The Jobs Problem: Discuss

Last time I offered a few suggestions about what you and I can do about the jobs problem, being that this is a problem of demographics and technology, and you and I are technology enthusiasts.

Local, national, and global discussions that FINALLY places demographics and technology in their rightful, primary positions.

Here is what I am afraid of: these trends in robotics and automation are going to happen so quickly and we are going to adapt to them so late, that there are going to be many people caught by surprise. I can think of few things worse than waking up and discovering you are out of a job, you have no idea why, and the world around you suddenly looks and feels and tastes and smells and sounds very different.

Marketing the future might help. Humanity+ seems to be taking this approach these days, through initiatives like “Future Day”, “H+ TV” and other artistic and media outlets. In earlier days the organization took a more academic approach. The Makers and investors in the Bay Area and other centers of innovation are approaching the future with a more hands-on approach. Conferences seem to be the preferred venue for networking and listening to ideas.

What seems to be missing is an actual dialogue. One of the exciting prospects of “The Human Project” is the inclusiveness and global scope of the effort. Through a variety of media, Anna Stillwell, Erika Ilves and their team are attempting to spark a discussion about our future.

We want to get big dreamers talking. Who are we, humans? Who should we become? Where should we head next? Our first step is to put forward a conversation starter, a set of answers that could draw in more minds.

This is the the direction I am thinking of, but let’s also add a face-to-face component. Through my local h+ Tucson organization, I hope to bring locals together on a regular basis to consider the jobs problem and how best to adapt. I’m not looking for consensus at this point. Instead, I want people from a variety of backgrounds to respectfully but passionately consider what is coming. I would love to see our group help spread a simple awareness of change and its impact on the individual, their family and friends, and their communities.

Honestly, though, the people who attend are going to be those who are already enthusiastic about technology and the near future, the very people already emphasizing the role of technology and demographics in their own lives. While at first this might seem like a letdown, there is opportunity here as well. Together we can explore ideas that we can later explore with our family and friends and the people who wouldn’t normally attend these kinds of meetings. Consider it practice for the discussions to come.

Participation in “The Human Project”, online forums, conferences, and local face-to-face meetings are just the first steps to raise awareness. There have to be other ways we can initiate an inclusive conversation that opens humanity’s eyes to the possibility of a post-job/post-scarcity future while easing the transition into this future.

Published by

Richard Leis

Richard Leis is a writer and poet living in Tucson, Arizona. His poetry has been published in Impossible Archetype and is forthcoming from The Laurel Review. His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published on Tiny Donkey and Fairy Tale Review’s “Fairy-Tale Files“.

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