Lights-out factories, e-tickets, voice mail, automated banking machines, automated tellers, automated warehouses, computer-aided drafting, computer-assisted manufacturing, material-resources planning, management information systems, geographical information systems, robots on the assembly line have all eaten up work formerly done by human beings. And robots and automated processes don’t pay taxes. (S. Beckow, 1998)
Michael asked me to write about “the old paradigms,” to provide us with some markers to see where we came from. And not go there again, I imagine, after the Reval. (1)
In the encounter to have the old paradigms lift that so many of us feel called to engage in, shining the light in dark corners is the way we engage. We do it impartially but with determination, pouring out love with awareness to those hurting souls who are hurting others, but insisting they stop.
Well, what follows is a curiosity, really. I was hunting through my files for a 1998 Dictionary of Automation, to begin reconstructing the “old paradigm” of business Darwinism, the notion that others are out to eat our lunch and we have to get them before they get us.
And I found this interesting article of mine. It’s a piece from a longer narrative in which I look at the impact of “injurious automation.” I got really mad in it. No one was listening to me. (Vasana.)
It was written in 1998. I took the occasion to revise it. It was written at the height of the automation of work.
Tomorrow I’ll look at ways to offset the impact of this second industrial revolution.
In the case of automation, to automate is legal and in some cases — where the policy doesn’t harm a person — it’s helpful.
If I automate my writing and move from ballpoint to computer, I’ve enhanced my writing skills. I can write more quickly. I can edit onscreen. I can print out as many, good quality copies as I wish to. In all ways, the reach of my faculties has been increased, enhanced, made more effective. I’m all for it.
But when automation is extended to society at large – as in the automation of a profession – not everyone’s performance is enhanced and made more effective. Some are de-skilled and rendered obsolete (we call it “bridged”), released back into a non-existent job market with no provision made for them. Some are out of jobs; some are out of professions; some are out of careers.
Releasing hundreds of thousands of people onto the job market at one time in a jobless recovery is not helpful.
Injurious automation is the infliction of harm on vast numbers of people. Lights-out factories, e-tickets, voice mail, automated banking machines, automated tellers, automated warehouses, computer-aided drafting, computer-assisted manufacturing, material-resources planning, management information systems, geographical information systems, robots on the assembly line have all eaten up work formerly done by human beings. And robots and automated processes don’t pay taxes.
Add them all together and we have the elimination of work, without compassion or compensation, for large numbers of people around the globe – your friends, your neighbors, your family. A small group of people benefit from this and most of society pays for it. And no one is saying anything about it.
Our use of automated tools to “get ahead” has been unwise and ineffective. Moreover, we seem locked into continually, repeatedly, predictably using them in the same ways.
I read an article on a medical lab website last night, which my wife brought to my attention. It pleads the same necessity to go further that so many automaters do. It would have its “islands of automation” linked in the lab, fully automating it and releasing from work the last lab technicians who have not already been displaced. This would take the work of the lab further. Its abilities, lower costs (no jobs), etc.
In medical labs, lab technicians will become dodos. The job category would be emptied out as if it were a salt shaker. All the human beings who trained to be lab technicians would be ejected from work, with not a thought given to their futures. A whole category would have been eliminated from the job board and literally thrown out onto the street. This is the injurious use of automation.
And it’s exactly in our applying automation in these ways — where someone is injured by its application — where we err and enter the realm of “unwisdom,” in my view. It’s unwise to hurt another — I know in my personal life that all the hurts that I’ve caused are present and haunt me. It would be unwise to continue hurting once we’re aware of it and its impact.
We’re hurting others through injurious automation today and I’d like us to become aware of it and to stop. When we rob others of their means of livelihood and don’t take care of them afterwards, we’ve injured them. And we’re injuring large numbers.
The tools we use to work our injury or to benefit from them are the same. Automation can be our friend – it was supposed to be – or it can be our enemy. So far, it’s been used against us, as if it were our enemy. We haven’t shared in the rewards of automation and we’ve borne the costs.
When we don’t acknowledge the error of using automation to our detriment, knowing it, we’re complicit. It’s our complicity in injurious automation that represents our missed mark as a society.
We miss the mark when we continue inflicting injury past the point of knowing that we’re harming people. Injurious automation harms people. Now we know. And we can see its impact all around us.
It’s time to stop.
(1) Here’s that exchange:
Steve Beckow: But I’m not fighting a war [like Winston Churchill].
AAM: Aren’t you?
Steve: Am I? What ? Against ignorance or third dimensionality?
AAM: Yes, against the old paradigms. (Archangel Michael in a personal reading with Steve Beckow through Linda Dillon, July 1, 2016.)