Shouldn't Automation Usher in Utopia?

Shouldn't Automation Usher in Utopia?

Postby LaughingCheese » Sun Aug 16, 2015 6:17 pm

I've always been a bit skeptical about automation, my thoughts being "I guess we'll get there someday" but this video makes it clear that automation is not scifi and a lot of forms of automation are basically just around the corner.

And it certainly sounds sinister on the face of it, but I still don't get all the hand-wringing over it.

Isn't this what we've been working toward for all of human history? A way to throw off the shackles of work?

Won't this allow us to ultimately throw off the shackles of economics completely?

I guess the problem is that not all forms of automation will be available right away; is it that it will still take a while for all industries to be automated, is that the problem?
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Re: Shouldn't Automation Usher in Utopia?

Postby Graham Kennedy » Sun Aug 16, 2015 6:58 pm

The problem is, what happens to the people whose lives are "freed up" by automation? Historically the answer is that they just get fired and have to find other work... but how does that work if most of the jobs in existence become automated over the space of a decade or three? Do we end up with a vast pool of unemployed people being supported by the few productive people left along with the machines?

That could actually work, perhaps - but remember, all these machines are owned and run by people who make money off them, and those people have the money to rig the system for their benefit. They're not going to be happy about shifting society to a model where they have to support a giant idle population. Look at the fuss they already kick up when it's only 5-10% of the workforce unemployed, are they going to sit still for a world in which it's permanently 90%+?

Won't this allow us to ultimately throw off the shackles of economics completely?

Great in theory but how does it work, exactly?
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Re: Shouldn't Automation Usher in Utopia?

Postby LaughingCheese » Sun Aug 16, 2015 8:18 pm

Great in theory but how does it work, exactly?



So, I guess that's the problem. :(

No idea what to do about it.
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Re: Shouldn't Automation Usher in Utopia?

Postby McAvoy » Sun Aug 16, 2015 8:38 pm

I agree. I gave seen alot of arguments that say that automation like that in factories that there will be jobs for people who have to create those robots ot machines. The fact is that we can create robots that create the robots that create the cars and other stuff.

I think the only way we create new jobs is a new thing. The last couple of decades saw the Internet, the computer and the cell phone become wide spread. I think that is more or less tapped out. Improvements perhaps but nothing new.

Hell there is talk about replacing fast food works with machines. Replacing most cashiers with self checkout.
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Re: Shouldn't Automation Usher in Utopia?

Postby Graham Kennedy » Sun Aug 16, 2015 8:49 pm

They're even starting to replace checkout staff in supermarkets with self check out machines. I used one myself just today.

Probably the best depiction of this kind of "economyless future" I've ever seen is the Culture books by Iain M. Banks. But to make it work he has intelligent machines. Even the floating tray that brings you your drink has intelligence equal to an animal, say - enough to avoid bumping into things and follow orders, etc... all the way up to "Minds" which are perhaps a billion times smarter and faster than a human being.

That's not going to happen anytime soon, but we could certainly reach a place where everything from law firms to factories to fast food joints is full of robots of one kind or another, and the only people there are small troubleshooting crews to sort out problems on the rare occasions that they happen. The people on this forum will very probably see that in their lifetimes, as the OP's video points out. An economy like that might put most everyone out of work, and as far as I can see nobody in the world has a clue what to do about it.
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Re: Shouldn't Automation Usher in Utopia?

Postby LaughingCheese » Sun Aug 16, 2015 9:45 pm

Graham Kennedy wrote:They're even starting to replace checkout staff in supermarkets with self check out machines. I used one myself just today.


I guess thats why the video actually impacted me; I'm just a bagger, something that could be easily replaced. :?
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Re: Shouldn't Automation Usher in Utopia?

Postby McAvoy » Mon Aug 17, 2015 12:48 am

Exactly. You got self checkout machines in supermarkets, you got robots building robots that build stuff.

Hell there are machines out that all cashiers have to do is plug in the money you gave them and the machine pops out the correct change. Only one step away from the above and you could say they only did it to keep the cashier there.

Imagine that there are no stores anymore. That we order everything online sitting in our chair that doubles as a bed, transportation, a toilet and a kitchen.

Merging the Wall-E and Idiocracy together.
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Re: Shouldn't Automation Usher in Utopia?

Postby Mikey » Mon Aug 17, 2015 12:51 am

Even in Banks' Culture milieu, most people seem to work (in fact, most people seem to work for some government or another.) While this may be at the social evolutionary point of working for its own sake rather than out of necessity, I can think of at least one example of people in an about-to-Sublimate society living in poverty because they don't/won't work.
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Re: Shouldn't Automation Usher in Utopia?

Postby McAvoy » Mon Aug 17, 2015 2:06 am

I think there may have to be a collective agreement for companies not to use cheap robot labor (if available) in favor of the humans model. Only to keep the people working.
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Re: Shouldn't Automation Usher in Utopia?

Postby IanKennedy » Mon Aug 17, 2015 8:38 am

McAvoy wrote:I think there may have to be a collective agreement for companies not to use cheap robot labor (if available) in favor of the humans model. Only to keep the people working.

Public companies have a requirement to make the most profit they can for their shareholders. At least in an long term respect. They are allowed to do research, for example, which spends money without creating immediate profit. The problem is choosing a more expensive workforce, rather than a cheaper robotic one, then the shareholders could sue or sack the board for breach of duty.
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Re: Shouldn't Automation Usher in Utopia?

Postby Graham Kennedy » Mon Aug 17, 2015 2:56 pm

The trouble with that idea is that companies will just donate to the campaigns of those who will vote against such a law. Throw enough money at it, and the law won't happen.
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Re: Shouldn't Automation Usher in Utopia?

Postby Mikey » Mon Aug 17, 2015 7:59 pm

Teaos wrote:Unless there is a law that says they must use labor.


That's a great idea considering a perfectly Socialist economic model, in which a Marxist government has direct control of economic process... but that doesn't even exist in Cuba anymore. The whole idea of capitalism is to allow companies to pursue the best business model available; in which term "best" means offering the highest margins.
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Re: Shouldn't Automation Usher in Utopia?

Postby McAvoy » Mon Aug 17, 2015 8:57 pm

Teaos wrote:Unless there is a law that says they must use labor.


That was the point. If you have mass automation in everything you are going to have a severe problem with unemployment. Unemployment causes a cascade effect that causes people to not buy the products. The machines can't make the product because no one buys it. The company can't buy the robots because they can't afford to buy them. And so forth.

So it might be in their best interest to use physical labor so that these workers to buy the stuff.
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Re: Shouldn't Automation Usher in Utopia?

Postby Graham Kennedy » Mon Aug 17, 2015 9:29 pm

Unfortunately, companies don't tend to be that forward looking. There are all sorts of studies showing that a raise in the minimum wage would benefit the economy by giving workers more buying power, but most companies just don't care. Low wage bill = more profit right now, and that's all they care about.
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