Watching a feature on a news channel this morning about the pros and cons of capitalism has left me wondering if we have learned anything from the Industrial Revolution to the financial markets crash of 2008.
I’m not sure I’m any clearer on an answer!
Hundreds of years ago machines started replacing humans’ physical labour. Less people were employed which more was produced. But workers laid off faced destitution with no money to feed, clothe themselves or provide shelter – remember this was before state unemployment benefits.
With the advancement of machines cracking codes in WW2, computers reducing in size from huge rooms to pocket size and robots being used in medical sciences we’ve seen many pluses to this technology. But is it now going too far?
The online news feature showed Bob Pisani, On-Air Stock Editor for CNBC – American news channel who liaises with stock traders and explains the markets to the general population. Bob passionately believes in capitalism without which he feels there would be no financial support within the economy. Markus Koch a Stock Market Correspondence stated traders have been reduced from thousands to hundreds in recent years as machines have taken over. More thought provoking for me was Tarek Mashhour, Audi Plant Germany explaining their goal is to have a production network of communicating robots meaning increased productivity with the same resources. But if less humans are working – who is buying the Audi cars?
Dirk Heitmann of IBM Germany explained they are developing cognitive machines capable of learning on their own! Dirk feels this increases human creativity capabilities. But could this be at the price of human jobs?
Anthony Scaramucci, Hedge Fund owner believes capitalism is the only system which works. ‘There is tremendous opportunity for growth over the next fifty years. We can mine for minerals essential in technology in asteroids in space’. Now that idea might sound completely out there but we have computers that can talk with each other, robots used in manufacturing, healthcare and so on. Is it really out of reach?
An interesting thought concluded the news feature by Professor Tim Jackson – Economist at University of Surrey who believes ‘we live on a finite planet therefore the expectation we can all grow and profit from capitalism is false – we can’t’.
We seem to get richer in technological advancements but the divide between rich and poor seems just as wide and just as unbalanced.
We watched with baited breath…..