Automation creating opportunities for demagogues around the world

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NorthReport
Automation creating opportunities for demagogues around the world
Unionist

When I saw the thread title, I imagined a dystopian world where skilled workers hand-crafting demagogues are suddenly  replaced by robots.

Then I read the article.

Gwynne Dyer never said that. Could we have a less disturbing and more accurate thread title please? Thanks in advance.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

How about "Minion Robots Create Demagogues"

Ward

How about "advertising is informing us"

Sean in Ottawa

It is an interesting article and Dyer is, I think, mostly correct. I also think he has one thing wrong that most observers of automation get wrong. this mistake tends to minimize the problem in a significant way.

Dyer suggests correctly that manufacturing jobs were at stake and have been lost. He also says that the next wave will be  drivers. This was not correct -- in fact it is service industry jobs 00 cashiers, servers etc. The automoation of this type of job is more advanced than autonomous vehicles. Still that is a quibble as drivers will follow. His big mistake is the suggestion that other workers with repetative jobs are the remaining threatened workforce. He is wrong about this. There is another group at risk and it is everyone else. Let me explain.

People assumed that those doing creative or other jobs that cannot be replaced with machines are safe. This could not be more wrong. The truth is that there are aspects of all work that can be assisted by machines making that work more productive. Think better tools, software etc. This means that one person over time and these improvements can eventually be twice as productive. It therefore means we need half as many even of those workers.

The idea that a job cannot be completely replaced by a machine makes it safe, is an over identification with the personal. It sees this as if it is one job. When you see it as a workforce that can be more productive, you see that the tasks will cannot be done by a machine. But the question is if a machine can make you do this task faster, then there needs to be fewer people to do this work.

Automation threatens every single job. Not just those that can be replaced completely but also those that cannot and can only be made more efficient becuase 10 of those can then be replaced by 8 or 5 or 2 or 1 person depending on how great that efficiency is. Imagine an artist or writer with better tools that can produce twice as many paintings or books. We then need fewer artists or writers.

Others may try but they cannot succeed. This effort may not even mean that fewer actually succeed. The work could fragment such that it be spread so thinly that nobody succeeds. Each may have fewer hours or opportunities so that nobody makes a living wage.

Of course the problem remains that those who control the automation, who make the machines or who own them make the money from them. The profit goes to the ownership or sale of the automation. It does not flow to the people who have become more productive through technology. This is the capitalistic collapse. In the past capital required labour and provided anoug work that there could be rich and poor all employed. However as capital has increasingly replaced labour it has taken the work function to itself. This has left societies without the work.

The old comment about the workers needing to won the means of production has now been changed. The means of production now owns the workers since the workers are increasingly not people.

The old socialist manttra about workers owning the means of production is now obsolete. It might have always been wrong. Think of the meaning of socialism. It glorified workers instead of people. It failed to forsee a time when workers no longer needed to be part of the system  - or needed to be in a reduced way. The truth is it should have been that the people, collectively, individually, without regard for whether the production required them as workers, all need to own the means of production.

We have this idea about the dignity of work. Capitalists attacking those on welfare and workers as well as people demanding jobs have proclaimed this. It was all bullshit. Imagine a machine working in a factory. Does that machine now have more dignity than an unemployed worker?

Unions are of workers. It makes sense that unions (and I do respect them) have defined the main political opposition to capitalism. This is unfair. It should have been people. Automation is teaching us this the hard way. Why are workers in unions a class above those without unions? Why are workers respected more than those who cannot find work? Where is the respect for people?

If people could organize regadless of their position as exploited workers (all workers are exploited but that is another theory) then we would place value on people regardless of status. But instead even unions place the value of people on the function of their work rather than their personhood.

Automation raises questions about accepted ideas of socialism- the religion of the worker. The view of the exalted status of a person who has been given value by capital. We should break this down and must as fewer and fewer people can get this status given to them by capital.

We must regain the dignity of being a human. We should reach for the equality of humanhood rather than associate simply as having value to capital.

We should do this before automation does almost all the work.

Yeah -- I know this past will anger some but try to see the point underneath it.

bekayne

Unionist wrote:

When I saw the thread title, I imagined a dystopian world where skilled workers hand-crafting demagogues are suddenly  replaced by robots.

I thought it meant human demagogues being replaced by robot demagogues. Which would be an improvement.

Ward

Management and executive will be replaced by automation....maybe 1st...the owners will be mutual and pension funds

Ward

Management and executive will be replaced by automation....maybe 1st...the owners will be mutual and pension funds..that are owned by 5he unemployed.

Sean in Ottawa

Another point to continue my thoughts on this. Once you consider people as significatn and work as seperate from them then you open the idea of taxing work instead of people. If you tax the activity -- whether it is performed by a person or a machine then you are taxing the profit. Then take that and deliver that product to the people (guaranteed minimum income).

First one incentive to automation disappears -- automation can be defined as the greatest tax dodge ever. Once you tax the work rather than the people you put people on a level playing field as a machine for the purpose of taxation.

Imagine this new tax system (I know would take world agreement so would never happen):

Tax on corporations.

Tax on work by corporations (does not matter if the work is done by people in this jurisdiction another jurisdiction or by a machine).

All corporations active in a country would have organize as a branch within the country and any money they make in that country would get taxed there. Sure they can transfer wealth effectively loaning but the wealth created is taxed there.

No tax on people at all. You deliver the product of taxes on companies and taxes on work regardless of where the work is done to the state where the profit is made.

So imagine a plastic pot sold at the dollar store in Canada. The profit is made there. The work to produce that pot is taxed in Canada. The division of the dollar store is taxed in Canada. he tax is not 100% so there is still a profit made that is sent to the country the pot was made. there they consider the work done there as well and they tax it as it contributes to the activity of the export.

The result here is that the work is taxed in both jurisdictions and the value of the work for the pot sold in Canada is shared between the two countries.

The poeple in both countries get the benefit of this taxed work in a minimum income. They also can offer services to make more money as workers but are not taxed themselves. Their work is taxed as all work is -- no more and no less than work performed elsewhere or by machine.

A different way of looking at the collective -- beyond glorifying the exploited worker and empowering only the exploited worker.

This said the worker is still paid and still protected by labour law and can still form a union. But the pay is less becuase each individual person recieves a basic income which is the tax on work.

There is still a tax on wealth and this is also distributed in services for all people.

Imagine that world as a better ideal than the ideal of conveying value to people only based on the idea that a capitalist found value in them and defined them as a worker. People are valuable whether or not they have been deemed useful to a company or organization.

This is a thought. This demonstrates that in philosophy we cannot keep always fighting the same old fights with the same old assumptions and value judgments. Even in socialism we have to pause and ask what is working and what assumptions -- even core ones --  should be re-evaluated.

 With work in short supply, it is increasingly urgent to stop defining people by their relationship with work alone and in their relationship with government as taxpayers. In the model above no human is a taxpayer. They are an owner of the enterpirse which is the collective and receive the benefit of the means of production.

So In my model it is the people who take a stronger benefit from the means of production. they may or may not be also paid as workers but they do not have to be.

 

Sean in Ottawa

bekayne wrote:

Unionist wrote:

When I saw the thread title, I imagined a dystopian world where skilled workers hand-crafting demagogues are suddenly  replaced by robots.

I thought it meant human demagogues being replaced by robot demagogues. Which would be an improvement.

Interesting point. I said to a friend that when the dignity goes to the work then the machine has more dignity than the person who is unemployed he observed that he has met many machines with more dignity than people. As horrified as the thought is it is correct. Dignity does not ahve to be positive. With a machine it can only ever be zero. Any human where their dignity is less than zero has less dignity than a machine.

All that said once we value people -- truly -- instad of taxpayers and workers (which are only activities of people) then we can design systems that acknolwedge this. This is why we have to fight the right in how they speak about taxpayers or even citizens which is another externality to the human (what about residents?). That is also why we have to consider the rhetoric from the left about workers. Non-working people are not an underclass. A human who is retired, cannot work due to illness is not a lesser version of the species.

Ward

We continue to exist in the great turmoil of information and technology. This will play out for several decades. In the end the peace we make with this process will define us.

Sean in Ottawa

Ward wrote:
We continue to exist in the great turmoil of information and technology. This will play out for several decades. In the end the peace we make with this process will define us.

What I am saying is that we may need to turn over the established way of looking at many things including some of what seems to define both left and right. By this I do not mean to abandon the left as some suggest but to redefine its core to be better able to challenge the right.

Particularly the left and labour worked on the presumption that the capitalists needed labour and that all people are associated with the labour they need.

Now we have to recognize that they do not need labour any more and certainly do not need local unions in a globalized world. This changes all of the precepts of unionization and the left's focus on workers.

The left always focused on workers to mean people (people's party) becuase once that meant one and the same. 100 years ago people did not live that long after their working lives, people did not survive many illnesses. It was not as problematic to interchange person and worker. A non-worker was a capitalist. Society offered little to non-working people - then you depended on family or savings from working years. The definition of worker even included retired worker. Today, these presumptions cannot be relied on.

Now that capital needs fewer and fewer workers and can take them from anywhere, it is impossible for private unions to have much power. Public sector worker unions remain more because they cannot be replaced offshore as easily. In this context we have to honour people rather than only those deemed worther of being a worker by a company. It is not the availability of work that gives us dignity it is our personhood as humans. This is the leap the left has to make. It is hard becuase people (apart form workers) are not organized into groups capable of lobbying.

This raises the question of whether the union movement should move beyond working people and organize people. they may be able to use numbers not only to negotiate better terms for work as they did workers but for other consumer needs, like boycotts and consumer benefits, like voting blocks independent of parties, even for economies of scale and some social insurance in the case of emergencies. Ideally, these activities might be nationalized but many offered first through this. They might have the numbers to negotiate with big companiesand to create funds to help each other just as workers unions do. And they might be able to access legal services so that people can afford to buy their justice since access to resolution under the law is increasingly beyond reach of many people.

This woudl allow people who want to belong to a union but who have no work an opportunity to do so. It also extends the value of unionization beyond the work relationship.

Ward

Buddy, Im with you on this 100% To my mind the priority is dealing with human idleness, as the automated society unfolds.

Sean in Ottawa

Ward wrote:
Buddy, Im with you on this 100% To my mind the priority is dealing with human idleness, as the automated society unfolds.

I see that. I think this offers a great deal to unions who are presently in decline as well. It helps them address the problem of work being removed now that "scabs" can be in other countries or in the form of machines...

Ward

Of course.."Scabs" falls within the human demographic column. A factor to be analyzed and moved to column 53 and all sub ranges. It will be processed however

Sean in Ottawa

Ward wrote:
Of course.."Scabs" falls within the human demographic column. A factor to be analyzed and moved to column 53 and all sub ranges. It will be processed however

Indeed- as well if people are the priority and work is taxed equally no matter where it is done, it removes incentives both for companies to replace sources of work (there is a cost there) and it creates a greater reason for people not to want or feel the need to take someone's job with a company who is treating workers disrespectfully. Presently so many people are pushed into awful positions that we can recognize their human position and difficulty in rejecting work. This is helped by a universal basic income generated by this revenue from all work no matter where it is done.

Ward

Quick read..does this = a pro automation stance on your part?

Sean in Ottawa

Ward wrote:
Quick read..does this = a pro automation stance on your part?

Very good question. I should clarify that my position is not more pro or anti automation than King Knute was on the shore famously commanding the waves to stop. I think that automation and technology is not something we can be in support or opposition to but something we have to adjust to accomodate as a reality.

There is another question of how we regulate automation or if we shoudl try to slow it down or speed it up. This is not a question that I have addressed. I think  that efforts on this can only marginally be successful.

If I were to offer an opinion about automation as a good or bad thing, I think it is largely neutral. It is bad if the impact is negative on the environment and if the benefit of work does not flow equally to the people and if workers are displaced without flow to the people. Life is short: if it allows wealth to the poeple and a living that can be produced from one day a week then it is a good thing. If it creates more waste and more waste and pollution and greater concentration of wealth it is a bad thing.

Mostly it is a thing. It is a thing we cannot put back in the box so we need to change how we view work and how we recognize human dignity and worth.

Perhaps a bad answer but the only one I can give.

Ward

A fine answer but I believe somewhat on the fence. I am quite (not 110%) pro automation. I trust that humanity can be more realized as we are unshackled from our authoritarian constraints

Sean in Ottawa

Ward wrote:
A fine answer but I believe somewhat on the fence. I am quite (not 110%) pro automation. I trust that humanity can be more realized as we are unshackled from our authoritarian constraints

I tried to suggest that I was pro automoation as well but I am also trying to separate how we deal with automation from a pro and anti question since we have choice about how we deal with it but I believe no ability to decide if it can proceed or not. AS well I think the question of response determines if it is a good or bad thing anyway.

I also believe that the challenge technology represents is causing us to have to consider weaknesses in our assumptions about left and right thought and valuing workers, taxpayers and humans. It is exposing weaknesses in how political thought is organized and argued. It is also challenging how states charge tax.

Ward

Good point.
Do you feel that human collectivism is under the assault of AI?

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Ward

Mr. Magoo wrote:


Job for job sake?

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Uh, I think it was a play on "Employees must wash hands before leaving bathroom".

Sean in Ottawa

Ward wrote:
Good point. Do you feel that human collectivism is under the assault of AI?

Intereesting question. I don't think so becuase I think it has been caught already in a battle with capitalism. I think that AI challenges and the environment are highlighting the problems with damaged collective action and that these two challenges might in fact make people recognize the seriousness of the problem.

AI is something that ought to contribute to the collective society rather than deliver benefits that contribute to capitalists.

I think that AI threatens the individual person who is not wealthy in the ways we have discussed and that this poses questions and challenges for the collective society in how to address it.

Ward

I wonder how populist leaders will rally the electorate for or against this automation tide.

eastnoireast

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

It is an interesting article and Dyer is, I think, mostly correct. I also think he has one thing wrong that most observers of automation get wrong. this mistake tends to minimize the problem in a significant way.

Dyer suggests correctly that manufacturing jobs were at stake and have been lost. He also says that the next wave will be  drivers. This was not correct -- in fact it is service industry jobs 00 cashiers, servers etc. The automoation of this type of job is more advanced than autonomous vehicles. Still that is a quibble as drivers will follow. His big mistake is the suggestion that other workers with repetative jobs are the remaining threatened workforce. He is wrong about this. There is another group at risk and it is everyone else. Let me explain.

People assumed that those doing creative or other jobs that cannot be replaced with machines are safe. This could not be more wrong. The truth is that there are aspects of all work that can be assisted by machines making that work more productive. Think better tools, software etc. This means that one person over time and these improvements can eventually be twice as productive. It therefore means we need half as many even of those workers.

The idea that a job cannot be completely replaced by a machine makes it safe, is an over identification with the personal. It sees this as if it is one job. When you see it as a workforce that can be more productive, you see that the tasks will cannot be done by a machine. But the question is if a machine can make you do this task faster, then there needs to be fewer people to do this work.

Automation threatens every single job. Not just those that can be replaced completely but also those that cannot and can only be made more efficient becuase 10 of those can then be replaced by 8 or 5 or 2 or 1 person depending on how great that efficiency is. Imagine an artist or writer with better tools that can produce twice as many paintings or books. We then need fewer artists or writers.

<snip>

this narrative (of impending and unstoppable automation) assumes much.  that automation will all work as planned, as corporations plumb and pillage the boundaries and nerve lines of human society; of the life force and of the biosphere itself. 

and that these age-old systems will conveniently hold as they're hacked at, with crude, poisonousness processes and short-sighted greed.

pig genes in potatoes, machine caregivers, cold logarithmic art, ongoing war and massive inequality.  who needs sunlight or human touch, when we have led's.  etc.  how's that gunna look in 7gen's. 

in fact, it looks like crap even now.  sure, there's some great new tools and tech; but there's a whole lotta shit we gotta dump and revert and sort out.

re autonomous vehicles, in my view we'll have burned up all of our tarsands sludge by the time they have an autonomous vehicle that can reliably navigate a canadian winter highway. 

so that's another limit to the machine...