Any work that can be codified and subject to algorithms will probably be automated. So, accounting will go but financial advice will not. This makes the benefits of liberal arts education even more important than it’s ever been. Critical thinking, good communication skills, and the ability to collaborate is what will make people employable in this new automated economy.

But a world with more and more jobs performed by computers and robots will mean fewer and fewer jobs where liberal arts skills are prioritized. And that means that there will be a fierce competition for those jobs. The question then becomes, who will have those jobs? Will they go primarily to white men of upper class background? As it stands now, universities like LIU and Fordham will be under assault by these abstract and structural forces, but the ivies most likely are not. The question for students today is ‘Who will have access to those elite critical thinking positions in the future?’ That is what makes places like CUNY, LIU, and Fordham so important. That is where immigrants, women, minorities, and working class people can acquire the education to challenge the monochromatic elite that relies on a ‘meritocracy’ and on liberal arts education to manage and lead in this emerging automated economy.

franklin-institute-robots-baxter-daryl-peveto-940x540

We are not yet able to replace most jobs with computers and robots.

Robots have a limited ability to perceive and reason about their surroundings.  Computers have made huge advances in automating those human tasks that can be well described by a set of rules.  But, despite continuing advances in AI, the challenges of applying computers and robots to tasks requiring flexibility, judgment, and common sense are still quite large. 

The reason is that our actions are guided by two very different kinds of knowledge.  Explicit knowledge is formal, codified, and can be readily explained to people and captured in a computer program.   Tacit knowledge, on the other hand, is the kind of knowledge we are often not aware we have, and is therefore difficult to transfer to another person, let alone to a machine.  Tacit knowledge is generally learned through personal interactions and practical experiences.  Everyday examples include speaking a language, riding a bike, driving a car, and easily recognizing many different objects and animals.” 

But the push in the modern capitalist economy is to replace humans. Machines don’t get sick, need vacation or health benefits, and can work around the clock.  Thus, we have little time. While we wait for these things to happen, we should minimize the impact on our ways of life and on social equity. More machine-based work should mean that we humans benefit from greater productivity and wealth. Those surpluses should be used to make our lives better. We should work a lot less than we do now and enjoy those economic benefits more broadly in society. And we should make sure that those who rise to the remaining high education jobs, that will command this robotic economy, are representative of our diverse society. Anything less will make these emerging automatizing trends a true nightmare. The battlefield in this war between robots and humans begins with a fierce competition for the remaining, elite, critical thinking jobs.

The key is that whether computers and robots take most of our jobs sooner rather than much later, the struggle to define who will feel the brunt of this economic revolution is beginning to take place now…in the university. The corporatization of the university represents a tangled struggle, on one side, with those who want to educate everyone to become critical thinkers, able to judge and take action about these economic changes. On the other side are those who see no reason to “waste” precious resources on those who have not “need” or “ability” to reach those stratified heights. The latter are working class, minority, and immigrant students who should be happy to accept careers as technicians in this economy rather than as leaders and judges of how the economy can best move forward. Better to train them for jobs as bookkeepers, retail sales and health technologists, even if those jobs are likely to disappear. They have little support for giving that population an education they can only use to lead in this new automated economy as well as to challenge the accepted public agenda that there is very little we can do to ensure life is just and equitable for all.

Probability that robots will take jobs

Not all the players in this struggle have a firm and conscious understanding of what lies ahead. They are not meeting behind closed doors to coordinate their efforts. But they most certainly have bought into Neo-liberal austerity policies, whose bony hands land heaviest and most destructively on the working classes and minority population. They are also more likely to accept the idea that the automation of the economy is not only inevitable but one whose impact is impossible to soften with public policy.

 

 

I have always thought that there was a distinct difference in the way that African Americans and Latinos experienced racism in the U.S. Europeans wanted black bodies, both to exploit and to perceive them as sexual and powerful animals. Europeans saw Latinos, in contrast, as people occupying land that they wanted. Latinos had to be pushed off, physically and metaphorically, from the land they cherished. That difference produces different kinds of interactions for each group. Whites interaction with blacks is both more intimate and more deadly. You cannot possess another’s body without doing serious damage to them. Whites interact with Latinos mostly by not seeing them, by ignoring them, by wanted to wall them off (a la Trump), and by hoping that they just disappear, even when they rebel and become violent (as this article below suggests).

https://www.citylab.com/politics/2017/04/the-forgotten-history-of-latino-riots/522570/?utm_source=twb

As the author claims:

One common element in these disturbances was a perception that problems in the Latino community were being overshadowed by problems in black neighborhoods, or by other Latinos. In the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami in December 1990, hundreds of young Puerto Rican residents took to the streets after the acquittal of six police officers who beat a drug dealer to death. One resident, Clemente Montalvo, told the New York Times, “We want people to know we exist. Cubans get everything; we get nothing.

Uprising, New Jersey: Rioters in Newark on September 1, 1974, after a Puerto Rican festival at Branch Brook Park. The 1970s saw the greatest number of Latino civil disturbances, according to Fountain, Jr.’s research. (AP Photo/DL)

This was the Latino story in Puerto Rico, the Southwest, Central American countries like Panama and Honduras, and Latin American countries like Bolivia. Everywhere, Latinos were an inconvenient presence. Difficult to work and live with. But needing to be removed if American was going to achieve it’s Manifest Destiny.

Trump Strategies

Posted: January 8, 2017 in Uncategorized

Many people support Trump because they claim he will fix things since his wealth means that he is not beholden to any group, even the Republicans. There is some merit to this way of thinking. But that would be true only if Trump was really thinking. My fear is that he is simply throwing bones to his assorted groups of supporters. He has no plan or thoughtful strategies. All he has are pipe dreams (The Wall) and a desire to make himself seem great! He will probably have a few successes (like his rejection of the Republican attempt to destroy the Congressional ethics investigatory unit). But most of his efforts will fall short and destroy much of the policy gains and hopes of the American people. This is surely the case with Obamacare.

Trump and the Undocumented

Posted: January 3, 2017 in Uncategorized

Trump can’t do more to eliminate undocumented workers than Obama has without deeply hurting families and the economy…
Like going out to lunch or dinner? Get ready to pay a lot more for that…as cheap kitchen help disappears…

Like having a job? Get ready to be unemployed as businesses hurt by worker deportations close and bring down other businesses…

Like to fix your home? Get ready to pay up your nose as cheap construction labor disappears

Hate how your life style has suffered with stagnant wages and increasing prices? Get ready to suffer more as Trump’s new regime transfers more wealth to the rich, does nothing to bring back jobs, and eliminates programs that help you when you’re down…

You think the current immigration debate is really about stopping people from flouting the law? Wait till your life turns downwards even more and see if you remain a ‘law abiding’ citizen…

Deep State Studies

Posted: January 2, 2017 in Uncategorized

In Our last post Alt Media Rising — And Its Discontents, We said: These “left” and “right” alternative media need to be married: the political and economic analysis of the &…

Source: Deep State Studies

There is a lot of misinformation out there. I actually teach this stuff and know what the facts are. You can google my points below:
1. The flow of undocumented workers has been from and not to the U.S. since 2005. Thus, building or making the border more ‘secure,’ something that is impossible anyway, would actually keep the undocumented from leaving the U.S.
2. Obama has deported more undocumented than any other president. That is why Latinos call him the “Deporter in Chief”
3. Yes undocumented get some health benefits. But this happens because of actions at the local level rather than by federal policy. See the article below.
4. Why do cities and counties provide such services? First, because it is cheaper to do preventive care than pay for undocumented using hospital emergency rooms. Second, because the undocumented provide essential cheap labor for many local industries, from restaurants to crop harvesting to house cleaning to construction. Local economies need their labor. Trump has used undocumented Polish labor at some of his construction projects. And documented labor will not do those jobs at those wages. Third, undocumented labor contribute enormous amounts of tax revenue, often using other people’s Social Security numbers, but do not collect any unemployment, housing, disability, public housing, or retirement benefits. In fact, the revenue they contribute to social security has kept that program afloat financially and makes possible the retirement of documented Americans. This is a fact. Finally, the U.S. Offers very few immigration opportunities to Latin American countries as opposed to European countries. Thus, the economic demand for cheap labor, the destruction of economies in Latin America by American companies investing there, produce pressures which result in people having to come here without papers. It is a complex process where the U.S. is just as responsible for what is happening as the people sneaking in. http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/personalfinance/illegal-immigrants-get-public-health-care-despite-federal-policy/ar-BBqT8Xo?ocid=fbmsnmoney

How to Fight Trump

Posted: November 11, 2016 in Uncategorized

I know these are troubling times. We are justified to fear what can happen in a Trump presidency. We know history and know how calamitous history can be with even small choices that snowball into something bigger. We do have to be vigilant, organize, and mobilize. That being said, I think we can also take a more positive path.

Trump did not get anywhere near a majority of the electorate. He got about 1/4. The vast majority of people voted for Hillary or did not or could not vote. The majority were not motivated to support Trump or his policies.

You will also notice that Hillary got a great deal of support from urban areas. This is not simply because these areas have more educated people as well as more people working in the new economy of technology and media. It is also true that the urban areas are also the place that have the most innovation and progressive experiments. We have to capitalize and mobilize around those.

Much of Trump’s support came from people feeling the severe dislocation caused by an economy driven by automation and globalization. He won’t be able to reverse those, even if the Congress goes along with his ideas. What we need is a path that can take advantage of those processes in order to shift the economy towards satisfying human needs. The best place to engage in these experiments is in urban areas.

One example. We can’t stop capitalist firms from shifting their manufacturing to foreign countries. Import duties won’t do anything more than limit consumption here and send our economy into recession. But we can develop different kinds of capitalist ownership models that can keep jobs here while also producing profit, though probably lower than what firms are now used to.

This means developing community and worker owned firms. Such firms will permit workers and urban residents to gain from the automation of manufacturing. This could take the form of higher income and/or reduced work weeks. Such firms are also unlikely to ship jobs overseas by their owners. The best example of this is the Green Bay Packers of the NFL. They are the only community owned team whose success has never caused them to abandon their small market community.

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There are plenty of more of these kinds of social and economic experiments that we should promote and implement in urban areas. Cities can become islands of ‘hope and change’ during the troubled times that Trump will create. It will also create the foundations that will make the progressive movement succeed by the end of Trump’s four years.