The Future of Work(ers protest)

1 May. May Day. Internationally Workers’ Day.
A legendary day that represented the history of workers’ struggle for humane working conditions and equality. Parades. Banners. Music. All these were part of the May Day celebration. Nowadays is celebrated in 90 countries, but somehow the political-activist attitude vanished.
But, well, it is still a free day 😀
Obviously work and its meaning changes, only in one year during the pandemic changed a lot.
Let’s take a look at the Past and Future! How it was celebrated, how workers’ struggles were portrayed by art, but, let’s look also at what technological progress and how this is changing our jobs, and how might the Future of Work (Protests) look. The question is: Will Robots🤖 or Humans 👀 protest 🦾🖕🦾more?

-THE ORIGINS-
Even in ancient Rome, Labor was glorified. The last month of spring was named – May – in the honor of Goddess Maya, the patroness of the earth and fertility. For her, ordinary residents arranged holidays and ceremonies.
The tradition of organizing mass events to mark Labor Day quickly gained popularity.
However, with the spread of Christianity, worshiping multiple gods at the same time became unacceptable.

Image of the goddess Maya on a Greek amphora (circa 500 BC)

The holiday on May 1 has pagan roots. Once on this day, the Celtic god Beltane was worshiped, who was a symbol of the spring awakening.
The May tree personified the world axis around which the universe revolved. Jumping over the fire was a tradition for purification and happiness on this day.

HISTORY OF 1ST OF MAY
The origins of the Internationally Workers’ Day started in the mid 19 century, when the working class demanded to improve working conditions.
The key questions were related to reduce the length of the working day to 8 hours (at that time it was 15 hours) and also included questions related to child labor.

Photo source ArtBlat
The first mass demonstrations of this kind were recorded in Australia on April 21, 1856.

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Chicago became the city of May Day protests. The strike on May 1 in 1886 drew thousands of workers that complained about wages, working hours and conditions. And obviously, also it drew police resistance.

. Photo source The Nation
In memory of that strike, First of May was declared officially a holiday in Paris, at the Congress of the Second International. There a law on world status was adopted and the name was fixed – “Day of Solidarity of the Workers of the World”. According to the decree, on this day, workers had the right to go out into the streets to claim their rights.

May Day has been a focal point for demonstrations by various socialist, communist and anarchist groups. In communist countries such as China, Soviet Union or Cuba, celebrations were accompanied with workforce parades, including displays of military hardware and soldiers, but also interesting artistic banners. 

Cultural reflections.
And where there is a movement, there are the artists. Because art was always a mirror of society. Dramatic, sad, satiric/sarcastic, or funny, artists were present and reflected on changing social realities. Songs were written, movies were made, impossible to include all in a single article.

Maybe the famous song “The Internationale”, nowadays, it is more associated with Soviet-times, but actually, it was written in 1871 by Eugène Pottier (music by Pierre Degeyter in 1888) and it was a symbol for social struggles, becoming the official anthem of the labour movement in 1889. After the Russian Revolution, in October 1917, The Internationale became the revolutionary hymn of the communist and labour movements around the world. 

And our favorite movie is “Modern Times” (1936) a famous comedy film written and directed by Charlie Chaplin.

The main character struggles to survive in the modern, industrialized world. The film is a paraphrase on the desperate employment and financial conditions many people faced during the Great Depression — conditions created, in Chaplin’s view, by the efficiencies of modern industrialization. With a  lot of iconic images showing workers exploitation in that time, the film was considered controversial, Chaplin had problems due to accusations of communism propaganda – initially, the film was called “The Masses”. The famous workers-feeding experiment was designed by Chaplin himself for another movie initially – but, that machine might be still a lesson for today’s UX, right? 🙂 And interestingly, the heroine Paulette Goddard  (homeless girl) still worked for less than $ 100 a week as a chorus girl for Goldwyn Studios. 

Another interesting comedy to watch is “9 to 5” which stars Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton. And these three had to get along with the company’s autocratic, “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” boss. The film is also significant because for a long time, the very specific issues related to women’s work conditions were not present in the general “working rights” movement. (think of: harassment, flexible working hours, maternity issues) We hope you really like Dolly Parton 🙂 

Operation Y and Shurik’s Other Adventures was The Hit film in Soviet times, follows the adventures of Shurik, the naive and nerdy Soviet student who often gets into trouble. It depicts aspects of Soviet life, including working conditions, when students were supposed to get to know the life of a real worker in construction. With almost 70 million viewers, the film became shortly a fountain of quotes for Soviet and Russian culture. The movie was shot in 1965 by Leonid Gaidai. The entire movie with English subtitle can be viewed here

Roger & Me, a documentary labeled sometimes as controversial, marks the directorial debut of Michal Moore. It is a powerful and hard look at the realities faced when the GM auto plants shut down in Flint, Michigan, sending 30,000 employees to the unemployment lines and leading to rampant poverty, collapse, and crime in the city.

Future of Work and Future of Workers Protest
But, gone are the days, when workers have flighted for 8 working hours per day. Now, future generations will demand simply fewer working days. And it would even not need a demonstration. As AI and automation are here, many tasks can and will be overtaken.
So, goodbye to all the boring jobs! And welcome new jobs! But, will the future of work be all FAIR? And if not, how will the future of work protest look like?
Let’s imagine some likely or unlikely scenarios:

1.Robot Protests! 🦾🦾

A.I. promises that all boring jobs will end. That means someone, the AI, will do it. But what if people will give more and more work to robots? It is true: they don’t ask for food, money or holidays.
But what if one day, these robots will develop consciousness? And they will realize that they are exploited! Or they just want to have more fun?
So, how will the Robots Protest look like?
How a Second Internationals of Robots will be?

2.Robots Entertainer

Keeping the lines of AI, and its future possible developments, can you imagine if entertainment robots realize that they were used and abused?
Is it possible a Westworld-type of scenario – where abused robots will revolt against humans?
“If we can replicate human consciousness if it turns out to be possible to download somebody’s brain and reconstruct it on a different sub-strain, then in theory you could put it inside of a robot. One of the questions is about the ethics of doing that. I think we don’t know enough yet to say too much about that”, said Westworld’s science adviser, Stanford University neuroscientist David Eagleman (read more on MACH)
Or what if…Epstein-like-minded people use human-like robots to fulfil strange urges such as raping and killing, and after that robots taking revenge? Or simply can someone image Epstein or Hitler living forever?

3.Space Workers Union Protest

Well, it is clear! The rich Earthy people want us on Mars. New and exciting jobs will be in the Space! We have even written about Space Entertainers and Fashionistas, so Creatives are not excluded from the Space-Party!
But, wait! Elon Musk just said that many will die! And if Elon said it, it must be as such.
So, what about safety and Space workers’ rights?
Can you imagine Space workers’ rebellion? Instead of landing safely on Earth, destroying the planet and rich houses?

4.Rebellion against AI-HR

It is crystal clear. In order to get a job, AI will be deployed. After CV scanning is already automated, your hiring interview might be with a nice robot. Who already scanned all your social media profiles. 😀
Your skills testing will be in VR, and you get all scores. Add the genetics metrics- as it might be added in the future for recruitment.
Moreover, the lieutenants for AI-HR managers might be all the wearable devices that track how healthy you are (did you do the jogging, yoga, etc.?) Do you use cars or you walk?
These wearables might provide the rightful information to AI-HR. So, with all these systems put in place to measure you all the time, it might be possible that people don’t get the chance to progress? Remember the glorious days: you don’t have the skills, or knowledge, or experience. But, resembling Zuckerberg might just get you an investment
Well, AI might have biases, but these biases might be different in the future. About AI and Biases, you can read discussions from the latest MIT conference.
So, will people revolt against AI-HRs?

5.Ethicists Unions

Science and technology progress, but so does minds that keep an eye on all these and challenge them.
Now, they are fighting alone, but in time unions of ethicists might be needed. And it all started.
Do we need to remind Google, and its beautiful friendship with AI ethicists? Margaret Mitchell and Timnit Gebru, co-leads of the ethical AI team, have both been terminated.
We predict that this is just the beginning. More ethicists will follow. And not just in AI. Also in genetic engineering, and other science fields. Unions will be built to protest!


So, these are just our predictions, how the workers’ movement might change!
New jobs will have their own battlefield and the new-power structures will find ways…to maximize profits.
Undoubtedly the new movements will need other symbols for rights! And artists will start telling other stories, create new songs, and new symbols. Just wondering: if the eternal leftist symbol, the statue of Lenin, might be left out from this new-story or will find a way back?

But, if you, dear reader, have any other visions about the future of…workers’ rebellions, let us know!
In case you are an artist and have artwork on this topic (2D, 3D, immersive, photo, or video) you can send it to us – we might just publish it in a future post!