BillK pharos at gmail.com
Thu Jun 3 13:40:01 UTC 2010

The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the
Economy of the Future by Martin Ford

This book is now available as a (no charge) downloadable pdf file from:

Kindle Price: $8.17 from Amazon

The author writes:
The book is roughly divided into two parts.
The first part argues that automation technology is ultimately going
to advance to the point where most average workers will be unable to
find employment within their capabilities.
The second part of the book proposes some fairly radical ideas about
how we might adapt capitalism to the new reality if jobs are in fact
going to disappear for most people.

Many people see the logic in my argument about where automation
technology is going to ultimately lead, but very few people are ready
to really think about the solutions—because there probably are not any
solutions that aren’t fairly radical.

I’ve found that most people who try to address this start by denying
the premise: we’ll never have massive unemployment due to technology,
so it won’t be a problem. Ok, but can you sustain capitalism without
reform if you accept the premise?

Remember that technology would not stop advancing, so we could
reasonably expect that over time, a smaller and smaller fraction of
the population would have marketable skills. If we take things to the
extreme, the advent of genuinely intelligent machines could
conceivably vaporize almost the entire job market. Advanced virtual
reality technology—perhaps linking directly into your brain—might
someday even eliminate opportunities for human celebrities and
entertainers. Who could compete with that kind of digital fantasy?

If most people don’t have jobs, where does consumer spending come
from? What drives the economy? Why would automated production continue
if there is no one to buy the output?


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