The Age Of Disruption.

It has become fashionable for entrepreneurs and businesses to seek disruption; to seek opportunities so significant they can disrupt and change entire sectors of the economy in the same way Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat have disrupted the traditional media business; in the same way Uber and Lyft have disrupted traditional taxicab companies; in the same way AirBnB is disrupting the hotel business.

While these examples have been disruptive, for the most part they have created as many job opportunities as those they have displaced.

However, there are two impending disruptions that promise to be far more damaging: Climate change and Artificial Intelligence. Yet few are talking about them. Few have any idea of the large-scale impact of these issues. And our political leaders are either in denial or clueless.

Let’s begin with the effects of climate change. Scientists, NOAA, NASA, the EPA, the Department of Defense, POTUS, the UN, even world religious leaders have warned of the impending consequences of failing to deal with climate change. We know that the world’s coastlines and many of the world’s largest cities are threatened by global warming and rising sea levels. We know that climate change is increasing the number and violence of weather systems. And we know that thousands of the world’s species of plants and animals are threatened by changing temperatures. Yet politicians – specifically those in the Republican Party – continue to call climate change a hoax. And they have blocked every attempt to head off a crisis. But the rules of science are unbound by the beliefs of politicians.

Climate change is happening on a massive scale. And, unless we view it as a serious threat, as well as an economic opportunity for creating new industries to replace carbon fuels, climate change is likely to cause unprecedented migration and disruption. In the most extreme circumstances, perhaps it will render our planet uninhabitable for humans. Yet, in the first presidential debate, the subject of climate change was not seriously addressed by either candidate.

The other impending disruption is Artificial Intelligence (AI) – computers and robots that can learn by absorbing massive amounts of data and use logic to perform tasks that we take for granted as being exclusive to humans. We have already seen robots replace thousands of workers in manufacturing plants. In fact, more American manufacturing jobs have been lost to robots than have been shipped to China. Indeed, in recent years, many manufacturing plants have been moved back to the US, but much of their work is being done by robots.

Today’s automotive manufacturing plants employee far fewer people than ever before. The automotive frames and bodies are welded together by robots to precise tolerances that cannot be matched by humans. The engine blocks and other parts are cast, drilled and partially assembled by robots. So all of the tough talk about making US corporations bring back jobs through tariffs and other trade deals is just that…talk.

And manufacturing robots are just the beginning.

For example, within the next ten years, we will see the widespread use of self-driving cars and trucks. One of the positive consequences of such vehicles is that they will be able to reduce and virtually eliminate traffic accidents. On the other hand, they will eliminate the jobs of long haul truckers and taxicab drivers, even Lyft and Uber drivers. It is estimated that there are more than 10 million semi-truck drivers in the US alone.

What will these people do?

In the future, AI will permeate every aspect of our lives. AI computers will be able to access online legal libraries, make decisions and file legal documents on our behalf without need of a lawyer. They will be able to perform medical surgeries with more precision than the world’s best surgeons. They will replace military personnel. They will replace airline pilots and ship captains. They will act as highly-skilled and highly-trained servants to perform most of our daily tasks. They will search the Web for the best products at the best value and make recommendations to us. They will make purchases, make reservations and pay bills for us.

Such capabilities are not somewhere far off in the future. Computers are doing similar things now.

If the development of AI continues at the current pace (in all likelihood it will accelerate), more and more humans will be looking for and competing for jobs only humans can do. The disruption will be dramatic!

So while our politicians argue about national deficits and debt; while they dither over the reality of climate change; while they create fear over the influx of immigrants; while they divide us with ideologies; while they fiddle with the mundane, Rome and the rest of the world, including the US is only awaiting the match that will set fire to everything we know, even what we think we know.

GOP Put “Obamacare” Tantrum Above Infrastructure And Jobs.

In March of this year, President Obama called for Congress to approve a $21 billion package designed to update our crumbling infrastructure and create jobs. “Let’s get this done. Let’s rebuild this country we love. Let’s make sure we’re staying on the cutting edge,” Obama said, calling for a “partnership to rebuild America.”

As part of the package, Obama proposed creating an infrastructure bank to help seed major projects. In addition, his proposal would invest $4 billion to support the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) designed to leverage private and non-federal funding for projects of regional or national significance through loans, loan guarantees and lines of credit. The proposal also called for tax incentives meant to support state and municipal bonds for infrastructure modernization projects. The president noted that both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and labor unions back infrastructure spending.

It was met with indifference by Republicans in Congress.

Speaker John Boehner questioned how such projects would be funded. “It’s easy to go out there and be Santa Claus and talk about all the things you want to give away, but at some point somebody has to pay the bill,” he said.

Keep in mind the cost of the package was $21 billion…$3 billion less than Republicans and their Tea Party parasites squandered by shutting down the government for 16 days! Who’s going to pay that bill?

Wait! I already know the answer. If the GOP follows it’s usual protocol, the money will be taken from food stamps, kids and the working poor.

GOP: 1.6 Million Jobs Don’t Matter.

There was a story this week that was overshadowed by Anthony Weiner’s penis, San Diego Mayor Filner’s hands-on management style and Congressman Steve King’s idiotic statements on immigrants. It was news that the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) reported that sequestration cuts forced by the Republican-dominated House will prevent the creation of 1.6 million jobs over the next year.

The report came as an answer to Speaker John Boehner’s oft-asked question, “Where are the jobs under the Obama administration?”

Yet the CBO report was met with a resounding yawn by Republican leadership. They are far more interested in preparing for the next debt ceiling crisis and moving to repeal “Obamacare” a few more dozen times. Indeed, Washington insiders claim that jobs are no longer seen as an issue by Republicans because the economy is growing despite their obstruction.

The economy may be growing, but not nearly fast enough. More important, salaries have not grown at all, except for those at the top.

Nevertheless, the Republican majority continues to ignore jobs in favor of cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Since taking control of the House with the promise of creating jobs, Republicans have not presented a single bill that would create jobs or rebuild our failing infrastructure. They have refused to negotiate a budget deal with Democrats. They won’t even create a committee to resolve differences with the Senate budget bill.

Indeed, this Congress is on track to pass the fewest bills in history!

Think about that for a moment. Our population has grown dramatically. Our nation’s problems are far more complex than ever before. Our infrastructure is crumbling. Our electric grid is cobbled together with antiquated technology. Climate change is claiming shoreline at an alarming rate. (Maryland’s Governor O’Malley recently stated that the state is losing 1.6 acres every day.) A large portion of our population doesn’t know where the next meal is coming from. And a growing number of our military veterans are struggling.

The problems are many. But Republican solutions are few and very far between.