Tag Archives | Labor

Why Are There Any Jobs Still Left?

A Ghost In The Machine

Robert Bailey via Reason.com:

After two centuries of relentless automation, why are there more jobs than ever? Certainly, tens of millions of jobs have been lost. Whatever happened to the myriads of hostlers, blacksmiths, coopers, sucksmiths, millers, tallowmakers, wheelwrights, sicklemen, puddlers, telegraphers, stockingers, fellmongers, saddlers, ploughmen, knackers, bleacherers, weavers, thatchers, and scriveners? Most of these jobs have been either wiped out entirely or largely taken over by machines.

The advance of massively more productive machinery has clearly not led to mass unemployment. The number of people employed in advanced economies has never been higher. For example, since 1950 the number of Americans employed has nearly tripled, rising from about 58 million to nearly 149 million today. During that time the proportion of adults in the civilian workforce rose from 55 percent in 1950 to peak at 65 percent during the dot-com boom in 2000. The ratio has now dropped to 59 percent, but the lower rate is widely understood to reflect the fallout from the Great Recession, Baby Boomer cohort retirements, and younger individuals spending more time in school.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Amazon is the Walmart of the Internet

cubicle_farm“Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk,” says one Amazon employee. “If you’re a good Amazonian, you become an Amabot,” says another. The New York Times describes the hellish working conditions that Amazon inflicts upon its white-collar staff:

At Amazon, workers are encouraged to tear apart one another’s ideas in meetings, toil long and late (emails arrive past midnight, followed by text messages asking why they were not answered), and held to standards that the company boasts are “unreasonably high.” The internal phone directory instructs colleagues on how to send secret feedback to one another’s bosses. Employees say it is frequently used to sabotage others. (The tool offers sample texts, including this: “I felt concerned about his inflexibility and openly complaining about minor tasks.”)

Many of the newcomers filing in on Mondays may not be there in a few years. The company’s winners dream up innovations that they roll out to a quarter-billion customers and accrue small fortunes in soaring stock.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

The Persistence of the Office

Google's campus concept. (Photo: Google)

Google’s campus concept. (Photo: Google)

Susie Cagle Via Pacific Standard:

Google is growing. The company recently unveiled plans for expanded headquarters it hopes to build in Mountain View, California: a “sprawling sci-fi campus” that is “unlike anything built before it.” The structure looks aggressively inspired, bordering on nonsensical. There are glass canopies and cars that look like bananas.

In a way, though, the most exceptional thing about Google’s offices is that they exist at all. Google and other tech companies build and maintain massive campuses, while other companies are expanding their telework ranks—and using the products of tech companies to do it.

The industry that makes it possible for other companies to employ teleworkers is putting massive resources into developing and maintaining its own office culture.

Telework is growing every year. It’s what many predicted as the work of the future—nimble and flexible production unconstrained by time or place.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Robots vs. the Underclass

Justin Morgan (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Justin Morgan (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Via John Judis at National Journal:

Ever since General Electric installed the first industrial robot in 1961, Americans have been worrying that automation could destroy the country’s labor force. During the Great Recession and its aftermath, these voices grew even louder. “We’re not going to have a jobless recovery,” business writer Jeff Jarvis predicted in 2011. “We’re going to have a jobless future.” “Smart machines won’t kill us all, but they’ll definitely take our jobs and sooner than you think,” Mother Jones warned in 2013.

But which jobs, exactly, are going to disappear? To hear many pundits tell it, the advance of technology is specifically threatening the middle ranks of the workforce. Automation, warned The Economist last October, will lead to “the further erosion of the middle class.” “Robots won’t destroy jobs, but they may destroy the middle class,” a Vox story was titled. The Associated Press produced a series of articles headlined, “What’s destroying the middle class?

Read the rest
Continue Reading

The workplace of 2040: Mind control, holograms and biohacking are the future of business

Hopefully no more of this. Tom Taker (CC BY 2.0)

Hopefully no more of this.
Tom Taker (CC BY 2.0)

Frank Chung via news.com.au:

WHAT will the workplace look like in 2040? Imagine remote working via hologram, commuting by jetpack, even controlling your office with your mind.

MYOB has released its ‘Future of Business: Australia 2040’ report, which examines the possible impact of emerging technologies on business and work over the next 25 years.

While all manner of business interactions will continue to be “formalised, automated and digitised”, the biggest effect will be on what we currently call ‘the workplace’, according to MYOB chief technology officer Simon Raik-Allen.

Driven by the rising cost of energy and transport, the focus of 2040 will be the ‘suburban village’. “You will live, work, eat and learn primarily within walking distance of your house,” he writes.

Communities will pool their resources, people will trade with neighbours and list skills on local noticeboards, drones will deliver packages between communities or “even a coffee and a bagel to your current location”.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Experts predict faster pace of robots replacing factory workers

Via Irish Examiner:

Cheaper and better robots will replace humans in the world’s factories at a faster pace over the next decade, a report has said.

The Boston Consulting Group predicts:

* Investment in industrial robots will grow 10% a year in the world’s 25-biggest export nations up to 2025, up from 2% to 3% a year now.

* The investment will pay off in driving down labour costs by 16% and increased efficiency.

* Robots will cut labour costs by 33% in South Korea, 25% in Japan, 24% in Canada and 22% in the United States and Taiwan.

Only 10% of jobs that can be automated have already been taken by robots. By 2025, the machines will have more than 23%, Boston Consulting forecasts.

Robots are getting cheaper, the report says, with the cost of owning and operating a robotic spot welder, for instance, tumbling from US$182,000 in 2005 to $133,000 last year, and will drop to $103,000 by 2025.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Massive Worldwide Layoff Underway At IBM

ibm_logo

By Tekla Perry at IEEE Spectrum:

IBMers: Please share your experience with me directly at t.perry@ieee.org, on Twitter @teklaperry, or in the comments below. Keep yourself anonymous if you’d like, identify your job function and location if you’re willing, but tell us your story, we want to hear it.

Project Chrome, a massive layoff that IBM is pretending is not a massive layoff, is underway. First reported by Robert X. Cringely (a pen name) in Forbes, about 26 percent of the company’s global workforce is being shown the door. At more than 100,000 people, that makes it the largest mass layoffat any U.S. corporation in at least 20 years. Cringely wrote that notices have started going out, and most of the hundred-thousand-plus will likely be gone by the end of February.

IBM immediately denied Cringely’s report, indicating that a planned $600 million “workforce rebalancing” was going to involve layoffs (or what the company calls “Resource Actions”) of just thousands of people.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Does Work Undermine our Freedom?

Slaves in Ancient Egypt

Slaves in Ancient Egypt

This was originally published on Philosophical Disquisitions.

John Danaher is an academic with interests in the philosophy of technology, religion, ethics and law. He blogs at http://philosophicaldisquisitions.blogspot.com.

Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Work is a dominant feature of contemporary life. Most of us spend most of our time working. Or if not actually working then preparing for, recovering from, and commuting to work. Work is the focal point, something around which all else is organised. We either work to live, or live to work. I am fortunate in that I generally enjoy my work. I get paid to read, write and teach for a living. I can’t imagine doing anything else. But others are less fortunate. For them, work is drudgery, a necessary means to a more desirable end. They would prefer not to work, or to spend much less time doing so.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

The Revolution of Everyday Life: The Decline and Fall of Work

JD Hancock (CC BY 2.0)

JD Hancock (CC BY 2.0)

by Raoul Vaneigem at The Situationist International Text Library

The duty to produce alienates the passion for creation. Productive labour is part and parcel of the technology of law and order. The working day grows shorter as the empire of conditioning extends.In an industrial society which confuses work and productivity, the necessity of producing has always been an enemy of the desire to create. What spark of humanity, of a possible creativity, can remain alive in a being dragged out of sleep at six every morning, jolted about in suburban trains, deafened by the racket of machinery, bleached and steamed by meaningless sounds and gestures, spun dry by statistical controls, and tossed out at the end of the day into the entrance halls of railway stations, those cathedrals of departure for the hell of weekdays and the nugatory paradise of weekends, where the crowd communes in weariness and boredom?

Read the rest
Continue Reading