Thank you to Dr. George Rebane for his review of America 3.0 on his blog Rebane’s Ruminations.
Dr. Rebane’s post has several good links. The focus of his discussion is the prospect for job creation in the future, and the concern about what the America workforce will do when the economy we currently know is gone — and it is going away fast.
This is a topic that has repeatedly surfaced in discussions about the book. The question of what the future economy will look like, and what people will do once the existing world of “jobs” has gone away, is frightening. We predict that the productive power that is becoming available will collapse the cost of living. It will liberate people to work on projects and tasks of their own choice, rather than be driven by necessity, to a degree that is only known by the very wealthy today. So far, the elimination of older and less productive technology has had the effect of generally increasing wealth throughout society, though there are losers and winners in the transaction, and some people do better than others. Part of the problem is we are familiar with the world that is fading away and we find it hard to imagine something radically different. Think for a moment about what the American Founders would have thought if you told them that in two centuries less than five percent of the people would be engaged in growing food. They would have been astonished, and wondered what on earth everybody could be working on. Human beings are assets. They are creative. Adam Smith famously wrote: “Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice: all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things.” We cannot imagine what the ingenuity of the American people will produce in the decades ahead, with the astonishing tools that will be available to them. Mostly, we need to get out of their way and let them start building the America 3.0 that is already starting.
3 thoughts on “America 3.0: Review in <em>Rebane’s Ruminations</em>, And Some Thoughts In Response”
If you look at social commentary written at the dawn of the computer age, in the early 1950s, there was a lot of speculation about what people would do with their time now that machines could do so much more of the work….mainframe computers would displace the huge clerical staffs of the time, numerically-controlled machine tools would replace human machinists, and so on. There was a lot of speculation that people would have much more leisure time, and angst about whether they would be educated/cultured enough to make good use of that time.
It didn’t work out that way, of course…people (those people who have jobs at all) are working more, not less. Part of this is due to individual choices prioritizing more stuff and more services over more leisure time…but much of it reflects the vast amounts of human resources being wasted in bloated government, dysfunctional educational institutions, costs of compliance with ever-expanding regulations (how many person-centuries will be spent dealing with the Obamacare chaos?), out-of-control litigation, etc etc…in addition to the need to provide support to those individuals whose potential productivity has been crippled by both the failed public education system and the widespread social disintegration.
Blockbuster has just announced they are closing their doors, as they failed to understand and to embrace the technological and societal forces that impacted their core business, Blockbuster succesfully provided for more than a decade, so they are closing doors and jobs are gone, and we hope that those people saved and invested wisely while the party lasted, but many other jobs are being created now too, now Netflix is running the show, Apple reinvented itself and is now offering content too, these are the destructive/creative forces of capitalism and democracy, while in other societes political and economic power is measured in long decades, sometimes one single party and a few individuals controlling everything for generations, in America political and economic powers rise and fall, in matter of years and months. As long as America continues adapting to its forces rather than arresting them, America will continue the innovation dream that everyone else in the world aspires to.
Years ago, I read a book called “Second Wave” which, of course is no longer findable. It was about how successful industries needed to plan the next business plan while they are still successful.
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