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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Dialectics of new stage of automation, need for deepening concepts of post-capitalist society

Today's New York Times Sunday, 11/25,/2012, John Markoff

The article goes on to acknowledge that “misplaced enthusiasm” followed by “equally striking declines” have been regular occurrences over the past few decades (“In the 1980s, a wave of commercial start-ups collapsed, leading to what some people called the “A.I. [artificial intelligence] winter.”)
But what researchers have called “deep learning” has reached a new stage characterized by growing speed and accuracy of so-called “neural nets” for their “resemblance to the neural connections in the brain”.

“Structural change in the labour market is clearly manifesting itself in the business cycle. The long-term decline in routine occupations is occurring in spurts - employment in these jobs is lost during recessions. The reach of job polarisation is wide. Automation and the adoption of computing technology is leading to the decline of middle-wage jobs of many stripes, both blue-collar jobs in production and maintenance occupations and white-collar jobs in office and administrative support. It is affecting both male- and female-dominated professions and it is happening broadly across industries –manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, financial services, and even public administration.

Recent discussions on this list have included the relevance of Keynesian theories and polices in the current economy, such as full-employment goals.

Perhaps, given the historical data that has been coming to light, these goals have become utopian. In contrast, a reexamination of Marx’s “mature critical theory” (Postone) may be more relevant, in which, “Free time -- which is leisure time as well as time for higher activity -- transforms its possessor into a different subject  and he then enters into the direct production process as this different subject” (Grundrisse).

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