Tag Archives | Work

What if your manager’s work could be replaced with an algorithm?

Kevin Dooley (CC BY 2.0)

Kevin Dooley (CC BY 2.0)

John Rice, University of New England and Nigel Martin, Australian National University

As new organisational forms emerge, much managerial administration undertaken by large organisations is being shown to be a waste of time and money. Generally, networked computers can do these tasks far more effectively, fairly and consistently than human managers.

This is changing best practices rapidly, and organisations that do not respond, by reducing administrative overheads, are being left behind by those that do.

One defence of the human manager is her or his capacity for empathy, and yet organisations everywhere are rife with interpersonal strife – bullying, victimisation and low morale. If human managers exist primarily to ensure happier workplaces, they are failing at this basic task.

Are we at the dawn of an age without managers and, if so, could this be a very good thing?

What do managers do, really?

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Would You Really Like A World Without Work?

A society in which no one needs to work sounds utopian, at least to most people, but what would it really be like and would we actually enjoy it? Derek Thompson suggests it might not be so great after all, at the Atlantic:

…In the past few years, even as the United States has pulled itself partway out of the jobs hole created by the Great Recession, some economists and technologists have warned that the economy is near a tipping point. When they peer deeply into labor-market data, they see troubling signs, masked for now by a cyclical recovery. And when they look up from their spreadsheets, they see automation high and low—robots in the operating room and behind the fast-food counter. They imagine self-driving cars snaking through the streets and Amazon drones dotting the sky, replacing millions of drivers, warehouse stockers, and retail workers. They observe that the capabilities of machines—already formidable—continue to expand exponentially, while our own remain the same.

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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?

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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”.

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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

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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?

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Should we abolish work?

By JD Hancock via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

By JD Hancock via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

This post was originally published on Philosophical Disquisitions

I seem to work a lot. At least, I think I work a lot. Like many in the modern world, I find it pretty hard to tell the difference between work and the rest of my life. Apart from when I’m sleeping, I’m usually reading, writing or thinking (or doing some combination of the three). And since that is essentially what I get paid to do, it is difficult to distinguish between work and leisure. Of course, reading, writing and thinking are features of many jobs. The difference is that, as an academic, I have the luxury of deciding what I should be reading, writing and thinking about. This luxury has, perhaps, given me an overly positive view of work. But I confess, there are times when I find parts of my job frustrating and overbearing.Read the rest

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Badge Classes And Segregation Inside The Googleplex

Filmmaker Andrew Norman Wilson's eerie short Workers Leaving the Googleplex reveals his brief time employed as a temp in video production at Google's headquarters and how things went terribly wrong. Google fancies itself as creating the future, and its system of separating workers into white, red, green, and yellow badge classes reads like a preview of how society will be organized in some dystopian future. Wilson was fired and threatened with legal action after Google campus security caught him interacting with lowly yellow badge workers, who are not granted the privileges of red and white badge holders, such as riding Google bikes, eating free gourmet Google meals, setting foot anywhere else on Google's campus, or even talking to employees with other badge colors, many of whom do not know that the yellow badge class exists:
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Stop Saying Robots Are Destroying Jobs—They Aren’t

If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them.     ~Isaac Asimov

If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them.
~Isaac Asimov

Change and the unknown may be the commonest fears, along with public speaking. All of which hold the potential of limiting progress. Perhaps some adhere to a notion of singularity, maybe ignorance, perhaps others are prone to the narratives passed down from parents. I don’t know, and I accept that. What I do know is that we all have the power to educate ourselves, and to choose. For the sake of balance I offer you this.

via MIT Technology Review

Many experts would have us believe that robots and other technologies are behind the job drought. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

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Nearly Half Of American Jobs Are Likely To Be Eliminated By Computers Over The Next Two Decades

american jobs

Humanity is nearly obsolete. MIT Technology Review writes:

Rapid advances in technology have long represented a serious potential threat to many jobs ordinarily performed by people.

A recent report from the Oxford Martin School’s Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology concludes that 45 percent of American jobs are at high risk of being taken by computers within the next two decades.

The authors believe this takeover will happen in two stages. First, computers will start replacing people in especially vulnerable fields like transportation/logistics, production labor, and administrative support. Jobs in services, sales, and construction may also be lost in this first stage.

Then, the rate of replacement will slow down due to bottlenecks in harder-to-automate fields such engineering. This “technological plateau” will be followed by a second wave of computerization, dependent upon the development of good artificial intelligence. This could next put jobs in management, science and engineering, and the arts at risk.

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