September 17, 2021

The Editor speaks: Are people worth as much today as yesterday?

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My Editorial was prompted by an article we published today from TechCrunch titled “Make people valuable again”.

I have been wondering recently, with the increasing use of robots, are we phasing ourselves out of being useful employees.

If you believe that is a long way off when robots can do all our jobs, especially the very difficult ones, think again. In hospitals robots are being used instead of humans because they can perform the surgery better than humans.

Have all the latest technology, especially when it comes to games and gadgetry, made us any happier?

The aforementioned article embraces my above question and answers it.

The article says:

“We have increased our technological powers many times and still we are not happier; we do not have more time for the things we find meaningful.

“We could use our powers for making each other — and thereby ourselves — more valuable, but instead we are fearing to lose our jobs to machines and be considered worthless by the economy. The link between better technology and better lives overall has become so confusing that many people no longer reflect upon its existence.”

And it makes these startling claims:

“The problem today, we suggest, is that our innovation economy is not primarily about making people more valuable; it is instead about reducing costs.”

“The purpose of innovation should be a sustainable economy, where we work with people we like, are valued by people we do not know and provide for the people we love.”

“If innovation does this, we will prosper.”

“One person’s earning is always other people’s spending and if everyone spends less, people earn – on average – less. Economies run on the spending and re-spending of the same money. Velocity counts. Economic growth is killed by companies that are competing solely for profits. We are not saying it’s wrong to save and not be wasteful, it’s good and necessary, but that is not earning. Saying that saving and earning are the same introduces the paradox and is a recipe for a failed economy.”

The writers of the article come up with a solution:

“A key reason behind the confusion is that lack of perspective; reality needs a new lens. We can’t explain what we see because the good old ideas that once made things understandable are now making the world unintelligible instead. This happens often in history — for example, people in the middle ages had long thought that the earth was the center of the universe, but as scientists traced their movements in the sky, the more complex and incomprehensible their orbits became. But simply by switching perspective, placing the sun at the center, complicated orbits were transformed into nearly-circular ellipses of great simplicity. This was the “Copernican Revolution”.

We suggest that doing a similar switch: that moving people to the center can be equally constructive. A “people-centered economy” view could enable us to simplify the innovation economy and engineer it better just as the “Copernican revolution” did for physics and astronomy. The economy is all about people, after all, so it seems only natural to place us at the center.”

“Just by switching to a people-centered lens, things fall more neatly into place around us:

“A people centered economy has a simple and handy definition of the economy: People create and exchange value, served by organizations.”

The article concludes:

“Today, as we are introducing mass-personalized goods and services, many business leaders will have great difficulties imagining how creating special jobs for people with little income can be better business than tailoring jobs for the engineers that companies compete for.

“We are at the beginning of a revolution in strength finding, education, matchmaking, HR, and new opportunities in a long-tail labor market.”

“Make people valuable again” By David Nordfors, Vint Cerf – TechCrunch.

I hope the above has wetted your appetite to read the whole thing.

People may not be worth as much today, but ………………. we may in the future become priceless!

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