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EU growth engine EIT https://eit.europa.eu/ has 3 main objectives: 1) competitiveness; 2) job creation; 3) sustainability, green growth.

Why there is no commitment to the automation of jobs as a specific goal and as the engine of superabundance?

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    @FluidCode I think the question is why isn't there any focus on it at a national level as it all seems to be at a private level right now.
    – Joe W
    Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 16:16
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    @JoeW That is not true. 1) The EU has funded a lot of projects on research in robotics. 2) All the work done by the EU states to implement the digital ID is now going to be adopted by private companies. Already some insurance company use the national digital ID in some states. 3) There are several state funded projects to automate separation of recyclable waste. These are just few examples. The fact that a goal in not explicit but included in other initiatives does not mean that there is no interest.
    – FluidCode
    Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 16:28
  • @JoeW one more example. The projects with the highest funding in the Horizon program are a software simulation of the human body and a software simulation the human brain. The first is aimed at automating parts of the research in new drugs, the second at improving our understanding of how the brain works with possible positive repercussions on AI.
    – FluidCode
    Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 16:32
  • @FluidCode It sounds like you have the makings of an answer. Personally I don't know what they are doing at a national level regarding automation and it would be interesting to know.
    – Joe W
    Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 17:20
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    @FluidCode Would you consider posting a frame-challenge answer? Explaining why the premise of a question is incorrect is a valid answer.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 17:41

4 Answers 4

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A question based on a false premise and many answers posted on the assumption that such premise is true is a bad signal of a common misconception.

Every aspect of our daily life is being automated, from doing an operation on our bank account, to buying a ticket, to applying for a birth or residence certificate, to the local public services and so on. Everything is constantly changing. Even though there is no explicit commitment, the support for automation is strong.

What you don't see - or you don't want to see - is that automation is all around us in many forms. In the technical details you may not find the word "automation" simply because it is a catch-all term encompassing all these different forms, but it does not mean it is not there.

Regarding the EU commitments, even here you won't find the term "automation" explicitly, but it is in there. I can make two examples:

Example 1: since most of the government activity is still in the hands of the member states the task of the European authorities are very limited. A important one is the current research and innovation program. Different horizon programmes have been implemented in the past decades. First the EU authorities define the area of research, then the examine the requests for funding in each area and they award the funds to the best projects. In the current programs there are many area of research relate to automation. I'll list some:

  • Digital, Industry and Space
    • artificial intelligence and robotics
    • advanced computing and Big Data
    • manufacturing technologies
    • next generation internet
  • Health
    • tools, technologies and digital solutions for health and care including personalised medicine
    • health care systems
  • Climate, Energy and Mobility
    • smart mobility

Example 2: The digital identity has been implemented by the single states under EU coordination. First it was needed to automate the interaction between citizens and public services, but it is also available to private companies and AFAIK already some insurance companies are using it.

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  • "every aspect of our daily life is being automated" That may be but it seems not to be an explicitly stated goal. So maybe it happens without wanting it. Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 23:03
  • @Trilarion "you may not find the word automation simply because it is a catch all term, but it does not mean it is not there."
    – FluidCode
    Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 23:07
  • The question does not ask why there is no automation. It asks why government plans do not have it as a goal. Commented Aug 4, 2022 at 11:38
  • @user253751 "you may not find the word automation simply because it is a catch all term, but it does not mean it is not there."
    – FluidCode
    Commented Aug 4, 2022 at 11:54
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Automation is a negative-PR endeavour. Let's say you're McDonalds, and you employ thousands of people in easily-automatable jobs such as cashiers (and, at McD's, probably also line cooks). You replace those jobs with machines, and suddenly thousands of people are out of work. Putting thousands of people out of work isn't a good look for your company. On top of which, most easily-automatable jobs are low-skill and low-wage, meaning they tend to be filled by the lower classes of society, e.g. those without an education, who live in low-income or subsidized housing projects, and so on; this would mean that automation would necessarily hurt the less fortunate disproportionately. School-aged young adults (e.g. high school-aged) tend to also work in these jobs; losing them would lose those kids the opportunity to learn life skills for later in life when they truly join the workforce, as well as losing them a stream of income to socialize and do the things they want to do (plus many of those kids come from the same low-income households as previously described and contribute financially to their families). So this would be painted in the media as hurting the poor and hurting kids, and nobody wants to be associated with that.

The problem with "superabundance" is that it's a theory, not a reality. It states that, in theory, we as a society in 2022 have all the resources we need to support every living human being on the planet to the degree they would like to be supported. To the best of my knowledge, however, the math on that has never actually been done. To wit, recently there have been supply shortages of essential items such as various forms of grocery, and, of course, toilet paper, as anyone will remember from 2020. It seems reasonably clear that superabundance is only a theory and is not factually based in any way, and requires copious evidence that it is worth considering, of which, to date, there is only copious counterevidence. So, even if we were to say that we will automate automatable jobs in the name of superabundance, there is a high likelihood that the end result is we end up fucking everyone badly, but fucking the poor extra badly.

An aside on superabundance: The primary reason superabundance doesn't work is because of greed. One simple fact of human nature is every single human, yes, even you, is greedy. If I say to you "Everything is free, take what you want", how much would you take? Some things, like perishable items, you may take less of because garbage is annoying, but if an item is unperishable, you would take as much as you can carry and stash it for "a rainy day". The problem is, everyone will do that, and eventually the quantity you thought was "superabundant" turns out to be woefully insufficient and you wind up with starvation and famine. This results in a need to implement rationing. Except, the person doing the rationing is also human, and, hence, is greedy. They will ration more for themselves than for others, causing the same sort of wealth disparity as now, except in terms of commodities instead of money. For an example of this, see any Communist country that has ever existed, where the political class was extremely wealthy and well-off, while the people suffered. For an extremely simple example, look at a picture of Kim Jong-Un next to a picture of an average North Korean, you'll notice an extreme weight disparity there. Of course, you can have rationing oversight, but those people are also human and can be bribed, and so on. And then what you wind up is an unnavigable bureaucracy of pencil-pushers to expedite the process of rationing, and what you will likely wind up with is some form of rationing coupons, which are basically money, and suddenly you will find you have reverted back to capitalism again. Superabundance theory doesn't actually work.

Anyway, the answer to the question is that over-automation is a huge PR disaster, at least in the short term, while you decimate the quality of living of the poor and lower class, and that's why it's not pushed for aggressively.

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  • People not only need jobs, but it seems quite a lot of them like working and would keep working even if they didn't need to. It's perhaps a quirk of modern society and ideology, rather than an immutable law of human nature, but people don't want to lose their jobs. (I don't know if cave men or medieval peasants would feel the same way, or if it's part of deep social indoctrination to work, work, work.)
    – Stuart F
    Commented Aug 4, 2022 at 13:31
  • @StuartF people like having incomes, and the proceeds of labour are distributed far more broadly than the proceeds of capital.
    – benjimin
    Commented Aug 6, 2022 at 1:42
  • In regards to superabundance - there’s also the problem that land is by definition a finite resource, especially land in locations with good views or good weather. Only so many people can live in San Diego on a hill overlooking the ocean or in London in a house overlooking the river, no matter how good technology gets. Doubly so if people want a single family home or a huge apartment. Commented Aug 6, 2022 at 20:46
  • @benjimin Many people seem to like working even if they don't need the money or aren't getting paid. Many lottery-winners continue to work; many people do voluntary work; people do work-like tasks for leisure or recreation. Part of it is a desire to help people or create stuff, or just to feel like you're doing something worthwhile. Many people don't seem to want 24/7 leisure and idleness.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 9:41
  • @StuartF The quote is too long to copypaste, but please read the 4th paragraph in that article you linked. The people who would be put out of work by automation are not the type of people who would like to continue working. Also note that there is a known high correlation between winning the lottery and bankruptcy; simply getting a windfall of money does not mean that you don't need to work anymore, unless you are smart with money, which most people aren't.
    – Ertai87
    Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 14:56
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We live in an economic system where "he who does not work does not eat*." (a simplification, obviously - there is more to do than eating)

In order to ensure that everyone can eat*, it must be ensured that everyone has a job.

It is obvious that this system is not globally optimal and requires the creation of make-work jobs. However, the system is locally optimal for everyone with the power to change it, so it will not be changed. (For example, notice that if only some people worked but everyone ate*, the workers would feel that the system unfairly favoured the non-workers)

Several EU countries superficially appear to have progressed slightly past this paradigm, with safety nets so that people can eat* without working, but if you look at the fine details, there are usually requirements so stringent - such as applying for a certain number of jobs per week - that one might prefer to simply not eat*.

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    While that is true now that doesn't mean that will always be true. We can support people who do not work with no trouble at all especially if we get to the point where we are automating jobs. There are plenty of jobs that don't provide a lot of value outside of getting something done that could be automated. In the long term people would still want to work as they would have a better life overall then people who didn't work and just got enough to get by.
    – Joe W
    Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 13:09
  • @JoeW It will be true until you can convince enough of the population to venture out of the local optimum rut - among other requirements. Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 13:12
  • And automation isn't something that is going to happen overnight there are still a lot of technical issues that need to be solved before it can become a reality. Personally I don't see how the attitude of "those who do not work do not eat" is an issue at all especially since there is such a large support structure for people who can't work in the EU already. Companies are already starting the automation process it just isn't at a national policy level yet.
    – Joe W
    Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 13:17
  • @JoeW Have you experienced that support structure for yourself? Talking to people who are in that support structure tends to give the impression that the structure really hates them and wants them to get back to a job ASAP - e.g. they only get to eat without working as long as they are applying for a certain number of jobs per month. Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 14:14
  • Support structure really hates what? I think you are missing the point and job automation is coming regardless of what any national organizations are planning. Unless they go about outlawing automation it doesn't matter what they think as businesses are already automating things in a move to reduce costs and improve quality. It is just a matter of changing the mindset when the number of possible jobs us no longer able to support the working population. And by working population I mean the percentage of the population that is of working age and able to work.
    – Joe W
    Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 14:39
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  1. job creation;

Why there is no commitment to the automation of jobs as a specific goal and as the engine of superabundance?

This seems easy to me, so I'm probably missing some esoteric issue.

One has to assume that "job creation" means creating jobs for humans. So that they can participate in a capitalist economy. "automation of jobs" - to me in this context - means the elimination of jobs for humans. The corporation that shifts work from human(s) to a robot or AI throw the responsibility of that human(s) - pay, health and retirement benefits - onto the government - and that may be time limited.

With more and more workers tossed into unemployment by automation, who buys the things that are being built? Not somebody who would be receiving a stipend meant to survive on.

Maybe this wouldn't be a problem in a world with a static and sustainable population, but at 7 billion and growing - more jobs and less automation seems like a better goal.

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    My mistake, I should have gone to that website first. I don't know where the OP got those 3 points from, but the info on that site clearly promote AI/robot automation. Under "EIT Manufacturing flagships", item 1) People and robots for sustainable work. "... Also, expertise in human/robot collaboration, mobile, connectivity, exoskeletons etc. The are is highly attractive for young people and entrepreneurs.". "Job Creation" must mean "find a new job after your old one becomes automated.
    – Jim
    Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 17:38

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