An Ominous Glimpse into the Future of Human Labor

Five percent (5%) of the richest Americans own 95% of corporate stocks.1 This means that five percent (5%) are reaping excessive and outrageous profits from a forsaking of the American workforce. Meanwhile, the vast majority of Americans are unemployed or underemployed. Those who are underemployed are being compensated anywhere between 20%-70% less in wages than their prior incomes. Yet, we continue to see very large increases in consumer goods and services from anything as small as vegetables and milk to large ticket items such as cars, homes, and college education expenses. What has occurred over the past three decades in the United States? More skilled jobs that demand higher levels of education and more technical skills have been shipped overseas creating what has been called “the brain drain.” American workers with years of higher level education, greater skills, and more experience are being replaced by either automation or by low income and unemployed foreigners who are glad to work for 1/10 or 1/20 of the pay that an American demands. These leaves mostly semi-skilled and unskilled workers in America such as retail salespeople, waiters and waitresses, health aides, and janitors, all in the lower paying sector.2

In addition to this, American corporations have hired part-time workers and independent contractors in order to avoid having to provide healthcare. Yet the executives in the company have very attractive and robust health and welfare benefits. The majority of U.S. part-time workers are women who earn 69% of what males earn. One projection is that, by the year 2014, there will be around 38 million people who will be job hunting in underdeveloped countries,2 adding to the already one billion plus people across the world who are unemployed and underemployed.3 In a November 2003 study by Alliance Capital Management which reviewed manufacturing jobs in the world’s twenty largest economies, it showed that, between 1995 and 2002, a total of 31 million manufacturing jobs were eliminated due mostly to advanced technology replacing the need for human beings.3 One example serves to highlight this. In 2002, Sprint’s productivity rose 15 percent and revenue increased 4.3 percent, yet the company eliminated 11,500 workers from its payroll. Jeremy Rifkin, author of The End of Work: The Decline of the Global Labor Force and the Dawn of the Post-Market Era, says that, of all the CEOs he has had discussions with, most agreed that intelligent technology, not human beings, will make up the workforce of the future.

In 1995, the rate at which U.S. corporations were eliminating jobs was two million annually. More than 75 percent of workers in most of the industrial nations are performing work that is primarily simple and repetitive.3 As of 2003, in the United States, out of 124 million workers, more than 90 million jobs were at risk for replacement by machines. As of the early 1990s, approximately 3.6 billion people (67%) in the world lacked adequate cash or credit to purchase goods and services.2 As Barnet and Cavanagh (1994) state: “A huge and increasing proportion of human beings are not needed and will never be needed to make goods or to provide services because too many people in the world are too poor to buy them” (p. 17). With automated machinery and robots taking over, there is the very real possibility of a permanent underclass consisting of hundreds of millions, if not several billion people. Nobel laureate, Wassily Leontief, states that “the role of humans as the most important factor of production is bound to diminish the same way that the role of horses in agricultural production was first diminished and then eliminated by the introduction of tractors.”4 This unprecedented global travesty will create a worldwide situation in which upwards of 80% of the world will be unemployed or underemployed. With several billion people unable to find work, what will prevent society from disintegrating into a state of perpetual lawlessness and chaos? Other ominous predictions regarding robots include the concern that when artificial intelligence is developed, these robots may be given similar rights to humans, including the right to vote.

Japanese Professor Ishiguro has created a human android that is so eerily like a real human being that, one day, the unreal will be indiscernible from a real human being.5 In December 2006, one of 200 studies commissioned by the British government was published which stated, “If granted full rights, states will be obligated to provide full social benefits to them [robots] including income support, housing and possibly robo-healthcare to fix the machines over time.”6 While it was nay-sayed by most in the scientific community, the fact that it surfaced is alarming. One scientist commented on his concern about who would be responsible if a robot kills or injures someone saying, “We need a proper debate about the safety of the robots that will come onto the market in the next few years. Military use of robots is increasing fast. What we should really be bothered about is public safety.”

Bill Joy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems, wrote an article in Wired magazine in 2000 which very clearly elucidates the extreme ethical and moral dangers of technology, and specifically robotics, genetic engineering, and nanotechnology. Perhaps one of the most frightening about all three is that they can self-replicate which, as Joy points out, carries with it great power. In Joy’s article, he talks about the book, The Age of Spiritual Machines, written by Ray Kurzweil, the famous inventor of the first reading machine for the blind. In the book, Kurzweil advocates for a utopian world in which human immortality is attained by becoming one with robotic technology. The following frightening scenario is printed in the book:


First let us postulate that the computer scientists succeed in developing intelligent machines that can do all things better than human beings can do them. In that case presumably all work will be done by vast, highly organized systems of machines and no human effort will be necessary. Either of two cases might occur. The machines might be permitted to make all of their own decisions without human oversight, or else human control over the machines might be retained.

If the machines are permitted to make all their own decisions, we can’t make any conjectures as to the results, because it is impossible to guess how such machines might behave. We only point out that the fate of the human race would be at the mercy of the machines. It might be argued that the human race would never be foolish enough to hand over all the power to the machines. But we are suggesting neither that the human race would voluntarily turn power over to the machines nor that the machines would willfully seize power. What we do suggest is that the human race might easily permit itself to drift into a position of such dependence on the machines that it would have no practical choice but to accept all of the machines’ decisions. As society and the problems that face it become more and more complex and machines become more and more intelligent, people will let machines make more of their decisions for them, simply because machine-made decisions will bring better results than man-made ones. Eventually a stage may be reached at which the decisions necessary to keep the system running will be so complex that human beings will be incapable of making them intelligently. At that stage the machines will be in effective control. People won’t be able to just turn the machines off, because they will be so dependent on them that turning them off would amount to suicide.

On the other hand it is possible that human control over the machines may be retained. In that case the average man may have control over certain private machines of his own, such as his car or his personal computer, but control over large systems of machines will be in the hands of a tiny elite – just as it is today, but with two differences. Due to improved techniques the elite will have greater control over the masses; and because human work will no longer be necessary the masses will be superfluous, a useless burden on the system. If the elite is ruthless they may simply decide to exterminate the mass of humanity. If they are humane they may use propaganda or other psychological or biological techniques to reduce the birth rate until the mass of humanity becomes extinct, leaving the world to the elite. Or, if the elite consists of soft-hearted liberals, they may decide to play the role of good shepherds to the rest of the human race. They will see to it that everyone’s physical needs are satisfied, that all children are raised under psychologically hygienic conditions, that everyone has a wholesome hobby to keep him busy, and that anyone who may become dissatisfied undergoes “treatment” to cure his “problem.” Of course, life will be so purposeless that people will have to be biologically or psychologically engineered either to remove their need for the power process or make them “sublimate” their drive for power into some harmless hobby. These engineered human beings may be happy in such a society, but they will most certainly not be free. They will have been reduced to the status of domestic animals.7

Kurzweil had included in his book ideas that Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber, had written about a dystopian society. Joy goes on to say that he found Hans Moravec’s book, Robot: Mere Machine to Transcendent Mind, and it gave him more cause for concern. Moravec is a leaders in robotics research as well as the founder of the world’s largest robotics research program at Carnegie Mellon University. In Joy’s (2000) article, he provides an excerpt from Moravec’s book that is similar to Kaczynski’s disturbing vision.

The Short Run (Early 2000s)

Biological species almost never survive encounters with superior competitors. Ten million years ago, South and North America were separated by a sunken Panama isthmus. South America, like Australia today, was populated by marsupial mammals, including pouched equivalents of rats, deers, and tigers. When the isthmus connecting North and South America rose, it took only a few thousand years for the northern placental species, with slightly more effective metabolisms and reproductive and nervous systems, to displace and eliminate almost all the southern marsupials.

In a completely free marketplace, superior robots would surely affect humans as North American placentals affected South American marsupials (and as humans have affected countless species). Robotic industries would compete vigorously among themselves for matter, energy, and space, incidentally driving their price beyond human reach. Unable to afford the necessities of life, biological humans would be squeezed out of existence.

There is probably some breathing room, because we do not live in a completely free marketplace. Government coerces nonmarket behavior, especially by collecting taxes. Judiciously applied, governmental coercion could support human populations in high style on the fruits of robot labor, perhaps for a long while.8

These excerpts written by men echo the profoundly disturbing, dominating, and destructive quality that is inherent in masculine pathology, particularly in psychopathy in which there is a complete objectification of humankind, and an absence of human compassion and moral conscience. It has eery commonality with the story of Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus published in 1818 by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley in which man, egomaniacally obsessed with power and control, creates that which destroys him. This is a psychopath—a man with no heart; essentially, a beast. Joy’s (2000) article is his vocalization of the extremely dangerous and unprecedented potential for extinction that exists as pertains to threats from technology, especially robotics. He emphatically states that “certain knowledge is too dangerous and is best forgone” (p. 11). The reason for his urge for moral caution is best summed up when he states:

By 2030, we are likely to be able to build machines, in quantity, a million times as powerful as the personal computers of today…And once an intelligent robot exists, it is only a small step to a robot species — to an intelligent robot that can make evolved copies of itself…A second dream of robotics is that we will gradually replace ourselves with our robotic technology, achieving near immortality by downloading our consciousnesses…I think it is no exaggeration to say we are on the cusp of the further perfection of extreme evil, an evil whose possibility spreads well beyond that which weapons of mass destruction bequeathed to the nation-states, on to a surprising and terrible empowerment of extreme individuals.9

Jacques Attali, French minister and technology consultant to former president Francois Mitterand, declared: “Machines are the new proletariat. The working class is being given its walking papers.”10 This is one reason for large increases in productivity despite the fact the employees are working harder than ever and putting in longer hours, and even though large numbers of workers have been laid off. With the elimination of layers of traditional management, shortening production processes, and streamlining administrative duties, restructuring and layoffs in corporations can result in a 40% to 75% workforce reduction.

American workers have been left standing at the curbside for decades holding the proverbial bag. They are paying more for the cost of those products and services which the corporation is producing for an estimated 30%-70% less cost due, in large part, to massive savings in the cost of labor as corporations lay off U.S. workers and hire cheap labor from foreign countries at a rate up to 90% of the cost of labor in the U.S. Meanwhile, the compensation of U.S. executives continues to escalate and skyrocket into the tens and hundreds of millions per executive. In addition, this creates a financial windfall for CEOs, senior executives, and the 5% who own stock in these corporations that are saving 60-90% in labor costs. Corporations have betrayed the American workers and have done so without many people being aware of the enormity of the betrayals. Because multi-nationals own virtually all major and mainstream media outlets, they have, for the most part over the past three decades, hid any news that was unfavorable to corporations and the wealthy elite. Hidden from front page or headline news in these mainstream media sources such as CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, and Fox News was any news that had the potential to incite large groups of people to unite, engage, and oppose their agenda. The media did not inform the public, to any large degree, about the mass drain of labor out of America that began in the late 1980s. It was not until the early 21st century that large numbers of Americans became aware of the scope of the numbers of lost jobs as well as the fact that the hiring of overseas labor had been occurring for well over a decade. Some of this increased awareness was due to internet access which has non-mainstream sources that provides what many consider are far more accurate pictures and data that are representative of contemporary financial, social, cultural and psychological reality. The wealthiest power brokers have been very aware of the threat that the internet plays in the potential to educate and inform tens and hundreds of millions of people across the world. More crucially, they are cognizant of the potential that this creates for a worldwide organization and uniting of people against what has now become, when combined with overpopulation and global warming, the psychosocial pathology of free market capitalism.

  • The above is an excerpt from Malignant Masculine Power: The Narcissistic Consciousness of Deceit, Exploitation, Domination, and Destruction that is Leading the World Toward Annihilation, Wanda M. Woodward, MS, Copyright 2007.
    1. Henwood, D. (1998). Wall Street: How it works and for whom. New York: Verso. []
    2. Barnet, R.J. & Cavanagh, J. (1994). Global dreams: Imperial corporations and the new world order. New York: Simon & Schuster. [] [] []
    3. Rifkin, Jeremy. (2004). The End of Work: The Decline of the Global Labor Force and the Dawn of the Post-Market Era. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin. [] [] []
    4. Cited in Rifkin, 2004, pp. 5-6. []
    5. Whitehouse, D. (2005, July 27). Japanese develop ‘female’ android. BBC News. Retrieved 4/4/08. []
    6. Henderson, M. (2007, April 24). Human rights for robots? We’re getting carried away. The London Times online. Retrieved 3/20/08. []
    7. Joy, B. (2000, April). Why the future doesn’t need us. Wired magazine online. Retrieved 3/20/08. []
    8. Joy, 2000, p. 2. []
    9. Joy, 2000, p. 5. []
    10. Cited in Rifkin, 2004, p. 7. []
    Wanda Woodward is the author of The Anatomy of the Soul: An Authentic Psychology. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in psychology and her dissertation will be on the theoretical model she developed of gender psychopathology and psychosocial pathology. Upon obtaining her doctorate, she will publish her book, Malignant Masculine Power: The Narcissistic Consciousness of Deceit, Exploitation, Domination, and Destruction That is Leading the World Toward Annihilation which was written in 2007 and is an expose of her theoretical model. Her interests are reading, writing, music, philosophy, psychology, and environmental issues. Read other articles by Wanda.

    8 comments on this article so far ...

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    1. Don Hawkins said on August 4th, 2009 at 10:57am #

      And now that 5% is going to leave the other 95% in the dust and high water while telling you to make sure you put that check in the mail.

    2. Michael Kenny said on August 4th, 2009 at 11:49am #

      This is an absurd article! It has no subject! The author starts off about share ownership, then skips to unemployment and loss of purcashing power in the US, then to immigration, the to several aspects of robotics all jumbled up in a welter of silly speculation, then we get a light sprinkling of feminism, then back to the plight of the workers, then media manipulation and finally, the role of the internet. Any one of those topics could be the subject of countless articles, but jumbling them all up together just shows an inability to think rationally.
      Could Ms Woodward be a prototype robot?

    3. Mr. Mumbles said on August 4th, 2009 at 3:01pm #

      Well, I think this article is an amalgamation of conjectures, misinformation, and outright lunacy! I would agree with her spiel with the plight of the American Working Class and the pernicious effects of capitalism and mass media, but the robots taking over the world bit. The writer should expose herself to the reality of labor and realize robots are a far cry, though automazation in the developed world is certaintly in the process of occuring.

    4. Deadbeat said on August 4th, 2009 at 9:50pm #

      Mr. Mumbles is correct. The author ruined a potentially good article about the condition of the labor force with shrill science fiction. Even if the “robot” took over the problem is not whether there is “human control over the machines might be retained”. The problem is the inhuman system of capitalism regardless of man or machine. It is the system of Capitalism that dehumanize 95% of us while the minority EXPLOITS the rest of us (machine or not).

      The problem of automation is not new. Even Martin Luther King back in the mid-1960 raised the issue — that more than two generation ago. The problem once again is Capitalism and what people need to do to confront it.

    5. Willy Sierens said on August 5th, 2009 at 2:28am #

      I hope ALL functions described as JOBS disappear!!!
      If machines can do all the work, let them. Give everyone a machine!!!

    6. Mulga Mumblebrain said on August 5th, 2009 at 4:33am #

      The key date, in my opinion, in the process of market capitalist exploitation transmogrifying into market capitalist exterminism, was 1989. In that year, as Fukuyama said, history ended. The attempts over generations to fashion a world system, or even a society or two, based on an operating principle other than infinite greed, radical individualism and the commodification of all things, and the unlimited exercise of violent coercion to achieve these ends, came to an end, with the victory of the greater evil in the Cold War.
      The victory of the market capitalists immediately saw the intensity of exploitation increase. The depredations of the parasitic elites grew beyond anyone’s imagination. The transfer of wealth to the insatiable class saw the percentage of wealth held by the bottom 50% in the UK fall from 12% in 1976,to 1% in recent years, with similar events occuring elsewhere. Every prediction of Marx concerning the immiseration of the masses has been borne out. Throughout the poor world, billions exist on essentially nothing. In the rich world US median wages have stagnated since the 1970s, and the percentages of global wealth and income going to the tip 10, 1, and 0.1%s have grown like topsy.
      Market capitalism was always about exploiting the serfs as far as possible before provoking revolt, but, in its early days, some capitalists still treated their workers as humans, more or less. One thinks of company towns, with nice little houses, schools and churches, provided by the Master. And as Ford understood, mass production has no future without a mass consumer market, so he led the way in paying decent wages. Of course much if not all of this social amelioration has been shown to have been nothing more than the masters doing their best to avert revolution by buying off their workers. But, as we know, market capitalism, with its ruthless, amoral competition, favours the unscrupulous, the egomaniacal, the exploitative, the creature without human empathy. The elevation of competition to the highest importance in society, and the denigration of co-operation, has ensured the success of the psychopath, the arrogant Machiavellian. The end, unlimited greed and power, justifies the means, trampling on the rest, to certain minds alone.
      I think it is absolutely apposite to link the development of artificial intelligence to market neo-feudalism. After all, only recently researchers in artificial intelligence themselves met to discuss the misgivings of some at the direction and the speed with which their science is evolving. However, if the money power requires artificial intelligence beyond the capabilities of man, incorporated into killer robots to police the global ‘badlands’, then there will always be unprincipled scientists and technologists keen to push the envelope for monetary gain. That is the market capitalist ‘lowest common moral denominator’ principle. Anything, no matter how wicked, that can make money, will eventually see the light of day.As we already know the psychotic rulers of the planet are remorseless in grinding down the rest while elevating themselves to riches beyond the dreams of avarice. Can it be doubted that, if faced by a revolt of billions of dehumanised, pauperised, desperate individuals, that they would not exterminate them as casually as they bomb a wedding party in Afghanistan, then bomb the resulting funeral procession? I think we are on the edge of the abyss, driven there by a global parasitic elite that has evolved, by a process of thoroughly unnatural selection, into a caste of monsters, without pity, without fellow feeling and without remorse.

    7. Don Hawkins said on August 5th, 2009 at 4:51am #



      In the not to distant future things on Earth were not going to well. The United States was on the brink of War with North Korea and Iran. Global warming was taking its toll on the human race and well there was a lack of hope though out the World. It was another hot day in Washington DC and the President was at his desk in the White House with his head in his hands looking down at the floor. At that moment he heard a strange noise and looked out the window at the front lawn of the White House just in time to see this very large silver saucer land right in front of the White House. Well for two day’s the ship was surrounded with every known weapon to man. The door to the ship opened and two very small robots walked out. In English the one robot said let’s talk. Well in about three hours the President all of congress and all the news media were on the front lawn looking at these two rather small robots. The one robot began to talk people of Earth you just don’t figure. You were all given a miracle of the Universe and you called it Earth. Well in about 2,000 years you have all managed to take this miracle and pollute it on a non stop basis to the point where your own survival is at stake and you are doing nothing about it even after you see it happening it don’t figure. You as human’s don’t seem to be able to get along with each other and are about to fight a War that could bring the end of you all. Just don’t figure. Well me and my little friend here have come to help. We have decided that you can’t work these problems out by yourselves so we are going to leave this box surrounded of course by a force field. At that moment a third robot brought out this black box and it was put on the lawn and the force field was activated. The first robot said people of Earth clean up your Planet learn to live together with out War and learn to be nice to each other. Please don’t force us to use the box. With that all three robots walked back onto the ship and it slowly lifted off the ground and in less time than it takes to say ouch it was gone.
      Well about 1,000 light years from Earth the three robots got out of there suits and they looked human but you could tell they were young. The one said to the other if dad finds out what we did we are in big trouble remember the first rule never interfere with another World or it’s people well the older of the three kid’s said hay what dad doesn’t know won’t hurt him. With that the younger of the three said do you think those human’s will ever find out there is nothing in that box? Well the energy source for the force field will run out in about 100 years and maybe they will learn to live better by then with that the one kid pushed this cool looking green button and they were headed home.

      Florida August 19, 2004

    8. Uncle B said on August 6th, 2009 at 4:34am #

      America is convulsing! Suffering paradigm shifts in its very social fabric that even the American’s favored physiognomy can’t accommodate! The big, strong, durable, farm-boy, 6 foot plus and better than 230 pounds, solid muscle, and all beef-fed, is still worshiped in the U.S. colleges and Universities! Even high-school aged girls are encouraged to breed with the “Football star” image, and this worked well for America until recently! These large muscled brutes with average intelligence and enormous ability to absorb punishment, physical and emotional, were the backbone of American superiority in the smokestack age, the 1950’s and later, they were the strength behind the American industrial/military superiority in the world! They were adored,valued, worshiped, employed to be certain! and social functions were built around their preferential breeding and selective breeding, really! Large breasted women nubile and ready to serve concubine roles, forgoing Christian and pagan rituals of the past were paraded, scantily clad before the witless beasts, who responded as nature would have it, at prom nights, sweet 16 parties, college breaks, drunken orgies in homes and evening dances, and filled the “Machine” with their brutish but useful progeny, often even outside wedlock, and quite often as a parting gift to an unwitting concubine, before or after wedlock, but as a parting gift mostly to the society, before a certain death in a foreign land serving the military machine – all noble and acceptable to the American morality of the Hollywood propagandists machine and with tacit government approval! Suddenly; the changeover rooted in political change, Asia found a use for its bludgeoning population, especially the huge and hitherto useless female population – Asia put them to work! as semi-slaves in hydraulically and electrically assisted computer driven ultra modern factories! They did the same work as the American bruits, did it faster, and for 10 and 12 hour shifts,(union free commies) they ate primarily veggies, with little if any meat, (cheaper by far to feed) they lived in factory dorms (no transportation costs, no cars) They pooped in slot toilets, and slept on 3′ X 6′ mats on factory floors ( no McMansions to pay for, no ‘burbs to support, no SUV’s to fuel) They lived a celibates life, (no schools, communities to pay for) they wore “Company Uniforms” ( no designer jeans here to suck up funds) and what is more, they sent money packets back home to small poverty stricken villages, and their child, for education! (the ultimate self funding welfare system) The commies were astounded at the economical miracle they had deliberately planned, and immediately marketed it to the Uber-Rich American and International Vulture Capitalists, who Sold Out America immediately by investing not only in China but converting vast fortunes of American dollars to ‘Yuan” on the Beijing, Shanghai and Hong-Kong stock markets! This led to a closing of even GM(America) and the prospering at the same moment of GM(China) and Americans began losing jobs! These Americans stand today in “unemployable” lines – at soup kitchens, or live in slums and the back-waters of the very country that used them to attain greatness, then forsaked them and disenfranchised them the moment they lost value. Unfortunately, the whole society is still geared for and still does breed them, and has not caught onto the Oriental habit of controlled breeding of intellectuals, the next great Asian pre-occupation! This next hit on American riches will not be contained, but wellcomed as our saving grace! this “Our” however includes only the 5 % of dividend collecting Americans deeply invested in Asian markets, and the vast majority of Americans alive today, will join the disenfranchised “Legacy Workers” in poverty and “Third World-ship”, replaced by Asian intelligentsia, our next doctors and scientists, bred in Asia for the job – small bodied, primarily vegan, extremely bright, and plentiful enough to be purchased selectively for their individual talents! Stats? India has more grads with IQ’s of 130+ than America has population! Check that out on the net! get this! Mr President wants fewer drop-outs in American schools, an honorable goal! Why not tell the American population the truth! China has more post grads than America has high school students, drop-outs included! Today! A glut! They are all veggie burners of slight, low maintenance stature, and ready to emigrate now! They all speak English! and Mandarin! and local dialects or Cantonese! and often one European language! They will displace any educational efforts by the U.S. for whom we can safely say “too little too late” and take over much as their sisters did the labor markets! America’s big sins? Inflexibility and lack of foresight due to the propagandist smokescreen! The price – “Detroit City” style Third World-ship for much of the population. The time: It is all over! Chinese cars will parade on American streets in the next few years, Asian cars from Korea, Japan and a huge Asian net of parts suppliers already dominate here and now! and CNN, NBC, CBS never said a word! goddamn them to hell!