ahead of schedule by five years. also, FYI, Tesla
develops and builds electric cars.
Hamid, a student in his mid-20s who works in a computer shop near Tehran
About a year ago, the price of $1 was around 10,000 rials. This week, when the rial hit a record low, $1 traded for 36,000 rials. The collapse of the rial is blamed on the government’s mismanagement of the economy and on economic sanctions imposed on Iran over its sensitive nuclear work.
Murtaza Hussain explains the affects on Iranians by imposing Western sanctions
Today as the United States continues to intensify its international economic sanctions programme against Iran, it is worth revisiting the catastrophic harm which a previous sanctions campaign against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had upon that country. While the sanctions failed to remove Saddam from power and by many accounts helped him solidify his grip on the country by keeping the overwhelming majority of the population focused purely on subsistence, they took a calculatedly devastating toll on Iraqi civilians.
Between 1989 and 1996 per capita income in the country dropped from $3,510 to below $450, a drop caused primarily by the rapid currency depreciation of the Iraq dinar due to financial sanctions against the country’s central bank. Prices of basic commodities soared, with staples such as wheat, sugar and rice increasing several hundred-fold in a matter of months. From having a relatively modern economy fuelled primarily by oil income, by the year 2000 over 60 per cent of Iraqis were reliant on food rations for their daily sustenance. [x]
Sanctions are dehumanizing Iranians and it is war upon them
In all of the massive commentary in establishment foreign policy circles that has come out on the Iran issue as of late, however, very little focuses on the immense human costs a war on Iran would entail. According to a new report that tries to estimate this, the number of immediate casualties that would result from bombing Iran’s top four enrichment sites would be would be about 5,000 people. “If the bombing would include more than those four sites,” says the study from the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics, ”then the immediate casualty would be up to 10,000 people.”
What about casualties that are not immediate? Even if a US or Israeli strike only targeted Iran’s nuclear sites and it didn’t result in larger land war (unlikely), the toxic plumes released as a result of the strikes could kill or injure up to 70,000 civilians in nearby cities and towns. ”People’s skin could be burnt, they could become blind, their lungs could be destroyed, their kidneys could be damaged, and in the future they could face other health problems such as skin cancer and [other forms] of cancer,” according to the author of the report. [x]
I recently attended a Career’s Evening at my 16 year old daughter’s school. The idea was that parents representing typical middle class professions, such as banking, military, accounting, medicine, law and marketing stood around answering questions from the kids, who ranged in age between 15 and 18.
Apart from the odd mobile phone, the scene may well have taken place at any time in the last 60 years or so.
And yet, things are no longer what they were and every one of those professions are going to be fundamentally disrupted by the time the children will be a few years into their career, after finishing their schooling and studying for more years at University. Those well-meaning parents probably haven’t a clue about what’s about to hit them and as a result, would be totally incapable of describing what it’s going to be like to be Doctor, Soldier or Banker. In fact, those kids couldn’t have been more misled if we’d conspired to systematically lie to them.
Here’s just a few thoughts on how these venerable professions will change as a result of exponentially increasing technology:
Military – Technology takes over. As an example, the Pentagon already has 19,000 drones and Obama has authorised over 3000 strikes, five times as many as Bush. Good article here.
Accounting – realtime reporting and specialist software will reduce most accounting functions to mere oversight, a little like the role of today’s aircraft pilots. Unfortunately, you don’t need that many people to oversee things in case they go wrong.
Medicine – the combination of realtime monitoring via the mobile (or specialist devices) and personalised treatment based on genomics is set to make today’s medicine look like 19th century butchery.
Law – when is some kind soul going to screw up this cartel? Endless duplication of contracts and paperwork and disputes that could be settled instantly based on a dispassionate examination of the facts by software. Like all these examples, there will be some edge cases where real people might be required – certainly in the short term – but a hell of a lot can be eliminated.
Marketing – one of my catch phrases recently has been that marketing has turned from a dark art into a transparent science. Probably the best preparation for marketing these days would be a maths or statistics degree.
Banking – Again, an industry that’s going to be decimated through technology. Already most trading is automated and other jobs are going to follow.
Obviously, I could delve into each of these areas in more detail and the fact that I haven’t doesn’t mean that the case is superficial. I just don’t want to write reams and reams on each argument here. If you disagree, feel free to write a comment after doing some of your own research and thinking about it. Lots of people in these jobs will be in denial, but from my perspective, it’s going to happen unless some other disaster (war, disease, climate change) hits us first.
There’s a few consequences of all this though. Firstly, the middle classes are going to be decimated in the next 20 years. The traditional professions that have maintained such a comfortable way of life for so long are going to largely disappear. Be prepared.
Secondly, what advice should we be giving those kids? I’d say that they should be thinking of a career that can’t be done by a very smart robot. And that’s probably a largely manual job like a waiter or chef on the one hand, or an entrepreneur/wealth creator on the other. These types of jobs will represent the pinnacle of earnings in society and that’s what they should be aiming for.
This might all seem very radical, scary and for many, impossible to believe. But we live in exponential times and the results are going to be change at an increasingly faster rate. The future belongs to the people who understand and embrace that change and that’s the message we should be telling our kids.
Disturbing and possibly depressing, it’s important for people to know this. In particular, kids and young adults. It’s going to become increasingly difficult to get a decent job without a good education or possibly a niche field that might hold out longer than most. This is a coming jobs revolution similar to the industrial revolution… except that instead of offering boring, low-paying jobs, it’ll pretty much decimate all these traditional jobs. The next 20 years are going to be very difficult - and I could well imagine Luddite sentiments being revived.
On the plus side, it means that jobs will (eventually) become more about what humans can do better than machines: creativity, interaction, etc. In other words, jobs will become a more human experience.
Well, at least until the next jobs revolution. Who knows, maybe work itself will one day become voluntary and unnecessary.