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Posts Tagged ‘Luddites

“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”*…

 

What can a 19th-century rebellion against automation can teach us about the coming war– the robots are coming!– in the job market?

Clive Thompson, an author and journalist at the New York Times Magazine and Wired, revisited Luddite’s history in an article for The Smithsonian to see what it could teach us. As machine learning and robotics consume manufacturing and white-collar jobs alike, the 200-year-old rebellion’s implications for automation are more relevant than ever, says Thompson:

“The lesson you get from the end of the Luddites is: Do the people that are profiting off automation today want to participate in distributing their profits more widely around the population, or are they going to fight just as hard as they did back then?”

That economic and political question is hanging over western democracies coping with a wave of populism seemingly tracking a widening gap between stagnant wages and ballooning wealth at the top. While automation eventually tends to create new jobs even after it destroys old ones, that’s little consolation for millions of workers whose skills and experience are obsolete…

More on this all-too-relevant history in a interview with Thompson: “Luddites have been getting a bad rap for 200 years. But, turns out, they were right.”

And do read Thompson’s original article: “When Robots Take All of Our Jobs, Remember the Luddites.”

Then, check out “Robots don’t have to take over jobs in order to be a problem for workers.”

* Stephen Hawking

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As we heft our hammers, we might we might send thoughtful birthday greetings to José Ortega y Gasset; he was born on this date in 1883.  A philosopher and essayist, he is perhaps best known for The Revolt of the Masses, which characterized 20th-century society as dominated by masses of mediocre & indistinguishable individuals– a conception tha converged with other “mass society” theorists like Karl Mannheim, Erich Fromm, and Hannah Arendt.  (Lest his view be seen as too grim and judgmental, he is memorialized in what has become known as “the Ortega hypothesis,” based on a quote in The Revolt of the Masses, that states that average or mediocre scientists contribute substantially to the advancement of science.)

In exile during the Spanish Revolution, he refused to support either side or to hold academic office under Franco.

 source

 

Written by LW

May 9, 2017 at 1:01 am

“It’s the stories, man; it’s the stories!”*…

Zachary Kanin

Readers who are readers will be delighted to discover (if they haven’t already) Narrative Magazine, a wonderful web-based literary review (though there is also a thrice-yearly hard copy edition).  Featuring fiction from the likes of Ann Beattie, Richard Bausch, James Salter, Elizabeth Benedict, and Amy Bloom, essays from folks like Gail Godwin, Larry McMurtry, and Rick Bass, it also showcases poetry and your correspondent’s special weakness:  cartoons like the one above (use the pull-down on the page at the other end of that link to see other galleries).

The love-child of two Bay Area literati, Narrative is a 501-c3 devoted to Letters. It’s worthy of readers’ attention– and, dare your correspondent suggest, of their support.

* Jazz giant Charlie Parker would hang around a jukebox at one of the clubs he frequented, putting his coins in to play country-western songs. When friends finally asked him, “Why do you listen to that stuff?,” he reportedly replied, “It’s the stories, man, it’s the stories!” (source)…  not altogether apropos, your correspondent confesses; but it is an awesome anecdote…

As we luxuriate in good literature, we might recall that it was on this date in 1812, just before he published the first two cantos of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, that George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron– aka Lord Byron– made his first speech in the House of Lords…  as it happens, a defense of Luddite violence against Industrialism in his home county of Nottinghamshire.

Byron in 1813, in Albanian dress, as painted by Thomas Phillips

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