Player Piano

Another bizzy summer day demands a repeat.  This one from 2014 is always timely, and hits on a theme discussed at greater length in Part 2 of People’s EconomicsWork in the Next Economy

Kurt Vonnegut’s 1952 novel “Player Piano” was more than his first. It was arguably the first “dystopian utopia” novel of a world carefully described and proscribed for everyone involved. Those with technical degrees were the masters of the carefully planned world, and the rest either joined the army or worked for the “Reconstruction and Reclamation Corps” building infrastructure. Government took care of everyone, but not all were happy. Rebellion steeped under the calm surface in both the working class and the unchallenged rulers.

It’s hard to not think of such a world when reading “AI, Robotics, and the Future of Jobs” from the Pew Research Center and Elon University. A survey of 1,896 experts in technical areas were asked what they thought the future world of employment might look like – how much automation might displace workers and how many jobs it might create. The results read something like Vonnegut imagined – enough so that a little anxiety about the next economy is justified.

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Emptiness at the Core

As we digest the news from the Newtown, Connecticut shooting there is not a parent who is not ravaged deep in their soul at the horror of this event.  The reaction so far tells us that this one is different – that this rampage will be the one that finally changes things.  I have thought of many things that I want to say to add to the discussion, but all of them feel inadequate.

Let me try to find just a little to add.

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