There’s been a lot of discussion over the years regarding the disruptive effect of commercial LENR — and the topic came up in some comments yesterday as pertaining to its effect on employment. This is something I have thought about quite a bit, and I think there are good arguments for LENR causing both more and less employment.
Commercial LENR could lead to more employment because:
- A drop in overhead costs for businesses will free up more funds for business expansion, hiring new employees.
- If energy prices drop, consumers will have more discretionary funds to spend — thus increasing economic activity overall, leading to more jobs.
- New industries will grow out of LENR, e.g. installation and servicing of new LENR power plants and generators, desalination plants, below-road heating systems, intensive agriculture, robotics, transportation, etc.
Commercial LENR could lead to less employment because:
- Many people working in the current energy sector would lose their jobs as industries drift into obselescence (e.g. wind power, solar power, coal mining, petroleum production)
- Drop in public sector jobs as governments lose revenue streams from taxation on energy, carbon taxes
- More people would voluntarily opt for working less as their energy costs are reduced, thus requiring less income
- Cheap energy would allow for more economical automation of labor — more robotics, 3D printing, computing, etc.
So there are persuasive arguments on both sides of the equation, and this is really uncharted territory so it’s very hard to predict which way things will go. It’s likely that there will be short- and long-term effects. Possibly we would see an economic boom with more employments initially — but leading to a new kind of economy where less employment is required overall. Maybe employment as we now know it will become less desirable over time as so many of our needs can be met with new technology based on very cheap energy.
What do people here think?