Recently, I wrote an textoi about the new book by Paul Mason, Post Capitalismoii, in which it argues that the Internet, automation, robots and artificial intelligence are creating a new economy, impossible to control the intricacies of capitalism. According to Mason, they are in new field forces, which gradually replace the old class struggle between capital and the proletariat, as Marx described it, for a networked community system. Together, network and technology will lead us to a post-capitalist society (socialist?) Without brake in sight.
I disagreed with the premise that new technologies would eventually replace the “old ways” of class struggle. But also, as now, the idea that regular and recurring economic crises in capitalism will eventually dissipate in a high productivity scenario and shorter working hours in the context of “withering away” of capitalism.
But the debate encouraged me to look for something that has for some time wanted to address. In particular, what are the implications that these new technologies to capitalism. In particular, they are the robots and artificial intelligence intended to storm the world of work, and therefore the economy in the coming generations, and what it means in terms of jobs and quality of life for people ? It will be a socialist utopia (the end of human labutação and a harmonious society and superabundant) or a capitalist dystopia (more intense crises and more class conflicts)?
It is an important issue. Let us introduce some definitions. For robots, understand machines that can replace the labor-work human through computer programs that direct the movement of parts of the form machine to perform tasks, from simple to complex.
The International Federation of Robotics (FIR) considers industrial robot any machine that can be programmed to perform physical tasks related to production without a human controller. The industrial robot drastically increase the field that can replace human labor in comparison to older machines, since they reduce the need for human intervention in automated processes. The most typical applications of industrial robots include the assembly, dosing, processing (e.g., cutting) and welding – all predominant in manufacturing – in addition to the crops (in agriculture) and the inspection equipment and structures (common in power stations ).
Industrial robotics has the potential to change the transformation, increased accuracy and productivity without assuming higher costs. The 3D printing may lead to a new ecosystem of business objects that may be printed, making infinitely customizable everyday products. The so-called “Internet of Things” offers the possibility to connect machines and equipment, and between the various networks, allowing instances of transformation are fully monitored and operated remotely. We
healthcare and life sciences, decisions based on data – which allow raising and analysis of large data sets – are already producing changes in R & D terms, clinical care, prognosis and marketing. The use of large volumes of data in health has become possible new treatments and highly personalized medicines. The branch of the infrastructure, which did not register any progress in terms of labor productivity in the last twenty years, could know good progress, thanks, for example, the creation of Transport Inteligentesiii systems, which would substantially increase the use of resources; the introduction of smart grids, useful to help save on costs associated with electrical infrastructure and reduce the incidence of supply interruptions, always so expensive; and efficient management of demand, which could reduce dramatically the energy use per capita.
Among the emerging technologies, where is it expetável to register the greatest advances in terms of contribution to the increase in productivity? For the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) (2013) iv, the ‘technologies that matter “are those that have the greatest potential to produce impact and economic disruptions in the next decade. Included in this list of moving most rapidly (for example, linked to the sequencing of genes); those having a wide range (e.g., mobile Internet); those that have the potential to generate economic impact (e.g., advanced robotics) and producing level changes of the status quo (e.g., energy storage technology). MGI estimates that the economic impact of these technologies – caused by falls in prices, widespread dissemination and greater efficiency – will be around a value between 14 and 33 trillion dollars a year in 2025. Topping the list are the mobile Internet, automation of intellectual work, the Internet of Things and cloud technology.
Brilhantev a test, John Lanchester summed up the issue: “computers have become incredibly more powerful, and so cheap that in practice are ubiquitous, and the same can be said of the sensors they use to monitor the physical world. The software also run met amazing developments. Brynjolfsson and McAfee argue that we are on the verge of a new industrial revolution, whose impact on the world will match the first. entire categories of work will be transformed by the power of computing, and in particular the impact of robots. “
When we speak of artificial intelligence (AI), we refer to machines that are not limited to execute preprogrammed instructions, but they learn new programs and instructions for the experience and exposure to new situations. In practice, the AI implies that the robots learning increase their own intelligence – to the point that they can be the robots themselves to produce more robots, increasingly intelligent. In fact, some say that, not long, AI will surpass the intelligence of human beings. This is called the “uniqueness” – the time at which humans are no longer the most intelligent beings on the planet. Furthermore, it is possible that the robot will eventually develop and shape the senses of humans, making it thereby ‘sentient’.
But before entering the science (or is it science fiction?), Let’s start at the beginning. If the robots and AI go away, and quickly, it will mean a massive destruction of jobs or, alternatively, new sectors of employment and the need to work fewer hours?
In a recent study, Graetz and Michaelsvi analyzed 14 industries (mainly manufacturing, but also in the fields of agriculture and public services) in 17 developed countries (including European countries, Australia, South Korea and the US). They concluded that industrial robots increase labor productivity, total factor productivity and wages; however, although they have not registered any significant effect on total hours worked, there is evidence that the employment of workers with lower qualifications would be negatively affected, as well as, to a lesser scale, workers with average skills. The article is available for reading in íntegravii.
In short, the robots did not reduce the labutação (working hours) who had work – on the contrary. But led in fact to a reduction in employment among the least qualified, affecting even those who had some qualifications. In other words, more toil, instead of shorter working hours – and more unemployment.
Two economists Ofxord, Carl Benedikt and Michael Osborneviii, looked at the expetável impact of technological change on a comprehensive range of 702 professional activities from podiatrists to tourist guides, through animal trainers, individual economic advisers and varnishers. Reached frightening conclusions: “According to our estimates, about 47 percent of US jobs are at risk. Present evidence of how wages and education degrees establish a strong negative correlation with the likelihood of computerization of a given profession … Instead of reducing the demand for average wage occupations – which has been the standard for decades – our model estimates that in the near future, the computerization will tend to mainly replace jobs that are low-skilled and low-wage. In contrast, the professions that require more skills and offer better salaries are less vulnerable to computer capital. Manchester summarizes the conclusions reached: “that is, the poor will be affected, the middle will have a slightly better life compared to this, and the rich – surprise! – Still happy life. ‘ “
In the same essay, Lanchester draws attention to the fact that the robotic world can give, not a utopia ‘post-capitalist’ but a ‘world Piketty’, ‘in which capital accentuates increasingly triumph about the work”. And quotes, by the way, the tremendous profits by large technology companies: “In 1960, the most profitable company in the world’s largest economy was General Motors. In current values, GM earned 7.6 billion dollars this year. Furthermore, 600,000 people employed. Today, the most profitable company employs 92 600. In other words: once, 600,000 workers were generating 7.6 billion dollars, while nowadays, 92.600 workers generate 89.9 billion. We are talking about an increase in productivity in the house of 76.65 times more per worker. Should not forget that all
this is pure profit for the company owners, as after payments to workers have been processed. This is not only the capital to be winning work: the point is that there is no longer even dispute. If it was a boxing match, the referee had already sent to stop the fight. “
But look at the profit of the companies that have taken hold of the value created by labor in the new sectors is not necessarily an indicator for the overall health of the capital. Is capitalism as a whole, to have a new lease of life? After all, the overall increase in investment is very low in the current scenario of long-term depression, as well as the concomitant increase in productivity. By the way, I can read my articles on productivity and investimentoix.
The robots do not resolve the contradictions inherent in capitalist accumulation, whose essence is summarized as follows: to increase profits and accumulate more capital, capitalists wish to introduce machines that can increase the productivity of each worker and lower costs compared to the competition. This is the great revolutionary role of capitalism in the development of active forces of production in society.
But there is a contradiction here. When trying to increase labor productivity by introducing technology, it generates a job reduction process – i.e., new technologies substitute labor. And more productivity can generate more production and open new employment sectors, which could compensate for this decline; but, over time, the capitalist perspective of the reduction of jobs is that it creates less new value (since the work is the only way to value) relative to the cost of capital invested. There is therefore a tendency for the yield decays with increasing productivity. On the gold side, this situation could even lead to a sufficiently large production crisis to neutralize – the same reverse -the production gains generated by new technologies. And this simply because, in our modern mode of production, investment and production depend on the profitability of capital.
Therefore, a capitalist economy increasingly dominated by the Internet of Things and robots will mean more intense crises and more inequalities, and no superabundance or prosperity kind. In my next article, I will discuss a world where robots build increasingly intelligent robots – perhaps without any human labor intervention – means the end of the law of value and recurring crises of capitalism.
i ii https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2015/07/21/paul-mason-and-postcapitalism-utopian-or-scientific/ was translated: https://www.wook.pt/livro/pos-capitalismo -Paul-mason / 17436032 iii iv https://bankunderground.co.uk/2015/06/19/driverless-cars-insurers-cannot-be-asleep-at-the-wheel/ http://www.mckinsey. com / business-functions / business-technology / our-insights / disruptive technologies v-vi http://www.lrb.co.uk/v37/n05/john-lanchester/the-robots-are-coming http: // voxeu.org/article/robots-productivity-and-jobs http://cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=10477 vii viii http://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/ downloads / academic / The_Future_of_Employment.pdf ix https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2015/08/08/the-great-productivity-slowdown/