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The Future of Work

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The potential unemployment owing to automation and improvements in ICTs is likely to be more drastic than earlier rounds of automation. Will people be redundant at the workplace? Is this likely to lead to unemployment and strife? Or can we use this opportunity to explore more art, travel, have more fun, in short be more human?

Published in: Lifestyle

The Future of Work

  1. 1. All rights reserved, May 2, 2016 THE FUTURE OF WORK
  2. 2. SWEDEN’S SIX HOUR WORKDAY This year Sweden started on a little experiment that could have a dramatic impact on our world. The way we work, play, live, love, everything. In a bid to increase productivity and increase happiness, the country is experimenting with a 6 hour work day. Responses to this move range from dismissive “Not for us” to skeptical “Will it work?” to militant “What are they doing to the moral fabric of society?” ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  3. 3. This report explores the before and after of such an idea, the context and implications. It will look at why this is an idea whose time has come and what kind of steps others who seek to emulate it (and even Sweden itself) will need to keep in mind in such an effort. To understand the move will require us to go back a few hundred years to the industrial revolution, grapple with notions of work and its role in society. How this history is in conflict with the new realities of today’s technology and the information economy. And arrive at a sense of how we would like to shape the future.. THE FUTURE OF WORK ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  4. 4. WHAT IS WORK? The Fordist paradigm Alternative paradigms UBERFICATION OF PROCESSES Changing Work processes Company side (Uber) People side (FOSS, Wikipedia) RECASTING OF WORK Implications? from Need to Choice New Systems 21 Hours Universal Basic Income THE FUTURE OF WORK TOMORROW’S TECHNOLOGY ICT, Computing, AI, Robotics Automation of Blue Collar and White Collar Jobs ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  5. 5. Our story begins about a hundred years ago. While the industrial revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries made drastic changes to the way work was carried out, it is in the early part of the 20th century that we see ideas of FW Taylor’s Scientific Management get entrenched at the workplace. And more so in the factories of Henry Ford than anywhere else. ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  6. 6. FORD’S 8 HOUR WORKDAY In 1925, Henry Ford, in a bid to improve productivity and also reduce employee turnover, absenteeism and the accident rate, cut the working day to 8 hours, and the work week to 5 days. And doubled the wages, while at it. Other manufacturers were forced to follow suit— leading to the institutionalization of the 40-hour work week. It led to improvement in workers’ health and productivity. Their rising affluence allowed them to actually buy the cars (and other goods) they were making. Thus was created the consumption-driven American economic system, which has now found resonance and adoption throughout the world. ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  7. 7. The Fordist paradigm of work is first and foremost productive Work creates or increases value. It shapes raw material, cultivates crops, dams rivers to produce electricity. It moves things to where they are useful. ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  8. 8. Work as a means to an End Work is a means to earn money or status or other benefits. Work may be mindless, boring, painful, dangerous, but can be and is done since it pays for a living or allows for other benefits. ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  9. 9. Work, in this paradigm, is also a means of keeping people consuming and the economy running Work. Earn. Consume. Economy grows, Earnings rise. Consume more. People's worth is measured by the market value of their labor. Any threat to this order of things is quickly dispensed with. Policy is modified and tweaked and bent over backwards to ensure this system is strengthened and unthreatened. People are kept in this state of work in order to keep the economy running. ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  10. 10. But work can be more than a means to an end. Work can be a pleasure in itself. It may be seen as a duty, or simply a part of being part of a society. In his book The Craftsman, Richard Sennet describes people who are driven more often by the pleasure of their craft than the reward at the end. Another popular example is the Slow Food movement which highlights the pleasure in making food and talking rather than food quickly prepared for consumption. ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  11. 11. CURIOSITY / SELF EXPRESSION Work might be the pursuit of a curiosity or a mode of self expression. And decoupled from monetary reward, a means of building character. “Character is formed primarily by a man's work. And work, properly conducted in conditions of human dignity and freedom, blesses those who do it.” EF Schumacher ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  12. 12. WORK AS PLAY * Similar to the idea of Sennet’s Craftsman, but as opposed to the seriousness of the craftsman’s exploration, play is activity for it’s own sake. The best examples are of course children who are very serious about their play. But some adults, the most creative ones are also often ‘playing’ a great deal. * Not to be confused with the modern sports professional where in fact Play as Work. ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  13. 13. WORK AS SOCIABILITY Work may also function out of a simple sense of society. eg When an accident victim is taken to hospital by people nearby. When a parent bathes a child. When we help out. That we look out for each other as humans, that we feed each other, clean each other may not be classified as work, but is far more important and valuable and significant. ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  14. 14. WHAT IS WORK? The Fordist paradigm Alternative paradigms UBERFICATION OF PROCESSES Changing Work processes Company side (Uber) People side (FOSS, Wikipedia) RECASTING OF WORK Implications? from Need to Choice New Systems 21 Hours Universal Basic Income THE FUTURE OF WORK TOMORROW’S TECHNOLOGY ICT, Computing, AI, Robotics Automation of Blue Collar and White Collar Jobs ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  15. 15. Two important developments of the last 30 years are recasting our notions of work. One, the advancement of IT enables truly automatic tasks and processes. Two, the Internet of Things. As more and more of these machines, robots and people get connected to and communicate with each other, it enables coordination and targeted delivery at a planetary scale. The combination of these two allow for hitherto unimagined possibilities. ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  16. 16. Computer programs can write newspaper articles and even stories of a passable quality. Self Driving Cars: Activity which was considered extremely complex and therefore human now being automated. Robotic melon pickers, that can judge ripeness of fruit by smell. Similarly robots to spray pesticide and fertilizers; Robot shearers tested in Australia. Complex Supply Chains integrated and managed by software ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  17. 17. Earlier, manual labour was being replaced by machines, Today’s computers and robots can supplant white-collar work and complex activities like diagnosis, trading and writing. Where they don’t completely do the work, they can perform large chunks of tasks, drastically reducing the number of people required overall. Deloitte expects cognitive technologies embedded in products to provide “intelligent” behavior, natural interfaces (such speech and visual), and automation. The impact of product applications on workers ranges from none (robotic toys or intelligent thermostats), to marginal (robotic vacuum cleaners may reduce hours demanded of house cleaners), to significant. ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  18. 18. “People are racing against the machine in media and music, finance and manufacturing, retailing and trade, in short, in every industry. And losing.” Erik Brynjolfsson The advent of an increasingly machine run world is one which humans will finding increasingly difficult to cope with. ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  19. 19. The use of technology and automation is only speeding up at a rapid pace. Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne, in ‘The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Computerization’ expect about half of present jobs to be automated in the next two decades (by 2035). Gartner forecasts that “one in three jobs will be taken by software or robots by 2025.” ABB’s CEO expects European unemployment expected to rise from the present 10 to 20 or 25 percent in the next decade. The Wall Street Journal expects corporate re-engineering to eliminate between 1 million and 2.5 million jobs a year across the entire U.S. economy, for the foreseeable future. 90% 2.5milOf Jobs replaced by smart machines by 2030 Jobs eliminated in the US every year by corporate re-engineering ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  20. 20. WHAT IS WORK? The Fordist paradigm Alternative paradigms UBERFICATION OF PROCESSES Changing Work processes Company side (Uber) People side (FOSS, Wikipedia) RECASTING OF WORK Implications? from Need to Choice New Systems 21 Hours Universal Basic Income THE FUTURE OF WORK TOMORROW’S TECHNOLOGY ICT, Computing, AI, Robotics Automation of Blue Collar and White Collar Jobs ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  21. 21. The Internet enables Innovative means of work organization: It is possible now to break up work into tiny tasks that can be performed by people in different parts of the world. ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  22. 22. The Free and Open Source Software movement, which gave us Linux and Wikipedia, is one of the most significant examples of a distributed model of work enabled by the internet. People across the world connected by the Internet, are able to collaborate and contribute to the creation of something that is useful for millions. The work is done free or occasionally paid a honorarium, it is done at programmers own time, as much as they wish to or can contribute. ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  23. 23. This gives people a lot more flexibility, allowing different work-life-play balances and dynamics. People (both companies and individuals) looking to more ethical ways of being and functioning (green, sharing, voluntarism/open source models, sourcing of materials and labor etc) are enabled by this network. These then also allow us to imagine alternatives to the big business model of work.. For instance, the Exchange economies that were popular during the aftermath of the 2008 crisis. ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  24. 24. Companies too are outsourcing more and more work to contractors. Like Uber’s ‘independent contractors’ who are summoned and used as and when required, and are kept on standby forever ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  25. 25. While Uber itself will likely shift to completely automated vehicles and not need drivers, more and more organizations will adopt an Uber-like reliance on contract and on-demand workers. This will result in and be facilitated by an increasingly large self-employed workforce. Self- employed will thus likely be the largest section in the workforce of the future. This leads to the emergence of micro-task economies. So "workers" cease to exist in the same big masses. Even turn invisible. ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  26. 26. WHAT IS WORK? The Fordist paradigm Alternative paradigms UBERFICATION OF PROCESSES Changing Work processes Company side (Uber) People side (FOSS, Wikipedia) RECASTING OF WORK Implications? from Need to Choice New Systems 21 Hours Universal Basic Income THE FUTURE OF WORK TOMORROW’S TECHNOLOGY ICT, Computing, AI, Robotics Automation of Blue Collar and White Collar Jobs ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  27. 27. Imagine an economy in which 1 percent own the machines, 10 per cent manage their operation, and 90 per cent either do the remaining scraps of ‘unautomatable’ work, or are unemployed. This may seem like a proposition that the 1 percent find appealing, but the very economics that got us to this point where this can happen tells you otherwise. “The reality is that the free market economy, as we understand it today, simply cannot work without a viable labor market. Jobs are the primary mechanism through which income—and, therefore, purchasing power—is distributed to the people who consume everything the economy produces. If at some point, machines are likely to permanently take over a great deal of the work now performed by human beings, then that will be a threat to the very foundation of our economic system. This is not something that will just work itself out. This is something that we need to begin thinking about.” Martin Ford ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  28. 28. Simply put, machines don’t buy things. And people who don’t have jobs or income will not be able to buy. So what happens to the economy? Will it lead to a global crash, depression, swabs of wealth destroyed across the globe? More important, what happens to people? The impoverishment to large sections of the globe, entire countries going bankrupt; The possibility of civil wars or simple old fashioned genocide that can be ordered by those in charge of the machines make people especially vulnerable. ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  29. 29. FROM needing to work TO choosing to work It is also possible to envision a happier world. Where people don’t abandon their vocation for soul sapping means of livelihood. But rather one where they indulge in what they most truly wish to do, their calling. Like John Lanchester suggests, “The robots liberate most of humanity from work: we don’t have to work in factories or go down mines or clean toilets or drive long-distance lorries, but we can choreograph and weave and garden and tell stories and invent things.” ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  30. 30. Once we do away with the need to work, it is possible that we choose work. Work of the character-building kind. The kind that is fulfilling and truly human. The play kind. The social kind. ‘Worklessness’, then, is reframed from a problem to solve to an opportunity to discover what is most truly human about us. Or in the words of Ernst Fischer: “As machines become more and more efficient and perfect, so it will become clear that imperfection is the greatness of man.” It is in this context that Sweden’s move begins to make sense. ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  31. 31. This will require a paradigm shift in the way we think about the world, the economy, our notions of work and play, our education system, our infrastructure, everything. ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  32. 32. A NEW EDUCATION SYSTEM To begin with, something as elementary as our education system. The bulk of the present system creates workers for factories, and managers for them. The future will require more liberal arts, more pure science, more explorers. It will have space for people without a formal education , trained in the world, on farms, in communities, through travel, through exploring curiosity like people, used to in the past. Large scale reform of the education system will be the first ask of this new world. ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  33. 33. NEW MODELS OF WORK ORGANIZATION We will also need to update our policies around employee relations and organizational structures. We would do well to consider seriously proposals like the 21 hour work week. Paul Mason adds that the transition is not just about economics. It will have to be a human transition. Our roles as consumers, lovers, communicators are as important to this as our role at work. ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  34. 34. NEW ECONOMIC PARADIGMS We will need to move out of the present neo-liberal paradigm and tend towards more socialist principles like Universal Basic Income. What it will allow is the creation of a security that allows people to pursue things they would rather, than be forced to do things they do not like. Allowing a much freer flowering of creativity, exploration and if one were to be a little optimistic, a little more happiness. Let us look at two interesting suggestions mooted in the recent past. ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  35. 35. 21 HOUR WORK WEEK This proposal comes from the New Economic Foundation, a think tank based in the UK. NEF suggests that shifting from the current default of the 40 hour work week to a 21 hour week could help to address a range of urgent, interlinked problems: overwork, unemployment, over-consumption, high carbon emissions, low well-being, entrenched inequalities, and the lack of time to live sustainably, to care for each other, and simply to enjoy life. The logic of industrial time is out of step with today’s conditions, where instant communications and mobile technologies bring new risks and pressures, as well as opportunities. The challenge is to break the power of the old industrial clock without adding new pressures, and to free up time to live sustainable lives. ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  36. 36. 21 HOUR WORK WEEK This move would offer several benefits:  Increased social justice and well-being. A 21-hour ‘normal’ working week could help distribute paid work more evenly across the population, reducing ill-being associated with unemployment, long working hours and too little control over time.  More sustainable habits: Work pressures of today make it necessary to use a number of ‘time saving’ devices, technologies, and habits. Similarly, the pressure of the work-week ends up making us consume on weekends, creating an unsustainable ecological situation.  Improving gender relations: It becomes possible to share childcare equally between two partners  Break the habit of living to work, working to earn, and earning to consume. The Swedish experiment is a step in this direction. ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  37. 37. UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME But to make any of these earlier proposals feasible or even thinkable, requires a guarantee of the basics: housing, food, healthcare. We’ll have to begin by guaranteeing the trio to the entire population. People can (and will) work for more, but they also will not be compelled any longer to do things (like David Graeber calls them, bullshit jobs) in order to live. A basic income will free up people to pursue what they really love. A two year pilot is to happen in Finland starting next year. 100,000 Finns could get up to 1,000 euros a month. For this, they will not need to work or prove they're in poverty. They will simply get a fixed amount to do with what they will. Cities in the Netherlands and Canada are also planning pilots with Universal Basic Income. ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  38. 38. UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME There are several challenges to introducing Universal Basic Income. Many governments have such lean budgets that they can’t even try doing this. Besides the cultural resistance against giving away free money to people for doing nothing would be huge. It is important to consider the idea not in the context of our current economy, but in a context British economist Paul Mason calls Postcapitalist. Mason explains how capitalism isn't as socially productive as it's traditionally been. In fact, the 2008 crisis would point to the opposite. One can also see that the nature of the Information Economy (based on zero marginal cost) is radically different from the economics of the industrial age that Capitalism is based on. ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  39. 39. Sources: Paul Mason PostCapitalism Jeremy Rikin, The End of Work Juliet B Schor, The Overworked American Bertrand Russel, In Praise of Idleness EF Schumacher, Small is Beautiful Martin Ford, The Lights in the Tunnel Sebastian de Grazia, Of Time Work and Leisure Deloitte, Redesigning Work in an Era of Cognitive Technologies New Economic Foundation, 21 Hours http://dupress.com/articles/work-redesign-and-cognitive-technology/ fastcoexist http://www.fastcoexist.com/section/the-new-rules-of-work Anti-Work | 21 Hour Work-Week | Post-Work Economy | Universal Basic Income https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/bob-black-the-abolition-of-work http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jun/11/neoliberalism-hijacked-vocabulary Images from: commons.wikimedia.org flickr.com freeimages.com pexels.com pixabay.com unsplash.com ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  40. 40. Pagewise Photo Credits: 1 2 http://www.loc.gov/pictures, pingnews 3 http://www.loc.gov/pictures, pingnews 4 5 ClkerFreeVectorImages 6 ClkerFreeVectorImages 7 US Dept of Agriculture 8 US Dept of Agriculture 9 Tim Gouw 10 11 Eddy Klaus 12 StockSnap 13 Wikimedia 14 15 BMW 16 kropekk_pl, Google 17 BMW 18 Amazon 19 kaboompics.com 20 21 Tim Gouw 22 ubuntu 23 StockSnap 24 Jim Jackson 25 Jim Jackson 26 27 Jim Jackson 28 Jim Jackson 29 Paul Proshin 30 Paul Proshin 31 Paul Proshin 32 cherylt23 33 Rainbow_Loom_und_Nadel 34 Tung Wong 35 Shanice Garcia 36 Shanice Garcia 37 Jesse Vermeulen 38 Jesse Vermeulen 39 40 ICE, All rights reserved, May 2, 2016
  41. 41. Interested in future trends and reports? ice@humanfactors.com facebook.com/uxtrendspotting @UXTrendspotting Author: ANAND VIJAYAN Supervised by: DEEPA S REDDY

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