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Robotics defines our times — and our choices

Dave Ransom  |  Issue: May | June 2017

Donald Trump’s immigration policy – attempting to divide working people against themselves and flush millions out of the country – looms large. But it is just a chapter in a much bigger saga. It’s the one in which we are all living, and over which we have the power to decide its outcome.

As it unfolds, we can run, but we can’t hide. The United States? Canada? Mexico? In places of work everywhere, the oligarchy is moving to replace us with machines – in the fields, the factories, the malls, the warehouses, even in the restaurants and on the road.

Major U.S. industries of the last century ¬ like steel and auto –  are already so robotic that it is hard to find a human on the factory floor. And industries that the oligarchy exported to bastions of cheap labor in Asia and Latin America are also being automated.

Mexico’s El Financiero reports that 25 million jobs are at risk there.

Foxconn, with a million workers, manufactures many of the consumer electronics you have in your house or in your hand, including Apple products. Its plants are mostly in China, but also in Baja California and in Chihuahua. Its owner, Terry Gou, has pledged to replace all his workers with machines.

Oligarchs such as Gou are not doing this because they are simply profit-hungry or bloodthirsty. When their choice is between a human laborer paid $10 an hour, or a robot that works for less than $3, they have no choice – not in the dog-eat-dog capitalist world.

In fact, the only real choice is ours – will we be the victims of a capitalist shift to a world without workers or the revolutionary creators of a world without work, a world where the robots work for the many, not the few – a world in which our children will not only survive but flourish.

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