I’ve written a bit about automation and structural unemployment in previous posts, primarily because I think the changing nature of work is one of the most critical issues of the short-term future. And when I say the nature of work, I mean on one hand the precise, individual activities through which human beings are able to secure the resources they need to live, i.e. employment, but on the other hand, work also means collective productive activity through which economic value is created throughout the broader, increasingly global society.
The nature of work in its form and substance, individually and systemically, is a reflection of economics, technology, society — all those dynamic contextual factors that add up to Life. So, as history has demonstrated, the nature of work changes with all those other changes.
Here’s another systemic view of the changing world of work from the Economist.
And this article from Forbes reflects a bit on the changing individual dimensions of work vis-a-vis the “empowered employee.”
So there’s plenty of evidence work is changing now, individually and systemically, both in its form and substance. But what does it mean for you? What does it mean for us? Today and tomorrow.
Well, it depends. For some, the changes in work will continue to be painful: job insecurity and/or unemployment. For others, the changes may be liberating.
Consider this kickstarter pitch, called “The Future of Work,” from Thor Muller and Lane Becker, authors of Get Lucky: How to Put Planned Serendipity to Work for You and Your Business.
That’s right, they are raising funds to ride around the country in a party bus, shooting video about unique work. To quote their kickstarter page: “‘The Future of Work’ is a web video series that tells the stories of the obsessive makers, innovators and entrepreneurs that are leading the way to a new wave of business. They share a set of traits: irreverent, adaptable, purpose-driven, and unattached to conventional categories.”
It sounds like a fun ride and a great project, but how cool is it that Muller and Becker are crowdsourcing funds to do unique work about people doing unique work? It’s an example of the other side of structural unemployment — technology and society at present facilitate empowered, self-driven work that may not show up on traditional payroll statistics.