January 29, 2013
James Hughes On The Elimination Of Work
|In his talk, Why the Fight Against Austerity Today Lays the Foundation for a Sexy, High-Tech Future, James Hughes looked at how politicians and economists have yet to face the fact that an increasingly automated economy will mean the decline of human employment, and the potential establishment of a basic income guarantee.|
In his talk, Why the Fight Against Austerity Today Lays the Foundation for a Sexy, High-Tech Future (embedded below), Hughes looked at how politicians and economists have yet to face the fact that an increasingly automated economy will mean the decline of human employment, and the potential establishment of a basic income guarantee.
According to Hughes, author or Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond To The Redesigned Human Of The Future, it was true that our economy could produce jobs when we transitioned from agriculture to the industrial revolution, and jobs were able to transition to so-called white collar service jobs once mechanization and automation took hold. But now, there might not necessarily be anything for employment to move on to as robotics and artificial intelligence take over nearly every human job.
This means that the wage-based economy, that has only really been around for around 200 years, could possibly be coming to an end. Hughes notes that politicians have not taken this technological unemployment paradigm seriously. Instead we have hand-wringing about reining in “entitlements” and calls for austerity to facilitate private sector job growth. Expansions of longevity are greeted with calls for pushing up the retirement age, ignoring the shrinking availability of jobs.
Critical of James Miller's book, Singularity Rising, Hughes cites that economists are even blinded by the profound changes that the Singularity will bring. In order to avoid a neo-feudal future with a mass of unemployed poor dominated by a super-wealthy elite Hughes argues a radically better future vision requires a fight against austerity economics, and put forward a path to a world in which all share in the growth of wealth from technological innovation.
Many will look at the basic income guarantee as equivalent to communism, and Soviet-style politics. What Hughes and others argue, the technological advances synonymous with the Singularity essentially create a new paradigm that is entirely different than the world Marx envisioned.
Rejecting the two extremes of bioconservatism and libertarian transhumanism, Hughes argues for a third way, "democratic transhumanism," a radical form of techno-progressivism which asserts that the best possible "posthuman future" is achievable only by ensuring that human enhancement technologies are safe, made available to everyone, and respect the right of individuals to control their own bodies.
Natasha Vita-More asks an insightful question at the end of the talk as well.
SOURCE Adam Ford
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Tags: austerity, economics, James Hughes, James Miller, Race Against the Machine, singularity, Singularity Rising, structural unemployment, technological unemployment
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