When all the jobs belong to robots, do we still need jobs?



IMO, this is the key concept to the article.

For the record, I think the quoted statement is true.


Ummmm… . what else was that robot designed for, when not turning hand wheels? He seems to have some specialized hardware.

I am put in mind of Graeber’s On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs and his recent interview at Salon.com, from which:

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, one of the great divisions between anarcho-syndicalist unions, and socialist unions, was that the latter were always asking for higher wages, and the anarchists were asking for less hours. That’s why the anarchists were so entangled in struggles for the eight-hour day. It’s as if the socialists were essentially buying into the notion that work is a virtue, and consumerism is good, but it should all be managed democratically, while the anarchists were saying, no, the whole deal—that we work more and more for more and more stuff—is rotten from the get-go.


That caught my eye as well and I went hunting. It is a still from this amazing film: The Sex Life of Robots. Alas it doesn’t seem to be available in full online.

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Awesome, amazing, brilliant!

All along I thought that “anarcho-syndicalist” was an invention of the Monty Python troupe. Transcript link here.

Thank you!!!


Well, when the output of robots exceeds the capacity of people to buy them, many of those robots could be repurposed into enforcement roles, keeping us plebes in our place.

The way things have gone over the past decade I am starting to see some real world indications of a trend towards the Morlock/Eloi division SF trope. How many SF movies and novels have a tech elite living in luxury and abundance surrounded by teeming squalid masses?


This is one of the reasons I believe the GOP as we know it should hold as little power as possible. Yes, the Democrats can be rather blah too, and I don’t think anyone disputes that but at least the Democrats believe the government can solve problems/and that social programs are necessary. Not only that, those social programs/a working government will be crucial to figuring out how we deal with a world where we have already reached peak job. Its already pretty bad right now, with employers having more choices of employees than ever before.

What happens when robots/automation free us up of a great many blue collar and white collar jobs to the point we have less jobs than people overall? Obviously I think that means a shift in how our economy functions.

If we were smart as a nation, we’d invest in education in the short-term. Make sure every American gets a quality education, that way the impact of robots/automation will be lessened by a skilled workforce. Yet, that just isn’t happening.

In the long-term though. We’ll have to really take into account whether everyone needs to work (At the moment, according to the GOP. If you don’t you’re a lazy bum). I mean, there are many other ways for us to give back to our community. In my opinion the rise of automation/robots can free us to spend our time more wisely as a species. Only though if we respond accordingly with policies/social programs to address the change.

Unfortunately the GOP don’t have any solutions to deal with such a changing world and seem to be pining for the good ol’ days of the 1950’s. Also, I’m not trying to say that the Democrats are the greatest/best ever. Just that they believe that government can function/can solve problems. While the GOP have literally made sure that it doesn’t.

Frankly, I’d be happy to have two parties that have solutions. At the moment we have one, sort of but not really enough. >.> While the other one is just crazy/stupid.


Honestly, as far as I can tell, their policy at this point seems to be to keep rattling sabers, so that they can avoid directly implementing the “socialist” society they’ve scared their constituents shitless about, and do it by proxy through defense contractors. Sort of how China is hoping to re-ignite the revolution by letting the capitalists run rampant.

And it’s gotten downright bizarre just how far down the rabbit hole we’ve gone with the whole “everybody needs to work” mantra. In 60 years, we’ve gone from “a woman’s place is in the kitchen” to “what, your wife doesn’t work, is she lazy or what?” I even know people who, if they find out a person is self-employed, a contractor, or a freelancer, they get all butthurt about how that person is lazy because they’re not doing the ol’ 9-to-5. I know a guy who is in his 70s, still works darn near from sunup to sunset, and his sister-in-law hates him because he’s a farmer; nevermind that he makes more money than a lot of techies by doing oilfield work on the side. Apparently he’s supposed to be like some of the guys my dad worked with, who would work on the farm during the day, and work a night shift to pay the bills.

And I totally don’t get that attitude. What madness has driven us to think that everyone has to have an hourly job?


Erm… happy to be of service? (Also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarcho-syndicalism)

Anywho, Graeber’s more interested in this idea of time, and how a macro-preponderance of bullshit jobs is a way of reining in the capacity of massive segments of society to collaborate together in making their part of the world what they would like it to be. Some interesting stuff in there…

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Is it longer than 2:06? No? Maybe this is it? Sex Life of Robots.

So, I see the NYT article ignored the reasons why Japan is using caregiver bots. Not sure I can touch on that without getting my comment removed, so…look into it.

Very much in service!

Thank you for the fine link!

Note: I try very hard to be a data-driven net-izen. I know that is fraught with all sorts of pre-suppositions, but your link helps me to expose my own pre-dispositions.

George Gilder once wrote an article for Wired about the end of jobs as we know them (unfortunately I can’t seem to find the reference to it). The problem with ending jobs - it could happen far sooner than we are prepared for the end of the 'receive income-purchase needed things" cycle; those with resources (for example a “farmer” who owns the land and the robotic farm tenders) will not want to just give their product away.

Which is why, I think, there’s been a push for a Universal Basic Income. I doubt it will ever pass in such a form in the U.S., but the idea is that you can actually save money on all these social safety nets by doing away with them, and replace them with just handing out checks for a basic income.

What would probably happen in reality is that we’d implement it as, say, a major revamp of Earned Income Tax Credit, where we’d all be able to get, or keep, a certain amount.


Alas that just seems to be clipped straight out of the same video I posted :frowning:

It is kind of a moot point now anyway as the image on the article has been changed.

About the only thing that markets can efficiently organize is the flow of wealth towards those who already have the most of it.


Somewhat cynical, but on balance…

Double-plus-good! :thumbsup:

When you’ve just landed on a continent full of trees, and you only have a few axes to chop those trees down, then it makes a lot of sense to make rules to keep those axes as busy as possible. Reward the axe’s owners for using them as much and as well as they can.

But when the forests have all been chopped down and you have a huge surplus of axes, those rules only serve to destroy the few trees you have left.

As a guiding principal, capitalism went obsolete quite a while ago. Yet discussing what to replace it with has been taboo for an equally long time.


My ideal utopia would have 0% “unemployment”, with people doing things because they want to perform those acts, not because they need to support themselves.

If roboticization can grant us that, goodie gum drops, but I can’t picture it occuring within my lifetime, or even within several.