Thursday, January 16, 2020

Paul Horton: Technology and Unemployment: A Lesson - Living in Dialogue

Technology and Unemployment: A Lesson - Living in Dialogue

Technology and Unemployment: A Lesson

By Paul Horton.
It is clear to most critics and economic commentators that digital technology is displacing work and cheapening much of the work that remains.  Amazon is likely to replace many warehouse jobs with robots once robots are created that can grasp packages. The consulting firm McKinsey predicts that many retail jobs will be replaced by the digital market and home delivery in the next fifteen years.
Defenders of the new tech economy counter this commentary with the idea that when robots replace people, more programmers and technicians will be needed to create more robots. But many doubt that enough jobs will be created, and Marc Zuckerberg, for example, has begun to support the idea of a minimum earned income for those who are unemployed or underemployed as a result of technological unemployment.
Jaron Lanier and Jonathan Taplin are two of the critics of the tech sector’s assault on the middle man and the middle class.  Both Lanier and Taplin are especially critical of the squeezing of what might be called the “creative class” of knowledge workers and artists who had been heretofore seen as the harbingers of innovation within a postindustrial society. For both, economies of scale created by digital platforms controlled by the likes of Amazon, Facebook, and YouTube are driving down the value of the work produced by artists, musicians, and writers.
Not only is all work threatened by robotics, but creative work that is produced outside of the corporate technosphere, work that is associated with creative innovation, is cheapened or bought and coopted at lower value.
As you read the following, think about whether you agree or disagree with Lanier and Taplin. Do they exaggerate in your opinion?
From Jaron Lanier: Who Owns the Future? (2003):
As the information economy arises, the old specter of a thousand science fiction CONTINUE READING: Technology and Unemployment: A Lesson - Living in Dialogue