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Archive for May 8th, 2014

There’s no economic law that says everyone is going to benefit from technological progress, even if it does make the pie a lot bigger.  So both in terms of theory and evidence, I think there’s a potential to be concerned, and I am concerned.
Technology is racing ahead, but our skills, our organizations, our institutions aren’t keeping up.  As they adjust, we will see more of the benefit show up in the economics, but right now there are a lot of technologies with more potential than has been fully realized.
As you automate and augment a lot of mental tasks, it’s a little less clear whether those technologies will be complements or maybe substitutes for human labor, and that’s one of the things we’re working through now as a society.  Government jobs on average tend to include more information processing, and on average the workers in that sector are more educated and doing more knowledge work than in a lot of other parts of the economy.  So they, in some ways, are likely to be more affected.
It’s been said that the best idea America ever had was mass public education.  That helped us make the transition from an agricultural economy to one based on industry and services.  It didn’t happen by accident; it happened through public policy.  We’re going to have to reinvent what education is and focus more on creativity and interpersonal skills — things that machines are not very good at — and less on having people sit quietly in rows, listen to instructions and carry out those instructions.
  —  Professor Erik Brynjolfsson
MIT Sloan School of Management
[All quotes taken from the article written by Colin Wood titled: “The Uncertain Future Of Work” appearing in the magazine “Government Technology“, April 2014.
The article can be found online at: http://www.govtech.com/products/Robots-Drones-and-the-Uncertain-Future-of-Work.html
Just a quick comment…  When the good professor says “government jobs” are likely to be more affected, I believe he is speaking proportionately, not in terms of sheer volume / numbers.  By the time this shift has a serious proportional impact on government jobs, there will far more significant numbers of job losses in the private sector – if for no other reason than there are ten times more jobs in the private sector.  I am using that ratio (10 to 1) because I am including all federal, state and local government jobs in the lump.  It should be noted that contracted-out jobs are almost one for one between government and private sector jobs.  I would expect nearly all of the contracted jobs to be eliminated before the cuts come to “real” government jobs.  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2013 Fine No More
2012 Have You Checked Your Height Lately?
2011 Are You Convinced?

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