The Future 1.0 - The Job Limit

I've started working my way though @AlGore s The Future.  It is dense with interesting concept's and pithy observations.  Some directly relate to "our fields" as technologists and warrant our consideration and awareness.  So here is concept 1.0 (with more to follow):

There are not (or won't be) enough jobs for all of us.

And it is our fault -- that is to say, the result of technology improving productivity.
First, you have to get into a global perspective. If you view the entire planet as a closed economic system, then it does not matter where a job is done, it is "x" hours used to product "y". Gore makes the point that even in the "off-shore" targets for "moving jobs" there is a strong trend towards "Robosourcing" -- incorporating machines to improve productivity -- which is to say reduce the person-hours needed to accomplish the task.  So, no matter where a person is being paid to do a specific task, technology is being applied to increase the productivity of that person and reduce the total number of persons needed to do that task -- globally.
In his book he gives the example of the US labor force involved in agricultural production dropping from 90% in 1776 to 2% in 1993. If you consider how the work force (total person hours) have migrated, they moved from farm to factory to industry to professional jobs to service jobs to ...  Gore suggests that since the economic crash of 2008, productivity has boomed, with increased production in the US just not increased employment.  We may have crossed a critical tipping point for employment. Once upon a time, 4% unemployment was considered :"full employment" -- that many persons were available for employment. It may well be that within the U.S. the percent of unemployed persons associated with full employment may be rising.  Notice that we have to recognize these numbers in their more basic form, which is hours of labor.  A self run business, or exempt employee puts in hours that are unpaid, are part of the actual hours invested.

An interesting model is to consider the global picture here:
There is some "Gross World Product" -- presumably the market value for every good or service created on Earth. (Treated as an annual value akin to GNP.) 
There are the labor hours invested to create GWP which can be viewed three different ways:
  • Hours paid (P) for in the production (excludes owners, exempt employees, externalized factors)
  • Hours actually invested (I) (includes the above items)
  • Hours required (R) to produce the goods and services actually sold/consumed
    (excludes idle hours, production of goods not sold (food trashed at a hamburger stand, etc.))
These are interesting since we can identify some key concepts:
  • Productivity is the value of goods & services actually sold divided by hours paid for.
    (I suspect GNP, etc. includes unproductive production as well -- items sold, trashed, failing QA...)
  • Efficiency would seek to have "I" approach "R" (hours invested to hours required),
    and also reduce "R" hours required.  Robosoucing is both a productivity tool and an efficiency.
It is interesting that productivity and efficiency viewed this way actually have no overlapping terms. You can increase productivity without increasing efficiency -- for example, by paying persons less money (out-sourcing), externalizing costs (crowd sourcing, or leaving QA to consumers), or making more employees exempt and demanding more hours. Since I>P, efficiency also can improve productivity. 

But consider a key value here, which is the GWR ... the gross world hours required to produce the actually used products and services.  Technology can reduce this number. This reduces the total number of hours available for employment.  If employee work hours and salaries were adjusted to maintain income levels and "full" employment, then we would not see an improvement in "productivity" in terms of paid hours to generate the goods and services. However, employees are laid off, jobs outsourced and other paths taken that reduce costs and improve profits which results in job losses and underemployment.
The long term picture at the global level indicates improved productivity and reduced paid hours of work available.   We need to consider what this means as underemployed persons can't afford the same level of goods and services (potentially creating a negative feedback loop), and unemployed persons may civil unrest or social upheaval  (presumably at some point the majority of voters in a democracy will find their situation favoring a different approach to labor laws, taxation, inheritance taxes, property ownership, etc.)

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