Tuesday, October 25, 2016

How will we work?

Considering what work is has intrigued me and in our times people have to ponder the question of automation and wonder what might be left for humans to do? And I was comforted to note that there was a time when most people did agriculture while now in major countries like my own few do. So huge shifts in how humans work have been ongoing for millennia.

And another huge one actually is about done as factories changed so much as our world industrialized and I think much of the idea of work as a horror came with factories as well. Sure farm work is hard, and can be difficult but the idea of dehumanizing labor, outside of slavery should add, I think really came with factories. And robots and automation are changing that story.

Took it for granted that our education system was long designed to create good factory workers. And the needs of the factory may have pushed more education for everyone, so should add that as well.

Now information technology is pushing for a different kind of worker in many areas, while many are also more likely to go into services.

That reality of 10.3% of workforce over 16 in manufacturing in the US tells the tale I think, and so much was focused on factories, but reality now is few people work in them. And thankfully today here in this country at least such jobs are not the horrors they were in the past, when humans were treated like, well like machines.

Technology has transformed how humans work for a long time. But the one constant is that we work for each other.

I think what humans do for other humans is where focus should be, and in the past to feed each other was in agriculture, and later for a bit factories needed human effort. Now? Well we're figuring that out.

It is important to value human effort though. My own view based on my analysis of money as best thought of as a return for a favor where that favor is abstracted is that it is important to return that favor in equal exchange. The idea that businesses can cheat workers with less pay than deserved I think will go away, as a challenge to nations.

If you want your people employed? You can't let them be cheated as you discourage your workforce, limit your economy and in a world where information travels well, you are likely to be held accountable.

Wealthy individuals in the past could rely on gatekeepers to hide information for their benefit, while today the web zips information around with great facility.

And if your people find out they should be paid more, why should they like you?

The reality I think is that with the collapse of the factory system, and the growth in shared knowledge, we will do well in valuing what we do for each other.

Just like machines took over much of farm work and still have more to take, and are taking over factories, with a freeing of humans to do other things for each other, so will technological innovation stress more and more, giving value, so you can make that money for value returned.

Money facilitates commerce between strangers, helping us appreciate the input of others and think about how we can bring value to others. Sure it's had its problems lately, but with our species? Figuring things out is what we do.

Human beings seem to have a joy in figuring things out, which I think is so grand.

James Harris