ROBOCAPITAL, OR DO COMMUNISTS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? – A warning from the Bank of England via your friendly neighbourhood tabloid:
Mark Carney warned the automation of jobs currently done by humans could trigger mass unemployment and wage stagnation.
That will create vast inequalities between workers who benefit from artificial intelligence and those whose careers are wiped out by it.
“If you substitute platforms for textile mills, machine learning for steam engines, Twitter for the telegraph, you have exactly the same dynamics as existed 150 years ago when Karl Marx was scribbling The Communist Manifesto,” he said.
Technology has indeed been quite disruptive a force since the start of the Industrial Revolution (and to some extent since the start of technology altogether), as it has traditionally displaced and replaced human labour. But in and of itself it has not led to widespread unemployment or poverty, since it has also created immense wealth as well as vastly expanding supply and demand by reducing costs and prices. Jobs lost to automation have been replaced by jobs elsewhere, often entirely new classes and categories of jobs created directly by the new technology and its needs and indirectly by the wealth and democratisation of demand produced by the new technology.
The far left would of course love robots to be the harbingers of the new Marxist revolution, since nothing else has so far done the trick in the Western world. The communism in history has only ever come to power in the societies where it was not supposed to according to the Marxist theory because they were at too primitive a stage of development for that to occur. Needless to say, the advent of communism there was not a result of the unstoppable march of “historical forces” but the force of organised violence.
If communism ever makes a real comeback it will not be because of the robots and the alienation of the working class but because an extremist minority of lumpen-intelligencia takes advantage of the general anomie and societal disintegration brought on by other factors.