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Monday, 19 November 2018
Intelligencer – New York Magazine
As much as we all hate bosses, you have to admit they have gotten slightly better over the years. Frederick Winslow Taylor, the odd and efficiency-obsessed father of management theory, was fond of dispatching managers to stand over workers with stopwatches and direct their every movement as if they were trained animals. Reacting to the obviously soul-crushing nature of Taylorism, a wave of touch-feely business gurus in the 1960s aimed to inspire people into becoming more productive. This has led, over the course of the last few decades, to the insipid corporate culture of team-building exercises and black-bordered posters of windsurfers at sunset, but at least there’s free coffee now.
Monday, 12 November 2018
The Financial Times UK
How do you organise a society in which few people do anything economically productive?
As long ago as 1984, in his Paths to Paradise, André Gorz, a self-proclaimed “revolutionary-reformist” stated, baldly, that the “micro-economic revolution heralds the abolition of work”. He even argued that “waged work . . . may cease to be a central preoccupation by the end of the century”. His timing was wrong. But serious analysts think he was directionally right. So what might a world of intelligent machines mean for humanity? Will human beings become as economically irrelevant as horses? If so, what will happen to our individual self-worth and the organisation of our societies?
Thursday, 8 November 2018
Twenty million students started college this fall, and this much is certain: The vast majority of them will be taking on debt — a lot of debt. What’s less certain is whether their degrees will pay off.
According to the survey Freelancing in America 2018, released Wednesday, freelancers put more value on skills training: 93 percent of freelancers with a four-year college degree say skills training was useful versus only 79 percent who say their college education was useful to the work they do now. In addition, 70 percent of full-time freelancers participated in skills training in the past six months compared to only 49 percent of full-time non-freelancers. The fifth annual survey, conducted by research firm Edelman Intelligence and co-commissioned by Upwork and Freelancers Union, polled 6,001 U.S. workers.
Monday, 3 September 2018
The New Republic
Some years ago, I had a colleague who would frequently complain that he didn’t have enough to do. He’d mention how much free time he had to our team, ask for more tasks from our boss, and bring it up at after-work drinks. He was right, of course, about the situation: Although we were hardly idle, even the most productive among us couldn’t claim to be toiling for eight (or even five, sometimes three) full hours a day. My colleague, who’d come out of a difficult bout of unemployment, simply could not believe that this justified his salary. It took him a long time to start playing along: checking Twitter, posting on Facebook, reading the paper, and texting friends while fulfilling his professional obligations to the fullest of his abilities.
The idea of being paid to do nothing is difficult to adjust to in a society that places a high value on work. Yet this idea has lately gained serious attention amid projections that the progress of globalization and technology will lead to a “jobless” future
Monday, 3 September 2018
It’s hard to know what the future will bring, but a majority of US consumers think that five decades from now, we’ll all be overly dependent on tech and spend less time interacting with each other.
At the same time, consumers believe tech makes our lives easier and are most enthusiastic about where things are headed with computers, smartphones and smart home gear.
Those are the top takeaways from a study by Intel that in May asked 1,000 adult consumers in the US — including 102 described as “tech elites” — what they’re excited and concerned about when it comes to technology over the next 50 years.
Tuesday, 14 August 2018
The New Yorker
I want to start with a story. One night, on my surgery rotation, during my third year of medical school, I followed my chief resident into the trauma bay in the emergency department. We’d been summoned to see a prisoner who’d swallowed half a razor blade and slashed his left wrist with the corner of the crimp on a toothpaste tube. He was about thirty, built like a boxer, with a tattooed neck, hands shackled to the gurney, and gauze around his left wrist showing bright crimson seeping through.
The first thing out of his mouth was a creepy comment about the chief resident, an Asian-American woman. I won’t say what he said. Just know he managed in only a few words to be racist, sexist, and utterly menacing to her. She turned on her heels, handed me the clipboard, and said, “He’s all yours.”
I looked at the two policemen with him to see what they were going to do. I don’t know what I expected. That they’d yell at him? Beat him? But they only looked at me impassively, maybe slightly amused. He was all mine.
So what now?