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The Hidden Automation Agenda of the Davos Elite

automation jobs AI

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    Democratic Socialist Materialist

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My thinking was over the next 10-20 years improvements in VR and AR and motion tracking and cameras etc. may be able to get us to the point where people can work almost as effectively from a remote location as they could in the office with their colleages.


At the moment a remote employee is just not as effective as the same employee working in the office. 


Videocalls are just not as effective as face to face meetings at the moment, even for companies who spend ££,£££s outfitting their meeting rooms. Very few businesses are prepared to properly monitor remote employees (so some people will not work as much as they claim, which in turn makes management less trusting which causes further issues) etc. 


The closer we get to parity between remote and in house workers the more options people will have in terms of where they live, and the less we will need to concentrate ourselves in a few major cities. 


At the extreme, once we have Full Immersion VR working from home is identical/superior to working from work, and people will mostly stop building office buildings. 


Of course I have no idea when the tipping point* will be.


*where time saved commuting and costs saved from not having a big expensive office in the middle of a city outweigh the lower productivity/company unity that WFH results in.


EDIT: This only applies to white collar/non physical work anyone needing to get hands on will need to go into work, or have a telepresence robot or something. 




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Toffler’s predictions about the rise of telecommuting were basically right, with some important caveats. First, the practice hasn’t grown as quickly as he predicted. Second, full-time telecommuting has proven surprisingly unpopular, for reasons Toffler can’t be blamed for having foreseen. Given the choice, many workers would opt to be in the office at least some of the time to maintain personal and professional relationships that they’ve discovered require face-to-face interaction. Working from home alone can also be isolating and stressful, especially to extroverts. Some people also find it unproductive or negative in some other way to blur the boundaries between their professional and personal lives by working from home. Others prefer going to the office because it gives them an excuse to escape stressful domestic environments. (Note that Alvin Toffler worked with his wife for decades, and she co-wrote many of his books. I think he probably failed to appreciate how odd this arrangement was, and as a result he projected it onto his assumptions about average peoples’ preferences, and then it made its way into his predictions about the future of work. To a large extent, I think Ray Kurzweil’s fascination with speech interfaces replacing text and keyboards is also an example of a futurist failing to fully distinguish between his own preferences and those of typical people.) 

Additionally, being in the office carries important productivity-boosting benefits, like being able to physically handle office papers, and to quickly arrange face-to-face meetings with colleagues to efficiently discuss things rather than communicating through time-delayed emails. In predicting the rise of full-time telecommuting, I think Toffler ran afoul of what futurist Michio Kaku later (in 2011) identified as “The Caveman Principle.” The Principle holds that human nature was shaped by nomadic, tribal, low-tech, resource-scarce lifestyles that we had during the first 95% of our species’ existence; that human nature has not changed even though we are now several generations removed from that type of existence; and that predictions about future technologies and future lifestyles should be doubted if they conflict with inbuilt human instincts. I agree the Kaku’s insight is right, and it poses a major stumbling block to telecommuting.


Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: automation, jobs, AI

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