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This was cross post to Metar:

The world is undergoing a revolution- a machine revolution. They are inexorably taking our jobs. What will happen when they take a large portion of the jobs? What will actually happen?

There will be backlashes, namely, they will begin in the political sphere, but cause shockwaves through the entire economic structure of the society.

I am contending in this post that the machine revolution (meaning, the humans begin to revolt against the progress wrought by machines), is already well underway. The question is- what is going to happen?

Many jobs are being lost to automation, and it is in the very places where these jobs have been lost that there is unrest. The political changes taking place at the highest level of government are merely the first visible palpable change to the revolution. There are lots of words being thrown around to aim the blame at some other group (various trade deals, foreigners, specific sub groups of society) but that doesn't change the underlying cause- artificial intelligence, metal sinews, and the corresponding lower cost of infrastructure capital (machines) to human capital (labor).

The initial forays of response are to create huge make work programs, and to attempt to tax the infrastructure capital in palatable ways.

The advent of huge make work programs began most recently in the great depression, but existed as early as in the Roman Empire which funded massive programs of entertainment. A make work program at its core creates jobs, with no real economic benefit to the society, beyond the expenditures of large amounts of capital with the aim to appease social aims. The "Wall", a 1,945 mile stretch of concrete and steel which may soon be constructed, can be seen as a massive make work program, similar to the construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Everyone knows it won't have much of an affect, but will create thousands of jobs. In essence, the response of the failure of jobs to appear as they vanish beneath hands of steel is to create them out of thin air to employ thousands of people doing something that doesn't accomplish much. This seems like an inevitable, and possibly desirable, long term outcome. The question that remains is- if we are going to employ tens of thousands, or millions of people, doing activities, is this the activity we actually want them to be engaged in? Would another scenic highway be more desirable? This is where politics come in, and the political winds at the moment do appear to favor a wall, so a wall is what will be built.

The next question- how will these funds be secured, comes down to apparently, taxing the machines themselves. Applying a tax to imports, such as cars, computers, and iPhones, is essentially attaching a tax to the places where they have most effectively deployed machines. So it is, in a roundabout way, a mechanism to tax the machines.

It seems that in the long term, the fundamental problem is that we have "workers" who are actually "working" without the corresponding wages, and without the corresponding taxes, that other workers provide. It may be that in the long term, we actually decide to tax the robots, in a similar way to how we tax humans, which will recapture the gains of efficiency they provide towards the humans they serve, rather than funneling these monies away from them.

The machine revolution has begun. How will it play out? We'll find out.
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