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What the Robots Are Doing to the Middle Class


What the Robots Are Doing to the Middle Class

Paul Buchheit

The simplistic response to the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on employment is that we've experienced this before, during the Industrial Revolution and beyond, and that the "market" will eventually provide plenty of jobs. The reality is that tens of millions of Americans will have to accept food service and retail and personal care jobs that don't pay a living wage.

The Deniers: The Middle Class Has Nothing to Worry About


In addition to the financial transaction tax, why not tax directly the $1 trillion that annually flows to the top 1% as profits from the low wages paid to the rest of us?


Is there any worth to continue to use the term "middle-class".

It has become a superfluous label. It is time to recognise that economically there exists now only two classes the capitalist class and the working class

Why are we still discussing a process that as if it is a new phenomenon but which has gone on since the rise of capitalism.

As usual, Marx identified the trend in his Communist Manifesto

“The lower strata of the middle class… all these sink gradually into the proletariat… because their specialised skill is rendered worthless by new methods of production…”
“The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honoured and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage labourers.”


Absolutely. remember though many of the one per centers worked hard, and are not all evil.


Yes, I agree, but sometimes people just follow suit without critical thinking. Also, at one time machines actually helped people but did not replace them. Now, it is just the opposite.


Yes, that is true, but there are still people who do not put any effort into bettering themselves, and it is sad.


To tell you the truth there is a difference between efficiency and humanity. If the use of robots breaks up human communities, then technology is out of control


"We will need a guaranteed income, ideally through guaranteed jobs, with the implementation of a financial transaction tax, and with a commitment to alternative energy infrastructure development."
There are some seriously worthy goals to fight for. There is always useful work to do. A modest guaranteed income allows a person the freedom to turn down a shit job, but if we also had useful work available, even at modest wages, a person could make a bit extra and know he was doing something useful and good (hopefully).


"Most of the jobs anticipated for the near future are low-wage occupations -- customer service, food processing and delivery, health care, personal care, teaching assistants, 'caring' jobs." ...which is why the PAY needs to be increased, starting with that $15/hour living minimum wage.

As an aside, I've had a theory for a couple of decades about resistance to technology as a vocation strategy: that the people who can REALLY work with their hands, the artist/artisan class, if you will, have the potential to do okay—once everyone else is dependent on technology. Sure, you can buy manufactured products, but something created by an artist has REAL WORTH. I am an artist. I am more poor than I ever was. I still believe this though. I also know what it's like to work in a factory for $10/hr and hurt all over every single day. Those kinds of jobs should be paid much higher because of the physical toll they take on a body. Of course it won't happen...but I still believe in justice.


A 2011 study by Edward Wolff and Maury Gittleman found that the wealthiest 1 percent of families had inherited an average of $2.7 million from their parents. This was 447 times more money than the least wealthy group of people — those with wealth less than $25K — had inherited. ...The funny thing about piles of wealth is that they deliver to their owners passive, unearned streams of income variously called rents, dividends, profits, capital gains, interest and so on. Those who get big inheritances can park those inheritances in investment accounts that just get bigger and bigger without them having to lift a finger.


Better hope for a boom in service jobs, since they're already all taken by current low wage workers. It's likely that a good chunk of middle classers will simply sink into deep poverty. The good news is that none will have to live in fear of welfare dependency. (For those who fell behind on the news, actual welfare aid ended 20 years ago. For real.)


"Any job is a good job. There is NO excuse for being jobless and poor. All you have to do is get up every morning, work hard, and play by all the rules. If one job doesn't pay enough to suit you, work two, or three."

This is the advice that middle classers gave the poor when the Clinton administration ended actual welfare aid. Thought I'd remind people...


In addition to ending welfare, Clinton "helped" us with trade deals, privatizing prisons, eliminating the fairness doctrine in communications, etc. According to some authors, we can thank Monica Lewinsky for saving Social Security because Clinton was ready to go along with privatization efforts there, also.


"quadrillion dollars in sales pay ZERO SALES TAX. Quadrillion sounds like gazillion, but it's a real number -- a thousand trillion, about four times the value of all the world's wealth."

Ok, just take it one step further prof and you'll see why there no "sales tax" on financial transactions. All that is not real wealth, it's just paper. I knew a few millionaires during the dotcom boom. By the time it was said and done that were just as poor as me.

On the other hand, bring on the "guaranteed income", let's keep whiners and losers out of the work force. It's gonna make people who actually enjoy what they are doing more happy and productive at work, not having to listen to whiners. At my place of work i have list if people i would be gladly pay tax not to have around.


Art sure does have real worth, however most art does not really improve or help with daily life. It is a pleasure to watch, listen to etc, you know it's right at the top of that Maslow pyramid.


Yeah, it really gets to me too, the ignorance about the real end of cash welfare that is out there. Pretty much everyone I know thinks it's still available. They seem to have been fed this safety net illusion.

I am very very low income. On the west coast (recently) after a long economic slide I was about 2 days away from being homeless. Looked into sec 8 and affordable housing. It's nearly nonexistent. Wait lists are 10+ years. No one in state/local government or social services could do anything for me. The best solution was moving out of state, and thank God i did.


Oh, agreed, but I'm also talking about other ways of working with your hands: plumbers, electricians, builders...


Quantum Computing AI Robots are around the corner. This should liberate humans from having to work. The word "jobs" will fade into history. Have fun.




I'm not going to try to rebut all the crap you spew, but "eliminating the fairness doctrine in communications" shit is pure BS. The "etc." and Social Security stuff you mention is truly memorable BS.