Automation – Good or Evil?

Automation – Good or Evil?

It seems to me that every innovation that comes along heralds in a new age of possibility and a new age of problems.

Just like the start of the industrial revolution, which spawned the Luddites of yore, these developments threaten existing jobs and ways of life. They are usually seen as a bad thing but gradually we adjust to them. The old ways never survive. Once the new age comes in the old is shunted out.

We saw this with the new machines of the industrial age that threw people out of work and ripped apart communities that had existed for centuries. No longer were masses of labour required to farm the land; machines could do the work more efficiently. The workers poured into the cities and ended up slaves to machines in the factories. Trains, trams, cars, diesel engine ships and planes replaced the horse and cart and old wooden clippers. The world changed.

We’ve recently seen it with IT which was meant to lessen our load.

We are now seeing it again with globalization and automation. We are seeing it with the death of the old industries of coal, steel, oil and dirty power production.

We no longer need a huge workforce. Robots are more efficient and productive. The profits are greater.

So is that a good thing or a bad thing?

To me that depends on how it is done.

If the workforce is simply dumped and the profits siphoned off into the pockets of a wealthy elite then it is terrible.

If the profits are used for the good of society it could be wonderful. The workforce could be retrained to do all those vital jobs that cannot be carried out by robots – nursing, medicine, teaching, social care, plumbing, electricians, IT technicians – everyone could have a three day week on the same pay which could give them a better quality of life.

To me we can either embrace the changes and demand that the wealth is used wisely for a better quality life or we can fight it and lose – and see the rich and wealthy walk off with the spoils while everyone else is thrown on the scrapheap.

What do you think?

12 thoughts on “Automation – Good or Evil?

  1. I couldn’t agree more, Opher. It is high time for governments to consider a universal guaranteed income that will eliminate homelessness and poverty. As you point out, there will still be jobs for people of all abilities without anyone feeling that they’ve been tossed out as trash. For those who claim that a universal guaranteed income will foster laziness, etc. I don’t think they have a good grip on the factors that motivate people. The gross economic imbalance and unfairness do NOT foster universal dedication and industriousness. Such poppycock!

    1. Some good points there John. The sooner the governments get to grip with it the better. It has already started. The Paradise papers reveal some of it.

      1. Indeed. I used to think that a universal guaranteed income was a dumb idea until I took the time to read about it. Enlightened democratic socialism led by leaders of high character is what is sorely needed.

      2. It seems to me that we are either moving towards an age of great fulfilment, leisure and fairness or an age of huge inequalities, misery and anger.

      1. I predict rioting and trouble. I don’t think they give an inch unless they are forced to. The media (run by the rich) are squealing.

  2. Reblogged this on 61chrissterry and commented:
    Automation good or bad, a good question. We know automation is here and more is coming. Be it good or bad could depend on which areas automation is and will be affecting and with the individuals be they workers or profit takers.

    The big expansion that appears to be coming is with transportation on roads and may be rail. To some extent this is already within aviation with autopilots, but more could be on the horizon as could be with oceanic transportation.

    With roads this will lead to driverless cars, which if you follow this through could be the end of taxi drivers, but also expansion into trade transport so could affect lorry and van drivers. Then there will be public transport covering buses and trams and this would extend onto rail travel with driverless trains. How will the rail unions deal with that?

    But automation could extend into other industries such as care to some extent and maybe even some aspects of nursing.

    Should all or even some come to pass this will have a drastic affect on the various employment areas and more than likely affect greater proportions of the employed and self employed sectors.

    Yes, all the affected persons could be retrained but retrained into what areas and will there be sufficient opportunities within any of the other areas and it will limit a person’s choice. But the firstly it will have to be the respected workers who need to be the priority areas, for the profit takers will always benefit to varying degrees. Who could say why bother with the profit takers, but we discount them completely who will provide the required investments.

    Done correctly this should improve everyone’s quality of life, but would the quality be acceptable to everyone, especially then their choice of the aspects of life may not have been considered.

    There is then the ages of the employment market to consider, will all be ready for change, could it be that some age ranges be more open to change then others.

    Will the monetary reward (wages/salaries) be sufficient to maintain life.
    Should this be the opening or the opportunity to bring in the universal guaranteed income, so that all persons will receive an income irrespective on what employments they are engaged in.
    But this assumes all have the capacity to undertake a working position.

    Where will sickness be in all this and also those who because of various disabilities will never be able to engage in engage in any forms of employment.

    Here I am not relating to persons who should be able to work, but decide not to do. There are within the population some who wish to work but because of their disability this can never be a realisation. Yes, people can be trained some techniques to mitigate some disabilities. But there are some disabilities where this will never be a realisation because they will lack the capacity through no fault of their own.

    So on paper automation can look good for us all, but in reality this will not be so for us all.

    Any outcome or outcomes need to take all the various situations into account and not just discount various sectors of the community.

    For some life is and will be not easy, but they still have a right to a life.

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