Look around you. Our world is changing. We are in a transition (perhaps a metamorphosis) to Machine World. In the next two decades our society will experience massive change driven by technology. It’s too early to know much about what this Machine World will look like. In part, that’s due to our own role in it’s creation. However, it’s not too early to identify broad outlines that delineate trends taking shape now in late 2013. One of those trends is as the decline of the middle-class.
While causation of the decline of the middle-class to this point has been attributed to the Great Recession and numerous parties; the Tea Party, the Republicans, and of course the tax and spend Democrats. Recently Technological Unemployment has become a part of the discussion. Today, I read an article in Business Insider that crystallized our entry into this transition a bit for me.
In one sentence, here is the basis for Technological Unemployment:
…”Are you more productive working with the computer or is maybe the computer better off without you?”
Economist Tyler Cowen Explains Why The Future Will Be Awesome — For About 15% Of Us
That’s it! The 85/15 Rule defining the path we are now on.
It is derived form a simple question coined by Tyler Cowen.
Put the 85/15 rule in your tool-belt, and use it on the road ahead.
The 85/15 Rule
Evaluate proposed changes or a proposed policies using the 85/15 Rule:
- Does the 85/15 Rule apply?
- What are the costs and benefits of the technology?
- What are the impacts or consequences of the change or new policy?
- What are our options?
I disagree with the BI article. I believe we are already on the road to Machine World, or perhaps already on board that train, sitting, waiting to leave the station.
Implicit in this discussion are the issues surrounding significant political symbols.
If I apply the 85/15 Rule, it becomes clear to me that tweaking existing government policy is not likely to restore the middle-class. Moreover, the only viable path I see to Machine World involves taking advantage of and leveraging technology to get us on a road to the End of Work on our own terms as an alternate to the world defined by the 85/15 Rule.
Is this where we want to go:
The road we are on today leads to a world where we are “two nations two nations– a fantastically successful nation working in a technologically dynamic sector and everything else.“
Maybe I am wrong, but, I don’t think that’s a future we desire. Remember the 85/15 Rule.