Why Automation Is Problematic

It’s Labor Day here in the US, and automation and its implications is something that again, has been weighing on my mind.

Here’s the short, to the point summary in two graphs:

Changes in Productivity and Hourly Compensation since 1948

Change in Productivity and Wages since 1979

To spell it out: the fundamental problem with automation is that when workers (lets call them the “proletariat”) are displaced by automation, they don’t see any of society’s productivity gains – those benefits are instead captured and concentrated by a smaller and smaller set of owners/capitalists (lets call them “bourgeoisie”).

Economic and technological logic is no doubt going to inexorably drive this displacement, but it’s not going to address the resulting social instability creating a massive and literally unsustainable underclass.

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