Based on TedTalk by Andrew McAfee.
Among the key points of the talk and some of my POV
- In the near future (yes, near future), androids and other technology will replace humans in many jobs. For example, the presence of robotics in manufacturing industries. Currently, we are at the beginning of the 4th industrial revolution, and I personally believe AI could replace most of the jobs that we have. We need to prepare ourselves with new knowledge and skills to remain relevant.
- The change will bring economics and social boons. Relegating the dull, tiresome work to machines will free people to take on intellectual and innovative tasks. These will be an example of how technology (AI) will complement and add value to human expertise.
- Such polarization has immense social impact and risks reversing the gain of civil right movement.
- The “economics playbook” is clear, especially in the short run. Addressing the social fallout requires further study but will necessarily involve changes in education. Especially when our education system is design to produce batches of workforce tailored for our current industrial requirement. Therefore, we need to prepare our young ones for their generation industrial requirement, not for ours.
Notes on the talk it self.
In the 1800s, the Luddites beset England’s looms to protest “the age of technology unemployment”. They worry which many others voiced in the interim was needless because employment did not plummet. But shift is beginning because machines are developing astonishing new abilities. They talk, see, write and comprehend. In the near future, androids and other technology will replace humans in many jobs, ushering in the “new machine age. These change will bring economic boons.
Historically, advancing technology has increased output and quality while decreasing prices. This trend will continue. Moreover, relegating the dull, tiresome work to machine will free people to take on intellectual and innovative task. But the shift will also bring fiscal challenges as a fabled anecdote involving Henry Ford II and workers’ union head Walter Reuther explains: while touring a factory, Ford asked how Reuther intended to collect union dues from a workforce robots, and Reuther countered, “How are you going to get then to buy cars?” Indeed, selling a lot of costly products, such as autos, depends on a stable, well-off middle class. Yet in America, median in household income has dropped in the past 15 years, and “inequality and polarization” could worsen. In economies where machines proliferate, corporate profits rise while wages fall.
The impact is vast. If we consider the divergent paths of 2 stereotypes from the American labor force: Ted is a college-education, upper-middle-class knowledge worker. Bill is a “low-level white or blue collar worker” with no advanced degree. In 1960, these 2 employees both worked full time. Then, when new technology emerged, and the world started to go digital. Ted retained his 40-hours a week, Bill did not. Ted has raised his children in a 2-parent home. Bill has not. Bill is vanishing not only from the labor pool but from the voting pool and is serving more time in prison. This situation threatens the gains of the civil rights movement as it worsens. Voltaire once said, ” Work saves man from 3 great evils: boredom, vice and need.”
The fortunes of Ted and Bill show the truth in this maxim.
The “economic playbook” is clear, especially in the short term. Heighthen the focus on entrepreneurship and infrastructure and equip graduates with relevant skills. Then, over time, take more revolutionary steps, such as a “guaranteed minimum income.” The social issues such as keeping workers like Bill engaged, remain a puzzle. However, education will be a crucial part of the answer.
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Categories: Personal Development