Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Robots and Unemployment

Aristotle, Politics 1.2.5 (1253 B; tr. H. Rackham, with his notes):
For if every tool could perform its own work when ordered, or by seeing what to do in advance, like the statues of Daedalus in the story,a or the tripods of Hephaestus which the poet says 'enter self-moved the company divine,'b—if thus shuttles wove and quills played harps of themselves, master-craftsmen would have no need of assistants and masters no need of slaves.

a This legendary sculptor first represented the eyes as open and the limbs as in motion, so his statues had to be chained to prevent them from running away (Plato, Meno 97 D).

b Iliad, xviii.369.

εἰ γὰρ ἠδύνατο ἕκαστον τῶν ὀργάνων κελευσθὲν ἢ προαισθανόμενον ἀποτελεῖν τὸ αὑτοῦ ἔργον, ὥσπερ τὰ Δαιδάλου φασὶν ἢ τοὺς τοῦ Ἡφαίστου τρίποδας, οὕς φησιν ὁ ποιητὴς αὐτομάτους θεῖον δύεσθαι ἀγῶνα, οὕτως αἱ κερκίδες ἐκέρκιζον αὐταὶ καὶ τὰ πλῆκτρα ἐκιθάριζεν, οὐδὲν ἂν ἔδει οὔτε τοῖς ἀρχιτέκτοσιν ὑπηρετῶν οὔτε τοῖς δεσπόταις δούλων.
Related post: Mere People.

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