Background: In a recent article in The Atlantic Magazine (A World without Work), Derek Thompson lays out the impact of automation on jobs and eventually on the default social contract in most capitalist societies. More recently, autonomous vehicle technology is poised for introduction in urban and long haul applications (Otto Trucks). In an interview with Quartz, Bill Gates suggested that taxing robot output could help cover the shortfall in social services due to lost jobs and help pay for the increase in social services and support needed by displaced workers. Additional insight from the Jan 14, 2017 issue of the Economist.
Given the impact of technology and automation on a) an individual’s ability to monetize their human capital; and b) the idea that humans need to contribute to society to feel happy; please respond to the following questions:
- What are your personal philosophies about firms using automation without regard to its impact on society?
- b) What type of a political and economic system do you think might be best suited for a society where automation can provide the bulk of people’s needs? Keep in mind that robots do not consume (assuming they are not sentient in the way humans are) and that demand for products comes from people with the ability to pay.
- c) What would you recommend for today’s business leaders to be ready for such a time? You can ignore doomsday scenarios such as Skynet from the Terminator.
This prompt asks you to think critically and examine a critical issue in business and one which has global implications, the potential end of a long and relatively stable relationship between human capital and earning potential. Note that the question is normative and asks you to discuss the characteristics of a system that could deal with a situation where the material needs of society (transportation, services, shelter, Facebook etc.) could be largely provided through automation, and that traditional unemployment rates/metrics don’t apply.
This is not an analysis of current events. There is no one right answer. You will need research to support your responses.
This is a complex assignment, despite its short length. It requires you to identify your approach to the topic and integrate your values into your perspective, then develop your responses. You will probably need to revise and review it several times before submitting. Your response to this assignment will probably involve an integration of culture, ethics, as well as other topics discussed in this, and other classes to analyze and address the question.