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Old 11-24-2016, 12:34 PM   #1
Taure
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Education vs. Values

I saw a good article in the Financial Times about recent electoral "surprises" in the UK and US that I felt was worth sharing. A lot of what it says is obvious, but in a way that is useful: it's backed up with figures and analysis.

For those of you with a subscription (or a bypass) the original article is here:

https://www.ft.com/content/9fc71e40-...c-f4a01f1b0fa1

Quote:
Personal values trump education as driving factor in populist successes
Dismissing backers of populist causes as not very smart is wrong, study finds


No single factor correlated more strongly with the swing to Donald Trump in the US election than education levels — the higher the percentage of people in a US county with at most a high school education, the higher the swing towards Mr Trump relative to Republican support in 2012.

Even when income levels, income growth, unemployment, race, age and immigration were taken into account, none was as good a match for the shift to Trump as education. This is according to a comprehensive study by the Resolution Foundation which explores the relationships between economic and demographic data and the flood of support for the Republican candidate.



This pattern echoes the findings of a Financial Times analysis of the predictors of the Leave vote in June’s Brexit referendum. Our work found that in UK local authorities, the lower the share of people with a degree, the higher its share of the vote to Leave the EU.



It would be easy to interpret this as meaning that being well educated allows people to make more pro-cosmopolitan voting choices. But it would also be wrong.

The “Turkeys voting for Christmas” trope was popular with some Remain voters after the UK referendum, and resurfaced after Trump’s victory, allowing people to dismiss backers of populist causes as not smart enough to know better. In reality, however, education’s influence on the outcome of both votes has probably little to do with what people learn in classrooms and lecture theatres, and much more to do with, well, almost everything else.

University as a ‘melting pot’


One source for understanding the misconception is the contact hypothesis, which suggests that greater exposure to people with different backgrounds and perspectives leads to more empathy towards them, and possibly a greater tendency to take their needs into account at the ballot box. This theory suggests that, when we hear a negative generalisation about, for example, people of a certain race or sexuality, the ability to recall an acquaintance as a counter to that stereotype makes it easier to dismiss the characterisation.

Going to university generally involves leaving one’s hometown, and mixing — either actively or passively — with people from different upbringings. If the contact hypothesis worked as described, the act of going to university would increase social and cultural empathy.

The problem is, little to no evidence indicates that this happens. If things were to work out as above, we would expect attitudes towards immigrants to be more positive among university graduates than those who left education earlier. But a 2015 study of young Swiss adults by Bram Lancee and Oriane Sarrasin found that this was not the case.

While the researchers did find that graduates tended to have more positive views of immigrants than their less-educated counterparts, those attitudes barely changed with progress through the education system. Instead, they appear to have been established earlier in life.

The implication is that we have cause and effect the wrong way round. Instead of the university experience shaping our values and attitudes, it is our pre-existing value systems that — either conscious or otherwise — influence the choices we make about our journey through education, including the decision of whether or not to leave the familiar surroundings of home and go to university. It is the pre-existing value systems that cause graduates’ attitudes towards immigrants to skew positive, not the later act of mingling with different people at university, or the content of the classes they attend.

A 2016 study of British adults by political sociologist Paula Surridge did find evidence suggesting that university education may influence social liberalism, with students of the social sciences or creative arts exhibiting strong socially liberal values later in life after adjusting for attitudes at age 16. But like the Swiss researchers, Surridge too found tell-tale signs of self-selection. Scores on a liberalism scale at age 16 also correlated strongly with the same in later life, suggesting that people opt for areas and levels of study that support or enhance their existing worldview.

Ideology shapes education, not the other way around


So, if the correlation between nationalist inclinations and education is to be read more as a proxy for underlying social and value-system factors than anything to do with education itself, then what are these mysterious forces? Are they unknowable?

The Swiss study offers one clue, finding that parental background — as measured by parents’ level of education — has a measurable impact on attitudes towards immigrants, but the size of the effect is small, as acknowledged by the authors.

Another indication that identity and personality underpin the political forces that have shaped 2016 comes from an academic analysis of personality traits. This found that high scores for the quality of openness — as modelled from responses to a large-scale survey of Britons in 2011 — correlated at a reasonable level with the share of the vote to Remain in the EU.



The openness score also correlates strongly with the percentage of people in a given area of the UK who attended university. We are unable at this stage to unpick the cause and effect relationships at work here but, if nothing else, this is confirmation that personal values, education and nationalist leanings are inextricably linked.

So yes, education exhibits the strongest statistical relationship with the recent nationalist political victories in the US and UK. But in pondering what this means for the rise of populism in various countries it is important that we think of education not as bricks and mortar, textbooks and mortar-boards, but as a convenient proxy for the much messier topic of personal values.
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Old 11-24-2016, 07:41 PM   #2
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That's an interesting find Taure. Gonna need some time to properly digest it before commenting, but it's all kinds of intriguing.
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Old 11-24-2016, 07:58 PM   #3
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Psychologist Jonathan Haidt has some fascinating stuff regarding moral foundations theory that is relevant. Currently no access to a computer or consistent internet, so I can't link, but googling him will bring up his website that explains the theory.


5-Factor personality theory, the leading personality theory that's reasonably empirically supported, has Openess to Experience as one of its 5 factors-- it'd a big predictor of social (not economic) liberalness.

The data on personality is also pretty clear that personality is: substantially heritable, though less than IQ, and stable after adulthood (around 25+), with some exceptions for dementia (reduces conscientiousness).

So not surprised identity/personality drives educational attainment rather than other way around.
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Old 11-28-2016, 05:29 PM   #4
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I think a lot of this comes back to the economics.

People aren't idiots, and in the UK since the 70s, being open and global and blah blah blah? Has largely sucked for the working class. The industries have closed down, and the jobs that exist are McDonalds, Tesco, call centres. Dead ends with crap pay.

To succeed, you need to either get an education, which means intelligence and academic aptitude and playing the bullshit jumping through hoops game and moving to where the jobs are; or you need to find a route around, into something like coding. Or you basically hope you win the fucking lottery.

I'm not surprised people are angry. I don't have a solution for it, but it fucking sucks. There are loads of people, trapped by the system as it stands, and they don't know where to go.
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Old 11-28-2016, 05:43 PM   #5
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The problem is that there is no national policy that can solve that problem. The old jobs characterised by routine, medium skill work are not going to come back, because technology has made them obsolete. Even as the UK's manufacturing employment has dwindled, our manufacturing output has skyrocketed. Hell, even routine highly skilled work is now at risk.

Theoretically the solution would be a massive program of re-skilling workers in more modern skills, but that's a pie in the sky. Even if you found the money to fund such a project, the types of people we're talking about are often those who didn't do well at school the first time round and who have generally shunned education. It goes against their values to reeducate themselves in a new skill, especially at such a late stage in life.

That said, it should be noted that the poor have generally benefited from this process too. They have smartphones too, after all. It's the dilemma of the modern worker, because every worker is also a consumer.
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Old 11-28-2016, 07:12 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by ElaraSilk View Post
People aren't idiots...
...Have you met many people?


In all seriousness, I would agree that many people who do not have a long education are still people who are intelligent within the bounds of their limited understanding, and if they could obtain more education, they would be as able (or more) than any of us...

...but a great many other people are just morons, and no amount of education will help them out of that.
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Old 11-29-2016, 06:04 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Taure View Post
The problem is that there is no national policy that can solve that problem. The old jobs characterised by routine, medium skill work are not going to come back, because technology has made them obsolete. Even as the UK's manufacturing employment has dwindled, our manufacturing output has skyrocketed. Hell, even routine highly skilled work is now at risk.

Theoretically the solution would be a massive program of re-skilling workers in more modern skills, but that's a pie in the sky. Even if you found the money to fund such a project, the types of people we're talking about are often those who didn't do well at school the first time round and who have generally shunned education. It goes against their values to reeducate themselves in a new skill, especially at such a late stage in life.

That said, it should be noted that the poor have generally benefited from this process too. They have smartphones too, after all. It's the dilemma of the modern worker, because every worker is also a consumer.
The problem I have with this viewpoint is that it's inherently self-defeatist and uses the doctrine of TINA (there is no alternative) to justify the status quo.

The problems with the status quo are quite obvious, in that there is a large proportion of the population that has no hope of a better life. This breeds resentment of the establishment, which has lead to Brexit and the rise of Trump.

The rise of right-wing populism threatens the progress that has been made over the last 30-40 years of globalisation, and therefore must be addressed. Simply saying "there is no national policy that can solve the problem" is not good enough. It would be far more accurate to say that "there is no national policy within our current ideological framework that can solve the problem."

When we, in the west, have governments of the people, for the people, and by the people - democracy. Therefore we can't afford to let a substantial number of them linger in disillusionment with the system. Many people agree that the system sucks for the majority, however, right-wing populism see's in changing in the wrong direction, with us taking steps backwards, as opposed to addressing the concerns within the system and adjusting it so that it works for more people. I don't pretend to have all the answers, and there isn't an easy one, but the ever burgeoning gap between the have's and the have-nots must be addressed if we wish to keep moving forward.
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Old 11-29-2016, 06:13 PM   #8
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Focus in apprenticeships and meeting locally the demand that an economy based on services have? Bakers, breweries, such thing. That would alleviate a part of the problem. Germany has a working system. Sure, it's economy is impossible for a big part of the globe, but it came be studied for changes.

A living wage would also offer poor people some comfort without the stigma, guilt and bureacracy that welfare usually entails. And small towns shouldn't be let to die like in Japan. I feel like encouraging environmental friendly policies here and preserving the landscape would offers good or decent jobs for people living in little urbanised areas.
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Old 11-29-2016, 06:52 PM   #9
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Focus in apprenticeships and meeting locally the demand that an economy based on services have? Bakers, breweries, such thing. That would alleviate a part of the problem. Germany has a working system. Sure, it's economy is impossible for a big part of the globe, but it came be studied for changes.

A living wage would also offer poor people some comfort without the stigma, guilt, and bureaucracy that welfare usually entails. And small towns shouldn't be let to die like in Japan. I feel like encouraging environmental friendly policies here and preserving the landscape would offers good or decent jobs for people living in little urbanised areas.
I'm personally very interested in the idea of a UBI, universal basic income, as it would remove the stigma, guilt and bureaucracy associated with the welfare state. I see a large amount of the problems currently existing being due to the precarious nature of existence for the less well off. They have no security or stability in their lives, and if one thing goes wrong, that's them completely fucked. This leads to a whole raft of problems, especially in that these people have nothing to lose. And when you have nothing to lose, what seems unthinkable (violent crime etc) to us is not a hard decision for them. In no way do I think this would solve the majority of the problems, but I think this combined with what you say about preserving landscapes, perhaps an investment in local agriculture (think decentralisation and devolution), would allow people to live lives that aren't completely dominated by the next paycheck.

To quote the UN Declaration of Human Rights, "(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control."

A big problem with the UBI is that it could breed complacency, though I think these worries are perhaps over emphasised. As I said, a UBI by itself would not fix everything, and there need to be additional initiatives alongside it. Perhaps more of a focus on creating a community that supports each other, in contrast to the individualising forces inherent to neoliberal ideology. However, these types of initiatives would not work as a top-down state-initiated policy agenda, they must be tailored to the areas in question. Again, decentralisation and devolution.
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Old 11-29-2016, 07:03 PM   #10
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@Innomine you misunderstand me slightly. My argument is not that there's nothing that can be done to improve these people's material circumstances. There is. For a start, the only reason why their real wages are falling in the UK is the constant rapid rise in the cost of housing, which makes up a huge percentage of monthly outgoings. Get the housing market under control and you do a lot to improve the material circumstances of the poor. And of course there's always welfare, either spending more on it or more radical ideas like UBI or negative income tax.

The problem is that none of this is what the dissatisfied people want. Those solutions are exactly the ones that they have rejected, the ones they consider to be "talking down" to them, that they consider to be the solutions of smug champagne socialists who think they can tell them what they want.

The fundamental issue that recent politics is dealing with is that these people are finally speaking up and saying they don't want people to find clever ways to improve their material circumstances. They want a fundamentally different society. They don't want benefits/welfare/a lower cost of living. They want a society that reflects their values (which include a belief in hard work) and which includes satisfying, fulfilling jobs.

And that's a problem. Because the society that reflects their values is the society of the 1950s, and the jobs that they consider fulfilling are exactly the jobs that have been made obsolete by technology. The world has changed and they don't like the change. But there's no turning back the clock on technological advance, even if we were insane enough to want to.
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Old 11-29-2016, 08:21 PM   #11
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A big problem with the UBI is that it could breed complacency, though I think these worries are perhaps over emphasised. As I said, a UBI by itself would not fix everything, and there need to be additional initiatives alongside it. Perhaps more of a focus on creating a community that supports each other, in contrast to the individualising forces inherent to neoliberal ideology. However, these types of initiatives would not work as a top-down state-initiated policy agenda, they must be tailored to the areas in question. Again, decentralisation and devolution.
You really don't think that a flat payment just for existing won't cause complaceny, laziness and a general lack of productivity?

Have you seen what bigger welfare checks for single mothers have done to the black community in the US? There's a reason Detroit, to take the most obvious example, is a complete shithole still despite all the same kinds of programs mentioned in this thread running for the last 40 years. And it's not because they work.

It could be different in the UK though I suppose, I don't have any data on the topic from that side of the pond.
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Old 11-29-2016, 08:54 PM   #12
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You really don't think that a flat payment just for existing won't cause complacecny, laziness and a general lack of productivity?
It would definitely do all of those things if people could be paid just to exist.

But I vehemently disagree with this statement:

Quote:
Have you seen what bigger welfare checks for single mothers have done to the black community in the US? There's a reason Detroit, to take the most obvious example, is a complete shithole still despite all the same kinds of programs mentioned in this thread running for the last 40 years. And it's not because they work.
The problems of welfare and poverty are because our welfare system is not designed to lift people out of poverty, they're designed to punish people for being poor.
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Old 11-29-2016, 09:09 PM   #13
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The problems of welfare and poverty are because our welfare system is not designed to lift people out of poverty, they're designed to punish people for being poor.
Pretty much all welfare is. At its core, all forms of welfare incentivize not working, and thereby not contributing to the system, if you do not have sufficient skills or physical ability to command a comparatively high wage. This in turn creates dependency on the state and a lifetime of welfare subsistence.

The only solution is to not incentivize not working, and giving people money just for existing most assuredly does not do that.
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Old 11-29-2016, 09:23 PM   #14
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At its core, all forms of welfare incentivize not working...
Welfare is meant to be social insurance for when people fall on hard times. The trouble with it is not that incentivizes laziness, it's that when people make any attempt to get out of poverty, their benefits vanish and they're worse off than when they started. If welfare were structure to gradually phase out once you make progress to getting out of the hole you're in, rather than punish you as it does now, there would be drastic improvement.

Detractors, however, are so enthralled by the blue moon strawman that was the 1980's Welfare Queen that they've built a system that they say incentivizes people to find work, but in reality just traps them in a maze of competing punishments.

Most people will experience poverty at some point in their lifetime. You'd think we'd all want a system that helped us back to our feet rather than kicked us in the nuts for having the gall to fall ill unexpectedly or get laid off from a vanishing industry or have to take care of a sick relative.
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Old 11-29-2016, 09:57 PM   #15
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Welfare is meant to be social insurance for when people fall on hard times. The trouble with it is not that incentivizes laziness, it's that when people make any attempt to get out of poverty, their benefits vanish and they're worse off than when they started. If welfare were structure to gradually phase out once you make progress to getting out of the hole you're in, rather than punish you as it does now, there would be drastic improvement.
That's exactly what I said: It incentivizes not working, and thereby not contributing back to the system, because your situation just gets worse unless you can command a relatively high wage for your situation.

There's definitely merit to the idea you propose here, as it will at least reduce the incentive to not work, and I'd be glad to see it implemented and take stock of the results.

I can already see a potential issue with it though, but that's the same issue with every welfare system I've ever seen. Namely, the knock-on effects on the local economy. From the data I've seen, infusions of cash without accompanying infusions of wealth generation tends to drive down the overall standard of living in an area. Prices go up, even though the median income stays constant, and the mean income doesn't change much at all, and in turn makes everyone else in the area poorer, in terms of purchasing power vs income.

That's probably my biggest issue with welfare as a concept, though admittedly it's less damaging to a local economy than a minimum wage increase.
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Old 11-29-2016, 10:38 PM   #16
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Five Thirty Eight has a similar article, I assume it was written about the same study.
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Old 11-29-2016, 11:18 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Taure View Post
The problem is that there is no national policy that can solve that problem. The old jobs characterised by routine, medium skill work are not going to come back, because technology has made them obsolete. Even as the UK's manufacturing employment has dwindled, our manufacturing output has skyrocketed. Hell, even routine highly skilled work is now at risk.

Theoretically the solution would be a massive program of re-skilling workers in more modern skills, but that's a pie in the sky. Even if you found the money to fund such a project, the types of people we're talking about are often those who didn't do well at school the first time round and who have generally shunned education. It goes against their values to reeducate themselves in a new skill, especially at such a late stage in life.

That said, it should be noted that the poor have generally benefited from this process too. They have smartphones too, after all. It's the dilemma of the modern worker, because every worker is also a consumer.
This is key. Trade barriers like Trump and some leftists in the US want won't bring substantial factory jobs back. Or if they do, they'll also increase the incentive for companies to increase their efforts at automation, as an alternative to outsourcing.

Automated driving, as one example, is coming and with how well driverless cars are doing, it's fast poised to take over trucking. That alone is huge. Estimates are around 3 million truck drives in the US, plus 7 million others employed in that field but not directly driving.

If automation takes over a 1/3 of those jobs, that's 1 million jobs, out of an estimated 125 million full-time jobs in the US. And truckingis a pretty good job, with pay around 73,000$ a year.

This article presents a different take, saying that initially, trucks will just be partially automated, but I don't think its crazy to think its not long before truck drivers start losing jobs.


Sure, salaries for people with graduate degrees, master's degrees, college degrees are still going up. But more and more people are getting degrees, each additional student is more marginal than the last (look at how low graduation rates in community colleges are ), and I think we're in for a rough patch of unemployement in the next couple years in the US.

Maybe that's my kooky techno-optimism/pessimism talking, though. I sure hope automation doesn't hit us too quick, but I'm not too optimistic. High unemployment + rising populism and nationalism ala Trump...doesn't sound fun to me.
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Old 11-30-2016, 03:43 AM   #18
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For a start, the only reason why their real wages are falling in the UK is the constant rapid rise in the cost of housing, which makes up a huge percentage of monthly outgoings. Get the housing market under control and you do a lot to improve the material circumstances of the poor.
I've been wondering to myself for a while if this is something that the UK government is deliberately not doing. My thinking goes as this- a huge part of the UK's GDP and value comes from the housing market, and the UK looks so competitive almost solely because of the constant rapid rise of house prices. (note: I have no actual proof or statistics on this, so my base assumptions could be wrong)

If there was less demand for housing because the government actually either incentivised building, built housing itself, or they reduced international buying of the UK market then the UK's GDP would no longer be constantly growing and the government that built houses would look like the shittest government ever.
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Old 11-30-2016, 04:58 AM   #19
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You really don't think that a flat payment just for existing won't cause complaceny, laziness and a general lack of productivity?

Have you seen what bigger welfare checks for single mothers have done to the black community in the US? There's a reason Detroit, to take the most obvious example, is a complete shithole still despite all the same kinds of programs mentioned in this thread running for the last 40 years. And it's not because they work.

It could be different in the UK though I suppose, I don't have any data on the topic from that side of the pond.
The question is, how should we divide the gains made by our ancestors? We will, in a few decades time, be in a situation where perhaps 25% of the workforce could keep our society running. There is no good reason to keep people going to work everyday just because and if people do become complacent, so what?

I happen to disagree. In a society where work is not emphasized other factors will be the source of status and attractiveness and I fully expect people to find things to occupy them anyway, be it painting, reading Shakespear, playing World of Warcraft or opening a ski resort.

Why should we demand productivity from everyone? Why not just give them enough money for food, housing and general living and from that foundation they can do whatever they want?

To add something to this, if the workforce is no longer as influential the gains we have seen in the 19th and 20th century will start to roll back, particularly in regards to wealth distribution and thereby effective freedoms.
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Old 11-30-2016, 05:43 AM   #20
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The real issue is that it's not just Blue Collar work that will soon be automated out of existence, it'll hit white collar work to similar degrees and it seems like almost no one is really paying attention to this. The sort of work a person with a Bachelor's can do in a biology lab is already on the way out, for example - if a lab can afford the right equipment, they don't really need lab technicians anymore because an undergrad that's decent with MATLAB can automate the equipment and it'll do the job better than I ever could; there are actually companies out there that already run fully automated labs where existing labs just send them the work they need done and they ship it back, no undergrads required. Journalism's the same way - more and more articles are written by an algorithm these days and the average person cannot tell the difference. Hell, IBM's already running a paid demo on Watson-style software to replace paralegals.

We're going to be staring 75% unemployment in the face within my lifetime and if we don't address it in a way that makes sense relatively soon, civilization is fairly unlikely to survive the transition in any recognizable sense.
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