To understand one of the interesting questions of the interesting time we live in, James Bessen has done us a great service of applied historical analysis by delving into the historical connection between technological change and employment and wages to shed light on how the technological changes that we're currently seeing might impact employment and wages in the long(er) run.
So we've covered the (anxiety-prompting) prospects for job destruction by technology and the (anxiety-dampening) history of job creation. Now, we'll turn to the role of context and firm-level strategies in deciding the actual effects of technology's potentials.
David Autor in his imminently readable piece points out that labor-saving substitution and technological job destruction has been going on since at least the Industrial Revolution. And yet we still have jobs. Why?
There are (at least) two ways to think about how the adoption of machines influences employment. The classic way is to think that machines substitute for labor, that machines replace human workers in order to increase productivity. The other way is to think that machines make human workers more efficient and therefore enhance the value of human work, leading to increased demand for human labor. Machines, in this view, complement labor.
If the vision of the future that Brynjolfsson & McAfee paint in their book is right, what lies ahead is technologically exhilerating. And socially troubling.
Sometimes, it's healthy to read something that substantially disturbs your prior beliefs. Reading "The Rise and Fall of American Growth" certainly disturbed me and disturbed me so much that it actually prompted me to write about it.
This blog will be dealing with issues related to technology and organizations and how they relate to each other