Re: Substituting computers for people LO68
Sat, 11 Feb 95 02:09:17 AES

K.C. Burgess Yakemovic wrote:
> training. If we aren't careful there will be a few jobs for highly
> skilled,educated people... and some jobs requiring manual labor, but no
> "thinking"... and no jobs for the vast number of people who fall "in the
> middle", ability-wise.

Keith Cowan responded:
>There is a group of futurists who claim that the pace of technology WILL
>put semi-skilled people out of work - receptionists and operators replaced
>by voicemail, secretaries by PC/WP, file clerks by disk management software,

>This means that those who do not have the aptitude or attitude for picking
>up new skills will be unemployable in sufficient numbers.

What seems to be missing from this debate is the recognition that the
spectrun of skills is continually moving, not static as implied. What you
are regarding today as semi-skilled was highly-skilled one or two
generations ago.

How about three generations ago, when society had hordes of manual laborer
jobs (pick and shovel laborers, domestic staff, human backs that loaded
and unloaded wagons, ships and trains) about 75% of the workforce? One
can imagine the same cries when they were displaced by mechanical
earth-moving equipment or other machinery - "this sector of the workforce
will now be permanently unemployable" because there will be no more manual
labor jobs available.

Is that 75% of the workforce sitting on the sidelines because there are no
pick and shovel jobs, no hands and knees cleaning jobs, no human backs
needed to carry coal or load cargo? Of course not, people from this
sector of education, ability, opportunity, etc are doing the jobs we call
unskilled or semi-skilled today.

Bob Nordlinger

Do we have 25%