This is an interesting story, and also a disturbing one, in part because of the questions it fails to ask (or answer) and the assertions it makes without supporting evidence.
Writes Claire Cane Miller: “In addition to making some jobs obsolete, new technologies have also long complemented people’s skills and enabled them to be more productive. … More productive workers, in turn, earn more money and produce goods and services that improve lives.”
Since when? Who among us has not been compelled to become more productive, not simply because technology made it possible, but because management insisted that there be fewer of us to produce? How many of us got fat raises to go along with the new chores? I don’t know about you, but I’m still waiting for mine.
Google co-founder Larry Page proposes a four-day workweek, “so as technology displaces jobs, more people can find employment.” Larry obviously doesn’t get out much, because there are plenty of people working short weeks already, some of them at more than one job, and from what I read there are still fewer jobs than there are people who need them.
“We’re going to enter a world in which there’s more wealth and less need to work,” brays MIT economist Erik Brynjolfsson. Maybe at MIT, Erik old scout. But how about where you are, Dear Readers? Who’s going to get this additional wealth, and where’s that work we’re supposedly going to need less of? My mortgage lender would like some details regarding this New World Order, if you don’t mind. Or even if you do.
I mean, we can’t all move to Montana to be dental-floss tycoons. You priced zircon-encrusted tweezers lately? It’s day 12 of Zappadan 2014.