The Automation Charade
The rise of the robots has been greatly exaggerated
Somewhere, right now, a manager is intoning to a broke, exhausted underling that someone is willing to do the same job for less—or, that some thing is willing to do it for free.
Since the dawn of market society, owners and bosses have reveled in telling workers they were replaceable. Robots lend this centuries-old dynamic a troubling new twist: employers threaten employees with the specter of machine competition, shirking responsibility for their avaricious disposition through opportunistic appeals to tech determinism. A “jobless future” is inevitable, we are told, an irresistible outgrowth of innovation, the livelihood-devouring price of progress. (Sadly, the jobless future for the masses doesn’t resemble the jobless present of the 1 percent who live off dividends, interest and rent, lifting nary a finger as their bank balances grow.)
Though automation is presented as a neutral process, the straightforward consequence of technological progress, one needn’t look that closely to see that this is hardly the case. Automation is both a reality and an ideology, and thus also a weapon wielded against poor and working people who have the audacity to demand better treatment, or just the right to subsist.
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