to seriously considering the little island of Ireland as the 51st State of U.S.A

  4. paulmc

    David,

    For the most part I agree with your predictions and assertions but I have to counter your argument here. While I believe there is a correlation between the loss of primary and secondary workers with that of the “skilled” tertiary workers, there is one key different which you have highlighted yourself. For lawyers, accountants, and doctors, or LADs for short – (misogynist alert!), their skill isn’t their reading of law, or ailments or numbers, it’s the interpretation of those. Johnny Cochran and OJ Simpson, Saurez hugging his doctor when he scored and the current Apple tax dispute are all testimony to the fact that although there is menial work involved you have a chance to shine based on your intellect – much like a master stone mason. Respectfully, when a product can be done for cheaper abroad it will be, but for services it is different, and not just for the LADs, in recent years the UK has seen more call centres reopen as the quality of service is deemed better “in-house”.

    In hope that any thoughts of my being a troll are eradicated, I will offer an alternative view on your article. I believe that given the real-time availability of information through technology and the speeding up of processes, that possibly better decisions will be made by the LADs in the future, or at the very least more informed decisions. This is turn should allow for more knowledge to be amassed improving the overall advancement of that field. I believe that the reason technology has progressed so far in recent years is down to the likes of Mark Zuckerberg not having to build hardware like Steve Jobs did, the next Mark Zuckerburg, will unlikely have to write code like his technological-predecessor did. There will be a greater focus on progression with the LADs, following in the trail of the technologists.

    • Gearoid O Dubhain

      Paul, it is a mistake to lump doctors with lawyers and accountants given that medicine requires full hands on interaction with living human beings in a way that other professions. think of the blood and gore of the operating room or the physcial intimacy of a prostate exam !
      The reality is that much of the day to day work of accountants has been significantly reduced or even some of the eliminated by good software packages. Even sole traders or small companies are capable of producing the accounts using relatively low skilled key board operators that heretofore used to require accountants. Even sending in tax returns can be done relatively easily with computers. The truth is much of the work done by the accountancy profession in the past did not require the high level of skills that accounts used to charge for ! Electrical engineers probably possess more real ‘skill’ than the average accountant.

      • paulmc

        Gearoid,

        I agree with you regarding lumping the three professions together – I was following David’s lead in the article, and if I’m honest trying to be witty, as the “LADs” collective as well. I am an accountant myself and agree that software has eroded much of the, shall we say “earning capacity” that was there in the past within the trade. That said, there is an ever increasing amount of regulatory requirements and use of analytical software that appear to many to be beyond many soso they consult an accountant. I do see my profession continue to change greatly as it has done in the past two decades, and for the better hopefully. As with all jobs it’s adapt or die. On a side note, I have family members and close friends who are doctors, in general practice and consultant roles. Theirs is a skill that is hard to equate to in any other job or profession.

  5. 33square

    “Who will speak up for the professional class when disruptive technology comes looking for them?”

    A lot of disruptive tech solutions are appealing directly to the masses, the majority. Look at Uber and Lyft and the oh so ripe for a buyout hailo cabs :-)

    Silk road appeals to a large portion of the population who’d rather not deal with scumbags when purchasing contraband that they’re going to buy either way. If governments won’t listen to the masses, no bother, there’s a technological workaround.

    Software development is no more stable a profession than anything else. It is just as prone to being rendered obsolete by disruptive tech, specifically strong AI.

    Most processes could eventually be automated but then imperfections will be sought after, valued. This valuing of imperfection is analogous to the digital vs. analog argument in media such as music and film. In those areas, certain old analog devices are often sought after for the perceived character they impart. Look up the prices of a Roland tr909 drum machine, an original korg ms20 keyboard or a lomo LCA camera and you’ll see what I mean. Korg actually reissued their analogous ms20 keyboard recently, massively undercutting the secondhand prices of these machines from the 1970s. There’s actually a large amount of small modern analog synth manufacturers while the big boys such as Roland and Yamaha have ignored the analog resurgence. Korg haven’t and I’d fully expect them to reap serious rewards for taking what many consider a risk. They’re about to reissue another analogous classic, the ARP Odyssey.

    If you want to see what’s valued when everything can be mass produced, soulless digital, look at the market for analogous synthesisers vs digital.

    • EugeneN

      If software development is going to be phased out by strong AI then we can ask the software to write better versions of itself, ad infinitium until it is smarter than any human. AI – write better versions of yourself.

      Not going to happen.

      • Eagle

        For a living i market EPM financial software (ie.fancy spread sheets)to accountant ‘types’ (of large firms primarily as they can and are willing to spend/invest eu 30k to 100k+ on such suites of software)and i can see noticeable trends where this ‘sophisticated’ software(which was once considered very niche and almost ‘elite’)is slowly being bundled into much cheaper offerings (and apps too !)and will soon become readily available and affordably so for small SME’s.

  6. michaelcoughlan

    Hi,

    Initially I was illuminated by this but on reflection more depth is required in the analysis. Let me explain;

    EVERY ONE OF THE TOP BANKERS, POLITICANS, REGULATORS etc who destroyed the Republic is a CHARTERED ACCOUNTANT. From Haughey, to the two headbangers in charge of AIB and BOI during the boom, Bettie bookkeeper, Neary, Seanie ALL of them.

    If that PROFESSION could be ERRADICATED I would have no complaints.

    Michael O’Leary on a one man mission to reduce every worker in the State to a bonded serf is a CHARTED ACCOUNTANT.

    Further more your previous articles stated that the PRROFESSIONS were INSIDERS in Cahoots with the gubbernment where they draw their salaries especially the head honchos in the civil service for supporting policies they KNOW are destructive.

    Your previous article said apple paid NO TAX in 5 YEARS because CHARTED ACCOUNTANTS know how to give Roisin the on your knees treatment.

    As someone who wanted to be a master builder but couldn’t because bankers were being paid to engage in predatory lending;

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Predatory_lending

    which meant PROFESSIONALS with our qualifications who wanted to build quality buildings were forced to emigrate, drive taxis, or mind their kids while ex IRA men like McFeely were handed millions on coming out of jail to “Develop” apts where architects or engineers were paid off to sign off on dodgy certificates of compliance with planning and building. And now instead of handing these bastards in the banks their arses we are forcing more taxes on our citizens which turns the idea behind capitalism on its head the idea that the prudent should be rewarded and the reckless allowed to fail.

    Take a project like the Ennis by pass. A Loss of 30m on a 147m contract. Turkish workers brought in at €2/hr and still a loss. What happens is an ACCOUNTANT will set up a shelf company in a tax haven and invoice for PROFESSIONAL fees to the subsidiary set up in Eiruba to do the work. You then FIRE good project managers and hire SS men to deal with subbies and suppliers. The MORE losses you can force the suppliers and subcontractors to take the MORE capital can be extracted to the tax haven by invoicing and since the subsidiary is a ltd company you walk away from the mess in Ireland where the losses the subbies and suppliers take back up into STATE OWNED banks meaning more taxes for us to pay for all the losses.

    If the many of the professions can be destroyed by technology then BRING IT ON DAVID.

    More analysis required I am afraid.

    Michael.

    • Gearoid O Dubhain

      I am not sure Mr Ahern ever qualified as an accountant, chartered or otherwise. Our Minister for Fiance, Taoiseach and Leader of the Opposition are ‘teachers’, Brian Cowen is a solicitor or barrister and Brian Lenihan Junior was a barrister. The so called great garret Fitzgerald was an economist of sorts.
      I am struggling to think of a recent Minister for Finance who was an accountant !

      • michaelcoughlan

        Your response is out of context. I identified Mr Ahearn as a bookkeeper in my post. My post was about the previous lot in charge.

        The fact that the current lot are making a bad situation worse will only bring disrepute to the professions they come from.

        • Gearoid O Dubhain

          ” From Haughey, to the two headbangers in charge of AIB and BOI during the boom, Bettie bookkeeper, Neary, Seanie ALL of them.”
          Dont blame me for taking things out of context ! I merely read your words ! LOL !

    • Colin

      Where did they get the SS men from? How do you become one?

      • michaelcoughlan

        I can tell you how you become one: You just need to practice being a callous disinterested narcissistic bastard usually without even your leaving certificate and happy to draw your salary “Bribe” for shafting the suppliers or subcontractors you deal with.

        You can find them all over Ireland at present because the talent has long since voted with its feet Colin. My post isn’t meant to be dismissive or patronising. More often than not this is the way it works.

        Michael.

        • Eagle

          talking of bribes and “the ways we do business” ,an Irish guy i met once on my travels had spent several years travelling all over(inc the interiors)of India/China marketing his portfolio of fuel tech offerings which were specific to coal burning applications like power plants,cement plants,fertilizer plants(ie large kilns,furnaces,boilers etc)

          His job seemed to be the acquisition and development of a distributor network in these countries for his given portfolio.The story(of many)he told us that i remember best is this guy doing business with one of India’s large coal distributors/suppliers. After ‘holding hands’(literally ;) and ‘courting’ this [mafia] coal distributor to be a distributor for this guy’s portfolio,they eventually signed a deal,a joint venture of sorts.

          As they were now ‘in bed together’,the coal distributor revealed that his work was primarily comprised of travelling for five out of every six weeks over the circuit of plants (saying overnight at his one of 20+ ‘guest houses’ dotted around this circuit)that were his customers and these weeks were wholly dedicated to bribing the purchasing managers of each and every one of these plants to continue buying his coal,coking coal,lignite etc and not the competition… He wouldn’t/couldn’t trust anyone else to do this ‘negotiating’-his customer retention was excellent,as you can imagine :)lol

          The fifth week of every month however was meetings in the various 5* hotels across various main cities ,where the skulduggery continued with Coal India Ltd,but that’s another story for another day perhaps,but the
          point that im labouring here is that this was the culture ["the reality of doing business"] of doing business where EVERY purchasing managers salary was a very low basic,as it was clearly understood,very clearly,that the Purchasing Manager would be bribed and bribed exceedingly well and this would comfortably supplement the PM’s monthly take home !The corruption with the coal controlled mafia was endemic,so much so,where [phantom] trucks,i’m talkin’ 1000′s of them every day,that never get logged as havingcrossed state lines and this Irish lad during some trials he was conducting on site were not revealing the ‘expected’ results,but he couldn’t understand why,when at which time,he discovered that the numbers (in tonnage of coal consumption) with which he was supplied for analysis were grossly adulterated in order not to reveal the black market….

          This corruption was so implicit and explicit that there was one certain ‘special’post,a four month rotating post,where the lucky appointee would receive cash ‘gifts’ from every [phantom] truck as a retirement package – a golden handshake! i won’t go any further but to say that the ‘records’ of output that the mines publish too are as transparent as the derivatives market…nuf said

          I don’t know how to spell it but i remember the Indian word he used to describe bandits was
          “Goonda”

          We’ve plenty of our own f***ing goondas,that’s for shit sure!

  7. Great article David and very imminent topic. As educators we are faced with the same dilemma, which professions to prepare college graduates for? It is estimated the current college generation will change professions 10-13 times in their professional lifetime – an alien concept to current middle class workers. Many of these professions do not yet exist. (I remember working in the Intercontinental Hotel in Ballsbridge in the 70’s and we did not have an IT department – unthinkable today.
    So, how to prepare students for these changes? Transferable Management Skills among others may provide answers. Educating students in the concept that 30 years with the same company driven by loyalty, good behavior and the glory of the gold watch and pension at retirement is utopic. They need to be prepared to accept change, reeducate, and move on – then repeat. Many of the millions still unemployed here in the US are waiting for the same job they were laid off from four to six years ago – it’s not coming back, so retool and retrain in a different sector and move on. This is easier said than done – particularly for the older workers.
    Wall Street driven US corporations sold America’s soul by outsourcing – now only to find the quality was better at home all along. Customers pay for value. Starbucks now orders it signature coffee mugs from a factory in the mid-west and no longer from China. Benefits: American workers are back at work, shorter turn around on orders resulting in increased customer satisfaction.
    Agreed technology is changing us – but we can embrace that change and profit from it, or ignore it and miss the boat. Ireland is moving from an agricultural society to a service society. I grew up on the land (In Mayo) but the next generations – my children among them – have lost the connection to the land and with it many of the practical professions it spurred – which is a terrible tragedy for our society.

    • Government Response to Exponential Technologies by Peter H. Diamandis

      “Published on 24 Jun 2014. I’m at OSTP, and couldn’t help but think about how the government can keep up with Exponential Technologies like Robotics, AI and digital currency…Will they react with fear and overregulation? I’m currently studying this to present to the Abundance 360 community.”

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8rXN9Fznbs

    • Eagle

      @brendan

      “…have lost the connection to the land and with it many of the practical professions it spurred…”

      +1

      My cousin,an ex-finance guy,currently makes his living from giving private dog lessons,training gun-dogs for competition and collies for agility courses.Dogs were a huge interest of his from a young age and when he lost his job in the ‘downturn’ ,he developed his life-long hobbie into a viable,worthwhile and healthy business.This lad maintained that animal care in general was a growth sector in UK,did his research,up-skilled, made a plan,moved to an affluent area in England with a high density of ” man’s best friend” and on a shoe string budget ,made it happen and never looked back.(he has arrangements with the local dog pounds that if they decide to euthanise an aggressive dog -that can’t be rehomed – they pay him a fee to take the dog ‘off their hands’,he then resolves any behavioural issues,finds them a new home,for a healthy fee.win win

      He mentioned recently too that farriers are in great demand due to the huge shortage thereof and £80/horse is average charge by farriers and shoeing 3 horses a day would be a slow day…

      makes you think…

  8. Excellent, timely article. I’ve been having a discussion by email with “5Fingers” on this topic. Where is he? Probably the security services have warned him off this blog.

    In Bangalore, the back-office remote scanning and analysis of contract and legal documentation and protocols is already well advanced: as some lurkers who read know as they’re involved in the plan to strip the Irish Middle Class of their livelihoods. And there’s nothing that can be done to stop this process.

    I know Mr McWilliams has been to the Pearl Valley Delta but it’s the Hive Mind of Dharavi-Mumbai-Bangalore where all this is taking placed because: Imperial English Language Heritage. There’s an escalating exponential rise in the industrial production of India’s engineeers, scientists and programmers. One of my brothers used to mock me for my philosophy and literature studies as he learned some ridiculous programming language. He was paid handsomely then as I pondered the nature of existence in London squats. Now? The work he did is probably Minimum Wage level in Bangalore. He’s driving a taxi, maybe? Don’t know as we’re “estranged” in that very Irish clan warfare way. And India is fixated on nuclear weapons, space travel and disinheriting the rich west ex-colonialists yet half the population don’t have a pot to piss in or a seat on the crapper. Literally, they defecate in public…..

    Oh, yes, as for Ireland’s “neutrality”: If some some fascists seize control of India and/or Pakistan under th ruse of “Hindu” or “Moslem” fundamentalism, do you seriously think they’ll limit the inferno to themselves? Do you not see they’ll incinerate the UK in revenge. I’m sure they’ll politely leave the island of Ireland off the map because: Shannon Rendition.

    When my son signed up to become a debt slave by going to a UK University he asked my advice on what subject to study. My response was immediate:

    “Philosophy, because everything else is subset. The only reason for going to University is because you want to run a Corporation or Government Department. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time chasing Status Anxiety when a bit of counselling will sort you out and you can go on the building sites with the rest of the LADS. Learn how to think, and you can think about anything and everything that life throws at you. Learn eningeering or accountancy and you’ll be dishing out blowjobs for loose change in bus station toilets in a decade”

    As will the 10% managerial fluffer class to the 1% oligarchy who strut around the IFSC as if that fantasy will continue when the next stage of Collapse unfurls.

    My first ever post on this blog was about Hindu Economics in 2006 (?). Creative destruction. Kali. Soon many of ye will realise “We Are All Dharavi” and Slumdog Millionaire wasn’t just about Mumbai but a template for the entire world descending into chaos unless the Slum Planet is healed by Abundance. And then there’s that apartment rental in Dublin the other day:

    “This Tiny Dublin Apartment Was On The Market For €800 A Month. It’s a couple of bunkbeds above a bathroom, but at least it’s got lots of natural light.”

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/patricksmith/this-tiny-dublin-apartment-was-on-the-market-for-1000-a-mont

    They wouldn’t allow that kind of carry on in Dalkey, I bet! I remember the Gael crammed 6 to a room in bunk beds in the ghetto slums of Small Heath, drinking and shagging themsleves senseless between the buidling site hell zones as their Peaky Blinder slumlords looked on and LOL’d. Is this the destiny for The Gael? For the Culchies to arrive in Dublin as rocket fuel for the renewed dynastic ambitions of D4 types?

    • The ghetto fabolous Phablet revolution is coming and the irony of the disenfranchised watching “New Slaves” by Kanye on their branded i-Devices in various favela-shanties is enormous. Unless Yeezus is 4 real and he means it man. Yeezus? “There’s leaders and followers. I’d rather be a dick than a swallower.” LOL! But I’m Jayzus, hoovermouth in Mountjoy. Versatle.. I’ll out do Kanye…..blow a few minds, as well, along the way. LOLOLOLOL!

      There’s a Crystal Mark Plain English campaign on this island to strip the absurd Latin/Green linguistic hegemonic Privilege from the ruling classes here. Needs to happen in The Four Courts as well, but don’t hold your breath. Ireland Inc keeps Colonial Imperial Brit laws on the books just in case the gurrier class get out of control with the Occupy stuff and threaten an Uprising to spoil the codology of their ‘centenary’ of what? Exactly what is it they intend to celebrate? Answers on a postcard.

      Remote diagnostics is the big one in medicine, engineering, every single engineering and manufacturing process, not to mention board-room. The British NHS evades the on-costs of front end diagnosis for oncological extravagance when it’s too late. I lost one of my best friends forever, Joanne from Belfast, to bowel cancer. Stephen Sutton’s legacy means: Enough already! Disruptive tech needs to make the British NHS fit for purpose. The Irish drewam of Universal Health Care is EASILY doable with the right green-sky thinking. Get on with it. Make is so! Those Japanese toilets that monitor your stool and urine are the way forward with a spitton and a thumb-print blood terrain analysis every day, the 1% Longevity Agenda hovers into view. Why not for everyone?

      It’s deffo an Artisan World when a haircut costs more than an imported Chinese DVD player in Brum, former “workshop of the world” . Skinhead mt8s left school at 14 with a bag of spanners to become car mechanics. They couldn’t understand why I put up with the Latin regime. Now some of them are out here in the sylvan Shire whilst others are still on the council estate because they couldn’t hack the entrepreneur stuff of renting premises/rates/tax stuff. And bays of garages are like the bridge on Star Trek these days. Touch anything under the hood yourself and “Customer Warranty Invalidated” pops up.

      It’s going to be both sad and funny to watch as both the team sports “did you watch the match?” Team-sterism and Water Cooler LADS/GAA masculinist locker room hegemonies collapse under Collapse when the next wave hits. Which it will unless we find a peaceful pathway to planetary Abundance.
      “First they came for the taxi-drivers with Uber, then they came for the Accoutants with Slide Ruler”

      Time for some singing practise:

      “I remember the face of my father… as we walked back home.. from the mine He’d laugh and he’d say That’s one more day and it’s good to feel the sun-shine….”

      http://comc.ca/comc.ca/Take_Home_T1.html

      best

      “Cader Idris Penygadair”

      oh, hang on, the rugger bugger choir singing Taffy persona’s meant to still be under wraps. Too late now!

    • ThomasFergus

      Thoroughly enjoyable magical mystery tour as ever, Andrew. Do keep it up!

  9. Now, I have just over 2 hours to get my Peaky Paddy Blinder Brummie Boy arse “ship-shape and Bristol fashion” down to Brissl to watch The Pogues mash up The Raft Of The Medusa with us Shire Irish Brissl’n'BrummieBoy massives and then get with the spray-can again inna da 3D massive attack impersonating Bansky. As you do….

    It’s a Requiem Service For The Forgotten Irish. The Pogues, hey? Plastic Paddies!!! ROFLMAO! We’ll be sending love, hope and inspiration across the Bristol Channel to our Culchie ancestor’s children enslaved “beyond the Pale”, especially for those boarding the Night Boat to Babylon England. You are welcome if you survive the rip-tide “in the wake of the Medusa”

    “Stay in bed when the Pogues are in town? Well, that’s a bloody stupid thing to do! —Joe Strummer”

    “The Pogues perform live at the inaugural Bristol Summer Series 2014 at the beautiful Bristol Harbourside, their only show in the South West this year!”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsrDoU6euvE

  10. Shush

    David, as usual a nice analogy at the beginning and a well written article. However the Holocaust and Progress do not deserve to be lumped into the same boat. The previous career paths of many people will have to be changed in order to provide value to consumers and employers. It can even be argued what value accountants, solicitors, economists(!) etc. provided at the height of their prowess. Even if you look at the medical profession its value would have to be questioned. Anyone with any semblance of common sense would need to be running to the internet and apps for answers versus the mainstream advice which seems to have been taken over by pharmaceutical companies with the compliance of government.

  11. Members of Parliament in Ireland are mainly made up of

    National Teachers

    Solicitors/Barristers

    Accountants

    Medical Doctors

    Real Estate Agents

    ( more or less in the above order )

    I would have thought they should be made up of :

    Soldiers ( French Foreign Legion ) – not Dads Army type

    Persons with medals of Merit ( Olympic Medalists)

    Qualified Political Science Graduates with languages

    Extraordinary successful Business Person etc

  12. I enjoyed the article by David however he is tending to fuse too many words together without clear thoughts . He groups the words ‘professional’ to mean a sell by date species ( white collared workers ) and the words ‘master’ and ‘skilled’ ( blue collared ) to mean infallible priest from the Vatican.

    It is not possible to say that is a clear thought ,Professionals are masters and skilled too however some just cannot show that .Qualifications are passports only and it is the person who demonstrates how good they are on the playing field not the paper they receive from their education body.

    Professionals and Masters are in the business of making the best decisions and computers cannot do that when it really matters .

  13. CorkPlasticPaddy

    @John ALLEN

    Your comment about Professionals and Masters being in the business of making the best decisions is just totally off the wall!! Coming out of college with a piece of paper saying your this or that is just total bullshit. They might have studied for 3 or 4 years and come out of college with a degree in this that or the other doesn’t mean that they know the difference between their ‘arse and their elbow’! I worked in the pharmaceutical industry for over 30 years and over those 30 years I saw many a so-called an engineer walking around the plant in their suits collars and ties and hard hats, but when it came down to practicalities they simply hadn’t a clue! Everyone of them lacked one essential item to succeed and that was PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE. It’s one thing to come out of college with a ‘piece of paper’ stating that your this that or the other along with an arrogance that would cut someone dead if you criticized what they were doing or suggested to them something that was a lot more practical than what they thought themselves.
    I have no sympathy whatsoever for any of the so-called professional classes, and that’s because it was those very same people who were the main contributers to this country’going to the dogs’!!

    • michaelcoughlan

      “I have no sympathy whatsoever for any of the so-called professional classes, and that’s because it was those very same people who were the main contributers to this country’going to the dogs’!!”

      Exactly.

      Fuck them.

      • michaelcoughlan

        Especially the intellectuals.

        • Gearoid O Dubhain

          And who is Ireland’s great self appointed intellectual ? Why, none other than President Forty Pensions himself, aka, The Dear Leader President, aka Ireland’s Emperor President..

      • DB4545

        We don’t have professional classes in this State we have or had social networks linked to the private schools. The network is becoming redundant and has fallen on hard times. This little gem from a recent “old boys” reunion might help to illustrate. A colleague was at a recent reunion(65 Euros a head for a “carvery” dinner seated on plastic chairs). Drinks were overpriced so one of the assembled old boys pulled out a bottle of whiskey (aldi own brand)and shared it. Nobody blinked an eyelid. This social class is obsolete because as someone stated above one invitation to bilderberg removes the need to grease any palms further down the food chain. No wonder Aldi is targeting the down on their luck middle classes with their recent TV campaign!

        • Colin

          Jeeez, it brings a tear to my eye to hear that….but at least we still have the chattering classes! aer lingus good, ryanair bad, irish times good, independent bad, apple ipad good, amazon kindle bad, butlers chocolates good, cadbury roses bad baaaaah, baaaaah, baaaaaah….

          • DB4545

            George Bernard Shaw said all professions are a conspiracy against the laity and he was certainly right if he was referring to this State. They’ve ringfenced jobs largely funded by the taxpayer since the foundation of the State and sometimes before it and to hell with anyone else. Technology largely removes the need to seek the “expertise” of middle class “professionals” as it bypasses them completely. Taxpayers are still funding those “old boys(and girls)” dinners I referred to because they’re paying exorbitant prices for medical, legal, other professional services, farming subsidies and housing. The budget is getting tighter(hence the aldi whiskey) but the people who gathered in that hall are inventive and creative when it comes to subverting taxpayer resources and I’m sure they still have a few surprises in store for the good Citizens of this State yet.

        • Shush

          I know what you mean, the opening qoites was just to grab your attention!

          Best

          D

  14. CorkPlasticPaddy

    @John ALLEN

    Your comment about Professionals and Masters being in the business of making the best decisions is just totally off the wall!! Coming out of college with a piece of paper saying your this or that is just total bullshit. They might have studied for 3 or 4 years and come out of college with a degree in this that or the other doesn’t mean that they know the difference between their ‘arse and their elbow’! I worked in the pharmaceutical industry for over 30 years and over those 30 years I saw many a so-called an engineer walking around the plant in their suits collars and ties and hard hats, but when it came down to practicalities they simply hadn’t a clue! Everyone of them lacked one essential item to succeed and that was PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE. It’s one thing to come out of college with a ‘piece of paper’ stating that your this that or the other along with an arrogance that would cut someone dead if you criticized what they were doing or suggested to them something that was a lot more practical than what they thought themselves.
    I have no sympathy whatsoever for any of the so-called professional classes, and that’s because it was those very same people who were the main contributers to this country ‘going to the dogs’ in the way it has!!

    • Your comments are not what I wrote .Obviously you are angry with what you imagined what you thought I said, and with a short fuse.

      Re-read and understand . Its totally different to your assessment.

      Suarez has been given 4 months ban .David will allow the game go on . So kick the ball its better policy.

  15. grecid

    Economics and Politics – no surprise there
    Tertiary Industry being on the up – forecasted since the early 90′s as far as I’m aware, along with Big Supermarkets, shopping centres etc. in geography class
    Social Media as a way of communicating -FB, texting etc – yep, prevalent
    But people love human interaction – they crave it. Hence meetings get more things solved “on-site”, more buy-in to ideas – “on-site”. Presence “on the ground” – usually more effective. Working from home and conference calls are great and can be done effectively, but only when you spend more time in the workplace than at home.
    Look at our addiction to reality TV – we love it ‘cos we miss the neighbourhood / people around people setup.
    If people have to shell out money on a service, they instinctively want to meet the person offering this service face to face so they can have a decent q & a and gauge things with their gut. E.G. Accountancy packages – what if someone does not tick the right box in their current financial situation? Yep, you ring a support line and either talk through your situ or request a callback. Perhaps Im way off but this is my view on current business transactions.
    I cant forecast the future re IT and AI services but for the foreseeable future I can see people skills in advice and services as valuable commodities.
    That’s my 2 cents ;) Grace

  16. This video sums it up perfectly:

    The End of Business As Usual
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-Yf1u3xD_I

  17. Gearoid O Dubhain

    David mentions Blockbuster and its demise, Blockbusters success was due to the investment in it, in its fledgling stage,by the wealthy owner of Wastemanagement, Wayne Huizenga. Mr Huizenga had built up the Fortune 500 Wastemanagement form its infancy when, as a young man, he bought and operated one waste truck. No degrees, no MA’s, just hard work, vision and courage and fortitude to withstand setbacks. Mr Huizengas success is testament to the fact that Governments do not create jobs, individuals create jobs.

  18. DarraghD

    I was just talking about this article to my brother, we both have a business in the motor industry, and we got a giggle when David mentioned in the article above that a motor mechanic is a career option for the future, as we are seeing a different trend emerging!

    We reckon that in the next few (10) years, we’ll be seeing:

    (1) Computer controlled self-driving cars that will not be jumping red lights or texting while driving. This will effect two industries, the taxi industry will be a thing of the past once this technology becomes established. Then the motor insurance industry, if these cars will not be crashing into each other as they will be computer controlled and human error, the cause of every crash, will be eliminated, why would you pay an insurance company to indemnify you? Body repair shops, if there are no vehicles crashing, they won’t need to be repaired!

    (2) The transport/logistics industry will be turned on its head as parcels will be delivered within 30 minutes via automated airborne drone type delivery vehicles that will navigate from a dispatch warehouse to a delivery point, via a GPS network, the technology for this is already fully in place and is being pushed by Amazon, the only outstanding obstacles to this change are those of a legislative nature.

    (2) As hydrocarbon engines and petrol and diesel fueled vehicles become less popular and are replaced by fully electric vehicles, due to climate change and governments having to reduce carbon emissions targets year on year, you have entire industries that exist at the moment that will not exist in a few years time, one in particular, is the car parts industry. Electric vehicles don’t need engine oil, timing belts, clutches, service kits, due to how they regenerate electricity when slowing down, they hardly even need brakes! I know a mechanic working in a main dealership who serviced a fully electric car recently and the only parts he had to fit to it were a pair of wiper blades and a cabin/pollen filter and this was in for a scheduled service!

    It’s hard to see, when you look at the technology that is just around the corner, how industries such as car parts, body repair, logistics/transport, taxi, health, will not be eliminated at some stage or else will become much smaller sectors.

    • Gearoid O Dubhain

      Good to see an industry specific viewpoint of how technology changes an industry. Re car insurance, we pay car insurance because we are legally obliged to and that will never change !
      The car scrappage scheme took a big chunk out of the work for mechanics..at least my mechanic said so.

    • All of which would imply about 90% unemployment Darragh.

      On the other hand that’s a lot of leisure time for the unemployed to fill up, so more work should be available in keeping people amused.

  19. McGoo

    Ok,
    1. Comparing the holocaust to the normal ongoing trend (since the industrial revolution!) of social change caused by technology? That’s laughable and tasteless. I invoke Godwins Law : http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/godwins-law

    2. I agree that all middle-man professions (estate agent, auctioneer, brokers) will be made utterly obsolete by technology. No real loss to society there.

    3. I do not agree that doctors and lawyers will be made obsolete by technology. They can be thought of as detectives – taking in a large amount of apparently unrelated information, feeding it through a filter of knowledge, experience and intuition, and coming up with an answer that no app would ever have found.

    4. Equally, accountants do not add value by merely accurately recording what happened to the money (that can certainly be done by software) but by providing advice about what to do in the future in order to achieve a desired financial result. That is a creative and intuitive process that no app could ever do.

    5. Some “manual” skills are unlikely to ever go away (hairdressing), but the examples you give are absolutely ripe for being wiped out by technology:
    (i) Master Builder / Skilled Tradesman : There was a time when clothes, furniture and even cars were built to order, but now they are mass-produced in factories for a fraction of the price. This will happen to house-building too. Our current building practice of building 100′s of identical houses on-site is madness, it’s like Ford assembling your new car in your driveway.

    (ii) Carpenter building a table: Sure, designing and building the first table takes knowledge and skill, but after that it can be, and is, mass-copied by unskilled workers in low-wage countries with machines. Not enough work to sustain a profession of skilled table-building carpenters.

    (iii) Mechanic who can fix things: There was a time when manufactured goods were expensive, so everything got fixed. Fixing was a profitable activity. But, manufactured goods good more reliable and less expensive, and fixing stopped being a viable profession. Remember all those guys who used to make a living fixing radios and TVs? Their profession is gone, and car mechanics will eventually go the same way (particularly once cars go electric – there’s not much to go wrong in an electric car). Even large, non-mass-produced industrial equipment requires far less maintenance and repair than it used to.

    6. So, what’s a good profession to send your kids into? Ideally, you want a skill that (i) cannot be done by a machine and (ii) can be “leveraged”, ie. delivered to lots of customers at the same time. Obvious examples are actor, footballer and musician, but these tend to be “winner takes all” professions, with only a few making a good living. Good management skills will always be in demand, if they are that kind of person. But, the best bet is to be on the winning side of the tech vs. profession wars, by being part of the tech revolution. If you can’t beat em, join em.

    • DB4545

      Medical devices using advanced bluetooth tech and wireless non-invasive monitoring could practically eliminate 80% of our A & E departments. Smartphones linked to med apps can monitor you more effectively than most hospitals. There’s no need for people to be lying on trolleys in corridors. We have dental tourism and in a global economy we have a growing medical tourism sector (not withstanding the scare stories pedalled by vested interests to protect their current cartels). Doctors may not become redundant but the 180 Euro a visit and 6 week wait to see a consultant hopefully will become a quaint reminder of a bygone era. Lawyers are a different matter. The human condition has possibilities for endless arguments. Arguments are the foundation stones of the legal profession. If a nuclear holocaust hits the planet lawyers and cockroaches will be the first to emerge. After all cockroaches will need someone to represent them when they sue the manufacturers of the nuclear bombs for negligence.

      • McGoo

        I agree that many professions in the first world may be decimated by people in other countries who will do the same work for far less pay. That’s not quite the same as being replaced by an app, as David suggested in his article.

        • DB4545

          It’s Fordism for knowledge based professions. Henry Ford broke down skill sets and knowledge and created an assembly line system to hugely increase productivity and also to made his products more affordable. David has mentioned Schumpeter’s theory of creative destruction and Fordism is creative destruction in action.I’ve no doubt that professions will fight tooth and nail in order to retain wealth. Why pay 50 Euro to see a doctor when apps can provide more reliable diagnostics of your medical condition? Medical tourism will allow you to outsource the skill sets you need at a medical centre of excellence of your choice at a sensible price?

  20. Gearoid O Dubhain

    The technology that has allowed giant retailers such as Tesco, B&Q and now Dunnes Stores to introduce self service tills is not just replacing professional jobs, it is also replacing and elimination minimum wage jobs. One assistant can now overs up to 6 or more self service tills.
    These retailers are of course only paying 12.5 % CT tax on the additional profits made.
    So the State and taxpayer is by virtue of tax revenues foregone as a result of the low CT tax rate subsidising the installation of job eliminating capital equipment.

  21. [...] Irish economist David McWilliam points out how the middle class are the next in line to be disrupted. [...]

  22. joe sod

    “Changing technology means that the middle classes are about to get it in the neck and it will be interesting to see how they react. The public sector will change forever and the returns to many professions that are now the bastions of the Irish middle classes – such as solicitors, accountants and doctors – will be destroyed by disruptive technology in the years ahead. I wonder will anyone speak up for them? Or will the rest of society be silent as the broad middle class was when the industrial class was decimated here?”

    The public sector and the professions mentioned above have high proportion of women working in them. They have largely been protected from the recession and the big industrial transformation and outsourcing over the last decade. The building bust and the decimation of traditional manufacturing have been largely borne by men as you have illustrated in other articles. In this article you say that many of the professions and public sector jobs will become obsolete because of technology change. Surely this will have a dramatic effect on female employment and jobs. Will the irish establishment try and prevent technological change that might causes social and political change not to their advantage. In the same way craftsmen in the nineteenth century tried to break up new textile machinery and engines which made their crafts obsolete.

  23. redriversix

    Whilst driving to Spain last week, I stopped at a service station for some sleep.The Motorway services in France & generally in Europe are very good for the commercial Driver & I was able to have some decent food , reasonably priced and a shower.

    This Particular Service station was new & while walking around stretching my legs,I came across a new “Mcdonalds” Restaurant , nothing new about a new Mcdonalds you may think…however on further investigation i discovered it is almost fully automated with just a skeleton staff to “serve” the food…!!

    you walk in & on the left hand side are 8 / 10 electronic boards positioned at eye level on chrome poles..each pole has a “screen” back to back so two people can order at once.

    Select your food..pay by credit/debit card and go to counter to collect food with receipt printed out upon payment.

    Spooky kind of experience as the restaurant was busy but only 5/6 staff..

    I would like to remember where it was and should have taken photos or a video maybe , but it was such a strange experience ,I forgot to.

    Think it was on the A26 somewhere or around Toulouse..joys of Sat Nav !!! don’t have to know where you are , just where your going…….

    Any way ..is this progress ? if Companies who pay minimum wage are replacing staff…where will we be in 5 years time ?

    Personally..the only way I could get back to work was to set myself up as self-employed and work for 4/5 different Companies using my skill-sets accordingly whereby I hope to achieve a decent weekly wage by invoicing them for my time.

    Anyway..hope everyone here is happy,enthusiastic & full of life ?

    Remember ..turn negative into positive..don’t be afraid of the truth

    Shit happens !…stick with the Winners

    As for Ireland ? Ask Milton Friedman & his Chicago boys whats happening…

    Peace

    RR6

    • Deco

      Milton Friedman has more influence on current policy affecting Ireland, than Eamon DeValera.

      The media in this country are ignoring the influence of Friedman and the economics philosophy. Just look at how they continually avoid the topic of the increasing national debt. And Friedman economics are based on the assumption that you look at growth and feel great about it, whilst ignoring the debts that are needed to “buy” that growth.

    • Bamboo

      Strange one RR6. The A1 motels in France has introduced this in the early 90′s. Nobody in the hotel except guest .

  24. Deco

    I have just read the article now.

    It is a load of absolute nonsense !!

    Technology is not killing the middle classes, the state tax-and- redistribute to the rich and the poor is killing the middle classes.

    The biggest problem with the middle class is that have been voting for the useless quisling element in Irish politics who repeatedly vested interests (including the interests of other countries) before the needs of the people.

    The middle classes are also killing the middle classes with their attitude of let’s have nothing for the rainy day because the done thing is to blow it today attitude. People are being relentlessly encouraged to be reckless by the media, and to regard it as a crime to be financially responsible.

    The basic mentality that pervaded in the Ahern years, is being protected by the state and the media. Even though it is intellectually and financially bankrupt.

    We know it is still in place, when we see increasing debts, and no effort being made to get serious about debt.

    The entire real estate ponzi scheme racket in the suburbs is actually unravelling society, and placing massive debts on the shoulders of the people who are expected to pay the bills of society.

    We are seeing the hollowing out of society, not because of technology, because of misguided and idiotic policy frameworks coming from Brussels, Washington, Westminster, Dublin, etc…

    The entire concept of community, as well as every possible social resource, every possible physical resource and whatever else available is being controlled and liquidated to jiuce up the official GDP statistic.

    The source of the problem is the power structure, and the distribution of power in society, with the state and certain well connected and vocal interests calling the shots.

    Communism has been defeated, and Marxism has defeat the West anyway, in the manner of the Trojan horse with the entire mentality of the early 1990s being the Trojan horse. In the aftermath of the fall of the Communist Bloc/USSR, the West adopted a collection of policies that became possible because social solidarity was not deemed necessary any more for the rich as they no longer needed the middle classes in their own societies. In fact with no enemies from outside, they no longer needed social stability. So they traded social stability and communal peace for greater profits.

    The ideology of using the state to control the people and their resources, and give to those that are in control is now in full swing in the west. Even the market solution advocates are a bunch of Marxists, who want loose monetary policy to subsidize asset speculation.

    Technology is NOT the problem.

    The problem is actually intellectual. The ideas that are being pursued are designed to fail the middle classes, and the segment of the populace that think they are going to get healthcare in their old age, social welfare if they get laid off, and quality social services.

    Those things are already destroyed with massive debt levels.

    The problem is actually political.

    • Colin

      Agreed Deco,

      The best solution to all this is to save your own money, own no assets except a bicycle maybe, then after a few years take your lump sum to a nice warm country where you can build your own house and have enough left over to keep yourself and your family going. That is my plan. If you don’t have a plan, you’ll get suckered.

      Let the irresponsible face up to their responsibilities the hard way. Irish alcoholics, smokers and drug abusers expect the prudent to pay for a health system to take care of the imprudent.

      Irish society is full of grown up spoiled children. Irish mothers for years have been cossetting their sons in particular. Spoiled children young and old do not face up to the problems and expect others to bail them out.

      • DB4545

        There’s a bunch of people who are doing just that for at least three generations. They never bought into the “traditional” work/education mainstream. Most claim they can barely read or write but I’d be surprised if they couldn’t do the times cryptic crossword before breakfast(usually brunch most days).They’ve even persuaded local authorities to provide serviced rest areas for their(privately purchased no receipt needed)mobile homes. They can roam the land free of the fear of mortgages, rent, medical bills, insurance and most other bills and the State will even give them a nice cash “top up” every week to keep them going. I used to think I had a responsible job but I’ve come to realise I’m just a piano player in a whorehouse.

  25. Adelaide

    The demise of employment? About time!

    Beyond the obvious need to make a living, a job is a shameful waste of one’s time. Having spent 30 years in ICT as a consultant I now view a person’s job as a manifestation of an existing systems inefficiency that will inevitably be ironed out with a systems improvement. You only have a job now because nobody has yet bothered their backside to streamline your process, be thankful for the laziness of others. There is no such thing as a skill or an expertise, it is a repeated pattern that can and should be replicated by automation-digitisation etc then the mind of mankind can be free to build a society elevated above the concocted need to ‘make a living’ and truthfully thrive in an automated resource-based future in harmony with mother nature.

    • Gearoid O Dubhain

      There is it seems to me to be a contradiction about talking of an automated resource-based future and living in harmony with mother nature. And lets be honest, society exists where two or more people live in conjunction or proximity with each other. Lets not debase the concept by confusing it gobblygook utopianism.

      • Adelaide

        I’d be interest, Gearoid, on why it seems you to be a contradiction, and what ‘concept’ is being debased?

        Surely a prison exists where two or more people live in proximity with each other, I’ve always felt ‘society’ was an ‘agreement’ among people.

  26. Pat Flannery

    Adelaide, you may be interested to know that I spent 36 years in the United States and never took a job. My experience of being a “professional” in the UK and Ireland (a Chartered Accountant) turned me against the whole concept of a “job”.

    The difference between me and others who talk the talk is that I actually walked the walk. In 1976, at the ripe old age of 34, I walked away from (lucrative) professional employment, indeed all employment, and never have had a job since. But I have had a wonderful life.

  27. Pat Flannery

    You will have to wait for the book. One thing I will divulge though: I never took a dime from any government, in any way, Irish, British or American. I became an American citizen, in the real sense: I took care of myself. That is the true American way and I loved it, still do. I obeyed every law, never even got a speeding ticket. I never told anybody I was anything that I was not and I paid all my taxes.

    I got well paid for everything I did which was mainly helping people negotiate legitimate deals in legitimate markets, from real estate to intellectual property. I was considered an expert on contract law and risk management. I kept abreast of the latest business technologies and found ready work applying them and teaching businesses how to succeed without getting sued, which is the key to longevity in business.

    I suppose you could say I was a professional consultant of whatever skills there was a business need for. I probably saved hundreds of businesses millions of dollars over the years. I saw myself as an urban cowboy. I was as free as a bird. I really was. For 36 years.

  28. Morning everyone. Thanks for all the posts. I am just digesting them now. Thanks again. Best David

  29. [...] change is likely to have on traditional Middle Class professions like accountancy and law. Why technology is going to destroy middle class professions | David McWilliams I know technological change is a different subject compared to the topic of immigration been [...]

  30. Great Article David. Sorry for coming to it so late, but this one will go on a while. economist.com had a monster online debate on this in january 2014 ‘coming to an office near you’. Office automation is doing away with piles of middleclass jobs and no one has a solution for this .Being an automation engineer, Ive been doing this for twenty years+ (automating stuff that people used to do). You cant stop march of technology, whether its good or bad.Definitely, accountants jobs will be automated. i thought the legal profession had ring fenced itself off sufficiently for now. And we will always need doctors. (internet cant xray/tell you that your finger is actually broken etc etc).The thing is, after mulling this over all year with colleagues, we’ve drawn the following conclusions: Random stuff such as crime / natural disaster etc is actually good, because it inadvertently leads to jobs (security, gardai , reconstruction etc) .Its difficult to automate any system that has random inputs. We feel the crisis point for unemployment is 30%. At that point there will be sufficient civil unrest to spur the government into literally going and making jobs. (infrastructure white elephants etc).Much easier when the govt can print its own money, admittedly. We have the same issue now that the Luddites had. society needs available jobs for 80%+ of the population otherwise it may start to disintegrate. so in that respect, automation/internet/technology is a bad thing. Tech savvy people will get reasonable jobs but only 10% of the population is intelligent enough to program modern day computing systems. There is no ‘ban the internet and get the jobs back’ solution.And its impressive the way protectionist France has held out so long and managed to keep so many people employed.But they are swimming against a tide, and ireland , a small open economy could never behave like France.
    So technology IS destroying jobs, and will continue to do so until there are so few jobs that no one can buy anything any more and there is civil unrest. Then we will have to create jobs. The social welfare system will be overloaded once the middle class pile onto it too, and drastic measures such as ‘you only get child benefit if you have actually worked and paid tax – ie tax rebate’ will need to be implemented.Its all ahead of us in the next 20 years..The nuclear option of leaving the euro so that the state can create jobs and print money, will be on the table too. As will emigration (to Mars Colony ; growing at 10% per annum from 2070).Space exploration/trading is a frontier for economic growth.Every other on-planet economy is in the process of harmonising and equalising. (Good for poor countries , bad for us). I welcome the debate. I asked the same questions in the economist. No one knows what happens when there are no longer any jobs for societys stabilising middle class ballast.

    • Good stuff, read your first paragraph and was going to interrupt and mention space exploration and colonization, but then you got to it anyway.

      The only way is up, all surplus resources and manpower should be geared to getting off this planet. It would solve the unemployment problems overnight.

      Anyone who wants to volunteer for experimental space flights should be allowed to do so. Tens of thousands will die, as they did pioneering towards California, but if two survive and procreate, then we have a foothold somewhere else and have become a multi-planet species.

      It’ll take us millions of years to f**k up space, as opposed to the 300 or so years since the Industrial Revolution that heralded in the destruction of this planet.

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