Silicon Valley titans, politicians, techno-futurists and social critics have united in arguing that we are living on the cusp of an era of rapid technological automation, heralding the end of work as we know it. But does the much-discussed “rise of the robots” really explain the jobs crisis that awaits us on the other side of the coronavirus?
In Automation and the Future of Work, Aaron Benanav uncovers the structural economic trends that will shape our working lives far into the future. What social movements, he asks, are required to propel us into post-scarcity, if technological innovation alone can’t deliver it? In response to calls for a universal basic income that would maintain a growing army of redundant workers, he offers a counter-proposal.
“A powerful and persuasive explanation of why capitalism can’t create jobs or generate incomes for a majority of humanity.”
“An excellent, insightful account of the contours of our present labor crisis. Benanav articulately makes the case for a post-scarcity future.”
“A highly quantitative analysis of the nature of contemporary unemployment flowers into something quite different and unexpected: a qualitative argument for the invention of new collective capacities in a world where work is no longer central to social life.”
“A rare book that manages to soberly assess the contemporary landscape while keeping a clear eye on our utopian horizons. This is an important intervention into current discussions around technology and work—and a must-read for anyone who believes capitalist decay is not the only future.”
“Benanav dissects and disproves the idea that automation is eradicating work … We don’t need to wait for robots to do all the work; we can collectively decide what we need, then plan the economy to achieve it.”
“Thought-provoking … packs quite a punch of macroeconomics and practical philosophy.”
“He can write movingly and do so on a global scale.”
“The two parts of Benanav’s book—analytic and utopian—correspond to the two halves of the Marxian project: to both interpret the world, and change it.”
“Compelling reading. A rising star among the intelligentsia of the left.”
“A powerful critique … [Benanav] carefully chart[s] how our economic system is unable to deliver further social progress and … set[s] out a believable vision of a non-capitalist future.”