Shawn Hattingh and Mandy Moussouris, 2018, “The Humans who Control the Machines are the Real Threat,” Business Day, 27 March, from here
The late Stephen Hawkins had the following to say about the onset of the so-called 4th Industrial revolution: “If machines produce everything we need, the outcome will depend on how things are distributed. Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality.”
What Hawkins was highlighting in this statement is that in a different society, machines could be of benefit to all of humanity. However, in the current class based capitalist society, machines pose a dire threat to the majority of people and the onset of the 4th Industrial Revolution will lead to the vast inequalities that already exist increasing exponentially.
World Bank statistics show that currently automation is responsible for 17% of production and services, in 15 years this is projected to rise to 40%. A common held belief by most of the middle class is that automation is a threat only to blue collar workers but this is becoming more and more untrue. The full computerisation of bank tellers, clerks, bookkeepers and pharmacists jobs is an increasing reality and will soon start affecting the work of teachers, doctors, pilots and architects. To understand why mechanisation and automation is being rolled out today; and why this poses such a threat, it is important to understand how they have been used under capitalism in the past and for what purposes.
An important feature of the introduction of machines historically is that a small elite have owned Continue reading