There is no war other than the one we are fighting with ourselves
Authors: Federico Pistono
29 May 2013
Just five years ago, anybody who spoke of technological unemployment was labelled a luddite, a techno-utopian, or simply as someone who doesn’t understand economics. Today, things are very different – many, from the New York Times columnist Tom Friedman to CBS, are now jumping on the bandwagon.
Those of us who have been speaking about the impact of automation on the workforce know very well that this isn’t a fad about to pass. This is a problem that is set to only exacerbate unemployment levels in the future. Most of us agree on what the problem is (exponential growth of high-tech replacing humans faster and faster) and agree that education will play a crucial role. But very few seem to suggest that we should use this opportunity to re-think our entire economic system or what the purpose of society should be. I am convinced this is exactly what we need to do. Published in 2011, my book, Robots Will Steal Your Job, But That's OK: How to Survive the Economic Collapse and Be Happy, shows we might go about building a better tomorrow.
We have come to believe that we are dependent on governments and corporations for everything and now that technology is ever more pervasive, our dependence on them is even stronger. Most of us don’t question the cycle of labour-for-income, income-for-survival or the conspicuous consumption model that has become dominant in virtually every country. Not only is this model ecologically unsustainable but it also generates immense inequality at many levels.
I challenge the assumption that we should live to work, and even that we should work to live, for that matter. In an age where we already produce more than enough food, energy and drinkable water for 7 billion people with little to no human labour, while 780 million lack access to clean water and 860 million are suffering from chronic hunger, it follows that the system we have in place isn’t allocating resources efficiently.
And rather than going back to outdated ideologies (i.e. socialism), we can try new forms of societal structure; starting with open source philosophy, shared knowledge, self-reliance and sustainable communities.
There are many positive transitional steps that we can take –reduce the working week, reform patent and copyright laws, switch to distributed and renewable energies – though there will be bumps along the road, no doubt. But if we move in the right direction, if we are ready to abandon ideologies and stick to whatever works best, I think we will prevail – simply because we will realise that there is no war, other than the one we are fighting with ourselves.
The Work Foundation 2013 Annual Debate 'Will robots and enhanced humans steal our jobs?' will be held on 11th June. Join the debate on Twitter #stealingourjobs.
This blog was orginally posted on Robohub.org.
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