Automation Technology and the Post-Employment Society:
We are entering a post-capitalist era. Technology has created a new way out, and is paving the way for the new economy.
Automation is going to drastically change human life. While this likely isn’t going to look like robots v. humans meets reality, where robots seek to violently destroy humanity. Technologies will replace humans in various ways, for a multitude of tasks and responsibilities en masse.
As automation technologies continue to take hold they will apprehend traditionally human oriented jobs. This shift will give way to an entire new way of life.
The New Industrial Revolution
Historically, the industrial revolution forwarded humans in the workforce. However, this time around the revolution will likely prove to forward humans out of the workforce. We have witnessed machines take over manufacturing. And now we are seeing machines replace cashiers, taxi drivers, surgeons and more. And as such, the service industry has been hit first, with other industries to surely follow.
Post employment societies or economies are viewed as unrealistic concepts conjured up through socialist or futurist theory. So, could it be that we are actually realizing this shift?
The development of automation technology will produce a society where leisure time is maximized as result of a reduced need for humans to work. Could this shift give way to the opportunity to live more luxuriously? Or will it give way to an artificial intelligence jobs apocalypse and plummeting quality of life?
Hello Automation Technology, Goodbye Jobs:
Automation technology will lead to widespread carnage. Machines will take over the work that they can complete better, faster and cheaper.
The truth is, the majority of things are done better by machines. This can be measured through analytics such as efficiency levels, cost, error, accuracy, precision, and so forth. Machines can be programmed to perform the same tasks many times over, for little cost, with fewer errors, and higher speeds. Logically speaking, replacing humans with machines is the smarter business decision.
However the overriding argument against the proliferation of automated technology follows the idea of an economic collapse and decreased quality of life due to employment loss.
Post-Employment and Post Scarcity:
However, there are those who propose that although jobs would decrease in the short-term, the proliferation of automated technologies would increase the overall quality of life.
Humans would need to establish a society where the exchange of goods is done in a way that is different from today . This move would stretch the definitions of both capitalism and socialism.
There would also be a number of implicit benefits to this type of society. For example, with less time required to spend on work, that would leave an increased amount of time for leisure and learning. While overcoming or reducing scarcity would reduce human conflict and competition for resources and goods. Crime would also likely decrease, as people would have little need to break the law.
Marx, The Early Mastermind:
Karl Marx was one of the earliest theorists on this topic, speculating on what the transition to a post-capitalist society combined with technological innovation would look like. In summary, he contended that scarcity would eventually become eclipsed through the further development of technology.
He maintained that there would be no more class conflict, and no more elites. We would move to a socialist way of living because everybody would be well-off. Without the need to work, humans would have more time to develop themselves intellectually and spiritually, among others. Now although this may be a stretch for anytime in the near future. It isn’t exactly as far off as one may initially expect.
The new industrial revolution won’t happen over-night, but it is happening.
Digitization is affecting business, and it isn’t going to slow down. Industry barriers will continue to break down as the business world becomes increasingly digitized. Business models that have been in place for years, will continue to change. Some are referring to this as the “digital disruption”, wherein sweeping technology is enabling new opportunities.
Given these points the bottom line is that businesses must think differently about their business ecosystem in order to survive in the changing environment.
Could we be on our way to realizing a global shift in conventional ideas of work and earning a living? Many claim we are becoming slaves to technology. Yet, could it be that technology is becoming a slave to us? Realistically, reaching a 100% post-scarcity automation society would be difficult. Despite having fully automated production humans would still experience limitations. In addition, we would still require some humans to engage in work in order to keep things afloat. Not to mention, the availability of raw materials will remain finite.
Therefore, as automation technologies continue to further develop we will move deeper into a post-employment society. The digitization of work will have changed traditional business models as we know them.
By: Amberly Martin
Project Manager at Generation Digital Corp.