Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Future of Work is About the Sizzle

According to Prof Walter Russell Mead in the American Interest (2013, January 30):
The jobs of the future are going to be about life’s sizzle rather than about life’s steak, and that’s a good thing. We will spend less and less time and effort manufacturing stuff, while more time and resources will go into the production of experiences, the creation of ambience, and the personal services that make life richer, more engaging, more rewarding. As a species, we will be putting more of our time and effort into culture, leisure and the quest for meaning, and less into the grunt work of coaxing potatoes and pig iron out of the earth.
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I tend to agree with Prof Mead. The economic future of the US is unlikely to be grounded in industrial manufacturing. In fact, the US should be balking at further industrialization. Society has learned the hard way that manufacturing is a "dead-end" economic path that can only be sustained via reliable access to cheap labor and large domestic markets (the US has ready access to neither). The prudent way forward is for the US to embrace technological innovation as our source of growth and competitive advantage in the new global economy. The sooner our nation can converge upon innovation as the smart way forward, the sooner the nation's economy can complete the transition from its industrial past into a highly-charged technological economy structured to succeed and thrive in the 21st century and beyond.

During the 1800's, the world's transition from an agricultural to an industrial economy was painful. Likewise, the ongoing global transition from an industrial to a technological economy is also challenging. Progress compels us to keep our eyes fixed on the road ahead and the promise for a better future. Said another way, don't look back...

Source: Mead, W R (2013, January 30), Life After Blue: The Middle Class Will Beat The Seven Trolls, American Interest.

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