Thursday, July 05, 2018

Automation And Centralization

I sometimes wonder, in my never-ending mental quest to predict the end of all things, what the signal event would be.

It strikes me as odd that the same society that is constantly looking for tremors of environmental catastrophes in s the changing genetics frogs and the movement of ice sheets would not see the same sort of issues occurring in the international environment around them.  Even now, we have smaller countries what have failed through dictatorships or broken economies or civil wars, the flow of peoples from one place to another.  If animals fled a forest fire it would be declared a disaster; when individuals flee failed states it seems to be ignored amongst polite company.

It also strikes me as odd that the twin forces of centralization and automation remain largely ignored.  For example, people largely laugh and mock at the ungainly and unlovely development of solar powered machines that scan fields and pick weeds or make and flip burgers - but what they mis is that at the beginnings of the automotive age the same thing was true of the early horseless carriages.  The ridiculous eventually becomes the functional and the functional the necessary.  And suddenly the labor we could never do without - the single greatest cost of any organization - is transformed into a single up front cost and many less people to support it.

And centralization - in an age of global competition and interconnectedness, the move to centralization - access to the markets, resources, and scales of economies of other companies - puts more and more companies into a life and death struggle.  Any way to keep and retain profits is eventually investigated - be it swallowing up other companies or figuring out ways to automate what is done to reduce labor.

The ultimate impact to all of this is on jobs, of course. and the bifurcation of jobs.  For some - the highly technical or highly mechanical - they will continue to do well.  For those that perform manual labor, they will increasingly find themselves relegated to the same roles of craftsman in the Industrial Revolution, adrift where their labor is no longer desired or needed except occasionally in a general sense.

My simple question - the one that I wonder if we are actually addressing - is if we see these trends and are acting on them or are turning away in hopes of some utopia which will never actually come to pass?

4 comments:

LindaG said...

The socialist left wants utopia. And since machines don't need to be paid, higher taxes on those businesses to support the people who want stuff for free without working.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

I think it works both ways Linda. There are plenty of businesses who would promote cheap labor through less than legal immigration to increase their bottom line as well. Both sides are really to blame.

Leigh said...

Trouble is, once something becomes accepted as "normal" people can't imagine life should be any other way. And it amazes me how few years it takes for folks to accept a new "normal." If they do see potential problems with the direction we're heading, the assumption is that science or government will fix it by the time we get there.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

True enough, Leigh. The difficulty this time will be (I think) a large portion of everyone is going to find themselves out of work and unable to do things. And perhaps for once, science and government will not be their saviors.