Capitalism as an economic system must grow in order to make capital for the owners of the means of production.  Growth and cost cutting are the heart and soul of capitalism.  As a system, exploitative wage labor is keeping the cost of wages as low as possible and this is the trick in accumulating profits.

Now, with automation, even jobs such as teaching and now virtual health care threaten to replace human beings with machines or cyber tools.  Entire professions are being reconstructed in broad daylight by a pernicious ruling class looking to invest surplus profits.

What will happen to the teaming surplus labor that is no longer needed to extract profits from the system?  What will happen to the millions and millions of youth throughout the world who may see nothing more than precarious work if any work at all?

Part of the answer can be seen in the growth rates of private incarceration companies that make their profits off of warehousing surplus labor.  Another part of the answer can be seen in the reconfiguration of schools, especially K-12 that now rely on cyber learning when it is cyber life that is replacing human productivity and work!  Containment, low level work, low paid work and precarious work are now the new norm under late-stage, feudal corporate capitalism.

As less and less human beings are needed to assure basic needs can be afforded human beings, the question now is what kind of society can we construct that allows us to use technological advancement not to reduce labor and leave swaths of dereacinated and unemployed and impoverished, but how we might use the forces of production that are emerging to free people from the drudgery of wage labor and allow them to at least procure the basic necessities of life.

The problem, of course, is that under capitalism the means of production and thus all investment decisions are made by a small ruling class.  And their decisions are motivated by profit, by law.

The following is an article taken from Dave Emory’s website.  Dave is a long time anti-fascist researcher and has had his own radio show for more than 25 years where he has served to expose many questionable tactics of the US government.  You can hear decades of his shows at Spitfire, the source of this article.


Terminator V:  The machines want your job.

By Pterrafractyl  -  October 9, 2012 @ 11:27 pm in News & Supplemental

In a fun change of pace, we’re going to have a post that’s light on arti­cle excerpts and heavy on ranty link­i­ness.  That might not actu­ally be fun but it’s not like there’s a robot stand­ing over your shoul­der forc­ing you to read this.  Yet [1]:

Zero­Hedge has a great recent post filled with reminders that state sov­er­eignty move­ments and political/currency unions won’t nec­es­sar­ily help close the gap between the haves and have-nots if it’s the wealth­i­est regions that are mov­ing for inde­pen­dence [2].  Shared cur­ren­cies and shared sov­er­eignty don’t nec­es­sar­ily lead to a shar­ing of the bur­dens of run­ning a civilization.

The mas­sive strikes that shut down Foxconn’s iPhone pro­duc­tion in China [3], on the other hand, could actu­ally do quite a bit to help close that global gap.   One of the fun real­i­ties of the mas­sive shift of global man­u­fac­tur­ing capac­ity into China is that a sin­gle group of work­ers could have a pro­found effect on global wages and work­ing stan­dards.  The world had some­thing sim­i­lar to that a cou­ple of decades ago in the form of the Amer­i­can mid­dle class, but that group of work­ers acquired a taste for a par­tic­u­lar fla­vor of kool-aid [4] that unfor­tu­nately hasn’t proved to be con­ducive towards [5] self-preservation [6]).

The Fox­conn strike [7] also comes at a time when ris­ing labor costs [8] of China’s mas­sive labor force [9] has been mak­ing a global [10] impact [11] on man­u­fac­tur­ing costs [12].  But with the Chi­nese man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor show­ing signs of slow­down [13] and the IMF warn­ing a global slow­down and “domino effects” on the hori­zon [14] it’s impor­tant to keep in mind that the trend in Chi­nese wages can eas­ily be reversed and that could also have a global effect [15] (it’s also worth not­ing that the IMF is kind of schizo [16] when it [17] comes [18] to [19] aus­ter­ity [20] and domino effects [21]).  Not that we needed a global slow­down for some form of recession-induced “aus­ter­ity” to start impact­ing China’s work­force.  The robots are com­ing [22], and they don’t really care about things like over­time [23]:

NY Times Skilled Work, With­out the Worker By JOHN MARKOFF Pub­lished: August 18, 2012 DRACHTEN, the Nether­lands — At the Philips Elec­tron­ics fac­tory on the coast of China, hun­dreds of work­ers use their hands and spe­cial­ized tools to assem­ble elec­tric shavers. That is the old way.

At a sis­ter fac­tory here in the Dutch coun­try­side, 128 robot arms do the same work with yoga-like flex­i­bil­ity. Video cam­eras guide them through feats well beyond the capa­bil­ity of the most dex­ter­ous human.

One robot arm end­lessly forms three per­fect bends in two con­nec­tor wires and slips them into holes almost too small for the eye to see. The arms work so fast that they must be enclosed in glass cages to pre­vent the peo­ple super­vis­ing them from being injured. And they do it all with­out a cof­fee break — three shifts a day, 365 days a year.

All told, the fac­tory here has sev­eral dozen work­ers per shift, about a tenth as many as the plant in the Chi­nese city of Zhuhai.

This is the future. A new wave of robots, far more adept than those now com­monly used by automak­ers and other heavy man­u­fac­tur­ers, are replac­ing work­ers around the world in both man­u­fac­tur­ing and dis­tri­b­u­tion. Fac­to­ries like the one here in the Nether­lands are a strik­ing coun­ter­point to those used by Apple and other con­sumer elec­tron­ics giants, which employ hun­dreds of thou­sands of low-skilled workers.

“With these machines, we can make any con­sumer device in the world,” said Binne Visser, an elec­tri­cal engi­neer who man­ages the Philips assem­bly line in Drachten.

Many indus­try exec­u­tives and tech­nol­ogy experts say Philips’s approach is gain­ing ground on Apple’s. Even as Fox­conn, Apple’s iPhone man­u­fac­turer, con­tin­ues to build new plants and hire thou­sands of addi­tional work­ers to make smart­phones, it plans to install more than a mil­lion robots within a few years to sup­ple­ment its work force in China.

Fox­conn has not dis­closed how many work­ers will be dis­placed or when. But its chair­man, Terry Gou, has pub­licly endorsed a grow­ing use of robots. Speak­ing of his more than one mil­lion employ­ees world­wide, he said in Jan­u­ary, accord­ing to the offi­cial Xin­hua news agency: “As human beings are also ani­mals, to man­age one mil­lion ani­mals gives me a headache.”


The falling costs and grow­ing sophis­ti­ca­tion of robots have touched off a renewed debate among econ­o­mists and tech­nol­o­gists over how quickly jobs will be lost. This year, Erik Bryn­jolf­s­son and Andrew McAfee, econ­o­mists at the Mass­a­chu­setts Insti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy, made the case for a rapid trans­for­ma­tion. “The pace and scale of this encroach­ment into human skills is rel­a­tively recent and has pro­found eco­nomic impli­ca­tions,” they wrote in their book, “Race Against the Machine.”

In their minds, the advent of low-cost automa­tion fore­tells changes on the scale of the rev­o­lu­tion in agri­cul­tural tech­nol­ogy over the last cen­tury, when farm­ing employ­ment in the United States fell from 40 per­cent of the work force to about 2 per­cent today. The anal­ogy is not only to the indus­tri­al­iza­tion of agri­cul­ture but also to the elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of man­u­fac­tur­ing in the past cen­tury, Mr. McAfee argues.

“At what point does the chain saw replace Paul Bun­yan?” asked Mike Den­ni­son, an exec­u­tive at Flex­tron­ics, a man­u­fac­turer of con­sumer elec­tron­ics prod­ucts that is based in Sil­i­con Val­ley and is increas­ingly automat­ing assem­bly work. “There’s always a price point, and we’re very close to that point.”

Yet in the state-of-the-art plant, where the assem­bly line runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, there are robots every­where and few human work­ers. All of the heavy lift­ing and almost all of the pre­cise work is done by robots that string together solar cells and seal them under glass. The human work­ers do things like trim­ming excess mate­r­ial, thread­ing wires and screw­ing a hand­ful of fas­ten­ers into a sim­ple frame for each panel.

Such advances in man­u­fac­tur­ing are also begin­ning to trans­form other sec­tors that employ mil­lions of work­ers around the world. One is dis­tri­b­u­tion, where robots that zoom at the speed of the world’s fastest sprint­ers can store, retrieve and pack goods for ship­ment far more effi­ciently than peo­ple. Robots could soon replace work­ers at com­pa­nies like C & S Whole­sale Gro­cers, the nation’s largest gro­cery dis­trib­u­tor, which has already deployed robot technology.

Rapid improve­ment in vision and touch tech­nolo­gies is putting a wide array of man­ual jobs within the abil­i­ties of robots. For exam­ple, Boeing’s wide-body com­mer­cial jets are now riv­eted auto­mat­i­cally by giant machines that move rapidly and pre­cisely over the skin of the planes. Even with these machines, the com­pany said it strug­gles to find enough work­ers to make its new 787 air­craft. Rather, the machines offer sig­nif­i­cant increases in pre­ci­sion and are safer for workers.

Some jobs are still beyond the reach of automa­tion: con­struc­tion jobs that require work­ers to move in unpre­dictable set­tings and per­form dif­fer­ent tasks that are not repet­i­tive; assem­bly work that requires tac­tile feed­back like plac­ing fiber­glass pan­els inside air­planes, boats or cars; and assem­bly jobs where only a lim­ited quan­tity of prod­ucts are made or where there are many ver­sions of each prod­uct, requir­ing expen­sive repro­gram­ming of robots.

But that list is grow­ing shorter.

Upgrad­ing Distribution

Inside a spar­tan garage in an indus­trial neigh­bor­hood in Palo Alto, Calif., a robot armed with elec­tronic “eyes” and a small scoop and suc­tion cups repeat­edly picks up boxes and drops them onto a con­veyor belt.

It is doing what low-wage work­ers do every day around the world.

Older robots can­not do such work because com­puter vision sys­tems were costly and lim­ited to care­fully con­trolled envi­ron­ments where the light­ing was just right. But thanks to an inex­pen­sive stereo cam­era and soft­ware that lets the sys­tem see shapes with the same ease as humans, this robot can quickly dis­cern the irreg­u­lar dimen­sions of ran­domly placed objects.

“We’re on the cusp of com­pletely chang­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing and dis­tri­b­u­tion,” said Gary Brad­ski, a machine-vision sci­en­tist who is a founder of Indus­trial Per­cep­tion. “I think it’s not as sin­gu­lar an event, but it will ulti­mately have as big an impact as the Internet.”

While it would take an amaz­ing rev­o­lu­tion­ary force to rival the inter­net in terms of its impact on soci­ety it’s pos­si­ble that cheap, super agile labor-robots that can see and nav­i­gate through com­pli­cated envi­ron­ments and nim­bly move stuff around using suc­tion cup fin­ger­tips just might be “internet”-league.  As pre­dicted at the end of the arti­cle, we’ll have to wait and see how this tech­nol­ogy gets imple­mented over time and it’s cer­tainly a lot harder to intro­duce a new robot into an envi­ron­ment suc­cess­fully than it is to give some­one inter­net access.  But there’s no rea­son to believe that a wave of robots that can effec­tively replace A LOT of peo­ple won’t be part of the new econ­omy sooner or later…and that means that, soon or later, we get watch while our sad species cre­ates and builds the kind of tech­no­log­i­cal infra­struc­ture that could free human­ity from body-destroying phys­i­cal labor but instead uses that tech­nol­ogy (and our preda­tory economic/moral par­a­digms) to cre­ate a giant per­ma­nent under­class that is rel­e­gated to the sta­tus of “the obso­lete poor [24]” (amoral moral par­a­digms can be prob­lem­atic [25]).

And you just know that we’ll end up cre­at­ing a giant new eco-crisis that threat­ens humanity’s own exis­tence in the process too.  Because that’s just what human­ity does [26].  And then we’ll try to do, ummm, ‘mis­cel­la­neous activ­i­ties’ with the robots [27]Because that’s also just what human­ity does [28].  And, of course, we’ll cre­ate a civilization-wide rewards sys­tem that ensures the bulk of the fruit from all that fun future tech­nol­ogy will go to the oli­garchs and the highly edu­cated engi­neers (there will sim­ply be no way to com­pete with the wealthy and edu­cated in a hi-tech econ­omy so almost none of the spoils will go to the poor).  And since the engi­neers will almost cer­tainly be a bunch of non-unionized suck­ers, we can be pretty sure about how that fruit is going to be divided up (the machines that manip­u­lated a bunch of suck­ers at their fin­ger tips in the above arti­cle might have a wee bit of metaphor­i­cal value).  And the future fruit­less 99% will be asked to find some­thing else to do with their time [29].  Yes, a fun world of planned poverty where politi­cians employ divide-and-conquer class-warfare dis­trac­tions while the oli­garchs extend the fruit binge.  Because that is most def­i­nitely just what human­ity does [30].  A fun insane race the bot­tom as lead­ers sell their pop­u­laces on the hope­less pur­suit of being the “most pro­duc­tive” labor force only to find out that “most pro­duc­tive” usu­ally equals “low­est paid skilled work­ers” and/or least regulated/taxed econ­omy [31].  The “exter­nal­i­ties” [32] asso­ci­ated with that race to the bot­tom just need to be expe­ri­enced over and over.  Like a good children’s story, some life lessons never get old [33].

Or maybe our robotic future won’t be a Ran­dian dystopia.  There are plenty of other pos­si­ble sce­nar­ios for how super labor-bots might upend global labor dynam­ics in on a planet with a chronic youth unem­ploy­ment prob­lem that doesn’t result in chronic mass unem­ploy­ment for the “obso­lete youth”.  Some of those sce­nar­ios are even pos­i­tive [34].  Granted, the pos­i­tive sce­nar­ios are almost cer­tainly not the type of solu­tions human­ity will actu­ally pur­sue [35], but it’s a nice thought.  And maybe all of this “the robots rev­o­lu­tion is here!” stuff is just hype and the Cylons aren’t actu­ally about to assault your 401k.

Whether or not indus­trial droid armies or in our medium, it’s going to be very inter­est­ing to see how gov­ern­ments around the world come to grips with the inevitable obso­les­cence of the one thing the bulk of the global pop­u­lace has to offer — man­ual labor — because there doesn’t appear to be rul­ing class on the planet that won’t recoil in hor­ror at the thought of poor peo­ple shar­ing the fruits of the robotic labor with­out hav­ing a 40–80+ hour work week to ensure that no one gets any­thing “unfairly”.  And the mid­dle class atti­tudes aren’t much bet­ter [36].  Humanity’s intense col­lec­tive desire to ensure that not a sin­gle moocher exists any­where that receive a sin­gle bit of state sup­port is going to be very prob­lem­atic in a poten­tial robot econ­omy.  Insanely cruel poli­cies towards the poor aren’t going to go over well with the afore­men­tioned global poor when a robotic work­force exists that could eas­ily pro­vide basic goods to every­one and the pro­ceeds from these fac­to­ries go almost exclu­sively to under­paid engi­neers and the oli­garchs. Yes, the robot rev­o­lu­tion should be interesting…horrible wages and work­ing con­di­tions are part of the unof­fi­cial social con­tract between the Chi­nese peo­ple and the gov­ern­ment, for instance.  Mass per­ma­nent unem­ploy­ment is not.  And China isn’t the only coun­try with that social con­tract.  Some­how, human­ity will find a way to take amaz­ing tech­nol­ogy and make a bad sit­u­a­tion worse.  It’s just what we do [37].

Now, it is true that human­ity already faced some­thing just as huge with our ear­lier machine rev­o­lu­tion:  The Indus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion of sim­ple machines.  And yes, human soci­eties adapted to the changes forced by that rev­o­lu­tion and now we have the Infor­ma­tion Age and glob­al­iza­tion cre­at­ing mas­sive, per­ma­nent changes and things haven’t fallen apart yet(fin­gers [38] crossed [39]!).  So per­haps con­cerns about the future “obso­lete poor” are also hype?

Per­haps. But let’s also keep in mind that humanity’s method of adapt­ing to the changes brought on by all these rev­o­lu­tions has been to cre­ate an over­pop­u­lated world with a dying ecosys­tem, a vam­pire squid econ­omy [40], and no real hope for bil­lions of humans that trapped in global net­work of bro­ken economies all cob­bled together in a “you’re on your own you lazy ingrate”-globalization.  The cur­rent “austerity”-regime run­ning the euro­zone has already demon­strated a com­plete will­ing­ness on the part of the EU elites and large swathes of the pub­lic [41] to induce arti­fi­cial unem­ploy­ment for as long as it takes to over­come a far­ci­cal eco­nomic cri­sis brought on by sys­temic finan­cial, gov­ern­men­tal, and intel­lec­tual fraud and cor­rup­tion.  And the euro­zone cri­sis is a purely economic/financial/corruption cri­sis that was only tan­gen­tially related to the ‘real’ econ­omy of build­ing and mov­ing stuff.  Just imag­ine how awful this same group of lead­ers would be if super-labor bots were already a major part of the long-term unem­ploy­ment picture.

These are all exam­ples of the kinds of prob­lems that arise when unprece­dented chal­lenges are addressed by a col­lec­tion of eco­nomic and social par­a­digms that just aren’t really up to the task.   A world fac­ing over­pop­u­la­tion, mass poverty, inad­e­quate or no edu­ca­tion, and grow­ing wealth chasms requires extremely high-quality decision-making by those entrusted with author­ity.  Extremely high-quality benign decision-making.  You know, the oppo­site of what nor­mally takes place [42] in the halls of great wealth and power [43]Fat, drunk, and stu­pid [44] may be a state of being to avoid an indi­vid­ual level but it’s tragic when a global com­mu­nity of nations func­tions at that level.  Although it’s really “lean, mean, and dumb” that you really have to worry about these days.  Policy-making philoso­phies usu­ally alter­nate between “fat, drunk, and stu­pid [45]” and — after that one crazy ben­der [46] — “mean, lean, and dumb [47]is def­i­nitely [48] on the agenda [49].

So with all that said, rock on Fox­conn work­ers!  They’re like that group of ran­dom peo­ple in a sci-fi movie that end up fac­ing the brunt of an alien inva­sion.  The inva­sion is going to hit the rest of human­ity even­tu­ally, but with China the undis­puted global skilled man­ual labor man­u­fac­tur­ing hub, China’s indus­trial work­force — already amongst the most screwed glob­ally — is prob­a­bly going to be heav­ily roboti­cized in the com­ing decades, espe­cially as China moves towards higher-end man­u­fac­tur­ing.  Super labor-bots should be a mir­a­cle tech­nol­ogy for every­one but watch — just watch — the world some­how man­age to use these things to also screw over a whole bunch of already screwed over, dis­em­pow­ered work­ers and leave them with few future prospects.  It’ll be Wal­mart: The Next Gen­er­a­tion, where the exploita­tion of tech­nol­ogy and power/labor dynam­ics [50] can boldly go [51] where no Giant Vam­pire Squid & Friends [52] have [53] gone [51] before [54]Again [55].  May the Force be with you present and future strik­ing Fox­conn work­ers and remem­ber: it’s just like hit­ting womp rats [56].

Sure, we all could cre­ate a world where we share the amaz­ing ben­e­fits that come with auto­mated fac­to­ries and attempt to cre­ate an econ­omy that works for every­one.  And, hor­ror of hor­rors, that future econ­omy could actu­ally involve shorter work­weeks and shared pros­per­ity.  NOOOOOO! [57]  Maybe we could even have peo­ple spend a bunch of their new “spare time” cre­at­ing an econ­omy that allows us to actu­ally live in a sus­tain­able man­ner and allows the global poor to par­tic­i­pate in the Robot Rev­o­lu­tion with­out turn­ing auto­mated robotic fac­to­ries into the lat­est envi­ron­men­tal cat­a­stro­phe.   Robots can be fun like that, except when they’re hunter-killer-bots [58].

LOL, just kid­ding.  There’s no real chance of shared super labor-bot-based pros­per­ity, although the hunter-killer bots are most assuredly on their way [59].  Shar­ing pros­per­ity is def­i­nitely some­thing human­ity does not do.  Any­more [60].  There are way too many con­tem­po­rary [61] eth­i­cal hur­dles [62].

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URLs in this post:

[1] Yet:

[2] won’t nec­es­sar­ily help close the gap between the haves and have-nots if it’s the wealth­i­est regions that are mov­ing for inde­pen­dence:

[3] mas­sive strikes that shut down Foxconn’s iPhone pro­duc­tion in China:

[4] a par­tic­u­lar fla­vor of kool-aid:

[5] towards:

[6] self-preservation:

[7] Fox­conn strike:

[8] ris­ing labor costs:

[9] mas­sive labor force:

[10] global:

[11] impact:

[12] man­u­fac­tur­ing costs:

[13] the Chi­nese man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor show­ing signs of slow­down:

[14] the IMF warn­ing a global slow­down and “domino effects” on the hori­zon:

[15] global effect:

[16] schizo:

[17] it:

[18] comes:

[19] to:

[20] aus­ter­ity:

[21] domino effects:

[22] The robots are com­ing:

[23] and they don’t really care about things like over­time:

[24] the obso­lete poor:

[25] can be prob­lem­atic:

[26] Because that’s just what human­ity does:,0,7494056.story?

[27] ‘mis­cel­la­neous activ­i­ties’ with the robots:

[28] Because that’s also just what human­ity does:

[29] will be asked to find some­thing else to do with their time:

[30] Because that is most def­i­nitely just what human­ity does:$46_trillion_in_wealth/?page=1

[31] least regulated/taxed econ­omy:

[32] “exter­nal­i­ties”:

[33] never get old:

[34] Some of those sce­nar­ios are even pos­i­tive:

[35] human­ity will actu­ally pur­sue:

[36] aren’t much bet­ter:

[37] It’s just what we do:

[38] fin­gers:

[39] crossed:

[40] a vam­pire squid econ­omy:

[41] a com­plete will­ing­ness on the part of the EU elites and large swathes of the pub­lic:

[42] of what nor­mally takes place:

[43] in the halls of great wealth and power:

[44] Fat, drunk, and stu­pid:

[45] fat, drunk, and stu­pid:

[46] after that one crazy ben­der:

[47] mean, lean, and dumb:

[48] is def­i­nitely:

[49] on the agenda:

[50] exploita­tion of tech­nol­ogy and power/labor dynam­ics:

[51] boldly go:

[52] & Friends:

[53] have:

[54] before:

[55] Again:

[56] it’s just like hit­ting womp rats:

[57] NOOOOOO!:

[58] except when they’re hunter-killer-bots:

[59] are most assuredly on their way:

[60] Any­more:

[61] con­tem­po­rary:

[62] eth­i­cal hur­dles: