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Thoughts Online Magazine
Collected Articles on Culture & Politics
Robots! We're Going To Be Unemployed! 
28th-Oct-2008 03:59 pm
Inspiration
It's amusing to encounter the latest iteration of the idea that "labor saving devices" exacerbate unemployment. We all see daily the starving maids and butlers in the street, put there by household appliances, right?

And yet the idea recurs. It never seems to occur to the proponent that creating more stuff with less labor leaves a growing Gross Domestic Product with a population the same size, and that the effect, in most democracies, is to increase the general level of prosperity.

Televisions, justified with tortured explanations about educational effect, turn into color TVs, into more than one per household, into expected items in every hotel room. The perspective from Anacostia park becomes ever nicer.
Comments 
29th-Oct-2008 05:13 am (UTC)
It never seems to occur to the proponent that creating more stuff with less labor leaves a growing Gross Domestic Product with a population the same size, and that the effect, in most democracies, is to increase the general level of prosperity.

... because, I think, those who worry about automation causing unemployment tacitly assume that people are wedded to jobs: that a pipefitter must always either be a pipefitter or unemployed, a maid always a maid, and so on. This is a premodern assumption, and one strongly based on a belief in caste.
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