It is a myth that automation creates more jobs than it displaces. What it dies is to increase the number of unemployed, uneducated, alienated young — particularly young males — and an increasing number of older people made redundant who decide not to register for employment again because there are no jobs for them.
The problem of the workless young is shared throughout the world from First World to Third world countries. Adults — particularly the well-paid professional classes — have always protected their jobs with various devices against too rapid incursion by the young. Now that increasingly powerful computers are beginning to invade some quite sophisticated professional areas such in law, accountancy and medicine, adults are going to be even more fiercely protective, only allowing new entrants at a pace that doesn’t compromise their existing earnings.
If anything, it’s the unemployed in the advanced countries who are in a worse plight than young of the Third World. In the former case, with poor parental upbringing, poor neighbourhood culture and poor schools, particularly poor secondary schools where they teach no identifiable skills, they often don’t bother to turn up for work in time even if offered one. Compare that with the young males from Africa, and the Middle East — thousands of economic migrants — have walked hundreds of miles just to have a chance of getting into the EU and the chance of a job, however dirty and lowly-paid.
If only the Third World young men knew what First World young men do — or ought to know anyway — that what amounts to a conspiracy exists against them. It’s not a conscious conspiracy, of course. No one is actually plotting. But the blunting of potential intelligence — widespread among the poor by the age of puberty and largely irremediable at any age from then onwards — as well as restricted social signals, means that social improvement is well nigh impossible. In contrast, economic migrants are vigorous and highly motivated and, probably of higher intelligence than those they left behind.
But what if the EU (and, presumably America in due course) finally succeed in their present attempts in protecting their borders? What will many bright, but uneducated young ;people in Third World countries do then? Unlike many of the very brightest young children of medieval England who had a chance of being selected for advancement by the local aristocracy or monastery or town guild — and thence, sometimes, succeeding to very high levels — typical young Third Worlders won’t even have that chance.
But they now have access to smartphones — which will become increasingly cheap in the coming years — and thus access to the Internet. Among them will be many thwarted geniuses and very talented young people who previously had no way of even getting started. Could the Internet serve as an educational database for individual or small group self-learning? This strikes me as being inevitable one day. And once this starts spreading down into the pre-pubescent ages where the need for learning is even greater. Some Third World countries could become Internet-linked networks of competence in many professional services and with no protective practices ranged against them by adults as in the First World professions.
Given the phenomenon of hacking, then the new Third World networks could not only offer advanced professional services to their own cultures but also break into the high-value services that First World countries now trade with Second World countries such as China and India which are now increasingly making all the consumer goods for the advanced countries.
Even though I think that something along these lines will be inevitable I wouldn’t expect that very many miracles like this should occur. But then, miracles are rare. Out of 200 countries of the world, and apart from the originators of the industrial revolution, only two more have made the grade into high technology + high creativity.
These are Singapore and Israel with what might be considered absurdly small populations of 5 million aand 8 million respectively. No-one could have imagined 100 years ago that such city-sized nation-states could exist and thrive.
What is the threshold population for a viable trading organisation such as Singapore or Israel? I would plump for 3 or 4 million. Therefore we might not be surprised that a new self-educational network of 3 or 4 million — dispersed and not necessarily based in any single existing Third World nation — might arise and become a brand new type of nation-business hybrid? It could happen.