Automation – A threat or a boon?

In the recent past we needed a large workforce. It took many men to build a ship, mine coal, clear snow, lay railway track, plant crops, harvest crops, build bridges, make steel, work in factories and wage war.

Not any more.

Automation has taken over. All these things are now carried out by machines. Automation has displaced the workforce. AI does things better. Even operations are carried out by robots. Wars are carried out by drones.

So what happens to all those displaced people – you know – the ones who were doing all that well-paid, often dangerous, hard work? What do they do? They are now surplus to requirements.

Presently they are doing low-pay jobs stacking shelves or driving around the country delivering parcels.

What happens when the shelves are stacked by machines and driverless trucks, vans and taxis displace all of those people?

This little video was sent to me by my friend Graham. Thanks Graham.

It appears to me that we are heading for a major change in society. The owners and managers will still be needed and they will be extremely wealthy. There will be a need for a small skilled workforce who will be paid well. Then there will be a huge number of people who are no longer required.

This could be a disaster or a boon.

A Disaster

We have an elite of extremely wealthy multibillionaire owners; a small number of wealthy managers; a larger number of well-paid skilled workers and a mass of people thrown on the dole.

A Boon

We have a progressive tax system so that the wealth created by Automation and AI will be spread more evenly. That surplus workforce is retrained into the caring professions – nurses, social workers, care workers, teachers etc. We can then reduce the working hours and case loads of these people – maybe go to a three day week – and provide more leisure and pleasure centres which will provide even more work for those surplus people.

Alternative Solution

The elite can simply kill off the poor.

What do you think????

4 thoughts on “Automation – A threat or a boon?

  1. Good post, Opher. Certainly, our societies will need very creative solutions as more and more people are displaced by automation. One thing I’m certain of – the elite will not want to share any wealth with the ‘great unwashed’.

      1. John – it seems to me from my limited study of history that people have a breaking point. At some stage they will revolt despite the consequences. I think the ruling elite play the game of giving as little as possible to stop them doing that. At this moment of great change I think they will have to make compromises to prevent a revolt. I detect that feelings run high.

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