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2014-07-06T16:00:20Z
Here’s an unsurprising factoid: Billionaires don’t understand what it’s like to not have enough money, especially when they’ve been rich virtually their entire adult lives. Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page sat down for a “fireside chat” at the Khosla Ventures CEO Summit, and they shared their thoughts on, among other thing, the present and future of the human workforce.

The conversation flowed that way naturally, and host Vinod Khosla asked an interesting question about the “machine-learning revolution” and how human jobs are being replaced. “But I do wonder if the vast majority of jobs that we know today, more than 50-percent might be replaced by machines that can do that human judgment piece better,” he said.

Brin Page

Brin and Page essentially agreed that machines have replaced many workers in the past and would likely continue to do so over the next couple of decades.

And then the conversation went off the rails. Page stated that the things we typically need to make ourselves happy are housing, security, and opportunities for our kids--which is an agreeable enough statement--but then his rich-guy myopia took over. “It's not that hard for us to provide those things,” he said. “The amount of resources we need to do that, the amount of work that actually needs to go into that is pretty small. I'm guessing less than 1-percent at the moment. So the idea that everyone needs to work frantically to meet people's needs is just not true.”

Allowing that he’s thinking in the larger sense about the need for certain kinds of labor, he’s completely wrong that individuals don’t have to work hard for those essentials. Many families in this country simply can’t achieve those things, and worse, many of those people are employed. One of the problems workers face in making ends meet is being underemployed--not being given enough hours to get over that “part-time” status hump, for example, and dealing with lower-than-necessary hourly wages.

Page’s solution is to copy what he says Richard Branson is trying in the UK by splitting one full time job into two part-time jobs. This measure, Page indicates, is to help people feel wanted and valuable by giving them something to do. He also thinks we should add more vacation time.

Surely everyone would be happy working less hours and having more vacation time. However, far too many people would be happier with a real, full-time job that paid them a living wage. Page and Brin may well be geniuses, and their contribution to the world via Google is almost immeasurable, but they’re apparently clueless when it comes to the harsh economy and dismal job market the rest of us are facing.
DanJChiccino
2014-07-06T16:21:58Z

Wow....These two have no clue what its like to work a labor job 12 hours a day, 5 days a week and still barely have enough money to get by.

RCone
2014-07-06T16:26:43Z

Typical rich person's solution. Take one full time job and split it into two part time jobs where neither employee has any benefits outside of a paycheck. Brin and Page are both idiots, rich idiots, but idiots nonetheless.

JamesHostick
2014-07-06T16:35:22Z

Not surprising considering that it's a couple of Billionaires who are spouting this nonsense.

DragneaPaul
2014-07-06T16:52:43Z
RZielaskowski
2014-07-06T17:40:16Z

Don't understand the hate. Technically, it would help 'fix' some of the unemployment. People who can't get a job at all, who are homeless, or are depending on others (family/government) would have a better chance at a job. Employers would have lower risk hiring someone.

Another method would be to lower the minimum wage so these same people could get full time jobs.

People hate to hear it, but not everyone is equal, not everyone is worth employing for the minimum wage.

DarylSkinnersTechTipsSkinner
2014-07-06T18:40:25Z

You're an asshole,what sane person would even allow themselves to slave over less wages. That's exactly what''s wrong with this country,GOP idiots like yourself would rather see people eating out of garbage cans than make an honest living.

BenFletcher
2014-07-06T19:00:06Z

Not only that, but with minimum wage increases, this is basically what's already happening...

jturnbull65
2014-07-06T19:41:59Z

The "work" that he is talking about is the total national, or even global, activity. Just as he explains with his lead-in that in 100 years the US went from requiring the vast amount of work to go towards farming to now being able to accomplish it with 2% of the workforce, he is saying likewise that the work required to produce housing, security, and the more vague "opportunity for our kids" is very small. He is speaking hypothetically and ideologically, and the misinterpretation that leads to the author calling Page clueless is laughably ironic.

FreeJet
2014-07-06T20:30:00Z

Everybody doesn't get to come to work wearing t-shirts and flip-flops. Everybody doesn't have a Zen garden to meditate in or a house designed using feng s[censored]. Everybody can't "Wang Chung tonight". If Google did a Google of itself, I wonder what it would find? Would it see a "reflection" of itself? Would it approve of what it "saw"? Inquiring minds want to know.

StephenCordova
2014-07-06T21:45:19Z

The main problem is that nothing is MADE here!

DonEdwardsJr
2014-07-06T22:42:07Z

Why I hire Mexican's they work for $2 a hr. the one's that beg me for more money I just replace.

acarzt
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2014-07-06T23:03:27Z

They are not idiots... they didn't become billions because they are idiots... they are just ignorant. They have never experienced what us common folk do everyday. You shouldnt expect them to have answer for something they dont know anything about, just like no one would expect any of you to be able to solve hard problems in an industry you're unfamiliar with, like theoretical physics for example.

AllenJun
2014-07-06T23:26:56Z

I read the title and decided to read the article just because its probably a misleading title or something, but wow! I am poor.

CameronBashaw
2014-07-07T04:49:20Z

Don't forget, Google's been investing heavily in robotics so it can completely replace the human workforce, selling their inventions to the commercial industries that are in want of saving their bottom line even more.... at least, that's not too far fetched...