“Capitalism is in real trouble”

Those words are music to my ears.

They come from a recent Pew Research report looking at how technology is going to radically alter our Industrial Age. Interestingly, many respondents int he report only spoke on capitalism’s demise under protections of anonymity. It’s remarkable how power the religion of capitalism has become, causing those who have no faith in it to cower under the scrutiny of its most fervent adherents.

We’re getting to the point technologically where human society will be forced to accept a Copiosis or RBE-like productive framework. But first we (global society) will be forced to implement a universal basic income to bridget the gap as capitalism is gradually destroyed by AI and technology, including algorithm-based technological solutions.   So says many experts who are looking to the future and (some) quaking in their boots about the fundamental change coming. Recent convert to this idea is Facebook founder Mark Zukerberg who recently said publicly that we should seriously look at “ideas like” UBI.


The report is super long. In it, Pew interviews people from many walks of life – experts and ordinary folks – about these changes. Then grouped responses into five themes:

  1. The evolution of jobs and job training
  2. What learners must do to keep up with the changes
  3. How credentialing gate-keepers will be destroyed
  4. How the future will quickly outstrip “job training” leaving everyone out of work
  5. A state where no jobs exist

It’s heady reading if you can bring an optimistic point of view to the report. Here are some of the juiciest responses:

An anonymous programmer and data analyst says:

“The combination of nanotechnology and AI will actually reduce the number and type of jobs (as we currently understand the term). I foresee significant economic, social, cultural turmoil over the coming 10 to 20 years, with millions of people thrown out of work – with little to no ‘official’ jobs available for them.

“Instead, the notions of a base living wage will continue to churn as a topic until eventually implemented. Automated vehicles yield the elimination of school bus drivers, truck drivers, taxi cab drivers, the purchase of cars themselves (as opposed to Uber-style access and ‘pay for time used’). This, in turn, impacts police forces (no speeding or parking tickets) as their revenue streams diminish, fewer ER doctors and nurses (as the number of accidents decline), massive change in the auto insurance companies and mechanisms. 3-D printing of structures (houses, apartments, boats, cars, etc.) yields massive layoffs in the construction and manufacturing industries. 3-D printing itself dramatically reduces the need for factories in China, Korea, etc., which in turn reduces the need for freighters plying the oceans (and the ones that are left will be autonomous with little to no crew). Nano-drones and robotic support for farming will dramatically modify (reduce) the number of people employed in the agriculture sector. The list goes on and on.

“So 60 to 80 million Americans alone will be thrown out of work in the next two decades. There is nothing the vast majority of these people can be trained on that will replace the income/work they do today. This just scratches the surface on the types of massive change coming.”

David Krieger, director of the Institute for Communication & Leadership IKF, wrote,

“Labor is a creature of the industrial age and will disappear with automation of production in all areas. Humans will no longer be divided into capitalists and workers, but will need to find a new self-definition based on creativity and meaning instead of labor and management. This will transform the purpose, position and forms of education. OER (Open Educational Resources), PLE (personal learning environments), learning analytics, etc., point in this direction. Data-driven personalization of services will make economies of scale irrelevant. Credentials from institutions will no longer be needed to guarantee knowledge and skills.”

Dave Burstein, editor at Fast Netnews, said:

“Millions more will be trained, a ‘large number.’ Unfortunately, a much larger number will be displaced. Many, including older workers, will pay heavy prices.”

But what really caught my eye was Pew’s analysis on capitalism’s demise. Nearly all the respondents saw a future where there are so few jobs, competing enterprises and viable capitalist markets, consumerism dwindles as no one can buy anything. Productivity costs due to automation drop precipitously and, with automation destroying wage-earning opportunities, capitalism collapses into some future systemic state.

What’s interesting is not many respondents had an idea what that future state looks like. All they see is the demise, not the flowering that comes out of that demise. And that’s where you come in.


3 thoughts on ““Capitalism is in real trouble”

  1. I forgot to add this was a great article, as always! It was totally excellent. It hit it right on the head. My parents/grandparents generations would absolutely refuse to believe there was a “problem” with capitalism. If I were to tell them the monetary system was the problem, they would have flown into a rage and burst into tears. Wait, never mind, I did when I was ten years old. They were NOT happy about it. I never brought it up again. Unfortunately, I didn’t really think about it again till I heard of The Venus Project many years later. I wasn’t digesting the idea in my own mind for the above reason.

  2. I want to say SOMETHING about this article.

    I did NOT expect a penny of support out of my parents/family when I turned 18. I did NOT expect to continue to be on my parents’ medical insurance till I was well into my twenties!!! I was firmly reminded the world did NOT owe me anything.

    I just gave a crap I was free of them.

    I will NOT miss the credentialing gate keepers.

    Are they punking the reader????

    Page 56 of the Pew report:
    David Karger
    No matter how good our online teaching systems become, the current four-year college model will remain dominant for quite some time. Partly because of credentialing, but also because four-year colleges involve far more than teaching. College has encouraged us to stretch our notion of adolescence, thus 22 is the new 18. Those four years are a time when our coddled children are slowly eased into adulthood in an environment that gives them more independence than true children but far more support than adults have historically needed. We aren’t going to take that away. Even if we do away with the teachers and physical courses, this age group will continue to migrate to large residential blocks full of people just like them so they can build social bonds and learn how to be adults away from their parents.”

    Is this guy nuts???

    My big worry about the future is people cannot/will not see any other system/paradigm/way of doing things/whatever you want to call it. They will just know machines are putting them out of work and they will absolutely positively refuse to see this as a GOOD thing. They will absolutely refuse to imagine a society like the Culture of Iain M. Banks fame. They will refuse to imagine a post-scarcity society.

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