As this section develops it will explore the dangers which may arise if we misunderstand the impact the rise of the robots will have on our society. We introduce the term hamartia; the idea that faulty diagnoses will lead to faulty prescriptions of action, and examine some current proposals which exemplify this.
Chief among these is the misconception that the capitalist integument must be preserved throughout this time of transformation. While there is a strong case to be made that historically the system of capitalism has been successful in facilitating technological advance and improving the lives of millions, it does not follow that capitalism will continue to be our best option once the means and relations of production are revolutionized. From a historical materialist perspective a new socio-political system ( a new superstructure ) should be encouraged to emerge to accommodate the new mode of production.
If we misunderstand this we run the risk of inadvertently empowering a plutocracy of elites, the owners of the robot economy, who will fully control the productive forces of society and direct them in accordance with their own economic self-interests.
The resulting society could be anything from a relatively benign welfare state, (what we might call a subsumed society), to a nightmarishly repressive fascist dystopia. The rise of the modern surveillance state, the militarization of police forces, and erosion of civil liberties are all of concern here. By quietly assembling these “apparatuses of repression” are we creating a “turnkey” operation for a future totalitarian state, as former NSA official William Binney has warned?
But this section is titled Slouching Towards Dystopia because, ultimately, the most pernicious danger we face is our own indifference and our willingness to be manipulated and controlled. We explore the writings of psychologist Erich Fromm on alienation and the tendency to submit to strong ( even fascist ) authorities to understand these tendencies. The concern here is that we will not be marched into totalitarian domination at the point of a gun; we will slouch our way there apathetically.