Fast Forward Radio — The New Economy Part 1

By | February 16, 2010

How long before a robot gets your job?

Phil and Stephen begin a three part series on the New Economy with Special Guest Martin Ford. Ford’s new book, The Lights in the Tunnel, takes an in depth look at current trends in technology and globalization and examines what the likely economic impact will be in the coming years and decades.

  1. Globalization. Collaboration. Telecommuting. Are these the forces that will shape the workplaces of the future? Or is there something bigger lurking?

  2. How will job automation impact the economy in the future?
  3. How will the offshore outsourcing trend evolve in the coming years?
  4. What impact will technologies such as robotics and artificial intelligence have on the job market?

And most importantly, what should we do next? Listen and find out!

Click “Continue Reading” for the show notes:

  • http://wheretheresawilliam.blogspot.com Will Brown

    Will try to catch the show but just in case, ask Mr. Ford if he thinks fully independent (even if networked together) robots are more likely in industrial/service settings or human-operated mecha via tele-presence instead (not only traditional industrial work but FedEx-type delivery driver, book store sales clerk, restaurant wait-staff, etc)?

  • https://www.blog.speculist.com Stephen Gordon

    Will:

    We covered your question.

  • Caleob

    This is certainly an important topic. I’m very interested in reading his book, but from what I hear on the show he doesn’t make the case to me for dramatic redistributionary schemes. This is an old argument and I think we need better in these truly unprecedented times. Anyone interested in this subject should check out Henry Hazlitt’s classic “Economics in one Lesson”. The appropriate section for this topic is entitled The Curse of Machinery.

  • 5ive

    My god, was this discussion frustrating to listen to. What Martin describes has already happened.

    In 1880, about 70% of U.S. jobs were in agriculture. Now about 3% are. Those jobs were lost to efficiency, productivity and automation improvements. In 1970, IBM employed about 400,000 people, now they employ about 150,000. Most of those lost jobs are clerical jobs that MS Office and email have eliminated. If Martin’s economic theories held water, his doomsday would already have arrived. Simi

    If Martin lived in 1900 and saw 70% of U.S. jobs dissapearing, he would feel the same way he does now about world wide manufacturing jobs. If his foresight was as deficient then as it is now, he would not know that IT Guy, Pizza Delivery Guy, High School Football Coach, Newscaster, Taxi-Driver, Drug Dealer, Barista or Electrical Engineering jobs would be coming to replace them. New types of jobs will come along.

    What’s more, if productive labor is so cheap as to be almost free, that means more money can be spent on design. If labor costs approach zero, you can but a new product for the cost of material, which means most people will need less money to maintain their standard of living.

  • http://htp://blog.speculist.com Phil Bowermaster

    5ive –

    In fairness, in the book (and I think in our discussion, too) Martin acknowledges that this is not a new trend and not a new argument. His point is that Luddite arguments that were wrong in the past eventually become tue in the face of accelerating technological development. Your point about the offsetting benefits of the decreasing cost of goods was discussed in part two of the series with Cory Doctorow. We’ll also be exploring that further next week in part 3.

  • Sally Morem

    “What’s more, if productive labor is so cheap as to be almost free, that means more money can be spent on design. If labor costs approach zero, you can but a new product for the cost of material, which means most people will need less money to maintain their standard of living.”

    An excellent point. Kurzweil says something similar, that the radical drop in prices in computers and communications devices are in essence deflationary, and are rarely taken into consideration by economists.

    Once information technologies take hold in all other areas of our economy, radical deflation will hit them, too. Especially as 3D printers are upgraded to nanotech replicators.

    At that point, economic scarcities will vanish forever and our guest’s worries about loss of jobs will vanish with them.