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There has been at lot made of the assumption that self driving cars will replace truckers, taxi/uber drivers and others in the transportation industry so I started thinking about other smaller areas where similar tech will replace jobs. I was wondering when these techs would arrive at the point of serious impact.

 

So the measure I am using of serious impact is the date that tech will replace 50% of the current jobs, to put it another way if there are currently 1 mil jobs in the US of cutting grass then what is the date that there will only be 500K jobs cutting grass.

 

So what order do you expect these jobs to be affected by tech

 

Cutting Grass

Pickup trucks plowing out parking lots and driveways

Municipal level snow plowing

Forklift driving

Airline pilot

Truck driver

Taxi/uber driver - TAS

Fedex/UPS driver

USPS delivery person

 

If you want to go further, what year do you expect that tech will replace 50% of the jobs?

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Good question, though possibly not much investing related in near future.

Let me take a stab.

 

Cutting Grass - I think there's a commercial product available now. However, I think that it is very limited. I think the positives of this is area is that it's not life threatening, and possibly the market of lawn mowers is large. The negatives are that people are cheap and problem is complex (i.e. don't run over things, flowers, but cut dandelions, handle any kind of areas, etc.). I think in near future products will only handle regular areas, which won't displace 50% jobs. 10+ years, I'd say.

 

Pickup trucks plowing out parking lots and driveways

Municipal level snow plowing - Both of these assume self-driving cars + plowing (yeah, you need both, even if you don't think you do). So this is behind self-driving cars. Also limited market, so not much effort until self-driving is perfected. 15+ years.

 

Forklift driving - in enclosed area/warehouse? 7+ years. Definitely disruptable. The only question is market size, which means how much effort startups are gonna give this. But with Amazon in this area, I'd say there definitely gonna be work on this and possibly fast.

 

Airline pilot - Tech wise, airplanes already could fly with 1 pilot instead of 2 with autopilot doing pretty much all work. So 50% reduction immediately. But policy wise it's not gonna be accepted by humans. There's irrational fear of flying already, so there's not gonna be change until somehow humans accept 1 pilot+auto. Maybe 7+ years.

 

Truck driver

Taxi/uber driver - TAS

Fedex/UPS driver

USPS delivery person - I think these are all the same really: self-driving is the key. 15+ years.

 

My self-driving schedule:

Level 4/5 self driving available (but possibly not legalized): 5 years. (BTW, one could argue that Alphabet/Waymo already has level 4/5 self driving. I won't argue this strongly.)

+ 5 years for legalization / working out kinks

+ 5 years for replacing professions above.

 

I'd like to see some non-self-driving professions:

 

- Radiologists

- Other medical personnel who perform diagnosis

- Primary Care Physician

- House painting inside / outside

- Hedge / Mutual fund manager

- Supermarket checkout (btw already 30-40% are gone due to self-checkout)

- Hairdresser

- Programmer

- Auto mechanic

- Cattle herder

- Oil&gas rig worker

- Online investing forum participant

 

Feel free to add.  8)

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Airline pilot - Tech wise, airplanes already could fly with 1 pilot instead of 2 with autopilot doing pretty much all work. So 50% reduction immediately. But policy wise it's not gonna be accepted by humans. There's irrational fear of flying already, so there's not gonna be change until somehow humans accept 1 pilot+auto. Maybe 7+ years.

 

The next generation of aircraft are already being developed for mid-2020s and the design requires 2 pilots. It will take 7+ years even after regulation changes for manufacturers to produce a single pilot airliner. Could you fly an airliner single pilot in an emergency? Absolutely. But the current design won't fly (haaah!) for everyday single pilot operations.

 

Labor unions will fight tooth and nail to prevent this (because 50% less safe) and the traveling public will be on their side. I can't see this happening for 15-20yrs+, and even at that point it will be cargo carriers like FedEx/UPS first.

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Hey all:

 

I can offer some insight that probably not too many others on this board would be able to...

 

The legal profession is having HUGE disruptions due to technology and the "interwebs"...

 

A few examples:

 

1). In the days of yore, young, struggling attorneys setting up their own practice were able to do wills, incorporations, and other such low end work to get started and get some cash flowing in.  Now days, a lot of this has been disrupted by Legal Zoom and other online services.  Of course, not all of this work has vanished...but a good percentage of it has.

 

2). Move over to the corporate world.  In days of old...fresh associates at medium & large firms would have to "make their bones" doing a lot of document review (in preparation of large cases) for a period of time...6,12,18 months.  This is frequently mind numbing, very boring work.  The 2nd season of "Better call Saul" shows some of this type work.  A lot of this work was done in NYC & Washington DC, Chicago and LA.

 

Fast forward to a few years ago...A lot of this work is no longer done in the firms...They have 1 or 2 attorneys in house guiding the work that has been outsourced to a specialized firm that does NOTHING but document review/prep work.  These specialized firms are frequently in Detroit, Pittsburgh, West Virginia and other places where real estate is cheap and you can get a fast internet connection.  Sometimes there could be 50-100 attorneys working on a SINGLE project in a single large room at weeks or months at a time on a single project.  These attorneys make $18, $20, $24 an hour....

 

Of course, some of that work is now going away to "predictive coding" where computers scan through millions of documents looking for words, key phrases, etc.  10 million documents might be culled down to 15k documents which human attorneys now review.  I've seen this even a few years there was more demand for attorneys.  Now it is becoming more automated.  Wages have also started to go up a little also.

 

In the interior of the country (Detroit) it is simply SHOCKING how many unemployed/fired/never hired attorneys there are.  I've worked with graduates from Duke, University of Michigan, University of Chicago, NYU and other "prestigious" law schools on these projects.  I've also worked with ex-partners, ex-prosecutors, really sharp people that have lost everything and are willing to work for $22/hour doing document review.

 

Sometimes people do this temporarily on a project to project basis (like me) simply to get some extra money...other people desperately need the money and have nothing else to do and no where else to go. 

 

Any way you wish to slice it, technology is going to eat into this document review a little bit more as every year goes by.  Humans will always be needed...but in 10 years, 10 attorneys might be able to do the work that 100 used to do.

 

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Airline pilot - Tech wise, airplanes already could fly with 1 pilot instead of 2 with autopilot doing pretty much all work. So 50% reduction immediately. But policy wise it's not gonna be accepted by humans. There's irrational fear of flying already, so there's not gonna be change until somehow humans accept 1 pilot+auto. Maybe 7+ years.

 

The next generation of aircraft are already being developed for mid-2020s and the design requires 2 pilots. It will take 7+ years even after regulation changes for manufacturers to produce a single pilot airliner. Could you fly an airliner single pilot in an emergency? Absolutely. But the current design won't fly (haaah!) for everyday single pilot operations.

 

Labor unions will fight tooth and nail to prevent this (because 50% less safe) and the traveling public will be on their side. I can't see this happening for 15-20yrs+, and even at that point it will be cargo carriers like FedEx/UPS first.

Fly, by your handle you may know more about this than me. But as I understand it, a plane can basically already fly itself today including ILS landings etc. Pilots are there more as fail safe devices if something bad happens i.e. you need a brain in an emergency. Given the cost/reward situation this is worth it since the cost of the pilots is quite small compared to the cost of the overall flight. Also in an emergency it appears that you need two people - one to fly the plane and one to handle comms and checklists. So I don't see that one going away anytime soon.

 

I think that we may be getting a bit over-exited and extrapolating a curve much into the future.

 

In the case of what DTEJD said it all makes sense because lawyers are expensive. However, take another example of the list - lawn mowing. There's been a robot for this for a long time. It's called the kid down the street. It'll cost you maybe something like $10 a pop once a week. But most people still mostly mow their own lawns. For a robot to take over that it'll have to cost way less than that. Maybe $3 once a week. There will not be a robot that will be able to maw your lawn and cost $90 a year for a long time. Lawn mowing simply isn't a high enough value activity.

 

On forklifts it's a lot more interesting because there you pay $15-$20 per hour for 8-24 hours per day. Though the reason why forklift drivers make decent money is safety so these robots better be really really good.

 

I would look at the jobs where labour costs a lot and isn't that specialized. Probably real estate agent would be a the top of my list.

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Hey all:

 

Here is something is kinda of sorta related to this thread, but kinda of not...but I think it is interesting none the less....

 

When I lived in Texas, there were a lot of immigrants, legal and illegal.  Certain industries had a HUGE illegal worker presence.  Mainly restaurant work, landscaping, and residential construction of houses, certain warehouse work...There may have been others, but this is what I know for a FACT.

 

Shift in time and location to several years later and the region in/around Detroit Michigan....

 

There are certainly illegal immigrants/workers here, but NOWHERE near what it was in Texas...What is interesting is that the landscaper crews up here have a MUCH lower presence of illegals...shockingly so.  I see a lot of black folk working landscape, but also a good chunk of white guys...HECK, I've even seen white women (sometime college age) working industrial landscape!  That is tough/difficult/lower paying work.  In all my years in Texas, I don't think I EVER saw a woman, (black, latina OR white) working landscape.

 

There are some illegals working in restaurants in MI...but NOWHERE near what it was like in Texas.

 

Of course, Michigan is very far from the Southern border...but I also think the labor market is much different in this part of the country.  Michigan has lost such a tremendous amount of jobs that there are plenty of "normal" Americans, Black, white, even young women, who are willing and able to do relatively low paid/low skilled work.

 

So labor conditions are VERY different in different parts of the country.

 

In Michigan, pretty much EVERYBODY is willing to work at ANY type of job.  Why use an expensive/delicate robot, when you've got TONS of people willing to cut grass/landscape?

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1. Paid parking lots

With Uber, why should I take my car?

 

2. Real estate

I can buy an RV. The RV drops me in front of my office, goes somewhere else to park, come back in the evening to pick me. Goes some safe place to park and sleep at night, I don't care where. It could even park in the middle of the road, keep watching for the cops car. When it senses a cops car, just drive away.

 

3. Hotels

When I go for a business trip, an RV comes and picks me from the airport, takes me wherever I want, drops me back at the airport. This is more private. Why should I take a hotel room?

 

A self driven RV could replace mid range hotels and condominiums. It could be an interesting business idea.

 

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Do what tech CANNOT DO.

 

Be entrepreneurial; use the tech to run your own business - and not be someones employee.

Learn to sell. Face to face premium selling, not Peer-2-Peer robot selling.

Sell Unique Product+Physical Experience+Story; what tech cannot do.

Engage in long straddles to capture volatility. Change pays.

Learn to code. Your IP, your benefits.

 

As long as you are flexible and not set in your ways; tech, and the disruption it causes is your friend - which most young people inherently know, but perhaps cannot articulate. But life is not going to be the same as it was for mom/dad, hence you cannot have the same expectations. Bend to the wind, or get run-over - it is entirely to you.

 

SD

 

 

 

 

 

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Good question, though possibly not much investing related in near future.

Let me take a stab.

 

Cutting Grass - I think there's a commercial product available now. However, I think that it is very limited. I think the positives of this is area is that it's not life threatening, and possibly the market of lawn mowers is large. The negatives are that people are cheap and problem is complex (i.e. don't run over things, flowers, but cut dandelions, handle any kind of areas, etc.). I think in near future products will only handle regular areas, which won't displace 50% jobs. 10+ years, I'd say.

 

Pickup trucks plowing out parking lots and driveways

Municipal level snow plowing - Both of these assume self-driving cars + plowing (yeah, you need both, even if you don't think you do). So this is behind self-driving cars. Also limited market, so not much effort until self-driving is perfected. 15+ years.

 

Forklift driving - in enclosed area/warehouse? 7+ years. Definitely disruptable. The only question is market size, which means how much effort startups are gonna give this. But with Amazon in this area, I'd say there definitely gonna be work on this and possibly fast.

 

Airline pilot - Tech wise, airplanes already could fly with 1 pilot instead of 2 with autopilot doing pretty much all work. So 50% reduction immediately. But policy wise it's not gonna be accepted by humans. There's irrational fear of flying already, so there's not gonna be change until somehow humans accept 1 pilot+auto. Maybe 7+ years.

 

Truck driver

Taxi/uber driver - TAS

Fedex/UPS driver

USPS delivery person - I think these are all the same really: self-driving is the key. 15+ years.

 

My self-driving schedule:

Level 4/5 self driving available (but possibly not legalized): 5 years. (BTW, one could argue that Alphabet/Waymo already has level 4/5 self driving. I won't argue this strongly.)

+ 5 years for legalization / working out kinks

+ 5 years for replacing professions above.

 

I'd like to see some non-self-driving professions:

 

- Radiologists

- Other medical personnel who perform diagnosis

- Primary Care Physician

- House painting inside / outside

- Hedge / Mutual fund manager

- Supermarket checkout (btw already 30-40% are gone due to self-checkout)

- Hairdresser

- Programmer

- Auto mechanic

- Cattle herder

- Oil&gas rig worker

- Online investing forum participant

 

Feel free to add.  8)

 

I'd like the military to be robotized. Dangerous job, expensive healthcare, PSTD. Money shouldn't be much of an issue and it is clearly something where robots do the job safer. 8)

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For grass cutting

 

 

I can envision a couple neighbors sharing one of these.

 

There are already some automated baristas, could see these becoming more common for coffee shops and maybe even bars where a bar with 2 or three bartenders now has one human and an automated bartender to handle simple orders efficiently.

 

The real question though is cost, just because technology can replace a human doesn't mean it necessarily will - it's hard to justify a several thousand dollar investment for something that costs you a couple hundred dollars a year. Technology doesn't necessarily eliminate the need for human action either, I'd guarantee that someone who buys that automated mower still has to fiddle with its route or bring out a string trimmer for areas it misses sometimes. We can't think of technology as a 100% replacement of human activity in a space, more like 85-95% replacement of the total man-hours with those remaining in the field becoming more specialized at doing what only a human can do. 

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The real question though is cost, just because technology can replace a human doesn't mean it necessarily will - it's hard to justify a several thousand dollar investment for something that costs you a couple hundred dollars a year.

 

One of my friends founded a robotics company.  His business model is not to sell the robot, but rather rent it out for the equivalent of the cost of a human (i.e. if the human would be paid $30k/year, the rental for the robot is $30K/year).  But the robot doesn't take sick days or vacation, doesn't get benefits, and doesn't quit and need to be rehired and retrained.  With this model, if the capabilities of the robot are the same as the human, the risk of using a robot is low since costs are automatically lower.

 

When I look to see at the places his company is gaining traction, I have little doubt that cost will be a problem--he's already replacing fairly low playing jobs, and efficiency will only improve. Thus, I think almost anything that can be roboticized will.

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The real question though is cost, just because technology can replace a human doesn't mean it necessarily will - it's hard to justify a several thousand dollar investment for something that costs you a couple hundred dollars a year.

 

One of my friends founded a robotics company.  His business model is not to sell the robot, but rather rent it out for the equivalent of the cost of a human (i.e. if the human would be paid $30k/year, the rental for the robot is $30K/year).  But the robot doesn't take sick days or vacation, doesn't get benefits, and doesn't quit and need to be rehired and retrained.  With this model, if the capabilities of the robot are the same as the human, the risk of using a robot is low since costs are automatically lower.

 

When I look to see at the places his company is gaining traction, I have little doubt that cost will be a problem--he's already replacing fairly low playing jobs, and efficiency will only improve. Thus, I think almost anything that can be roboticized will.

 

Cool business model, what fields are his robots "working" in?

 

One less obvious effect of robot labor, and your friend's business model seems to correct it, is that in an industry heavily dependent on robots it's a lot more difficult for new entrants to the market to compete. Some simple math, let's say the initial purchase of a robot is 5x average human salary so a robot replacing a $50,000 a year human is $250k. Hiring 5 humans, paying them every week or two weeks, and seeing if the business model works and can make a profit in the first year is probably easier than finding financing for $1.25 million in robots just to get started. Being able to rent them or share them with another similar company since you might not need them 24/7/365 opens up a lot of possibilities, of course soon there will be a used market for them too  ;D

 

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On a related note, here's a good explanation of the "Lump of Labor" fallacy by Marc Andreessen.

 

I was familiar with it, but never seen it explained to the second, third, and fourth level effects the way he does, which makes it a lot more useful as a model to think about things:

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

 

Might work for easy yards, but IMHO this is still too limited. What if you have yard composed of multiple sections? What if you plant stuff - do you have to run wire again?

 

I did not watch to the end, but I'd guess it might have issues if you have rocks accidentally thrown on grass or similar situations.

 

Anyway, it's not bad, but shows why grasscutting is hard. Especially if you want to do it cheap.

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Okay, Normally I just read these threads with interest, and no intent to comment.  But I couldn't resist.  While I was trying to read this thread my normally reliable IPAD started to glitch, with the screen jumping around, and the buttons moving.  I had to reset it. 

 

Makes me think of mobile devices run amok.  Suddenly my lawn mower takes out the neighbours thousand dollar garden.  I can see myself chasing it around the yard trying to stop it.  Then the forklift in my warehouse suddenly decided to take out a whole row of stacked Ipads and run over them until they were crushed into dust.  Several self driving trucks carrying hundreds of thousands of tons of steel careened into an office building downtown killing hundreds. 

 

While my military was attacking the Ruskies, something went wrong, or we got hacked and suddenly became subjects of Comrade Putin. 

 

I just did a stress test... for those too young too have been subject to such as nasty experience I will describe it.  You run on a treadmill with a few electrodes attached at different parts of your torso, and upper arm.  The differential between the electrodes will tell you if there is a blockage somewhere.  It starts out innocuous enough, walking horizontally on the treadmill.  Then the program tilts the treadmill, and speeds it up.  By the end when your heart rate is hitting 150 or higher your running like hell to stay alive.  While I am doing this I was envisioning if the tech wasn't there to pull the chord out.  I could die like Sheryl Sandbergs husband.

 

  1.                Backpack

2.                Hiking boots, and lightweight shoes

3.                Sleeping Bag

4.                Sleeping Pad (thermarest) - check

5.                Tent with poles

7.                Rain Jacket / pants

8.                Warm fleece, and lightweight hoodie

9.                Long Underwear

10.                        Hiking pants

10. b.                  shorts

 

DTEJ is working in an area where I see automation taking over.  Things that dont involve mobility.  But then this has been consistently getting automated for close to 40 years.  Bookkeeepers replaced by spreadsheets, secretaries replaced by PCs.  So far its a  natural progression.  I dont envy kids, including mine, going into the future workforce.  As Munger suggests, maybe a good old fashioned arts degree followed by specialized training. 

 

Oh, and that stuff in the middle of the screen is my camping equipment list.  I accidentally hit paste. 

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Uccmal, you clearly don't use a car...

 

Cause you know: microprocessors for fuel injection, cruise control, getting to brakes too... a recipe for disaster according to you, no?

 

8)

 

Take a big breath.

 

Edit: And then I forgot about planes... don't even try to get into one of these bastards. Tons of electronics and code. And definitely mobile.  ;)

Edit 2: And BTW, US Navy... was running Windows... on ships... around 1998... what can go wrong...  ;) Apparently nothing so far.  ::)

 

Software is in everything. And it's there to stay. So the apocalyptic scenarios of runaway lawnmowers... might happen... but then when was the last time Roomba killed anyone? Or your car's cruise control?

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Uccmal, you clearly don't use a car...

 

Cause you know: microprocessors for fuel injection, cruise control, getting to brakes too... a recipe for disaster according to you, no?

 

8)

 

Take a big breath.

 

Edit: And then I forgot about planes... don't even try to get into one of these bastards. Tons of electronics and code. And definitely mobile.  ;)

Edit 2: And BTW, US Navy... was running Windows... on ships... around 1998... what can go wrong...  ;) Apparently nothing so far.  ::)

 

Software is in everything. And it's there to stay. So the apocalyptic scenarios of runaway lawnmowers... might happen... but then when was the last time Roomba killed anyone? Or your car's cruise control?

 

There's a strict limit of 1 automated lawnmower per block, if they get too close to one another they'll start plotting an uprising against their human masters ;D

 

I think of these automated techs are just capable enough to replace the boring part of the job allowing humans to specialize. If the lawnmower can mow the easy parts of my yard or the roomba can do most of the house, I can handle the rest - hopefully a lot quicker than doing it all myself now. Think how much human labor washing machines and dishwashers replaced when they first came into existence, sure you still have to put in some effort loading and unloading them but the majority of the work that used to take hours is done for you.

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This thread connects several interesting topics:

 

-Resistance to change and loss of control

When cars started to hit the road, many felt they constituted a threat and even were evil.

Even stone throwing was common.

It is remarkable how humans adapt and adopt.

 

http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/467412.html

http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/michigan-history/2015/04/26/auto-traffic-history-detroit/26312107/

 

-How small things can make a huge difference

Some suggest that the washing machine (with the advent of electricity) may have been one of the great modern inventions.

 

http://www.gapminder.org/videos/hans-rosling-and-the-magic-washing-machine/

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Uccmal, you clearly don't use a car...

 

Cause you know: microprocessors for fuel injection, cruise control, getting to brakes too... a recipe for disaster according to you, no?

 

8)

 

Take a big breath.

 

Edit: And then I forgot about planes... don't even try to get into one of these bastards. Tons of electronics and code. And definitely mobile.  ;)

Edit 2: And BTW, US Navy... was running Windows... on ships... around 1998... what can go wrong...  ;) Apparently nothing so far.  ::)

 

Software is in everything. And it's there to stay. So the apocalyptic scenarios of runaway lawnmowers... might happen... but then when was the last time Roomba killed anyone? Or your car's cruise control?

 

There's a strict limit of 1 automated lawnmower per block, if they get too close to one another they'll start plotting an uprising against their human masters ;D

 

I think of these automated techs are just capable enough to replace the boring part of the job allowing humans to specialize. If the lawnmower can mow the easy parts of my yard or the roomba can do most of the house, I can handle the rest - hopefully a lot quicker than doing it all myself now. Think how much human labor washing machines and dishwashers replaced when they first came into existence, sure you still have to put in some effort loading and unloading them but the majority of the work that used to take hours is done for you.

 

Ah, but nothing you guys have mentioned is autonomous.  And they glitch out all the time.  A buddy of mine got stranded in Syracuse a month ago,  by what, oh my, software problems on the plane. 

 

Its okay Jurgis.  I get tech people.  They think that tech is the answer for everything, including death and immortality.  Just download yourself into that there computer and we will duplicate you millions of times and screw up your code.  Oh the fun to be had. 

 

 

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-How small things can make a huge difference

Some suggest that the washing machine (with the advent of electricity) may have been one of the great modern inventions.

 

http://www.gapminder.org/videos/hans-rosling-and-the-magic-washing-machine/

 

My vote goes to the dishwasher, but maybe that is because ours is currently broken and we are experiencing what life without it is like.  Lucky repairman is coming today.  But yeah the washing machine is big, as is refrigeration, and central heat/AC.  It is crazy to think that none of these things existed a relatively short time ago.

 

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Its okay Jurgis.  I get tech people.  They think that tech is the answer for everything, including death and immortality.  Just download yourself into that there computer and we will duplicate you millions of times and screw up your code.  Oh the fun to be had. 

 

Tech is the answer to everything, or at least it can be.  It can eventually solve every problem we currently have or worry about (including death).  It can do all the work we currently do ourselves for us and more, and it might allow us to settle the solar system, then the galaxy, then other galaxies.  The only questions are: When?;  How much of this will we who are currently alive live to see?; and, Will we destroy ourselves first?

 

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