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<nettime> unionization and the bots
Alex Foti on Fri, 13 Nov 2015 23:37:18 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> unionization and the bots


   are robots bringing a jobless, 100% capital future?
   many books (e.g. rise of the robots) and personalities (stephen
   hawking), institutions (including bank of england) have described and
   decried the ongoing substitution of human workers with intellingent
   machines and intelligent, learning-capable software. from call center
   operators to legal analysts, translators, radiologists etc pretty much
   any job that can be routinized and made ready for siri-like
   intelligence will go the way of the assembly line.
   now capitalism since luddism has always destroyed and displaced labor
   communities in its drive for accumulation of capital embodying
   technological progress a way to drive out competitors and establish
   temporary monopoly. but for all the technological leap in the first
   three industrial revolutions the pace of output growth has outpaced
   that of productivity most of the times and so jobs have been created
   and people migrated to cities by the hundreds of millions in search of
   factory or office work.
   as the first robots hit the shopfloor in large numbers in the 1980s
   (japan!) and deindustrialization proceeded in the heartlands of
   capitalism, predictions of technological unemployment abounded. Similar
   worries were devoted to the diffusion of PCs in the offices, yet for
   all the rifkin-style catchy prophesies the volume of work (total hours
   times people) has actually increased greatly since the onset of the
   neoliberal regime of capitalist (de)regulation, reflecting the entry of
   millions of women in the labor force.
   why would this technical upheaval be any different than the 10s-20s
   mechanization or 80s-90s digitization of labor? well, because it's the
   singularity, the technoprometheans tell us. maybe. but i actually it
   has to with the mechanics of capitalist inequality, since as in
   piketty's model, nothing under current trends prevents inequality
   rising until the whole output goes to capital and 0% goes to labor,
   i.e. humans.
   so what should we do? fight for basic income or fight the robotization
   of services? smash windows or smash robots? boost immaterial growth?
   in the latest, very powerful #fighfor15 and-the-union fast food strike,
   a couple stupid naggers were rehashing the usual theoretically and
   empirically wrong argument that raising the minimum wage increases
   unemployment.
   one also had a split image in social media font that said something
   like:
   "$15/h for a McWorker? Welcome the McRobot."
   i guess we need a futurologist à la Sterling to decrypt how it's gonna
   turn out. Because bullshit jobs or not, they'll soon be gone. In short,
   Robotization has become a mightily political issue. Please gimme some
   laws for motion for in age of drones and bots. Does anybody know how to
   play the robot class war?

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