We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Monday, February 15, 2016

They’re coming!

Click here to access article by David Ruccio from his blog Occasional Links & Commentary.

This perceptive economist knows what he is writing about in this piece which especially alerts middle class workers that automation and artificial intelligence will, under the rules of capitalist ownership, eliminate many of their jobs, their income, their perks, and their celebrated social status. Unskilled and semi-skilled workers have experienced this for decades, but now this trend is now beginning to affect the college educated middle class. Ruccio makes some allusions about the remedy in the final paragraphs.
There’s nothing inevitable about these effects. It’s not robots and artificial intelligence per se that are going to negatively affect workers. What matters is how the robots and new kinds of software are created and utilized within the current set of economic institutions—as a way of increasing profits and exacerbating inequality.

We can, of course, imagine an entirely different set of effects—ways that robots and artificial intelligence might serve to eliminate onerous tasks and lessen the amount of work we all have to do.

But that’s going to require fundamentally changing the existing set of economic institutions. That, and not robots and artificial intelligence, is the real challenge facing us.

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