How Many Professional Workers Can Ten Thousand Super Computers Supervise?

“A new supervising service called Humanoid launched today, backed by funding from Google Ventures. Humanoid will rent out armies of humans (they have 20,000 workers already signed up to start) for $4.99 per hour to develop software, supervised by an algorithm.”

Christie Nicholson, Google-backed robot overlords take over supervision of human workers, IBM SmartPlanet, November 2, 2011


“China has made its first supercomputer based on Chinese microprocessor chips, an advance that surprised high-performance computing specialists in the United States.

The Sunway system, which can perform about 1,000 trillion calculations per second — a petaflop — will probably rank among the 20 fastest computers in the world. More significantly, it is composed of 8,700 ShenWei SW1600 microprocessors, designed at a Chinese computer institute and manufactured in Shanghai.”

John Markoff, China Has Homemade Supercomputer Gain, New York Times, October 28, 2011


It is said that at some point accumulating quantitative change becomes a qualitative change — a spring rain lasting forty days and forty nights becomes something other than a rainy spring!  Has the world had its forty days and forty nights of global technological change? – if not, it has surely had at least thirty days and the pace of technological change is accelerating.  Imagine a world in which a hundred million people (working below the U.S. minimum wage and supervised by Humanoid and similar programs) are writing software code intended to displace professional workers in law, medicine, teaching, business management, consulting, and government.

The core question for the 21st century is this: how will the world’s nations create socially legitimate entitlements to income in an era when only a minority of the world’s working-age people can obtain income through work and most of those who do work are paid less than a living wage?