Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

IT Research Firm Gartner Warns Of Social Unrest

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 9, 2013

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Gartner is the world's largest IT market research firm and its analysts consult with the biggest global businesses. Normally, Gartner is concerned with dry IT topics such as server virtualization.

Nick Farrell reporting for TechEye:

Gartner claims that there will be some major changes in technology soon, which will reduce the need for workers. This will bring about social unrest, the analyst firm warned….
Daryl Plummer, a Gartner analyst at the research firm's Symposium ITxpo said the digital revolution is not following the same path. It is leading to a decline in the overall number of people required to do a job…Plummer said that by 2018, 3D printing will result in the loss of at least $100 billion a year in intellectual property globally.

Foremski's Take: I've been writing about the "end of work" that by the end of this decade the most common experience of the world's 8 billion population will be the lack of jobs.

This is as a result of our powerful technologies, which are specifically designed to save on labor costs. As our manufacturing technologies scale to new highs, there won't be enough new types of jobs created to make up for those lost.

Will society create jobs just to make sure people are engaged in something? Maybe people could be paid to go shopping and then bring the goods to a recycling center just to keep GDP ever rising?

The problem with manufactured jobs is that they don't add anything of value. In fact, there are many jobs like that already. Once software algorithms figure out which jobs within an organization are essential to revenues there will be mass layoffs. 

ADP is already selling such a capability to businesses, allowing them to identify  the least productive workers. 

Social unrest is a very real possibility unless we can start talking about this looming problem and developing a new culture that doesn't punish the jobless, and recognizes that society can produce the basic elements of a fulfilling life to all residents of the planet: secure living conditions, stable food supply, education, access to basic healthcare, and the protection of the rule of law.

The end of work could become a new golden age for humanity or a terrible calamity. We're very good at being mean and nasty to each other so the latter is easy to predict. The former is devilishly harder but that's the job that needs to be done. I'm positive we will get to the Golden Age but it'll be a very rocky road ahead, unfortunately.

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