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Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:10 PM

Obsolete Humans? Why Elites Want You to Fear the Robot.

When economic times are good, machines are celebrated as wonders of progress and prosperity that will improve our lives. But when times are tough, they become objects of fear. The unemployment crisis of the past four years was triggered by a Wall Street-driven financial crash, and exacerbated by policy makers who failed to do enough to stimulate the economy and to ensure that there’s enough demand for goods and services. But lately, a new argument for job insecurity has made a splash in the media: It’s the machines! Pundits predict the “end of labor,” and talk about armies of sleek robots taking over the workplace as a foregone conclusion. Dystopian fantasies worthy of a late-night sci-fi flick flood the airwaves.

............//snip

Scary articles in the business section warn that any rise in wages will drive companies to save money by shedding workers and buying robots. Visions of increased efficiency and machines that can run 24/7 with no need for bathroom breaks have workers frantically trying to prove their value. Bosses warn that worker protests will only speed up automation. Don’t like the harsh conditions at Foxconn? Fine, a robot will do your job. The message: Keeping wages down and workers toiling until they drop is the only way to stave off a robot revolution.

.............//snip

The notion that technology is driving current unemployment doesn’t make much sense when you look at it closely. In 2007, there were reasonable, if not great, labor markets in the U.S. The giant leap in unemployment numbers dates from a very specific event, not from a long-run process that has been displacing workers over time. In 2007, the unemployment rate was 4.6. By 2009, it was 9.6, and remains very high. What happened wasn’t a sudden rush of robots onto the scene, but a financial catastrophe that nearly tanked the global economy.

Back in the 1990s, all kinds of technological changes were happening, as new users of the Internet will recall. Manufacturing productivity and some parts of service productivity went way up. People weren’t paranoid about machines because the economy was humming along. Technology was making humans more productive, the pundits said.

Read more here: http://www.alternet.org/economy/obsolete-humans-why-elites-want-you-fear-robot

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Reply Obsolete Humans? Why Elites Want You to Fear the Robot. (Original post)
LongTomH Feb 2013 OP
kestrel91316 Feb 2013 #1
LongTomH Feb 2013 #3
awoke_in_2003 Feb 2013 #6
RainDog Feb 2013 #10
LongTomH Feb 2013 #2
GeorgeGist Feb 2013 #4
Shivering Jemmy Feb 2013 #5
RickFromMN Feb 2013 #7
snot Feb 2013 #8
bemildred Feb 2013 #9

Response to LongTomH (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:13 PM

1. Anytime somebody starts carping about "elites", I just assume

they are RW anti-intellectuals and I stop listening. It's code for "those evil educated people".

But that's just me.

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Response to kestrel91316 (Reply #1)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:17 PM

3. Excuse me, this is from AlterNet!

I assure you this wasn't from a RW publication.

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Response to kestrel91316 (Reply #1)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 11:36 PM

6. When I hear "elites"...

I think of the ultra rich who always seem to survive all economic situations.

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Response to kestrel91316 (Reply #1)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 11:18 PM

10. there's something in political science called "elite theory"

It's about a theory of governance that was the basis for the way our current political system is set up. So, context makes a difference.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elite_theory

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Response to LongTomH (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:15 PM

2. More on the Robot:

Economist William Lazonick, director of the University of Massachusetts Center for Industrial Competitiveness, thinks that economists have gotten a lot of the labor-technology issue wrong (See "Robots Don't Destroy Jobs; Rapacious Corporate Executives Do"). He reminds us that it was 19th-century economist David Ricardo, author of the theory of comparative advantage, who is largely responsible for the modern notion that technology depresses wages and displaces workers. Ricardo wrote a famous book in 1817, during the world’s first very first industrial revolution, in which he argued that machinery would not hurt workers. Then, in a third edition, Ricardo famously changed his mind. That recantation had enormous impact.

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Response to LongTomH (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:50 PM

4. Based on what I read, the 'Elites' would want us ...

to embrace the robots. Otherwise we might be smart enough to trash them.


In summary: rock surgery by an unemployed podiatrist.

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Response to GeorgeGist (Reply #4)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:58 PM

5. Trash robots?

Luddites have never, ever won.

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Response to LongTomH (Original post)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 12:31 AM

7. For some reason, when I hear discussions of robots taking over, I think of The Jetsons TV comic.


Two episodes come to mind, "Uniblab" and "G. I. Jetson".

Both episodes feature the robot, Uniblab.

In the episode, "Uniblab", Spacely makes Uniblab supervisor over George Jetson.

In the episode, "G. I. Jetson", Major Spacely appoints Uniblab sergeant over the unit that Private George Jetson and Private Henry Orbit serve.

I would not like to work under Uniblab or be under Sergeant Uniblab.

I think, if one does a google search, one can find both episodes at www.thewb.com.
Sadly, www.thewb.com inserts too many commercials for my taste.

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Response to LongTomH (Original post)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 01:46 AM

8. If robots increase efficiency/productivity, I'm all for "em! So long as

we all share in the increased wealth produced.

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Response to LongTomH (Original post)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 07:37 AM

9. At last a reliable fake enemy. nt

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