Monday, March 24, 2014

Only Hard-Left Socialism Can Save Us From the Robot, No-Jobs-for-Humans Future That's Happening Right Now

It's important to understand that in the halls of international power, this is the conversation that's actually happening:
Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates isn’t going to sugarcoat things: The increasing power of automation technology is going to put a lot of people out of work. Business Insider reports that Gates gave a talk at the American Enterprise Institute think tank in Washington, DC this week and said that both governments and businesses need to start preparing for a future where lots of people will be put out of work by software and robots.

“Software substitution, whether it’s for drivers or waiters or nurses… it’s progressing,” Gates said. “Technology over time will reduce demand for jobs, particularly at the lower end of skill set… 20 years from now, labor demand for lots of skill sets will be substantially lower. I don’t think people have that in their mental model.”

As for what governments should do to prevent social unrest in the wake of mass unemployment, the Microsoft cofounder said that they should basically get on their knees and beg businesses to keep employing humans over algorithms. This means perhaps eliminating payroll and corporate income taxes while also not raising the minimum wage so that businesses will feel comfortable employing people at dirt-cheap wages instead of outsourcing their jobs to an iPad.
That mass unemployment is coming soon isn't the wild fancy of futurists. It's real.

There are only two ways to deal with that. One is the Gates way. It's the way that most world leaders are quietly putting into place, not only because of corruption, but because they they feel they must. It's the international race to the bottom, in which the capital mobility of the jet set crowd trumps and overwhelms the power of sovereign states.

The other way is completely opposite--a hard turn toward social democracy, universal basic incomes, universal jobs programs, and international treaties that limit the power of mobile global capital while giving power back to real people and severing the assumed link between doing a billionaire's bidding and human dignity.

There isn't a middle ground. Either billionaires and the Tea Partiers win, or the progressives do. There's no third way.
 Unless the rich get the drones first.
Drones will cause an upheaval of society like we haven’t seen in 700 years 
Where this scenario really gets scary is when it combines with economic inequality. Although few people have been focusing on robot armies, many people have been asking what happens if robots put most of us out of a job. The final, last-ditch response to that contingency is income redistribution – if our future is to get paid to sit on a beach, so be it.

But with robot armies, that’s just not going to work. To pay the poor, you have to tax the rich, and the Robot Lords are unlikely to stand for that. Just imagine Tom Perkins with an army of cheap autonomous drones. Or Greg Gopman. We’re all worried about the day that the 1% no longer need the 99%–but what’s really scary is when they don’t fear the 99% either.

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