Devaluing Human Labor


Shuang L. Frost. 8/3/2017. “ Devaluing Human Labor.” Anthropology News; Society of East Asian Association. Publisher's Version


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The rise in economic inequality associated with technological displacement is one of the defining issues of our time. Last year the White House reported that recent advances in AI will result in the obsolescence of millions of low and medium-skill jobs and the depression of wages for ordinary workers. This prediction echoes an emerging consensus in social scientific literature: that the trend of widening inequality will only accelerate as more firms move to achieve cost advantages by replacing labor with capital. To glimpse a future of dire technological inequality, one need look no further than the San Francisco Bay Area, one of the wealthiest regions of America with the highest rates of eviction and homelessness. As Russel Hancock, president of Joint Venture Silicon Valley, recently explained in an interview with MIT Technology Review, “When we used to have booms in the tech sector, it would lift all boats. That not how it works anymore.”