Stop saying "robots are coming for your job"; start saying "Your boss wants to replace you with a robot"

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/06/03/humans-in-the-loop-2.html

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Also, let’s stop calling monopolist corporations “tech companies” if they happen to use computers and the internet.

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…your boss makes a decision about whether that replacement will come with an equitable sharing of the fruits of automation (shorter hours and higher pay all around!) or whether they will be hoarded by the forces of capital (“sorry, the robot stole your job, nothing I can do about it”).

I wouldn’t even emphasize “equitable fruits of automation” here. After all, if the owners of the company bought the machine with company money it isn’t unreasonable for them to enjoy the proceeds. It is NOT about fairness, it is about the fact that the economy works more poorly when the fruits of automation are not shared. And the society as a whole becomes more prone to violent revolution.

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A robot is welcome to my shitty job, like right now.

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There is no alternative.

If replacing us with an algorithm means taking autonomous, creative individuals away from their computer screens, so that those individuals can venture off into the real world to seek out innovative and creative avenues in their pursuit of happiness, creativity and innovation, than I’m all for it, too!

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Computers and automation are not the problem.

The problem is that there are 4 main forces at work within the economy: Capital, Labor, Consumers, and Producers.

Producers borrow capital and employ labor to create goods to sell to consumers.

The unspoken understanding that has been known since Henry Ford is that virtually everyone participates in the market in more than one way. A Laborer owns stocks (and is thus also a Capitalist) and is a consumer of goods. A Producer of goods consumes other goods. A Capitalist also consumes goods.

But the engine of consumption is driven by the wages earned by laborers. And the short-sighted goal of reducing costs by eliminating the flow of money from producers to laborers dries up the consumer base, since the laborers make up the majority of the consumers.

With automation to reduce the amount of labor required to produce items for consumers, the question is how do we get the money into the hands of the consumers to purchase the goods when they are no longer laborers, and most people are not holders of sufficient amounts of capital to support themselves?

We could use automation to produce enough goods for everyone to live a life of luxury and to enable everyone to spend their days producing creative work, improving themselves, and for the benefit of all of us instead of only their own self-interest.

Or we could have the capitalists betting on death matches of the now redundant labor class as they do an economic class cleansing. It all depends on what we want to do…

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Better about correctly identifying the passive; still putting all the blame on the passive for disguising agency. The problem is not that it’s passive voice, the problem is that it’s disguising agency. (“Stolen by a robot” vs “robotized by your boss”).

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I wonder how the ax-men felt about their jobs being stolen by the guillotine :thinking:

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And recognise the obverse - ALL corporations are tech companies today (well, certainly all services-based companies). Without excellent tech and a good tech strategy, they’re all dead. Tech companies that happen to be in banking, or insurance, or healthcare, or …

Google and Facebook are not tech companies any more than they are media companies or advertising companies.

(ETA whereas Apple is/was a tech company now pivoting to becoming a services company as fast as it can.)

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Your boss doesn’t want to replace you with a robot. Your boss has to replace you with a robot because capitalism wants, no, needs to replace you with a robot. The solution isn’t kinder overseers, it’s a system where the benefits of automation are, at least to a degree, universalized.

As long as people must sell their labor on the open market to holders of capital to survive, the incentive of the capital will be to drive down the costs it pays, ideally to zero. This has never changed. The only difference is that the permanent elimination of jobs is now technologically possible. Indeed, I suspect it’d be much worse if there weren’t so many make-work jobs about whose principal goal is to serve as a sort of status-marker to important cogs in the corporate machine. So, the good news is that while your crappy job may be replaced by a robot you can rejoice in the growing field of lackeyship and flunkying.

Joy.

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Oddly, no thinks the same when it’s immigrants… And the answer is the same.

No, the immigrants aren’t coming for your job (or the outsourcers) it’s your boss.

It’s not “the gig economy”… it’s piece work.

Workers rejected that over a hundred years ago… But slap a different name of it and people ate it up.

Gotta love marketing

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Considering what happened when I was laid off from my job a few years ago, I think folks may be replaced in their jobs by robots, plus some middle managers and VPs.

Yes, I know that doesn’t make sense.

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I can imagine Victorian Era boingboing:

“Automobiles are coming for your job!”

Or maybe “telephones are coming for your job!”

Can you imagine this one: “Electricity is coming for your job!”

If it’s 2019 and your job might reasonably be replaced by an algorithm sometime soon, then you are in the wrong field, period.

This is why we need an education system that trains people for the jobs that we need more talent for – programmers, science, math, engineering, etc. And why we need an economic and educational system that makes it easy for people to transition careers, and not have to worry about losing healthcare coverage, etc.

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The business/company/enterprise NEVER wanted to employ you; it didn’t want to have to pay you, trust you, find space for you, or provide facilities for you. What we think of as “normal jobs” are a temporary oddity, with a rapidly approaching expiry date.

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I replaced my job with robots so I’m fairly indifferent to the whole thing, after personally losing manufacturing jobs to automation and globalization; I feel like the jobs weren’t that great anyway and the money wasn’t too good.

We should allow ourselves to be more independent financially, it wasn’t long ago that everyone worked for themselves, but changes in technology quickly changed that. It’s going to be a slow return to normalcy but I do believe the gig economy will give way to a more entrepreneurial and decentralized workforce.

My current boss is in his 70’s and likes to quip he needs to work to feed his dog. His dog maybe weighs 4 pounds and is a dozen years old. Meanwhile my boss owns millions dollars worth of property, and talking to him about a raise is like describing a dildo to a nun…

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Um, yeah. I read that article, and then I looked at the author’s other article about “shitty automation”: Why Self Checkout Is And Always Has Been The Worst.https://gizmodo.com/why-self-checkout-is-and-has-always-been-the-worst-1833106695

But you see, Mr. Merchant, I like self checkout. More than that, I strongly prefer self checkout. In fact, I will drive to the other side of town to shop at a store that has self checkout, rather than shop at the store down the street that doesn’t.

Is self checkout shitty compared to the unwashed, idiotic, alternately overly curious or bitterly bored chain-smoker who usually runs the cash register in grocery stores? Not to me. I’m sure you love human contact, but I’ve been surrounded by you mindless fucking humans for sixty years now, and frankly, you suck. Give me the impersonal self checkout any day.

Or, you know, online ordering, which works for everything but perishables.

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