Monday, October 17, 2016


    What do we face?  What are we looking at?  Is the Science Fiction we read as kids about to become the reality of our world? Are we moving into a culture where most of us don't work, because machines do all the labor?  The thing is, we can and might do just that. As I was writing this post I came a cross an article in the San Francisco Chronicle that talked about the same thing, and how we are looking at the loss of multiple millions of jobs to robotics and AI over the next 10 to 20 years.  Is that a good thing?  On the surface it certainly doesn't seem so, especially when the people most likely to be affected are those with the least to fall back on in many senses.  In the long term will it be a good thing to have a mostly leisure population? I can't say. I haven't the wisdom to weigh in on such a question.
    I can only say for myself that I wouldn't be comfortable in a world where I had no labor whatever. I couldn't be truly happy in a place where all my needs were met without my intervention.
    Here's the thing we should look at.  The apparel industry is one of the biggest and most valuable in the world, only supplanted by food production.  If those who own the factories and make the clothing could do so without the requirement of human labor, would they?  You bet they would.  Their new laborers would work 24 hours a day, requiring no lunch breaks, bathroom breaks, pregnancy leaves, or insurance. Sure they would use the new technology. So would most of us in the same position, if it comes to that.
    What does that do to the rest of us?  What does that do to the untellable millions who labor unknown in sweatshops and factories making the clothes you and I take for granted? What does that do to the atelier workers who have spent decades learning their craft, only to be supplanted by a cunning robot?  What does it do to the truckers whose livelihoods are at stake because driver-less trucks now deliver the goods they once transported themselves? And what does it do to the sales clerks and cashiers who become irrelevant because brick and mortar shops are struggling to survive?
    A double digit percentage of the human populace who works has something to do, even tangentially with this massive industry of Attire. I myself work as a manager in a variety store, but we sell items of clothing, costume pieces, and a small amount of jewelry and make up, so am I part of this process?  Yup.
    My questions are these, and they are big ones.  What happens next?  How do we cope? How does our society shift to accommodate this change?  We are living on the edge of a technological change that could potentially alter everything we have known about our lives and how we live them.  This sort of change will force people to define themselves differently.  For nearly as long as we have been around we have in part defined ourselves by our role in society.  If no one works, how do we define ourselves?  Are we ready for this change? Are we ever really ready for it?  Or, are we always ready?

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