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CEO and co-founder of Pingpad, making social productivity as instant, simple and social as messaging. Previously VP at SlideShare (acquired by LinkedIn), Co-Founder, CEO at Socialtext (the enterprise social software pioneer) and RateXchange (a B2B bandwidth exchange)

6 responses to “The Coming Tech Backlash”

  1. GrumpyBearThoughts

    There’s an easy answer to all those people you described as about to lose their jobs: *Clears throat* “Go back to school and get interested in how much we’re charging for college you lazy loser asshole! Math was never too hard for you, you just wrongly believed you didn’t need to suffer through it like the rest of us because you could be a truck driver and tread water till you die!”

    “Did you think the increasing gap between the rich and poor was a coincidence? It’s because way too many people have been looking at continuing education after high school ended, and deciding that doing difficult work wasn’t required of them. You’re not a moron, now stop contributing to the reason some people think Idiocracy might happen and get studying! Because, and this is the real secret, the kids of parents that didn’t go to college have huge barriers keeping them from going to college, and in the future there won’t be jobs for people that don’t have a useful degree.”

    “Quit screwing up not only your own life, but your kids’ lives. You think voting for a Billionaire with a Masters in Business will excuse you from doing the difficult but necessary? Thinking that he even could change the system shows how little thought you actually put into that plan. Blowing up the government means the checks, balances and personal rights you’ve relied on your entire life are either about to disappear on you right as you need them most. Alternatively, Trump has already made overt attempts to profit from becoming President, which is an impeachable offense and the party leadership doesn’t exactly like Trump.”

    “Most importantly, this article points out the most important lie you’ve been told. Jobs aren’t being outsourced, they’re being automated. That revenue isn’t leaving the US, you just aren’t qualified to earn it. You want your job back? A computer is currently doing it better than you ever could have, and people will actually be happy about the reduced number of accidents on the road, and business will be thrilled about how reliable delivery times become. So no, you can’t have that job at the expense of everyone else. Grow up, and get a real job.”

  2. Tony D'Ambrosii

    No, there is not any clear answer to this problem. Thinking within the box will not work because the box is falling apart.

    Like so many others, I have long pondered these issues, and my conclusions are:
    1. Our entire world is going to collapse, along with the box, of course. And in not too distant a time, say 50-100 years.
    2. During the collapse we stand a fair chance of destroying our planet, so far as future life is concerned; a natural consequence of the collapse of all advanced, carefully managed, societies.
    3. If we do not completely blow things apart, it will only be because some social force, most likely some form of dictatorship, will develop to create a stable situation.
    4. If we hope to survive and go forward in the face of this technologically created upheaval then we must develop a social structure that is underpinned with concepts very different than those we have long come to accept as absolute. For example, if machines and computers can produce all the necessities to support humanity, where and how can meaning in life be found.

    As you can see, I think this is a much bigger problem than a Luddite backlash.

    Tony D.

  3. John B. Paine III

    Inasmuch as the purpose of an economy is to provide livelihoods for all the people (or should be), robotics may need to be slowed down by heavy taxation thereof. And the one-percenters who own all the industries that fancy themselves getting more profitable by laying off workers need to realize when “everybody” is doing that, that they are succeeding in slaughtering each others’ customer bases, and a smaller pie for everyone will result.

  4. bob

    From Henry Hazlitt’s book ‘Economics In One Lesson’:

    “Among the most viable of all economic delusions is the belief that machines on net balance create unemployment. Destroyed a thousand times, it has risen a thousand times out of its own ashes as hardy and vigorous as ever. Whenever there is long-continued mass unemployment, machines get the blame anew.”

    Another great myth is that “full employment” is the most desirable circumstance for an economy when in fact “full production” is the most desirable circumstance. Jobs are less important than the production of things and services which is the real measuring stick of an economies health.

    Will there be a backlash? Yes, there will be a backlash sponsored by the likes of government who has over-regulated to the point of making some jobs impossible to fill and hence a rush to automation instead of allowing it to happen in it’s own time. The government and other “fake news” doomsayers will be quick to point the finger at technology as the woes of mankind. I’m hoping that this time around there will be enough “fake news” to dispel the propaganda.

  5. John Van Egmond

    This article is different from all these type of articles of the past 100 years. In the past everyone wrote that technology would see jobs shortened and more leisure time with each person somehow getting money for that leisure time. It was not clear how that would workin the past. My dad always asked “which boss will pay them to spend 50 years doing nothing”.

    Then we the consumer made the Military Industrial Complex aware of consumer products and it became a consumer industrial complex selling technology. We used the technology to niche profits out of the rest of society.

    No one but the Military can spend $1million for a lap top. So to fuel that technology we the west, that is consumers bought consistently cheap. We found places buy goods from “slave ” enablement, from China or Mexico or some poorer slob than me land. Conveniently now slaves are out of site and controlled by others and we have $50 lap tops and tablets.

    What we all forgot, is that the market is free, and that the free market always wins, it just takes time.

    What we can do one supposes, is distribute wealth differently, intelligently, but that ignores the free market.

    The answer is one suspects, that wealth generation, must continue but that we need cheap energy to make possible better lives for everyone. We may need to substitute life time as our measure of wealth. Time is something we cannot hoard or bank, 80 years is 80 years.

    Whatever we do, we need a non Marxian paradigm of wealth.

  6. Mikey Joe

    GrumpyBear was too busy studying math to work on his literacy skills, or he would have seen that most white-collar jobs are being outsourced, too. But apparently, he didn’t study enough statistics to understand the part about how “retooling” in an era where jobs will be rapidly lost is inherently placing money on a losing bet.

    Thanks for the article. I, for one, am rooting for a tech-revolt. Our western approach to technology for technology’s sake no longer correlates to “progress” or to human happiness.

    At its base, automation is the conversion of potentially sustainable human energy sources to completely unsustainable (mostly fossil) energy sources. There’s a misunderstanding that “unsustainable” means something is bad for dolphins and monarch butterflies. Actually, it means a thing literally cannot continue. Automation literally cannot continue without unforseen, and unforseeable breakthroughs in energy technology and energy distribution systems. Roller coaster society will automate jobs like mad, cause a massive loss of human capital and traditional labor skills, then increasingly require unskilled humans with poor work history to go back to work. Congratuations technocrats, for creating unprecedented misery.

    I’m ready for your orders, General Lud.