Kady, I’m not playing your game. You and I are speaking from different perspectives, and you clearly have no idea the kind of complications the automated workforce is going to cause in our current economic model. You’re living in the 50s.

That’s actually funny. I work in data science with a concentration on implementing machine learning technologies. I am smack dab at the forefront in the technologies that are disrupting our current economic model.

So, if I’m in the 50’s, where does that put you? You may climb down off your high horse any time you like. My experience with these technologies no doubt exceeds yours, and forms much of the basis of my views on the matter. I understand the long-term impact of these technologies……intimately.

In an automated workforce society, machines and AI can work faster, harder, longer and produce 10x more than a worker can, and don’t have to be paid. Machines don’t need healthcare or vacations. They never get sick, they don’t unionize and they never even have to go to the bathroom. They don’t complain about long hours or shitty working conditions.

Thank you for stating the blatantly obvious.

Entire sectors of the economy will therefore turn to automation, and shed workers. A factory that might have employed thousands of shift workers will be largely abandoned, save for a few machine maintenance staff (who will quickly be replaced with maintenance machines).

Yes, I know. I’ve implemented systems that support that type of automation.

In that model, human labor become superfluous. Human labor actually becomes a drag on productivity. Why pay a worker to do something slower than a machine you don’t have to pay?

Very good question. One side of that debate, the “Star Trek” side of it, envisions a society where everyone will be “free to do what they wish”, sort of why Commander Sisko’s dad still ran a restaurant in New Orleans even though the replicator could make a jambalaya as well as he could. The other side of that debate sees the human as an inherently sociopathic and slothful creature who, without any productive work to do, will spend most of his or her time engaged in substance abuse.

Since one of my degrees is in educational sociology, I lean towards the latter. One of the principles of educational psychology is the concept of intrinsic vs. extrinsic learning; the general idea is that students EITHER (a) learn because they have a craving and/or a love for learning (intrinsic motivation), OR (b) because they’re afraid of flunking the test (extrinsic motivation).

If most humans are (a), then the “Star Trek” vision of the future might work out; however, if most humans are (b), then the more dystopic, “Blade Runner”-ish view of the future is more likely.

Unfortunately, all studies of the matter show that by rather large margins, students are extrinsic motivators. To the point that some schools are trying “pay for grades” schemes in order to keep the kids in the game.

So, the answer to your question is “you pay the worker because the larger society requires that you do so.” And it’s rather easy, btw, for the government, if they take this entire issue seriously (long shot, I know) to make automation less attractive by adjustments to the tax code. (Not that either political party has a clue about any of this, of course.)

What happens to a capitalist society that depends on growth in consumer spending, when a large percentage of the population stops being consumers?

Oh, stop with the Econ 101. Everyone who breathes knows the answer to these questions.

Use your thinking organ and puzzle it out. We are eventually going to have to move away from capitalism. It is inevitable.

If it is inevitable, so is a dystopic future. Blade Runner world. Count me out. What needs to occur is to keep everyone consuming, which is the objective of both UBI and the GJB.

Both schemes keep capitalism in place, just in different ways. If you’re a utopian and believe that everyone is intrinsically motivated, then you will probably lean towards UBI as the societal support mechanism. If you’re more of a realist and see that the intrinsically motivated will have the few real jobs that remain available and the large, extrinsically motivated majority will end up with booze and opioids if left to their own devices, then you lean towards the GJB.

Is there a future where capitalism peaks out and we have to move to another model? Possibly. But we’re not close to that tipping point yet, and won’t be for some time. (You see, I know the shortcomings of these technologies as well. They are often not nearly as advanced as the media makes them out to be.)

Of course, there’s a third path out there, which is “just because you CAN automate it doesn’t mean you should”. But everyone screams “Luddite” whenever that possibly gets raised, so apparently people prefer the death of the middle class to any throttling of automation advancement.

Written by

Data Driven Econophile. Muslim, USA born. Been “woke” 2x: 1st, when I realized the world isn’t fair; 2nd, when I realized the “woke” people are full of shit.

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