I was thinking about a question posed to someone on social media about whether advances in technology are compatible with a prospering market economy. It was conceded that innovation is a net-positive, but it’s commonplace to see examples of how machines are replacing labor income.
The question though is based on a false premise: that there is a fixed amount of work to be done. Yet, forever and always, there is in a practical sense a limitless demand for labor. Goods and services are demanded. The reason people don’t work is because their marginal productivity, as assessed by employers, is below the legal minimum wage or because, from the laborer’s perspective, the value of leisure on the margins is of more value than the income from working.
For workers who have developed a non-transferable or highly specialized skill, it could be immediately jarring. Even then, that creates entrepreneurial opportunities to find customers who prefer more specialized craft production rather than the more mass produced ones, or it would allow those laborers to be break free of centralized work processes. Depending on the circumstances, their incomes could increase as they would be receiving a greater portion of the product’s purchase value, even if the overall value has fallen as supply is expanded.
What needs to be guarded against are those technologies being closed off behind the corporate paywalls of intellectual property and other monopoly privileges of artificial scarcity.