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Will Trump Bring the Robot Apocalypse?

Will Trump Bring the Robot Apocalypse?

Richard Eskow

The future was supposed to bring prosperity and leisure to working people, not joblessness and misery. But that was before the money guys took over.

Workers were never the object of corporations. Workers were recruited from the farming communities because corporations needed bodies to mass assemble goods that they intended to sell to the world. Only unions and political movements from the left made workers an object of concern rather than an asset to be plugged in and out to fulfill the assembly line need. Now that unions have been busted, employees are referred to as assets, personnel departments in companies are now Human Resources departments, policies and procedures adopted by corporations are aimed at reducing the costs of their ‘assets’. Robotics is just the next phase of this trend. Technology has now found the next replacement to the human asset. Jobs are bound to be eliminated as these assets grow in volume and kind. If we ever want to have a world that is humanistic and values human life it will not come from corporations or the business community. It will have to come from the people themselves, valuing their lives and society. Businesses are already moving on.

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The next Nobel Prize in Economics will be awarded to whomever accurately predicts whether robots will prefer to buy Coke or Pepsi.

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“As argued in a new book, The Sharing Economy, an especially powerful weapon for building more inclusive economies would be the creation of commonly-owned social wealth funds. These are publicly owned funds, created from the pooling of existing resources and used for the wider social benefit of society. By helping to secure a more even economic balance between public and private ownership and ensuring that economic returns are more evenly shared, social wealth funds are a direct way of tackling inequality.
More than 60 countries have already introduced state-owned sovereign wealth funds, mostly resourced from oil revenues. While most of these are run in a non-transparent way as little more than the investment arm of the state, sometimes without obvious public benefit, several examples offer a blueprint for a model social fund. Since the early 1980s, Alaska has operated a highly popular fund which pays an annual dividend to all citizens. Perhaps the most successful and transparent of these funds is the $700 bn Norwegian Fund. Overseen by an independent ethics committee, it holds one per cent of global equities.”

…And SOON, who will be the corporations customers? When working folks now have barely enough to make ends meet. just who will the ‘greedy phks’… have to pluck?

Extending more and more credit will enable workers to buy stuff until the next downturn hits and then those workers will lose everything they own thereby moving the corporations one step further to neofeudalism where the 1% own everything and the 99% own nothing.

Should we stop this “Robot Apocalypse” if we are given a high enough Guaranteed Basic Income to offset the loss of those jobs that robots will replace? The GBI is working so well in Ghana and Finland that many other countries are considering providing each citizen enough for life’s necessities. That is in addition to free healthcare and free higher education. It has been shown that where life’s necessities are taken care of, people create industries that help build the economy.


I find articles like this one so odd as the authors often assume that keeping people in low skill, falling wage jobs is a good thing.

"Won’t anyone think of the ditch diggers!"

As you pointed out I think that policies like Guaranteed Basic Income should be on the table now so that we can discuss what a ‘post-work’ society might look like. For me the goals would be how do we support our fellow citizens such that they can eat, sleep, get healthcare and education with dignity as jobs start to vanish.

If we don’t start to plan for these jobs disappearing now, we’ll be in a world of shit with a lot more unemployed people with horrible job prospects.

You can look at the demographics* for jobs like truck driver in the US. It is a huge employer of high-school only men. And the concentration of where they call home has an uneven distribution (large regional concentrations). What happens when all of them get fired and replaced with self driving cars? They going to get retrained as programmers? Not likely.

I think you are absolutely correct that we need to start addressing people’s life rather than crap jobs.


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By the way, have you read Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut? It is about this very scenario. and his first novel.

Here’s the problem: Basic Income programs could be nothing more than a “con” that leaves those at the bottom in worse shape than they are now. Here is a snippet from an article regarding Ontario, Canada’s look into a Guaranteed Basic Income:

The OPSEU leader’s statement comes in response to the comprehensive report published by Hugh Segal, the lead adviser to the Ontario government’s impending pilot study of a basic income guarantee, which was published on November 3.

Thomas worries that the adoption of a basic income guarantee, which enjoys much of its support from politicians on the right, would be followed with cuts in essential public services:

“Basic Income has had the support of right-wingers for decades now because of the expectation that it would reduce the government’s role in providing services, and shift that work on to families and communities. Given the direction the current Ontario government is taking on social services, I think Ontarians have every reason to be skeptical.”

“We support the goals of raising incomes for people living in poverty. We support extra counselling. We support reducing the stigma associated with social assistance. But we aren’t convinced Basic Income will do these things. If anything, it may make people a little less poor, for a little while, until public services end up on the chopping block. I’m worried that this Basic Income is just part of the Liberals’ larger plan to further privatize the province.”

Source: Basic Income Earth Network

I believe that Basic Income is merely using to bandage in an attempt to heal (hide) a wound of capitalism. Until the root cause, capitalism, is replaced, we’ll be fighting these inequities and injustices until the end of time.

Personally, I’ll spend my efforts and time in advocating for the replacement of the current capitalist system with a decentralized socialist system in which the people (the workers and community members) commonly and collectively own and control the means of production and distribution of goods and services for the benefit of everyone where everyone’s needs are met from an abundant supply of goods and services … not scarcity based on the inefficiencies of capitalism.

“From each according to his faculties; to each according to his needs.”
Mikhail Bakunin

I have not read it. Thank you, I will.

Conservatives like the GBI because they think they can then privatize healthcare, schools, etc. Countries with free healthcare and education that are adopting the GBI would meet much resistance if they tried to privatize these. However, it is possible that if the GBI is high enough, it could cover the cost of private health insurance and education instead of depending on government programs. Switzerland is a direct democracy with private health insurance and good healthcare.

But any way we look at it, automation will lead to job losses and GBI seems to be one of the best solutions out there.

All CEOs and CFOscould be replaced by cheap robots programmed with artificial intelligence. And they might well make better decisions.Scrapping them would not entail golden handshakes. Think positively!

The future has been here for years. The good news is that when those workers get bumped out of the job market, they’ll see that they have plenty of experienced company – all those who were pushed out before them, whom they ignored for the past 20 years. Most understand, since they were once ordinary, working class people, themselves. They were once just as contemptuous of the jobless poor as you were.

If you end up homeless, on the streets, the most important thing is to listen and learn from those with survival experience. Not much else to say. Good luck.