A World Without Work
1. Youngstown, U.S.A. The end of work is still just a futuristic concept for most of the United States, but it is something like a moment in history for Youngstown, Ohio, one its residents can cite with precision: September 19, 1977. For much of the 20th century, Youngstown’s steel mills delivered such great prosperity that the city was a model of the American dream, boasting a median income and a homeownership rate that were among the nation’s highest. But as manufacturing shifted abroad after World War II, Youngstown steel suffered, and on that gray September afternoon in 1977, Youngstown Sheet and Tube announced the shuttering of its Campbell Works mill. Within five years, the city lost 50,000 jobs and $1.3 billion in manufacturing wages. Youngstown was transformed not only by an economic disruption but also by a psychological and cultural breakdown. This winter, I traveled to Ohio to consider what would happen if technology permanently replaced a great deal of human work. 2. 3. 4.
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