How Automation Will Ruin Society

From a Reddit thread about automation:

“The cold fact that is right now automation does replace workers and redistributes wealth to the wealthy. The replaced workers often end up unemployed or with worse jobs and conditions than they had before. There may be a breaching point in time when automation makes surplus and we replace a working society with a post scarcity utopia (if ever such a thing can exist), however that is many years from now. In the mean time real people will lose their jobs, their houses, their healthcare, their pensions. They will struggle to make ends meet, to feed their children. There will be real pain during such a technological transition and expansion of automation. The short term of transition will last years, decades perhaps.

The Industrial Revolution took 60+ years to grow a new society, and it did not include redistribution of wealth and breaking strongly entrenched cultural paradigms which both would be necessary for a post scarcity society to bring proper resources to all people and guarantee basic living conditions. Those who own the means of production will feed on the profits from automation and they will be loathe to render those goods and gains to distribute amongst the dispersed jobless “freed from labor” masses.

Again, such a revolution of automation will last long enough to ruin lives. … Automation is only used when it cuts costs and reduces the labor needed to maximize profit. An automation system that is more expensive to build and maintain than workers is never used to “free workers from labor and give them more time for better activities”. Don’t delude yourself. Automation is only used for expanding profit and eliminating labor costs. … If automation was really about freeing human potential it would be relieving those workers of their labors as well instead of just ousting the jobs that pay living wages in first world settings.¬†So less workers will be employed, and those that will be employed around automation will be specialty jobs requiring higher degrees of training and experience. They will be beyond the reach of the people who are generally replaced by such systems. There is the cost of retraining/college, and the time lost. People who have families to feed and mortgages to pay cannot simply spend the time unpaid taking college classes, they will have to find new work instead of adapting their skills to the changing jobs landscape. That time/money for training is a luxury many do not have.”

Image is a production still from the movie Metropolis

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