Society or New Jobs
جامعه بدون کار یا مشاغل تازه
In the last 40 years with the advancement of intelligent tools on one hand (1) and continuous shrinking of the industrial sector in advanced economies of U.S. and Europe, a question has been raised as to whether the people living in these countries should adapt to a workless society or they need to look for jobs in new economic sectors. Welfare state introduced in early 1930's in Austria and later adopted by many European countries was a complimentary income scheme for a society which was mainly based on industrial work. With the shrinking of industrial sector, welfare state has continuously been losing its own source of replenishment. Also with the increase in the movement of industrial production towards China and India and the unprecedented automation worldwide, any model of social justice based on industrial production has lost its viability in the U.S. and Europe.
Agriculture was the biggest sector of economy in pre-industrial societies. Manufacturing had the same role in all industrial economies for more than two centuries. The new economies have hardly shown any production sector even comparable to those two sectors of the past economies. Processing the information and not physical things, except for the crisis of 2001 (2), has been a growing new sector in all advanced economies but its size is not comparable to that of agriculture or manufacturing in pre-industrial and industrial economies of the past, and also this sector itself is more prone to automation than all brick and mortar businesses of old economies. Fields such as biology through the advent of genetics have also added to the size of economic activities processing information but contrary to what futurists thought 30 years ago, biotech has hardly created much in terms of jobs and its size is very small as compared to other applications of information processing and computer technology. The same can be said about nanotechnology, telecommunications, space travel, and other high-tech endeavors. Services such as healthcare and education have not shown the glacial growth that was expected 30 years ago either. Among the services, retail business and finance have shown relatively more growth. Even world militaries in the post-industrial economies have shrunk in relative terms. In contrast, fields that can hardly be called production sectors, such as Sports and Entertainment, have continuously grown and created jobs.
It seems like as we move forward into the 21st Century, promises of a workless society based on automated factories and artificial intelligence are losing steam and although advanced societies may provide more of basic needs in Europe than in the U.S. but work will still be the center of human activity for income in the foreseeable future, although it may not be mainly performed in production such as agriculture and manufacturing, and may be more in areas like information processing, retail business or sports which are not in a strict sense of the term considered production or services. Realizing this reality, governments and individuals may need to invest in areas that they can compete at a global scale rather than hoping for a cornucopia taking care of a workless society. This reality has nothing to do with whether one chooses Rawlsian enlightened self interest in a capitalist economy or adheres to socialism, the issues are more basic, i.e. as far as the source of income for humans is concerned, it will still be work, albeit a job more like a basketball playerو Walmart employee or a computer programmer than an industrial laborer. In this new economy, the importance of uniqueness value is more pronounced as it has been discussed more than 30 years ago (3). And the problem of social justice that needs to be addressed in the new economy is simply a legal structure that lets the winner to take all (4).
Hoping for a democratic and secular futurist republic in Iran,
Sam Ghandchi, Editor/Publisher
February 16, 2016
1. Intelligent Tools: The Cornerstone of a New Civilization
2. About 2001 Crisis
3. A Theory of Uniqueness Value
4. Mr. Piketty, Winner-Take-All is the Problem