Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Bot Sourcing

It's not news that factory employment is dropping globally. People are being replaced in such jobs by robots. The trend is hardly confined to manufacturing. Such traditionally person-intensive occupations as law and education are also being impacted.

Persons familiar with robotics see huge current areas of employment likely to be swept away in the next decade or two. This is a familiar pattern in human history, as one economic regime after another disrupted familiar patterns of life. Agriculture, trade, industrialization, and related events produced similar convulsions. One familiar pattern in these disruptions is a huge transfer of wealth from labor to capital. Robotics seems certain to repeat the pattern, more dramatically than ever.

The irony that those directly responsible for producing the goods that others, and especially the capitalists, consume, has expressed a weak constraint on greed. It was that irony, rather than any internal coherence, that gave Marxism it's peculiar emotional power. Of course that irony disappears when the actual work is being done not by people but robots.

At that point, the non-capitalists become redundant in the capitalistic scheme. Of course, the robots might find the capitalists unnecessary too.