The job-threatening rise of the machines is an economically illiterate meme that refuses to die. We’re actually probably in the early stages of it, a bull-market in neo-luddism, if you will. Bastiat’s “Candlemakers Petititon” answered this one long ago, but today I’ll run a little thought experiment that owes it all to good old Bastiat.
Let’s say Weird Al Yankovic invents a machine capable of making everything with a single push of a button. The first thing he does is print up a bunch of machines and sell them for a ton. Weird Al is now a billionaire, and there are thousands of make-everything machines.
This diffusion of Weird Al’s new technology replicates the market process, where new tech spreads in proportion to its usefulness. If you doubt this, because of patents, for example, check out Brazil’s experience with AIDS drugs, where they tore up the patents on humanitarian grounds.
Weird Al’s machines will, at a minimum, be mass produced in Brazil. Or China. Or Mozambique.
So, one way or another, we get a bunch of make-everything machines.Continue reading… “Let’s Hope Machines Take Our Jobs: We Want Wealth, Not Jobs”