[Doctorow-L] Column: Full Employment
doctorow at craphound.com
Mon Jul 6 16:15:21 EDT 2020
My latest Locus column is "Full Employment," in which I forswear "Fully
Automated Luxury Communism" as totally incompatible with the climate
emergency, which will consume 100%+ of all human labor for centuries to
This fact is true irrespective of any breakthroughs in AI OR
geoengineering. Technological unemployment is vastly oversold and
overstated (for example, that whole thing about truck drivers is bullshit).
But even if we do manage to automate away all of jobs, the climate
emergency demands unimaginably labor intensive tasks for hundreds of
years - jobs like relocating every coastal city inland, or caring for
hundreds of millions of refugees.
Add to those: averting the exinctions of thousands of species, managing
wave upon wave of zoonotic and insect-borne plagues, dealing with
wildfires and tornados, etc.
And geoengineering won't solve this: we've sunk a lot of heat into the
oceans. It's gonna warm them up. That's gonna change the climate. It's
not gonna be good. Heading this off doesn't just involve repealing
thermodynamics - it also requires a time-machine.
But none of this stuff is insurmountable - it's just hard. We CAN do
this stuff. If you were wringing your hands about unemployed truckers,
good news! They've all got jobs moving thousands of cities inland!
It's just (just!) a matter of reorienting our economy around preserving
our planet and our species.
And yeah, that's hard, too - but if "the economy" can't be oriented to
preserving our species, we need a different economy.
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