Brexit’s impact and Google’s AI win: top comments from FT readers

Our editors pick the week’s most thought-provoking posts

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Each day, FT readers post thousands of comments responding to our stories: opinions, critiques, personal experiences and even the occasional joke. You talk, we listen. Here are highlights from the best of them.

WHEN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE BEATS HUMAN INTELLIGENCE

© AP

“My rough guess is that about 50% of human jobs could be automated within the next 15 to 25 years, perhaps faster. In my own field doing health statistics for a US state, I knew that about 25 people in other states were mostly duplicating my efforts, and that about three people, centralised, with off-the-shelf software, could do the whole job.”

By Henry the Investor2 on Google computer beats world champion of Chinese board game Go


“I wonder if they let AlphaGo play against another AlphaGo to practice and increase its understanding of the game. Given the speed of silicon processors, it could have racked up a couple billion games over the past 5 months, ready to trash Lee Se-dol (who spent this time eating, sleeping, giving interviews and perhaps playing a handful of games).”

By Pepin on Google DeepMind takes on Go grandmaster in AI match

ON BREXIT’S EFFECT ON EU IMMIGRANTS

“Hi from Spain. I have been following this debate closely. I’ve lived in Scotland and the US, and now live in Barcelona. Honestly, I’ve been thinking of moving to London for a while as I really like it there and it’s a city where you can grow professionally. But there are a lot of other attractive European destinations that don’t come with the tag of Brexit, which ultimately is about bigotry and racism. It really annoys me that the ‘deal’ to ‘improve’ the EU means to punish people who work hard and don’t abuse public services, people who integrate well, and people who sustain a lot of the growth that the UK has being enjoying for many years. I hope that when Brits vacation in Spain and get sick, we charge them accordingly.”

By Spaniard on Brexit debate unnerves continent’s service workers in UK


“If your favourite restaurant can’t hire Italian or French immigrants at £9/hour and instead has to try and find British ones at say £12/hour, it just closes its doors. If a housebuilder can’t hire Polish bricklayers and has to compete for the meagre pool of British ones, they’ll just stop building houses. Immigration has demonstrably no impact on unemployment and virtually no impact on wages. Immigrants only go where there is work for them to do — and if you stop them coming, the work just doesn’t get done. Just look at the Germans: one year they implemented a prohibitive tax to prevent seasonal immigrant workers coming to fill agricultural vacancies in a misguided attempt to reduce unemployment. That year, the asparagus crop rotted in the ground because it was too expensive to harvest.”

By Kalias on Why UK investors should back Brexit. This column by Merryn Somerset Webb received more than 300 comments and sparked its own reader response piece.

ON SHARED PARENTAL LEAVE

Ben and Stanley © Jo Metson Scott

Both of these comments are in response to Emma Jacobs’ piece Shared parental leave: the fathers bringing up baby.

“It’s always going to be a choice: work hard for your company, put the extra hours in, and this will benefit your career and earnings. Take more time with your family, and this will benefit your kids. The fallacy is to think that in a perfect world you should be able to succeed at the top level in both career and family: it ain’t going to happen, and you’ll have to choose. I’ve been very lucky. I was single when I was doing the ‘career’ thing; now I’m an older Dad at home, I get to spend a huge amount of time with the boys, and my wife works.”

By Bill Johnson


“What I find sad is the proportion of households with 2 full time earners increasing from 26% to 31% between 2001 and 2013 and the trend this represents. In many of my friends’ cases this isn’t because both parents wish to work, but because they have to in order to fund the mortgages attached to ever increasing house prices. I imagine the children (or at least the bond between parent and child) will suffer as a result.”

By Geezer

ON TRUMP (AGAIN), AND AMERICA’S BROKEN SYSTEM

Unfortunately we are being reminded, once more, exactly how ill suited America’s election process is in giving voice to the public’s real concerns. For decades, huge differences in the desires of the public and not partisans have been on show. Why is it that, as a country, we simply cannot dump parties that are so obviously dysfunctional? Where is the fluidity, the meeting, the give and take, we’d expect in a market place of ideas? We are forever directed by the two parties to blame the other side and so they remain in power.

By Revenant on Donald Trump: the case for the defence


Ms Tett is not the first columnist to propose that Mr Trump might be using xenophobes, bullies, jingoists, white supremacists and their ilk to win the Republican primaries, and that as President he would distance himself from them. Does that mean that it is not all that insensible to support his candidacy? Suppose, for the sake of argument, that a President Trump were to have to deal with an economic crisis - by no means a historic impossibility. Does anyone in her or his right mind want to risk having a President of the US who knows how to incorporate right-wing fanaticism into the American body politic?

By ALEX P. on Pragmatism may yet prevail in America

ON THE LOST DREAM OF A 3-HOUR WORKDAY

© Harry Haysom

“It’s worth considering the growth of administrative busywork [and] the unhealthy attitude that people must always be at work. I know I’m not alone in finding that I became far more productive once I started strictly limiting my work hours. I suspect that if the company would agree, I could get it down to three hours a day. It’s a question of motivations.”

By Tom Hutchins on The lost leisure time of our lives

ON THE DOWNSIDES OF THE ECB STIMULUS

Both of these comments are in response to Claire Jones’ news article, European Central Bank cuts rates to new low and expands QE

“By far the biggest problem is consumer spending. I got hit with 4% pay cut last year, which was flat on the year before that, and for some reason the ECB thinks that reducing the interest I receive on my savings to zero will make me spend more money. On the contrary; I earn less, I spend less — pretty simple actually, and going by the data, I am not the only one.”

By Mr Data


“There is only so far that monetary policy can go. You can’t push a dog with a leash. What is needed is some hefty fiscal spending, otherwise this whole baby will go down. What are you gonna tell the 50% unemployed in southern Europe? Borrow some money to consume? No one will lend them. Or borrow some money to set up a textile factory? The textile factory will be built in Vietnam.”

By deWildegg

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