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A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice From an Oxford economist, a visionary account of how technology will transform the world of work, and what we should do about it From mechanical looms to the combustion engine to the first computers, new technologies have always provoked panic about workers being replaced by machines. For centuries, such fears have been misplaced, A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice From an Oxford economist, a visionary account of how technology will transform the world of work, and what we should do about it From mechanical looms to the combustion engine to the first computers, new technologies have always provoked panic about workers being replaced by machines. For centuries, such fears have been misplaced, and many economists maintain that they remain so today. But as Daniel Susskind demonstrates, this time really is different. Breakthroughs in artificial intelligence mean that all kinds of jobs are increasingly at risk. Drawing on almost a decade of research in the field, Susskind argues that machines no longer need to think like us in order to outperform us, as was once widely believed. As a result, more and more tasks that used to be far beyond the capability of computers – from diagnosing illnesses to drafting legal contracts, from writing news reports to composing music – are coming within their reach. The threat of technological unemployment is now real. This is not necessarily a bad thing, Susskind emphasizes. Technological progress could bring about unprecedented prosperity, solving one of humanity’s oldest problems: how to make sure that everyone has enough to live on. The challenges will be to distribute this prosperity fairly, to constrain the burgeoning power of Big Tech, and to provide meaning in a world where work is no longer the center of our lives. Perceptive, pragmatic, and ultimately hopeful, A World Without Work shows the way.


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A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice From an Oxford economist, a visionary account of how technology will transform the world of work, and what we should do about it From mechanical looms to the combustion engine to the first computers, new technologies have always provoked panic about workers being replaced by machines. For centuries, such fears have been misplaced, A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice From an Oxford economist, a visionary account of how technology will transform the world of work, and what we should do about it From mechanical looms to the combustion engine to the first computers, new technologies have always provoked panic about workers being replaced by machines. For centuries, such fears have been misplaced, and many economists maintain that they remain so today. But as Daniel Susskind demonstrates, this time really is different. Breakthroughs in artificial intelligence mean that all kinds of jobs are increasingly at risk. Drawing on almost a decade of research in the field, Susskind argues that machines no longer need to think like us in order to outperform us, as was once widely believed. As a result, more and more tasks that used to be far beyond the capability of computers – from diagnosing illnesses to drafting legal contracts, from writing news reports to composing music – are coming within their reach. The threat of technological unemployment is now real. This is not necessarily a bad thing, Susskind emphasizes. Technological progress could bring about unprecedented prosperity, solving one of humanity’s oldest problems: how to make sure that everyone has enough to live on. The challenges will be to distribute this prosperity fairly, to constrain the burgeoning power of Big Tech, and to provide meaning in a world where work is no longer the center of our lives. Perceptive, pragmatic, and ultimately hopeful, A World Without Work shows the way.

30 review for A World Without Work: Technology, Automation, and How We Should Respond

  1. 5 out of 5

    Marks54

    This is a newly published book by a British economist that focuses on the potential for technological change and its application via automation to eventually eliminate or at least seriously reduce that amount of economically valuable work that is available for people to do. Is it possible that technology is finally going to succeed in destroying the potential for gainful employment and leaving those who cannot find work with reduced resources and few places to go to support themselves? Hmmm ... This is a newly published book by a British economist that focuses on the potential for technological change and its application via automation to eventually eliminate or at least seriously reduce that amount of economically valuable work that is available for people to do. Is it possible that technology is finally going to succeed in destroying the potential for gainful employment and leaving those who cannot find work with reduced resources and few places to go to support themselves? Hmmm ... perhaps, but the story is a more bit complicated. This is a debate with a long history. Since the time of the Luddites, there has been a concern that new technologies will eliminate existing jobs and leave those displaced former employees in greatly reduced circumstances if not outright poverty. Along with fear, this concern has also generated hostility and even violence to resist the force of technological progress. The threat has cropped up at regular intervals since the mid-19th century and is still with us today. Most recently, Robert Shiller has provided a rich account of this in his book “Narrative Economics”. All is not negative. The demise of work has not yet happened and even if/when it does, all is not lost. As Susskind explains, while new technology is in part a substitute for employees, it has also be a complement to jobs and tasks that ends up expanding work possibilities for many, although not all. So is this just another instance of an economics and policy wonk crying “wolf” only to have the dire future refuse to show up? Susskind argues NO - this time is different. Really - that is a clever ploy to get you to read the book. No, serious, the situation is really different. Why? Because the second wave of Artificial Intelligence research has made breakthroughs in solving problems that we previously thought impossible. Technology researchers have stopped trying to imitate human thinking and instead have focused on figuring out how to get machines to solve hard problems by any means possible - and succeeded. This breakthrough can be seen in the well publicized triumphs of AI in beating the world champions of chess and go, among other triumphs. If this part of the argument is accepted or at least plausible, then Susskind may have a point and the future is not entirely rosy and positive. AI may well provide the basis for automating a much wider range of jobs and tasks than was previously thought. The change will not be complete and will not happen overnight, but it is coming. Susskind spends the second half of the book discussing what to do and how to think about the world where continuous work starts to go away. It is a fascinating discussion and quite different from the typical discussions of technology, work, inequality, government policy options, and the meaning of work that are common in the broad and increasing literature. How can one discuss the unemployed as lazy slackers if there is little or no work to be had? Much in current popular culture regarding work and society presumes the necessity and value of working and ties it to social stability and personal meaning for many in the workforce. What happens when the demand for workers goes away? Susskind writes well and supports his work thoroughly. This is a careful, thoughtful, and highly plausible analysis. It gets a bit repetitious and reiterative at times, as well as covering much familiar ground in the process of laying out his arguments. That is not a major problem, however. This is a good book and well worth reading if one is interested in work and automation. While it covers some familiar ground, it is well crafted and adds to the general discussion.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Wright

    Technological unemployment isn't just coming, it is here now. Manufacturing jobs have been lost to automation and countless others have fallen to algorithms and apps and a need for cheaper and faster everything. The question is not how to stop it, but how to adapt to this unstoppable change. Susskind has written an accessible, important book. For fans of Yuval Harari and anyone who expects to keep living through the next few decades. Technological unemployment isn't just coming, it is here now. Manufacturing jobs have been lost to automation and countless others have fallen to algorithms and apps and a need for cheaper and faster everything. The question is not how to stop it, but how to adapt to this unstoppable change. Susskind has written an accessible, important book. For fans of Yuval Harari and anyone who expects to keep living through the next few decades.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kiwi Begs2Differ ✎

    Extremely interesting, thought provoking and stimulating read about risks of technological changes on modern society. I applaud this author for the courage to come up with ideas to address issues affecting the working population now and in the near future. Susskind proposes radical solutions to problems of inequality, power and meaning are quite outside the square, and likely to cause controversy and attract criticism. Can UBI (Universal Basic income) be the successful answer in a future where a Extremely interesting, thought provoking and stimulating read about risks of technological changes on modern society. I applaud this author for the courage to come up with ideas to address issues affecting the working population now and in the near future. Susskind proposes radical solutions to problems of inequality, power and meaning are quite outside the square, and likely to cause controversy and attract criticism. Can UBI (Universal Basic income) be the successful answer in a future where an increasing number of people will find themselves without work? I’m giving this book a high rating not because I agree with everything that the author states within it, on the contrary, there are a number of points on which I and Susskind disagree, but because I found this a thought provoking book with interesting premises, well supported arguments (even if Susskind’s solutions are debatable) and extensive list of notes for the reader to dig deeper. I reckon this book would be an excellent choice for a group read. I personally found myself recommending it to other people and wanting to discuss the book contents with friends. 4.5 stars rounded up.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Michae;l

    While the concept of less or different work in the future is real, his conclusions are laughable and absurd. He believes a benevolent State will come provide meaning in your life. He apparently is not much a student of history. There are several other flawed assumptions, really too many to discuss. Not worth reading as much as I thought the concept was worth exploring.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    Didn't finish, but didn't take long before I was disturbed by not entirely subtle white nationalist themes? Yikes. After I started worrying there was a theme (author has a big love for Western Europe, protected property rights, German efficiency ...), it didn't take many pages before "rule of law" got trotted out. If you're not sure how that's related, it's time to look up dog whistles and "rule of law." This man is in a position of power at Oxford University and probably has at least some power Didn't finish, but didn't take long before I was disturbed by not entirely subtle white nationalist themes? Yikes. After I started worrying there was a theme (author has a big love for Western Europe, protected property rights, German efficiency ...), it didn't take many pages before "rule of law" got trotted out. If you're not sure how that's related, it's time to look up dog whistles and "rule of law." This man is in a position of power at Oxford University and probably has at least some power related to the world economy. Again, I must say: Yikes. A great alternative for the automated workplace and UBI pieces of this book is Give People Money: How Universal Basic Income Could Change the Future--For the Rich, the Poor, and Everyone in Between.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Miguel

    There’s a pretty big gap in the thesis that Susskind lays out in a future of going from more advanced AI to the depletion in large numbers of jobs such that it will have a significant effect on society. Early in the book he brings up historical examples of new job creation over time (agricultural jobs for the majority of people shifting to other work the most well-known example, to the bank teller roles that never went away with the advent of the ATM). However, somehow we’re to believe that adva There’s a pretty big gap in the thesis that Susskind lays out in a future of going from more advanced AI to the depletion in large numbers of jobs such that it will have a significant effect on society. Early in the book he brings up historical examples of new job creation over time (agricultural jobs for the majority of people shifting to other work the most well-known example, to the bank teller roles that never went away with the advent of the ATM). However, somehow we’re to believe that advanced AI will have such a large effect and render so many jobs obsolete with no concomitant increase in new roles that we have to start preparing for that nightmare scenario now. After a bit of background on AI development (much better handled recently in Human Compatible) he goes on to explain how this ‘frictional unemployment’ will evolve as a real issue, but again it’s never entirely clear why there will not be an associated development of new and different complementary roles. In other words, there’s some smoke here but very little fire. It’s almost as if the thesis of the book is more about creating an interesting hypothetical, and perhaps more cynically having an scary thesis to discuss on talk shows and podcasts. A bit more cynical still – has Susskind ever worked long term in business or industry? I had the unfortunate firsthand experience of working for a few months at the world’s largest software firm that boasts cutting edge AI development tools, and in the department I was in they regularly ignored use of their own products deeming them unusable or impractical. Granted this could be early adoption pains, but it seems that Susskind is overestimating the successful implementation of AI and resulting job displacement. He also never touches on the future scenario where if AI is so successful and advanced, that there would not also be implementation of man-machine interfaces and enhancements as surely this would be more optimal than a machine or AI solution alone? To be fair, in spite of the criticism here (and there’s a lot to be critical about) it’s still a thought provoking and well written book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Manganiello

    As an author myself, I freaking hate it when people finish reading your book, and then fail to alert you of a mistake, so here I am letting you know that I found a mistake in your book, so that you may fix it. The error is referenced below: Page: 114 Third "New" Paragraph "This will no longer the case." Other than that, I thought the book was pretty good, and I especially like how the author toed an albeit fine line when it came to what his own opinions are on the matter of "A World without Work", w As an author myself, I freaking hate it when people finish reading your book, and then fail to alert you of a mistake, so here I am letting you know that I found a mistake in your book, so that you may fix it. The error is referenced below: Page: 114 Third "New" Paragraph "This will no longer the case." Other than that, I thought the book was pretty good, and I especially like how the author toed an albeit fine line when it came to what his own opinions are on the matter of "A World without Work", which I know as an author is a very hard thing to do. He presents you with the facts, and allows you as the reader to come to your own conclusions on all of the matters he presents in his book. Oh, and the notes section is very extensive, and I could definitely tell that Daniel spent an awful lot of time doing his research before ever putting pen to paper, which is something I totally respect and appreciate as a reader.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nils

    Automation and AI mean that the problems of scarcity are being replaced with problems of inequality, concentrated political power, and questions of purpose and identity. The book in the end wishes to defy Leontief’s fears that humans will go the way of horses, rendered obsolete by machinery. Nicely balanced realism about the radical transformations in store without succumbing to either fantasies of technoutopian cornucopia or to the dystopian dread of mass exclusion. In the end, Sussking rightly s Automation and AI mean that the problems of scarcity are being replaced with problems of inequality, concentrated political power, and questions of purpose and identity. The book in the end wishes to defy Leontief’s fears that humans will go the way of horses, rendered obsolete by machinery. Nicely balanced realism about the radical transformations in store without succumbing to either fantasies of technoutopian cornucopia or to the dystopian dread of mass exclusion. In the end, Sussking rightly says it will depend on politics whether the world of rising automation spreads the wealth around so that we can all have an opportunity to achieve toward self-actualization, autonomy and dignity. Susskind’s final call for a “meaning creating state” strikes me not as hopeful but as utterly terrifying, because it assumes that the meanings that the state will seek to promote are inclusive and decent ones, despite much historical and contemporary evidence to the contrary which he completely ignores.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mark Steed

    Daniel Susskind, Economics don at Balliol Oxford, leads the reader through a persuasive well-structured argument that the automation that we are seeing today will be profoundly different from technological change in the past. The consequence of this is that we need to rethink the status of work and look to new ways to shape our society in a ‘world without work’. The Context  Ch.1. A History of Misplaced Anxiety  A survey of the effect of technology on work over the past three cen Daniel Susskind, Economics don at Balliol Oxford, leads the reader through a persuasive well-structured argument that the automation that we are seeing today will be profoundly different from technological change in the past. The consequence of this is that we need to rethink the status of work and look to new ways to shape our society in a ‘world without work’. The Context  Ch.1. A History of Misplaced Anxiety  A survey of the effect of technology on work over the past three centuries is characterised by two rival forces: a harmful substituting force which displaces human beings from performing particular tasks because the technology is faster or cheaper; and a helpful complementing force which raises demand for the work of humans to perform other tasks (e.g. the rollout of ATM machines did not replace bank tellers, but it meant that their role changed to provide customers with a better service p.26) The helpful complementing force to date has done this in 3 ways: the Productivity Effect: machines have made displaced workers more productive at other activities;  the Bigger Pie Effect: technology has made economies and incomes around the world much bigger;  the Changing Pie Effect: technology changed how consumers spend their incomes and how producers make goods and services available. “Up until now, in the battle between the harmful substituting force and helpful complementing force, the latter has won out and there has always been large enough demand for the work that human beings do” (p.28) Ch.2. The Age of Labour  “a time when successive waves of technological progress have broadly benefited rather than harmed workers.” Autor-Levy-Murnane ALM Hypothesis: Machines could readily perform the ‘routine’ tasks in a job, but would struggle with the ‘non-routine’ ones (p.39) Technological progress is neither skill-biased or unskilled-biased it was task-biased (p.40). Ch.3. The Pragmatist Revolution and Ch,4. Underestimating Machines Greek Poet Archilochus: ‘The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.’ p.64 – “we should be wary not of one omnipotent fox, but of an army of industrious hedgehogs” p.67) AI Purists (cognitive scientists) closely observe human beings acting intelligently and try to build machines like them. This approach and the quest for Artificial General Intelligence AGI, to date, has failed. (c.f. the omnipotent fox remains illusive) AI Pragmatists (computer scientists) take a task that requires intelligence when performed by a human being and build a machine to perform it in a fundamentally different way – relying on advances in processing power and data storage. The quest for Artificial Narrow Intelligence ANI is proving quite fruitful (c.f. the army of industrious hedgehogs). “The temptation is to say that because machines cannot reason like us, they will never exercise judgement; because they cannot think like us they will never exercise creativity; because they cannot feel like us, they will never be empathic. All that may be right. But it fails to recognise that machines might be able to carry out tasks that require empathy, judgement or creativity when done by a human being – but doing them in some entirely different fashion.” (p.72-73) “We do not need to solve the mysteries of how the brain and mind operate to build machines that can outperform human beings.” (p.74) The Threat  5. Task Encroachment  Technology is encroaching on all areas of work: Manual capabilities (agriculture, driverless cars, car manufacturing, construction industry, 3D printing); Cognitive capabilities (Law, Medicine, Education, Finance, Insurance, Botany, Journalism, Military – “Computational creativity”) Affective Capabilities (“affective computing”, “social robotics”) Task encroachment will be taken up at different paces. Because “some tasks are far harder to automate than others”;  in some industries the cost of human labour is low and complexity of automation is high (e.g. cleaning, hairdressing, table-waiting);  different cultures and jurisdictions will have different attitudes and regulations.  Ch.6. Frictional Technical Unemployment  “There is still work to be done by human beings; the problem is that not all workers are able to reach out and take it up” (p.99). Three reasons for this: A Skills Mismatch (work available for much more qualified or more skilful);  An Identity Mismatch (work available but doesn’t fit will self-image – not a graduate job, or a man’s job – jobless lorry drivers may not want to do “pink collar” work such as child care);  A Place Mismatch (the work available may be in a different part of the country/ world)  There will be 3 consequences of Frictional Unemployment: the “technological overcrowding, with people packing into a residual pool of whatever work remains within their reach” (p.109): there will be downward pressure on wages;  there will be downward pressure on the quality of the work;  there will be downward pressure on the status of the work available (rich-poor, master-servant divide).  Ch.7. Structural Technical Unemployment  In the future the Complementing Force is likely to be much weaker: 1) The Productivity Effect – “As task encroachment continues, human capabilities will be come irrelevant . . . for more and more tasks” (p.114); 2) The Bigger-Pie Effect – “a growing demand for good may mean not more demand for the work of human beings, but merely more demand for machines” (p.116); 3) The Changing Pie Effect – for consumers, “As task encroachment continues, it becomes more and more likely that changes in demand for goods will not turn out to be a boost in demand for the work of humans, but of machines” (p.119); and for producers, “As task encroachment continues, will it not become sensible to allocate more of the complex new tasks to machines instead?” (p.121). “It is a mistake to think that there is likely to be enough demand for them [human beings] to keep everyone in work” (p.124).  For Susskind, at present there is an assumption that human beings are superior to machines; in future we may need to assume that we are inferior. “Just as today, we talk about ‘horsepower’ harking back to a time when the pulling power of a draft horse was a measure that mattered, future generations may come to use the term ‘manpower’ as a similar kind of throwback, a relic of a time when human beings considered themselves so economically important that they crowned themselves as the unit of measurement” (p.130).  Ch. 8. Technology and Inequality   “The largest economic pies, belonging to the most prosperous nations, are being shared out less equally in the past” (p.137)  The longstanding relationships between traditional (33.3%) and human capital (66.6%) is changing: Traditional Capital “is everything owned by the residents and governments of a given country at a given point of time, provided that it can be traded on some market” (p.133). Human Capital is “the entire bundle of skills and talents that people build up over their lives and put to use in their work” (p.134). Susskind identifies three trends (p.146): “human capital is less evenly distributed”;  “human capital is becoming less and less valuable relatively to traditional capital”;  “traditional capital is distributed in an extraordinarily uneven fashion”.  “Today many people lack traditional capital, but still earn an income from the work that they do, a return on their human capital. Technological unemployment threatens to dry up this latter stream of income as well, leaving them with nothing at all” (p.149).  The Response  Ch.9. Education and its Limits  “’More education’ remains our best response at the moment to the threat of technological employment." We can do this in 3 ways: What we teach: “do not prepare people for tasks that we know that machines can already do better; or activities that we can reasonably predict will be done better by machines very soon” (p.158) N.B. “Many tasks that cannot yet be automated are found not in the best-paid roles, but in jobs like social workers, paramedics and schoolteachers.”  How we teach: non traditional blended-learning and online learning methods need to become more commonplace.  When we teach: we need to move to a world of life-long learning: “People will have to grow comfortable with moving in and out of education, repeatedly, throughout their lives. We will have to constantly re-educate ourselves” (p.160).  BUT “Even the best existing education systems cannot provide the literacy, numeracy and problem-solving skills that are required to help the majority of workers compete with today’s machines” (p.165).  “Some people may cease to be of economic value: unable to put their human capital to productive use, and unable to re-educate themselves to gain other useful skills” (p.166).  “Education will also struggle to solve the problem of structural technological unemployment. If there is not enough demand for the work that people are training to do, a world-class education will be of little help” (p.166).  Ch. 10. The Big State  The role for the state in the C21 world without work is to deal with the looming disparities and inequalities in society. It will do this through taxation and redistribution of income and wealth. Taxation:  1) taxing workers who have managed to escape the harmful effects of task encroachment;  2) taxing capital – taxing “the income that flows to owners of increasingly valuable traditional capital” (p.176);  taxing big business – this needs to be tackled at a global level.  Redistribution: Susskind rejects the idea of Universal Basic Income (UBI) which has no strings attached. He has an excellent critique of the problems associated with membership criteria for UBI. He argues instead for a Conditional Basic Income (CBI) which requires recipients to contribute in some way (to be defined) to society. This is based on a view of ‘contributive justice’ whereby everyone feels that their fellow citizens are giving back to society. His vision is for a ‘Capital-sharing State’ and a ‘Labour-supporting State’. Ch. 11. Big Tech  For Susskind, Big Tech companies are here to stay for two reasons: Expensive Resources: it costs enormous amount to develop new technologies – huge amounts of data, world-leading software, and extraordinarily powerful hardware. Small firms cannot compete and talented ones just get bought out.  Network effects – networks are more rewarding the bigger they get.  Susskind rejects the economic arguments against large monopolistic firms – most are not abusing their monopoly economically. Instead he questions their political and social influence. Here he argues for new regulatory institutions which can insist on greater transparency and ensure that liberty, democracy and social justice are not under threat. Ch,12. Meaning and Purpose  A world without work throws up philosophical questions about how human beings find meaning; and practical questions of how people will spend their leisure time: volunteering, unpaid work, community required activities (see Conditional Basic Income above).  “A job is not simply a source of income but of meaning, purpose and direction in life as well” (p.215).  In the C21 “Work is the opium of the People”. Work has meaning beyond the purely economic. “The problem is not simply how to live, but how to live well” (p.236). Revisiting Education. Spartan King Agesilaus: ‘the purpose of education is to teach children the skills that they will use when they grow up.’ Perhaps schools should prepare young people for a world of leisure: character, virtue, life skills education. “If free time does become a bigger part of our lives, then it is likely also to become a bigger part of the State’s role as well” (p.234)  A world without work throws up three fundamental problems: the problem of inequality;  the problem of political power;  the problem of meaning. This is an important book - essential reading for anyone who is interested in preparing young people for the future.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Isty26

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Book review of Daniel Susskind’s “A World Without Work: Technology, Automation and How We Should Respond” (2020) This was a sobering read by an Oxford economist of what the future might hold — a world with less work. The effect of technology is often viewed as an interaction between two rival forces— a harmful substituting force and a helpful complementing force. Susskind argues that machines are increasingly taking on more and more tasks once performed by people (task encroachment), and the subs Book review of Daniel Susskind’s “A World Without Work: Technology, Automation and How We Should Respond” (2020) This was a sobering read by an Oxford economist of what the future might hold — a world with less work. The effect of technology is often viewed as an interaction between two rival forces— a harmful substituting force and a helpful complementing force. Susskind argues that machines are increasingly taking on more and more tasks once performed by people (task encroachment), and the substituting force is gathering strength and will at some point overwhelm the complementing force. This is not least because even if the complementing force raises the demand for human labour elsewhere, “friction” in the labour market prevents workers from moving freely into whatever jobs might be available (i.e. a skills, identity or simply geographical mismatch). We imagine that humans are special, but this assumption looks increasingly dubious as task encroachment continues. Demand for commodities, goods and services is not always demand for the work of human beings, but only demand for whatever tasks have to be carried out to produce those commodities. Even if there are residual tasks for humans (ie tasks impossible to automate, tasks which are possible but unprofitable to automate, and tasks which are both possible and profitable to automate but remain restricted to human beings due to regulatory or cultural barriers, or tasks that remain out of reach because we value the fact that they are done by human beings), these tasks are dwindling in number and there is unlikely to be enough demand for such tasks to keep everyone in work. Susskind also argues that we should not mistakenly assume that the growth in work due to technological advances necessarily involves tasks that human beings - not machines - are best placed to perform. Machines are growing increasingly capable (of learning by themselves), and we would be wrong to assume that their limits are human intelligence. Susskind then moves on to say that the threat of technological unemployment is an extreme form of something already affecting us now- rising inequality. He distinguishes between human capital and traditional capital: the former being the entire bundle of skills and talents that people build up over their lives and put to use in their work and the latter being ownership of some kind of property, like stocks and shares, real estate and patents. He points out three distinct trends behind growing inequality: 1) human capital becoming less and less evenly distributed with people’s different skills getting rewarded to very different degrees; 2) human capital becoming less and less valuable relative to traditional capital; and 3) traditional capital being distributed in extraordinarily uneven fashion. He says that technological progress will make the distribution problem even more severe and harder to solve in future—many people lack traditional capital today but still earn an income from their work, a return on human capital. Technological unemployment threatens to dry up this latter stream of income as well, leaving them with nothing. As for how we should respond, Susskind argues that education has its limits. Some people may simply cease to have “economic value”: unable to put their human capital to productive use, and unable to re-educate themselves to gain other useful skills. Not everyone will necessarily be able to learn to do whatever is left to be done, or even if it were possible, it might not make financial sense for older workers who may not have enough productive time left in the labour market to recoup the expense of training. Note: we should not conflate economic value with human value. Susskind argues that the Big State should take over the labour market’s role in solving the distribution problem. It will have to significant tax those who manage to retain valuable capital and income in the future, and figure out the best way to share the money raised with those who do not. Susskind identifies three main places to tax: workers, capital and big business. Susskind further argues that there should be a conditional basic income - available only to some people. In a world with less work, many members of the community will not be able to contribute economically, but have to rely on the productive effort of others. How do we keep a split community together? The point of imposing conditions is not to support the labour market, but to support the community. The problem with a universal basic income is that it ignores the contribution problem of making sure that everyone feels that their fellow citizens are in some way giving back to society— workers see it as a “recipe for exploitation of the industrious by the lazy”. If some people cannot contribute through work, they will be required to do something else for the community— we can speculate but these tasks might include certain types of intellectual or cultural toil, caring for and supporting fellow human beings, teaching children how to flourish, etc. Apart from playing the role of income-sharing, the Big State could also share out traditional capital and support labour (ie by supporting workers during the transition and making sure that the remaining jobs are high paid and high quality). Susskind also points out that our future economies are likely to become dominated by large technology companies who will also grow in political power. He says we will need a new authority distinct from our traditional competition authorities to have oversight over such companies Finally, Susskind touches on how the threat of technological unemployment will deprive people not only if income but of significance and meaning in their lives. He argues that the state might want to step in and support people’s use of their time in a meaningful way, though not in direct pursuit of a wage. Beyond recreational and political activities, educational, household and caregiving activities should be recognised as important as well. A meaning-creating state should step in to guide whatever floods in to fill work’s place. This is the most unfamiliar role for the Big State- we often think of our politicians as managers and technocrats whose role is to solve esoteric policy problems, but not as moral leaders. In a world with less work, we have to revisit the fundamental ends again- to reconsider what it really means to live a meaningful life.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sudeepa Nair

    Let me begin with who, according to me, should read this book. -those who are worried about Robots and AI taking up our jobs -those who are worried about rising income inequality -parents who are worried about the children’s future careers -those who are concerned about the present and future trajectory of our education system -those who know to code and those who don’t know to code The author raises pertinent questions about current notions on which jobs or professions are likely to disappear due to Let me begin with who, according to me, should read this book. -those who are worried about Robots and AI taking up our jobs -those who are worried about rising income inequality -parents who are worried about the children’s future careers -those who are concerned about the present and future trajectory of our education system -those who know to code and those who don’t know to code The author raises pertinent questions about current notions on which jobs or professions are likely to disappear due to increased automation. However, the book moves forward on the premise that work itself would be less in the future. How do we then bridge the economic inequality, handle the power struggles and find meaning in a workless life? These are the key hypothetical problems discussed in the book. The author provides a cogent argument on how or why we might face these issues in the future. As for the possible solutions - the author throws a plethora of ideas into the mix, from better taxation to reinventing education and also, introduces the concept of Conditional Basic Income as opposed to a Universal Basic Income. The language is as simple as an economist could probably use for a socially, technologically, and economically relevant topic such as these. It might help to brush up some of your data interpretation abilities as the author uses data to prove a point when required. However, even if you are the kind of person who prefers to stay away from numbers, this book can give you enough points to ponder upon. It is a book worth reading at the turn of the decade, especially this year, when we have grappled with things beyond our comprehension. It is a book one must read if one does not want to be asked ‘What are you good for?’ and answer, ‘Absolutely nothing.’

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jerry Wall

    God = things not explained, i.e. God of the gaps. p. 62 certain uniquely human characteristics such as empathy, creativity, judgment, or critical thinking will never be automated p. 77 legal automation examples. p. 82 Catholic church in 2011 issued an imprimatur (official license for religious texts. to a mobile app. p. 85 . . . countries that are aging faster tend to invest more in automation. p. 94 . . . more robots were installed in China in 2016 than in any other country. * * * To adapt the old s God = things not explained, i.e. God of the gaps. p. 62 certain uniquely human characteristics such as empathy, creativity, judgment, or critical thinking will never be automated p. 77 legal automation examples. p. 82 Catholic church in 2011 issued an imprimatur (official license for religious texts. to a mobile app. p. 85 . . . countries that are aging faster tend to invest more in automation. p. 94 . . . more robots were installed in China in 2016 than in any other country. * * * To adapt the old saying , nothing in life can be said to be certain, except death, taxes, -- and this relentless process of task encroachment. p. 97 . . . participation rate . . .the percentage of the entire working age population who are employed p. 108 . . . in 2016, 7.6 milliuon Americans -- about 5 percent of the US workforce -- who spent at least twenty seven weeks of the year in the labor forced still remained below the poverty line. * * * proletariat. . . term for lowest social class . . . . today the term precariat . . . more and more work is not just poorly paid but also unstable and stressful. p. 109 . . . what happened to horses will happen to people. p. 120 John Stuart Mill: " demand for commodities is not demand for labour. p. 122 . . . the world of work comes to an end not with a bang, but a withering -- a withering in the demand for the work of human beings, as the substituting force gradually overrruns the complementing force and the balance between the two no longer tips in favor of human beings. *** As Leontief put it, lowering worker's wages could "postpone [their] replacement by machines for the same reason that a reduction of oats rations allocated to horses could delay their replacement by tractors. p. 127 All human societies, small and large, simple and complex, poor and affluent have had to figure out how best to share their unevenly allocated prosperity with one another. p. 133 !!!!! human capital * * * When some people find themselves with human capital that is of no value in labor market -- that is, when no one wants to pay them to put their skills and talent to use. p. 135 !!!!!! the world's eight richest men appeared to have as much wealth as the entire poorest half of the global population. * * * Piketty notes that in most countries, the richest 10 percent tend to own half or more (often much more) of all the wealth, while the poorest half of the country's population "own virtually nothing." * * * poorest 50 percent of Americans own only 2 percent of the country's wealth.* * * the top 0.1 percent holds the same amount of wealth as the poorest 90 percent combined. . . . p. 145 !!!!!! ... rule for the moment: do not prepare people for tasks that we know machines can already do better or a activities that we can reasonably predict will be done better by machines very soon. p. 18 !!!!!! . . . Homo Deus. . . Harari . . . economically useless people. * * * contemplating the search for meaning in a world with less work. p. 166 Almost everyone has a bundle of talents and skills, their human capital * * * the prospect of a world of less work is so disconcerting : it will put the traditional mechanism for slicing up the economic pie out of use, and make the familiar response of more education far less effective than it once was. * * * the question of how we share out our prosperity, p. 168 !!!!! . . . Giant Evils (of Beveridge report) of want, disease, ignorance, squalor, and idleness. . . p. 173 identifying exactly where income (in AI world) is tending to gather. . . 3 likely places Taxing Capital taxing big business income sharing state to conditional basic income CBI to p. 183 [ AI will produce] a stuttering decline in the demand for the work of human beings, beginning in small corners of the labor market and spreading as time goes on. p. 193 Economic success is not a free pass to run roughshod over our political lives. p. 213 We need a new institution, stafed by political theorists and moral philosophers, to watch over individuals as citizens in a society not simply as consumers in a marketplace. That is what this new authority must do. p. 214 . . . the threat of technological unemployment has another face to it. It will deprive people not only of income, but also of significance. p. 215 . . . in feudal times, at least those at the top knew that their economic fortuens were a fluke of birth. . . p. 219 !!!!! Bertrand Russell In Praise of Idleness. . conspicuous leisure. p. 224 . . . there is no country and no people, I think, who can look forward to the age of leisure and of abundance without a dread. For we have been trained too long to strive and not to enjoy. p. 225 !!!!!! . . . I have spoken about a world with less work. what I have really meant, though, is a world with less paid work. po. 231 . . . activities that they dchoose and others that their community requires them to do. * * * a worker's worth is the wage that they receive. p. 233 . . . if we adopt a CBI we will be driven to do exactly that: to take activities that the invisible hand of the labor marker has marked down as worthless, and with the visible hand of the community to hold them up as being valuable and important. p. 234 The problem is not simply how to live, but how to live well. We will be forced to consider what it really means to live a meaningful life. p. 236 "Golden Age of Security." p. 237 Not that many generations ago, almost all human beings lived on or around the poverty line. p. 238

  13. 4 out of 5

    Romany

    Any minute now.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nick Harris

    Excellent discussion of the causes of less work, but vague on the details of the radical socialist solutions.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    If you are looking for some perspective on the history and evolution of technology and its impact on the workplace, as well as where it is headed and its anticipated future impacts-- this may be the book for you. Here are a few notes I took from it: • “The future of work raises exciting and troubling questions that often have little to do with economics: questions about the nature of intelligence, about inequality and why it matters, about the political power of large technology companies, about If you are looking for some perspective on the history and evolution of technology and its impact on the workplace, as well as where it is headed and its anticipated future impacts-- this may be the book for you. Here are a few notes I took from it: • “The future of work raises exciting and troubling questions that often have little to do with economics: questions about the nature of intelligence, about inequality and why it matters, about the political power of large technology companies, about what it means to live a meaningful life, about how we might live together in a world that looks very difference from the one in which we have grown up” (p. 3). • “The idea that the effect of technology on work might depend upon the interaction between these two rival forces—a harmful substituting force and a helpful complementing force—is not new… On the one hand, a machine “substitutes” for human beings when it displaces them from particular tasks. This, when it happens, is relatively easy to see. On the other hand, a machine “complements” human beings when it raises the demand for their work at other tasks—a phenomenon that… can happen in three different ways, and is often less easy to identify that its destructive cousin” (p. 26). • “… if you took all the occupations and arrange them in a long line from the lowest-skilled to the highest-skilled, over the last few decades you would have often seen the pay and the share of jobs grow for those at either end of the line, but wither for those near the middle… This phenomenon is known as “polarization” or “hollowing out”” (p. 36). • “If you look closely at any particular job,… it is obvious that people perform a wide variety of different tasks during their workday. To think clearly about technology and work, therefore, we have to start from the bottom up, focusing on the particular tasks that people do, rather than looking from the top down, looking only at the far more general job titles. The second realization was subtler. With time, it became clear that the level of education required by human beings to perform a given task—how “skilled” those people were—was not always a helpful indication of whether a machine would find that same task easy or difficult. Instead, what appeared to matter was whether the task itself was … “routine”… Technological progress, it appeared, was neither skill-biased nor unskill-biased… Rather it was task-biased, with machines able to perform certain types of tasks but unable to perform others. This meant that the only workers to benefit from technological change would be those well placed to perform the ‘non-routine’ tasks that machines could not handle” (p. 38-39). • “But in the second wave of AI, machines no longer relied on this top-down application of human intelligence. Instead, they began to use vast amounts of processing power and increasingly sophisticated algorithms to search through huge bodies of data, mining human experience and example to figure out what to do themselves, from the bottom up. The word algorithm.. simply means a set of step-by-step instructions. Machine-learning algorithms, which drive much of the progress in AI today, are specifically aimed at letting systems learn from their experience instead of being guided by explicit rules… For instance, many of the most capable machines today rely on what are known as ‘artificial neural networks,’ which were first built decades ago in an attempt to simulate the workings of the human brain. Today, though, there is little sense that these networks should be judged according to how closely they imitate human anatomy; instead, they are evaluated entirely pragmatically, according to how well they perform whatever tasks they are set” (p. 52). • “When the field of AI was just starting up, and it didn’t yet have a name, one thought was to call the area of research ‘computational rationality’. This term may not be quite as exciting or provocative as ‘artificial intelligence,’ but it is probably a better match, since this is exactly what these machines are doing: using computational power to search through a vast ocean of possible actions for the most rational one to take” (p. 56-57). • “AGI [Artificial General Intelligence], it is said, will represent a turning point in human history—perhaps the turning point. The idea is that once machines have ‘general’ capabilities, and are able to perform a wide range of tasks better than human beings can, then it is only a matter of time before the task of designing yet more capable machines falls within their reach. At this point, it is thought, an ‘intelligence explosion’ will take place: machines endlessly improving upon those that came before, their capabilities soaring in an ever-accelerating blast of recursive self-improvement. This process, it is said, will lead to machines with ‘superintelligence’” (p. 65). • “… computer scientists and economists were committing what my father and I have come to call the ‘AI fallacy’: the mistaken belief that the only way to develop machines that perform a task at the level of human beings is to copy the way that human beings perform that task” (p. 71). • “Frictional technological unemployment does not necessarily mean there will be fewer jobs for human beings to do. For the next decade or so, in almost all economies, the substituting force that displaces workers is likely to be overwhelmed by the complementing force that raises the demand for their work elsewhere… many tasks are likely to remain beyond the capabilities of machines, and technological progress will tend to raise the demand for human beings to do them. However, as in the tale of Tantalus, this in-demand work is likely to be agonizingly out of the grasp of many people who want it as well. ‘Frictions’ in the labor market prevent workers from moving freely into whatever jobs might be available” (p. 100). • “There are three… different types of friction at work: a mismatch of skills, a mismatch of identity, and a mismatch of place” (p. 101). • “And when this happens—where workers find themselves stranded in a particular corner of the labor market but still want a job—the outcome will not be technological unemployment, with people unable to find work at all, but a sort of technological overcrowding, with people packing into a residual pool of whatever work remains within their reach. Rather than directly cause a rise in joblessness, this could have three harmful effects on the nature of the work. The first is that, as people crowd in, there will be downward pressure on wages… as more people jostle for whatever work remains for them to do, wages will fall. It also seems reasonable to think that these wages might fall so low in whatever corner of the labor market a worker is confined to that it will no longer be worth their while to take up that work at all. If that happens, the two phenomena become one… The second impact… is that there will be downward pressure on the quality of some of the jobs as well. With more workers chasing after those jobs, there is less need for employers to attract them with good working conditions… It is sometimes said, in a positive spirit, that new technologies make it easier for people to work flexibly, to start new businesses, become self-employed, and to have a more varied career than their parents or grandparents. That may be true. But for many, this ‘flexibility’ feels more like instability… The third impact of people crowding in on the work that remains involves the status attached to it… What is emerging is not just an economic division, where some earn much more than others, but a status division as well, between those who are rich and those who serve them” (p. 110). • “Theory of the Lump of Labour” [David Schloss]: it held ‘that there is a certain fixed amount of work to be done, and that it is best, in the interests of the workmen, that each man shall take care not to do too much work, in order that thus the Lump of Labour may be spread out thin over the whole body of workpeople”. Today, this fallacy… is used to argue that there is no fixed lump or work in the economy to be divided up between people and machines; instead, technological progress raises the demand for work performed by everyone in the economy. In other words, it is a version of the point that economists make about the two fundamental forces of technological progress: machines may substitute for workers, leaving less of the original ‘lump of work’ for human beings, but they complement workers as well, increasing the size of the ‘lump of work’ in the economy overall… however, these is a serious problem with this argument: over time, it is likely to become a fallacy itself… It may be right that technological progress increases the overall demand for work. But it is wrong to think that human beings will necessarily be better placed to perform the tasks that are involved in meeting that demand. The lump of labor fallacy involves mistakenly assuming that that growth in the lump of work has to involve tasks that human beings—not machines are best placed to perform” (p. 126). • “… Gini coefficient. This is a number that captures how incomes are spread out: if everyone has the same income in a particular society, then its Gini coefficient is zero, and if only one person earns everything, then the Gini coefficient is one. In most developed countries, this number has risen significantly over the last few decades… In other words, the largest economic pies, belonging to the most prosperous nations, are being shared out less equally than in the past” (p. 136). • “… education will also struggle to solve the problem of structural technological unemployment. If there is not enough demand for the work that people are training to do, a world-class education will be of little help” (p. 166).

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ietrio

    Another academic leech who is not content with how much tax money the state is pushing his way and gets a second job as a fear monger. Welcome the academic prophet.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Automation is changing the world of work, and we're not ready for it. Yep. So let's get serious. Susskind discusses different forms of UBI (which he sees as an inevitability) and working for the good of the community (not necessarily for pay), but his thoughts on how income would be distributed are hazy at best. Still, the discussions of economic theory and the history of economic and technological change were interesting and instructive. Automation is changing the world of work, and we're not ready for it. Yep. So let's get serious. Susskind discusses different forms of UBI (which he sees as an inevitability) and working for the good of the community (not necessarily for pay), but his thoughts on how income would be distributed are hazy at best. Still, the discussions of economic theory and the history of economic and technological change were interesting and instructive.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Youngs

    It's a book about economics - for me that was always going to make it a bit on the dry side. Having said that, though, it was well-written, surprisingly entertaining and very thought-provoking. It's a book about economics - for me that was always going to make it a bit on the dry side. Having said that, though, it was well-written, surprisingly entertaining and very thought-provoking.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jack Moran

    Over the last few hundred years, attempts to innovate have brought with them frequent anxieties about the implications for workers: namely, the fear that those innovations will lead to technological unemployment. As technological progress accelerates like never before, Daniel Susskind attempts to wrestle with two essential questions for anyone looking forward to the next century of human life: (a) is automation going to render us all jobless, and (b) if so, how do we respond - economically, yes, Over the last few hundred years, attempts to innovate have brought with them frequent anxieties about the implications for workers: namely, the fear that those innovations will lead to technological unemployment. As technological progress accelerates like never before, Daniel Susskind attempts to wrestle with two essential questions for anyone looking forward to the next century of human life: (a) is automation going to render us all jobless, and (b) if so, how do we respond - economically, yes, but also morally? The first part of the book offers a thorough and compelling overview of the reasons why, after centuries of Ludditery, this time really is different - that task encroachment into the cognitive, affective, and manual aspects of human labour is going to reach a point at which it no longer makes economic sense to pay humans to do a job instead of a machine. He offers thorough caveats, but his conclusion is that the future is one in which there is ultimately less paid work for us all to do. This first half is commendable for its thoroughness, but much of its legwork has been done by other authors (for example, a number of the anecdotes and insights about resistance to technological progress and advancements in artificial intelligence can be found in the writings of Calum Chace and Nick Bostrom). However, this section is as accessible as it is thorough, and as good a place as any to start for those wanting to think about the future world of work and technological progress. As the book progresses, Susskind explores how we might respond politically, economically, and morally to this new world. His policy prescriptions are ones that resonated strongly with me: Susskind favours a prominent role for the state in responding to the economic inequalities that will ensue from technological unemployment, and his third part offers a range of policy prescriptions designed to combat to keep society together as the 'Age of Labour' dwindles to a necessary but volatile conclusion. This thoughtfully-outlined role includes, among other things, administering a conditional basic income (CBI), sharing traditional capital among citizens as human capital becomes less valuable, and, perhaps most provocatively, trying to help people find new sources of purpose and meaning in a world with less work (the 'leisure-supporting' state). Whether or not one shares Susskind's statist sympathies, A World Without Work comes highly recommended as a meticulously-researched, admirably extensive overview of some of the biggest questions we will face over the next fifty years.

  20. 4 out of 5

    ReadingMama

    Written by a British Economist, this is an excellent prediction of the near future and as matter of fact, a lot of our reality. I believe all 2020 presidential candidates must read this kind of book if he/she truly cares about LEADING this nation, and understand the world. There are many excellent points that Susskind brings out in this book but these are some of the interesting and crucial findings that I grasped. Three effects that technology/machines have impacted: Productivity effect: machine Written by a British Economist, this is an excellent prediction of the near future and as matter of fact, a lot of our reality. I believe all 2020 presidential candidates must read this kind of book if he/she truly cares about LEADING this nation, and understand the world. There are many excellent points that Susskind brings out in this book but these are some of the interesting and crucial findings that I grasped. Three effects that technology/machines have impacted: Productivity effect: machines have made displaced workers more productive at other activities Bigger pie effect: technology has made economics and incomes around the world much bigger Changing pie effect: technology changed how consumers spend their incomes, while producers make goods and services available (i.e. Amazon service; grocery delivery options) As AI improves, machines are improving more cleverly and may be about to carry out tasks that require empathy, judgement and/or creativity. Technology is encroaching all areas of work: agriculture, driverless cars, 3D printing for human organs (my daughter worked on one of these projects~!!), law, medicine, education, finances, military and even social robotics! There still will be work need to be done by human; however, not all workers are able to take them because of the following reasons: Skill mismatch: work available requires higher level of skill and quality Identity mismatch: work available may not fit for certain self image (i.e. pink color worker : child care… certain cultural areas, a male may not take this job.) Place mismatch: work available may be far away We may think human beings are superior to machines but in future, it may be reversed! The author provides 3 solutions: -Education: focus on things that we can do better than machines; Utilize more on line learning (This is happening RIGHT NOW in our reality. Due to Covid19, all education is rapidly adapting to online learning mode!!; lifelong learning: this is why I am taking a Coursera course/Duolingo/reading 200 books this year.) -Taxation! -Redistribution: Conditional Base Income (CBI): to require recipients to contribute to society (I LOVE THIS IDEA! The more you make, the more you must contribute to the needed proportionally!)

  21. 4 out of 5

    Choonghwan

    Ever since the early days of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century, we have been repeatedly warned of the diminishing demand for labor. First steam engines, then internal combustion engines, railways, electricity, telephones, and computers, the list can go on and on. Until the very end of the 20th century, it had proven to be false dawnings: we end up having new job opportunities while losing some others in the process. Not likely any longer. While technology keeps replacing manual work Ever since the early days of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century, we have been repeatedly warned of the diminishing demand for labor. First steam engines, then internal combustion engines, railways, electricity, telephones, and computers, the list can go on and on. Until the very end of the 20th century, it had proven to be false dawnings: we end up having new job opportunities while losing some others in the process. Not likely any longer. While technology keeps replacing manual work relentlessly, now it also challenges once considered exclusively the human domain of cognitive labors, such as white-collar workers’. AI will surely be better at most of the jobs remained and regarded for men in the near future. This presents two difficult policy questions. First, without enough work available, how can we manage the distribution of economic pie in an aggregate sense? Universal basic income can be a starter. Regardless of job conditions, the economy as a whole will grow nonetheless which means there is a bigger pie. The only problem here is there is no mechanism to distribute it when labor is not accessible universally any longer. Second, labor is not only for income. Work gives us meaning and reason regardless of economic value inherent. How we can cope with the world without meaning and self-esteem is a whole new ballgame.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nigel Halliwell

    A great book on the impact of automation and digital transformation in the world of work. A compassionate and reasoned text that doesn't just name the issues but provides some helpful ways forward. Doesn't fall into the 'Doomsayer' trap (like many before) of saying we're all going to be replaced by robots but looks at how over the years many tasks have been automated, affecting not just manual labour but intellectual skills and reasoning and thus many traditional white-collar and professions lik A great book on the impact of automation and digital transformation in the world of work. A compassionate and reasoned text that doesn't just name the issues but provides some helpful ways forward. Doesn't fall into the 'Doomsayer' trap (like many before) of saying we're all going to be replaced by robots but looks at how over the years many tasks have been automated, affecting not just manual labour but intellectual skills and reasoning and thus many traditional white-collar and professions like law and medicine. Much of this is welcome in that it makes jobs easier, quicker and more cost-effective (as well as less repetitive and mundane), however we must face the fact that there will soon come a time where there is not enough work left for humans to do and not everyone who wants to or can work will be able to do so. What might communities and society look like? How might people live without an income (UBI/CBI)? How do we value what people can do/contribute regardless of whether it generates an income? Big questions for us all. Definitely worth a read as you are likely to come away hopeful rather than depressed.

  23. 4 out of 5

    John Pollard

    4.5 stars. The computers and robots continue their march. The jobs they can do better than humans continue to expand. The inevitable conclusion is that humans are being sidelined in terms of how value in work is generated. There are some lovely graphs and stats in this book, presented in a compelling way. For me the biggest eye opener was that until around 1950 there was a very direct correlation between wages and productivity; as GDP grows, so did human capital - the value of human labour measu 4.5 stars. The computers and robots continue their march. The jobs they can do better than humans continue to expand. The inevitable conclusion is that humans are being sidelined in terms of how value in work is generated. There are some lovely graphs and stats in this book, presented in a compelling way. For me the biggest eye opener was that until around 1950 there was a very direct correlation between wages and productivity; as GDP grows, so did human capital - the value of human labour measured in total work earnings. However, since then growth has continued relentlessly, but traditional capital is relentlessly taking a greater share. Robots and computers make businesses more efficient, the gains go to business owners, shareholders, not the workers. Inequality increases and the number and value of jobs decreases. The book is perhaps slightly weaker on the "what can we do about it" part, but still good.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Serge

    Very thorough and thoughtful analysis of the paradoxes of automation and greater reliance on AI. The explanation of the ALM hypothesis and its implications for technological encroachment and frictional technological unemployment was persuasive. Less convincing was the final section of the book which promoted a "Big State" set of solutions unlikely to garner any bipartisan support at the state or national levels of government. A conditional basic income is no more likely to find a a legislative h Very thorough and thoughtful analysis of the paradoxes of automation and greater reliance on AI. The explanation of the ALM hypothesis and its implications for technological encroachment and frictional technological unemployment was persuasive. Less convincing was the final section of the book which promoted a "Big State" set of solutions unlikely to garner any bipartisan support at the state or national levels of government. A conditional basic income is no more likely to find a a legislative home than the universal basic income. A robot tax will be resisted by multiple sectors of the economy. A social class consisting of paid and unpaid artisans is a stretch of the imagination. I appreciated the sections on the connection of work to meaning and purpose. I also agree with Susskind that the political ambitions of Big Tech are as worrisome as its anti-competitive monopolistic penchants. Still, I suspect that market solutions will lead the way to a new Age of Labor

  25. 4 out of 5

    Matt Stevens

    I finished the book. But its been a long time since I finished a book and yet was this frustrated by it. Moreover, I agree with most of the main argument. Slow, machines are replacing much of the tasks that humans do as work. This is depressing significant wages and destroying the middle class. We need to do something about it. He proposes a CBI - not Universal Basic Income, but something that requires buy in to society. He's open to other similar ideas - Universal Job Guarantee. However, I was I finished the book. But its been a long time since I finished a book and yet was this frustrated by it. Moreover, I agree with most of the main argument. Slow, machines are replacing much of the tasks that humans do as work. This is depressing significant wages and destroying the middle class. We need to do something about it. He proposes a CBI - not Universal Basic Income, but something that requires buy in to society. He's open to other similar ideas - Universal Job Guarantee. However, I was extremely frustrated by the length of his arguments. He has lots of example descriptions that frankly went nowhere, or were forced to be there by an editor. And in his intro to his chapter on big tech companies, he insisted he wasn't only talking about the big 5, and yet, I felt like he spent the hole time talking about the big 5. We need to have the discussion in our society that this books has. I just feel like this book isn't it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Emanuele Gemelli

    Interesting book; I think the part about what we (we? are you sure, are we normal people really in a position to do anything?) should do to ensure we are not overwhelmed by the rise of the AGI is a bit too naive or optimistic. It is correctly mentioned along the book that the wealth inequality is on the rise, which basically is also modifying the political arena. So who is going to change the policies here and to whom advantage? In the last 30 years, mostly after the fall of the "Soviet Empire" Interesting book; I think the part about what we (we? are you sure, are we normal people really in a position to do anything?) should do to ensure we are not overwhelmed by the rise of the AGI is a bit too naive or optimistic. It is correctly mentioned along the book that the wealth inequality is on the rise, which basically is also modifying the political arena. So who is going to change the policies here and to whom advantage? In the last 30 years, mostly after the fall of the "Soviet Empire" (not the only cause), there has been a massing transfer of wealth and real war of classes, that have been quite frankly lost by the middle class (and even with the middle class applauding for it...see Europe). I think that the book fails to properly answer this question, but I guess it is not a very easy one to do.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Brian Larson

    Susskind does a great job getting readers to rethink the future of work. For starters, he challenges the idea that through paid-work, people “flourish.” In a world with less work to be done, Susskind points out that we will need to find meaning outside of our “jobs” and within new, non-economic identities (care-giver, volunteer, etc). Susskind provides interesting analysis of effective versus nominal federal tax rates and why the issues plaguing Big Tech are political, and not economic. In the f Susskind does a great job getting readers to rethink the future of work. For starters, he challenges the idea that through paid-work, people “flourish.” In a world with less work to be done, Susskind points out that we will need to find meaning outside of our “jobs” and within new, non-economic identities (care-giver, volunteer, etc). Susskind provides interesting analysis of effective versus nominal federal tax rates and why the issues plaguing Big Tech are political, and not economic. In the future, in a world with less “work” to be done, we will need to make sure the growing divide between the owners of capital and the workers doesn’t further deepen. Susskind provides well-reasoned need for Conditional Basic Income (CBI), the 4-Day Workweek, and a Capital-Sharing State (think Alaska State Fund).

  28. 4 out of 5

    Tõnu Vahtra

    Another book on the topic of robots and AI leaving humans jobless AKA "technological unemployment". This one also serves as a general overview and introduction to the topic. I would say that this book is less about technology and more about the socioeconomic factors, a lot of effort goes into justifying why the currently happening technological shift is different from the previous ones (that resulted in transformation of work but in long term actually generated more work). The solution part for Another book on the topic of robots and AI leaving humans jobless AKA "technological unemployment". This one also serves as a general overview and introduction to the topic. I would say that this book is less about technology and more about the socioeconomic factors, a lot of effort goes into justifying why the currently happening technological shift is different from the previous ones (that resulted in transformation of work but in long term actually generated more work). The solution part for the problem does not stand out (probably because this is indeed a difficult challenge), universal basic income is not a silver bullet and in my view it would actually create more problems VS the expected benefits.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Julian Walker

    While some of the thinking may not be radically new, overall this is a thought-provoking and stimulating read. It is well written and packed with some truly astounding facts and illustrations - like the combined value of [largely unpaid] housework in the UK (cooking, child care, laundry, cleaning and household chores) being almost four times that of the manufacturing sector. My only surprise is that being read on a Kindle, I thought I was about two thirds of the way through when I got to the conc While some of the thinking may not be radically new, overall this is a thought-provoking and stimulating read. It is well written and packed with some truly astounding facts and illustrations - like the combined value of [largely unpaid] housework in the UK (cooking, child care, laundry, cleaning and household chores) being almost four times that of the manufacturing sector. My only surprise is that being read on a Kindle, I thought I was about two thirds of the way through when I got to the conclusion - so long and detailed is the reference section at the end. Much food for thought in this book, and it is well served up and easily digestible. A good read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Robert P. Hoffman

    This was, ultimately, a disappointing book. It started out quite strong with the author doing an excellent job of explaining difficult concepts and making persuasive arguments, backed by good examples, evidence, and information from the works of others, why it is likely that automation will result in a decline in the total amount of work that people will be engaged in. To be fair, that is the first two parts of the book. But the last part was not worthwhile. The author attempted to explain what w This was, ultimately, a disappointing book. It started out quite strong with the author doing an excellent job of explaining difficult concepts and making persuasive arguments, backed by good examples, evidence, and information from the works of others, why it is likely that automation will result in a decline in the total amount of work that people will be engaged in. To be fair, that is the first two parts of the book. But the last part was not worthwhile. The author attempted to explain what would happen to inequality, the role of education, the meaning of work, and the role of the state and big tech. There were few if any insights, many platitudes, and superficial analysis.

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