Unleashing the Creative Economic Revolution
Richard Florida is author of the global best-seller "The Rise of the Creative Class." His latest books are the "The Great Reset," and "The Rise of the Creative Class Revisited," a revised and expanded tenth anniversary edition of his classic work.
He is also the author of "The Flight of the Creative Class" and "Cities and the Creative Class." His previous books, especially "The Breakthrough Illusion" and "Beyond Mass Production," paved the way for his provocative looks at how creativity is revolutionizing the global economy.
Florida is a regular correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly and a regular columnist for The Globe and Mail. He has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Economist, and The Harvard Business Review. He has been featured as an expert on MSNBC, CNN, BBC, NPR and CBS, to name just a few.
Question: What is the “creative class”?
Richard Florida: It’s sort of the driving force in innovation and economic growth. And before I came up with this idea, I mean, there was a lot of really smart people thinking about this change from an industrial society, you know, an old blue-collar, manufacturing-driven, steel and autos kind of economy, to a post-industrial economy. People like Dan Bell, the great Sociologist at Colombia and then at Harvard wrote a lot about this. And then of course, Peter Drucker, probably the greatest management thinker of all time, kind of dubbed this group of people, him and a guy named Fritz Malchum, in the ‘50’s, dubbed this group of people, “Knowledge Workers.” And the idea was that people work with knowledge they accumulate knowledge, economists talked about developing education and human capital, and I was living in Pittsburgh at the time teaching at Carnegie Mellon. And I was looking at, just like you and others, developments in the internet and technology. And I noted this kind of thing with content and software, and then I began to see the role of arts and music. And I remember going to England one time and this guy asked me a question about software development and bio-tech clusters. And I looked at him and I said, “Who are the richest people in England?” And he said, “Oh, that’s people like Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger.” So, I said, there’s something with arts and music and entertainment, and something with technology and something with knowledge workers. What did they all have in common?
Then one day, I was reading some psychology and they were talking about human creativity. This guy, Rob Sternberg wrote, “If you’re an entrepreneur or a business leader, an artist, or a musician, designer or something like that, you’re a creative person.” I said, “Oh my god.” Maybe it’s not just a knowledge class, or a post-industrial class, maybe this thing that links these people together, like the blue-collar worker used physical labor in the factory, maybe the thing that links these things together is their creativity. So, we went back and we counted them; with a great group of researchers at Carnegie Mellon. And we first counted them across cities, and then we said we were going to go back 100 years and count this group of people.
And what we saw is that over the past 100 years, but certainly since 1980, this group was really expanding. And just to give you folks the numbers: between 1980 and today, even with the crisis, we added 20 million new jobs in the creative sector of the economy, that’s science, technology, arts and entertainment, film making design. And then the knowledge workers, healthcare practitioners, lawyers, those financial people who caused part of this problem, and in the United States, that’s about a third of the workforce, more or less. And this creative class, even though they make up a third of the workforce, if you add up all the wages and salaries we pay in the United States and you divide into three groups, right? The manufacturing working class, the people who do services, lower end services, you know, work, wait on you in restaurants, sell you your clothes, take care of your house, and then the creative class. The creative class already accounts for more than 50%.
And the other thing, just for folks watching, we’ve actually tracked the unemployment situation and it’s quite devastating in some respects. While the overall U.S. unemployment rate is 10% and while manufacturing workers have unemployment rates of 15%, and in some parts, like extraction and construction, 25%, the creative class is about 5%. So, the creative class has never seen great swings. I mean, that’s up from 2% before. But it’s never seen these great volatility and swings that really devastate manufacturing.
And so I think as we come out of this crisis, we’re going to again see that this group is more stable – this group of jobs is more stable and they’re going to grow again.
Question: What is happening to the economy that is enabling this “creative economic revolution”?
Richard Florida: Well I actually think the crisis is the inflection point, or the transformation point. If you look back at the two previous crises, and I’m actually writing a book on this, it’s called “The Great Reset,” hopefully you’ll invite me back to talk about it when it comes out in April or May. But if you look back on previous crises, they’ve always been associated with the rise of new economic systems. So, the crisis of 1873 was associated with the rise of the first industrial revolution, and it gave rise to the second. The crisis of the 1930’s was the rise of the second industrial revolution and these big steel companies and auto companies, and then we figured out how to make the society work. This is really a crisis, not just of the financial markets and wanton spending and too much credit, it’s a tectonic crisis that’s associated with the rise of a new economic order.
And what we’re doing is, because we didn’t know how to invest in it, we were speculating like wild, and money was flowing into real estate. So, the creative economic revolution has really been going on, in my view, since the ‘60’s. And it’s funny because I went back and looked at this, and folks might not know this, but what I really wanted to be in life was a guitar player. So, all my childhood I spent playing the guitar and trying to sound like Jimi Hendrix or Jeff Beck, with some degree of non-success. But in the ‘60’s, we saw all of this creative revolution, and even before that, Jazz in ‘50’s, but the beat revolution, and then the ‘60’s thing happening in New York. And I just read the fabulous book on Worhal and the Velvet Underground. So, you can see this stuff building up as people are tired of, and kind of blanching at the strictures of the old organization man’s society. And it’s kind of our world fascinated by Mad Man, I think. You see this transformation, this kind of pivot point running through as Mad Men develops and this creative thing emerging. But people don’t know what to do.
And so, the one way I kind of view the 1960’s is this giant temper tantrum. Right? Creative people just saying, “I’m not going to take it anymore, mom and dad. I want to grow my hair long, I want to grow a beard, I want to go to California, I want to listen to a new kind of music.” This explosion in art. But was it really hinged to the economy?
In the book, I said that Woodstock wasn’t the signal even of the creative revolution, Silicon Valley is. And so, what I think happened, almost at the same time, is these people who were tired of working in the big companies; innovators, people working at IBM and General Electric, Bell Labs, said, “No. We have all this cool stuff we want to make, all this interesting stuff we want to make. The company is very bureaucratic; it’s not paying any attention to us.” Somehow they found their way out to the San Francisco Bay area and began to build these enterprises that they owned and controlled. Right? They began to devise new structures and new forms. And actually, my entire early research career, well before I came to any ideas of the creative class, was trying to figure out what Silicon Valley was. I wrote a book in 1990 about this called “The Breakthrough Revolution.”
In any event, I think those structures began to take hold and this new group of people who had the ideas began to be seen as more economically valuable. And what’s happened over the past 20 or 30 years as manufacturing has been off shored, and outsourced and moved to the bricks, particularly China. I think in the advanced countries like the United States, or Canada, or Scandinavia, or Northern Europe, this creative input, this idea input, this mental labor, has become more important.
So, I see this shift as big and as fundamental as the shift that Marx wrote about, when we move from the feudal, or the agricultural society to a modern industrial economy and society. I see this shift kind of the same way. We’re moving from an older industrial society where value is created by physical labor and raw materials to a new kind of society and economy where value – more, I mean, raw materials and physical labor and agriculture is still important. We need to eat and drive things, and we need homes. But this mental value added, or this creative labor is becoming more important. So, that’s why I think this is a big revolution on the order of the transformation, or the transformation of the agrarian society to an industrial economy and society.
Recorded on December 14, 2009
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"Nothing but naked people: fat ones, thin ones, old, young…"
"The Yellow Sands", 1888, John Reinhard Weguelin; source: Wikimedia Commons<h3>Naked revolution</h3><p>Yet long before anyone knew about beach fashion, naturism was trendy. Bathing naked in the sea was going on in England as early as 1840. However, during the reign of Queen Victoria, this pleasure was outlawed. But it popped up again among the conservative Germans. In 1898, the first Naturist Club was founded in Essen and in 1900 the Wandering Birds group (<em>Wandervögel</em>) was scouring the country for uninhabited places and naked sunbathing. In the same year, Heinrich Pudor wrote <em>The C</em><em>ult of </em><em>the </em><em>Nud</em><em>e</em>, winning the hearts of contemporary supporters of naturism.</p><p>In the 1920s, on the back of this, members of the Movement for Natural Healing (<em>Naturheilbewegung</em>) organized naked sunbathing for the improvement of health. Persuaded by Pudor's theory of the healing properties of the sun and wind, which could be absorbed through the skin, they launched the naked revolution.</p><p>Pudor's book became the naturists' manifesto and soon after, not far from Hamburg, the Free Body Culture (<em>Freikörperkultur</em>, or FKK) movement was founded. This spread through other German centres and brought together thousands of people. The FKK still operates under the same name today.</p><p>The cult of the naked body even wrote itself into the ideology of fascist Germany, which advocated a pure, Aryan race. But in 1933, Hermann Göring issued an order that defined nudity as "the greatest threat to the German soul" and, with that, criminalized naturist organizations. But this wasn't the end of the movement. The naturists went underground, continuing their activities under the guise of improving physical fitness.</p><p>In 1936, the idea was even floated of having a naturist display to open the Berlin Olympic Games. It was quickly dropped. Despite this, in 1939 the naturists managed to organize their own Games in the Swiss village of Thielle.</p>
Would you ever have sex with a robot?
- In 2016, "Harmony", the world's first AI sex robot was designed by a tech firm called Realbotix.
- According to 2020 survey data, more than one in five Americans (22 percent) say they would consider having sex with a robot. This is an increase from a survey conducted in 2017.
- Robots (and robotic tech) already play a vital role in speeding up manufacturing, packaging, and processing across various industries.
From homemade dildos to Harmony, the AI sex robot<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3f7451615568e74c6a839f04329c9902"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/-cN8sJz50Ng?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><em>"...amid an economic crisis, with restaurants and retailers closing their doors and larger companies laying off and furloughing employees, the sex tech industry is booming."</em><br></p><p>A Bustle <a href="https://www.bustle.com/wellness/the-sex-tech-industry-is-booming-amid-economic-crisis-22819801" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">article</a> published in April 2020, weeks after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, explored the drastic boost in the sex tech industry. According to the research, <a href="https://www.dameproducts.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Dame Products</a> (a popular sex toy retailer) experienced a 30 percent increase in sales between the months of February to April, and popular sexual wellness brand <a href="https://unboundbabes.com/?utm_source=%7Bsource%7D&utm_medium=%7Bmedium%7D&utm_keyword=unbound%20babes&utm_matchtype=e&device=c&utm_campaign=%7Bcampaign%7D&utm_adgroup=%7Badgroup%7D&gclid=CjwKCAjw1v_0BRAkEiwALFkj5qYbdEwANUjCdRkCeVZ2HZzHjcGmpYbsOXYcMcNneLc2nySvrbaalBoChEsQAvD_BwE" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Unbound</a> reported selling twice as many toys as normal in this period.</p><p>While the new coronavirus was crashing the economy in other ways, the sex tech industry was one of the few that actually saw improvements, likely due to people all over the world being advised, encouraged, and in some instances forced to stay at home.</p><p>Something similar happened in 2008, <a href="https://www.villagevoice.com/2010/08/23/the-great-recession-is-a-turn-on-for-the-sex-toy-industry/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">during the recession</a>: the sex toy industry was one of the only industries at the time that didn't gravely suffer. </p><p><strong>The evolution of sex tech from stone dildos to artificial intelligence.</strong></p><p><a href="https://sofiagray.com/what-is-the-history-of-sex-toys-from-stone-to-silicone-and-beyond/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The history of sex toys</a> is quite interesting. A 28,000-year-old siltstone dildo was uncovered in Germany in 2005. Luxury bronze dildos have also been found in China that are at least 2,000 years old.</p><p>Aside from various materials being shaped into dildos, there has always been an interest in how to advance sex technology, even before it involved actual technology at all.</p><ul><li>The 1700s: Steam-powered vibrators (such as the Manipulator).</li><li>The 1800s—1900s: The invention of the first electric vibrator (the Pulsoson) and "beauty tools" being used for sexual satisfaction (such as the Polar Cub massager)</li><li>The 1920s—1940s: The introduction of hand-held massagers (the Andis Vibrator) and compact devices (such as the Oster Stim-U-Lax)</li><li>The 1940s—1960s: Japan introduced the "Cadillac of Vibrators" (The Hitachi Magic Wand), which eventually made it's way to America.</li><li>1965: The invention of silicone, which most modern sex toys are made of.</li><li>The 1980s—1990s: The invention of the rabbit-style vibrator, made more popular with one of the first showings of a sex toy on television ("Sex and the City"). </li><li>The 2000s: Visual porn website Pornhub launched and sex toys became increasingly popular. Erotic literature also became more common and popular, with "50 Shades of Grey" and others like it. </li><li>The 2010s and beyond: Sex toys and technology start to blend, and the world's first internet-controlled sex toy was launched in 2010 by Lovense.</li></ul><p>In 2016, "Harmony", <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cN8sJz50Ng" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the world's first AI sex robot</a> was designed by a tech firm called Realbotix. </p>
From television shows to real-life applications, artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming more and more popular in all areas of human life.
Credit: Willyam Bradberry on Shutterstock<p>In 2020, more than one in five Americans (22 percent) say they would consider having sex with a robot. <a href="https://today.yougov.com/topics/science/articles-reports/2020/03/19/2020-both-men-and-women-are-more-likely-consider-h" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">YouGov conducted a study</a> in February 2020 that compared results from a similar study from 2017.<br></p><p>According to the results, 6 percent more people in 2020 are comfortable with the idea of having sex with a robot than in 2017.</p><p>YouGov points out that the increase in consideration is particularly significant among American adults between the ages of 18-34 years old. Additionally, how people feel about having sex with a robot has also changed. In 2020, 27 percent of Americans said they would consider it cheating if they had a partner who had sex with a robot during the relationship, compared to the 32 percent reported in 2017.</p><p><strong>"If you had a partner who had sex with a robot, would you consider it cheating?"</strong></p><p>The results from this interesting study also reveal that many people (42 percent) believe having sex with a robot is safer than having sex with a human stranger.</p><p>Robots (and robotic tech) already play a vital role in speeding up manufacturing, packaging, and processing across various industries. From television shows to real-life applications, artificial intelligence is becoming more and more popular in all areas of human life.</p><p>According to YouGov, "a <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-07-12/amazon-plans-high-end-echo-ramps-up-work-on-alexa-home-robot" target="_blank">Bloomberg</a> report outlining Amazon's plans for an Alexa-powered robot that follows and helps you around the home may redefine how these machines service humans in the near future." </p>
A strange weakness in the Earth's protective magnetic field is growing and possibly splitting, shows data.
- "The South Atlantic Anomaly" in the Earth's magnetic field is growing and possibly splitting, shows data.
- The information was gathered by the ESA's Swarm Constellation mission satellites.
- The changes may indicate the coming reversal of the North and South Poles.
Is the Magnetic Field Reversing?<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e3e0b16dac3b05dab808a4ddf04d198b"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/51usJ74pPP8?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
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