Biography of James Lyman
1) First Three Technology Displacements I saw-
2) My Career-
3) Counter Terrorism Work-
List of Publications
I am an engineer, with multiple degrees, a bachelor of science in Aerospace Engineering from SLU, an Electrical Engineering from KSU, and a masters of science in System Management from USC. My graduate work is a combination of project management and systems analysis, involving the methods to analyze and solve complex problems. From the very start of my technical career, I have witnessed one incident after another of technology displacement with career fields disappearing for people who are replaced by machines. Therefore, when I speak about technology displacement and obsolete people, it isn’t some abstract opinion rather it’s from experience over several decades. While in the Army (1972-5), I took an electronics technology course from CIE to both strengthen my aerospace degree and have a marketable skill for returning to university work. The marketable skill was an FCC Radiotelephone First Class licenses, which was then required to be on duty at all commercial radio or television stations while the transmitter was on and broadcasting. This requirement made for a large number of good jobs available to help pay my way through school. But upon leaving the army in the spring of 1975, I was shocked to find most of those jobs had disappeared, leaving my plans for returning to school in jeopardy.
While I was in the army, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) had approved the use of automated transmitter controllers in broadcast stations, and now those stations only required one holder of an FCC licenses, who was the station’s chief engineer. With sinking heart, I went from one station after another looking for a job, wondering what was happening, until one chief engineer took the time to explain what had happen to the career field. With the automated controller, they no longer needed the more expensive licenses holder, instead could use people with lower skills levels and therefore lower paid. Furthermore, they no longer needed electronic technicians to service the equipment because with transistors, their equipment had much lower failure rates, and it was cheaper to buy two or more pieces of equipment so when one failed, they just box it up and send it back to the factory for repair while using the backups. Luckily, I found a PBS station who hadn’t upgraded to an automated system and got a job that allowed me to continue with my graduate work while also working on my Electrical Engineering degree.
First Three Technology Displacements I saw-
My first engineering job was with Bendix in Kansas City, who was the contractor to operate a government manufacturing plant. One task Bendix had was to try out new technologies and evaluate them for the government, to determine if a technology should be adopted more widely. There I saw the beginnings of three major ˈjob displacementˈ technologies being evaluated. When I first started there, a supervisor commented more that once, that on previous expansion cycles, secretary/clerk typist where hired ˈone for oneˈ for the professional people like engineers. But she was confused why for this cycle, only six clerk-typist had been hired for maybe an hundred professionals. Getting to my section, I quickly found out why- the word processor!
With an early dedicated (didn’t use a personal computer) word processor, about six ladies were doing the work of a hundred or more. At the start of 1976, Electric Pencil, the first word processor program, was introduced for the then first personal computer, the Altair 8800 by MITS. Suddenly, the cost for word processor systems dropped like a brick allowing the smallest business to afford such systems. At that time, one third of the jobs for women were secretary and clerk typist, which the emerging women liberation movement looked down on with disdain as lowly jobs unfit for the modern women. But in about ten years, they were largely gone replaced by the computer and word processor. Now you walk through an airport and there sits people in suits, laptops open as they type up their own memos, trip reports and other business documents, never to be seen by a secretary who’s job no longer exits.
The second technology I saw was the NC (Numeric Control) machine tools that were replacing the lathes, shapers and milling machines used to cut mechanical machine parts out of blocks of metal. With these machines, the operator only had to clamp in a piece of blank metal, press the ‘GO’ button and step back to watch. The machine would put the required metal cutting tool in its drive socket, and start cutting away the unwanted metal. As a different tool or drill bit was needed, the robot machine got it out of its cabinet, after putting the previous one back in, then locking the new tool in its drive socket to continue. Once finished, the machine stopped and the operator dug the finished part out of the metal chips, which he swept aside to repeat the process with a new metal blank. I commented to an operator that he better watch out, these machines would take his job, but he just laughed saying it was a union shop so it couldn’t take jobs. Neither of us realized that these robots would allow American manufacturing to move offshore to third world nations, because now manufacturing didn’t need the large pool of highly skilled machinist. Again, in surprisingly short time, those mirid of good paying machinist jobs disappeared never to return.
The third technology of displacement was a dedicated computer for doing the technical drawings used in engineering and manufacturing. Looking like a giant radar screen in air traffic control, with a keyboard having dozens of ganged push buttons to make selections of operations, the draftsman could draw just as he did on a drawing board, with scales, triangles and templates using pencils and erasures. But he could not only do it faster, but much, much more accurately, plus make corrections in a fraction of the time it took with erasure on paper. Once the drawing was done, it could be printed out and go down to manufacturing to make. Later, through software, the electronic drawing could be linked to the robot machinist so there wasn’t any paper drawing needed.
As an engineer, I had a good selection of drafting equipment . . . a high end drafting table, tons of templates and triangles of different sizes, a mechanical lettering set and all the other odds and ends used in drafting. No more. For years I’ve used a drafting program or CAD (Computer Aided Design) on my personal computer to create drawings and sketches I use in my engineering work. Same with a word processor, so in doing engineering consulting work, I’ve never needed a draftsman or secretary to do my work . . . or to pay. And in the decades since seeing these three technologies take root, I’ve seen many other career fields laid to waste by new technologies, and today I’m witnessing new technologies, that as an engineer and technologist, I’m able to recognized what is happening and know when careers are beginning to disappear.
Today we are seeing two revolutions that will take as many as six million jobs away. The first is ATS (Automated Teaching Systems) which at a time of poor education results, will not only teach children cheaper, but better by being a tutor that teaches each student individually, automatically adjusting for weakness of their skills and talents. I say, that in ten years, most of the teachers will be gone, only needed for the young children just starting and special education. Only classroom monitors will be needed to ensure students are doing their lessons, then after school, room monitors can also drive the buses. I have been watching the experimentation of self driving cars, since when it took hours for a test car to go around a circular track that a man could walk around in just minutes. Then, I thought it would be several decades before such systems could ever possibly drive a public roadway, but in a decade or so, there they are driving highways and byways all by themselves. But with the electronic systems for self driving costing in excess of $80,000 they’re not going to be found in many private cars, but commercial trucks are a different manner. This is where all the talk about self driving robots is . . . replacing those expensive humans at the steering wheel with a robot machine able to drive 24/7 without pause or rest. Like the teachers, the commercial truck drivers, both long haul and delivery, are on the way out, because:
Any time you reduce the skill-intellectual requirements for a job, you reduce your labor cost.
Everyday it seems people meet a new technology in our lives, and if they notice at all, it’s just a brief pause, maybe some comment like ˈnow isn’t that clever . . .ˈ, but being a well trained engineer and technologist I’m able to see past what is physically seen by most individuals to see deeper into the technology and how it is part of a technology based economy and how it can reduce the needs of people’s intellectual skills, and hence the need for people in the long run. That’s why people don’t appreciate the ‘obsolete people’ problem and consequential displacement by technology. Without that understanding of what is happening, it makes it just that much easier for the Golden Rule of Automation:
You want something done right . . . get rid of the human!
And that’s how it’s been even before I started my engineering career in the late 1970's. That’s how it continues to this day!
After Bendix, I worked for a computer manufacture called Datapoint, whose computers were built from discrete electronic components instead of using microprocessors, which gave me a deeper understanding of what is going on inside that box which people call computers. This is when I got my first personal computer, a RadioShack TRS-80 Model I, with which I learned more about computers. Like the previous generation of males who ˈsouped upˈ their automobiles
making modifications for a more mean machine, I made modifications to my computer to get more out of it, starting with adding more memory. I added first one floppy disk drive, then three more for a full set, a printer, serial interface and even a speed doubler kit, also new ROMs to get lower case letters on the screen. I even designed and build special circuits to go on my computer, a multiple channel analog-to-digital converter and digital-to-analog converts to read external voltages and output voltages, plus digital latches and buffers to read digital data from the external world. I bought an X-Y plotter to go on my computer so I could draw graphs directly instead of plotting them on my drafting table. In total, I had a real blast with my first computer while learning a tremendous amount about computers.
Finally, from an electronic magazine article, I built an EPROM programmer that allowed me to build my own stand alone computers. I already had a program for my TRS-80 to write and compile assembly code for the Z-80 microprocessor used by my computer. The programmer allowed me to transfer that program to another Z-80 outside of my computer. From there, I began doing embedded systems for my electronic designs. I found myself doing more control systems and instrumentation work, first as an employee then as an independent consultant.
Counter Terrorism Work-
I originally trained and started my career as an armament systems engineer, having read military history extensively since highschool, and therefore having a strong understanding of the environment of weapons. Just before the 9/11 attack, I had an idea for a machine to automatically disarm pipe bombs, and indeed was working on a proof of concept machine when my friend and business partner called and said go look on TV. And there was the images of the smoking World Trade Center!
I continued working on the machine building successive more functional designs, and in the process building a machine shop and learning to be a machinists. While trying to promote the machine and find funding, I met and talked with many of the police bomb technicians about their work, becoming interested in the particulars of domestic terrorism and the weapons technology available to them. In studying weapons technology that could be used by domestic terrorist, I started learning and understanding the forces which are driving America into a period of active domestic terrorism. I realized that the real weapons of an insurrection was the organization and methods discovered by others in the twentieth century, in particular Michael Collins inventing the modern insurrection in 1919, which he went on to win independence for the Irish people. By definition, a weapon is any method or device that renders assets of an adversary of lesser value by modifying one or more characteristics of those assets.
The supreme weapon wasn’t explosive devices, or chemical weapons . . . it wasn’t in weapons of
mass destruction- it was being versed in the methods of insurrection and applying them from the start of a movement, which in turn makes them a real threat to society. Simple things like starting with compartmentalization of their organization and operations to foil penetration, or realizing that in modern war killing people accomplishes little towards winning. This is the real threat of the internet, not these silly recipes for pipe and pressure-cooker bombs, but that someone can spend an afternoon or evening reading the history of insurrection and resistance groups and know exactly how to run a modern insurrection, especially after reading about Michael Collins, which there is lots about him on the internet. In the late sixties and early seventies, groups like the Weathermen and SDS embarked on revolution in America, not really having a clue what they were doing, or what needed to be done. Just amateurs acting on perceptions of what revolution was, reading books by Che and Moa, or news stories about Vietnam. The active revolutionaries probably numbered no more than a hundred, but it’s estimated than over 10,000 members of law enforcement were engaged in countering them.
American law enforcement to this day, still depends on would-be domestic terrorist groups, both left and right, to initially organize and operate as an open endeavor allowing law enforcement to infiltrate and develop moles inside the organization. But if a terrorist group starts out with good cell structure and security precautions, then the task of law enforcement becomes monumental if not impossible to counter. In view of this, I wrote books in the series ˈTechnology Monogram for Law Enforcementˈ. There are three more volumes to write to complete the set, but I’ve been reluctant to put the time, money and effort into writing them because I’ve had so little interest in the first volumes of the set. Nevertheless, the information this series presents, is very important for law enforcement to have an understanding of, particularly with technology driven job displacement continuing at an increasing rate. Right now, law enforcement is ill prepared for a concerted modern insurrection, so it could quickly unfold into one unholy nightmare of a mess. The only way to counter such a thing is to be ready to act at the first signs, and that means knowing the aspects of a modern insurrection inside and out.
I also designed and made small cheap electronic training aids to sell at police conferences to help defray my cost. Shown here are examples of some of the training aides I designed. I won’t go into just what they were or did, but they were simple circuits using a microprocessor, which I could program at home. The circuit boards I designed, something I routinely did as an electronic engineer consultant, then had made using internet services for just a few dollars each. Installing and soldering the various electronic components was a simple matter that went easily.
One training aid that was popular was the Detonation Simulator, a device that senses the presences of an electrical current, and when found, sounded a beeping alarm and flashing light. These small devices proved useful in countering some of my expenses, but were far from being enough income.
I have also given technical talks at conferences about weapons available to terrorists using readably available electronic and computer/microprocessor technology. It’s terrifying just what can be done with electronic and computer technology available to amateur hobbyist, giving a terrorist group a large force multiplier over and above a guerrilla fighter with gun and bombs. The technology provides terrorist-insurrection groups with ‘smart weapons’ that could overwhelm law enforcement. This is why American law enforcement needs to learn this technology and how it can be used.
There is still so much work that needs to be done in this field that it is indescribable. There are three more planned books for the Technology Monograms for Law Enforcement, which I have not written because I’ve had such poor sales for the ones I’ve already written. The reason for such limited sales is not availability, they can be ordered from Amazon, but rather there isn’t an easy and cheap way to promote them to policemen. For several years, I’ve gone to trade conferences to promote them, but such conferences are expensive resulting in largely running up my credit card balances, which I’m still struggling to pay off. Nevertheless, this is important for American law enforcement, and with having a very strong technical background coupled with reading little more than military history since highschool, I’m uniquely qualified to understand technology displacement and the possibility of insurrection movements as automation pushes more and more young people out of the social economic system.
The true profile of a revolutionary is young, under thirty
and having a sense of nothing to lose.
The thing is, today’s young people are getting the worst deal since the Indians sold Manhattan for $24. And with technology doubling every fifteen years, there’s every indication that things are just going to get worst. I tell people, if you want to really know what’s happening today in our economy and society, just look back a hundred years and more to what happened to the Indians. It’s the same thing all over again. This is where my work is, what I’m doing in my supposed retirement, and why I need more than just my social security check each month.
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