Dept. of Futurism
May 5th, 2014

Jon Evans has another entry in the post-scarcity economy genre here. It continues to amaze me that people not named Matthew Yglesias can write passages like this:

I’ve been arguing for some time now that the combination of new technology and old capitalism will soon drastically worsen inequality. It seems to me that technology will soon destroy jobs faster than it creates them, if it hasn’t started to already. Which is a good thing! Most of the jobs it destroys are bad, and most of the ones it creates are good.

What classifies a job as “good” or “bad”? Who has done the tabulation of jobs destroyed by technology versus created by technology? What, exactly, is the distribution of “good” and “bad” jobs in each of the created and destroyed columns?

Like so much of the tech-futurist press, this is all just taken as given because . . . internet!

As I’ve mentioned before, “post-scarcity economics” didn’t arrive yesterday. It’s been bouncing around the popular press and sci-fi writers for at last three quarters of a century. I’d be interested in knowing to what extent these boomlets coincide with moments of relative prosperity (or hardship) in the real world. Do our futurists tend to be more optimistic about the future when the here-and-now is gilded, or hard? Or is there no correlation between techno-utopian fantasy economics and real economics?

  1. Galley Friend J.E. May 5, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    I seem to recall there being quite a bit of hair pulling and geshrying in media elite circles about 15 years ago when it became apparent that this new Web thing was putting “real” journalists out of work, replacing them with guys wearing jammies. It won’t bother me a bit if newspapers (in freefall on ad revenue), staffed by people who under Obama became the palace guard, were the 21st century’s first village smithy. In which case I’ll second the notion that “Most of the jobs it destroys are bad, and most of the ones it creates are good.”

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  3. Nedward May 6, 2014 at 7:58 am

    Seems to me the hype artists always land on their feet

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  5. Galley Friend J.E. May 6, 2014 at 10:35 am

    We need a Vox splaining on that. Sometimes landing on your feet is the prelude to falling on your face.

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  7. SkinsFanPG May 6, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    I can tell you one place tech will not replace people in jobs- The US Government. Lord knows I’ve been trying, but these people will do anything to stand in the way of automation.

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  9. Tom May 6, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    Jonathan, Any chance you could fix the hyperlink above? Had trouble finding the articles you referenced.

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  11. AOHenry May 7, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    My kids sat through the three “Back to the Future” movies the other day. They are eagerly awaiting the hover boards, flying cars, and Mr. Fusion that are due in 2015!

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  13. Does a Post-Scarcity Future Mean a Reputation Economy? | MindPriedOpen May 7, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    […] Evans’ casual assertion that most of the jobs getting wiped out are “bad” since Jonathan Last has already taken that one on. Rather, I’d like to consider his speculative replacement for capitalism, the reputation […]