Tuesday, 8 March 2016
When robots do all the work, how will people live?
Tom Watson, writing in the Guardian, asks this hugely significant question.
Unless there is a change of government in 2020 – and that does not look very likely at the moment – under the present regime a great many more will become homeless and rely on foodbanks to avoid starvation. He asks:
“Where is the new institution that brings together trades unions, employers and government to establish how the time liberated and wealth created by robots is equitably shared?”
Unfortunately we are nearing the point where these organisations have become, all but, ineffectual – for any employer [mainly global corporations] will simply re-site their robots in a country where the national government does not interfere with the practices of these global monsters. If Deloitte is right that ‘that up to 11m UK jobs have a high chance of being automated within the next decade’ [and there seems little reason to doubt their figures given the rapid development in AI in recent years] – many people are going to die early and painful deaths if the next Tory government pursues the policies that have been pursued by Cameron and Osborne – for they have repeatedly demonstrated since the early days of the coalition that the law that citizens must be able to support themselves – with little or no help from the state – is an iron law.
We have seen Osborne create budgets that favour global corporations and his preparedness to allow the weak and disabled placed in nye impossible situations to a point where great numbers are suffering mental health problems because they are trapped in circumstances which only a few are able to escape. We must assume, if the current values are continued by the next Tory government, there will be no let up in these, almost medieval, practices. The 800,000 jobs lost to automation since 2001 has caused hardships – but 11 million will create an impossible situation and the real possibility of attempts at revolution.
The central problem is that these giant corporations have only one objective – to make as much profit as possible – compassion is not included in their aims and objectives. However, they are obliged to use the most profitable methods available for if they don’t they know another corporation will take advantage of their ‘weakness’ and those corporations who delay because of some reluctance to put so many people out of work will find that the most ruthless, those who employ automation as soon as it is available – regardless of the numbers made unemployed – will quickly start making much greater profits and be in a position to buy out those that have not taken these steps.
Whether the outcome will be to take us into potentially revolutionary circumstances or some less severe condition will depend on the outcome of the EU Referendum If the vote is ‘to leave’ prime minister Boris Johnson may have greater compassion for his fellow citizens than Osborne, the designer of the current system, and, although his solutions would still err greatly in favour of the corporations – he might recognise that state intervention is necessary to avoid major civil unrest.
Should the ‘stay’ campaign succeed – which seems most likely – not only are we likely to see the continuation of Osborne’s heartlessness, but also the ratification of TTIP which is without doubt designed to advantage the global corporations further – particularly those of the US. If this should be the case – we can expect to see even greater hardships inflicted on workers – not only in the UK but throughout the EU.
Cameron has said that he considers the ratification of TTIP the most important issue of his premiership!
The full article can be read here.