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article imageOp-Ed: Will robots replace everyday workers?

By Alexander Baron     Mar 28, 2013 in Technology
"A coming wave of robots could redefine our jobs. Will that redefine us?" It can do if we use a little lateral thinking, and take on board the thoughts of Major Douglas.
The above quote is from a recently published article The New Industrial Revolution. Its author, Jeffrey R. Young, has been looking at some some new robots, and concludes they will revolutionise the workplace. They have already, of course. Robots of a sort have been around since the 1940s, but it is not simply robots, rather it is new technology per se that has been, is, and will revolutionise the workplace. Alas, not everybody sees that as a good thing. Here is a quote from the above article:
"Still, the question of whether robots are helping or hurting the work force has become a serious policy issue. Georgia Tech's Christensen, the keynote speaker at the trade show and a leading pro-robot spokesman, has argued to the Obama administration that new robot workers can help bring back manufacturing jobs to the United States that have moved overseas. Administration officials were skeptical at first, he acknowledged: 'You're about killing jobs, why would we talk to you,' he remembered being told."
Dude, you forgot the question mark; that should read 'You're about killing jobs, why would we talk to you?' Maybe you need a more sophisticated wordprocessor, a robotic one.
Here are my two favourite quotes on work: "Work is the curse of the drinking classes." About the only intelligent thing Oscar Wilde ever said. And "I love work; it fascinates me; I can sit and watch it for hours." By that three men a boat fella.
Sadly, many people don't share that view because they have the wrong mindset. That includes manual workers - who see their jobs being destroyed; economists - who are just as useful as astrologers but far less accurate; and our masters - who are so totally subservient to the banking system that they have given or allowed the banksters to steal the right to create the nation's and the world's credit, and believe the sky will fall unless the crooked books are balanced. One of the tasks that much be achieved if this is to be done, is the chimera of full employment.
The reality is that there are many, many jobs that if possible we should leave to robots and other forms of technology with only human oversight. With the exception of stunt men, this includes anything remotely dangerous or dirty. Why would you want to harvest wheat by hand when you can use a machine? Why would you want to perform maintenance in a sewer or a railway tunnel when you can use a robot? Why would you want to murder people by bombing them in a plane and risk being shot down by "militants" when you can use a drone?
Okay, two out of three ain't bad.
When workers see "jobs" being destroyed by new technology, what they are really lamenting is the destruction of their hard earned purchasing power, ie their livelihoods. This has led some of the lunatic fringe to endorse Luddism. And, sadly, many of the not-so-lunatic fringe. So what is the solution?
The real solution is one that was expounded by a bloke who knew something about the benefits of technology, Major Douglas. If you want to learn a bit more about him, here is his website, but the bottom line is that we should embrace the death of unskilled jobs and by and large of any job which can be done better by a machine. For those of us who don't have jobs or only part-time jobs, the problem will be purchasing power, which as Major Douglas explained must be distributed through a new mechanism, ie the national dividend/Basic Income must progressively replace the wage/salary.
There are those who think not simply that it should, but that it can, indeed there is an international organisation devoted to achieving this laudable goal, along with numerous smaller networks. Once we achieve that, we will replace the nightmare of "unemployment" with the Paradise of a global leisure state. And if we don't?...let's not even think about that.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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