2014 TechnologicalGrowthandUnemploym

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Subject Headings: Mass Technological Unemployment


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The aim of this article is to explore the possible futures generated by the development of artificial intelligence. Our focus will be on the social consequences of automation and robotisation, with special attention being paid to the problem of unemployment. In spite of the fact that this investigation is mainly speculative in character, we will try to develop our analysis in a methodologically sound way. To start, we will make clear that the relation between technology and structural unemployment is still controversial. Therefore, the hypothetical character of this relation must be fully recognized. Secondly, as proper scenario analysis requires, we will not limit ourselves to predict a unique future, but we will extrapolate from present data at least four different possible developments: 1) unplanned end of work scenario; 2) planned end of robots scenario; 3) unplanned end of robots scenario, and 4) planned end of work scenario. Finally, we will relate the possible developments not just to observed trends but also to social and industrial policies presently at work in our society which may change the course of these trends.

1. Technology and Unemployment: The Vexata Quaestio


2. Some methodological tools for scenario analysis


A. Attitudinal Typology toward ‘Technological Growth’ and ‘The system’


B. Attitudinal Typology toward ‘Technological growth’ and ‘Industrial policies’


C. Attitudinal Typology toward ‘Technological growth’ and ‘Social policies’


D. Typology of possible future scenarios


3. The unplanned end of work scenario


4. The planned end of robots scenario


5. The unplanned end of robots scenario


6. The planned end of work scenario

7. An ethical judgment


8. Conclusions

To sum up, we have outlined four possible scenarios. Two of them imply the end of robots, two of them the end of work. Among the last two, one scenario is dystopian, the other utopian. In the worst case humanity would be reduced to slavery under a capitalist elite. In the best case humans would live to consume and to enjoy reciprocally, while robots do the hard and dirty work.

The utopian scenario in its turn has two possible faces: one social democratic (redistribution based on social policies supported by taxation) and one socialist-capitalist (redistribution of ownership of robotic industries to citizens). One way or the other the forecast is that the whole of humanity will retire having worked just a little or not at all.

As regards the utopian scenario, one can observe that Moravec seems to have an enormous faith in people.s ability to impose its own reasons and its own interests via the tools of democracy. A future that is not necessarily so uniform appears more likely to me, considering that neither the past nor the present have a single face. In other words, an intermediate scenario between dystopia and utopia seems more probable, with variations from country to country, from people to people, depending on political awareness, the level of infrastructure, and the degree of democracy. Contrary to what many futurologists appear to postulate in their analyses, human societies will not have the same future.



 AuthorvolumeDate ValuetitletypejournaltitleUrldoinoteyear
2014 TechnologicalGrowthandUnemploymRiccardo CampaTechnological Growth and Unemployment: A Global Scenario Analysis.2014
AuthorRiccardo Campa +
titleTechnological Growth and Unemployment: A Global Scenario Analysis. +
year2014 +