HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Topics » Activism » Socialist Progressives (Group) » Rise of the Robots

Sat Dec 8, 2012, 04:42 PM

Rise of the Robots [View all]

Or, Paul Krugman rediscovers fire and Marxism.



Robots mean that labor costs don’t matter much, so you might as well locate in advanced countries with large markets and good infrastructure (which may soon not include us, but that’s another issue). On the other hand, it’s not good news for workers!

This is an old concern in economics; it’s “capital-biased technological change”, which tends to shift the distribution of income away from workers to the owners of capital.

Twenty years ago, when I was writing about globalization and inequality, capital bias didn’t look like a big issue; the major changes in income distribution had been among workers (when you include hedge fund managers and CEOs among the workers), rather than between labor and capital. So the academic literature focused almost exclusively on “skill bias”, supposedly explaining the rising college premium.


I think our eyes have been averted from the capital/labor dimension of inequality, for several reasons. It didn’t seem crucial back in the 1990s, and not enough people (me included!) have looked up to notice that things have changed. It has echoes of old-fashioned Marxism — which shouldn’t be a reason to ignore facts, but too often is. And it has really uncomfortable implications.

But I think we’d better start paying attention to those implications.

11 replies, 4264 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 11 replies Author Time Post
Reply Rise of the Robots [View all]
Starry Messenger Dec 2012 OP
kelly1mm Dec 2012 #1
Starry Messenger Dec 2012 #2
white_wolf Dec 2012 #3
Starry Messenger Dec 2012 #4
joshcryer Dec 2012 #5
tama Dec 2012 #6
joshcryer Dec 2012 #7
tama Dec 2012 #8
joshcryer Dec 2012 #9
rhett o rick Dec 2012 #10
Starry Messenger Dec 2012 #11