South Africa, I’m told, is the paradigm case of handing the keys to a 1st World nation to the Marching Morons. Rolling power outages — once inconceivable — are now routine. Medical care, once first rate, is now 3rd World standard. Roads are impassable, crime is out of control, and the whole place is Beyond Thunderdome… In short, as Old Hands always say with a shrug, “Africa wins again.”
You know, the same thing that happens everywhere in the wake of “decolonization.” See also Rhodesia, from which we can hypothesize that the longer the “colonizers” hold on, the worse the inevitable crash will be. Since we’re going to end up with a Brave New World-style competency caste system anyway, it might behoove us to start prepping now.
I’d start by studying the military. They won’t tell you this (because it be rayciss) but the ASVAB is your basic old-school IQ test, with some general competency questions thrown in. War is the ultimate right-answer discipline, so the Army knows better than anyone what the word “average” means. Everything they do — all training, all maintenance, all systems, everywhere — is of necessity oriented around the lowest common denominator, and they know to the fraction of an IQ point just which soldiers are capable of handling what tasks.
What’s the low end of the motor pool, IQ-wise? South Africa’s rolling blackouts, I’m told, are largely due to the fact that low-IQ types can’t handle preventive maintenance. Is this because they’re too stupid to lube a ball bearing, or because they can’t be made to see the need for preventive maintenance? It matters — is it just IQ, or is it low IQ plus low future time orientation? Do you need, in other words, just one maintenance man, properly instructed, or a maintenance man plus a slightly higher IQ supervisor? One private… or a platoon of privates, plus an NCO, a lieutenant, and the whole military bureaucracy?
Or can the whole process be automated? Since we still live in a 100 average IQ society, we tend to assume that people are cheaper than machines. McDonald’s, for example, still finds it cheaper to pay order takers, burger flippers, fry guys, etc. than to automate the whole shebang. But it can be automated, as the geniuses in Seattle have proved. Right now it’s just ordering, but skim the linked article — “Flippy” the burger-flipping robot already exists; it’s only the perceived prohibitively high cost of rolling them out nationwide that keeps everyone but cashiers employed.
When the risks of human labor outweigh the costs of automation — say, burger flippers immolating an entire restaurant because they’re too stupid to run the griddle — labor will be automated. Plus, capitalism being what it is, automation will get cheaper as demand skyrockets. So apply that across the board. Right now it’s much, much cheaper to pay a somewhat intelligent human technician to do the PM on the ball bearings at the power station… but, as South Africa shows, that particular cost-benefit curve is about to go negative. I suspect a lot of mission-critical tasks could be automated, even now — Lubey the ball bearing maintenance robot might cost a few million per, but long term you only need to employ one on-call Lubey technician, not a small army of human maintenance guys… that you can’t trust not to blow the whole plant up anyway.
Let’s call that guy — the on-call technician that services Lubey the maintenance robot — your Beta Technician. How smart does he have to be? We might have an analogous case for that, too, in the petroleum industry. In extreme conditions — Alaska, the North Sea — automation is cheaper than paying all but the most mission-critical humans. A North Sea oil rig is a marvel of engineering, but it still takes a few humans to make it go. Are these roughnecks, or roughnecks-with-PhDs? As these are multi-million dollar investments, you can be sure that Exxon et al know to the fraction of the IQ point just how smart their rig jockeys have to be. Maybe they’d be kind enough to share that info with us….
Any polity that takes HBD at all seriously has to start thinking these things through. We won’t, of course, because our polity is little better than a nuclear-armed cargo cult, but we should. If nothing else, I know some of y’all are STEM types. Any process engineers out there? There’s gonna be one hell of a market for idiot-proof service systems here real soon. Let’s start an investment club.Loading Likes...