LudditesFebruary 3, 2023
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Capitalism aims to convert ambition to success. Its alchemy of incentives fosters a relentless pursuit of economic opportunity from things we crave: food, shelter, bigger iPhones, desirable mates. Our hunger for wealth and love drives us to work and create — capitalism’s genius is finding new avenues for that drive.
The philosopher’s stone of capitalism is technological innovation. It’s no accident capitalism flourished and spread across the globe contemporaneously with the adoption of new technologies in production, transport, and information. Each technological advance unlocks more space for ambition — new goods, better ideas, richer experiences. And that economic expansion creates more opportunities for ambition. More wealth, more innovation … more jobs. Wash, rinse, repeat.
We relearn this lesson with every technological breakthrough. The latest is artificial intelligence, and in particular, the spectral chatbot ChatGPT. The media’s verdict on AI is already in: “We are about to lose a shit ton of jobs.” Those headlines likely inspired more clicks than “2023 Begins With Unemployment at a 50-Year Low” would have. The latter is true.
They should have interviewed William Lee. In 1589, Lee invented the stocking frame knitting machine, a device that could do the work of several workers. Queen Elizabeth I dismissed his innovation: “I have too much love for my poor people who obtain their bread by the employment of knitting to give my money to forward an invention that will tend to their ruin by depriving them of employment and thus making them beggars.” Despite the Queen’s disapproval, Lee’s design led to the mechanization of textiles, and that led to the organized attacks on textile factories by a secret society of weavers called the Luddites who destroyed every piece of machinery in sight. Parliament (by this point, all in on capitalism) made machine-breaking a capital offense and called in troops. At one point, there were more redcoats fighting Luddites at home than Napoleon in Spain.
The Luddites are gone, but we are still afraid of the machines. Wharton economist Jeremy Rifkin wrote a bestseller, The End of Work, that predicted we would have to radically restructure society, as robots would leave us with nothing productive to do. In 2014 half of workers in technology thought new technologies would be net job destroyers. Andrew Yang’s 2020 presidential campaign was predicated on this notion, and he can point to peer-reviewed research claiming that 47% of U.S. jobs are at risk of automation. Vinod Khosla, the founder of Sun Microsystems, predicted 80% of medical doctors’ jobs would disappear by 2030 due to advances in AI.
What happened? A: America has more physicians than ever before, and unemployment is near an all-time low. Even if we get an AI MD, 500 years of experience tells us there will be more jobs in health care, not fewer.
It’s not intuitive — a function of our species’ innate inability to think long term. But the reality is that disruptive technologies cause employment instability for only short periods. The market crisply reorganizes itself around the innovation, and job growth increases from there. Countless empirical studies have proven this.
A technology is introduced — say, the car — and an existing sector is made irrelevant overnight (e.g., horse and carriage). In the short term, we’re fixated on how many horses will be out of a job. Harder to imagine, however, is how many jobs the car will create — as well as the different kinds of jobs it will create. It’s hard to envision radios, turn-signal lights, motion sensors, and heated seats. Let alone NASCAR, The Italian Job, and the drive-through window. In other words, disruptive technology results in demand for things we never knew we wanted.
In 1850 farming made up 3 in 5 U.S. jobs. By 1970 that number was less than 1 in 20. From tractors to pesticides to preservatives, technological innovation was the creative destroyer that eliminated most jobs in America. But the void was filled by … everything else. Entire sectors were created that employed tens of millions of Americans.
It’s Like Déjà Vu All Over Again
Here we are again. ChatGPT is impressive, no doubt. “Tell me the origin story of the knitting machine.” Done. “Write a blogpost about AI in the style of Scott Galloway.” Easy. ChatGPT’s peers can also handle many other types of tasks — from digital artwork to software engineering. Together, they will likely render millions of jobs irrelevant. Why hire an artist/copywriter/coder/lawyer when you can license an AI bot for cents on the dollar?
For many companies, the process has already begun. Last week, Buzzfeed announced it would start using ChatGPT to produce content — the stock more than doubled on the news. Meta, Canva, and Shopify are leveraging the technology for their own processes. Microsoft’s bet on ChatGPT is the most significant: $10 billion.
The anxiety for the past couple decades has been over robots and automation. And it’s true that many routine, low-skilled jobs were automated away. What’s also true is that new jobs, again, filled the void. One study found that between 1999 and 2016, automated technology created roughly 23 million jobs in Europe — that’s half the increase in employment during that period. McKinsey estimates that future advances in automation will kill a third of American jobs, and that it will create more than it kills. Specifically: tech jobs, care-worker jobs, building jobs, education jobs, management jobs, and creative jobs. Net-net, technology expands employment.
Disruptive technology has externalities, including short-term pain for workers on the wrong side of the innovation. During the industrial revolution real wages stagnated for decades while productivity soared. This put many out of work for years, and the civil unrest that followed was understandable. Eventually wage growth caught up, but the interim was not easy. History also teaches us that America has been terrible at acknowledging the pain and allocating some of the gains from increased productivity to worker retraining and support for those affected during the transition.
We can walk and chew gum at the same time — push for technological innovation and aid the people it affects. That means generating stability (i.e. employment) in the short term while the job market recalibrates. The Ancient Greeks understood this: To offset technological unemployment (from rotary mills, gears, water clocks, etc.), Pericles started a government-funded public works program that commissioned many architectural and cultural projects and employed thousands. It also resulted in several masterpieces, including the Parthenon.
We don’t need to build temples, but we can put public money to good use: roads, infrastructure, sustainability projects, etc. I say we start with demolishing, and rebuilding, LAX and Miami International. But I digress. Jeremy Rifkin overestimated the scale of automation’s job destruction, but he wasn’t wrong about its intensity, and some of his ideas, along with those proposed more recently by Andrew Yang, merit attention. The long-term economic gains we’re bound to realize from transformative technologies (including the car, telephone, internet, and AI) should offset short-term investments in social programs and training that offer a bridge. The ROI here is not only a function of maintaining a worker’s productivity, but reducing the costs and despair that can sink a household when a family member not only loses their job, but their sense of purpose. We know technology will continue to bring prosperity. The bigger question is will it bring progress.
Life is so rich,
P.S. Want to see me lecture about TikTok live? Join the Brand Strategy Sprint starting on February 13. Enrollment closes next Tuesday.
Till now all innovations were commodifying part of the market which also affected part of the market? Now the implementation of AI can potentially transform/commodify all markets. The reason why is that AI is commodifying thinking which was the monopole which humans had. It was the brains monopoly. Now monopoly is lost and we might need to compete one day 😅
What about the pace of technological advancement? Are we not seeing these disruptions happening faster and faster? If these cycles of disruption, instability, and recovery require time — what happens when the next disruption happens before we’ve had time to recover? AI seems to be a force that will accelerate this pace of disruption. Or do we see this as a linear progression of the 7 previous disrupting technologies Scott outlined in that first graph?
Something I’ve wondered about the ChatGPT and other AI-based creators that scrape info from the internet to train their algorithms is will there be a self-referential feedback loop created when more and more internet content is created by them and fed back into the algorithm? Will we get an echo chamber of AI referring to AI generated content? I’d like to see a way for the consumers of the content to provide feedback on what the AI tools generate. For example, is there a way to tell ChatGPT that a statement it provided is not true? Or the way it phrased a sentence is poor or out of context?
Hmm. Job destruction, finding a new job, losing income and wealth in the process, perhaps status .. these are not short-term pains. These are LIFETIME dislocations. Many workers do not have the skills or the location to transition easily. In addition, since technology has been concentrating wealth in fewer hands, the future of work and social stability looks more uncertain. But privileged white men, like the author, have very different perspectives that amplify benefits and discount pains. For them, it is easy to call out dissenters as Luddites. This article is disappointingly narrow in its analysis.
Hmmmmm. Before the machines, people were already working hard and not getting paid too much. After the machines came, lots of knitters were fired and the rest worked even harder for even less money. More of the money went to the owners of the machines. The Luddites were not against the machines, they were against how the profits were used after the machines came: almost entirely to the not-working owner, instead of making life better for the workers.
Transition costs to new jobs are high. Also, for some older persons it might be too late to learn a new job. For learning new jobs, a good education system would be needed – do you think the US has one? Also, finding and getting education takes time – but what if you got kids to feed etc? Do you offer an income while taking education or should all workers take up loans so afterwards they work for paying loans?
I agree with all of this except you too easily wish away the transition costs for those affected. In today’s economy its highly unlikely that those most affected by innovation’s costs can easily adapt to building roads, infrastructure and sustainability projects. Its not the same universe of people so we need to think much harder about how to assuage the costs of transition.
I would like to see AI reduce the layers of mid–and upper-level corporate management, as much as it does the rank-and-file, as I believe in most companies these entrenched, highly compensated implementers and “thought leaders” tend to be inefficient, short-sighted, and the least humane. All social classes will suffer short-term as AI is implemented, and the top brass, thriving in a bureaucracy, should bear its share of the burden, rather than sit back and reap the rewards greater productivity promises. In other words, increase opportunities from the bottom up, and society is more apt to embrace the change.
I’m quite surprised at the opposition to the basic tenets of Prof G’s argument here, which to me are self-evident. First, the creative destruction of technological innovation is an inevitable feature of a capitalist system. Second, though that process is not painless, it provides a net positive benefit to both standards of living and employment. And third, we must therefore not fear these innovations, but embrace them and do our best to provide the necessary support to workers displaced (which admittedly we too often fail at.)
Can you really argue with any of this? It’s not clear to me what the nay-sayers would propose in its place. This process is inarguably the reason we enjoy such a high standard of living today, and yet some would propose freezing it. (And how would we even do that? Who would choose which innovations are allowed, when and how they would be deployed, etc.? Centuries of experience prove that controlled economies simply don’t work.)
The “this time is different” argument is also completely unpersuasive, for exactly the reasons Prof lays out. It’s always hard to imagine what will crop up in place of dying/shrinking industries, but the idea that NOTHING will crop up — for the first time in human history — is foolishness.
You need to read (Scott, too, apparently), David Graeber on B***S*** Jobs. Look at the 1910 to 2015 bar chart — see all those spikes? BS Jobs! Professionals? the result of successful guilds. Doctors? Buried in paperwork and insurance reports! Jobs now have no future, no benefits, and employers no longer invest in their employees because the overall orientation has shifted, and the tasks themselves have been deskilled.
This interactive graphic charts the AI threat to occupations and ties to credentials for those jobs.
Only SOME degreed occupations dodge the bullet.
Just as an aside, the Luddites realised (correctly as it turns out) that the mechanisation of the weaving industry would lead to an increase in child labour, and therefore child deaths and injuries. That is what they were protesting.
Automation in the long run may be connected to greater job creation. The question is, who gets the new jobs and who loses their old jobs to automation? The risk is that many new jobs created in the wake of automation are lower-paying or lower-benefit jobs. Or, if many of the newer jobs created from a wave of automation are higher-paying, do those opportunities disproportionately accrue to the upper classes — those who are already well-off — as opposed to a situation where the new opportunities feed upward economic mobility for those in the middle/working class. The former scenario might raise overall GDP and productivity while magnifying economic inequalities and emphasizing the winner-take-all nature of our modern economy.
Don’t demolish just LAX and Miami Intl and rebuild them. Do that to every single international airport in the US – JFK, Logan, Sea-Tac, SFO, DFW, IAH, …
Ideally, privatize all of them and hand them over to the firms (like GMR, and even Adani Ports (!!)) that run sleek, gleaming, modern-looking airports like Changi, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, etc.
Most US airports are drab, unpleasant and unattractive – and some also smell. You can’t wait to transit through one soon enough, unlike the newer airports in Asia, where lingering is not a painful chore and can even be delightful.
One thing appears clear. The training industry will continue to boom. What needs to be trained will change with time, but there will always be a big pool of people needing training in some new development or the other.
Your post is about tech innovation and job loss/creation. I get that. However, the glowing intro about capitalism side-steps the thing that capitalists always side-step — capitalism doesn’t account for the “things” it takes from the environment nor the “things” its processes produce; waste, unvalued outputs and outdated people/stuff. This is the great blindness of capitalism and it has us at the brink of nature. I’d also say you underplay the urgency — and morality — of safety nets during periods of transformative change. At least you acknowledge them, though; many who swing to the right do not. Cool analysis, Mr. G.
The unemployment rate masks something few are willing to discuss at length: the Labor Participation Rate. At the turn of the century, 67% of adults 24-54 were working. Now that’s 62%. Why are people dropping out and doing so during a time of labor shortages?
Professor G. I feel lkke you just took the money from your Adrift book, crumpled up the book and walked away counting your money.
Sure feels like it. This article basically ignores the most obvious discussion point: why destroy these job sectors? Sure it’s going to make company owners and shareholders and CEOs even richer and further drive up the wealth gap. And yes the article points out that EVENTUALLY humans find new jobs… And while the article proposes we spend public money on helping those displaced… We do not. And it doesn’t seem likely to happen.
When we eliminated factory and farming jobs with automation, there was still the net positive of (forcing) people to find other jobs that were typically less back breaking and dangerous. But now we’re eliminating jobs just to make the rich richer. These technologies are not used for the good of human develop but for the good of making the rich richer. 500 years of progress data does not mean we must continue to blindly employ technology for the sake of it. We don’t need to charge ahead because we can. We need to start picking and choosing where we SHOULD and WHY. It’s very funny to me that the person that brought Adrift into being, champions the dangers of social media on youth, and the displacement and depression in young men would so happily side with big tech. The more job sectors AI destroys the more those phenomenon will expand. And thanks to the speed of AI, that damage will also spread faster than it can be contained. Seems very at odds and hypocritical given the typical causes he champions. This post is going to make me stop and think about following or supporting him in the future. I’m very disappointed currently.
“McKinsey estimates that future advances in automation will kill a third of American jobs, and that it will create more than it kills. Specifically: tech jobs, care-worker jobs, building jobs, education jobs, management jobs, and creative jobs. Net-net, technology expands employment.”
This statement is so much double speak, what does it mean?
It’ll create those kind of jobs or kill them? Or is the answer yes?
I recently read: “Almost half of all young adults aged 18 to 29 are living with their parents — the highest level since 1940 — according to U.S. Census Bureau data.” Young adults cannot afford to move out on their own (not Covid hangover; “The Rent is Too Damn High”… So hath innovative tech doth recreated the “multigenerational” home ?? What is really happening in the US job market — how many “services” can a consumer consume?
All this is so right. But your last point deserves a second article on the unintended consequences of these technology leaps. Cars, eh? Polution, Climate change, Robert Moses and the destruction of neighborhoods… Of course, new technology will come along to help with that, no doubt. Not saying that therefore cars were/are a bad idea, and your point is only that technology is a net creator of jobs, not a net destroyer. BUT no technological advance produces only net benefits, as you acknowledge.
As I understand it, chatgpt distills information available to it to create a composite response. Can it create something entirely new or are we trapped in the present while using it?
I really like the last sentence of this, whether it brings progress or not is really key. While employment will grow, and the economy too, one can look at the first graph another way, showing all the new technology and the stagnating real wages of the 90%, exploding rates of depression etc.
Only other comment is that, for those interested, it’s worth looking at world history rather than western history. Technology allowed Britain and other European countries to hollow out the skills of much of Africa and Asia (India saw a collapse in it’s number of weavers from the invention of the cotton gin, and ended up importing fabric from the UK but exporting raw cotton) which left them suffering economically for centuries as they enter a negative cycle of tech reducing demand for labour, which reduces the cost of labour, which means it’s rarely cost effective to adopt leading-edge technology, which means they rarely invent leading-edge technology etc. Just means the Luddites weren’t 100% wrong, and also technology is great as long as you’re leading in it’s design and adoption versus others…
Great read as always Scott 👍👍
Interesting times ahead. Rapid job elimination by AI that will not directly create as many new jobs, the way many older tech revolutions did.
Balanced in the US by re-shoring manufacturing, except probably with heavy automation? Maybe balanced in Europe and Asia by rapidly declining workforces? In an environment of global energy and food insecurity and transition. What could go wrong?
You use a good example of the car replacing the horse and cart. The cart drivers became car drivers and millions of new jobs were developed in the car industry.
But I see humans as like the horse when compared to AI. Humans are animals – they get tired, make irrational decisions, learn independently and not as a collective. They’re physical and slow and repeat the same mistakes. It won’t be one car for each horse, it will be one AI for all horses. There won’t be AI mechanics and AI showrooms. One AI will be managed by a team of engineers and owned by a group of investors. OpenAI has 500 employees on LinkedIn, yet look at the impact it’s already had globally. 500 people is barely an apartment block in a small city.
I’m not convinced how well this will play out for knowledge workers in the next 30 years.
That is an AMAZING analogy and spot on. We are the horse. Not the driver. And to add to that, ultimately only the owner of the cab company truly benefits.
Replace knitting machine operator with coal miner and ChatGPT with solar installer or wind turbine technician. You get my point…
Those are VERY different jobs. Nobody will pay them to learn and many will be afraid of heights or too weak tk do.the job.
Kudos! This was great. You keep getting better.
I think this is one of Scott’s more controversial articles because it touches on what it means to be human. Working a job you hate just so you can live is depressing and more common. It seems like the scene from the “5th Element” where Zorg fires a million workers just to keep the economy stable is now a reality. It seems like many people have jobs because the rich corporations want to keep the economy stable, not because they actually need the workers. The complicated systems we’ve created are easy to break and there is no one more dangerous than someone with nothing to lose. It’s better for corporations to throw away a little money hiring people for useless jobs than risk people realizing that their life is crap and getting enraged.
Some numbers to ponder from the BLS…In 1990 we had (annualized) 21,281,000 goods producing jobs and 84,202,000 service providing jobs. So, in 1990 we had 3.6 service providing jobs for every goods producing job.
In December of 2022 we had 21,281,000 goods producing jobs and
133,490,000 service providing jobs. So in December of 2022 we had 6.27 service providing jobs for every goods producing job.
From 1990 to 2022 the ratio of service providing jobs to goods producing jobs has jumped from 3.6 to 6.27.
Now let’s look at wage data from the St. Louis Fed – Right now goods producing jobs pay $1,336 a week while service providing jobs pay $1,108 a week. Go service go!!!
And then – 2022 GDP was about $25.5T. Let’s say our economy is 70% services and 30% goods production. I think that’s about right. If so, the 70% services workers contribute $17.85T to economy while the 30% goods producers contribute $7.65T to economy. That means each service job contributes about $133K and each goods production contributes $349K to GDP.
Of course GDP went up over the 1990 to 2022 period but then, go over to the St. Louis Fed data and notice that in 1990 total federal debt to GDP was about 56% and today it is about 120%.
Is this how globalization and technology created more jobs? Seems we may have created more jobs but they created much less economic value and now look at our debt.
Not bothered to think about this myself so here’s ChatAI:
The integration of AI in the workforce raises concerns about labor rights. To defend labor from AI, steps must be taken to address its impact on workers’ rights. This includes retraining programs, legal frameworks to protect workers from exploitation, and employer accountability. Governments and employers must work together to ensure workers are not negatively impacted by AI and that their rights are upheld. The rights of workers should be considered from the outset of AI implementation and their voices should be heard in the decision-making process.
Great article, Scott. What would be interesting is to substitute “ChatGPT” for “urban office building”. Will we ever exceed 75% occupancy in urban office again? What will come from the WFH phenomenon? Or will a recession flip the dynamic back to pre COVID.
As an Australian, please start with a new LAX!!
I asked ChatGPT to give me an account of dark matter in 500 words at our weekly family dinner on Wednesday night…it was rather impressive!
We then discussed what it might mean for my 4 children all in their 20s with diverse skills, my academic lawyer wife and myself as a surgeon!
A very prescient but perhaps not so reassuring (for the kids) essay Prof!
Australia has been poor at supporting such transitions….and many very useful skills have been lost in these processes….one of my most interesting patients is a 75yo fitter and turner and key figure in Australia’s Steam Engine Society….
These incredible skills have been lost to other societies because they were not appropriately valued by capitalism both in Australia and the USA….
I’m not sure that a lot of the jobs that replaced them are as interesting, or as secure…..
ChatGPT will require something (a new technology) or someone (a new type of job) that easily and accurately identifies the output of a ChatGPT prompt rather than an essay from a human expert in the field.
In the not too distant future, ChatGPT will put out a statement that sounds not only plausible, but completely believable that will be utterly false because of underlying wrong assumptions. The results, of which will be very bad indeed. There will be much work to do.
It would be nice if you would adjust certain data (jobs, employed etc) to population. There were 95mm Americans in 1910. I know it reduces the impact of your oh so dramatic graphs, but please.
Spot on! So many cases to point out with America’s homeless, lawlessness and Europe’s current reality as most obvious.
TOP TOP TOP article … Bravo!
(still trying to understand what’s wrong with LAX??? lol lol)
Technology does not “destroy jobs” for the simple reason that people have to work to survive. It does, however, destroy good jobs, or at least concentrate their returns amongst a smaller and smaller group. Acting against this mega trend is the coming population decline, which will create a scarcity of labor not seen for many centuries, and hopefully a rebalancing of the capital/labor dynamic.
There isn’t and never has been an alignment between the progression of our species on a macro level and the progression of the individual on the micro level. As individuals we cannot control the macro, but we do have control over what we do in the face of change, which includes caring for others when we are strong.
the number of employed through US history elated to work force should be in % of population: 50% in 1950 and 50% in 2020 …
c’mon Gallo!! you always miss math of sets …
you are not wrong but a little too bias in your thoughts which are great though!
Electrification and indoor plumbing were far greater economic engines than the gadgets they enabled, like TV sets and dishwashers.
Finally, while technology has certainly eliminated many dangerous, dehumanizing jobs, it’s killed a lot of very good occupations, too: craft and artisanal jobs—pottery-making, brewing, baking, weaving, blacksmithing, herding, cloth and wool making, tailoring, cheese-making, butchering, even foraging—skill-based and highly satisfying occupations that are now only available to a very few (usually the privileged but “disillusioned” offspring of well-to-do capitalists)—these deeply satisfying and honest trades are gone, replaced by the crimped and soulless marketing positions in our technologically advanced economies. Happiness surveys bear this out. Those 160 M jobs on Scott’s graph? Most of them suck.
Well, said couldn’t have phrased it better
Employment graph is misleading for several reasons.
1. Without an overlay showing total population, the graph suggests that job growth was explosive, growing by 167% from 1950 to 2023. However, the US population was also growing during that period, by 129% (from 148 M to 340 M).
2. Even if the population overlay were to be superimposed on the graph, the rising employment isn’t necessarily or even mostly a function of technology-created jobs, but of the rising number of married women entering the labor force.
Now it may be true that technological innovations such as vacuum cleaners, washing machines, clothes dryers, and microwave ovens freed housewives to enter the job market. But was it really the machines that did it? Or did women take jobs because household incomes were depressed as machines cut the demand for certain kinds of labor, wages went down, and moms needed to get out and get a job to maintain the family’s standard of living. And what about the relaxation of legal restrictions on divorce, which shot up during the same period? Household income needs to be in this graph, too. Not as pretty a picture
The more I understand about capitalism, the more of an anti-capitalist I become. On the subject of jobs, why would anyone want to work for someone else if they didn’t have to? My “anti-capitalist” utopia has people doing what they love, with no regard for whether or not it is a commodity. Most “slave labour” workers don’t want their jobs; they know they need one in order to buy food and shelter. In addition, I would have more faith in an AI healthcare diagnostician than a human one; if the AI has access to the Internet, it is gazillions times better equipped for diagnostics and not subject to our inherent biases (unless they’re coded in, of course). And if the world could get behind UBI (Universal Basic Income), this discussion might be moot. Encourage people to follow their souls to enrich their lives, not get a soul-killing job to make money. Capitalism negates compassion and any form of spiritual intent, which makes it a severe handicap for an evolutionary species.
Fun read! I think that normalizing the vertical axes on these charts to % of population would be more telling, as the population grew quite a bit in those 110 years.
History shows us to be optimistic about technological change; the news will only focus on those disrupted w/o any historical perspective on job creation. The need to remind short sighted media & politicians of the long term benefits- this is the task of academics and voters. Unfortunately, media & politicians choose their preferred biases. The only solution is that the change provide such economic benefits that the nay sayers are ignored.
Someone’s never had their whole vocation and a life time of training snatched from them. Someone’s never had to tell their kids no presents this year or next or maybe the year after that… *huge eyeroll at this entitlement and lack of compassion*
Always enjoy your Friday bridges to the weekend, thought this one was particularly good, thanks.
I really enjoy reading your articles which reveal the reality of the prevailing systems and orthodoxy that we all are subject to. Your technical data matched with observation and philosophy speak a truth that the majority would not understand or simply reject.
I read each article and find myself reassured that my own views, observations and philosophy exist within the academic system.
And yet at the end of every article I witness the psychosis of intellect which promotes ‘Brand Strategy ‘ as its ultimate purpose and ‘product’ to generate personal wealth from the ignorant majority.
Joseph Goebals or Bertrand Russell. You seem to be unsure of which mindset you occupy.
Tech disruption is a capitalistic inevitability. But what age are you when your livelihood is disrupted away? Obama got it right, as do you Scott…at the macro level.
What gets missed is the ability for older workers to adapt to the new reality. The planning around tech disruption must/should include social landings (whatever that looks like) for workers who don’t have decades left in the workforce.
“Short-term” disruption can be very long-term for the people who are disrupted. Also, what I am seeing with AI could display entire sectors of workers in ways we have never seen before.
Yes, agreed! 66/chatgpt-end-thought-leaders
Finally, something sensible written about ChatGPT.
Your point is well taken but the Luddites get a bad rap, as if their rage against technology was a product of a narrow view. The new machines were great for the economy in the long run but the weavers weren’t looking at macro-economics for Britain. They were correctly worried about the machines rendering their personal and family investment in skills and equipment moot and leaving them to starve. Which is pretty much what happened. Not only were the new jobs low quality they usually weren’t even located where the weavers lived. I suspect that when large numbers of people howl that technology X is going to destroy their jobs they usually aren’t wrong. The educated class is now threatened, which isn’t what we usually think of, but actually happens a lot, and the new jobs do not usually go to the same individuals that they make obsolete.
This is the part everyone glosses over. It’s great to have and see new technologies changing our world every day. But there are real human beings affected by this inexorable march forward. What do we do about them? Retraining doesn’t always work. New jobs aren’t created where the old ones were lost. So what do we do with ones who suddenly lost their livelihood?
Again, why the insistence that everyone has to work? Why are “jobs” so important vs. quality of life? Maybe we need to redefine what makes life valuable to humans; 99% of us want to be productive, we just don’t want to be exploited. And many of us want to be creative, in a world that doesn’t reward that monetarily. So let’s push the reset button on the whole job thing, why not?
Lorrie – I 100% agree with you here. The reason why employment doesn’t disappear when technology improves is because people need to work to survive in our economy – even if the jobs suck – so jobs are invented. What I love about capitalism is that it provides a means of recognizing and rewarding value-creation; what we need to remove in the paradigm of private-property protection is the ability for people to end up with no private property at all.
Whether we like it or not, Human society is currently based on a give-and-take system. I give my time and skills to “earn something” that I can in turn “spend” to do whatever I need or please. “Jobs” are an essential part of that system. If we want to do anything beyond that, that system will break and need to be rethought.
The trouble is we have come so far from the hunter-forager days, I don’t think we can go back to the utopia of doing whatever we want to do in our lives.
Resetting the system at this point will inconvenience 99% of the people in this world. I don’t want that on my conscience. May be AI does.
Technological innovation is only feared by those with a myopic mind. Technological innovation, by definition, brings prosperity and progress. Nothing to fear, plenty to rejoice, with every bit of new tech!
Technological positivism keeps us moving closer to the precipice of climate chaos, overconsumption, moral decadence, growing inequality, and war.
All until it is not. Don’t forget that the past does not predict the future. Just because it has not killed us before does not me it will not kill us tomorrow. Fill in whatever you would like for “it”
Another kind apology for neoliberalism and the algorithms of oppression. The neoliberalism that is destroying the planet Earth and slowly squeezing the working class who live in it.
A Higher Education Inquirer must be a new job. Quite a cushy one I imagine. Is it paid by other peoples’ taxes by any chance? Ok if there are not too many doing the inquiring.