Nothing to write about nutrition (my transition towards a plant-based diet) or workout (my training towards 14km running race or learning about weight lifting) today. I had a junk food day and did no exercise.

Instead, some excerpts from the book Average is Over that I recently finished reading. The books presents the views of the author (Tyler Cowen) on the trajectory of the global economy including the impact of automated systems and (rise of) machines.

The author predicts (summary from Wikipedia) “a small minority of highly educated and capable of working collaboratively with automated systems will become a wealthy aristocracy; the vast majority will earn little or nothing, surviving on low-priced goods created by the first group, living in shantytowns working with highly automated production systems.

Excerpts:

  • Marriages, families, businesses, countries, cities and regions all will see a greater split in outcomes; namely, they will either rise to the top in terms of quality or make do with unimpressive results.
  • These trends stem from some fairly basic and hard-to-reverse forces: the increasing productivity of intelligent machines, economic globalization, and the split of modern economies into both very stagnant sectors and some very dynamic sectors.
  • The key questions will be: are you good at working with intelligent machines or not? Are your skills a complement to the skills of the computer, or is the computer doing better without you? Worst of all, are you competing against the computer? Are computers helping people in China and India compete against you?
  • In today’s global economy here is what is scarce:
    • quality land and natural resources
    • intellectual property, or good ideas about what should be produced
    • quality labor with unique skills
  • The ability to mix technical knowledge with solving real-world problems is the key, not sheer number-crunching or programming for its own sake. Number-crunching skills will be turned over to the machines sooner or later… it is about blending the cognitive strengths of humans and computers.
  • It’s not just that the bad workers are lazy or maybe destructive. It’s that low quality workers spread bad morale to many others in the building.
  • As workers are displaced by smart machines in manufacturing and other areas, more individuals will be employed as personal trainers, valets, private tutors, drivers, babysitters, interior designers, carpenters and other forms of direct personal services.
  • Demand is rising for low-pay, low-skills jobs, and it is rising for high-pay, high-skills jobs, including tech and managerial jobs, but pay is not rising for the jobs in between.
  • The age structure of achievement is being ratcheted upward due to specialization and the growth of knowledge. Mathematicians used to prove theorems at age twenty, but now it happens at age thirty because there is so much more to learn along the way.
  • The more that an endeavor requires inferences about the mind-states of others, the more that intelligent machine will require human aid.
  • When downturns come these days, employers make the tough but correct choice that the future of their companies means fewer of those mid-level, mid-wage jobs. That is one harbinger of our information revolution and how it is reshaping the entire world of work.
  • Whether we will remain a middle class society or not depends firstly on how many people will prove to be effective working with intelligent machines.
  • If you sit around and talk with health policy wonks, it is remarkable how skeptical they can be about the value of marginal increments of health care. A lot of factors go into determining actual health outcomes, including exercise, diet, taking care of one’s self, perhaps attitude, demographic status, and so on. If you pose the question “what percent of health outcomes is determined by health care?” you’ll get some pretty modest estimates.. maybe no more than 10 to 15 percent, maybe it’s 30 to 40 percent; we don’t seem to know.

 


Percival Hill Nature Reserve – good views of Crace and toward South Canberra. I’ll be back for a trail run!

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Food:

  • Breakfast: eight treasures congee
  • Lunch: seafood hot pot
  • Dinner: fried chicken
  • Other: soy ice cream with matcha powder, passionfruit tart, slice of chocolate cake

Workout:

  • NONE
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