### « swipe left for tags/categories

### swipe right to go back »

I read a fascinating book yesterday called *The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future* by Martin Ford. I can’t remember who sent it to me (someone did – thank you); it appeared on the of my infinite pile of books so I gobbled it down as my first book at 2010.

The first half of the book sets up the situation and the corresponding problems. I agreed with much of the first half. The second half proposes a solution. I had a hugely difficult time with it. Ford anticipated this as he regularly acknowledged (unnecessarily) throughout the second half that many people would have a hard time with his proposed solution. Yet he marched on relentlessly.

Ford’s basic premise is as follows:

“

At some point in the future – it might be many years or decades from now – machines will be able to do the jobs of a large percentage of the ‘average’ people in our population, and these people willnotbe able to find new jobs.”

Ford does a good job of spending the first half of this book making the case for this. He draws nicely from the notion of a technological singularity (which many of us are now calling simple “the singularity” for convenience), explains why mainstream economists (and the notion of econometrics in general) are basically historians rather than effective predictors of the future, does a nice job weaving the Luddite Fallacy into the mix, makes a compelling argument about China’s role in this he calls the “China Fallacy”, and wraps it up by revisiting a variety of conventional views of the future while asking “do we really believe they are going to play out this way?” (answer = no).

At this point I took a break and went for a walk around the block with my dogs. I knew the book was shifting from “problem” to “solution” (the next chapter was titled *Transition*) and I wanted to clear my mind so I could absorb it. I had a couple of weak ideas about where Ford was going to go, but it was pretty fuzzy to me. So I dove back in.

The second half of the book blew me away. Ford starts by asserting underlying his mental model – that in the future 75% unemployment will permanently exist because jobs will have been automated away – and they will not be replaceable. So – the vast majority of people in our society will be “unemployable” in a conventional sense (as in a 40 hour / week job). Ford asks rhetorically “Is it possible to have a prosperous economy and a civil society in such a scenario?” (answer = yes and he’s going to propose a way to do it.)

The base on which he builds his solution is the following idea:

“We will have to undergo a quantum shift in our value system. In order to preserve the free market system, we will have to come to the realization that while work (at least for most people) may no longer be essential,broad-based consumption is essential.”

He then spends the balance of the book explaining a government-driven taxation and incentive approach that taxes companies based on their permanently lost wages (based on automation, which he asserts will increase gross margins) while incenting the unemployed to act in ways that benefit themselves and societies by paying them based on how they act and contribute in this “non-traditional job” way. Ford suggests several simple categories, including Education (self and others), Community and Civic Activities, Journalism, and the Environment. He then spends a lot of time explaining the implementation at a high level, including an abstract example of how a functioning free-market society could exist post the singularity.

Sometime during reading this stuff my brain exploded and I had to go take the dogs for another walk. When I came back, I tried to explain this to Amy but couldn’t. I tried to make the argument that all government employees (local, state, and federal) are already in this category so the jump from the federally reported 10% unemployment to 75% isn’t as big as we might think since 8% already work for the government (so let’s say the jump is from 20% to 75%). I couldn’t do it – I just couldn’t take myself seriously.

While I love Ford’s tenacity with the idea and radical approach, I think this book would have worked better as science fiction rather than an attempt at an economic / political essay. Ironically, I might have been able to buy the argument better in the context of science fiction; when put against the backdrop of our existing social / societal construct, it was too difficult for me to absorb.

I have a belief that the structure of what we call “modern society” will have to change post singularity. I don’t yet have my own hypothesis for what this looks like, but many of my favorite science fiction writers have been hacking away at this for several decades. And I’m continuing to slurp down as much stuff as I can about the singularity since I both (a) believe it will happen in my lifetime – assuming I live a normal life expectancy and (b) I hope I’ll be involved in helping create it.

I’ll be following Ford’s blogging at his site *econfuture: Future Economics and Technology**. *Even though I struggled with his solution, it’s another interesting input for me to ponder. And all of this also led me (via an article titled *Martin Ford Asks: Will Automation Lead to Economic Collapse?*) to a fun new website called *Singularity Hub *which has now been added to my feedreader. Now, time for some more Philip K. Dick.

Pingback: Tweets that mention The Lights in the Tunnel -- Topsy.com

Pingback: Singularity | Sramana Mitra on Strategy

Pingback: Brad Feld Reviews The Lights in the Tunnel « econfuture | Future Economics and Technology

Pingback: Weekend reading: Whither the GOP, after the world gets eaten, and science reading and writing « Frank Hecker

Pingback: xbox 360

Pingback: penis advantage reviews

Pingback: truth about six pack abs review

Pingback: Ha Treusdell

Pingback: penis advantage reviews

Pingback: cheap edu backlinks

Pingback: hostgator reviews

Pingback: free ipads

Pingback: led televisions

Pingback: buy quality backlinks

Pingback: xbox giveaway

Pingback: best portable dvd player for car

Pingback: the truth about six pack abs review

Pingback: truth about abs review

Pingback: penis advantage review

Pingback: penis advantage scam

Pingback: penis advantage scam

Pingback: Landon Mockler

Pingback: Antonio Lafrance

Pingback: Deadra Baniaga

Pingback: Treasa Bethell

Pingback: edu backlink service

Pingback: free ipad

Pingback: best led tv deals

Pingback: backlinks service

Pingback: xbox 360 giveaway

Pingback: the truth about abs

Pingback: does penis advantage work

Pingback: Bernie Northington

Pingback: Deshawn Steenberg

Pingback: Alexander Braver

Pingback: Trinity Orea

Pingback: Zachariah Brean

Pingback: Kareem Henton

Pingback: Stephen Degrandpre

Pingback: Barbie Duffer

Pingback: Walton Campoli

Pingback: Marcus Botdorf

Pingback: Hiroko Prestidge

Pingback: Roland Creese

Pingback: Demetrius Sweatman

Pingback: Noel Demman

Pingback: Thanh Slimmer

Pingback: tao of badass

Pingback: Muriel Liversedge

Pingback: Jonathon Volden

Pingback: Sophia Kufner

Pingback: Jada Bernd

Pingback: Benito Schlag

Pingback: Rico Bethel

Pingback: Sal Moreida

Pingback: Keith Conigliaro

Pingback: Georgette Rebolledo

Pingback: Lawanna Schreuder

Pingback: Renato Whittie

Pingback: Eloy Selking

Pingback: Edmund Rolf

Pingback: Rayford Crease

Pingback: Louie Joerger

Pingback: Graig Hedin

Pingback: Dallas Mana

Pingback: Silas Tomka

Pingback: Pat Swapp

Pingback: Cruz Kohnert

Pingback: Dominique Mikelsen

Pingback: Nikki Konger

Pingback: Margarito Lizotte

Pingback: Felecia Kolkman

Pingback: Leonardo Kavadias

Pingback: Titus Somdah

Pingback: Dorsey Manago

Pingback: Larhonda Laventure

Pingback: Lorenzo Potulski

Pingback: Charise Dasgupta

Pingback: Taisha Jolissaint

Pingback: Virgil Lhuillier

Pingback: Roseanna Venner

Pingback: Pasquale Majuste

Pingback: Jenelle Tostanoski

Pingback: Clotilde Watzke

Pingback: www.bumperstickerquotes.org

Pingback: Take pleasure

Pingback: Ashton Bartle

Pingback: Dominick Galardo

Pingback: Taunya Sarantakis

Pingback: Johnathon Malgieri

Pingback: Gavin Fillinger

Pingback: Issac Spruill

Pingback: Victoria Mesch

Pingback: Opal Arlington

Pingback: Kris Metevier

Pingback: Miles Falsetti

Pingback: Anton Fermo

Pingback: Val Zody

Pingback: Marvin Prather

Pingback: Karrie Fasci

Pingback: Setsuko Subler

Pingback: Gilma Cogley

Pingback: Gretchen Torello

Pingback: Kermit Belser

Pingback: Sherwood Donoho

Pingback: Gayle Jereb

Pingback: Man Aldrich

Pingback: Glen Fitzen

Pingback: Michel Larabell

Pingback: Fern Ghazal

Pingback: Taren Varady

Pingback: Woodrow Bunda

Pingback: Clinton Debutts

Pingback: Lyndsey Knudsvig

Pingback: Wilbur Visalli

Pingback: Alona Wnukowski

Pingback: Alec Batliner

Pingback: Jerrod Teakell

Pingback: Dean Pounder

Pingback: Issac Hilu

Pingback: Armando Gschwend

Pingback: Moses Ehn

Pingback: Tequila Gunderman

Pingback: Verdell Ronne

Pingback: Xavier Casparian

Pingback: Bella Callabrass

Pingback: Ned Salierno

Pingback: Karin Preuitt

Pingback: Wendell Leben

Pingback: Jerrold Gritton

Pingback: Jan Antigua

Pingback: Lara Hass

Pingback: http://hoiberghosting.macminicolo.net/groups/mediashout/wiki/c3ec8/Just_what_Every_one_Must_Find_out_about_the_Truth_about_Six_Pack_Abs.html

Pingback: http://wiki.waltheracademy.net/groups/welcometomrssmithsclass2010/wiki/295f4/What_All_and_sundry_Has_to_Understand_about_the_Truth_about_Six_Pack_Abs.html

Pingback: Cliff Atchinson

Pingback: http://75.145.137.121/groups/paper/wiki/f3a3b/Unlock_your_extraordinary_tunes_expertise_using_the_highest_quality_conquer_creating_software_application.html

Pingback: Shonta Dante

Pingback: Pat Epler

Pingback: Delmar Eisensmith

Pingback: Norbert Feger

Pingback: Marcelene Gautam

Pingback: Jonnie Fudge

Pingback: Kaley Groeschel

Pingback: Salvatore Deveny

Pingback: Maryetta Sifre

Pingback: Eve Petross

Pingback: Hayden Salzl

Pingback: Wendie Delavergne

Pingback: Quentin Beilstein

Pingback: Deon Kraling

Pingback: Eneida Velthuis

Pingback: Audra Larribeau

Pingback: Tommie Mctee

Pingback: Dannie Mainor

Pingback: Starr Skipworth

Pingback: Rocco Toscano

Pingback: Alice Gaser

Pingback: Darin Mirarchi

Pingback: Xochitl Sabado

Pingback: Wesley Gagon

Pingback: Gail Medak

Pingback: Adolph Birckbichler

Pingback: Carter Grasse

Pingback: Clair Kehler

Pingback: Mervin Milliren

Pingback: Booker Kleinberg

Pingback: Thomasena Haberstroh

Pingback: Fay Mcbrien

Pingback: Bert Sonkin

Pingback: Sterling Fuentes

Pingback: Valarie Jumonville

Pingback: Keven Kolber

Pingback: Harland Berdugo

Pingback: Robbie Vollmar

Pingback: Everett Fracasso

Pingback: Jordan Saulter

Pingback: Nereida Akery

Pingback: Keila Trelles

Pingback: Miriam Sberna

Pingback: Robby Martineze

Pingback: Darrick Tucek

Pingback: Moon Luetmer

Pingback: Kristian Torreson

Pingback: Ernest Kuboushek

Pingback: Melva Dejongh

Pingback: Yer Curney

Pingback: Christeen Salazan

Pingback: Vernon Norse

Pingback: Kyle Noyola

Pingback: Demarcus Tohonnie

Pingback: Billie Lumbra

Pingback: Albert Dado

Pingback: Tanya Edenholm

Pingback: Shelia Gleitz

Pingback: Lyda Daigh

Pingback: Kendall Delacuesta

Pingback: Milagro Dagnese

Pingback: Pamula Ruedas

Pingback: Willette Bussey

Pingback: Todd Minneweather

Pingback: Tessa Burgh

Pingback: Lakia Wykle

Pingback: Elizbeth Sydnes