It is good to see a bit of ink given to the humanistic story when it comes to job loss and automation. And who doesn’t love a benevolent capitalist who makes the highways warm in winter, for free? The story of automation offers a mind-bendingly complex laboratory of cause and effect. In the ecosystem of the Dutch utopia, for instance, I have to wonder what happened to the workers paid to run snow plows.
The idea of rescue through social fraternity is deeply comforting, but the pictures used to illustrate it here are jolting. Two of the scenes take place on the private property of mega corporations, MacDonald’s and Walmart. Both companies are hard at work automating jobs out of existence and until very recently fighting every attempt to get workers paid enough to live on. If the AmazonGo store succeeds and becomes the model for the future the places pictured here will be self-driving ghost towns, models of efficient and frictionless consumerism and unlikely gathering places for the celebration of fraternity.
The social organizations of the past are struggling to keep the lights on (visit your local Eagles or Shriner’s lately?) as a younger generation prefers to connect through Tinder or video games. As waves of gentrification sweep the urban cores, churches cannot afford to maintain their presence there and are moving out of the areas that had been their cultural base. (See link below.) Every year a lower percentage of Americans goes to a physical church and more check the box “spiritual but not religious.”
I would love to hear more about the specifics of building a new social infrastructure in this new workless world, where each person has to make up their self-worth daily independent of centuries of structure, purpose and compensation.