The Rich and AI

For a very long time the three factors of production in classical economics were Land or natural resources, Labour and Capital. Today the four factors for production in a modern economy are Land, Labour, Capital and Entrepreneurship. Marx had similar views to the classical economists.

Since the late 20th Century much automation has removed the need for Labour. Many factories particularly use robotics and computers in their production methods. Many people shop online and use self service checkouts in shops. The advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) will only lead to more automation and less of a need for Labour. Even Professor Thomas Piketty an Economist, believes Labour will go the way of the Horse. Horses use to be working animals but thanks to the invention of Trains, Cars and Planes we no longer have them in the numbers we used to have.

The British working class like their western cousins has already been impacted by the rise of automation. Many factory jobs have been automated and offshored to locations where the Labour is cheaper. Online shops, digital media and self service checkouts in shops have also impacted the retail environment.

Many people thanks to the computer revolution moved into jobs of using computers. Whether thats call centres, Excel, inventory systems, content management, digital finance and government systems of control. AI is beginning to automate those jobs as well. Even Taxi drivers will eventually be replaced by self driving cars hailed by a smartphone App. Companies like Uber will own a fleet of automated cars.

Global spending on AI is expected to be $154 billion this year and $300 billion a year by 2026. Companies like Microsoft and Google are spending billions on AI. This is not technology that is going to go away and is going to transform the human race.

The challenge is many industries that gave jobs to people will disappear. If people are unable to adapt or there just isn’t the opportunities to a earn a full time living as before then things will begin to breakdown. People will compete for the few social jobs available. People will become angry with the Rich who own AI and machines that automate (it’s already happening). The Rich may appeal to the far right in order to divide and rule (this is happening in some countries already).

AI inevitably will make most people unneeded to work a full time job. The automation so far could be argued to have done that already. Something like 5% of the labour force today is only needed for food production. Despite the hype by advertising and keeping up with our neighbours most people only need food, a home with utilities, healthcare, education and social connection.

Many people are going to need state support as they become redundant or not suitable for the jobs on offer (We can’t all become AI engineers or Prime Ministers). I believe this frightens the Rich as a large state isn’t usually friendly to them. Many people may want to embrace socialism. It’s either that or people literally go the way of the horse. Many horses were killed when they were no longer deemed worthy. If thats the case we may be embracing a new kind of fascism or Technofeudalism. One where the poor and disabled are deprived and eliminated first.