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A robot can build a car. But a robot cannot buy a car ... The explosion in the development of computer- and robot-based manufacturing is seeing the rapid expansion of laborless production systems. Such systems create enormous instability, both for the overall world economy where money previously paid in wages is now invested in labor-saving technology and therefore cannot be spent on goods, and for workers whose jobs are being de-skilled or are simply disappearing. Bringing together contributions from workers employed in the new electronics and information industries with theorists in economics, politics and science, Cutting Edge provides an up-to-the-minute analysis of the complex relations between technology and work. Individual essays look at topics including the cyclical nature of a technologically driven economy, the privatization of knowledge which new information industries demand, the convergence of different economic sectors under the impact of digitalization, and the strategies which trade unionists and governments might deploy to protect jobs and living standards.
Technology has the potential to end material scarcity and lay the foundations for higher forms of human fulfillment. But under existing power structures, it is more likely to exacerbate the poverty and misery under which most people live. Cutting Edge weighs that balance and, in helping us to understand how technology interacts with the production of goods and services, tips it in the direction of a more equal and creative world.