, Research Paper
Technology and the Future of Work
Every society creates an idealized image of the hereafter & # 8211 ; a vision that serves as
a beacon to direct the imaginativeness and energy of its people. The Ancient Jewish
state prayed for rescue to a promised land of milk and honey. Subsequently,
Christian churchmans held out the promise of ageless redemption in the heavenly
land. In the modern age, the thought of a future technological Utopia has served
as the steering visible radiation of industrial society. For more than a century Utopian
dreamers and work forces and adult females of scientific discipline and letters have looked for a future universe
where machines would replace human labor, making a close workerless society of
copiousness and leisure. ( J Rifkin 1995 p.42 )
This paper will see developments in engineering, robotics, electronic
miniaturization, digitization and information engineering with its societal
deductions for human values and the hereafter of work. It will reason that we have
entered station modernness or station Fordism, a new age technological revolution,
which deeply effects societal construction and values. Some issues that will be
addressed are: riddance of work in the traditional sense, length of service, early
retirement, the riddance of hard currency, the restructuring of instruction, industry
and a motion to planetary political relations, economic sciences and universe authorities.
In peculiar this paper will propose that the Christian Judao work moral principle with
society & # 8217 ; s ends of full employment in the traditional sense is no longer
appropriate, necessary or even possible in the close hereafter, and that the
definition of work demands to be far more broad. It argues that as a station market
epoch attacks, that both authorities and society will necessitate to recognize the
effects of new engineering on societal construction and re-distribute resources, there
will necessitate to be rapid development of policies to help appropriate societal
accommodations if utmost societal agitation, unfairness, injury and possible civil
break is to be avoided.
Yonedji Masuda ( 1983 ) suggests we are traveling from an industrial society to an
information society and maintains that a societal revolution is taking topographic point. He
suggests that we have two picks? Computopia & # 8217 ; or an? Automated State & # 8217 ; , a
controlled society. He believes that if we choose the former, the door to a
society filled with boundless possibilities will open ; but if the latter, our
future society will go a ban and a atrocious age. He optimistically
predicts our new future society will be? computopia & # 8217 ; which he describes as
exhibiting information values where persons will develop their cognitive
originative abilities and citizens and communities will take part voluntarily in
shared ends and thoughts.
Barry Jones ( 1990 ) says we are go throughing through a post-service revolution into a
post- service society & # 8211 ; which could be a aureate age of leisure and personal
development based on the concerted usage of resources.
Jeremy Rifkin ( 1995 ) uses the term? The Third Industrial Revolution & # 8217 ; which he
believes is now get downing to hold a important impact on the manner society
organises its economic activity. He describes it as the 3rd and concluding phase
of a great displacement in economic paradigm, and a passage to a close workless
information society, marked by the passage from renewable to non-renewable
beginnings of energy and from biological to mechanical beginnings of power.
In contrast to Masuda, Jones and Rifkin, Rosenbrock et Al. ( 1981 ) delved into
the history of the British Industrial Revolution, and they concluded steadfastly that
we are non witnessing a societal revolution of tantamount magnitude, because the
new information engineering is non conveying about new ways of life. They
predicted that we are non come ining an epoch when work becomes mostly unneeded,
there will be no interruption with the past, but will be seeing the consequence of new
engineering in the following 20 old ages as an intensification of bing inclinations,
and their extension to new countries.
I suggest that Rosenbrock may come to a different decision with the benefit
of hindsight of altering life styles, 15 old ages subsequently, such as the persistent rise
in unemployment and an ageing society.
Population is aging particularly in developed states and will add significantly
to a possible future life style of leisure. Most states will see a
farther rapid addition in the proportion of their population 65 old ages and older
by 2025. This is due to a combination of the station war babe roar and the progresss
in medical specialty, wellness and hygiene engineering with the handiness and spread of
this information. Governments are promoting delayed retirement whereas
concerns are seeking to cut down the size of their older work force. The
engagement rates of older work forces has declined quickly over the past 40 old ages
with the development of national retirement programmes. In many developed
states the figure of work forces 65 and older who remain in the work force has fallen
below 10 per centum. Due in portion to technological progresss there are more older
people and they are go forthing the work force earlier. Thus this organic structure of people will
contribute to the turning Numberss of people with more leisure clip. ( Clerk 1993 )
Professor Nickolas Negroponte ( 1996 ) of the MIT Media Lab, points out that in
per centum per capita it is those people under 17 old ages of age and over
50 five who are the greatest users of the Internet, and that the Internet
and other information engineerings encourage democracy and planetary equalitarianism.
Furthermore he envisions a new coevals of computing machines so human and intelligent
that they are thought of more as comrades and co-workers instead than
Jones ( 1990 ) points out a figure of elements associating to the acceptance of new
engineering that have no case in point in economic history and suggests that there is
a compelling instance for the rapid development of policies to help appropriate
societal accommodations. He points out that fabrication has declined as the
dominant employer and that there has been a passage to a? service & # 8217 ; or post
industrial economic system in which far more workers are employed in bring forthing touchable
and intangible services than in fabricating goods. The cost of engineering has
fallen dramatically comparative to the cost of human labor. Miniaturization has
destroyed the historic relationship between the cost of labor and the cost of
engineering, leting exponential growing with undistinguished labor input, which
is taking to the decrease of labor in all high volume procedure work. Sargent
( 1994 ) points out that in Australia during the last decennary, the rich have
go richer and the hapless poorer: the top 20 per cent of families received 44
per cent of national incomes in 1982, and by 1990 this had risen to 47 per cent.
But the top 1 per cent received 11 per cent of incomes in 1982, and this rose to
21 per cent in 1990. Meanwhile unemployment continued to increase.
Jones ( 1990 ) further points out that the new engineering has far greater
dependability, capacity and scope than any which proceeded it. Microprocessors can
be directed to make about anything from be aftering a school course of study and conducting
psychotherapeutics to stomping out metal and cutting fabric. It is cheaper to replace
electronic faculties than to mend them and the new engineering is executing many
maps at one time and bring forthing small heat or waste and will work twenty four
hours a twenty-four hours. The devising and service of much preciseness equipment which required
a big skilled labor force has been replaced by electronic systems that
necessitate fewer workers.
The relationship between telecommunications and computing machines multiplies the power
of both, the power for blink of an eye, cosmopolitan communications is unprecedented,
accordingly the influence of any single economic system to command its ain fate
is reduced. All advanced capitalist states and many 3rd universe and Communist
blocks are now mostly mutualist, this has led to an international division
of labor and the growing of the transnational corporations. The planetary economic system
is quickly taking over from single states.
The acceptance of each new coevals of engineering is increasing and is quickly
going cheaper than its predecessor. Technologies developed in the sixtiess have
seen rapid rates of development, acceptance and airing. Less developed
states can now get the new engineerings due to the rapid lessening in cost,
and the combination of their low rewards and the latest engineering make them
formidable rivals in the planetary market. Almost every country of information
based employment, touchable services and fabrication is being deeply
influenced by new engineering.
Jones ( 1990 ) notes that few economic experts have addressed the many societal
deductions that stem from the development of scientific discipline and engineering. Most
economic experts & # 8217 ; thought is shaped by the Industrial Revolution and they are unable
to see the possibility of a extremist alteration from the yesteryear, they give no intimation
that Australia has passed a monolithic passage from a goods based economic system to a
service base. Attempts to use old redresss to new state of affairss are merely ineffectual.
Jenkins ( 1985 ) disagrees with Jones and argues on behalf of the traditional
economic theoretical account proposing that it will go on to work good in the new epoch and
the facts do non back up any causal relationship between mechanization, higher
productiveness, and unemployment. He claims that it can non be emphasised excessively
strongly that unemployment does non stem from the installing of new engineering.
He says it is the failure to automatize that hazards occupations and the debut of
new engineering will increase the entire figure of occupations. Further, he suggests
that the primary ground for presenting new engineering such as computing machine
controlled automatons is to cut down costs and to better merchandise quality and that
lower costs mean lower monetary values. This consequences in increased demands for goods and
services, which in bend generates higher end product and employment and net incomes. He
suggests that higher net incomes induce higher investing and research and
development outgo whilst the domestic manufacturers of robotics and
microelectronic based equipment addition end product and employment. He sees the
greatest job merely in the demand for occupational restructure of employment,
as the demand for package experts, computing machine coders, technicians and
applied scientists are likely to aggressively lift.
Rifkin ( 1995 ) like Jones believes that the old economic theoretical accounts are
inappropriate in the? Third Industrial Revolution & # 8217 ; and depict positions similar
to Jenkin & # 8217 ; s as & # 8220 ; ? century old conventional economic wisdom & # 8221 ; and & # 8221 ; ? a logic
taking to unprecedented degrees of proficient unemployment, a hasty diminution
in buying power, and the apparition of a worldwide depression. & # 8221 ;
It is questioned whether Jenkins & # 8217 ; solution of re-training will be able to
replace all displaced workers. Educator Jonathon Kazol ( 1985 ) points out that
instruction for all but a few domestic occupations starts at the 9th class degree. And
for those, the hope of being retrained or schooled for a new occupation in the elite
cognition sector is without uncertainty out of range. Even if re-training and re-
instruction on a mass graduated table were undertaken, the huge Numberss of disjointed
workers could non be absorbed as at that place will non be adequate hi-tech occupations
available in the machine-controlled economic system of the 21st century.
A British Government backed survey by Brady and Liff ( 1983 ) clearly supported
this position. They concluded that occupations may be created through new engineering, but
it will be a really long clip before the additions could countervail the losingss from
Even the neo-classical economic experts continue to subscribe to traditional economic
solutions, yet they have been met with stiff resistance over the old ages. In Das
Kapital, Marx ( McLelland 1977 ) predicted in 1867 that increasing the mechanization
of production would extinguish the worker wholly, and believed the
capitalists were delving their ain Gravess as there would be fewer and fewer
consumers with the buying power to purchase the merchandises.
Many Orthodox economic experts agreed with Marx & # 8217 ; s position in many respects, but unlike
Marx, supported the impression of? dribble down economic sciences & # 8217 ; and said that by?
let go ofing & # 8217 ; workers, the capitalists were supplying a inexpensive labor pool that
could be taken up by new industries that in bend would utilize the excess labor to
increase their net incomes that would in bend be invested in new labour economy
engineering which would one time once more displace labor, making an upward rhythm of
prosperity and economic growing.
Such a point of view may hold some cogency in the short-run but one must see
the longer term effects of such a rhythm, it is questionable whether it could be
Another of import inquiry is whether consumerism will go on unabated,
whether it is a normal human status to see felicity and redemption in the
acquisition of goods and services. The word & # 8220 ; ingestion & # 8221 ; until the present
century was steeped in force. In its original signifier the term, which has both
Gallic and English roots, meant to repress, to destruct, to plunder. Compared
with the mid 1940s the mean American is devouring twice every bit much now. The mass
ingestion phenomena was non the inevitable consequence of an insatiate homo
nature or a phenomenon that occurred spontaneously, quite the contrary. Business
leaders realised rather early that they needed to make the? dissatisfied
client & # 8217 ; , and to do people? want & # 8217 ; things that they had non antecedently desired
( Rifkin 1996 ) . States throughout the universe are get downing to understand the ailment
effects that production has on the? natural & # 8217 ; environment, and the acquisition of
goods and services on the mind. With more people with less money, and a tendency
towards a life style that emphasises quality instead than measure, it is
questionable whether consumerism will, or is desirable, to go on.
Science and engineering & # 8217 ; s profile grew to such an extent in the early portion of
this century in the United States that the protagonists and advocates of
technocracy were prepared to abandon democracy, and favoured? regulation by scientific discipline & # 8217 ;
instead than? regulation by worlds & # 8217 ; and advocated the constitution of a national organic structure,
a technate, that would be given the power to piece the state & # 8217 ; s resources and
brand determinations regulating production
and distribution of goods and services.
The image of engineering as the complete and unbeatable reply, has slightly
tarnished in recent old ages with the figure of technological accidents such as
those which occurred in atomic power Stationss at Chernobl and Three Mile
Island, and menaces of atomic war and environmental debasement increasing and
coming to the bow. Yet the dream that scientific discipline and engineering will liberate humanity
from a life of plodding continues to stay alive and vivacious, particularly among
the younger coevals.
During the 1930s, authorities functionaries, trade union members, economic experts and
concern leaders were concerned that the consequence of labor salvaging devices, lifting
productiveness and efficiency, was declining the economic predicament of every
industrial state. Organised labour wished to portion the additions by concern, such
as increased net incomes and fewer workers required. They joined together, to battle
unemployment by contending to cut downing the working hebdomad and better rewards, therefore
sharing the work and net incomes amongst the workers and supplying more leisure
clip. By using more people at fewer hours, labour leaders hoped to cut down
unemployment brought on by labor-saving engineering, excite buying power
and resuscitate the economic system. Clearly brotherhoods saw the jobs ensuing from
technological alteration to lie partially, in increased leisure clip ( Rifkin 1996 ) .
Unemployment is steadily lifting, planetary unemployment has now reached its highest
degree since the great depression of the 1930s. More than 800 million people are
now underemployed or are unemployed in the universe, while the rich are going
richer and the hapless acquiring poorer. Unemployment rates among school departers in
South Australia is every bit high as 20 five per cent and nine per cent for the
remainder of the community, which leads one to oppugn whether the traditional
economic theoretical account is working.
Trade brotherhoods have pursued their response to unemployment throughout the old ages
with rewards and wages turning and the working hebdomad reduced, for illustration in
the UK the working hebdomad has reduced from eighty four hours in 1820 down to
30 eight hours in 1996 ( Jones 1990 ) .
Typical authorities response to unemployment has been to incite public plants
programmes and to pull strings buying power by revenue enhancement policies that stimulate
the economic system and lower revenue enhancement on ingestion. It can been seen in Australia that
authoritiess no longer see this as the reply, in fact there is an opposite
attack with a strong motion for a goods and services revenue enhancement, to redistribute
wealth, as proposed by the defeated Liberal Party of Andrew Peacock in 1992, and
now being re-introduced. Many occupation creative activity strategies and retraining programmes are
being abandoned by the new Australian Broad Government of John Howard.
However the power of the workers and brotherhoods in 1996 is badly restricted. The
brotherhoods have lost the support of workers as reflected in their falling rank,
and no longer can utilize the menace of direct action with occupations vanishing fast.
The Broad Government passed statute law to restrict corporate bargaining, with
brotherhoods power of direct action going even more scoured and uneffective because
of planetary competition and division of labor, and mechanization gave companies
many options. Unions have been left with no option but to back up re-
preparation, whether they believe it is the reply to unemployment or non.
Today, it seems far less likely that the populace sector, the brotherhoods or the
market place will one time once more be able to deliver the economic system from increasing
technological unemployment. The technological optimists continue to propose that
new services and merchandises ensuing from the technological revolution will
generate extra employment. While this is true, the new merchandises and
services require less workers to bring forth and run, and surely will non
counteract those made redundant through disused trades and professions. Direct
planetary selling by manner of the? Superhighway & # 8217 ; the? Internet & # 8217 ; and other signifiers of
instant telecommunications is doing 1000s of in-between selling employees
obsolete. For illustration the SA bank introduced phone banking some while ago, they
now are the first bank in South Australia to merchandise on the Internet
( hypertext transfer protocol: //www.banksa.com.au ) , and many rural Bankss are shuting. Besides, it has merely
been announced by the electoral committee that vote by telephone will be
trialed following twelvemonth, with tremendous possible occupation loss.
The widely publicised information expressway brings a scope of merchandises,
information and services direct to the consumer, short-circuiting traditional channels
of distribution and transit. The Numberss of new proficient occupations created
will non compare with the 1000000s whose occupations will go irrelevant and
redundant in the retail sectors.
Jones ( 1990 ) notes that there is a demure reserve from those who believe that
societal construction and economic sciences will go on as in the yesteryear, to place the
cryptic new labor absorbing industry that will originate in the hereafter to
prevent monolithic unemployment. Jones believes that industry? X & # 8217 ; if it does
appear, will non be based on conventional economic wisdom but is likely to be in
countries where engineering will hold small application, he suggests it may be in
service based countries such as instruction, place based industry, leisure and touristry.
Despite Barry Jones anticipations, most service industries are really much affected
by new engineering. Education is fast going resource based with pupils in
primary, secondary, proficient and third degrees expected to make their ain
research and undertakings independent of category instructors with schools being networked
and learning through picture conferencing. The conventional instructor is fast
going disused, with the figure of lasting instructors cut downing,
There are legion illustrations of workers in service industries being displaced by
engineering. Shop foreparts such as banking, existent estate, travel and many more, are
vanishing. Small retail nutrient mercantile establishments continue to fall in, with the growing
of supermarkets and nutrient ironss organised around computing machine engineering, and on-
line shopping from place. Interior designers of all types are being superseded by CAD
computing machine design package. Even wholly automated place computerised services
such as a hardware and package bundle called & # 8220 ; Jeeves & # 8221 ; is now available.
Business direction and company managers are happening voice activated lap top
computing machine secretaries far more dependable and efficient than the human signifier.
The New Zealand Minister for Information and Technology, Hon. Maurice
Williamson MP, wrote the preface for the paper? How Information Technology
will alter New Zealand & # 8217 ; :
On the threshold of the 20 first century we are come ining a period of alteration
as far making as any we have of all time seen.
Since the industrial revolution people have had to turn up themselves in big
Centres where they could work with others, but now new engineerings are
rendering distance unimportant. The accomplishments that are needed in tomorrow & # 8217 ; s society
will be those associated with information and cognition instead than the
industrial accomplishments of the 19th and 20th centuries. Changing engineering
will impact about every facet of our lives: how we do our occupations ; how we educate
our kids ; how we communicate with each other and how we are entertained.
As Williamson points out, with the detonation of engineerings, it is easy to
lose sight of the larger forms that underlie them. If we look at the
cardinal ways people live, learn and work, we may derive penetrations about
mundane life. These penetrations are the footing for new engineerings and new
merchandises that are doing an tremendous difference in people & # 8217 ; s lives.
Steping back from the daily research for new electronic devices, life can
be seen as being basically transformed. There is development of a networked
society ; a form of digital connexions that is planetary, unprecedented, critical,
and exciting in the manner that it propels the chances for wholly new
markets and leisure. As people make digital engineering an built-in portion of the
manner they live, learn, work and drama, they are fall ining a planetary electronic
web that has the potency for reshaping many of our lives in the coming
In the hereafter, engineerings will play an even greater function in altering the manner
people live, learn, work and drama, making a planetary society where we live more
comfortably ; with cellular phones and other contraptions that obey voice bids ;
energy-efficient, economical and safe place environments monitored by digital
detectors. There will be & # 8220 ; Smart & # 8221 ; contraptions and vehicles that anticipate our demands
and present service immediately. We are seeing portable communications devices
that work without wires ; package intelligent agents that kind and synthesise
information in a personally trim format ; new engineerings that provide
increased safety and protect our freedom, runing from infra-red devices that
light the dark to micro-cook devices that improve radio detection and ranging and communications.
Peoples are besides larning more expeditiously, with synergistic picture schoolrooms
that enable one-on-one attending and larning systems that remember each
pupil & # 8217 ; s strengths and seamster lesson programs consequently. There are lap-top
computing machines and desktop picture cartridge holders that bring in-depth background on current
events with instant entree to worldwide libraries and mention books with full
Peoples are working more fruitfully, with & # 8220 ; practical offices & # 8221 ; made possible by
portable communications engineerings and package that allows enterprise-wide
concern solutions at a fraction of the usual cost and in a shorter length of
clip with monolithic memory available at the desktop and lap-top degrees. There are
& # 8220 ; Intelligent & # 8221 ; photocopiers that duplicate a papers and route it to a file and
coincident desktop video-conferencing from multiple locations, directing voice
and informations at the same time over the same communications channel.
With the detonation of leisure activities available, people play more expansively.
There are 100s of films available on demand at place, virtual-reality games,
a growing in the figure of channels delivered by direct orbiter telecasting,
videophones that link faces with voices, synergistic telecasting for audience
engagement, instant entree to worldwide amusement and travel information
and synergistic telegaming with international spouses ( Texas Instruments 1996 ) .
This paper has considered developments in electronic miniaturization, robotics,
digitization and information engineering with its societal deductions for homo
values and the hereafter of work. It has argued that we have come ining a post-modern
period and are come ining a post-market epoch in which life will no longer be
structured around work in the traditional sense, there will be greater freedom
and independent life, paid employment will be de-emphasised and our life style
will be leisure orientated.
I have argued that the societal end of full employment in the traditional sense
is no longer appropriate, necessary or even possible, that both authorities and
society will necessitate to recognize the effects of engineering on societal construction and
re-organise resources to be distributed more every bit if utmost societal agitation,
unfairness, injury and possible civil break is to be avoided.
I foresee a scenario of a sustainable incorporate planetary community in which
there will be some signifier of swap but hard currency will be mostly eliminated, money
will be? practical & # 8217 ; . A minimum sum of people will be involved and bask some
signifiers of high tech activity, while the huge bulk will hold a career that
is basically originative and gratifying possibly affecting the humanistic disciplines and music with
a spiritualty that involves deep regard and attention for the natural universe with
new signifiers of single and group interaction. There will be minimum signifiers of
universe cardinal democratic authorities. Huge signifiers of substructure will no longer
be required as citizens will mostly be technologically independent. Most
communicating and interaction will be instant and conducted from place, office or
public terminus. There will be new signifiers and ways of life, new household
constructions that may dwell of larger and smaller groups. A comfy,
enjoyable and leisure based life style in which all the necessities and wants
will be automatically provided through the procedures of the mostly self-
sustaining and ego germinating engineering.
Rifkin ( 1995 ) has a similar position, and concludes that he believes the route to a
near-workerless economic system is within sight and that route could head for a safe
haven or a awful abysm, it all depends on how well civilization prepares
for the post-market epoch. He excessively is optimistic and suggests that the terminal of work
could signal the beginning of a great societal transmutation, a metempsychosis in the
Brady, T. and Liff, S. 1983 Monitoring New Technology and Employment
Manpower Services Commission Sheffield England.
Jones, B. 1995 Sleepers Awake Oxford University Press Melbourne
Masuda, Y. 1983 The Information Society as Post & # 8211 ; Industrial Society World
Future Society Bethesda Maryland.
Rifkin, J. 1995 The End of Work G P Putnam and Sons New York.
Jenkin, P. 1985 Automation is Good for Us Editor: Forester, T. The
Information Technology Revolution Basil Blackwell Ltd Oxford UK.
Kozol, J. 1985 Illiterate America Anchor Press/Doubleday New York.
McLelland, D. 1977 Marx & # 8217 ; s Grundrisse der Kritik der Politischen Okonnomie
Harpists Press New York.
Mitchell, O. 1993 As the Workforce Ages ILR Press New York.
Negroponte, N. 1996 Digital Nostradamus & # 8211 ; A Bits Future Lateline ABC
Television 3 March 1996 Australia.
Rosenbrock, H. et Al. 1981 New Technology: Society, Employment and Skill
Council for Science and Society London.
Sargent, M. 1994 The New Sociology for Australians Longman Cheshire
Texas Instruments 1996 Core Competencies and the Digital Revolution & # 8211 ; A Steady
Stream of Innovations. hypertext transfer protocol: //www.ti.com/docs/home.html Viewed Nov 10 1996.
Williamson, M. 1996 How Information Technology will alter New Zealand
Information Technology Information Group Wellington New Zealand.
hypertext transfer protocol: //www.netlink.co.nz Viewed 11 Nov 1996.