Notes About Automation

Automation scares people these days: driverless cars, robots doing housework and manufacturing parts, devices that listen and talk to you.

Automation means a machine of some sort does the work instead of humans. “Machine” is a generic term that changes depending on the situation. Consider something you may be familiar with, for example, automatic payments to pay some of your bills. Do you pay your cable, electric, mortgage, rent, credit cards, or insurance electronically? That’s automation. You no longer manually write checks or send cash and there is no person on the receiving end opening the envelopes or counting the cash. There is no mail delivery to transport the checks or cash. Imaging yourself having to write 15-20 checks per month. No frickin’ way. The convenience is too good to give up.

Well, automation is taking place elsewhere, and that’s what we see. Do you have an electronic account with the medical center or hospital? Let’s you see your lab results, schedule appointments, pay bills.

And that’s only you as a consumer involved. How about business-to-business or within an organization? That’s robots or just some computer software to automate calculations.

Technology, of whatever type, is important to automation because that is the physical thing doing the work. But technology is useless without human action to invent the ways in which it could be used. Even a chainsaw is an improvement over an ax. And a car is an improvement over a horse.

If you’re worried about people losing their jobs, well, automation takes over the repetitive tasks humans can do. It may seem better to have a job where you perform repetitive tasks over-and-over, but after a while you’ve perfected the movements, what’s left? You’d feel like a machine, a cog in the wheel. That’s not good for your mental health.

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Coal Industry in the U.S.

Salena Zito:

The Acosta Deep Mine in Somerset County marks a dramatic upturn for the area. And while President Trump cannot claim that he brought the industry back here personally (this new mine was already being developed before the election), he is an effective cheerleader for folks who’ve been discounted by the political elite.

Instead of trying to kill an industry under piles of regulations and poo-pooing any notions of its survival let along thriving, I think the government should lay off and let the people in the industry configure itself for the economy.

Maybe its smaller than in the past or maybe bigger, maybe more specialized, maybe more dispersed or stays concentrated in a geographic area. How do they compete and serve a customer base? What technologies can they use and invent, and what business processes can they use and invent? How do they attract capital?

These are questions for the people in the industry to figure out from the bottom-up, top-down, and inside-out, not from top-down impositions and elite opinion. And the people in this industry must do so in a free market environment.

Op-Ed of the Day: “The Entrepreneurial Way to 4% Growth”

By CARL J. SCHRAMM:

Trump should set a goal: fix the business climate so a million Americans a year can start companies. . . .

More people have joined the ranks of the chronically unemployed, slipping into poverty at alarming rates as their skills decay and dependency on public assistance grows. Considering population growth, America needs at least 325,000 new jobs every month to stanch the growing numbers of discouraged workers. . . Merely bringing back factories from overseas will not solve this problem. Technology has made every factory more productive. Fewer workers make more goods no matter where they’re located. At the same time, fewer U.S. businesses are being started. . . .

New firms are the country’s principal generator of new jobs. Data from the Kauffman Foundation suggest companies less than five years old create more than 80% of new jobs every year. . . .

This absence accounts for an estimated seven to 10 million jobs that, had they existed, could have provided employment for every one of the nation’s discouraged workers. Simply put, the U.S. will never reach full employment without more startups. . . .

First, increase economic growth. More businesses start when GDP expands at 4% rather than 2%. Existing businesses look for new markets, often turning to young companies for innovative ideas. . . .

Mr. Trump should also focus less on Silicon Valley, which already receives disproportionate attention from Washington. . . .

Government must also widen the scope of innovation by stepping back and letting the market find the future. By promoting trendy ideas and subsidizing politically favored companies, government dampens diversity in creative business ideas. Why start an electric-car company when the federal government already has picked the winner?

The new president must also make it possible for local banks to get back in the business of financing startups. For 200 years, community lenders were the principal source of capital for startups. The application of complex Dodd-Frank provisions has led community banks to finance fewer and fewer promising businesses—despite their unique knowledge of local markets. . . .

Mr. Trump can also reverse regulatory sprawl and cut government-imposed requirements that add to every entrepreneurs’ costs and risks. Anti-growth policies like ObamaCare and minimum-wage increases make hiring workers prohibitively expensive. Municipal regulation is particularly onerous. Cities commonly use sanitation and building codes to protect incumbent businesses. Uber cannot operate in many cities because officials have chosen to protect local taxi cartels, denying their citizens the innovative efficiencies of the shared economy.

With these policies in mind, President Trump should set another goal: that his administration will create an environment that enables one million Americans to start companies every year.

 

Here

AT&T/Time Warner Merger

Pols and regulators should butt-the-hell out of corporate mergers and other actions that disrupt the status-quo. See Democrat primary loser and hypocrite for supporting corporate shill Hillary Clinton Bernie Sanders for example. Trump also said he opposes it.

Employees of the merging firms must figure out how best to serve their customers and shareholders.

Remember folks, firms have to work within the current regulatory and legal framework. If gov’t wants to do something useful it should deregulate telecom and scrap net neutrality. Those constrictions led the decision-makers in this deal to view a merger as a way to drive growth.

The interventionist fear is based on outdated definition of monopoly. Standard Oil’s so-called “monopoly” lowered kerosene prices “from 58 to 26 cents from 1865 to 1870. Competitors disliked the company’s business practices, but consumers liked the lower prices.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_Oil.

Yet, some politicians and activists want to stop this merger because they are simply afraid of change.

You can let firms experiment and innovate to figure out how to serve customers and grow, or you can let politicians protect the status quo and continue with 1% GDP.

 

‘Uber’ for Beauty Professionals

Project Belle  is a website that allows licensed cosmetologists to schedule appointments with prospective clients. Instead of going to a salon, customers can have hairstylists or makeup artists come directly to their homes or businesses (Source).

The connect professionals for haircuts and styling, yoga, makeup, manicures, personal training, beauty & health.

Looks like it serves the Nashville, TN area.

 

“U.S. is turning its back on the principles of a free and open society”

Charles Koch:

. . . Every American’s life is now immeasurably better than it was 80 years ago.

What made these dramatic improvements possible was America’s uniquely free and open society, which has brought the country to the cusp of another explosion of life-changing innovation. But there are dangerous signs that the U.S. is turning its back on the principles that foster such advances, particularly in education, business and government. Which path will the country take?

. . .

It was once widely accepted that progress depends on people challenging and testing each other’s hypotheses. This leads to the creation of knowledge that, when shared, inspires others and spurs the innovation that moves society forward and improves lives. It is a spontaneous process that is deeply collaborative and dependent on the contributions of others. Recall Sir Isaac Newton’s statement that he achieved so much by “standing on the shoulders of giants.”

Scientific progress in seemingly disparate fields creates opportunities for fusion, which is where the greatest innovations often occur. The British writer Matt Ridley has brilliantly described this process as “ideas having sex.” Today, this creation-from-coupling is evident in, for example, the development of driverless cars, which combine advances in transportation and artificial intelligence. When seen through this prism, the opportunities for life-altering innovation are limitless.

 

Here.

Obama: The Obsolete ‘Post Office President’

That is the title given to Robert Tracinski’s piece. I would change the title of this piece to read “Obsolete Post Office Politics” because both parties are stuck in the past. President Obama’s “investment” in solar company Solyndra is no different than Governor Rick Perry’s (R-TX) state-level venture capital fund.

That is the lesson of the government’s failed experiment with solar panel maker Solyndra, which President Obama touted last year as the wave of the future, and whose technology was rendered obsolete before they even finished building their gleaming new factory backed by $600 million in federal loan guarantees. And it’s not just Solyndra.
. . .
Yet here is Barack Obama, our Post Office President, bitterly clinging to the theories of the past and doubling down his investments in failure, while new ideas and innovations pass him by. Such is the fate of anyone who presumes to place the static judgments of an entrenched bureaucracy over the rational thinking and creative efforts of free minds.

Free minds and free markets.

Here.