Here come the robots...
We borrowed a chapter title from Charleston, WV, native Alec Ross's bestselling book, Industries of the Future, for this blog entry.
While we’re talking about bringing back jobs--or attracting job makers, we need a comprehensive understanding of THE ROBOT REVOLUTION and what it means to our state. This subject is just one aspect of forecasting the future that leaders in government, education, business, technology, quality of place, and diversity must understand and discuss out loud.
West Virginia must not be blindsided by the “jobless economic revolution” that is described here.
Let's read up on global trends and unleash some fabulous ideas for how to position West Virginia to prosper as the world sees another sweeping change in how people work—or perhaps how we will use our time if we don’t work because there are no jobs. Let's keep reading and asking questions!
Check out the following archived article from The Fiscal Times, and comment. When we're talking jobs and training, let’s demonstrate that we know what’s happening now, and what's projected to happen in the next two decades. We must understand our real assets, our skills, our opportunities before we can leverage them to prosper in the future.
---------------------------------------------FROM The Fiscal Times, (TFT) 2011...
The Fiscal Times: The common argument is that technology advances society and creates jobs. Are you saying it no longer will?
Martin Ford: So far, advances in technology have allowed us to become more prosperous and push economic growth, but the reason it’s made workers more productive is because machines and computers have been tools. At some point, we’re going to get to where machines stop being tools to be used by workers and they become workers in their own right. Without an income, people can’t participate in the economy. Alan Blinder, an economist at Princeton, has been talking about how productivity increases in the economy are no longer transmitted to workers in the form of wages. Nowadays when we see productivity increases, [the financial benefit] ends up at the top; it goes to the CEO, to the shareholders, but workers don’t get any of it. It’s hard to have more prosperity under this system because as workers start to lose jobs and see lower wages, they can’t participate in the economy as consumers.
TFT: How might you re-wire the economy to adjust to this?
MF: If it’s at a point where there aren’t enough jobs or if those jobs don’t provide enough income for people to cover their basic expenses, I think you have to have some form of progressive taxation and redistribution. Right now, we’re moving in the opposite direction, we’re talking about austerity, it looks like we’re going to destroy the few safety nets that we have for working people, and I honestly think it’s a disastrous move. The current situation we’re in could really drag on and while we’re waiting for the job market to recover, these technologies are going to continue to accelerate and it’ll be more difficult to get these jobs back. It will be like running up the down escalator. Economist David Autor has come to the conclusion that the middle-range jobs that used to support a solid middle-class lifestyle are pretty much gone. Read more...