The future doesn't look bright for large corporations which give vast numbers of people employment.

I saw the face of the future when I realized that Craigslist brought in $100,000,000 or so (according to the NY Times in 2009) but had fewer than 25 employees, and none of them in customer service, as anyone who's had a beef with the service soon finds out.

The ideal company is exemplified by a successful consultant who pulls in millions of dollars but carries no employees, I suppose. However, not every company can be that lean and mean. Still, the idea is to maximize profits while minimiizing expenditures on bothersome things like a staff, is it not?

What does the future hold, given the incredible advances technology has made, is making, and will make in the future, making it easier to do so many things without needing other people, which is another way of saying, "without giving someone else a job"?

But it's not just corporations big and small killing jobs. Each and every one of us is doing it every day.

From this article:

The curve of change -- which I boil down to 6 “d’s” -- is exponential because culture makes progress cumulative. Innovation occurs as humans share ideas. You build on my idea; I build on yours.

We’ve gone from transmission of ideas through storytelling around the campfire to print to Kodak photographic film and now to digital. Anything that becomes digital -- biological, medicine, manufacturing and so on -- hops on to Moore’s law of increasing computational power, which he said would double every 12 to 24 months. This has remained true for the last 60 years when he first posited it.

Once a product or a service becomes digital, it is exponentially empowered. Thus, digitalization is the first “d.”

The second “d” is deception. Exponential growth usually remains hidden from most observers when it gestates in small increments before it starts doubling.

That is when disruption takes place, because any innovation that creates a new market disrupts an old one. We have seen how digital pixels replaced Kodak analog film cameras that needed photographic chemicals and paper. At its height, Kodak had 144,000 employees and a $10 billion market capitalization. Today, Instagram has the same market cap with only 13 employees.

Kodak’s fate is an example of another “d” -- demonetization. Digital pictures cost nothing to take or transmit once you’ve got a smartphone.

The smartphone is a prime example of dematerialization -- its functions replace in one small device the computing power of old IBM machines that filled whole rooms, landline phones, cameras and watches.

When the cost falls so dramatically with dematerialization, you get democratization -- smartphones are affordable to billions of people empowered now as never before with devices that were once only available to a few. Democratization is the logical result of demonetization and dematerialization.

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So, in the future nothing will have any value. Or rather, everything will have no value.

No trading value. Trading is not necessary. If you had a computer that could write better music (in your opinion) than your favorite music, all day much would that music be worth?

"I'll give you my original Picasso for a stick of gum."

If nothing has any value, then do people have any value anymore?

Values will shift away from the monetary. Is a wine worth what it costs, or is it's worth in how much you enjoy it ? The two are not the same. So if my computer could emulate Picassos' brain perfectly and produce 10 paintings a minute that would fool even the best art experts every time, yeah..I'll take that gum.

If nothing has any value, then do people have any value anymore?

An interesting question... I would counter by asking, what value do people have now? Ironically, it's very easy to answer... slaves are bought and sold for $1000US, probably alot less in less developed countries. In the grand scheme of things, the difference between $1000 and $0 is not that big.

That's not the value of a person in any general way. It's the value of a prisoner in a particular subeconomy. But if money had no value, we'd be in a barter economy and somehow I think maintaining slaves in such an economy would be a lot harder.

Seriously Unseen. You gotta lighten up and learn to market yourself. That's where the money's at now days. It's not what you know, it's WHO you know. The only way you get a seat at the table is if you pull up a chair....

This is not exactly a new argument. Recall that a mere 100 years ago most people still worked on farms.

What happened after agriculture was rationalized? New jobs opened in industry. What happened when industry was rationalized? New jobs opened in manufacturing. What happened when manufacturing rationalized? New jobs opened up in the service industry.

What will happen when service is rationalized? 

At some point, there's nowhere else to go. The future is always different from the past, despite certain commonalities.

It's hard to imagine what's left after we eliminate those last jobs that require minimal education and talent, for there will always be people who fit the description of the ideal employee for such jobs.

You are correct that future jobs will require more education and talent, which has always been the case when tectonic shifts in the economy happens. There will still be grunt work around for as long as we can foresee, but it will be different from the grunt work before. While today it requires at least basic reading and writing skills, tomorrow it will also require basic computer skills. 

I hardly worry about the future of employment because it's a 3rd quadrant thing - I know that I don't know what the jobs will be. While the future is different than the past, the past is still the only evidence we actually have, and that past proves that there is no great reason to worry. At least, there is no great need to worry on the macro scare, on a micro scale individuals unfit for the new economy are certainly going to suffer. 

In the past, the effect of new technologies has been to widen the gap between the skilled and unskilled and to devalue the less skilled, which is why we have labor unions. I can't imagine things will move in the opposite direction. 

This effect is only destructive when the political/economic system isn't reorganized in some way. 


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