Automation and Jobs
We have used automation since the first water wheels in the 3rd century BC. The industrial revolution was from about 1760 to 1840. Replacement of human labor with automation has continued to expand since then. Often, but not always, good jobs requiring higher mental skills were available to employ those replaced by automation. But today’s new highly intelligent machines and robots are beginning to eliminate many high mental skills jobs too.
From a Corporate perspective, automation and robots have huge benefits; they work 24×7 (four times more than a human); never complain or strike; involve no hourly labor costs, only initial investment plus maintenance; rarely make an error. For example, intelligent automation is coming to road vehicles (video) making many professional drivers redundant. Similar human replacements are expected in many other occupations. The resulting extra corporate income does not have to be shared with workers.
As things are, many more humans will soon have no jobs, no income, no money, no hope. Many corporations will make excellent profits; Plutocrats will temporarily prosper. But who will buy all their products?
Many recent books analyze and warn about the central issues of income inequality, social and economic instability. Piketty summarizes the problem graphically – the peaks forewarning the 1929 and 2008 U.S. crashes – and summarized in a Moyers & Co. YouTube video (24 min.)
Our Oligarchic Congress, focused on short-term issues and re-election, cannot solve these long-term problems. Moreover, Oligarchs’ greed is a participating trigger in this chaos. The People are the losers. There is no constitutional mechanism to find or enact a solution. The best minds in the nation could probably find solutions that retain the productivity and rewards of Capitalism and concurrently a meaningful life for the People. We will need a political mechanism that can find and implement effective and efficient solutions.
The thought of Oligarchs owning the automated means of most production in our country as well as controlling our Government is terrifying. Will liberty mean anything? The Democratic power of Direct Initiatives is the People’s only Constitutional protection against a potentially dystopian nation.