Towards the end of Labour; what then for Class, Money and Society?

Discussion in 'theory, philosophy & history' started by heebyjeeby, Oct 28, 2018.

  1. heebyjeeby

    heebyjeeby Member

    The exact timing is less important but conservative estimates put a ceiling of 40 years until an automated being can do anything a human can do. The ramifications are shattering because it will then mean that labour will have zero value in a very small space of time. No remunerated proletariat means no market for capitalism and the whole model will collapse within a decade.

    The only value will be in land and raw materials. The question is who will control these goods.
  2. mrs quoad

    mrs quoad Well-Known Member

    kropotkin, danski and mauvais like this.
  3. Sprocket.

    Sprocket. Don’t Bother, They’re Here.....

    Oh no, the Luddite martyrs died in vain!
    Pickman's model and passenger like this.
  4. heebyjeeby

    heebyjeeby Member

    Short, succinct and to the point I suppose. The scientific literature indicates I am correct. Of course it is not provable here.
  5. heebyjeeby

    heebyjeeby Member

    Indeed they will have done.
  6. belboid

    belboid TUC Off Your Knees

    It's not really scientific literature, is it? If anyone really believes that robots will but cutting our hair or wiping old folks' bottoms in forty years time, they're deluded.

    (take a look for the paul mason: postcapitalism or 'the robots are coming' threads where we have had much of this discussion before)
  7. mrs quoad

    mrs quoad Well-Known Member


  8. heebyjeeby

    heebyjeeby Member

    why would I be deluded? but ill have a look
  9. Crispy

    Crispy The following psytrance is baṉned: All

    There will still be plenty for humans to do, but probably not enough for capitalism as we know it to survive.
  10. Grump

    Grump Well-Known Member

    The argument that 'the robots are coming and will take all our jobs' seems overhyped to say the least. We are constantly told that AI is developing at subject a pace that machines will soon outthink humans yet when you look at the reality these intelligent macines actually only seem to do routine processing, albeit at a fast pace. When Pepper the AI robot was interviewed by MPs recently it was only a glorified answerphone giving preprogrammed answers to carefully phrased questions. Machines have been taking human jobs since the cotton gin and the spinning jenny, arguably since the plough was invented, but humans will always bare required to do the vast majority of labour, both manual and intellectual.
    Lupa likes this.
  11. heebyjeeby

    heebyjeeby Member

    I see nothing to suggest that that is true
  12. belboid

    belboid TUC Off Your Knees

    Humans will always do the vast majority of labour, because labour is always done by humans. Even if machines do more of the work.

    Design work, 'caring' work, anything requiring 'emotional intelligence' - all will be aided by new technology, but they will still be carried out by human beings. Even if it is only because human beings are social animals and want some personal interaction when they're, eg, having their hair cut. Those robots will need engineers to build them, too.
    Lupa likes this.
  13. pug

    pug Well-Known Member

    Have they invented a robot fixing robot yet and if so what happens if it goes wrong, can it fix itself?
  14. heebyjeeby

    heebyjeeby Member

    not yet..talking 40 years off
  15. MickiQ

    MickiQ Well-Known Member

    Well you'll need a least 2 of them won't you/
    Lupa and pug like this.
  16. editor

    editor Forked with electrons

    It's coming closer -

    Robot or human? Google Assistant will leave you guessing - Video
  17. MickiQ

    MickiQ Well-Known Member

    Back in the 50's and 60's when people started to think seriously about robots they used to believe that robots would be humanoid because since all our tools and machines are designed for humans, it would be easier to build human shaped robots rather than redesign everything. In fact they were dead wrong, Machines are very good at doing a specific thing over and over again so whilst autonomous machines are everywhere and we have ATM's and scab tills and robots on the shop floor, the general purpose robot really is nowhere in sight.
    It is going to be longer than 40 years before we get machines that can truly think like people, 50 years of computing and we can't build one with the learning capacity of a mouse never mind a person at the current moment.
    When true thinking machines exist be it 100 years or 200 years then things like the value of labour or the value of capital or the will of the proletariat will become meaningless because human beings will not be in charge, the AI's will they might let us think we're running things to smooth our fragile human egos but we won't be.
    Lupa, Duncan2 and Sprocket. like this.
  18. belboid

    belboid TUC Off Your Knees

    You won't get 'a' machine that will 'think like people' - you'll get a host of machines that will replicate discrete human activities. They'll be physically adapted, evolved, if you like, to best suit whatever that ask is.

    And machines are showing strong evidence of 'learning' these days, and that will improve significantly in the coming years.
    emanymton likes this.
  19. Puddy_Tat

    Puddy_Tat hmm

    to be fair, some MPs are not a great deal better than that

  20. ska invita

    ska invita back on the other side

    Lupa and Sprocket. like this.
  21. mauvais

    mauvais change has become unavoidable

    Robots are expensive. Automation can't eclipse or replace capitalism, only disrupt it, because automation requires so much capital in the first place.
  22. MickiQ

    MickiQ Well-Known Member

    The capital cost of robots is like everything else a product of their scarcity, you could have said the same thing about pretty much everything once.
  23. mauvais

    mauvais change has become unavoidable

    This isn't true at all, other than once reduced to the basic level of energy scarcity.
    SpineyNorman likes this.
  24. MickiQ

    MickiQ Well-Known Member

    he Not really robots are cheap compared to people over all but a very short time frame, scab tills are tobvious example of this, supermarket shop workers are pretty much the bottom of the employment pile, unskilled, easily replaceable and miminum waged. It still makes economic sense to automate their numbers down to the minimum. I rather doubt supermarkets are motivated by any such nonsense as human dignity.
  25. Sprocket.

    Sprocket. Don’t Bother, They’re Here.....

    For example a basic pick and place machine that has a barcode scanner costs around £300k.
    This, in theory replaces two lower skilled jobs at minimum wage. A trained worker just to oversee minor problems will be able to monitor up to eight such machines.
    The start up costs maybe prohibitive, but capital will be found if it can remove real people even if profits are minimal.
  26. SpineyNorman

    SpineyNorman it was already like that when I got here

    Marxism by numbers time.

    Capital does not derive its value from scarcity (not directly anyway). It derives its value from the amount of socially necessary labour time it embodies. Commodities like gold and diamonds are valuable because on average their extraction is labour intensive (prospecting, mining etc). So it kind of makes sense to link the value of primary commodities like those to scarcity/abundance but not finished goods like robots.
    redsquirrel and mauvais like this.
  27. mauvais

    mauvais change has become unavoidable

    That, plus energy and actually finite resource. But that's not even the most obvious explanation of why capital costs of robots is not a product of scarcity. It's the same answer as the one to, 'why don't we all own helicopters?'. There's no future where helicopters are somehow cheap because everyone somehow has one. There's unlikely to be a future where robots for any and all tasks are cheap either.
  28. mauvais

    mauvais change has become unavoidable

    R&D aside, scab tills are expensive in terms of upfront capital, ongoing maintenance and all the ways in which they need to be supported. They're only a workable proposition because they're a commodity, there's global commonality to their role - it's not a specialism at all. Plus the manually-operated till system was already largely automated so it's not that big a step. And then finally, it's not all that clear that they do offer serious overall savings. This stuff is low hanging fruit for automation and it's still difficult.

    Yes, no disagreement with this. But someone somewhere has to buy enough product to generate enough capital to afford a £300k machine, and if customer spending power is curtailed by the fact that they're all out of a job, this eventually ceases to be the case. What was supposedly Henry Ford but in reverse. It's not immediate feedback and it's not exactly direct but eventually the need for upfront investment has to suppress the adoption of automation for all things. People are cheaper and easier in the short term.
  29. eoin_k

    eoin_k Lawyer's fees, beetroot and music

    Scab tills don't even dramatically reduce the amount of human effort involved in the process. They transfer more of it from the workforce onto the consumer than they actually do away with.
    mauvais likes this.
  30. alex_

    alex_ Well-Known Member

    But the consumers time is free from the perspective of the retailer.


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