Is a Hidden 'Second Economy' Eating America's Jobs?

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Continuing the theme of deep but under discussed reasons for our economic woes that got started with yesterday’s post on suburbia as Ponzi scheme , how about the notion that our jobs have disappeared into a “second economy” that’s entirely automated by computers?
In one sense this isn’t a new claim. We’ve written before about robots stealing our jobs and the way tech is replacing more and more human workers without appearing to create enough new jobs. What is fresh about this claim is it’s tone — rather than seeming like a prospect for the distant future sprung from the overheated mind of a robo-obsessed technologist, the latest version of the ‘tech is taking our jobs’ argument is to be found in the respected, business-focused pages of the McKinsey Quarterly (free registration required to view).
The essay, written by W. Brian Arthur , a visiting researcher with the Intelligent System Lab at the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) and an external professor at the Santa Fe Institute , isn’t interested in a distant Jetsons-like future full of bi-pedal robots but rather the consequences of changes nearly everyone accepts are already underway. Arthur writes:

To illustrate what he means by this hidden, automated “second economy,” Arthur uses the example of checking in for a flight, a task that used to be accomplished by one human interacting with another. Now computers have all the conversations. When you scan your passport or insert your credit card into the check-in terminal,

The obvious corollary of all this automated action is less demand for actual human workers. “Processes in the physical economy are being entered into the digital economy,” Arthur claims, and “in about two decades the digital economy will reach the same size as the physical economy.” That’s a lot of lost jobs. So while this second economy is efficient and productive, it’s difficult for many to access the wealth it produces:

How exactly this distribution problem will be solved, Arthur doesn’t really say, but his description of processes underway now is compelling — especially in light of current protests over how wealth is distributed in America . Check out the long but very readable essay for more of his ideas.
Do you find the prospect of a silently growing “second economy” frightening or simply a fact of life we’re bound to adjust to?

There's lots of jobs out there. One of the problems is that there is a mismatch between the skills the unemployed labor has and the skills demanded by the market. Also, taxation and burdensome regulation make many jobs not worth it to exist.

Remember how the steam engine eliminated all our jobs? :tard2: