December 17

Inventing the Future

Monday’s Big Idea

Today's Big Idea: Man Versus Machine

Here's an unpleasant idea: persistent unemployment in the United States is not simply the product of an economic downturn, but is a structural issue with the economy. Certain classes of jobs are simply being outmoded by machines. This idea has gained a lot of attention this year due to the success of Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew MacAfee's book Race Against the Machines

While the authors include a chapter that addresses the question "What is to be done?" John Hagel is not satisfied with their answer. 

Hagel, the Co-Chairman of the Deloitte Center for Edge Innovation, says we have designed jobs in the U.S. that tend to be "tightly scripted," and "highly standardized" ones that leave no room for "individual initiative or creativity." In short, these are the types of jobs that machines can perform much better at than human beings. That is how we have put a giant target sign on the backs of American workers, Hagel says. 

Hagel says the answer involves re-thinking the work formula, and creating organizational structures that reward creativity and innovation. 

  1. 1 Can We Win the Race Against the M...
  2. 2 A Walk Through the Shadow of the ...
  3. 3 Why Do We Still Have to Work?
  4. 4 Jaron Lanier: Let’s Unmask the Gr...
   
  1. Can We Win the Race Against the Machines?

    Can We Win the Race Against the Machines?

    When there is exponential improvement in the price and performance of technology, jobs that were once thought to be immune from automation suddenly become threatened. 

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  2. A Walk Through the Shadow of the Uncanny Valley

    A Walk Through the Shadow of the Uncanny Valley

    If it sometimes feels like it’s impossible to keep up with the torrent of information, data and digital content that’s being created every day online, you’re not alone. 

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  3. Why Do We Still Have to Work?

    Why Do We Still Have to Work?

    As machines become more productive, the people who own them may be keeping a larger share of the profits.

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  4. Jaron Lanier: Let’s Unmask the Great & Powerful Oz of Technology

    Jaron Lanier: Let’s Unmask the Great & Powerful Oz of Technology

    We may not yet possess those cool transparent computers they have on CSI, but we live in a science fiction fantasy world of seamless information exchange, one in which even our telephones seem to possess magical powers. The less you know about technology, the more magical it seems, so the more the sophisticated the tech becomes, the vaster the cultural gulf between the computer literate and the computer-challenged. This is a dangerous situation, says Jaron Lanier, author of You Are Not a Gadget. Lanier, an early virtual reality pioneer and researcher for Microsoft Kinect has been a vocal critic of what he sees as a dehumanizing trend in our relationship with technology.

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