A Note on the Movie Alien and Self-Checkout Machines

Comments

2
Fantastic Article. Sadly domestic work(which over the last 200 years has become women's) is invisible to our history books, and thus the great achievements in the home only culturally manifest through the workplace.
Also I hope you can come to our Jacobin Reading group, Feb 20th at Ada's book store. We will be discussing "The Suburbanization of the Working Class" and "The Creativity Bubble".https://www.facebook.com/groups/SeattleJ…
3
@1 Charles is obviously talking about systemic issues, bringing up an individual example is, like, bafflingly irrelevant
4
Woodblock printing put hand copiers out of business, the moveable type printing press put woodblock carvers out of business, the rotary printing press put the movable type printing press people out of business, Lithography and screen printing put the printing presses out of business, typewriters put the lithographers out of business, and computers put the typewriters makers out of business.

And on each step of the way, I am sure some self important polyanna claimed it would be the end of civilization.
5
Nailed it, Charles.

In fact the only reason we could have viable space program β€” or indeed the cultural optimism for a space age at all β€” was because of Keynesian economics.

The fact that people who call themselves liberals look at the degradation of well-paid unionized working class employment (like grocery store workers) as inevitable β€”or worse as "progress" β€” is depressing as hell.
6
@4, When you blithely say they were 'put out of business' you are obscuring the what that actually means/meant. Doesn't it sound kinda disingenuous to say that, for example, a struggling drugstore checkout person (you know, a human being) is 'put out of business' when they are laid off?
8
@5 Is there any possible way to avoid sectors being made extinct/irrelevant with technological advancement? The sky never falls when something like the automobile replaces horse drawn carriages (and I'm sure there were a bunch of people who lost their livelihood during that transition). People should be provided with plenty of resources to acquire new skills in order to "reinvent" their professional lives, but I don't really want to give up advancements like being able to get to Europe in 9 hours or wikipedia. Curing all cancers would put tons of people out of work too, but I can't imagine anyone thinking that would be bad.

Side note regarding self-checkout - IKEA in Renton gave up on their self check-out lanes because they said it wasn't cost effective. Apparently, this was partly due to the fact it was taking as much labor to monitor the process as it would be to do it the old fashioned way, and secondly (and maybe more importantly) because they were losing $100,000.00 per month in "forgotten to scan and pay for" merchandise just in that one store.
9
Gratitude to Charles for an intelligent, erudite analysis. @Mehlman: What gives with the impotent insult? It's obvious what the Mude does: he brings a healthy measure of intellectual gravity to a media world in desperate need of some brains. @Gorath: Just to be clear, your insult doesn't work either. You've confused Pollyanna--the incorrigibly optimistic orphan--with Chicken Little. Also, if you pay attention, you'll notice that this article does not explicitly express any prognostications about the future. Rather, it's an exceptionally sophisticated pop history, the sort that imparts greater dimension to our shared present, and one that might afford us all a better chance in deciding collectively what kind of future we'd like to live in. There are no claims about "the end of civilization."
10
The only way these machines go away is if they lose money. I think we all know what to do.
11
@10 - ...and profit becomes the only morality. :>(

@8 - People should be provided with plenty of resources to acquire new skills in order to "reinvent" their professional lives,
I'm inclined to agree, but how will you get that idea past the ardent capitalists running the government?
12
How about we just watch the movie without overthinking it, and bitch about the grocery store separately? Don't ruin a perfectly good movie.
13
time is always free. you get to spend it however you want.
14
Half of the Stranger audience shoplift or use EBT cards, so the self check effect may not have as much of an impact.

The machines really are a blight, if only because the customers are expected to do the labor that would otherwise be done by paid workers. It's insulting to both parties; costing the former time and labor, and the latter wages and job security.