Sunday, 4 June 2017

Welcome To The Machine

I've just been struck how much machines are encroaching on our working lives. The Luddites smashed the machines during the industrial revolution because they feared that their jobs and therefore their livelihoods would be threatened. The French threw their clogs (sabots) into the machines to wreck them (hence the word "sabotage"). It turned out the Luddites were wrong , the industrial revolution produced great economies of scale for goods that could be mass produced, and generally standards of living improved.

Production lines had people doing repetitive tasks aided (and driven) by machines and wages enabled people to buy goods, creating demand because people had disposable income.Everyone was a winner.

However when I see staff being replaced by autotills at the supermarket (which often break down or don't work) but we as customers have to put up with it because there is no other option. If one doesn't work you move to the next one.

Bookmakers are turning into slot machine arcades, often opened in poorer areas (I have two with five minutes walk where I live), again replacing staff and making existing staff work more than twelve hour shifts often alone. Both these examples I do not see a benefit to the customer or staff only to the business owners.

I don't see myself as a Luddite, but I am worried that a lot more people will soon be out of work with no way of getting back in , and then I see this BBC article on future inequality, read it and frighten yourself because it could happen if we don't do something about the world.

In our own lives think about the phone numbers you can remember. I know my own. That's it. I used to know lots but my phone remembers for me. This is a good use of technology because it doesn't reduce what I can do , it enhances it and that's what the introduction of machines in the workplace should do for people. I also use my phone to measure my steps on my Million Step Challenge, though the app (Google Fit) needs resetting every couple of weeks as it keeps stopping or slowing down .

So I could have gone with The Beastie Boys "Sabotage", will will go for the more obvious "Welcome to The Machine" by Pink Floyd. And remember that alarm clock that wakes you up for work tomorrow, that's another piece of good technology, though I think most of us hate it.

Sleep well my friends

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