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226 × 146 × 18 mm
160 pages
16 Nov 2020
Field Notes
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Smart Machines and Service Work Automation in an Age of Stagnation Jason E. Smith

In recent decades digital devices have reshaped daily life, while tech companies’ stock prices have thrust them to the forefront of the business world. In this rapid, global development, the promise of a new machine age has been accompanied by worries about accelerated joblessness thanks to new forms of automation. Jason E. Smith looks behind the techno-hype to lay out the realities of a period of economic slowdown and expanding debt: low growth rates and an increase of labour-intensive jobs at the bottom of the service sector. He shows how increasing inequality and poor working conditions have led to new forms of workers’ struggles. Ours is less an age of automation, Smith contends, than one in which stagnation is intertwined with class conflict.

‘The technological advances of the last four decades have brought only insignificant productivity gains. This "productivity paradox" remains an abiding mystery in mainstream economics. Jason Smith removes the mystery, explaining how rates of investment, economic growth, and real wage increases have been abysmally low not despite capitalism's technological dynamism, but because of it. This important book should be read by anyone interested in the social consequences of technological change today.’ — Tony Smith, Professor of Philosophy at Iowa State University and author of Technology and Capital in the Age of Lean Production

‘A novel and persuasive explanation of why the technological advances of the computer age have been accompanied by a significant slowdown in productivity growth, with an increasing proportion of the labor force in low productivity – and low paid—service industries. This well-written book should be of interest to everyone who wants to understand – and end – the "near depression" of the US economy.’ — Fred Moseley, Professor of Economics, Mount Holyoke College, and author of Money and Totality.

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Jason E. Smith lives in Los Angeles. He has written extensively on contemporary politics and political economy, in journals including Artforum, The Brooklyn Rail, Commune, Critical Inquiry and Radical Philosophy.

Automation 2.0

Chapter One: A Short History of Automation
Chapter Two: The Robot and the Zombie
Chapter Three: Army of Shadows
Chapter Four: Approaching Zero
Chapter Five: Circulation and Control
Chapter Six: The Servant Economy
Chapter Seven: An Absolute Law