Why only human labour creates value?

And not machines? Explain how a fullly automated economy cannot have machines creating value in only one cycle, we can worry about if the commodities can be exchanged later. Just assume that they are

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We just use machines to yield higher output.
The value doesn't change, just the amount of supply, which aren't the same thing at all.

also full automation is way farther into the future than you think. machines won't be fully automated until they no longer require humans to operate. if we ever reach that point we will most likely be disposed of, which is why I don't think we will ever let it reach that point.

How do you extract surplus value out of a robut?

You'd think wrong.

Exterminism is the most probable outcome right now.

Thats the thing, why cant that happen?

Because there is no such thing as "automation". Machines do not create value, instead, they merely multiply the efficiency with which human labor produces value.

This will not change until "general" or "strong" AI is invented, and the human brain is successfully reverse-engineered. Decades of AI research have failed to make any significant algorithmic progress in this field whatsoever, with nearly all gains in AI since the 1970s coming from faster processors and larger storage.

Merely increasing efficiency, of course, can't reduce demand, because the lower prices it causes always create sufficient demand to cancel out the excess productive capacity it frees up. This is known as Jevons' Paradox, and dates back to the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.

This is a hypothetical situation, don't worry about whether it can happen or is even possible. Just answer the question at hand.

Which is why only human labour can create. value. What is the fundamental property that human labour has that makes it value-constituting. Why can't a completely automated production cycle create 'value'.

The practical reality is crucial to answering this question.

Machines, as they currently exist, can not create value because all of them require some (perhaps quite small in some cases) input of human labor in order to function.

Theoretical strong/general AI, on the other hand, would be capable of operating without human intervention, and as such would create value just like people do now.

So they would create value in this case then?
Hmm interesting..

The implication of this is that Capitalism is never ending, if this was true then increased automation would result in increased rates of profit..but this isn't the case…


Capitalism's decreasing rate of profit has nothing to do with how much the economy grows, it is a problem internal and specific to the functioning of capitalism. The inability of machines to create value until a major breakthrough in AI would still be the case even under communism.

Value doesn't exist in communism, or did you not know this?

Communism abolishes property relations which ends the existence of isolated producers producing for exchange, hence ending the very basis out of which value springs forth in the first place.

Communism abolishes the commodity form, but it does not abolish value itself.

The commodity form is what has value, and what ultimately also ends up commodifying labor. There is no such thing as the commodity form, value and its expression price either under communism.

I'm sorry, what?

But ONLY in the purely hypothetical case that no humans (inc. maintenance, programming or operation) are needed AT ALL. Currently, even the most advance systems of AI and machinery or even what we can envision in the future cannot function without at least the oversight of at least one human - thus creating no value.

Ok…but WHY is this the case? I've already accepted the premise, can you show why this is the case.

Even FULLY AUTOMATED LUXURIOUS machines will not create value. Just a person who created them would have created infinite value. Practice, labour, by Marxist definition, requires consciousness.

"Value" in Marxism's LTV is labor (physical work) done by people. (Roughly speaking)

The machine doing things was created by a person- any value created is attributed to the person who created the machine because without the original person's labor there'd be no machine to do things
Machines multiply the output but if they increase the efficiency the SNLT lowers thereby reducing the value imbued in a particular commodity

Let's put attribution to one side, you're still saying in this case that this machine is creating value, in a situation where machines are creating other machines, then what is creating value?

This is just an ephemeral concept then, irrelevant If we are to say that a category is created only by a human and nothing else we must show WHY. WHAT MAGIC DOES THE HUMAN PALM HAVE THAT CREATES VALUE?

It's simply because humans are the only ones being paid a wage. Human labor power creates more than it's being paid.

The robot is not paid at all, so how is this relevant? value is created because a wage exists? So if the robot was also paid a wage, would it create value then?

Because value is the socially necessary labor time. no additional labor time means no additional value

Explain in some more detail please

Does this mean that robots would make commodities in infinitesimally small amounts of time?

Machines do not add extra value, they merely transfer the dead labor inside the machine onto a commodity while the machine is being used up.

Yes, if the capitalist does not have to buy the robot.

Do slaves create value?

This guy is not OP

Who created the original machine? A person, because machines necessarily require at least one human input to begin with, even if that was ONLY creation (which isn't possible by the way)
It always (and always will) go back to at least one person, and the value is attributed to that person
Consider machines to be tools. A pickaxe makes the job of mining ores easier than punching mountains until you find ore, but the pickaxe itself can't mine ores without human input
A machine (let's say it's a cloth sewing machine to make shirts) makes the job of sewing shirts faster, but can't sew shirts without somewhere along the line, human input, because the human needs to either create the machine (in some capacity, there are no machines that existed without human creation) or input materials or commands, etc.

Ok then if a machine made that machine, then we have like a long chain of nested labour from time immemorial? Wtf is this?

This just sounds like hand waving, do you have something airtight?

Imagine a smart AI that can continuously design and construct new technological systems. This AI can communicate robots to do tasks, these robots create new robots etc

Is the reason why this is not considered able to create value or 'living labour' because it is not sentient, because it is not able to do something OTHER than the production tasks that it is tasked with?

Is labour value creating because it can universally make all other commodites like: shoes, tables, TV's, breads etc and is not only in a specialized category?

Where did the smart AI come from? If it arose through evolution, hypothetically speaking of course, like human intelligence did, I'd argue it's no longer artificial nor machine, but that's getting a llittle off track.
To answer your other questions: yes and yes, the machines doing things can only do what they've been tasked to do, and a task is sent by a human. Labor is value creating because a plot of land won't become a loaf of bread, it requires things to be done

When we get to the point that we can produce a product from start to finish (from gathering raw materials from nature to distributing the goods to people) without humans laboring to make it happen, only then will machines be creating value. As long as there is at least one human in the chain, that product depends on human labor and its value is a product of that. But really not even that is true, because those machines, or the machines that made them, or the machines that made them (ad infinitum) were made by humans. So what's actually happening is the dead labor that was used to make some machines in the past is really what's producing the value. Basically the only way to reach a point where humans are no longer necessary is if we hit the mythical singularity and the stuff we've made can self-replicate, self-maintain, and do it job without us doing anything. But even then, the labor that went into building those machines (and the labor that went into building the tools to build those machines, the labor that went into the products that sustained the workers who built those machines, etc.) has been invested into a machine that can multiply that value infinitely. All of it is traceable back to human labor (and some animal labor too). All of it is built on what came before.

According to autonomous marxists, the reason human labor creates value is because it is in itself a product of hundreds of thousands of hours of unpaid reproductive nurturing labor. When you create a robot, you have to pay for the labor creating it from the beginning to the end. So maybe a fully automated production process can maintain a circle of value maintenance, but it cannot create surplus value which is the basis of capitalist growth (M-C-M')

Basically, because the human is an economic agent themselves that buys and sells on the market, has a legal right to do so, and in theory is supposed to be on equal terms with the capitalist according to the rules of liberal society. Slaves are legally property and serfs are legally attached to a parcel of land - you can only extract surplus-labor from them, but not surplus-value. Labor being understood as a fundamentally human activity to affect the world around them, anything that's not a human doesn't perform "labor" in a sense that is meaningful for Marx's definition.

The reason why free labor is relevant here is because, like I said, the free laborer is an economic agent. Marx goes on to show that the free laborer is not only necessarily paid less than the full value of his labor because capitalists generally like making money, but everything that must follow from that in an idealized capitalist system. Simply put, slave labor and serfdom are not particularly relevant to his use of "value" to criticize the capitalist system, but of course slaves produce surplus-labor beyond their purchase and support cost, and that can translate to more exchange-value for the owner if slaves were to toil building commodities for exchange. But that is not a particularly novel revelation. In Marx's formulae, slaves would be a capital outlay, much like a machine.

If a machine were fully automated and required no human input to do its thing once built, then it would be a capital outlay equivalent to the labor put into the machine and its parts (and the parts' parts, etc., until you reach a point where it's only raw human labor and stuff extracted from nature). If you have a hypothetical machine or commodity that exists in nature, then for all intents and purposes its' value is completely free. (Price is another story because of scarcity, supply and demand, and the inability to freely reproduce.) For example, let's say there is a village situated next to a forest where berries naturally grow, and the number of berries is at least enough to meet demand for that village, and the forest re-grows berries at a rate that ensures demand will always be met - would it make any sense to attach value to something that is freely available and that anyone can pick up on their own? Or another example, air is basically superabundant and not many people are buying breathable air.

The concept of exchange-value in capitalism is not something that is natural across time and space and inherent to the universe. We only have exchange-value insofar as we have people exchanging goods with each other and desiring to obtain like value for like or better, presumably on some sort of open market (which is an institution dependent on certain laws and/or customs that everyone is going to participate in a similar manner; not that some merchants or buyers aren't going to screw the people they're going to exchange with, but if ripping off customers or stealing from merchants were normal behavior, the market as a structure would collapse). If, however, you have two tribes of humans who will never engage in exchange of that sort, but will just take by force from each other, the whole idea of "value" breaks down between the two tribes - one tribe conquers the other and takes all of their stuff, and all of the stuff taken is just as if it were extracted from nature (not counting the effort expended in conquering the other tribe). This sort of thing is exactly how capitalism as a system gets started, by closing off the commons and creating poor laws so that the proletariat are forced to work for capitalists or else, and then through colonialism where native populations are subjugated and/or exterminated rather than treated as equals.

In short - "value" as Marx understands it is a very specific construct and should not be confused with price or use-value. His point in describing value is to describe the laws of motion of the capitalist system, so that he can derive predictions which should be testable against empirical data. (Trying to isolate "value" itself is very excellent, we can't really gauge value of a particular commodity by looking at data, but we can see from data how prices tend to hover around an equilibrium. Also, fiat money kind of fucks things up big time, and Marx doesn't really talk about the kind of fiat economy the US has had since the 1970s as far as I know.) But, basically, if you have a machine that requires minimal human input to build and operate, it follows that the price of commodities from that machine should be close to free at a basic level, and that only resource scarcity in the face of large demand would drive up the final price.

Late Middle Ages, manufacturing period.

A human is just a biological machine, there is nothing special about it at all from the capitalist's point of view. Whether the machine that does work is biological or mechanical is completely immaterial, and in my view proves Marx's labor theory of value to be dead wrong.

Y'all gonna be spouting off about an outdated economic theory based on Adam Smith in 1776, meanwhile the entire workforce is going to be replaced by AI and machines and capitalism is gonna do just fine.

Marx is great you just have to ditch the outdated stuff and bring him into the 21st century.

edit: should clarify in paragraph 2 - the laborer is not paid the full PRODUCT of their labor-power, not necessarily the value of their labor (the value of labor is, simply put, the value needed to sustain the laborer, or collectively among capitalists, the value required to sustain the labor pool).

How do you differentiate between a human biological machine and non-biological machines? What is special about the human biological machine that makes is uniquely qualified to create value in the Marxian sense?

But the free human is an economic agent, unlike say a slave. In order to buy into the labor theory of value, you have to start with that assumption that, at least as far as they are independent economic agents and seek value for themselves, humans are equal.

Marx does not deny in any way that a human being's labor is simply a manifestation of nature, in other words, nothing different from a machine.

Marx also predicted the tendency towards automation pretty well, considering his time. Now, I leave it to you to figure out what happens when the consumer base that buys you commodities can no longer afford to buy shit, and figure out what happens when the credit runs out. Right now, the only way Burgerlanders are staying afloat is from whatever inherited wealth they can scrape together (if they're lucky, like me), and by massive private debt spending. I assume it's much the same in all the first world (and they've even brought credit schemes to the third world and used some pretty underhanded tactics to get third-world men and women hooked into the credit system).

Marx does have a lot of failings, but his critique of capitalism stands up in my opinion (since I actually took the time to read Capital). The biggest thing that needs fixing is that we need a non-ideological understanding of MMT and the huge amount of debt that people are taking on just to keep the Burger Imperium from going to total shit.

Of course, no matter how bad things get for us, Porky's got themselves covered.

I'm not too sure about that, the proportion of the "economy" made up of exotic financial flimflam like derivitives and stocks is reaching record levels. Of course, porky still has lots of more durable assets in gross, but the chances of a robber porky's entire net fortune being swamped when most of their balance vanishes in a puff of smoke is very high today.

But workers are wage slaves, not free economic agents - isn't that kind of the point of marxist analysis? I don't see any difference from the point of view of capital whether it hires a worker to flip burgers for $8 an hour when $16 of value are produced, or whether it purchases a robot whose maintenance works out to $8 an hour and it still produces $16 of value. Well let's say the maintenance works out to $6 an hour and that's why the human is replaced with the machine. In any case, value is being produced. As robots become more sophisticated, there will be increasingly little difference between a human and a robot. If there is a difference, it'll be that the human worker has to go home at the end of the day, whereas the robot can be made to work 24/7 without breaks.

Yeah it'll be fucked once there are no consumers left to buy anything, but capitalism isn't known for its foresight. I think the collapse of capitalism is more likely to happen via this route than anything Marx predicted.

As I said in above post, humans are special because they are economic agents that seek value for themselves. Take two situations:

1) A laborer works for a capitalist, receives a wage. This wage (whatever the form of compensation) is necessarily less than the product of his labor-power if the capitalist wants to make money.

2) A laborer owns his own means of production and decides to put them to use creating commodities. Whatever he produces with his tools, he owns the full value of whatever he produces, and can exchange it however he sees fit.

When working for a capitalist, the laborer is entering an exchange - the laborer trades his ability to work and so much labor-time for so much money. This is different from a machine, animal, or slave, where there is no exchange because the machine or animal have no concept of ownership, and even if they did they can't participate in human markets. The slave, in theory, might be allowed to retain some money for themselves and exchange on markets, and insofar as they earn a wage they are just like any other human - but in practice, most systems of slavery forbid the slave to participate as an equal economic agent, for reasons that are fairly obvious.

Anyway, getting back to my two examples - while in theory a laborer could own his own MoP, in practice economies of scale would mean that if he did, he would need to employ people to work for him, just like the capitalist, if order to maximize his profits and compete with the capitalist firms. Now, there is no rule that capitalists and shareholders can't join their workers on the production line or do something actually useful, but generally capitalists want to enjoy their wealth and would rather do nothing but extract surplus-value from their workers.

Thank you for the replies, very insightful.
I think the most important thing to note is the lack of the leftcom flag in explaining this topic but I digress.

When I was doing some research before I came across two interesting documents.

First Marx's Grundrisse 'Fragment on machines' which discusses that value in a fully automated society will become something called 'the general intellect'

Secondly here is P. Cockshott's Article on this topic aswell.eprints.gla.ac.uk/115039/7/115039.pdf

Right you are, that in practice capitalist workers are wage slaves rather than free persons. But the theory and social relations between people presuppose that all people who have the legal right to work at a job are equal, and that's the illusion Porky holds out for the worker, that, if they work hard, they too can enjoy the fruits of capitalism.

The problem isn't from the point of view of the capitalist or even the individual worker, it's between Capital itself and humanity.

Something with exchange-value is being produced, yes, but the machine doesn't create SURPLUS-value by itself. The surplus value essentially comes from the screwing-over of the worker, who is themselves an economic agent. Machines are not economic agents and by definition they can't be screwed out of value the way a human laborer can.
The value added by the machine is just the value added by constant capital, which Marx outlines in Capital quite thoroughly (machines transfer a part of their value (and they have value by being products of human labor, at some point in their history) to the end product over their lifetime, basically).

I acknowledge that this is a difference between a human worker and a machine worker (slave). But how is it a relevant difference? Isn't a slave preferable to the capitalist, since it produces more value and doesn't have to be compensated as much? I think that capitalists would prefer a machine slave economy to one with human "economic agents," who demand pesky things like "free time" and have to be disciplined because they are "lazy." In my view, not only are machines capable of producing value just like humans, but actually tend to produce more value - that's why capitalists prefer them and human workers are being replaced by robots.

In terms of the means of production, robot workers will become the main means of production. They are both capital and worker. The key question will be who has control of them, the people or the capitalists?

On the topic of fiat money, I found this
He basically talks about fiat money being a representation of gold backed currency.

Okay sure, let's take Capital versus humanity. What need does capital have for humanity? It doesn't screw over workers because it has a particular grudge against them, Capital obeys its own logic of indefinite expansion. And it will use any available means to do so. Up until now, the work of human economic agents has proven indispensible to it. It had to squeeze value out of them in order to fulfill its purpose of maximizing profits. But now there is another option, artificial intelligence and robots, and the worker is fast becoming irrelevant to Capital. It's a lot of effort to screw over workers to get that Surplus value. Better to have a constant stream of value creation by a robot worker that doesn't talk back and doesn't shirk its duties.

In short, the relation between Capital and humanity is about to end. Capital never obeyed the logic of humanity and is about to leave us in the dust.

Slaves and machines cost money to maintain, while a free laborer is paid the cost of their maintenance and left to their own devices to maintain (or not maintain) themselves.

I think we're quite a ways away from eliminating human labor entirely, and it might be impossible (or at least cheaper to make humans do the work) given realistic limits on resources and the abilities of AI to respond to what humans want to get out of the machines.

Of course there's also the possibility that Porky reinstates outright chattel slavery anyway and makes the whole machine/human dichotomy moot.

The capitalists will, if no one does anything to stop them.

Free labors have to be paid extra to do that self-maintenance, whereas machines have no requirement to eat and feed their families and they don't get sick either. Literally the only reason Capital has resorted to inefficient and messy humans to do its work is because up until now it was technically impossible for it be done by a machine. Once it is technically possible, the machine wins hands down against the worker from the point of view of capital.

I bet horses thought there's no way they could be replaced by cars in 1912, but they were. I would not underestimate technology. The technology of self-driving cars alone could replace the 3.5 million truck drivers in the US tomorrow. Or near enough. I don't think that we can assume any kind of labor is safe from takeover.

Huh, interesting. Probably too much of a brainlet to understand it

Not sure what to make of it entirely. The US ended the gold standard because the French were demanding their gold, and I don't think there was a conscious effort to suppress the expression of value in commodities exactly (though that was an effect, and could have been predicted if the people responsible were practicing classical economics - but that would assume they know that neoclassical economics is total bullshit, which may or may not be true and the planners have been fooling us with a dual system of economics this whole time).

Well, if you take it as an article of faith that ALL human labor, or at least the vast majority of it, is replaced by machines, what do you think happens to capitalism? What do you think happens to prices in the market? At that point, all you're doing is extracting raw resources from the Earth and the only limits are finite resources and pollution effects (both of which don't figure into Marx's analysis, or in capitalism's analysis). Most likely you would see the cost of everything plummet to near-nothing, but the bulk of people have nearly nothing to spend except the few humans who are still employed in technical professions to manage the AI bots, in order to make sure what they're doing is in line with human wants. Capitalism as a remotely functional system simply ceases to function and you're left with a lot of people who either have to overthrow the system or die. Even if Porky wins and the proles are slaughtered, they can no longer continue capitalism as we know it.

More likely though, you can't get away from human labor completely, and you can't get away from the need for humans to oversee AI to make sure it's putting out what needs to be put out. The remaining humans lucky enough to have a job will necessarily be more capable in order to do their jobs, and the only thing Porky can do is continue to play groups off each other to defend their fortunes. Eventually the overseers could build killbots, storm Porky's gated communities, and Porky is dead.

That DOES happen though.

Why is it strange to claim that society is built and continues to run on the labor of past generations?

I think that there will be a contradiction between capitalism's vanishing need for humans as workers and increasing need for them as consumers. This is why you're seeing Silicon Valley push the Universal Basic Income idea. Basically all humans will be classed out of the labor market, except for a small number of AI overseers like you said. But they will still be able to participate as consumers thanks to the UBI. The UBI will become absolutely critical as the one thread preventing the entire system from falling apart.

The new class system as I see will be A. Capitalists who own the robots B. an elite tech labor force to maintain the AI and C. Everyone else who has to subsist on their UBI and participates in capitalism only as consumers, not as workers.

In my mind this new class system will be totally beyond Marx and it will have new dynamics. A will exploit B, but C will actually compete to try to become B and get associated muh privileges. C becomes a horde of barbarians at the gates which capital tries to placate with the UBI, but who are discontent because they are on the outside looking in, and can only subsist on handouts.

To me this situation has a lot of revolutionary potential.

Yeah, it's completely possible the next system won't be socialism but "meritism" where the technocrats rule all and create their own system of class muh privilege over the lowly plebs. Imagine the total institution that is academia imposed upon all of society. In a way, it's already happening, although for now the technocratic class is subservient to Capital, they are definitely bitching up a storm about their muh privileges and what-not.

With all these "coding camps" and whatnot its already happening, they're trying to turn the whole education/university system into a mill to produce coders to maintain the AI. It will be a "meritocracy" in that the "lucky few" top coders will be able to enter the class of elite tech workers. Like Hunger Games. Everyone else will be without a job and will have to live in public housing, increasingly seen as a faceless mob which is corralled, cordoned off, and imprisoned like Palestinians. Academia will be the gatekeepers determining who gets into the elite class, to determine who even "gets to be" exploited. If you are not exploited then your fate is even worse.

Reminder that half of all jobs are useless and could easily be removed through rearranging the pipeline and basic automation.

The surplus value is the value of the work it does minus the costs to keep it working, just the same as it is for a human employee. The only difference is that you can't really say that surplus value is stolen from the robot.

This seems like a very arbitrary distinction.
It's like saying that a factory worker ONLY creates value if they don't need to be managed by a boss. If the boss ever needs to interact with them, that somehow means that the boss is the one creating value.
Why not just accept that if human intervention is only needed occasionally (as is the case with lights-out factories), then the machines are creating most of the value?