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Are jobs obsolete?

Are jobs obsolete?
Douglas Rushkoff: U.S. Postal Service new example of human work replaced by technologyHe says technology affecting jobs market; not enough workers needed to run the technologyHe says we have to alter our ideas: It's not about jobs, it's about productivityRushkoff: Technology lets us bypass corporations, make our own work -- a new model Editor's note: Douglas Rushkoff is a media theorist and the author of "Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age" and "Life Inc: How Corporatism Conquered the World and How We Can Take it Back." (CNN) -- The U.S. Postal Service appears to be the latest casualty in digital technology's slow but steady replacement of working humans. Unless an external source of funding comes in, the post office will have to scale back its operations drastically, or simply shut down altogether. We can blame a right wing attempting to undermine labor, or a left wing trying to preserve unions in the face of government and corporate cutbacks.

Related:  ideas & concepts

The myth of closure When people talk about overcoming tragedy and loss these days, it’s hard to avoid the word “closure.” Whether it’s the death of a loved one, a national catastrophe, or just an argument with a friend, closure is supposed to be what we need to heal and get on with our lives. It’s easy to see the appeal of the idea that we can put a definitive end to our suffering or grief and start a new chapter of life without sorrow, guilt, or anger. The term originates in Gestalt psychology, but the popular notion of closure emerged through the victims’ rights, pop psychology, and self-help movements of recent decades. By the 1990s, the concept had become a cultural commonplace, and today is cited in industries from marketing to politics.

For Real Productivity, Less is Truly More - Tony Schwartz by Tony Schwartz | 12:43 PM May 17, 2010 When I wrote a post on this site about The Myth of Productivity recently, a number of commentators argued productivity has gone up not because employees are running scared, but rather because companies have finally laid off the slackers who were dragging productivity down. There are surely plenty of low performers who got the ax, but there are also many committed high performers among the millions of people who have lost their jobs over the past two years.

Return to capitalism 'red in tooth and claw' spells economic madness As people in the developed world wonder how their countries will return to full employment after the global recession, it might benefit us to take a look at a visionary essay that John Maynard Keynes wrote in 1930, called Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren (pdf). Keynes's General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money, published in 1936, equipped governments with the intellectual tools to counter the unemployment caused by slumps. In this earlier essay, however, Keynes distinguished between unemployment caused by temporary economic breakdowns and what he called "technological unemployment" – that is, "unemployment due to the discovery of means of economising the use of labour outrunning the pace at which we can find new uses for labour".

Richard Dawkins on vivisection: "But can they suffer?" The great moral philosopher Jeremy Bentham, founder of utilitarianism, famously said,'The question is not, "Can they reason?" nor, "Can they talk?" but rather, "Can they suffer?" Less Work, More Living by Juliet Schor Working fewer hours could save our economy, save our sanity, and help save our planet. posted Sep 02, 2011 Millions of Americans have lost control over the basic rhythm of their daily lives.

Floating homes of the future The Pearl eco houseboat. (Photo: Orhan Cileli) Life at sea — it sounds far away, like a distant lifestyle reserved for Navy seamen, ocean trawlers and submarine captains. But as shorelines recede, populations grow and property-ownership ideas evolve, designers and architects are prompted to re-think how — and where — we live. Many look to the water.

The Future of Moral Machines The Stone is a forum for contemporary philosophers and other thinkers on issues both timely and timeless. A robot walks into a bar and says, “I’ll have a screwdriver.” A bad joke, indeed. But even less funny if the robot says “Give me what’s in your cash register.” The fictional theme of robots turning against humans is older than the word itself, which first appeared in the title of Karel Čapek’s 1920 play about artificial factory workers rising against their human overlords. China is building a 100-petaflop supercomputer As the U.S. launched what's expected to be the world's fastest supercomputer at 20 petaflops, China is building a machine that is intended to be five times faster when it is deployed in 2015. China's Tianhe-2 supercomputer will run at 100 petaflops (quadrillion floating-point calculations per second), according to the Guangzhou Supercomputing Center, where the machine will be housed. Tianhe-2 could help keep China competitive with the future supercomputers of other countries, as industry experts estimate machines will start reaching 1,000-petaflop performance by 2018. The Tianhe-2 is not China's first attempt at building a world-beating supercomputer.

Garbage and Gravitas St. Petersburg in revolt gave us Vladimir Nabokov, Isaiah Berlin and Ayn Rand. The first was a novelist, the second a philosopher. Startup Aims to Build's World's First Big Open Data Platform for the Oceans © MarinexploreOne company's goal of building a "one-stop" data platform for satellite and in-situ ocean measurements just came a step closer, thanks to their newly designed web interface, enhanced dataset collection and filtering, and easy sharing options. The sheer amount of ocean data collected every year is staggering, but without a central location for sharing it all, it can be hard for scientists to easily get their hands on the data that they may need to further their studies. But Marinexplore hopes to change that. Making the world's public oceanographic data easily available and sortable is behind Marinexplore's platform, and the current iteration allows users to visualize and combine satellite data with in-situ ocean measurements from 10 different ocean platforms. Users can then download the aggregated data, share their view of the data, ask for insights and answers from the Marinexplore community, or collaborating with other marine scientists and explorers around the globe.

Multiple initiatives vie to give scientists unique IDs - Ars Technica Ars' science staff loves the Digital Object Identifier system that's used for scientific publications. Each paper gets its own unique ID, and plugging that into the site will resolve it to the paper, even if the original journal changes its name, moves the paper to a new URL, or what have you. Aside from helping one find an original research paper, the DOI is powerful as a tool for finding related information. A simple search for a DOI can identify a whole host of articles that comment on the paper.

Artificial intelligence: Difference Engine: Luddite legacy AN APOCRYPHAL tale is told about Henry Ford II showing Walter Reuther, the veteran leader of the United Automobile Workers, around a newly automated car plant. “Walter, how are you going to get those robots to pay your union dues,” gibed the boss of Ford Motor Company. Without skipping a beat, Reuther replied, “Henry, how are you going to get them to buy your cars?” Whether the exchange was true or not is irrelevant. The point was that any increase in productivity required a corresponding increase in the number of consumers capable of buying the product. The original Henry Ford, committed to raising productivity and lowering prices remorselessly, appreciated this profoundly—and insisted on paying his workers twice the going rate, so they could afford to buy his cars.

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