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Financial news I consider important, with my opinion, which is worth as much as you paid for it.
Please click HERE to read a synopsis of my view of the financial situation.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Employment in the Future

I have had quite a few discussions and emails about my thoughts of employment in the future.  I believe vast majority of people today are mis-understanding the economic and social strains we are experiencing today.

Looking forward, I want to try to not only be better prepared myself, but to share this view to others.  There is a good chance you reading this is a result of me sending you this link.  I ask you read in entirety, and even if you don't agree start to think critically about the future.  I have spent years (since this blog started) thinking and reading to come to this current point of view.  I encourage you to click through all the links I provide to prove my thought process.  Also note the year of the link! Chances are links are old so the capability is much better today!

The root problem is NOT Republican or Democrat, top 1% rich or the 'lazy' poor.  The economic problems we see in the world is simply because technology is advancing at such a brisk pace, humans cannot adapt.  It is true, those who own the technology do get richer as technology is used to reduce costs and increase profits.   But this isn't an evil play by the richest to take all the wealth, it is part of the current monetary system in place for 1,000's of years (generally speaking).

How can I say technology?  The mantra you always hear is technology creates jobs.  And yes, we can point back to plenty of examples of this.  But that was when technology had a fraction of the power it has today.  Moore's law basically states technology doubles in power every 18 months.  Think about that, since the dawn of computing to day, in 18 months the same chip will be twice as powerful as what we worked on  creating for last 50 years.  In 2023 a computer can compute equal to a human brain, for about $1k.  In 2050, a computer for $1k will compute equal to all humans on the planet.

Tracing Exponential Growth from Singularity University on Vimeo.

This is the undercurrent driver for the maturing of technology in automation.   The net is when automation is adopted, the reason its profitable is NET you reduce labor in that sector.
We are seeing this mature, and its very easy to see the future if you simply pay attention.

Lets start with automatic driving cars.  Next year, 30 cities will have self-driving cars allowed in limited use areas.  Already this year (2015) Nevada is allowing trucks to run on highways that drive themselves.  At the moment a truck driver must be in the driver seat available to take over.  But how long until its proven to be safer than a person?  2 years? 5? not 10!

Once self driving cars and trucks are in place, most taxi drivers, limo drivers, truck drivers, bus drivers, school bus, and eventually house delivery drivers will no longer be required.  Dispatchers and coordinators (back office) won't be needed either.  Companies like Uber will enable people to book driver-less cars at much cheaper prices than I pay today.  I already use uber and its 50% cheaper than a taxi or limo to the airport now!.

Once I can book Uber to pick me up, drop me off, and that car will run continuously (only needs to stop for recharge), the costs will plummet to rent that time.  Many people will opt to not even own a car!  This will of course cut down in car sales as people used the pool of what used to be idle cars sitting on streets and driveways as ways to share the cars.

So not only will people who drive be at risk, but the car industry itself will be cut back as the car manufactures, gas stations, mechanic shops, after-market car ships all will be reduced.  The differences between different manufactures will be not as important, as people don't even bother to buy a car for personal use.

So, I hope you can see this impact is not as far off as people want to think, once these devices are proven safe, it will be a rapid transition to this new model.

What else?

We have all heard how low Chinese laborers are paid, and they work insane hours, with no rights, and its legendary about suicide due to the work conditions.

What if I told you that this work force is TOO expensive to do manufacturing anymore?  Well, China is full steam ahead to start building cities with 100% automated factories.   Apple already announced bringing manufacturing back to USA in form of automated assembly plants, where 200 US workers can replace 1,000's.   As a local note, the Hostess Twinkie manufacturing was turned profitable by automating 9,000 workers down to only 500.  With better quality, at dramatically lower cost.

OK, so America lost bulk of their manufacturing, and now jobs are returning to USA, so that's good right?    NET however, we are talking globally manufacturing to shed millions of jobs through automation.

What about menial tasks like warehouses?  A combination of what Amazon is already doing to eliminate need for fork lift operators combined with robots like baxter , with automated delivery, should eliminate 98% of the labor required compared to warehouses in the 1980s.

And Robots already have AI to learn through experiment.
 2016-09-18 - Video was on industrial robots, changed to Humans Need not Apply

So we have delivery people, manufacturing, and packers dramatically reduced, is that it?
To make this article shorter, I will list other areas that we know TODAY that are ripe for downsizing.  There are many more that will become clearer in the years ahead.

Not only are jobs being shed, those who do work are being optimized to reduce costs (pay) and optimized time (work 60+ hours).   A great site to see some of this in action, and how CHEAP is Freelancer.com

OK, so what now?
Basically if you are in a job that is going to be affected, and retirement is not an option, action now is required.  I myself left a secure position to embrace the cloud and work in a vibrant, growing company.
If your just starting out, choose a job that basically involves innovation.  Things like nano tech, robotics, design, biotech, anything that is new.  For once whatever the new thing is invented and standardize, the work involved will be optimized.  To remain in demand, you must be in a job of continual innovation.

Those who remain working will face FIERCE competition for your job.  So you must be truly the best candidate for the job, and remain so to remain employed.  Once a gap in employment occurs, full recovery will be near impossible.

The good news is learning has never been easier!  Google for learning sites, watch programs like TED to expand your view.

Videos and Articles
Kurzweil Q&A: What Will Humans Be Uniquely Suited to Do When Robots Are Prevalent?
Stephen Wolfram - AI & Future of Civilization
In Europe Fake Jobs Can Have Real Benefits
World without Work

A Humorous view of Robots learning, they are barely toddlers!  By 2023 they will hit age 18 :)
And other images to 'inspire' where this is heading.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Miners, Energy, and the Market

We sit here today with S&P 500 at 2099, with Gold miners  (GDX 20.29) making slow progress up, energy up, and USD down.

I caution those long the market for years to be nimble, while I am no longer looking out for 2008 crash, we may have a direction change in the wind for the next year.   With resources costs rising, USD falling, and market bubbly we may be ripe for a change in direction.

Tech however I am convinced is always possibly good, providing you hit the right sector of tech.  Robotics, Solar, biotech, and potentially autonomous car manufactures may buck the trend.
Good Luck!