Posted in Entrepreneurial Innovation Blog Posts

Entrepreneurship Innovation – 601 Week 7 Reflection

The Great Debate

I would like to begin this post with the idea that as a society are reactive instead of proactive. Reactive in the sense that instead of staying ahead of the effects of technology, we are always playing catch up. In the “The End of Work: The Decline of the Global Labor Force and the Dawn of the Post-Market Era.” Jeremy Rifkin discusses 1960s national debate on the probable effects of automation on the economy and employment—fueled in large part, by the increasing loss of jobs in the black community (Rifkin, 1995 p. 81). While many wanted to institute a form of regulation mandating job retention despite new technologies, there were more arguing that the workforce would naturally work itself out.

The Ad Hoc Committee, a group of notable scientists, economists, and academicians started the conversation by writing a letter to the President John F. Kennedy, warning Him about the dangers automation could have on the economy. They proposed that the government get involved and guarantee “an adequate income as a matter of right” as a way of distributing funds to the millions of people made jobless by new labor-saving technologies (New York Times, 1994).

President Kennedy responded by proposing a National Commission on Automation, which was later enacted by President Lyndon Johnson. After his executive order was signed President Johnson stated, Automation is not our enemy. Our enemies are ignorance, indifference, and inertia. Automation can be the ally of our prosperity if we will just look ahead, if we will understand what is to come, and if we will set our course wisely after proper planning for the future. That is the purpose of this commission. I hope, and I expect that its work will benefit the working man and benefit the businessman, and serve the interests of the farmer and the professionals and all of our people in America. The techniques of automation are already permitting us to do many things that we simply could not do otherwise. Some of our largest industries, some of our largest employers would not exist and could not operate without automation (L. Johnson, 1964).

The commission agreed with Ad Hoc on the premise that technology would adversely affect the economy. Unfortunately, the commission eventually recanted and stated that although technology would cause unemployment, it would only be temporary. There is no documentation that suggests such commission exists today. In my opinion, the commission is still in needed. I affirm everything President Johnson said. The commission would only serve as a supervisory committee that would try to mitigate the job displacement impact because of new technologies. I am not sure if it could work or if automation could actually be regulated, but as I have stated before it is something we need to continue to monitor and pay close attention. We cannot afford to be reactive; we must prepare for the unknown.

 

Rifkin, Jeremy (1995). “The End of Work: The Decline of the Global Labor Force and the Dawn of the Post-Market Era.” 1st trade paperback edition New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2004. p. 81

The American Economy,” New York Times, February 27, 1994, p. F6

Lyndon B. Johnson: “Remarks Upon Signing Bill Creating the National Commission on Technology, Automation, and Economic Progress,” August 19, 1964. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, the American Presidency Project. Retrieved from http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=26449

Posted in Entrepreneurial Innovation Blog Posts

Entrepreneurship Innovation – 601 Week 6 Reflection

Technology versus the African American Worker

Over the years many have stated that there isn’t a disparity in the white labor force versus the black labor force, which could not be the further from the truth. Even when demographic reports and diversity analyses have proved it to be true, it is still considered taboo to discuss or dispute. In the “The End of Work: The Decline of the Global Labor Force and the Dawn of the Post-Market Era.” Jeremy Rifkin states as automation spread across whole industries and worked its way through the country…the the first group to be impacted was the American “Negro.” (Rifkin, 1995 p.68) He goes on to say that the story of automation’s effect on African Americans is one of the least-known yet most salient episodes in the social history of the twentieth century (Rifkin, 1995 p.68). For years in media blacks, coloreds, or Negros were portrayed as lazy, ruffian, or best used for servitude. In a society that stripped us of our culture, made it illegal to educate a slave, limited our ability to survive, treated us unequally and then when technology begins to expand it further restricted us because of lack of education and technical know-how. Please explain how there is not a disparity.

This was by far the hardest chapter for me to read. As a black woman, I embrace and love the resilience of my culture. However, it also reiterates just how much we are still trying to fight for equality today. Technology is definitely not the enemy, but when you work in the labor-intensive industry with little to no education, you are expendable at any time. Rifkin indicated that in the past when new technologies have replaced workers in a given sector, new sectors have always emerged to absorb the displaced labor but in the blue collar i.e. agriculture, manufacturing, and service industries millions remain displaced (Rifkin, 1995 p. xvii). This is an overwhelming truth for the African American worker. A common argument would be to re-educate the worker but when you are born into disadvantages how can one be re-educated if they were never educated in the first place?

Anthony Walton from the Atlantic magazine wrote that blacks have traditionally been poorly educated — look at the crisis in urban public schools — and deprived of the sorts of opportunities that create the vision necessary for technological ambition. Black Folkways in America, those unspoken, largely unconscious patterns of thought and belief about what is possible that guide aspiration and behavior, thus do not encompass physics and calculus. Becoming an engineer — unlike becoming a doctor or a lawyer or an insurance salesman — has not been seen as a way up in the segregated black community. These folkways developed in response to very real historical conditions, to the limited and at best ambivalent interactions between blacks and technology in this country. Folkways, the “consciousness of the race,” change at a slower pace than societal conditions do — and so a working strategy can turn into a crippling blindness and self-limitation (Walton, 1999).

I would like to reiterate that technology itself is not the enemy however its effects have impacted some more than others. With programs like STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) being embraced more and more in predominately black primary education systems and at historically black colleges or universities a.k.a HBCU’s the African American culture proves yet again that though we are down, we won’t be down forever. I would like to end this post with a favorite poem of my mine that in my opinion summarizes the black experience in America.

Mother to Son

BY LANGSTON HUGHES

Well, son, I’ll tell you:

Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

It’s had tacks in it,

And splinters,

And boards torn up,

And places with no carpet on the floor—

Bare.

But all the time

I’se been a-climbin’ on,

And reachin’ landin’s,

And turnin’ corners,

And sometimes goin’ in the dark

Where there ain’t been no light.

So boy, don’t you turn back.

Don’t you set down on the steps

’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.

Don’t you fall now—

For I’se still goin’, honey,

I’se still climbin’,

And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

 

Rifkin, Jeremy (1995). “The End of Work: The Decline of the Global Labor Force and the Dawn of the Post-Market Era.” 1st trade paperback edition New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2004. p. 68 p. xvii

Walton, Anthony (1999, January). “Technology Versus African-Americans” Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1999/01/technology-versus-african-americans/377392/

Hughes, Langston (1992, December) “Mother to Son” Retrieved from

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/47559

Posted in Entrepreneurial Innovation Blog Posts

Entrepreneurship Innovation – 601 Week 5 Reflection

The Land of Milk and Honey

As humans we tend to fantasize about a better world. We dream of a great family, friends, home, and job, an unlimited source of money and leisure time. A world without wars, health concerns, car accidents, or bad weather, just an easy breezy life. In the “The End of Work: The Decline of the Global Labor Force and the Dawn of the Post-Market Era.” Jeremy Rifkin states that for more than a century utopian dreamers and men and women of science and literature have looked to a future with a near worker-less society of abundance and leisure (Rifkin, 1995). This techno-utopia would essentially bring us closer to our dreams but how would it effect the overall economy?

A New Heaven and New Earth

The United States has been a long time subscriber to the notion of a paradise and at the end of the 1890’s America started focusing more on modern science and technology as a means to obtain its goal. According to the End of Work scientists and engineers became technology disciples akin to Christianity with eternal salvation and heaven. Everywhere you turned there was a book or toy promoting technological automation to the masses. Rifkin stated that these disciples’ premise was that science and technology—harnessed by a nation of dedicated and faithful laborers steeped in modern work ethic—would direct us into an earthly kingdom of great wealth and leisure continuing to serve as a governing social and economic paradigm to the present day (Rifkin, 1995). Rifkin questioned, with the expansion of technological creation and innovation if the displaced workers ever considered.

Within this paradise what will we all be doing? Reading this section reminded me of the Disney Pixar movie Wall-E.

Over consumption in anything can never be a good idea. In this techno-utopia who would be footing the bill? This is something the movie never discussed. If you never had to work again where would your income come from? Could you as an individual live up to your fullest potential? Or would we all be destined to a life if immobility and obesity. You first inclination is to say this could never happen but just think about the last 10 years how social media has evolved and consumes most of lives (if you allow it). Whether we liking, swiping, chatting, or just browsing our work and down time has been taken over by technology. One of my favorite things to do is people watch and I noticed that if someone has to wait in a line or is waiting for their meal to be served their immediate inclination to grab their mobile device. It’s gotten so bad that businesses asks patrons to end calls or put away phones to conduct business.

Rifkin states that in today, the century-old utopian dream of future techno-paradise is within sight. The technologies of the information and communication revolution hold out for the long anticipated promise of a near worker-less in the coming century. Ironically, the closer we seem to come to the technological fruition of the utopian dream, the more dystopian the future appears (Rifkin, 1995).

In one of my previous posts, one of my classmates stated that technology should not be stunted because of displaced employees, in fact it should instead “march on” and essentially the worker should adapt to new technology. In one aspect I agree, we have come very far with technology in our everyday lives. The only element in my life that I don’t use a form of technology is when I pray. Let it be known that while I have agreed with Rifkin concerning the effects technology has had on human labor I am in no way ready to give up any amenities. I do however agree that we need to consider the threats that technology could possibly continue to impose on human labor and behavior.

Sources:

Rifkin, Jeremy (1995). “The End of Work: The Decline of the Global Labor Force and the Dawn of the Post-Market Era.” 1st trade paperback edition New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2004. p. 42, p. 46, & p. 56