Doug Hamlin

1133 days ago

My existential dread in a nutshell.

Behind all of it, Yang sees automation, driven by the unstoppable will of the market. The story starts with the decline of American manufacturing, something politicians are used to talking about. But Yang thinks that decline is driven less by globalization and more by automated assembly lines, which have allowed the sector to maintain roughly the same output levels as 2007 while dropping nearly a million jobs. In a few years, self-driving freight trucks will follow, unlocking tens of billions of dollars for investors and displacing millions of truck drivers, to be followed shortly by cab drivers, clerks, service workers, and radiologists. There will be no profit motive to reintegrate them, no training program that can make their skills valuable again. Yang predicts an epidemic of depreciating human capital hitting profession after profession until society disintegrates, overwhelmed by the sheer volume of human despair.

It’s grim, with obvious echoes of Marx (who was writing about automation too). But where Marx saw a struggle between discrete classes, Yang sees a tidal wave hitting group after group in sequence. In his reading, no one is safe and we’re all in it together.

Andrew Yang is the candidate for the end of the world