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Today we will reflect that the economy will shortly wither, no one will have to work, and we will all die of starvation sitting on street corners and trying to sell each other pencils.

Work is going the way of the dodo, the Constitution, and common sense. Won’t be any.

Doom moves in ripples. Suppose that the New York Times goes all digital. The factory that makes the newsprint will have fewer orders and thus need fewer workers. The same applies to the tree farms that make the pulp for the newsprint factory. Less transportation, train or truck, will be needed to bring the newsprint to New York. The pressmen who run the presses will go, and the company that would have made replacement presses will have fewer orders. The truckers who drive the printed papers to Newark will lose their jobs, as will the people who deliver the paper to your doorstep.

Just now, unemployment seems set to increase sharply. The oncoming wave of automation looks formidable. I read of an automated bricklayer in Australia, fast, accurate, and cheap. Amazon, the Great Bookstore in the Sky, can give you almost any book electronically in five minutes at half the hardback price: Fare thee well, bookstores and publishing industry.

Everybody and his grandmother has heard of self-driving vehicles, a technology that matures rapidly and will replace first (I think) long haul truckers and then urban delivery trucks and taxis. Computers don’t drive drunk, talk on cell phones, or suffer road rage and, potentially, inter-vehicle communications would let every car know what all the others around it were going to do. Humans need not apply.

There is worse, much worse. Computers already write simple news stories, do formerly very time-consuming legal research, and engage in financial analysis. They move into medical diagnosis. Note that a computer can store the symptoms of every disease known to man, which a human doctor cannot.

Unemployment or just barely employment already is high and apparently endemic. The rate is higher than it looks because the government counts only those looking for work, not the substantial population living on welfare. College graduates increasingly cannot find work, or have to work as baristas in Starbucks and live at home with their parents.

Which raises a very real problem: What do we do when most people have no work, though they are both willing and able?

To date, the only way we know to distribute goods and services (houses, food, that sort of thing) is to have people work and pay them for it. It is an imperfect system, having been devised by humans, and pays a quarterback millions for throwing a pointy object to a downfield felon while a shock-trauma nurse can barely eat. Still, it has been reasonably serviceable.

But this works only when there are jobs to be had. When there are not, when the bright, eager, and conscientious young cannot find jobs, then what?

We seem already to have maxed out our means of letting people appear to be working when they are not — bureaucracies, the military — or simply keeping them off the job market — child labor laws, required attendance at school, universities teaching nothing to those who want to learn nothing. Now what?

As long as the country does not fall into chaos, we are not going to allow large numbers of people to starve (despite the title of this column). A way today used to avoid this is simply to give the necessities of life to those who cannot work to earn them — for example, welfare illiterates for whom there is no economic need.

But we have no widely accepted way of providing the necessities to a new college graduate whose degree, whatever it may be, doesn’t get him a job. And since the only way we have of paying those who do not work is to tax those who do, we face the prospect of ever rising taxes on an ever shrinking base of employed. That isn’t going to fly.

It is utterly conceivable that within the life spans of today’s cradle occupants, only twenty percent, or ten, of those of working age will be employed. (Eighty years is a long time, technologically speaking, much longer than from the Wright brothers to a space station.) In this case, the wage-and-salary model is not going to work. What will?

Is there a choice other than paying everyone a living — “wage” isn’t just the right word — with higher amounts for those actually doing needed work?

So how do we get smoothly from where we are now to wherever it is that we are going? Sally Sue graduates from Swarthmore with a 4.0 in art history or chemistry, and just flat can’t find a job that pays her enough to live. Entry-level lab work has been automated, and Starbucks has moved to computer-driven spigots. She is eager to work, even desperate. No job. Do we just put her on genteel welfare? What then will her future be? Will those still working resent her? She, them?

If an automated economy employing a small fraction of the population were spewing out goods, perhaps the rest could be given EFT cards with some amount of “money” on them. Call it PAWS, Pathologically Advanced Welfare System. We do this now with welfare folk. Which is to say that the problem I am talking about already exists, though we haven’t quite noticed it.

A great question would then be: Can people handle leisure? The intelligent and educated, probably. They read books, write them, enjoy the internet. The distributed cognitive stratification embodied in the net would let them talk with each other around the world. For them, so good. But for others?

ORDER IT NOW

We have a sort of laboratory in the retired population, which lives without working and usually happily. The young and the not-so-bright are another matter. If the urban ghettoes are any guide, and they may not be, people and particularly the young do not do well with unlimited time on their hands. Life may be meaningless at IRS, but it requires people to show up in order to get paid. Endless leisure would not.

These are uncharted waters, think I. But, methinks, in coming decades we will begin to think about them perforce.

(Republished from Fred on Everything by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Technology, Unemployment, Welfare 
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  1. Oldeguy says:

    Thank You, Fred. This is the Biggie that is going to ( assuming we do not blow ourselves up in the interim ) transform life in the industrialized world beyond recognition.
    It is already beginning to happen, almost invisibly, all around us. I remember how shocked I was the first time, while waiting for a train to pass, I saw a notice on the side of the cab telling that there was no human therein- why should there be ?
    The Work For Pay Model, the heretofore basis of our economic, and I suspect psychological, life is simply going to go the way of the subsistence farming that was the lot, until a century or two ago, of the overwhelming majority of Mankind.
    Those alarmed at “declining rates of work-force participation” ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

  2. Priss Factor [AKA "The Priss Factory"] says: • Website

    Bubblegum Crisis-ism is the future.

    Boomers.

    If robots make and provide everything, all of humanity could live like aristocrats lived off the backs of peasants and serfs and artisans.

    Universal aristocracy could be the way of the future, but can we get there? Or will civilization collapse from too many Third Worlders and ghastly Negroes?

    Of course, there’s the danger that the robots may be led by a roboto-spartacus.

    • Replies: @bomag
  3. Tom_R says:

    THEY CAN’T EVEN MAKE DRAINS THAT DRAIN, SO FORGET ABOUT SELF-DRIVING CARS.
    THERE IS AN IDIOT BORN EVERY DAY—BECOMING CEO’S.

    Relax, Fred. This fear that everything will be automated and we will not have a job is overblown.

    Everywhere I look around, I see stupidity. Not just in politics, but in many things. Plumbing company CEO’s are at the top in stupidity.

    For example, they cannot even design plumbing, which is supposed to be a 1000 year old idea. Drains clog every few months, despite normal use. Home improvement stores are full of all sorts of gimmicky contraptions, such as chemicals, wires, snakes, plungers, etc. to clean drain pipes. Most of them do not work. Why? The drain pipes are badly designed. Water drains only through gravity in drain pipes, so sediment settles and builds up, so pipes clog despite normal careful use. The pipes should have been wider and given more slope, etc. They should have had an inflet to flush them with water under pressure, but do not.

    Even the sinks are poorly designed. Many newer ones have a flat bottom, so the water just stays there and causes stains, due to not enough slope.

    Newer home appliances and cars are worse than older ones. They removed knobs and dials and made them digital, so we cannot touch and feel or see the amount of the setting I want, which we could do in a second with knobs and dials. I just press a button up or down, but can never tell where I am.

    All they care about is gimmicks. That is the main idea in product design nowadays–gimmickry.

    Stupidity and Idiocy is the Human Condition. There is an idiot born every day—and they will make him a CEO some day.

  4. Renoman says:

    First they figure out how to make the widget, then they figure out how to make it cheaper and worse, finally the hire a Chinese laborer to write the instructions.
    And the World goes Round!

    • Replies: @Gene Su
  5. So how do we get smoothly from where we are now to wherever it is that we are going?

    Smoothly? Aye, there’s the rub.

    As an old cartoon observed, “War is nature’s way!” No apologies to Steven Pinker.

    Within a very few years with CRISPR Cas-9 technology it will be possible for all sorts of madmen and crackpots to have access to bioweapons that will do the job, although certainly not smoothly.

  6. @Tom_R

    We’ve lived in our house since 1994. We’ve never had a clogged drain. Could it be that you don’t know what you’re doing?

  7. SeanT says:

    Stupid article. I wish I had those five minutes I spent reading it back.

    • Replies: @Hubbub
  8. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    There’ll probably be a lot of growth in the security goon business. More cops, prison guards and privatized versions of these will be needed as time goes on and the riffraff population grows and grows, needing to be kept under control. South American style death-squads may become popular. The possibilities are endless and the question will be as to which end of the blackjack will one be on. America will come to resemble one large trailer park where everyone receives disability or aspires to and just sit around drinking cheap beer, smoking weed and playing video games.

  9. Alfa158 says:

    Philip Jose Farmer wrote a sci fi story about this future decades ago called “Riders of the Purple Wage”. The purple wage was the minimum income everyone was entitled to simply by existing. The “purple” came from the idea the entitlement was hereditary like the perks that royalty or “the purple” was entitled to by birth.
    Only a tiny percentage of the population who had particular unique, creative, or cutting edge skills or talents had the privilege of actually working for a living. Most people had nothing they could do that can’t be done better by a machine. In the story the purple wage was pretty low subsistence so people would turn to crime to advance themselves.
    I think that doesn’t need to be the case. There is no reason that goods and services can’t be produced at the current levels or higher with a small workforce, so most people could probably live pretty well. The bulk of the population will be basically a breeding stock whose function is to squeeze out the occasional exceptional high achieving individuals who keep the machine going.
    There is going to be a lot of pain and dislocation making the transition to such a society, but it will have to happen one way or another.

  10. Bravo, Tom R. The maintenance man with good old common sense and imagination is partly the way of the future.

  11. we will either go back to a world made (mostly) by hand, as per Jim Kunstler…or there will be a massive reduction in global population, i.e. Agenda 21. Probably the the latter

    • Replies: @Jim
    , @Astuteobservor II
  12. bomag says:
    @Priss Factor

    If robots make and provide everything, all of humanity could live like aristocrats …

    We’re working on it. Look at all the obesity.

    It comes down to resources per person. Aristocrats are supposed to spend their money on high end goods and culture. “Third worlders and ghastly Negroes” tend to have more kids, so the question becomes: how many people can we support? How many resources can we suck from the earth to sustain the new billions of humanity on robot welfare?

    • Replies: @Kyle McKenna
  13. Jim says:

    If there is a group of people who need expend little effort or energy surviving then the effect of natural selection on such a group will be to maximize reproductive effort not maximize reading Proust. At even very modest rates of increase such a group wuold take little time to overwhelm the productive capabilities of any robot army. What stops such a population increase? Death.

  14. Hubbub says:
    @SeanT

    I know how you feel. ‘Tis the lament of stupid people.

  15. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    I think what you’re going to see is an increasingly complex tax-welfare code, wherein what would have previously been workers’ salaries at a recently retrofitted, now all-automated McDonald’s will be extracted from said fast food joint and distributed to the type of people who could have reasonably been in said McDonald’s employ.

    This is assuming, of course, that the robots don’t form unions and lobby for their own fair wage.

  16. So, real estate developers, who make money not by doing stuff but by owning stuff, are better prepared for the long-term future in which doing stuff becomes worthless?

  17. shock-trauma nurse can barely eat.

    Since the average salary for an ER trauma nurse is $68,000.00 a year, what is she spending her money on that she can’t eat?

    There are about 80 quarterbacks in the NFL. The US has around 3 million RNs. Are you saying we should cut the pay of those 80 men or that we should pay all 3 million nurses each a million dollars a year?

    • Replies: @Realist
  18. @Tom_R

    A thousand times yes, and don’t get me started on the “green” thermostats and washers and dryers. We are masking inflation by making products cheaper (crappier). 2×4′s used to be 2×4′s. Then they pared them down an 1/8, then a 1/4; now they’re a ridiculous 1.5×3.5.

    This is a good, thoughtful column that will fly under a lot of people’s radar. We have a real problem with r-selected groups that simply have no marketable skills in an increasingly automated, rococo economy. Either we give them a minimum income–which will be conditioned on sterilization (there, I said it_–or we let them breed to Malthusian limits in huge, filthy slums.

    The third way is Kunstler’s smaller, local, ornate vision, but that requires some pretty deep, long-term thinkers, and probably a massive die-off.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  19. Realist says:

    “Computers don’t drive drunk, talk on cell phones, or suffer road rage and, potentially, inter-vehicle communications would let every car know what all the others around it were going to do.”

    But computers are relative easy to hack. Allowing someone to program your vehicle to hit a bridge abutment at 100 mph.

    “Still, it has been reasonably serviceable.”

    Unless you’re the nurse.

    “Sally Sue graduates from Swarthmore with a 4.0 in art history or chemistry, and just flat can’t find a job that pays her enough to live.”

    It is much more likely that Sally will get a degree in art history than in chemistry. At least a degree in chemistry shows intelligence and the ability to work in a multitude of vocations.

    • Replies: @MarkinLA
  20. Realist says:
    @Tom_R

    “Stupidity and Idiocy is the Human Condition. There is an idiot born every day—”

    Every second.

  21. Mark Green says: • Website

    Fred is onto something. The dark dreams of automation eating up human work are upon us. And it is going to get worse. Far worse.

    Besides technology, one ignored factor that’s exacerbating the problem is ‘women in the workplace’.

    Fifty years ago, most women were content to stay home, raise the kids, play bridge and then go shopping. Now women are crowding into fields once dominated by men who were their family’s sole breadwinners. Many men have therefore been pushed into lower paying jobs or out of the work force altogether. Meanwhile, these modern, employed women seek to marry employed men (and who can blame them?) but millions of men a now out of work and un-marriageable since women shun men without a job. This is crushing to men and destructive of the family unit.

    As for the impact of high technology on work, here’s a brilliant, short video on the subject that Fred has obviously seen. It is called ‘Humans Need Not Apply”. It is outstanding.

  22. Realist says:
    @Chris Mallory

    “Are you saying we should cut the pay of those 80 men or that we should pay all 3 million nurses each a million dollars a year?”

    What I am saying is the ‘job’ of playing kids games, by adults, should be eliminated. The purpose of professional sports is to entertain the mass of idiots. An idiots delight.

  23. Jeff77450 says:
    @Tom_R

    Tom, I loved this. My mother, may she rest in peace, passed away in March at the age of eighty-four and I inherited her home. My mother was the type to not solicit or accept help for *anything*. Her home was well-built in 1967 but in an area of Houston, Texas, that has expansive-soils and thus serious foundation problems. The foundation cracked 12-15 years ago and this caused secondary-problems throughout the house. (Cracked for the second time; previous owner had fixed it once). But not bad enough to make it unlivable so she didn’t deal with it and wouldn’t accept my offers of assistance in dealing with it.

    So, she passed away, I inherited the house and proceeded to catch up on years & years of neglected maintenance so that I can either lease or sell it. It has utterly consumed my wife & I for the past few months. To cut to the chase, I’m dealing with a lot of the issues that you describe in your comment.

  24. unit472 says:

    The problem maybe what Gail Tverberg alludes to. The technology depends on an enormously complex infrastructure built on low cost oil or at least oil that generates a positive return on investment. Lose that energy foundation and all the robotics and technology come crashing down.

    When we hit that wall is the great question. There seems to be a lot more hydrocarbons around than it seemed a few years ago but its in the form of natural gas. If Japan can commercially develop methane hydrates from the sea floor, as they claim, in the next 10 years it will buy us another generation or two of economic growth. If not, we maybe at the end of a Golden Age.

  25. JustJeff says:

    We could always revert to feudalism. The few who are intelligent or creative enough to find work in the future could be made landowners. The useless masses would be made serfs. It would keep them busy and keep them from starving and even being a peasant is probably more fulfilling than sitting on your ass, watching tv, and collecting a check.

    • Replies: @Another Canadian
  26. MarkinLA says:
    @Realist

    But computers are relative easy to hack.

    Only because people want them interfaced with other computers for some reason. In the old days of embedded systems with PROMS there was no way to gain entry to the system other than remove the PROMS and put your own in. A self driving car doesn’t need to be Wi-Fi enabled or the driving navigation system can be disconnected physically from the entertainment/passenger comfort system.

    • Agree: Jeff77450
    • Replies: @map
    , @Realist
  27. @Realist

    Well, at least you recognize the purpose of professional sports is to entertain. As to the reason for its need for elimination…you proffer nothing beyond what I’m forced to infer is borderline Marxist.

    • Replies: @Realist
  28. @Mark Green

    I assume that having a job will be a badge of honor if things pan out as Fred thinks. Will affirmative action jobs for women and minorities be a feature?

  29. Gutenberg says:
    @Tom_R

    “Families, when a child is born
    Want it to be intelligent.
    I, through intelligence,
    Having wrecked my whole life,
    Only hope the baby will prove
    Ignorant and stupid.
    Then he will crown a tranquil life
    By becoming a Cabinet Minister.”

    -Su Tung-p’o

  30. MarkinLA says:

    Every machine eventually breaks and wears down, every process can be improved. There will always be a number of people working unless everything collapses back to the stone age. They do not want to work while everybody else spends all day going nothing.

    I believe it has already been proven that there are an infinite number of mathematical problems to be solved so mathematicians will always have jobs. Likewise there are millions of problems to solve relating to science and everything else. The problem is how to get people solving them.

    Money is our present primacy source of resource allocation. That lab worker whose job is automated still has some viable skill that can be utilized in that lab. However, when the lab has to make a profit they can’t pay her for 40 hours of work when she actually produces 10 hours of value. If money were not the issue, what difference would it make that she only provides 10 hours of usable value, she provides no usable value to society at home watching TV.

    How do the really talented people get the riches they deserve for the breakthroughs they create while the run of the mill still provide what little they can provide to society and have a decent enough life that they don’t want to pick up a rifle and tear the whole thing down?

    Unfortunately, government WILL need to get bigger by creating all these grand programs putting people to work solving these problems and rebuilding the infrastructure. Sure some of it will seem incredibly wasteful when we build things like the Hadron Collider times 10 or put 1 million people on cancer research but what other way is there to keep millions doing something useful with their lives?

  31. Jeff77450 says:

    Mr. Reed, good article that has given me some “food for thought.” I’m a complete layman on this topic but I think & read about these things a lot and have for many years. Two-hundred-odd years ago when the Industrial Revolution was really taking off and machines were beginning to displace humans, as in the infamous ‘Luddites,” there was probably a lot of the same thinking & discussion. And initially there was a certain amount of displacement before all the new jobs that were being created by the new technologies could sort themselves out and achieve some kind of equilibrium, i.e. restore “balance to the Force.”

    The big losers are going to be those on the left-hand side of the bell-curve. Someone has to design, built, operate and maintain the various “robots” and the secondary & tertiary technologies that they require or generate so those on the right-hand side should be okay. Unfortunately, those on the left-hand side tend to have more children than those on the right-hand side. My wife & I know a (white) woman who had something like sixteen pregnancies before she was thirty (and finally got a tubal). She aborted six and had ten. The three or four of those children that we’ve met are about as effed-up as you would expect them to be. God help us.

    If the worst-behaved, most dysfunctional 20% of the population would simply recognize themselves as such and stop reproducing that would solve a lot of problems but they give about as much thought to the reproductive-act and its consequences as they do their next bowel-movement. God help us. Occasionally I’ll see some blurb on the news about “growing inequality in America” and the camera will cut to a member of the “lumpenprolitariat” who informs us that he can’t support his family on the minimum-wage.

    My. Blood. Pressure. Rises. “Hey idiot,” I think to myself, “who the hell told you to have a family??”

    How this is all going to end I don’t know but I don’t think that it’s going to end well. Some of us “frogs” in the steadily heating frying-pan know damn well what needs to happen but if we speak out we’re called “racists” for not welcoming in the third-world hoards or for suggesting that the lower-classes need less welfare and more sex-ed & birth-control.

    “Rome fell for just one reason: her people were not fit.” –source unknown

  32. Realist says:

    I am not for forced elimination. I would hope that enough people would wise up and see what a waste of time sports worship is. Thereby making it’s continuation superfluous.
    But I realize it is a pipe dream.

    • Replies: @SFG
    , @Hugo
  33. Flower says:

    “A great question would then be: Can people handle leisure? The intelligent and educated, probably.”
    Within your statement is the answer to the question: ” The intelligent and educated, probably.” But Fred, why do you automatically assume that unemployment = leisure? Do you, in fact, mean “idleness” rather than “leisure”? This would seem more in line with the rest of the piece. But, if more education mitigates the malady you refer to, why not increase education? Why not make education a prerequisite to getting your PAWS? If you aren’t ardently making something for a “living”, then you will be educating yourself, or you live in perpetual idleness on min welfare. The more education you get, the bigger your PAWS. If you want to emulate academics of your choice, you get to become a professional student, even if you’re not white.
    Yes, it would require a change of the direction of our societal attitudes, from the manufacturing of more things, as required by some celestial overlord, to the education, and thus betterment, of ourselves as individuals and the attendant chain reaction within society itself. Our current attitude toward the idle is, “Here’s some money, now go rot.” To the hard core idlers, that attitude will remain; however, to those who want a little more out of life, whether it be bigger PAWS or a bigger brain, the opportunity is right there. The societal acceptance of them as worthwhile human beings comes with it? And with no extra charge.

  34. map says:

    Let’s get real here for a moment.

    The reason why this automation meme is being pushed by the mainstream media is to distract people from the offshore outsourcing and mass immigration that has done the real damage to the economy. We’re supposed to think that the reason people can’t find work is because of robots and computers when the real reason is that they have been displaced by other people, usually at the behest of government policy.

    Ask yourselves: if automation is the future, then why do we need all of these immigrants? What is the point of importing all of these people?

    The reality is that mass numbers of people are being used as a hedge against that very same technology. The problem is that robots and automation cannot manufacture space, either for living quarters or for food production. As space becomes a premium for increasing populations of useless eaters, war will become inevitable.

    That’s the automated future: proximity+diversity=war.

    • Replies: @Jeff77450
    , @SFG
  35. map says:
    @MarkinLA

    Not if you want the cars to communicate with each other.

  36. I am really shocked at the sign of the white fellow reading “I need a job” when in fact if I listen to the FOX Entertainment Network, the news is that jobs abound and they are falling off trees, with no one to pick them up. Janitors, cotton picking, farmworkers. Where is the work ethic of those people?
    I am shocked at this! First (1st) Amendment done in a civilized manner…………

  37. Realist says:
    @MarkinLA

    “A self driving car doesn’t need to be Wi-Fi enabled or the driving navigation system can be disconnected physically from the entertainment/passenger comfort system.”

    The article states ….”inter-vehicle communications would let every car know what all the others around it were going to do…”

    You know as well as I that the government would never let, a potential for more control over the ‘unwashed masses’, to pass.

    The federal government would decide everything about every trip you take….where you eat, where you crap….everything.

    • Replies: @MarkinLA
  38. Realist says:
    @Sean the Neon Caucasian

    My comment #32 was meant as a comment for you.

  39. Biff says:

    Soylent Green is made from people!

    • Agree: Jeff77450
  40. @Alfa158

    The bread dole to the head count at Rome. And eventually to even slightly higher classes of people.

    Also, many of Jerry Pournelle’s future history stories, especially when set on earth, foresaw similar problems. The terminal stage US was divided between Taxpayers [the upper class] and Citizens [the mass of proles living on what amounted to the purple wage idea in designated communities called "Welfare Islands". Needless to say, the value of the title Citizen was purely symbolic. They certainly didn't have many rights, powers, or duties.]

    It’s just one of the terrifying elements of what seems to be the future.

  41. SFG says:
    @Alfa158

    Just between you and me, I think ‘purple’ was so he could riff off ‘Riders of the Purple Sage’, the classic Western novel. He was basically right, though. ;)

  42. SFG says:
    @Realist

    Funny. We’re usually enemies, but we see eye to eye on *that*. I wonder how many guys of all political stripes hate sports?

    • Replies: @Realist
  43. SFG says:
    @map

    I disagree. I also think immigration should be greatly decreased for similar reasons, but I think the elites are more interested in cheap labor (R) and votes (D).

    If space is a problem, why would you use large numbers of people as a ‘hedge’? Automation is going on because it saves money, and the elites don’t care that it puts people out of work.

    • Replies: @OutWest
  44. SFG says:

    Good one by Fred.

    I think we are going to have to move to some sort of welfare socialism as the number of jobs that actually needs going declines.

    Of course, that’s all the more reason to prevent mass NAM immigration–welfare socialism works great in Denmark, not so much here.

  45. @Realist

    Do we also eliminate actors? How about novelists? Put an end to professional shooting competitions? Do you have a bug up your butt over soccer, hockey or rugby? They all exist solely to entertain.

    Honestly, I never watch pro-sports other than some of the odd ball competitions like the professional shooting or the strong man competitions. Since I refuse to live in an urban cesspit, pro sports neither break my leg nor pick my pocket.

    But who says football is a kid’s game? Children should not be playing contact football until they have reached their full growth.

    • Replies: @Realist
  46. Realist says:
    @SFG

    “We’re usually enemies,…”

    Only on trophy hunting to my knowledge.

    Enemies is a little strong….perhaps strongly at odds.

  47. Human beings have been working from the beginning of human beings. Having a “job” is a recent phenomenon. The difference between working and having a job is if you have a job you get a paycheck with taxes withheld. If we are not having taxes withheld the government proclaims that we are “not in the labor force”. Many of us who still have jobs will soon be scavengers, subsistence farmers, sex workers. We will continue to work but we will live in poverty. Americans are being plunged into the third world. If it happened over generations nobody would notice. When robots take our jobs we are out of a job. Not out of work. I wish it were otherwise.

  48. Ragno says:

    I guess it’s up to me to provide the punch line, but the last word on automation came 80+ years ago in the comedy DINNER AT EIGHT.

    Jean Harlow, the social-climbing showgirl wife of an industrialist, announces to her companions “I was reading a book the other day. All about civilization or something: a nutty kind of a book. Do you know that the guy says that machinery is going to take the place of every profession?”

    To which frumpy Marie Dressler, after eyeing the bombshell blonde up and down, replies “Oh, my dear – that’s something you’ll never have to worry about.”

    • Replies: @Jeff77450
  49. OutWest says:
    @SFG

    The whole damn thing is circular. The producer goes offshore for cheap labor. If he doesn’t, his competitor will and his employee will buy from his competitor. If he does, his exemployee can’t buy his goods. Etc., etc.

    Same with automation.

    • Agree: Jeff77450
    • Replies: @MarkinLA
  50. Jeff77450 says:
    @Ragno

    Okay, that got a chuckle. Many thanx.

  51. Realist says:
    @Chris Mallory

    With the condition of this country, the world for that matter, in such dire straits people would be well advised to gain some useful knowledge, instead of trivial matters.
    As I have already stated I am not advocating the forced elimination of wasting time.
    But as so well I know stupid is as stupid does and I don’t expect any change.

  52. Stogumber says:

    As Working Class said: When the “labour market” crashes, that only means that everyone has to work more in order to survive.
    Reasonably everyone should provide for a survival far from the labour market, and that by
    (a) buying farming land
    (b) organizing as a group (like the Cistercians or the Hutterites)
    (c) buying and knowing the most advanced technology,for small-scale farming as well as for self-produced nourishment, clothing and housing
    In the end we will have to abstain from modern medicine (which will be unpayable), but not ftom a decent life.

  53. Jim says:
    @Haxo Angmark

    Kunstler’s scenario, if it comes about, would involve a massive reduction in population.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  54. It is for precisely this reason that Merkel’s Autoethnocide is so stunningly stupid.

    The millions of poorly educated low skilled imports supposedly headed for Germany’s manufacturing industries are heading for the first jobs to be automated.

    • Replies: @anon
  55. Odysseus says: • Website
    @Realist

    And what will the idiots do if you take their games away? Consider. (Or do you delude yourself with the idea that the idiots can be educated?)

    • Replies: @Realist
    , @rod1963
  56. @Haxo Angmark

    global 1 child policy or universal welfare. both sucks but I can see the inevitability of a choice later on.

  57. Marian says:

    Better question is who buys the junk in the workless world?

  58. anon • Disclaimer says:

    The economic arguments for mass immigration were always wrong but now it should be obvious to everyone that anyone still supporting them has a a hidden agenda that is nothing to do with economics.

  59. anon • Disclaimer says:
    @Bill Jones

    is so stunningly stupid

    If you look at it the other way – that the real agenda is race replacement – then the incoming robotics tidal wave will destroy their economic smokescreen for mass immigration so they need a mad rush to finish the job now while there is still time.

  60. Come on, Fred. You already know the answer. The herd will be thinned the way it has always been. War, wars, and more wars.

    The biggest failure of the Boomer generation is their shyness from the direct murder and destruction of their enemies, right or wrong. Nature red in tooth and claw.
    perhaps in this light, Obama is actually setting the stage for some good to be done.

  61. @bomag

    Yet for 95% of the people on the globe–including many Americans–birth control and family planning are anathema.

  62. Andrei Martyanov [AKA "SmoothieX12"] says: • Website

    Which raises a very real problem: What do we do when most people have no work, though they are both willing and able?

    For overwhelming majority of young (18 through 30+) people the concept of “work” means “not working”, that is getting “educated” in “economics”, marketing, communications, law etc.–anything that involves no actual productive labor at all. Generally, office work and getting together for “conceptualizing”, “strategizing” and “merchandising”……….

  63. Realist says:
    @Odysseus

    Perhaps some will try to gain some useful knowledge.

    I find it strange that people who make $50-$75 thousand a year are so enamored with athletes making 10x that….or more.

    • Replies: @Odysseus
  64. MarkinLA says:
    @Realist

    The type of communication system letting other cars know what the ones around them are doing does not need much more than what they already get from their own internal sensors tracking objects in the road and on the side. None of this needs to interface with the operating system of a computer. The hacking occurs because they usually put in the capacity to send and receive large amounts of data and somebody figures out how to insert a piece of code and make the computer start executing it. None of this is necessary.

    When a missile tracks a target it doesn’t also send out video and keep a communication channel open. Once it locks onto the target it only listens to the sensors is has inside the missile and makes all the corrections in flight based on that. The enemy has to make an attempt to fool those sensors not try and send a picture of a supermodel with a piece of code in it.

    The only information the driving / navigation system needs is what its IR and radar detectors are telling it about what it around it. If you do need to be aware of what other cars are doing they can simply broadcast their intentions related to speed, when they will turn, and things like that but in a coded simplified message that is only received and placed in a mailbox. The navigation system reads these mailboxes and updates it’s internal map of the cars surroundings.

    Now if you want, you can try and jam such a signal by trying to fool the car into thinking it needs to turn off the road into a ditch. However the car has it’s own internal sensors for the road and jamming is something the military has been dealing with forever. I am sure there are plenty of solutions related to establishing a link and determining who is real and who is fake.

    • Agree: geokat62
    • Replies: @rod1963
    , @Realist
    , @Realist
  65. MarkinLA says:
    @OutWest

    You forget that when Walmart was telling everybody they bought American, they were pressuring their suppliers to offshore. Walmart forced it on a lot of businesses so they would stay on Walmart’s shelves. This is where govenment should have stepped in but they were already bought off.

  66. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @The Anti-Gnostic

    2x4s have always been 1.5×3.5 inches. They’re 2×4 when cut rough, then planed smooth to 1.5×3.5.

    If you want a real example, a 1/2 gallon box of ice cream is now more like 3/8, and a “three pound” can of coffee is down to 39 ounces.

  67. Dave37 says:

    As far as maintenance jobs for all those automated systems don’t get your hopes up. My 3o years in it never required one single time that I know the color code of a resistor, for example, as everything is modular, replacable, and increasingly self-diagnosing usually requiring pushing some buttons to overcome software glitches and all this which literally was done by (some) who had grown up in a jungle without amenities or education. The hardware can be nearly bullet proof if they put the money into it, the software faults could be vexing and complicated but ultimately corrected by, turning it off and back on, though the manufacturer didn’t like to admit it. No doubt they’ll work on improving the software, in the meantime we got a new button on some of our systems called the go ahead and run anyway button (with warnings that if anything happens it is your fault- it usually isn’t).

    • Replies: @MarkinLA
  68. Odysseus says: • Website
    @Realist

    I understand the frustration that you feel but you are dreaming. The masses’ idea of useful knowledge is different from yours. The fact that you have these aspirations for other people distinguishes you from them. They will always need their entertainments. Let them have them and stop trying to change them.

    • Replies: @Realist
  69. rod1963 says:
    @MarkinLA

    Unless the car manufacturer wants to air gap car computer systems(which so far none of them except Musk have done) and have a solid encryption system, they remain hackable.

    Face it, car companies cut corners, this is why their systems aren’t air gapped. It cost’s money to add another connection and cable harness in the car that could go otherwise to a exec’s bonus.

    Remember the Pinto and Ford’s refusal to correct the problem. As the accountants figured out it was cheaper to let people be burned alive and pay out a settlement than to replace the screw.

    The people who design the automotive computer systems aren’t necessarily the auto makers but 2nd and 3rd tier suppliers. It’s in their best interest to cut corners and they do. Hence the easy way keyless cars can be opened and turned on because they cut a few corners here and there.

    I’ve seen the hacks and they’re cheap and easy and those are the public ones. There is a whole nother set that never sees the light of day. These are the hacks that the pros don’t want Detroit and Japan to know about until it’s too late.

    And when Google’s stupid robot cars hit the road in mass, the hackers will go after that fat target like flies on s**t. First they will buy one of them, tear it down and find the weak spots and develop tools to exploit them. They will be a terrorists delight.

    Jamming? Dude, Detroit and Google don’t care about security, they’ll go with some BS low cost COT system from China that probably has a back door built into it.

    • Replies: @MarkinLA
    , @Bill Jones
  70. rod1963 says:
    @Odysseus

    A lot of them aren’t idiots, they were simply indoctrinated into supporting and enjoying organized sports in high school. They may not be capable of a doing a Laplace transform or read a MRI but a lot of them maintain your precious power plants, maintain aircraft you fly in and staff the factories that make your life easy.

    By taking away those idiot games it would take away the sedative the elites have been using to keep them in a sleep walking state. I should say their collective response would be quite interesting when they wake up and notice the a** r**ing they’ve been getting.

    It’s funny, I’ve talked to Mexicans, Salvadorians and South Americans, the smarter ones are on page with Realist. They know full well professional sports, in their case soccer is a scam designed to keep people from focusing on how miserable their lives are because of the corrupt government and businessmen who run their countries. Hence their governments massive promotion of it to the point people are whipped into a frenzy.

    But don’t worry as long as the welfare spigot works and working people have some disposable income, the games will continue.

  71. Realist says:
    @MarkinLA

    Perhaps you should Google “Hacking Driverless Vehicles’.

    • Replies: @MarkinLA
  72. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Don’t worry, guys. Human cognitive enhancement through genetic manipulation and merging with technology will save the day.

    In 100 years, we’ll all be sitting around a computer-simulated campfire with our negro-cyborg friends telepathically reminiscing on the history of the reconciliation of general relativity with quantum field theory.

  73. @JustJeff

    …even being a peasant is probably more fulfilling than sitting on your ass, watching tv, and collecting a check.

    What does a peasant do? What makes a peasant useful? Why, as a landowner, would I want peasants hanging around my property?

  74. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Jim

    Kunstler’s scenario, if it comes about, would involve a massive reduction in population.

    If Winn-Dixie had empty shelves tomorrow how many of you could put a meal on the table? For how long?

  75. Gene Su says:
    @Tom_R

    I fully know where you are coming from: If it isn’t the technicians, it’s the engineers.

    I used to work for a lighting company. I still remember the time I got a call from an irate customer because some incompetent technician, while installing a bathroom lighting fixtures, destroyed the wires by having them get caught by the dry wall screws.

    Now I work in a big corporate office and the latest paper dispensers they gave don’t work at all. You rip paper from them and nothing comes out.

    No… No one is going to make the perfect robot that can replace humans soon. You need a perfect human to build a perfect robot.

  76. Gene Su says:
    @Renoman

    Oh… I have worked with some of those Chinese laborers. They can be quite incompetent. The language barrier just makes things worse.

  77. MarkinLA says:
    @Realist

    You can’t hack a closed system. These systems are built around off the shelf components which have all sorts of ways in because there was never any priority given to security during the design phase.

    • Replies: @Realist
  78. MarkinLA says:
    @Dave37

    All semiconductors eventually fail and usually when the replacement boards are no longer in production. All mechanical linkages wear out or their bearing surfaces need to be replaced.

    Of course, there are few maintenance jobs compared to workers in the old days. If there weren’t automation wouldn’t make sense. However, work done by people isn’t going away.

  79. The drain pipes are badly designed. Water drains only through gravity in drain pipes, so sediment settles and builds up, so pipes clog despite normal careful use. The pipes should have been wider and given more slope, etc. They should have had an inflet to flush them with water under pressure, but do not.

    Household drains do not clog up because of “sediment.” You’re putting too much human hair, paper products, or kitchen waste down your drains. Your concept of normal use is wrong.

    What I am saying is the ‘job’ of playing kids games, by adults, should be eliminated. The purpose of professional sports is to entertain the mass of idiots. An idiots delight.

    When you were a kid, you were laughably inept at such games, weren’t you? You’ve always been a loser.

    There seems to be a lot more hydrocarbons around than it seemed a few years ago but its in the form of natural gas.

    “Peak oil” also keeps getting pushed further and further into the future, thanks to new oil extraction technologies.

    Sure some of it will seem incredibly wasteful when we build things like the Hadron Collider times 10 or put 1 million people on cancer research but what other way is there to keep millions doing something useful with their lives?

    Millions of peepul won’t be needed to accomplish worthwhile science projects.

    When a missile tracks a target it doesn’t also send out video and keep a communication channel open. Once it locks onto the target it only listens to the sensors is has inside the missile and makes all the corrections in flight based on that. The enemy has to make an attempt to fool those sensors not try and send a picture of a supermodel with a piece of code in it.

    That is factually wrong. Some smart weapons send and receive communications while in flight.

    Now if you want, you can try and jam such a signal by trying to fool the car into thinking it needs to turn off the road into a ditch. However the car has it’s own internal sensors for the road and jamming is something the military has been dealing with forever.

    But jamming and spoofing radar and IR sensors and smart weapons is a continuing, ongoing challenge for the designers of military devices.

    • Replies: @MarkinLA
  80. Realist says:
    @MarkinLA

    Any system that seeks to gain information outside of that system, can be hacked.
    Call it Realist’s first law..

    Only an idiot would get into a driverless car that did not have extensive ‘situational awareness’.
    Call it Realist’s second law

    • Replies: @MarkinLA
  81. Realist says:
    @Odysseus

    “The masses’ idea of useful knowledge is different from yours.”

    The masses can vote and that is a problem for intelligent people.

  82. Realist says:
    @MarkinLA

    What idiot would get into a driverless car with a ‘closed system’?

    • Replies: @MarkinLA
  83. MarkinLA says:
    @Tom_R

    They should have had an inflet to flush them with water under pressure, but do not.

    They do unless your city or county is full of morons as it usually is in the building codes. Look around the outside of the house if it is a slab. If it has a raised foundation there might be a T with a cap just underneath the farthest point from the sewer line in the street. On the slab, usually around the kitchen sink area near the outside wall there will be a plug, That is where you can snake out the main line to the sewer.

  84. MarkinLA says:
    @Realist

    You aren’t even making sense. I just gave you an example of a closed system where the driving / navigation systems is autonomous from the rest of the other computers on the car. There is no way for somebody to take control of the system because there is no way to insert general information that can be used to trick the computer into executing the hackers code. There is only minimal interaction with the passenger computer system and the driving / navigation system such as where you are going and information about surrounding cars as they broadcast their speed and intentions. This information is only read by the navigation computer and never brought into the memory of the navigation computer.

    • Replies: @Realist
  85. MarkinLA says:
    @Realist

    How about calling it “the guy who knows nothing about programming and has never programmed embedded systems law”.

  86. MarkinLA says:
    @David Davenport

    That is factually wrong. Some smart weapons send and receive communications while in flight.

    And the vast majority are designed not to – fire and forget. How could it be “factually wrong” when many systems are designed to be fire and forget?

  87. MarkinLA says:
    @rod1963

    Unless the car manufacturer wants to air gap car computer systems(which so far none of them except Musk have done) and have a solid encryption system, they remain hackable.

    I never said they aren’t hackable only that they can easily be made unhackable and showed a simple way to do it.

  88. Realist says:
    @MarkinLA

    ” I just gave you an example of a closed system where the driving / navigation systems is autonomous from the rest of the other computers on the car.”

    I don’t give a crap about your example. You’re not setting up the scenario.

    “This information is only read by the navigation computer and never brought into the memory of the navigation computer.”

    I didn’t say anything about putting false information in the memory. A computer can be hacked by transitory misinformation. The sensors can be given inaccurate information, thereby HACKING the computer.

    Holy shit you’re a dense bastard.

    • Replies: @a German
    , @MarkinLA
  89. Hugo says:
    @Realist

    Yes. Sports worship is dangerous. But an appropriatw interest in sports is healthy.

    • Agree: Jeff77450
  90. @rod1963

    “They will be a terrorists delight”

    What is wrong with you fuckers?

    What terrorists?

    How many other than the FBI patsies are there?

  91. @Mark Green

    FINALLY someone else sees it, keep the women at home, let the men work, and maybe we can out breed the disgusting muslim horde that is coming for us?? anyone seen my wench and my gun??

  92. a German says:
    @Realist

    The sensors can be given inaccurate information, thereby HACKING the computer.

    Sure, in theory a hacker is always a step ahead. In practice it is just a little bit more difficult. As example: Sensors in a cars can be checked against other information.

    E.g. speed from the ABS System (every wheel has it’s own sensor) with the motor rpm/gear position. Then the SOG from the GPS system and 4th … you know what i mean.

    Or, just to give you a slight glimpse about actual standards. Have you ever tried to hack a simple battery attached to one of the cars CAN buses? It’s encrypted, 256bit AES challenge response and only a few tries per second are allowed. The chip area is a quarter of your fingernails. Which nail depends on the chips generation.

    Have you tried? ;-).

    • Replies: @Realist
  93. a German says:

    Surely, industry 4.0makes workers in production and transportation jobless. But how much?

    At first: I’ve been in a hall by VW under full production. The lights must be turned on because there was no human at work. Thats a few years ago.

    The effect of the next wave of automation will have much less impact then expected. If you like marxist speech, it’s an classical function. The sinkende Profitrate (sinking profit rate).

    Marx (if you like him or not) has made another postulation. Machines are not able to produce surplus.

    If you find this crazy, think about the function of a market and competitors price finding functions. Former, take a look at the automation of the last 100 years and the people working in jobs. Over here there are much much more then ever before. Because they have to.

    Maybe you automate a sector such as transportation. The costs of the workers are roundabout 50% . You give them the last paycheck and your costs will fall by the same amount. At first you have more profit then ever before.

    But your competitors do the same. And will reduce prices. If they do not then new competitors shows up. Over the long run you lost half of your revenue, same with your competitors. Additionally you lost half of your profit too because you can’t force through a better margin.

    On the other hand prices of transportation goes down, inevitable. New Services will start. You have to load unload, rent and service, fuel and all the other things the driver did before. Except driving. Taxi the same, car sharing will be much more expensive compared to the other transportation opportunities.

    But the worth of the work will be reduced. Dramatically because from now the high skilled jobs are done from a robot.

    If there is a growing population this effects are hidden . There are simply more consumers and the falling profit rate is (over)compensated by more demand.

    Btw. The current immigration wave will give Germany a GDP surplus from a few percent points. This is imho the reason of the inviting and the “Willkommenskultur”. Problems for the people, profits for the bosses.

  94. Realist says:
    @a German

    If you think driverless cars can’t be hacked. You are living in a dream world. And it will only get easier when the government starts regulating and controlling the situation. Before long there will be communication between cars and with sensors and information system along the road.

    “Have you ever tried to hack a simple battery attached to one of the cars CAN buses? It’s encrypted, 256bit AES challenge response and only a few tries per second are allowed. The chip area is a quarter of your fingernails. Which nail depends on the chips generation.

    Have you tried? ;-).”

    I haven’t tried to go to the moon, but I understand it can be done.

  95. @Alfa158

    ‘Counting Heads’ by David Marusek is an update – I don’t recall whether there’s a base wage, but the talentless cram into small apts and eke out a bad living by doing work like taking surveys, and giving opinions on consumer items. Freelance creative talent earns you residues. (Most of the real workers are clones of people well-suited to a task, and then there are the affluents who own everything.)

  96. Homelessness and Homeland Security.

  97. MarkinLA says:
    @Realist

    You really don’t know what you are talking about.

    If you think someone physically manipulating the sensor hardware on a car is what is generally known as hacking then you need to get a clue. What you describe is what can be done today. These sensors are connected via cables to the main computer so the only way to change their outcome is to splice into the system or generate so much radiated energy that it generates enough current in the wire to disrupt them. This isn’t hacking and is no different than what can be done now so pretending it is some kind of problem only related to autonomous driving vehicles is ridiculous.

    Coming up with a way to fool the sensors such that you can make the car go where you want it to and not where it was supposed to go originally would take way more intelligence and energy to accomplish than it would ever be worth.

    What is commonly known as hacking is finding some way to take control of the computer inside some system and making it do what you want it to. The idea that you can do this simply by manipulating the sensors and do so without physically modifying them is unrealistic. If you are going to spend the time breaking into the truck yard to modify the trucks sensors why not just replace the computer box instead, hell why not just tow the truck away? Changing the computer box with one reprogrammed to send the truck to a different destination would also not be considered hacking although it will be considered by organized crime.

    The problems that are of concern to self-driving vehicles are related to the computer system such that the vehicle becomes a hazard on the road or becomes a theft magnet. Imagine how useful it would be in the third world when you want to kidnap somebody. These issues will have to be solved before any insurance company will touch them. The first time the insurance company sues Ford because the mafia sent a command via RF to a truck and caused the truck to drive to a drop-off point where the load was stolen will be the last time self-driving trucks without the necessary security measures are sold even though self-driving trucks are inherently more theft resistant since they can run for 24 hours a day and non-stop from point to point.

    • Replies: @Realist
  98. Realist says:
    @MarkinLA

    Holy shit, you’re a dense bastard.

    • Replies: @MarkinLA
  99. MarkinLA says:
    @Realist

    You keep saying that as though you are some kind of expert but everything you write shows you don’t know anything about the technology.

    • Replies: @Realist
  100. Realist says:
    @MarkinLA

    You wear your stupidity as a badge of honor.

    • Replies: @MarkinLA
  101. MarkinLA says:
    @Realist

    You haven’t said anything of value as you don’t know anything about the subject yet use your appeal to authority fallacy to hide behind that fact. You “googled” some stories about hacking self-driving vehicles which are in the R&D stage and think that nothing will ever be done to make these secure. These projects are using off the shelf components to test their navigation algorithms and need the ability to make changes to their software quickly. Once they finalize their algorithms they will work on making their systems secure. We did the same thing at Hughes.

    You remind me of all those people panicking over the Y2K nonsense. I bet you bought that con hook, line and sinker too. I was telling people like you that real time clocks roll over all the time and there is never any problem and the only people using calendar clocks were financial institutions who would have seen the problem with mortgages in the 70s and long fixed them. Of course, I was the idiot. There was even that fool Edward Yourdon who went off the grid for Y2K. My guess is he had a business selling Y2K remediation and that was part of his con.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Yourdon

    People like you were listening to the “experts” – mostly people who had never programmed anything in their lives. That was a great con for all the software consulting businesses selling programmers at 200 dollars an hour to stupid CEOs and IT managers while paying old COBOL programmers as little as 25 dollars an hour for a problem that anybody with some basic knowledge of programming embedded systems would know wasn’t a problem.

    • Agree: AndrewR
  102. Bud says:

    Want to see the future? Watch Jerry Springer.

  103. Most white collar workers drive to an office, stay there for eight hours or so, and then drive back home. This is already incredibly inefficient and archaic. For one thing, the actually amount of hours worked for most of them is less than four. And most of what people do in an office is simply unnecessary and could be performed better by a Python script. Spending fossil fuels getting these lard-asses to and from their cubicle farms is such a waste.

    My money is on population reduction. The Georgia Guidestones mention a worldwide population of 500 million. Sounds about right. But maybe a little on the high side even.

    • Agree: Jeff77450
  104. Hrw-500 says:

    The NY Times isn’t going fully digital yet but here in Canada, the Montreal La Presse, the oldest francophone newspaper currently in the Great White North will go digital on January 2016 only keeping the Saturday edition in paper. http://montrealgazette.com/business/local-business/montreal-la-presse-to-end-weekday-printed-paper-in-new-year

  105. AndrewR says:
    @Realist

    It’s pretty absurd to suggest that pro sports should be eliminated. It is batshit insane to think they could be

    • Replies: @Realist
  106. AndrewR says:
    @Mark Green

    The breakdown of the family was a feature of forcing women into the workplace not a bug

  107. Realist says:
    @AndrewR

    “It is batshit insane to think they could be”
    You would know how to read if you didn’t spend so much time watching useless shit on television. I never said it could be. There are just to many idiots like you.

    • Replies: @Realist
  108. Realist says:
    @Realist

    Should read …..just too many….

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