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Work Futures - When The World Bank Talks

We really ought to listen.

Work Futures

October 9 · Issue #1007 · View online
The ecology of work, and the anthropology of the future.

We really ought to listen.

Beacon NY - 2018-10-05 — This is my weekender, coming on Tuesday because of national holiday day (obscuring its official name). As you can tell, I tried to do my reading.
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Long Takes
I am planning to dig into the World Bank’s report The Changin Nature Of Work which is avilable in draft form, and will soon be published.
Here’s a few slides from the draft to whet your interest:

This is not a surprise, but the rate of growth in industrial work in East Asia might be, especially since 2009. And it eerily echoes the decline in industrial work in the US.

The big story for the future of work lies inside this phenomenon: the rise of the platform economy. Note that Amazon is not just a platform, where it benefits from every shop or distributor that decides to sell through its ecosystem. It is also a meta-network, allowing others to build their own platforms on AWS, so it benefits from the growth of those subsidiary platforms, as well, which may have an inclination to apply Amazon AI, logistics, and any other offering the company lets others rent.

The slide above poses the question: can we innovate fast enough to keep people productively employed, ahead of automation putting them out to pasture? How puch pasture will we have to provide?
Note that the report apparently states that taxes will have to steeply rise to train people to live and work in a more technology-centered future. This is counter to current trends, note.

Short Takes
How Do We Make the Long-Term Decisions That Matter? | Adam Grant reviews Steven Johnson’s latest, which I plan to read. But, first, read Grant’s piece, which includes gems like this:
What are the habits of people who excel at long-term thinking? One of Johnson’s thought-provoking points is that they read novels, which are ideal exercises in mental time travel and empathy. I think he’s right. That said, I’ve also found value in other evidence-based techniques for catapulting our brains into the future, like coming face-to-face with an image of ourselves digitally aged to make us look 30 years older. And I finished this book curious about whether looking farther into the past is another way to paint a richer portrait of the future.
The Virtual Work Skills You Need | Barbara Larson and **Erin Makarius makes a sensible point as the thesis of this HBR piece (paywall). Remote (they say virtual) work skills are necessary if you aren’t working remotely, because we need those skills to work with nearby colleagues, too. Then they lay out the skills needed to make it work.
The First Rule of Microsoft Excel—Don’t Tell Anyone You’re Good at It | Microsoft’s Jared Spataro may say Excel’s power ‘comes from simplicity’, but that’s really not true. It’s a bitch, and don’t ever let anyone know you know how to do it.
Babysitter screening app Predictim uses AI to sniff out bullies | Using AI to screen babysitters? For $24.99?
Gig-Economy Workers Are Last of Marx’s Oppressed Proletarians | ‘Reports from the International Labor Organization and the JPMorgan Chase Institute describe the plight of different kinds of gig-economy workers who struggle to make even their countries’ minimum wage toiling for giant tech platforms.’ '“Turkers,” as workers on the Amazon platform are known, made a median hourly wage of $2.’
What can freelancers do about retirement? | Gwen Morgan points out the cliff we are running toward:
A 2018 Bankrate survey found that 40% of respondents save 5% or less of their income, and half of those save nothing at all. And another survey by online investment company Betterment found that:
  • Seven in 10 full-time gig economy workers are unprepared to sustain their lifestyle in retirement
  • One in three of them set aside no money for retirement
  • One-third associate retirement with anxiety.
Muji designed a tiny apartment for you and your coworkers | When commuting is three hours each way in Shanghai, I can imagine sleeping in the office once in awhile.
Quote of the Day
For thousands of years, philosophers and prophets have urged people to know themselves. But this advice was never more urgent than in the 21st century, because unlike in the days of Laozi or Socrates, now you have serious competition. Coca-Cola, Amazon, Baidu and the government are all racing to hack you.
Yuval Harari21 Lessons for the 21st Century
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Stowe Boyd, 17 South Cedar Street, Beacon NY 12508