Automation and the Future of Work (Paperback)
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A consensus-shattering account of automation technologies and their effect on workplaces and the labor market
In this consensus-shattering account of automation technologies, Aaron Benanav investigates the economic trends that will shape our working lives far into the future.
Silicon Valley titans, politicians, techno-futurists, and social critics have united in arguing that we are on the cusp of an era of rapid technological automation, heralding the end of work as we know it. But does the muchdiscussed “rise of the robots” really explain the long-term decline in the demand for labor?
Automation and the Future of Work uncovers the deep weaknesses of twenty-first-century capitalism and the reasons why the engine of economic growth keeps stalling. Equally important, Benanav goes on to salvage from automation discourse its utopian content: the positive vision of a world without work. What social movements, he asks, are required to propel us into post-scarcity if technological innovation alone can’t deliver it? In response to calls for a permanent universal basic income that would maintain a growing army of redundant workers, he offers a groundbreaking counterproposal.
About the Author
Aaron Benanav is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Syracuse University. He has written for the Guardian, the Nation and New Left Review.
“A powerful and persuasive explanation of why capitalism can’t create jobs or generate incomes for a majority of humanity.”
—Mike Davis, author of Set the Night on Fire
“An excellent, insightful account of the contours of our present labor crisis. Benanav articulately makes the case for a post-scarcity future.”
—Robert Skidelsky, biographer of John Maynard Keynes
“A highly quantitative analysis of the nature of contemporary unemployment flowers into something quite different and unexpected: a qualitative argument for the invention of new collective capacities in a world where work is no longer central to social life.”
—Kristin Ross, author of Communal Luxury
“A rare book that manages to soberly assess the contemporary landscape while keeping a clear eye on our utopian horizons. This is an important intervention into current discussions around technology and work—and a must-read for anyone who believes capitalist decay is not the only future.”
—Nick Srnicek, author of Platform Capitalism
“Benanav dissects and disproves the idea that automation is eradicating work … We don’t need to wait for robots to do all the work; we can collectively decide what we need, then plan the economy to achieve it.”
—Paris Marx, Passage
“Thought-provoking … packs quite a punch of macroeconomics and practical philosophy.”
—International Policy Digest
“He can write movingly and do so on a global scale.”
—Patrick McGinty, Pittsburgh Post Gazette
“The two parts of Benanav’s book—analytic and utopian—correspond to the two halves of the Marxian project: to both interpret the world, and change it.”
—Lola Seaton, New Statesman
“Compelling reading. A rising star among the intelligentsia of the left.”
—Dublin Review of Books
A powerful critique … [Benanav] carefully chart[s] how our economic system is unable to deliver further social progress and … set[s] out a believable vision of a non-capitalist future.”
—Alexis Moraitis, ROAR
“Crucial … Automation and the Future of Work is impressively multifaceted for such a short text … an excellent book. ”
—Mack Penner, Labour / Le Travail
“Automation and the Future of Work gathers significant cold water to pour on automation’s fever dreams.”
—Amelia Horgan, Radical Philosophy
“Important … an eye-opening perspective for a convincing and encouraging political project.”
—Görkem Giray, Marx & Philosophy Review of Books
“Meticulous … provides crucial insights into the causes of global stagnation and its effects on the kinds of work we do now.”
—Clinton Williamson, The Baffler