Saturday, August 22, 2020

A World Without Work (David Susskind)

British economist David Susskind's A World Without Work tackles the future of work and jobs. Susskind argues that Artificial Intelligence and technology have fundamentally transformed everything about the role of work in the 21st Century and that policymakers and educators need to think of solutions to adapt to a world where jobs will likely be fewer in number and the skills needed for those jobs will be fundamentally different than those required today.

Susskind’s book traverses through the Industrial Revolution and into the technological revolution, showcasing various predictions that have not panned out while highlighting the increasing trends of wealth inequality and the concentration of wealth in the hands of a number of companies and individuals. Solutions include shorter work weeks to ensure more labor is distributed, reforms to the social safety net (including forms of basic income, skills and technical training) and tax reform.

In short, the book seems lofty on aspiration and light on pragmatism given the current political realities that both the US and Britain are experiencing. There are certainly some solutions that need to be discussed as part of decreasing wealth inequality and providing a stronger safety net. The author does acknowledge that the problems will be hard to solve but seems to breezily offer an optimism that these problems will be solved for the betterment of all.