Dominique Routhier in the Los Angeles Review of Books:
Encouraged by the election of Joe Biden, the COVID-19 vaccine, and the so-called “major opportunity” of smart technology, commentators and investors now predict that the economy will rebound from the pandemic downturn, or even accelerate, once the “exogenous” shock caused by the coronavirus has been absorbed. But is this a plausible future scenario?
In his recent book, Smart Machines and Service Work: Automation in an Age of Stagnation, the Los Angeles–based Marxist critic Jason E. Smith makes the case that the dominant narrative of a tech-driven recovery is fundamentally out of tune with economic realities. When the economic data is properly disentangled from faulty definitions of productivity and untenable assumptions about perpetual economic growth, it becomes clear that we are not on the verge of an age of prodigious wealth creation spurred by smart machines. Rather, as the book title suggests, we are living through an age of stagnation with no reversal in sight.