Jobocalypse: The Next Mass Extinction Event is People’s Jobs

Biology has seen many mass extinction events. The most famous is the meteorite that wiped out the dinosaurs.

Actually, there have been many mass extinctions. And while the death of the dinosaurs was tragic for them, it was actually great for us. When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, the balance of power shifted from the large, lumbering and powerful dinosaurs to the scrappy mammalian tree rats that are our ancestors.

Right now, we’re living through another mass extinction event that is being brought on by our technology. Part of what’s going extinct is a staggering number of animals like the adorable vaquita.

However, the other thing that’s going extinct are something people really care about: jobs. We are in the middle of the largest jobocalypse the world has ever seen. You do not want to be one of the dinosaurs. You want to be one of the tree rats who exploits the disruption of the giant meteor strike and adapts to the new environment.

However, in order for you to do that, you have to first accept that the jobocalypse is happening. Plenty of people are very much still in denial.

To get that the jobocalypse is happening, you first have to understand that new technology has always destroyed jobs. A machine that does the work of a hundred men means a factory owner only needs to employ one person whereas before they needed to employ a hundred. That machine just took 99 human jobs.

Even the Ancient Romans understood this. Pliny the Elder tells a story about a man who invented unbreakable glass. Very pleased with himself, he goes to see the Emperor Tiberius to claim a reward. The Emperor asks the man if he has told anyone else about his invention. The glassblower says he hasn’t. He wanted the Emperor to be the first to know. The Emperor orders the man executed. Unbreakable glass might have been great for people as consumers but it would have put glassblowers all over the Roman Empire out of business and unemployed people have a tendency to start rebellions. In that sense, nothing has changed.

People in America know that jobs have disappeared. After all, they had jobs. Now, they don’t. The problem is that humanity’s superpower isn’t figuring out why things happen. It’s social intelligence. And so, rather than looking at technology, we look for people to blame.

Who is they? Is it Mexicans? Is it China? Is it liberals with their global warming destroying coal mining jobs? Well, I don’t know if you’ve looked at a coal mine recently, but the real culprit is right there. How many men’s jobs would a machine like this take?

And the jobocalypse won’t just destroy manual labor jobs. The jobocalypse is the destruction of any human job that requires routine work. Does your job involve repetitively doing the same thing over and over again? Then, a robot can do that better and cheaper.

 

The question is what do we do about this. Well, there are two strategies that have been used throughout human history that won’t work:

  1. Destroy the Machines: The Emperor Tiberius wasn’t alone in trying to stop technological progress. The most famous group to do this was an English group of textile manufacturers and weavers known as the Luddites who smashed the new textile machines that appeared at the turn of the 19th century.
  2. Outwork the Machines: John Henry is an African-American folk hero who worked on the railroad. One day, a man shows up with a machine to do his job. John Henry decides to race the machine. He narrowly beats it then drops dead. This is, in fact, part of the problem in China. As Martin Ford explains in Rise of the Robots, part of the reason why workers at the Chinese manufacturer Foxconn were committing suicide was because they were being woken in the middle of the night to begin immediately working on new iPhones, iPads, Nintendo Wiis and Playstations. Humans need sleep. Robots don’t. Robots don’t unionize. Robots don’t need health benefits. Robots don’t need time off to go take care of their kids. Robots work and work and when they break, you can simply throw them away.

Of course, there’s been plenty of technology destroying jobs for a long time. In fact, it even has a name: creative destruction. There’s also been plenty of extinction of species like the vaquita happening for a long time. Species are created and destroyed all the time just as jobs are created and destroyed all the time. What makes a mass extinction of species or jobs is a rate way higher than normal. Look at extinction rates of marine species over the last 500 million years.

The rate right now is about 100 to 1000 times higher than the background rate. The background extinction rate for jobs has gone up as technological acceleration has increased. The problem is that for people like our friend here the expectation is that you would experience job extinction zero times in your career.

The problem is that now it’s happening all the time. Why are rednecks some of the people being left behind? Because honor cultures don’t value learning, unlearning and relearning which is vital to adapting to an ever-changing environment.

Our job is to help our fellow humans understand that there’s only one viable response to the mass extinction of jobs: adapt. It’s time for all of us to reflect and keep updating our cultural software as part of the I.Q. Revolution. The Mixed Mental Arts Belt System is the fastest way to do that.

Right after being born in Saudi Arabia, I was taken to the Callen house. Since then, Bryan and I have travelled the world with our Citibank fathers and somehow ended up in LA together. There we’d run into each other at family gatherings and do something that no one else in LA seemed to be doing: we talked about books. Since Bryan was kind of a big deal, Hunter and Bryan hatched a scheme to use his podcast to get on their favorite authors and professors. Out of that evolved Mixed Mental Arts and this tribe. For me, the marriage of entertainment and education is a return to how things used to be before our culture split story into two separate things. It’s exciting to be able to build on the work Katie O’Brien and I did for The Straight-A Conspiracy and expand it out to every area of life. While I play a series of roles in the Mixed Mental Arts community (including Shitty Dutch Uncle and Bryan’s #1 fan) my favorite role is as Toto who pulls back the curtain and let’s the world see that there are no wizards…only men and women who try and puff themselves up to seem important.

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