Thursday, 19 January 2017

Return of the luddites

Luddites were English workers in the 1800's who destroyed the machinery that was making their jobs redundant.

Fast forward to 2017. Self service tills at supermarkets have decimated the workforce in our large stores. Self-driving cars are being developed and companies like Uber are looking to use them instead of human taxi drivers. Amazon are developing drones to deliver parcels, so delivery vans and their drivers will be going the way of the checkout assistant. Chatbots are seen as being the future solution for customer service, so call centre jobs are also threatened with redundancy.

Companies are doing this to reduce overheads, remain competitive, and increase profit to their shareholders. Understandable, but short sighted. If there are no jobs, who will have the money to buy anything? Companies might be driving their cost base down, but they're also destroying their customer base.

It would be nice to think we're heading towards a cashless post-scarcity society like that of the Star Trek universe, but I suspect we're a long long way from developing the kind of replicator technology that such a society requires.

So while the corporates unwittingly destroy the very foundation of capitalism that the paradigm relies on (paying customers), I'm predicting the return of the luddites.

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