The Inevitable Rise of Trump and Sanders
April 30th, 2016
An year and a half ago I mused about the inevitable decline of human employment which will follow the current developments in new technology. This is not a new phenomenon and it has existed in some form or the other since the dawn of civilization. Men as brilliant as Russel and Keynes were worried about its implications in the first half of the last century. What has changed now is the sudden rise in the capabilities of AI, something that nobody was predicting before around 2010. It is not inconceivable now to think of a time, perhaps in the next 5 to 10 years, when AI will outperform humans on many very human tasks, including but not limited to hearing and seeing. Coupled with software's massive reach into data this will mean that AI will displace humans who are now employed in many routine jobs (secretary, food ordering, banking, publishing). And coupled with the rise of robotic performance many humans who are now working in areas which only a few years ago might have seemed relatively immune from automation will also be rendered redundant. The prime example of this is the job of a truck driver which currently happens to be the most common job in the 29 states in the US. In short, millions of jobs will be lost to automation within the next decade and there will not be even a remotely commensurate replacement through the creation of new type of jobs. Automation systems are getting more and more integrated with the advances today making it easier to create newer systems for tomorrow. The software developers of a certain kind who are particularly in demand today will be the last to be displaced, but displaced they will be. I can only hope that that day won't be too long in the future. However, by the time that these smug assholes will get a taste of their own medicine, they would have condemned innumerable people to lives of untold misery and purposelessness.
In this context I see the rise of Trump and Sanders as inevitable. This phenomenon is here to stay and is a necessary correction. We will see more of it in other parts of the world in the coming years. Philosophically the essence of Trump and Sanders is the same and it is an economic one. The differences in their social opinions are of very little ultimate consequence. They represent that vast constituency which has lost in this economic system, whose jobs have been displaced, and whose communities have been broken. Sanders' supporter see this as resulting from a rigged system which favors the super-rich and Trump's supporters see this as being the influence of cheap labor from outside. Both are correct but this development was also inevitable. Medium skilled, moderately high paying jobs are at the greatest danger of being displaced by technology. At the precipice of being displaced market forces will require that only those who are willing to do these for vastly lower remuneration will do them. And a population which has grown in the shadow of the prosperous 60s and 70s will find it hard to justify doing them. The result, in any case, is that more people (immigrant or not) are pushed to live on less and and less. The rise of Trump and Sanders, therefore, represents a very necessary social reaction. Society currently produces more than it ever has in the past and yet expects a vast majority to fight ever harder for survival. The brutality of this demand will only get more severe if it is not for what is essentially a money grab from the Trump-Sanders phenomenon. And this money grab is extremely necessary because there is no other way. Today the phenomenon appears irrational, especially to those who are short-sighted or those who have too much invested in the status-quo. However, it will soon normalize and not only will it normalize but it will lead to broad legislative action sanctioning deep wealth transfers. This is unless other mechanisms of transfer could be devised. We'll see.