Monday, December 26, 2011

Technological innovation in the works

IBM predicts that over the next five years technology innovations will change the way we work, live and play in the following ways: 

  • Energy: People power will come to life  - using local motion
  • Security: You will never need a password again - biometrics
  • Mind reading: no longer science fiction - electronic control of devices using by sensing brain functioning
  • Mobile: The digital divide will cease to exist - mobile devises spread communications technology inexpensively
  • Analytics: Junk mail will become priority mail - priority sorting and delivery  of messaging
Read the rest at IMB
The Next 5 in 5
(via The Economist)


john f said...

Martín Ford has written extensively about the impact of technology especially IRT labor economics in the long term. With increasingly sophisticated robotics and AI coming online, jobs involving routine tasks will become obsolete, "creative destruction." Ford sees other challenges ahead ,"So the basic idea here is that although ,automation may result in very low wages in dollar terms (as well as high unemployment, since we do still have a minimum wage), things won’t be so bad because the efficiency of production will increase dramatically and everything will be really cheap. To see the problem with this, view this graph at Visual Economics showing how consumers spend their incomes. The graph makes it immediately clear that consumers spend the lion’s share on their incomes on things like housing, insurance, health care, transportation and food. “Hyper-productive robots” are not going to lower anyone’s mortgage principle, and interest rates surely cannot go much lower. Nor can rents adjust too far downward without threatening the landlord’s mortgage. The same is true of insurance. The reality is that the most of the average consumer’s budget is based primarily on asset (and debt) values—and not directly on how efficient the economy is at producing goods and services. Food and energy prices are likewise unlikely to adjust downward. Expenditure categories that might see falling prices as automation progresses, such as apparel, entertainment and miscellaneous represent a tiny fraction of the average budget, and in many cases prices have already been minimized by globalization." While he does see many benefits coming from all of high tech trends he thinks many are also missing a looming structural employment problem.

Tom Hickey said...

@ John F

The point of increased productivity is to garner increased opportunity fo leisure instead of forced labor to survive. When human kind began producing a surplus, then leisure became an opportunity but it was very narrowly distributed at the top. While that distribution has widened, it has not widened in proportion to the increase in productivity. Humankind is approaching the point that forced labor will become obsolete and work will become optional. However, humankind has not yet risen beyond the hysteresis of forced labor to survive, which imposed a work ethic. That work ethic is not longer appropriate and is becoming a historical obstacle rather than the evolutionary advantage it once was. Will humanity be able to make that transition relatively successfully or only with great travail is the pressing question.

There is still plenty to be done by way of improvement of life, and many people would rather be employed creatively rather than enjoy greater leisure. There are a lot of options to explore but first we have get beyond our limiting mindset.

m said...

So it may very well be that the 40 hour workweek, developed during the Industrial Revolution, is becoming outmoded?

Tom Hickey said...

Yes, that reflected the distributed leisure for that time. Time moves on and productivity has greatly increased since then.

With a different mindset, humanity could step forward to a new level of distributed prosperity, including the option of greater distributed leisure. However, I suspect that most people would not opt for greater recreation but more creative endeavor.

Most people can't lie around on the beach for too long before they get antsy. And most people also find that their creative juices flow better when working in cooperation and coordination with others.

Then the differece between work and play would become the difference between process and result. Pure play is only concerned with process, and pure work is only concerned with results. The meeting point is in creative endeavor freely engaged in. Then leisure and work get combined, so that process and result are served simultaneously.

Really the only thing inhibiting this now is a collective mindset that is obsolete.