From generation to generation, a larger and
larger number of us are supernumerary, “useless to
the world” -in any case, to the economic world.
Seeing that for sixty years there have been people
like Norbert Wiener who prophesy that automation
and cybernatization “will produce an unemployment
compared to which the current difficulties
and the economic crisis of the years 1 930-36 will
look like child’s play,” it eventually had to come to
pass. The latest word is that Amazon is planning to
open, in the United States, 2000 completely automated
convenience stores with no cash registers
hence no cashiers and under total monitoring,
with facial recognition of the customers and
real-time analysis of their gestures. On entering
you make your smartphone beep at a terminal and
then you serve yourself. What you take is automatically
debited from your Premium account,
thanks to an app, and what you put back on the
shelf is re-credited. It’s called Amazon Go. In this
shopping dystopia of the future there is no more
cash money, no more standing in line, no more
theft, and almost no more employees. It’s predicted
that this new model, if implemented, will turn
the whole business of distribution, the greatest
provider of jobs in the U . S . , upside down.
Eventually, three quarters of the jobs would disappear
in the sector of convenience stores. More generally,
if one limits oneself to the forecasts of the World
Bank, by about 2030, under the pressure of “innovation,”
40% of the existing jobs in the wealthy
countries will have vanished. “We will never
work,” was a piece of bravado by Rimbaud. It’s
about to become the lucid assessment of a whole
generation of young people.

The Invisible Committee, 2017.
This translation© 2017 by Semiotext(e)

 

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