Essay Assignment SOC201H1S Lokit Bala Boobalan
Marx’s Theory of Alienation in The Context of Technology and Artificial Intelligence
SOC 201H1S – Sociological Theory
Course Instructor: Joseph R. Bryant
Submission Date: 2018-03-27.
Student Name: Lokit Bala Boobalan.
Student ID: 1002773867.
Karl Marx in the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 defined alienation as the state or experience of being isolated from a group or an activity to which one should belong or in which one should be involved. The capitalistic mode of production, where the capitalist controlled the means of production, directed the laborers (who became waged workers) to work towards creating surplus value for the capitalist (Marx, Karl.,1884). Workers began to feel disengaged from their work, from themselves and from society. This idea continues to be relevant even today. The only difference is that today, technological advancements such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) which are capable of doing cognitive tasks better and faster than humans, are rapidly substituting workers at routine tasks. This leads to unemployment, the dehumanization of skills and accentuates the problems related to alienation. But on the other hand, technology has also created more jobs that gives the workers intrinsic satisfaction as they are able to use their creative capacity for such jobs. This leads to the debate as to whether technology is a driving factor that leads to alienation in today’s society. In our present reality we can see Karl Marx’s alienation theory is not only relevant but fully realized in a capitalist market with the advancements in technology specifically AI. Technology used under a capitalistic mode of production has resulted in alienation, but to say that it does not create room for growth or self-development for the individual is not entirely true which he envisioned happening in a socialistic society is not entirely true.
Alienation according to Karl Marx presented a structural analysis of how capitalist relations of production led to workers being alienated, from the products they produce, from the activity of work and from themselves as creative human beings (Krahn et. al, 2015). Karl Marx believed that “Labor is as much an act of personal creation and a projection of one’s identity as it is a means of survival”. However, during the Industrial Revolution, the capitalist mode of production created jobs for laborers where people were forced into unfulfilling factory jobs as a means to survive. The capitalist mode of production focuses on productivity, efficiency and increase surplus of capital, by exploiting workers. The capitalist characteristics of society lead to the division of labor which estranged workers from the products they produced, from the activity of work and from themselves as creative beings. To make things worse, the industrial revolution deployed automated technology to benefit the capitalists to produce surplus capital by being more efficient...