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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Let the robots have my job, I don’t want it anyway

I don’t usually let commercials for booze shape my political philosophy, but a recent Jack Daniel’s commercial made a bold philosophical statement that was surprisingly wise and prophetic. But it made me think — maybe robots should take our jobs.

The commercial consists of the typical deep, male voice narrating over images of whiskey being distilled, poured and carried around in a liter bottle.

The narrator said, “They say that, eventually, every job will be done by robots. That would surely be a departure from the way we’ve always done things here at the Jack Daniel’s distillery. And while we may be a bit skeptical, should that day come, we’re not overly worried.”

It then cuts to a man holding a glass of whiskey and raises it to his face (adorned with an incredibly masculine beard, of course). “We can always find something else to do with our hands,” he said.

The guys at Jack Daniel’s see the upside to the inevitable reality that we will all be working less: more time to do anything but work. For Jack Daniel’s, that means you can give the company more money for its product.

The next logical conclusion in Jack Daniel’s approach to the topic is that a universal basic income will be necessary. That is, the government will provide everyone with enough money to get by as a right of citizenship. Sounds crazy.

“About 35 percent of current jobs in the United Kingdom are at high risk of computeri[z]ation over the following 20 years, according to a study by researchers at Oxford University and Deloitte,” said a BBC report.

This means that the U.K.’s unemployment rate would likely approach half the working population within the next 50 years. The prospects would likely be just as bad in America; but not without profound government action, that is.

In the top 15 economies, technological advances, including a rise in automation (especially in clerical and office work), will mean 7.1 million job losses to only 2 million jobs created by 2020. This is in addition to a previous forecast of global unemployment at 11 million in that time frame, Reuters reports.

In that same Reuters article, Ben Hirschler wrote, “While men will see approximately one job gained for every three lost over the next five years, women face more than five jobs lost for every one gained.”

So this is also a feminist issue. Even in the coming few years, this dynamic will make paid maternity leave and universal child care even more urgent.

It is also a racial issue. If unemployment reaches 50 percent overall thanks to robots, what would that mean for the unemployment of black people, given the dynamics of capitalism and race in America? Eighty percent unemployment? Ninety-five percent unemployment for young blacks and Hispanics? Maybe.

Once it gets anywhere near those levels, the unemployed, screwed-over majority will finally demand that the robots be nationalized directly and their benefits be socialized by UBI and other entitlements. Robots and automation will allow us to harness increased productivity for the benefit of humanity. This mean more time spent drinking Jack Daniel’s and less spent at work.

Let the robots have our miserable and unnecessary jobs. 

Follow Martin Forstrom on Twitter

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